International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 23, 2004

July 23, 2004





**  Bush and Blair "emerge unscathed" while the intel services are "scapegoats."

**  Critics contend UK and U.S. Iraq reports confirm the war was based on "false foundations."

**  British papers are galled that Butler finds "no one accountable" for Blair's "misjudgments."

**  The "superpowers' blunders" will undercut U.S. and UK credibility to act in future conflicts.




Leaders 'should be held responsible for intel fraud'--  Writers found the U.S. Senate and UK Butler reports on pre-war intelligence "troubling" for failing to assign political responsibilty despite delivering "devastating verdicts."  Both President Bush and PM Blair "resurfaced unharmed."  Even with "so many damning reports," noted one Kuwaiti writer, "neither Bush nor Blair were thrown out" and "no heads rolled."  Oslo's independent Dagens Naeringsliv went so far as to say they "deserve to be fired, but voters forgive the most incredible things."  Some mocked Lord Butler for "affirming that everyone is accountable" but deciding no one "specifically" was to blame.  As Saudi Arabia's English-language Arab News put it: "Only the British can manage inquiries...that admit to errors that absolutely no one committed." 


A 'litany of error and self-delusion'--  While a few positive South Asian editorials admired the  "independence and impartiality" of the U.S.-UK inquiry processes, more detractors dismissed the reports for "confirming the obvious":  the Iraq war was "based on a lie."  The UK account "echoes" the U.S.', judged the liberal Sydney Morning Herald, with its "delineation of weak information compounded by feeble analysis."  It also revealed Blair's conviction was "built on sand."  Even if Bush and Blair had not wilfully lied, they had, alleged the liberal Toronto Star, "crafted a case for war by spooking Americans and Britons with flimsy, fatally flawed evidence."


Brit papers can't forgive Blair for doing Britain a 'disservice' and 'misleading' the public--  British papers across the spectrum were incensed over Butler's "refusal to find fault" or hold PM Blair accountable for following President Bush into such a "reckless and ill-prepared...neocon adventure."  The Butler report was "every bit as bad" as the Senate's, except in Britain's case the committee "has chosen" not to find fault with the "intelligence chiefs or the politicians who produced the climate in which they cut such corners."  Even war supporters such as the conservative Daily Telegraph echoed leftist sentiment that the report does not "exonerate Mr. Blair for the slipshod processes and slapdash presentaton over which he has presided."  But, as the conservative Daily Mail explained, this is "Blairland, where the standards and decencies that once ensured a proud record of integrity in public life are contemptuously ignored." 


Confidence in U.S.-UK intelligence 'undermined'--  Some papers warned the "experiment" of using intelligence for political purposes "had failed" and could have serious consequences for the "next time a world leader" wants to enter a conflict.  Austria's liberal Der Standard claimed London and Washington's efforts to turn "political responsibility into a technical responsibility" of the intelligence services "diminishes options" for facing future threats.  Critics chided the "inept" intelligence services for succumbing to "pressure" from "Bush and his war hawks."


EDITOR:  Irene Marr


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 98 reports from 29 countries over July 10-21, 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.





BRITAIN:  "No Rejoicing Until Mr. Blair Apologizes For Misleading Us Over Iraq"


An editorial in the center-left Independent contended (7/21):  "In the House of Commons yesterday, Tony Blair asked us to rejoice at the fact that Iraq had been liberated.  This echo of Margaret Thatcher's infamous exhortation during the Falklands campaign serves only to demonstrate the extent of the Prime Minister's arrogance over the war.... In truth, the Prime Minister was only able to dodge the main issue so effectively because the Tories are proving so ineffective in holding him to account.  Since they committed themselves wholeheartedly to the invasion of Iraq last year, the Tories lack sufficient credibility now they are trying to question the basis of that decision to invade....  Until Mr. Blair offers a satisfactory explanation of why he shed vital intelligence service caveats in making the case for war, the question of Iraq will continue to plague him.  When the Prime Minister faces up to his terrible misjudgments, that will be a time to rejoice.  But not before.


"No Credit For Blair"


An editorial in left-of-center Guardian held (7/21): "The impression was of a government dusting itself down and grinning at a cheeky escape.  The prime minister may hope that he will return after the summer and put Iraq behind him.  If he thinks that, he is wrong."


"The Leader Who Promised So Much"


An editorial in the conservative tabloid Daily Mail averred (7/21):  "All the bright promise.  All those high hopes.  Ten years to the day since Tony Blair was acclaimed as Labour's new leader, what is left of them now?...  According to the latest polls, for example, most voters believe he lied over Iraq.  That is a devastating verdict, especially when the nation faces a deadly terrorist threat.  Who will listen to him now if he warns of risks to national security?... Of course Mr. Blair can claim some successes.  He bravely transformed Labour, took great political risks in Ulster and still manages (just) to co-exist with Gordon Brown, who has been so outstanding in managing the economy. But Mr. Blair's nemesis is Iraq.  The way he misled Britain into this misbegotten war has brought into terrifying focus how far spin came to dominate his regime."


