02-16 July, 2004

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 2, 2004

Category: Uncategorized

This entry was posted on
Friday, July 2nd, 2004
at
12:33 pm and is filed
under Uncategorized.

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Date
20040702
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
12:33
Rod, who is currently blogging on behalf of Sarah Teather MP, has applied to be in the audience of this special ‘yoof’ edition of Question Time… where Sarah Teather will be on the panel.

Here’s hoping that the subject of communication with MPs via weblogs gets an airing.

In fact, if you’re a blogger aged 15 to 25 and you live in or near London, you may wish to apply for a place in the audience yourself.

(This has been a rare post in support of The Political Weblog Movement. Find out more here.)

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Date
20040705
A Blog is Born
Time
09:37
Just for the record… I went to see a certain movie last night. Going to see it yourself? My advice would be to take a wingnut with you. If you can find one with enough guts.

Links: www.michaelmoore.com

Counterbias: The Media’s Dual ‘Propaganda’ Thresholds.

Michael Moore started blogging yesterday.

Moore: pirate my film, no problem.

An Independence Day Quiz

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Date
20040705
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:56
Two posts in one day? Honestly, I spoil you people sometimes.

James Mills is trying to get a Tory MP on board with a blog, and he needs your help.

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Date
20040706
Spam
Time
11:59
A little treat for those of you who have been keeping the faith. Like Andrew. Who wishes to bring this to your attention.

UPDATE – Yep, looks like he’s going to weasel his way out again. And there’s nothing you or I can do about it…

Independent – Blair finally admits it: ‘We may never find WMD’: His move was seen at Westminster as a pre-emptive strike before the publication a week today of the Butler report into Britain’s pre-war intelligence, which is expected to criticise the security services and the use by the Government of the material they provided. Mr Blair is expected to admit that mistakes were made ­ but to defend the decision to topple Saddam.

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Date
20040707
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
17:37
Can you hear that rumble in the distance? That’s a storm headed our way. And it’s going to be a big one.

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Date
20040712
Feedback
Time
11:49
MRSA could kill you stone dead! So wash your hands! FFS, we’ve obviously got some kind of genius in charge of this, the latest Major Life Or Death Issue That’s Nothing To Do With Iraq.

Cheers for all the weekend/morning emails.

Yes, I watched Panorama last night. Yes, I caught the ‘blink and you miss it’ reference to what Blair omitted from the September dossier – the assertion by the intelligence services that there was no clear link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Yes, I’m aware that Bush’s ‘doomsday’ plan for postponing the election is spearheaded by a Baptist pastor and I’m as amused/disturbed as you are.

Yes, I see how determined Bush is to restore dignity to the White House. And now I have a link for you.

It also hasn’t escaped my attention that – in yet another week where Blair needs The Fear – it is delivered with the wonderfully graphic notion of Big Ben falling on the House of Commons. How very WTC.

My turn for a question… what can I do apart from bitch about it?

Juicy links to follow, emails and/or any ideas for futile gestures are welcome.

Andrew Rawnsley – What Tony Blair would say to God: I’m increasingly convinced that the Prime Minister essentially decided to support the removal of the Iraqi dictator first, and then thought about how to sell this to his party, the public and international opinion. On this occasion, the presentation did not drive the policy; the policy drove the presentation.

Peter Preston – Does Big Ben Chime For You?: At heart, you’re just that ordinary guy, stuck with going on and on until something – a trouncing, a visitation from Osama, a superbug the good doctor missed – says you’re not. The trouble with power, you know, is that there is no rest as the clock strikes five.

The Guardian – Focus on The Butler Report

PS – Survival Tips for Tony Blair:

1. Your party is likely to stick with you if you continue to overstate the threat of the Tories. You’re jolly good at this kind of thing, and the plan appears to be working. Keep it up.

2. Try to ignore the torture of children in Abu Ghraib for as long as possible, and then act shocked and take ‘immediate and decisive action’ the moment the issue hits the front pages.

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Date
20040712
Flash Music Video
Time
16:39
There may be a new Flash jobbie cooking away in the background sometime soon. In the meantime, enjoy this. Cheers all.

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Date
20040713
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
08:49
“The proof? You can’t handle the proof!

PS – Black is white and up is down. Does this remind you of anything?

UPDATE – Who’s rewriting the what now?

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Date
20040713
Photoshopping
Time
13:45
The Butler Report is out tomorrow.

I know I’m going to regret my youthful optimism in the morning, but… (Closes eyes. Makes a wish.)

And now, here is the news: bong… bong… bong…

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Date
20040714
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:21
From today’s issue of Murdoch’s Times newspaper: Officials said yesterday that they were confident the Government had escaped the two most ‘lethal’ verdicts, namely that Mr Blair and his aides lied about Iraqi WMD or that he went to war without legal justification. Although they accept that the report will be “tough and embarrassing,” one senior Whitehall source stated last night: “The Prime Minister will be cleared of misusing intelligence. An hour after receiving the report yesterday, Mr Blair issued a passionate defence of the war with Iraq, saying that the world was safer and more secure with Saddam out of power. He is expected to reiterate that message today in a Commons statement at 1.30pm, an hour after Lord Butler publishes his report.”

That’s it? That’s all he’s got? Saddam bad, Saddam gone, no problem…?

There have been more than a few mentions of the lack of a “silver bullet” aimed at Blair, but it’s also highly unlikely that any aspect of the report magically clears Blair.

