Hutton Report Finale

HUTTON REPORT FINALE….Tony Blair is having a good week. First he won a battle over university fees that he had been expected to lose, and today the final report of the Hutton inquiry cleared him completely of any wrongdoing in the death of David Kelly. He didn’t expose Kelly’s name, he didn’t have any responsibility for Kelly’s suicide, and he didn’t “sex up” the WMD dossier issued in 2002.

The BBC, on the other hand, doesn’t fare so well. Their editorial system was “defective” and they allowed pique to keep them from properly investigating claims that their reporter’s notes didn’t back up his story.

The full report is here (warning: large PDF file).

I’m in a hurry this morning and this is all I have time to post. It’s been a while since I wrote about this, but off the top of my head I have these comments: (a) Hutton’s criticism of the BBC is probably about right; (b) his conclusion that the government is not really responsible for exposing Kelly or causing his death is also right; but (c) the evidence that Blair wanted a punchier dossier seems stronger to me than it did to Hutton. There was some fairly damning testimony that at least a couple of very senior people doubted some of the claims in the dossier.

However, what’s really remarkable about this whole thing is that the investigation happened at all. Whatever Blair’s government did, their “sexing up” of the dossier was small beer indeed compared to what Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld did in the U.S. The fact that the British conducted an investigation over such relatively restrained meddling with intelligence conclusions is to their credit. Too bad we can’t have one of our own.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation