Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Hutton: The Pit and the Pendulum - 3rd September 2003, 22.29

The strong performance of Blair last Thursday in a well-prepared brief, that showed no remorse for the bereaved and the departed, appeared to have swung the inquiry in the government's favour. However, this short-term view, propagated by the media over the weekend, was another figment of the Westminster hothouse. The intelligence officers still had to give evidence and Hutton was undoubtedly keeping his powder dry. Their evidence contradicted the government and provided a familiar picture of politicians attempting to edit a dossier in order to justify their political objectives. The cynics will sound surprised.

Brian Jones, a retired branch head of the defence intelligence analysis staff, told the Hutton inquiry there were several concerns about the 45 minute claim and one of his staff felt some of the assessements of the threat posed by Iraq were "over-egged" in the dossier.

The inquiry heard the "shutters came down" on the dossier before intelligence officials' reservations had a chance to be properly considered and there were fears "spin merchants" had been too involved in the dossier's production.

In an afternoon that dealt a series of blows to the government's claims that the dossier was not "sexed up", another intelligence officer, who went under the codename Mr A, said the dossier "had been around the houses" in order to find "words that would strengthen certain political objectives".

After the appearance of Mrs Kelly and the damning evidence of the staff involved in preparing the dossier, this governemnt finds that it has been unable to shift the dominant view of a politicised dossier and a man smeared to save his superiors.


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