Why do I suspect this? Because if there were such a thing, the foundations would almost certainly have been laid in this morning’s Sun, which today contains not one mention of Lord Butler and his report. Instead it’s the new plague and Britney Spears swigging scotch. (Or is that perhaps a bottle of ginseng extract? Never mind. They operated on the intelligence they had at the time and did what had to be done, and that’s what matters.)

Don’t think too hard today, boys and girls. And remember that there are bigger problems to deal with.

That way, Blair has a chance of squirming free once again, instead of being strapped to the nearest long-range missile and sent on his way.

The UK Today: Now remember, and this is the important bit, the rationale for invading Iraq was to prevent Saddam using his WMDs, weapons that would take no more than 45 minutes to deploy and could hit Cyprus. Remember that because it is important. Our Parliament voted to go to war on the issue of WMDs, not to bring about regime change, not to bring democracy to Iraq, not to free the Iraqis, but to get rid of Saddam and his WMDs.

(Click here for a desktop version of this image.)

Keep up with the latest news on the Butler report here or here. For a clear/creative indication of what the public makes of it, scan the B3ta messageboard.

UPDATE – London News Review – Lord Butler has some easy conclusions to draw about Blair and the Iraq intelligence.

UPDATE – Download the report here. Also, there’s this:

BBC – Butler report publication: Point-by-point

My fave bit: On the 45 minute claim, Lord Butler said his inquiry had looked at whether the claim had been spun by the government but he decided it had not. It had been seized on by the media because it was new and striking.

Yes. Downing St had no control over how certain media outlets *cough*Murdochscum*cough* might select or treat this new and striking information. That Blair’s team chose to highlight.

Also: Lord Butler said Iraq was a very big place and there was “lots of sand” and it would be an unwise person who reached the conclusion that nothing would ever be found in Iraq.

Like, perhaps… more sand?

And: Lord Butler said there was no evidence, no reason to question to the prime minister’s good faith.

Quickly leapt upon by Blair as Vindication Lite: The prime minister said there had been two issues one being about good faith – no-one had lied, made up intelligence, everyone had tried to do their best in difficult circumstances. Questions over good faith should now be at an end.

Funny, I could have sworn there was the small matter of “unwittingly” misleading Parliament to be dealt with.

Not that it should be argued in these terms. Blair still has a case to answer in my view.

He needed justification for invading Iraq and he made damn sure that he got it.

Or perhaps you would care to believe that he just happened to have the good fortune to be visited by the Good Intelligence fairies, who delivered a magic carriage of invisible weapons.

That he was left with a crate of rotting pumpkins is by-the-by. And nobody’s fault.

Oh, and Saddam is a bad man, and now he’s gone. War on Terror, 911, etc. etc. etc.

Maggie Thatcher’s Underpants – Whitehall Whitewash Part Deux: The Smell of Teflon: What I am definitely certain of is that something went badly wrong in the interface between the intelligence community and government. The government wanted intelligence to make the case for a war they were already committed to – intelligence didn’t guide what they were doing. In this desperation, pressure was placed on the intelligence community to come up with the sort of language that the government wanted.

The UK Today – Lies, Damn Lies, and Dossiers on WMDs: When it comes to the 45 minute claim, Butler decided that the claim had not been spun by the government, but instead was seized upon by the media because it would make a striking headline. Which would be a valid defence were it not for the fact that Alistair Campbell was in the loop and would have know exactly the effect the 45 minute claim would have on the press.

To close, I offer you a rarity; something that almost never appears on Bloggerheads… a reference to sport. Yes, I’m as amazed as you are.

I may blog the results of New Statesman New Media Awards (the awards are presented/announced tomorrow evening), but after that I fully expect to re-plug and go back to sleep. Cheers all.

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Date
20040714
Opportunities
Time
18:41
Sounds to me like they’re looking for a young blogger. Too bad the pay is so average.

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Date
20040714
Tolerance
Time
19:47
Is George W. Bush a flaming homosexual?

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Date
20040715
Intelligence
Time
08:59
The official Butler Report website – Now trading as the John Scarlett Appreciation Society. Cheers Rogi.

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Date
20040716
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
11:29
You can still sign up to the Bloggerheads mailing list and get updates while I’m resting by sending a blank email to this address:

bloggerheads-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

In fact, if you’d already done this, you would have known that my picks for the New Statesman New Media Awards were Slugger O’Toole for Community and Information and Tom Watson for Elected Representative.

And so it came to pass.

(For comments on Tom’s award, see his website; I’ve just taken the liberty of making a post on his behalf.)

Rob and I spent a very pleasant hour before the awards handing out ‘Will Blair Resign?’ stickers to people queuing up to go into Westminster. I was still wearing mine when I met Peter Hain at the presentation of Tom’s award and during a very pleasant chat in the reception that followed.

(Don’t ask; my lips are firmly sealed. No big secrets; I just don’t want to be rude.)

James Mills was also in fine form and a pleasure to share beer with.

I really should close by saying hooray for Slugger and his gentle but firm nurturing of democracy.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but when you think about it, it’s probably not a good idea to give an achievement award to a guy who spends most of his time setting fires.

Speaking of which, I’m still officially resting, but I’m sure that I will find this very hard to ignore.

(shakes box of matches)

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Date
20040716
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
11:33
See and enjoy www.johnhowardlies.com before it gets knocked for six.

Not only but also…

Independent – Revealed: Government witnesses knew September dossier was unsafe – but did not tell Hutton: Crucial doubts about Iraq’s ability to produce chemical weapons were withheld from two inquiries which examined the Government’s case for war.

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Date
20040716
A Blog is Born
Time
13:33
Mail Watch, brought to you by the Merkster and friends. Look forward to it; that’s an order.








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