An independent government commission in London, the Chilcot inquiry, is investigating
the U.K.'s actions in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Former
Prime Minister Tony Blair, who led Britain to join the U.S. in invading
Iraq, has been compelled to publicly testify. (The Guardian is streaming video
of Blair's ongoing testimony.) The inquiry, channeling widespread
British outrage over the war, is investigating the legality of the
invasion and whether Blair misled the British parliament and people.
Blair, like Bush, cited the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction--ultimately proved false--as a justification. Also like Bush, Blair has been accused of planning the attack since early 2002, long before United Nations inspectors had conclusively searched for WMDs. The inquiry lacks the power to bring charges, but the penetrating investigation is bringing to light new information about the legality of the Iraq invasion--a question that has loomed for seven years.
- Blair Risking Perjury? Perhaps, but legal blogger Marcy Wheeler thinks he's safe for now. "While it sounds like he didn't admit any huge lies, his answers were riddled with inconsistencies." On accusations that he overstated the threat of weapons of mass destruction to justify the attack, Wheeler writes Blair "used the same excuse Bush has since used-that the alleged WMD programs hadn't changed, but rather the significance of them in light of 9/11. ... Blair tried to explain away his assertion that he would have taken Saddam out even if he had known he didn't have WMD." Wheeler concludes, "Of course, none of it has any credibility. But Blair might have skated through the most obvious risks of perjury at the inquiry."
- Iraq Invasion's Unacknowledged Legacy Salon's Glenn Greenwald argues, "we still childishly, and with moral blindness, refuse to come to terms with the true scope of our wrongdoing when it comes to the Iraq War. ... The invasion of Iraq was unquestionably one of the greatest crimes of the last several decades," he writes. "Have we even remotely treated it as what it is?" Greenwald slams the still-prominent media and political leaders who, despite pushing the disastrous invasion, "continue to trapse around still pompously advocating for more wars that never touch their lives?" He concludes, "As toothless as the British investigation appears to be, at least there's some public reckoning."
- U.K. Must End Subservient Bows to U.S. The U.K. Telegraph's Nick Clegg asks the "real" question underlying the inquiry, "why have successive governments, both Labour and Conservative, chosen to make British foreign policy subservient to the interests of the United States?" He insists, "Where Britain's interests diverge from those of the United States, we must have the freedom and self-confidence to say so." Clegg says Iraq is "simply the most dramatic" example of this trend.
- In U.S., This Is the Media's Job FiveThirtyEight's Renard Sexton writes, "the American system conceives of accountability in a quite different context." Official U.S. inquiries are usually private or nonexistent. "Rather than public commissions of inquiry, it is instead the media in the U.S. who usually charged with pursuing accountability on issues of this sort." He sighs, "Perhaps it is simply a difference of political culture that lead the U.S. to take an informal, media-driven approach and the U.K. a more formalized public inquiry process [...] Regardless, it is well understood in both the US and UK that the evidence given in justification of the war, regarding both weapons of mass destruction and the alledged link between Iraq and Al Qaida, were mistaken."
- Blair's Illegal Invasion Lies The Guardian's Mehdi Hasan stands with many U.K. liberals. "I have no doubt in my mind that the former premier lied over Iraq, Saddam Hussein and WMD - and did so again and again," he writes, carefully cataloging Blair's relevant statements and actions. "He knowingly, deliberately and consciously misled parliament, the public and the press."
- U.S. Should Launch Chilcot-Like Bush Inquiry Liberal blogger Digby laments that, while Blair is compelled to testify, "Our former president, his partner in perfidy, has no such worries. The Republicans are busily working on their airbrushing of history and there will be no official inquiries here." Should former President Bush testify before a U.S. model on the Chilcot inquiry?