"There Was Never An Honest Debate In Cabinet" 


Former international development secretary Clare Short commented in the center-left Independent (7/19): "When Lord Butler asked who was responsible, he said it was a collective failure.  Yet the report draws attention to the Prime Minister's very informal style of decision-making.  It tells us there were papers written to inform cabinet discussion that were not circulated, therefore cabinet members were unable to take advice or reflect on issues in advance.  However, we are told that the Cabinet discussed Iraq on 24 occasions.  But most members of the Cabinet saw little intelligence, read no papers and knew only what they read in the press....  Power has been sucked into No. 10 and policy is driven by headline-grabbing announcements.  It means that checks and balances have broken down, and that leads to ill-considered policy -- most tragically in Tony Blair's policy towards Iraq."


"Last Chance To Hold Blair To Account"


A commentary in the left-of-center Guardian held (7/19):  "Tomorrow MPs will have perhaps a final opportunity to probe the prime minister when they debate the Butler report....  A lack of understanding of the complexities of foreign affairs is a more depressing answer.  Then there is perhaps the most likely answer, the 'don't rock the boat for Tony' school of politics.  Iraq is seen through the prism of Blair's future....  But this war, of all wars, with the tens of thousands killed, with the botched diplomacy, dubious legality and flimsy intelligence, was always much more important that the legacy of a British prime minister.  As they prepare for tomorrow's debate, Labour MPs should ponder those priorities."


"A Breach Of The Peace"


Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London suggested in the left-of-center Guardian (7/19):  "The Butler report raises more questions than it answers.  But we can now say this: even on the widely discredited basis put forward for the lawfulness of going to war -- Iraq's material breach of its security council obligations -- the use of force could not be justified.  In March 2002 the government proceeded on the basis that a claim of material breach required incontrovertible proof of large-scale WMD activity.  A year later Blair departed from that standard.  The government should now publish all the advice."


"Sexing Down" 


Conservative tabloid Daily Mail editorialized (7/19):  "We should not be surprised that a Prime Minister who sent British troops to fight in Iraq on the basis of a lie has gone to such extreme lengths to influence the inquiries into why this country went to war....  The time is long overdue for Parliament to bring Mr. Blair properly to account for his conduct."


"Missing Link"


Dan Plesch judged in the left-of-center Guardian (7/15):  "Once a comparative analysis of what the British and American services were saying is undertaken, it will become far clearer that the case for war was fabricated.... The next question is why Whitehall officials and ministers cannot ever mention the information provided from the U.S.?...  Are we expected to believe that the American officials at no point made any linkage or applied any leverage on the UK?  That they were happy to help out Tony Blair with a  10-year deal on the supply of nuclear arms and missiles without any conditions? The reality is that in our two-dimensional world, the British will continue to march in step with Washington into future adventures, and will find themselves accepting a new generation of nuclear power plants and Star Wars missiles on the Yorkshire Moors, to keep the supply of weapons of mass destruction from being interrupted.  But these are matters for the grown-ups, while the public and the press can be kept happy with the pomp and circumstance of a report from a committee of Her Majesty's privy councillors."


"A Systems Failure At The Heart Of Government"


Peter Hennessy, Attlee professor of contemporary British history at Queen Mary College London, had this commentary in the center-left Independent  (7/16):  "Perhaps the most surprising revelation from its nearly 200 pages is the degree to which intelligence did not pave the road to war.... British intelligence prides itself on a core principle -- a ruling tradition almost -- that saw it through the Second World War and the Cold War.  All raw intelligence is subjected to rigorous testing, validation and assessment, and is served up to its ministerial customers unvarnished, however inconvenient reading it might make.  The Butler committee thinks the road to Baghdad caused that tradition to be tarnished.  It wants it burnished and restored.  Early indications from inside the British intelligence community suggest that this view is accepted, and it will be put right.... The language is measured; the judgment is based on Butler's long experience of serving closely five prime ministers (including Tony Blair).  Never has there been an indictment to match this of a systems failure at the heart of British government."


"Speaking Mandarin"


An editorial in the conservative Times held (7/16):  "For two days now, the Butler report on intelligence failures leading up to the Iraq war has been sluicing through Whitehall like a wave of highly astringent mouthwash.....  The Butler report will be carefully noted by historians for its candid criticism of Downing Street's government by clique; and of that cliques fatal detachment from a Civil Service that, for all its faults, could and should have been used better.....  Britain now needs a less charmed circle around its chief executive, and more personal accountability when grave errors of judgment are exposed.  This is not a debate about whether the British Prime Minister is now more 'presidential', but whether he is accountable."


"It Is Time For Tony Blair To Leave No.10"


A commentary in the left-of-center Guardian stated (7/16):  "Former Conservative foreign secretary Douglas Hurd calls for Tony Blair's resignation....  Contrary to the prime minister's assertion, the world is a more dangerous place because of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq..... We delivered Iraq from tyranny, and introduced it to insurgency and terrorism.  That is not an easy equation....  Like Anthony Eden with Suez, Tony Blair persuaded himself and led us into a military adventure based on a misreading of Middle Eastern politics and of British interests....  His reputation and the reputation of British politics would be immensely enhanced if he could now find the humility and courage to draw a line under the controversy by leaving No.10."


"Who Can Restrain President Blair?


An editorial in the conservative tabloid Daily Mail stated (7/16):  "There is nobody to make Tony Blair resign and nothing to stop him blundering again in the future....  In any well-ordered democracy, the admission of such a devastating mistake would be enough to trigger a resignation.  After all, this wasn't about some minor piece of legislation.  This was about sending our soldiers to die in a foreign land. But this is Blairland, where the standards and decencies that once ensured a proud record of integrity in public life are contemptuously ignored.  As Butler makes unequivocally clear, Mr. Blair has driven a coach and horses through our constitution in five crucial areas.... Resign?  Of course Mr. Blair won't resign.  There is nobody to make him.  And nothing to stop him blundering again either."



"In The Long Term, Blair Will Pay The Price"


The center-left Independent editorialized (7/15):  "It is the lack of bite, the refusal to find fault, that destroys the value of this report, along with the meager and over-generalized recommendations....  So many faults, so little responsibility:  the age-old escape route of the establishment.  Little wonder that both the prime minister and the intelligence community were so quick to accept the report's recommendations in full....  It is a litany of error and self-delusion every bit as bad as that found last week by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.  Only in Britain's case, our committee has chosen to find no fault either with the intelligence chiefs or the politicians who produced the climate in which they cut such corners.  It won't wash.  John Scarlett's reputation, in particular, is surely too badly damaged for him to perform as Britain's spy chief.  Nor can the prime minister escape the implications as smoothly as his performance in Parliament yesterday implied.  In the short run, he may make it to the summer recess without too much direct parliamentary damage.  But over the longer term he has still to answer the crucial question of how and why the country was taken to war on what is now clearly established as a false prospectus.  Lord Butler's report can only add to the public's sense of being misled.  As Mr. Blair said himself, it is a question of trust not judgment.  Exactly."


"Blair Did Not Lie -- But He Did Britain A Disservice"


The conservative Daily Telegraph took this view (7/15):  "The key charge made by the anti-war lobby--that Mr. Blair wilfully and mendaciously took this country to war either knowing that Iraq did not pose a threat or indifferent as to whether it did or not--has been dismissed by Butler, as it was by Lord Hutton.  Mr. Blair relied heavily on this conclusion in his statement yesterday and asked that accusations that he either lied or acted in bad faith should finally be laid to rest.  We agree.  However, that does not exonerate Mr. Blair from blame for the slipshod processes and slapdash presentation over which he has presided.  His biggest error was to draw the intelligence community directly into what was essentially a political judgment.  Hundreds of hours and millions of words have now been expended on a semantic merry-go-round to establish whether the intelligence about Iraq's capabilities and intentions was accurate.  Unsurprisingly, given its nature and the difficulties of extracting it, the intelligence on Iraqi WMD has been shown up to be less certain that Mr. Blair would have had the country believe....  It is often forgotten that there was much in the dossier that was entirely uncontroversial, sober and unchallengeable.  Interestingly, one piece of intelligence that has been widely accepted to have been false because it was said to have been based on forged documents--that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger--Butler says was true after all.  For those who wanted a definitive condemnation of Mr. Blair's decision to go to war, Butler's report will inevitably prove disappointing, but they cannot dismiss it as a 'whitewash'....  A future government may well feel it necessary to publish intelligence assessments in order better to inform the country about a decision of equal gravity.  So, it is important that Mr. Blair, in the coming months, demonstrates that he is serious about learning the lessons of this sorry episode."


"Intelligence Tests"


The conservative Times contended (7/15):  "While Mr. Blair may not have positively embellished the intelligence to make his case, he certainly deleted any doubts.  He has yet to explain why he did so, but he was right yesterday to take responsibility for the errors in a controversial document.  It is now time for Britain and Iraq to move on."


"Lessons Blair Must Learn"


The left-of-center Guardian held (7/15):  "But for all their fine chiseling, the former cabinet secretary's findings throw a harsh light on Tony Blair's conduct of government, as well as on the performance of the intelligence agencies....  He concludes the failings were collective.  The danger of that approach is that no one will have responsibility for putting things right....  Lord Butler has laid bare a style of government that is both unaccountable and dangerous.  Mr. Blair sounded unapologetic in the Commons yesterday.  We can only hope that underneath the combative veneer the true message of Butler will sink in."


"A Lot Of Sand In The Whitehall Machine"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (7/15):  "The report recommends building up and supporting such international organizations, as well as strengthening human intelligence gathering and assessment.  Another sensible recommendation is that the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee should be 'very senior' and 'demonstrably beyond influence'....  On governance itself, Lord Butler scores a palpable hit.  The closely held document-lite Blair style reduces 'the scope for informed collective political judgment' by leaving all but close aides out of the loop.  Iraq is as good a case study as any to prove that."


"In Good Faith"


The right-of-center tabloid Sun argued (7/15):  "Two things are now beyond dispute.  The prime minister did not lie to the nation before the war on Iraq.  And the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein....  Saddam has gone.  The Iraqi people are liberated and have hope again.  That is the lasting achievement of Tony Blair and George W. Bush."


"Blair Can't Hide Behind This Butler Balderdash"


The center-left tabloid Daily Mirror commented (7/15):  "At least this report does show how it happened.  Although the facts won't come as a surprise....  President Bush and his White House warriors were intent on attacking Iraq and removing Saddam.  For some reason, Tony Blair wanted to go along with them....  Tony Blair genuinely thinks that the Butler report will restore the trust he has lost among voters.  No, it won't.  For they, just as genuinely, believe he is no longer trustworthy.  That will be seen in today's two by-elections.  It is a dialogue of the deaf--between a prime minister convinced he is right and millions who think he is not being straight with them.  Only one person can sort that out--Tony Blair.  And he won't do it by hoping Lord Butler's report will clear his name."


"Will Blair Ever Be Believed Again?"


The conservative tabloid Daily Mail editorialized (7/15):  "His Lordship's 200-page report on the blunders, misjudgments, blatant economies with the truth and the corruption of our system of government is a devastating indictment of how Britain was misled into a disastrous war.  Behind the elliptical, understated mandarin-speak, his findings are truly shocking.  Not only was the intelligence on Iraq 'seriously flawed', but the Government also pushed it to the 'outer limits' in a dossier that was sexed up both by cynical omissions and that 'eye-catching' 45-minute claim....  Butler--because of the cunningly drawn narrowness of his remit--has avoided the crucial issue of the political judgments that took Britain to war....  Will anyone now believe Mr. Blair if he warns of a genuine threat to national security?  Will anyone trust him if he says the intelligence was compelling, as next time it might be?...  But nobody here takes responsibility for anything.  And after four inquiries it is glaringly obvious that nobody ever will.  The electorate should take note and act accordingly."


"Butler Verdict Leaves Arrogant Blair Bereft Of Any Credibility"


The left-of-center tabloid Daily Express contended (7/15):  "The Butler report shames no individuals but it is not a whitewash.  We have been given a devastating critique of how Tony Blair misused our intelligence services to take us to war.  His credibility has been torn to shreds....  The arrogant Mr. Blair also left his Cabinet in the dark....  It was not our spies who let down Tony Blair.  It was they who were betrayed by him.  We now know that we should not have believed Mr. Blair over Iraq.  What would happen now if Mr. Blair told us that North Korea, a very real threat to our safety, was about to aim bombs at us?  Would we believe him?"


"The Wrong Mission For Our Spies"


Former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd commented in the independent Financial Times (7/14):  "President George W. Bush used a tangle of arguments that together were enough to rally most Americans.  Only now are Congress and the public beginning to unpick this tangle.  Mr. Blair, faced with the House of Commons and a skeptical public opinion, had to be more specific....  The intelligence proved wrong on some points, exaggerated on others.  This has been bad for Mr. Blair, who can defend himself, and for the intelligence services, which cannot....  But its people will now hope that Lord Butler explains clearly how they were put in a position that they did not seek and for which they were inadequately equipped."


"Whatever Butler's Verdict, Blair Will Know No Shame"


Columnist Simon Jenkins commented in the conservative Times (7/14):  "I expect the [Butler report] tomorrow to reverse Hutton.  Everyone who fabricated the case for invading Iraq will be blamed.  Then each will be individually let off the hook.  Good, Mr. Blair will say with relief, and go back to work....  Whatever conclusion is reached, Mr. Blair will regard any charge of manipulating intelligence as just another embarrassment among the many that afflict him over Iraq....  Mr. Blair must be the least embarrassable politician in history.  He knows no shame....  Mr. Blair’s slavish following of Mr. Bush continues to mystify analysts....  How was it that liberal, multilateralist Britain could find himself hitched to so reckless and ill-prepared a neocon adventure?  What had got into Mr. Blair?...  Mr. Blair reasserted his rectitude on Iraq yesterday and will do so until his dying day.  He will do so to any inquiry and any judge.  There is only one verdict he respects and that is from a jury that returns on election day.  Until then, 'I have not the slightest doubt that I am honestly in the right' must pass muster."


