Friday, March 25, 2005

Yet again there are clamourings for Lord Goldsmith's advice on the legality of going to War in Iraq to be made public, and still the Government are refusing. I'm doing all I can not to think 'conspiracy!', that the Government are holding off on publishing it because tying up news cycles with this is a lot better than news cycles full of the latest insane Tory schemes to fuck the entire country up or how New Labour are doing this right now. The Government's reasons for not publishing are also nonsense, that legal issues should remain secret, they aren't supposed to release intelligence material into the public domain either but they did so because it suited their purpose in trying to get the country onside for war.

But we already know that Goldsmith changed his views on legality based on a personal assurance from Blair that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, we know from the former British ambassador to Washington that Blair and Bush agreed long before the dodgy dossier to invade Iraq, we know that Neocons helped Goldsmith come to his decision that the war was legal. We also know from the Hutton and Butler reports that the intelligence services were helped by Tony Blair's office, specifically Jonathan Powell and Alistair Campbell, to take their poor evidence and make it useful by taking out the equivocation.

So is there any point in publishing Goldsmith's legal opinion? By focusing on that, it seems to me that we're falling into the Government's trap. After all, Goldsmith's document isn't going to say "In my opinion going to war is both a bad idea and legally speaking a terrorist act with no legal backing" is it? So the Government will be happy for people clamouring to see a document which isn't going to do them any real harm. The findings of the Hutton Inquiry last year were mad but the discussion became 'the BBC is evil. Discuss', even when people then brought up the clear evidence that Downing Street manipulated things to suit themselves it was as though because Hutton had decided to ignore it no-one in authority had to talk about it any more. If Goldsmiths' views are published and there is no smoking gun, I'm worried that it would be falsely used against those who are against the war and would let Blair get away with it all yet again. The legal opinion might be more useful unpublished.

UPDATE: Well well well. Looks like they're spinning the process out a bit longer. Seeing as the Freedom of Information Act is designed so that officials don't have to give out any more information but can say to the public "But we have a Freedom of Information Act!" I'm not holding out for a ruling that the Government were wrong. Every other 'independent' organisation Blair has set up has been coincidentally controlled by New Labour, so I don't see why this one should be any different.


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