Butler Report: Error Did It

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Key intelligence used to justify war with Iraq has now been shown to be unreliable, concludes Lord Butler in the British government’s report about the misinformation that caused a pointless war.

Nevertheless says Lord Butler, there is no one to blame for the thousands of deaths, the massive destruction, and subsequent creation of a new generation of terrorists but mere error itself. "No one lied," not even Prime Minister Blair when he made the unbelievable assertion that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

No one need resign, says Lord Butler, despite the massive "intelligence failure" that caused a gratuitous act of naked aggression. John Scarlett, who drew up the dossier containing the intelligence misinformation, has already been promoted to head the Secret Intelligence Service.

"Weak sourcing" is used to explain away the disinformation used to start a war. A new and untested "source" was used as the basis for the scary claims. In short, British intelligence "did not generally have agents with first hand, inside knowledge" of Iraq’s capabilities.

What they didn’t know, they pretended to know, but Lord Butler says he can find no "culpable negligence."

The British conclusion is a war based on utter incompetence, but no one was negligent or to blame. Just those damn errors. If it hadn’t been for happenstance errors, Saddam Hussein would have been guilty as charged.

The US Senate’s Select Committee blamed "the process." The Brits blame "error." The US and the UK are supposed to be the two greatest democracies, but there is no sign of political accountability in either.

Lord Butler’s whitewash was a bit too much for Field Marshall Lord Inge who told reporters, "Intelligence and public relations should be kept apart."

It looks like the "Great Democracies" are going to get away with starting a war without a single valid reason, a war that has killed and maimed tens of thousands of people and created a higher level of instability in the Middle East.

And Americans think we are fit to lead the world.

Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

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