"A Failure Of The System"


Jonathan Freedland opined in the left-of-center Guardian (7/14):  "That Iraq has now become a boil aching for the lance is now widely accepted.  The question is, how?  One option would be for Tony Blair to perform the procedure on himself.  That would entail a speech expressing the frankest possible contrition:  'I told you Saddam Hussein was a threat and I sincerely believed it--but I was mistaken'....  Only that degree of honesty would do the job.  Yet how many of us can imagine the prime minister making such a speech?...  That leaves just one course of action:  a change of leader.   Luckily for Labor, the war is tied so closely to Blair that his departure would, by itself, signal a close to the Iraqi chapter....  There is a last, larger reason to lance this boil, by whichever means.  The plain truth is this:  British troops went to kill and be killed last year on a false premise....  So far that act has brought no consequences on its perpetrators....  This suggests a failure of our very system of governance:  it allowed a government to go to war in defiance of its people and on a false pretext and get away with it.  The system needs to prove that it can correct itself, and do it soon."


"Blair Cannot Hope To Put Iraq Behind Him Until He Owns Up"


The center-left Independent editorialized (7/14):  "For more than a year, the two key questions relating to the origins of the war in Iraq have remained unanswered:  why was the intelligence so wrong?  And why did Tony Blair believe it with such an apparent passion and present it to the public without any qualifications?  Lord Butler’s report and Mr. Blair’s response to it might provide the answers....  For the intelligence agencies, hugely important lessons are there to be learned.  The world is more dependent than ever on accurate intelligence--the United States and Britain are not very good at delivering it.  The report last week by the Senate committee into U.S. intelligence was devastating in its castigation of the CIA and 'group think' that led it to assume that Saddam possessed WMD.  Lord Butler will only open himself to ridicule if he does not make at least a hint of the same criticisms in his.  Mr. Blair seeks to move on from the origins of the war in Iraq.  He cannot do so, and will not deserve to do so until he and senior intelligence officials acknowledge their errors--and demonstrate convincingly that they will learn from them."


"FRANCE:  The Spiral Of Exaggeration”


Right-of-center Le Figaro carried a commentary by Alexandre Adler stating (7/21):  "The Butler Report in Great Britain...and Congress’ investigations in the U.S...are the best proof of a democracy at that the people are able to judge the actions of their leaders with information that is truthful and more or less complete.… These investigative reports say, in effect, that neither Bush nor Blair consciously or deliberately lied to the people. They sincerely believed (as did the French authorities for that matter) that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was ready to use them.… In the case of the U.S. the problem lies with Vice President Cheney’s 'task force' that he wrongly created instead of simply letting the intelligence services do their work.… There has been, both in London and in Washington, a tendency to excessive propaganda that dishonors great democracies.… Winston Churchill taught us that there is a virtue even greater than courage and that is the love of freedom which goes hand in hand with the love of truth.”


“It’s The Spies’ Fault…”


Pierre Rousselin asserted in right-of-center Le Figaro (7/16): "If one is to believe the conclusions of the investigative commissions in the U.S. and in Britain, it is the spies’ fault.… The explanation is just a tiny bit too easy. And even if we accepted this, can we accept the idea that leaders such as Bush and Blair let themselves be bluffed by their own intelligence services? The Butler commission, just like the Senate’s, has reached one of its goals: one can be certain that their budgets will soon be considerably increased. But this consolation prize will not be enough for our allies’ master spies. They can expect to be playing the role of the accused when the next international crisis rolls around. Meanwhile public opinion remains skeptical.… The next time a world leader will want to enter into a conflict, there will be those who will say: ‘remember Iraq.’ Unfortunately this will happen even if the intervention is warranted. Neither investigation has really answered the one true question: under what circumstances is a preventive war like the war in Iraq justified? While the quality of intelligence will always be essential, the political responsibility of the decision continues to rest on the shoulders of both Bush and Blair. Both based their decisions on false information. They did not lie deliberately. Their integrity is not in question. This was the main goal of the investigations. But will pointing a finger at the spies be enough to protect the leaders’ credibility? The voters will decide."


"'Teflon Tony' Went To War in Good Faith" 


Catherine Agnes Poirier observed in left-of-center Liberation (Internet version, 7/15):  "British politicians and the press had been waiting feverishly for weeks to learn the conclusions of the Butler report....  Always with the same question on their lips:  will 'Teflon Tony' again emerge unscathed?  The answer would appear to be yes.  After the Hutton report in January, the report by this other peer of the realm, Lord Butler, again takes the view that Tony Blair and Downing Street 'acted in good faith' and have nothing to blame themselves for.....  In the House of Commons, Tony Blair said he 'accepted' the conclusions of the Butler report and had to concede, for the first time, that 'Iraq perhaps did not have stocks of weapons of mass destruction at the time of going to war.'  But he was careful not to go into the details of Lord Butler's conclusions, remaining on his favored field of defending his good faith.  'On the other hand I cannot say, in all honesty, that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a mistake'....  Yet, when the report states publicly that it is 'concerned' at the style of a government whose 'informal procedures...reduced the collective capacity of the cabinet to reach a political judgment,' it is indeed a method of governance that is being called into question."


