Iraq Inquiry officially stalled

Matteo Angioli
Membro del Consiglio Generale del Partito Radicale
Tue, 11/12/2013

We know that the Inquiry headed by Sir John Chilcot, set up in the summer of 2009 to establish the truth on the circumstances in which the Blair Government ensured the participation of the UK in the war in Iraq, has been delayed three times in reaching the final phase of its findings, namely the publication of the final report. The statement posted on the website of the Inquiry on 5 November contains a new important feature. In previous announcements, Sir John indicated a deadline, albeit hypothetical. Not this time, as he admitted that given the circumstances the Inquiry is not able to continue its work and, remarkably, that "it is regrettable that the Government and the Inquiry have not reached a final position on the disclosure ofn these more difficult categories of document". 'The Government and the Inquiry', Sir John diplomatically writes, although it is clear from the rest of the letter (and not only the letter) where the disagreement lies.

 

In a letter sent to the Prime Minister David Cameron on 4 November, Sir John requested the disclosure of 200 Cabinet-level discussions, 25 notes from Mr Blair to President Bush and more than 130 records of conversations between either George Bush, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The Cameron Government, through the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, who is the formal addressee of Chilcot's requests for declassification, continues to deny access to and disclosure of the documents concerned. It is for this reason that Sir John and his colleagues wrote: "the Maxwellization process timetable has been delayed [and that] we are not yet able to confirm when we will be in a position to provide them with the material they expect". In other words, the "Maxwellization" process, whereby individuals who will be criticized in the report are given the opportunity to represent their defense, is blocked.

 

The stall is official. In a swift and hasty response to Chilcot on 5 November, Mr Cameron states that "consideration of the final sets of papers can be concluded as soon as possible". The Guardian journalist Richard Norton-Taylor recalls Sir John's remark that the fact that Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Jack Straw and other Cabinet members have published memoirs and biographies "leads to the position that individuals may disclose privileged information (without sanction) whilst a committee of privy counsellors established by a former prime minister to review the issues, cannot", because of the refusal of David Cameron. The conclusion of the statement is clear: "The Inquiry is therefore not yet able to confirm when it will be in a position to commence the ‘Maxwellisation’ process.

The Maxwellization process is likely to take several months and that the final report will not be out before 2015, when Britain will hold general elections. While politicians, including British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, keep silent, on November 10 in an article "Democracies in critical condition" appeared in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, former Italian Ambassador Sergio Romano writes: "Representative democratic regimes seem to have lost their ability to learn from their mistakes" and "it is also possible that democracies are affected by not easily treatable illnesses and that we might brace for a long crisis whose outcomes are difficult to predict". The war in Iraq is probably one of the mistakes from which democracies need to learn in order to be ready to launch a new start.

 

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Sappiamo che l'Inchiesta guidata da Sir John Chilcot, creata nell'estate 2009 per stabilire la verità sulle circostanze in cui il Governo Blair ha assicurato la partecipazione alla guerra in Iraq, ha dovuto subire almeno tre ritardi nel raggiungere la fase finale dei suoi lavori, ovvero la pubblicazione del rapporto conclusivo. Ma il comunicato pubblicato sul sito dell'Inchiesta il 5 novembre contiene una novità importante.