Mr Blair’s “admission”:http://search.ft.com/search/article.html?id=040206000975 that even he was fooled by the ‘sexing-up’ of the UK government’s case for war, badly stains the whitewash[⇒ related story] that Lord Hutton poured over the UK government’s presentation of the case for war. The Prime Minister, too, assumed that the “45-minute” claim about Iraqi WMD readiness referred to strategic weapons (in fact, the intelligence referred only to theatre weapons and was wrong, even so). Hutton, incredibly, refused to find that the deliberate ambiguity of the UK intelligence report on this issue was an instance of ‘sexing-up’ the case for war. Evidently, it was sexy enough to fool the Prime Minister who now says, however, that it was not important. Blair’s claim of ignorance seems designed to support his assertion that the government did not—or, at least, he did not—approve the use of material known to be untrue in supporting the case for war. But it leaves open the very issue to which Hutton turned a blind eye: whether the use of material not known to be true (single, questionable source) in a manner calculated to mislead and actually misleading, amounts to “sexing-up”, “over-egging” or, in plainer words, attempting to fool most of the people some of the time.
Peter Gallagher is a leading Australian consultant on trade and public policy.[bio].
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