GERMANY: "The Coalition Of The Frail"


Peter Muench concluded in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/19): "The coalition of the willing has turned into a coalition of the frail.  As a matter of fact, an increasing number of countries are unwilling to fight in a war whose beginning was built on lies and whose end is not foreseeable....  At issue is the enormous political pressure to which almost all governments are exposed that marched into the war together with George W. Bush.  After reports of the Butler Commission and the Senate Committee officially helped erode the reasons for the war, not only the governments in Washington and London are faced with a credibility problem.  All governments that followed the United States must at least justify before their people why they naively or for opportunistic reasons followed the Americans.  A year ago, the United States exerted pressure on the war opponents, and today it makes life problematic for the war supporters.... Nobody should be surprised at the crumbling of this coalition, but every satisfaction would be wrong either.  It is not only Washington but also the Iraqi transition government that urgently needs military and political support.  Following the war…the stabilization of the country remains the great task."


"Error And Failure"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in a front-page editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/16): "Two things must be recalled:  In the past, the intelligence services systematically underestimated Iraqi armament activities, resulting in an overly pessimistic exaggeration now.  Iraq's obstructionist behavior offered another reason to be suspicious.  But Bush and Blair's fixation on Iraq can be understood only against the background of 9/11.  Even if people worked in high-level positions in Washington to develop ideas on the Middle East in the 90s whose pivotal point was Iraq -- without the terrorist attack on 9/11, there probably would have been no Iraq war, at least not in this form....  9/11 created a totally different political climate overnight....  It was also said that, following the failure to find WMD, the issue of pre-emption is no longer relevant.  It will have settled at the latest if information of the intelligence services, which are the basis of political decision, have an 'Iraqi' quality.  Skeptical parliamentarians and suspicious voters will no longer simply believe what their governments say and no longer trust them blindly if they talk about a fatal threat in Asia, Africa or elsewhere and want to do something about it.  The irony is that these threats really exist, but they have turned into a matter of belief....  It is easily said the intelligence services must deliver 'first-rate,' i.e. reliable information to politics.  This is difficult but also indispensable.  It is also indispensable to agree on rules how threats…can be defused.  This is theoretically the easy lesson from the 'Bush, Blair And The Intelligence services' case.  But it will be difficult to realize in practice."


"Policy Of The Intelligence Services"


Thomas Kielinger argued in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (7/16): "It would be an error to believe that George W. Bush and Tony Blair would now conclude from the Iraq debacle of the intelligence services that the 'pre-emptive' war option must now be abandoned.  This is by no means the case.  In an election campaign speech on March 5, 2004, Blair rejected the non-interference principle in the domestic affairs of other nations.  'Rogue states' and 'failing' state structures are the new global threat.  And he reiterated in the House of Commons that it would be irresponsible to wait until these dangers become relevant. But London and Washington will certainly have to bid farewell to using the intelligence services as an instrument for their policies.  This will damage and undermine confidence in both institutions.  All CIA officials who were interviewed by the Senate Commission spoke of pressure or a climate of pressure to which they felt exposed....  The experiment of using the intelligence services for political purposes has failed.  The publication of traditionally confidential talks, as has now happened in the British case, can help even less.  Much confidence has been put at risk, confidence politicians now urgently need."


"Look Back Without Anger"


Washington correspondent Malte Lehming filed the following editorial for centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (7/16):  "It is time for a clarification: Neither George W. Bush nor Tony Blair lied before the Iraq war.  Their allegations on Saddam's WMD were based on [insufficient] intelligence information....  In view of the overall scandal this is a surprising conclusion....  The truth was distorted and the threat was demagogically blown up, but they did not lie, i.e. they did not say anything contrary to better knowledge.  People, who notoriously condemn a person even before the conclusion of a trial, say that it does not make a difference.  But they are wrong.  Those who have an unspoilt moral know that there is a difference.  Following the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration was fixated on Iraq.  But during this fixation it lost all norms and the ability to weigh things without anger and zeal.  Those who criticize this fact, should not make the same mistake."




Gerd Zitzelsberger editorialized in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/15):  "Given the establishment background of the Butler committee and the vague tasks it had, this soft outcome was foreseeable.  That's not the only reason why it won't convince Britons.  What's about the allegation that shortly before the war started the government held back intelligence information that could have cleared Saddam?  No comment from Butler.  During the heated debate in 2002, Tony Blair had promised people transparent and honest information.  The government did not deliver--even when we look at it in most friendly way.  It is not the first time that Blair's promises differ hugely from reality.  His reputation is declining more and more."




