Lying Is Good Government

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following President Bush in his usual poodle-like fashion, the war
criminal Tony Blair has approved the launch of an inquiry into Iraq's
mysterious absence of weapons of mass destruction. And in so doing,
he has appointed another notorious proponent of deceit, Lord Butler,
to head up his planned "limited hangout".

in a long procession of cronies awarded peerages by the British
Labor government, the Lord, in a previous incarnation as Sir Robin
Butler, will always be remembered as the dutiful senior civil servant
who proclaimed that governments have a right to lie where it is
"convenient" to do so and that government ministers are
not responsible for decisions made by their aides.

enough, he candidly made these admissions in the course of another
Iraq-related controversy.

November 1992, the trial of the directors of Matrix Churchill, a
company thought to have breached a military export ban on the supply
of "dual purpose" technologies to Iraq, collapsed in a
spectacular fashion following revelations that the British government
had played a duplicitous role in the affair and was prepared to
see innocent men go to prison rather than admit its illegal practices.
The "Inquiry into Exports of Defence Equipment and Dual Use
Goods to Iraq" was established and presided over by an icon
of the establishment Lord u2018Justice' Scott.

Scott inquiry (which ended, predictably, as a whitewash) heard that
the Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, had eyed Saddam's regime
as one providing "major opportunities for British industry"
yet feared public reaction should his plans for the increased export
of armaments be uncovered. "It could look very cynical if so
soon after expressing outrage about the treatment of the Kurds,
we adopt a more flexible approach to arms sales," a spokesman
for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confessed to the Scott inquiry.

questioned by Lord Scott about the culpability of government ministers
in the outlawed dealings of their respective departments, Butler,
in his capacity as Cabinet Secretary, replied: "Ministers should
not have to resign for civil servants' mistakes of which they were
unaware". Furthermore, he denied that ministerial accountability
had anything to do with taking responsibility for mistakes or even
outright lies. More shocking still, the man Blair has chosen to
examine the government's handling of intelligence information in
regard to Iraq, actually thinks that lying and excessive secrecy
is "good government":

Lord Justice
Scott: "In your experience of government . . . do you think
there is anything in the proposition that the convenience of secrecy
emphasis about what the Government is doing, because it allows
government to proceed more smoothly without the focus of attack
that might otherwise be levelled, does in practice inhibit the
giving of information about what [the] government is doing?"

Sir Robin
[now Lord] Butler: "You can call that a matter of convenience,
if you like. I would call it a matter of being in the interests
of good government".

u2018R' us, straight from the elegantly groomed horse's mouth.

having a highly polished liar at the helm of this inquiry is not
enough for Blair. As Cabinet Secretary throughout successive Conservative
and Labor administrations, no other civil servant has enjoyed such
intimate relations with the British intelligence services as Lord
Butler. Even after the Cold War, Butler maintained a keen interest
in the activities of MI5 and MI6, chairing numerous Joint Intelligence
Committee meetings to discuss secret police sting operations and
the surveillance and arrest of British dissidents. Anyone doubting
this man's network of elite "Old School Tie" connections
in the realm of espionage would do well to read the Mitrokhin Inquiry
Report as a primer (see References below). Expect a "balanced"
report favorable to both the government and the intelligence services.

Liberal Democrats at least have seen through Blair's latest slippery
ruse and are having no part in it. On the day the inquiry was announced,
their spokesman, Sir Menzies Campbell, complained that Butler's
remit did not include the wherewithal to examine Blair's outrageous
lies and manipulation of already-tainted "evidence", although
not in so many words.

is a matter of profound regret that we feel unable to endorse the
remit announced by the Foreign Secretary," said Campbell. "Our
objections relate to the remit the Foreign Secretary has announced.
It's a remit that's confined to intelligence and weapons of mass
destruction. It deals neither with the workings of Government nor
with the political decision making based on intelligence."

Menzies Campbell means, but dare not say, is that Blair has briefed
Butler to produce only a generalized "limited hangout"
that will appear more credible than Lord Hutton's over-zealous parody
of justice. It must synchronize with its American counterpart so
that neither Bush nor Blair are distracted in their "good cop,
bad cop" roles as they fix Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia in
their gun-sights; and it must reinforce the scare-mongering hysteria
that allows Home Secretary David Blunkett to deliver on his broad
definition of dissidents as "terrorists" and make good
his dream of secret tribunals that will convict innocent people
on a "balance of probabilities".

you seek the truth in this Realm of Lies, be warned. For though
the truth will set you free, it will also mark you as a potential
terrorist, someone who, according to Blunkett, seeks only to "disrupt
the business of government".

of an insurrection in defense of our God-given rights to life and
liberty, we shall remain nothing more than bothersome and expendable
slaves in a nation forever and tragically beholden to the New Lords
of Deception.

I not right, Mr Butler?


5, 2004

James [send him mail]
is a British freelance journalist and translator, resident in Germany
for almost 12 years.


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