"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Sunday, August 31, 2003

DA's contextual analysis

David Akerman, who produces documentaries for the BBC, has done a mighty fine job of analyzing the last couple of days of testimony at the Hutton Inquiry and putting them into context. He has a 4-page piece today in Salon called Tony Blair's Moment of Truth, detailing many of the highlights of the British Prime Minister's testimony.

The article goes beyond that, however, extending back to the discrepancies about David Kelly's "misleading" statements to the Commons Inquiry, Andrew Gilligan's "mistakes" in his reporting, and inconsistencies between Alastair Campbell's testimony regarding his influence on the infamous dossier ("None whatsoever. I had no input, output, influence upon it whatever at any stage in the process.") and the facts (An entry on the dossier in Campbell's fabled diary ... from Sept. 11, notes that he had advised Scarlett: "The drier the better, cut the rhetoric.").

On that last bit, I wonder if Akerman is mistaken in assuming that this evidence "points in the contrary direction to the preferred line of the Campbell conspiracists." First of all, this directly contradicts Campbell's denial above. Secondly, cutting rhetoric from lies and making them sound drier doesn't make them any more truthful. Remember, Campbell is -- for the time being -- still a spin doctor, and from the available evidence, it looks to me like he was simply covering his ass.

We all remember the phrase "sexed up." Akerman kindly reminds us of the multiple dubious claims which made their way into the casus belli. While some of these have had to be retracted, and while evidence shows that John Scarlett and others expressed serious reservations about the content and wording of the September dossier, the government still denies the "sexing up" charge.

On the final page of the article, Akerman takes on the media, though I have to admit I can't really tell if he's saying The Sun and The Daily Mirror (yes, it's the same as The Mirror mentioned in the last post) are in disagreement or not.

So, while not perfect, it's pretty good stuff. As usual, I would warn the reader to take everything -- including this warning -- with a grain of salt. If you do read the article for yourself, don't stop there. Go read Tony Blair's testimony for yourself. And don't stop there either. Follow the trail, wherever it leads.
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