London correspondent Thomas Kielinger opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (7/15):  "Butler did not criticize the government, but intelligences authorities.  That's serious and also shattered the prime minister's judgment.  Blair cannot feel flattered, reading in the report that the decisive Iraq dossier in September 2002 gave readers the impression that the intelligence basis was fuller and firmer than it actually was.  However you want to see it, it was deception and Blair believed in it....  Blair still believes it was right to go to war.  That honors him, but it won't satisfy his critics, and the debate will continue.  Intelligence services disgraced themselves in the U.S. and Britain."


ITALY:  "Saddam’s WMD, Blair And Government Exonerated"


Luigi Ippolito commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (7/15):  “It’s just like an Agatha Christie novel:  a new corpse emerges in every page.  The only difference is that even after we’ve gotten to the last line, we discover that no one is guilty.  And it’s useless to ask the butler, because although Lord Butler affirmed that everyone is accountable, he exonerated single individuals from blame--from Tony Blair on down....  In conclusion, the Butler Commission produced a strange creature:  a report that is highly critical of intelligence gathering and of the use the Blair government made of intelligence to justify the war.  But the report neither drew political conclusions, nor did it ‘name and shame.’”


"Iraq, Blair Partially Exonerated"


Alberto Pasolini Zanelli observed in pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (7/15):  “Washington made an admission, London is now confirming it.  Following the U.S. Congress’ report last week, the commission led by Lord Butler issued its own report at the conclusion of a six-month probe into the ‘evidence’ on the existence of Iraq’s WMD....  The conclusion was revolutionary a year ago and today it is obvious:  Iraq did not possess chemical and biological weapons and it was not in the process of producing them.  There is no proof whatsoever of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.”


RUSSIA:  "Spies Bungled It"


Andrey Zlobin wrote in reformist Vremya Novostey (7/15):  "Tony Blair has had his reputation dented badly.  But few people in Britain doubted that he would get away with it.  There have been several such inquiries, and he has survived all.  After occupying Iraq, London and Washington, within days of each other, launched inquiries into their prewar intelligence-gathering activities.  The report of the U.S. commission will come out next year, after the presidential elections.  But even now you can guess what will be in it.  Yesterday's report by the Butler inquiry almost word for word repeats the statement the U.S. Senate's intelligence committee made a few days ago....  In the case of Iraq, U.S. and British intelligence services could sense their state leaders having set their minds on war.  So they made sure that the information they supplied could justify any armed intervention.  Lord Hutton noted that in his report back in January."


"Blair Claims Responsibility, Feels Safe"


Aleksandr Reutov observed in business-oriented Kommersant (7/15):  "Blair ostentatiously ignored Lord Butler suggesting that the head of government not be blamed for intelligence having screwed up.  Blair said he was responsible for the mistakes made by the intelligence service.  He could afford that now, knowing the findings of the parliamentary commission."


AUSTRIA:  "Learning From Brezhnev"


Foreign affairs writer Markus Bernath commented in liberal Der Standard (7/15):  "For the second time, an investigative committee has assured the British prime minister that responsibility for the Iraq war does not lie with the head of government...but...with the intelligence services that did a sloppy job, failed to adequately confirm information, present and understand it.  The prime minister, on the other hand, Lord Butler concluded...had 'acted in good faith.'  The Brezhnev-like turn of politics has made amazing progress since the Iraq crisis in 2002, and the following war.  In Soviet manner, as practiced at the desk of the former Communist Party leader, Tony Blair, in a way not unlike Republican George W. Bush, has lined up cheers for his pro-war arguments and dismissed critics as being on the wrong track.  Turning the political responsibility into a technical responsibility of the intelligence services in Great Britain and the U.S. has serious consequences:  Washington as well as London diminish their options when it comes to dealing with existing or developing nuclear powers such as North Korea or Iran.  What material can they use to advocate sanctions, when their intelligence services already failed in Iraq?"


"The Secret Services Provided 'Truths On Order'"


Senior editor Helmut L. Mueller argued in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (7/15):  "The investigative committees in London and Washington are making scapegoats of the intelligence services.  The agents exaggerated the danger posed by Saddam Hussein:  that is the tenor on both sides of the Atlantic.  But...whitewashing actions like the one for Tony Blair cannot wipe out the fact that the leading politicians bear the sole responsibility for the decision to go to war.  This is why the investigations into the Iraq war miss the point if they do not accurately illuminate the role of the governments in Washington and London.  Normally, the information provided by the intelligence services is used as a guideline for political decisions.  This time, it was the other way around:  there were political demands and the services provided 'truths on order.'"


