President Bush has finally accepted responsibility for using suspect evidence about Iraq’s weaponry as a public justification for war and insisted America was “on the hunt” for missing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
When Britain and America were preparing to go to war against Iraq many people across the world did not share Blair and Bush’s vision, neither did we believe that Saddam had any weapons of mass destruction. Then a document was produced that swayed public opinion and before we knew it we were at war. During the conflict we were thrown several red herrings in a bid for continued support:
- 30 March British troops find protective suits, training materials and stocks of a nerve gas antidote, atropine, near Basra. Later confirmed to be for defensive purposes.
- 31 March US military spokesman announces discovery of chemical protection suits and decontamination equipment near Nasiriyah. Later admits they could be for defensive purposes.
- 4 April US forces find hoard of white powder in boxes in military plant south of Baghdad. Substance turns out to be explosives.
- 6 April US forces find 14 barrels of chemicals that could be the nerve agents sarin and tabun. Further tests suggest the chemicals were pesticides.
- 7 April US military official says 20 medium-range missiles loaded with sarin and mustard gas found outside Baghdad. US Secretary Donald Rumsfeld treats report with caution saying: “Almost all first reports turn out to be wrong.”
- 8 April Tony Blair says Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and that US and British forces will be led to them as Saddam Hussein’s regime collapses.
Three months after the war was declared to be over these weapons have still not been found but Iraq’s oil wells are now under the protection of the American military. This war was never about WoMD but Bush and Blair still intend to convince us that it was. They both held press conferences on their respective sides of the Atlantic on Wednesday 30th July to once again try to cloud our judgement.
“In order to placate the critics and cynics about intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence,” Mr Bush said. “And I fully understand that. And I’m confident that our search will yield that which I strongly believe: that Saddam had a weapons programme.”
Mr Blair said that “people need to know that what we did in Iraq was right and justified. That’s a case we have to not just assert, but prove over time, both in relation to weapons of mass destruction and in relation to the improvement of Iraq. I think a lot of people will make up their minds on the basis of the evidence.”
On 18 July David Kelly apparently committed suicide after being named as a source for BBC reports over the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and appearing, three days before he died, before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee investigating whether the Government gave accurate information to Parliament and the public in the run-up to the 2003 Gulf War. Kelly was a scientific civil servant who became the UK’s leading authority in the effort to prevent the development and proliferation of biological weapons around the world.
Whilst The BBC and the Government are at loggerheads with each other and playing the blame game, it is left to us the members of the public to decide what is fact and what is “sexed up.” The enquiry into Mr Kelly’s death will begin soon but will all the facts come out?
Let us hope that what is done in the dark will come out in the light.