BELGIUM: "The CIA Got it All Wrong As Well"


 New York correspondent Alain Campiotti opined in left-of-center Le Soir (7/16): "George Bush is like a little boy who would fill up a hole in a dam with his finger to avoid a catastrophe. For Bush, the disaster would be an electoral one. To avoid this, the President constantly repeats - seven times in half a day last Monday in Tennessee - that the world is a safer place since Saddam Hussein was ousted from power. Repeating the same thing had worked when he kept on claiming that the Iraqi dictator had ties with Al Qaeda: a majority of Americans eventually believed it as well. But he is less successful now. Military analysts consider that insecurity is greater than before the war and public opinion tends to believe them. And to consider that the world is safer now, one needs to demonstrate that the Iraqi dictatorship was a deadly threat to the world. The ongoing revelations about the British and American intelligence services seriously undermine this theory....  The report that the U.S. Senate Intelligence Commission just released is devastating. On almost all subjects, the CIA was wrong... But why? That is the major question that the bipartisan commission refused to address. Its Republican members managed to postpone - until after the elections! -- investigations on possible pressure from the Administration that led the CIA to paint a black picture of the situation, like those who were in favor of the war wanted."


"Butler Report"


Foreign affairs writer Fabian Lefevere asserted in independent De Morgen (7/16): "Tony Blair got away with it again.  The Butler report fully denounces the way the British plunged into the Iraq war, but it does not mention the names of those who are responsible for that.  In such circumstances it is gratuitous for Blair to declare whole-heartedly that he accepts the conclusions....  It is no surprise that Butler took care not to hurt the 'powers that be' - especially because of the fact that Lord Butler's investigation is immersed in hypocrisy.  As of the start the investigation was totally futile because Blair himself shaped the composition of the commission and its mandates.  A crucial factor was that Lord Hutton's investigation - which acquitted Blair completely - could not be repeated.  That is a schoolbook example of genuine Machiavellianism.  And, should there have been any members of the commission who might be tempted to tackle Blair, the Prime Minister avoided that beforehand with the composition of that commission....  Some of them are traditional British 'stiff upper lips' who prefer not to damage the establishment of which they themselves are members....  By the time of the elections in Great Britain next spring, Butler and Hutton will practically be forgotten and the things that really matter will prevail again: Blair's third term.'"


 "Neither Guilty Nor Responsible"


Foreign editor Gerald Papy opined in independent La Libre Belgique (7/15):  "The conclusions of the Butler commission in Great Britain and of the U.S. Senate one are similar:  if erroneous information on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and on ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida was used by Tony Blair and George Bush to justify the war in Iraq, the MI6 and CIA intelligence services are to blame.  The former overestimated doubtful information, the latter hid what did not correspond to what the Administration wanted....  But can any reasonable person be satisfied with the conclusions of the U.S. Senate Commission that did not detect any political pressure on the CIA or with the findings of the Butler Commission that did not find any 'deliberate distortion' of the facts?  According to these commissions, the only thing Messrs. Bush and Blair could be blamed for is for having blindly trusted their intelligence services....  At the same time, the exhortations for caution from the leaders of the UN disarmament commission, Messrs Blix and el Baradei, who had dozens of inspectors in the field, were not listened to--simply because neither Blair nor Bush, obsessed by their pre-defined strategy, wanted to hear them.  Therefore, is it normal to clear them of any responsibility?"


"Broken Credibility"


Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn remarked in the conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (7/15):  "Iraq has broken something between Tony Blair and the British people.  For six years he was untouchable and a man in whom the people believed and whom they trusted.  Today, Blair has lost his credibility.  His authority has been undermined....  Blair will not have much respite.  If Labor receives a blow in two interim elections today his opponents will have new ammunition against him.  That is Tony Blair's tragedy.  He wanted to make British society better and fairer.  He has achieved a lot.  Millions of jobs have been created.  The school system is better.  Health care is improving.  All that, however, threatens to be overshadowed by Iraq.  That is a very high price for one mistake."


"Those Reports That Bother Bush And Blair"


Baudouin Loos noted in left-of-center Le Soir (7/13):  "Last Friday, the U.S. Senate report on intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has confirmed the massive destruction of the other justification of the American 'hawks' for attacking Iraq, i.e., the direct threat that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction represented.  And indeed, these weapons have never been found....  The U.S. Senate's report is not complete.  A second part pertaining to what use high officials of the Administration made of this--erroneous--intelligence is not ready.  In that second part, the CIA is reportedly being blamed for not having transmitted to Bush information supplied by Iraqis according to which Baghdad had given up developing weapons of mass destruction.  This report, which is likely to be politically devastating, will probably not be released until after the November 2 presidential election."


"Iraq Belongs In The Category Of Vietnam And Watergate"


Chief editor Peter Vandermeersch in Christian-Democrat De Standaard editorialized (7/13): "The U.S. Senate report carefully avoids the question whether the White House sexed up or interpreted wrongly the information that it received about weapons of mass destruction.  To avoid problems, that part will be investigated after the elections.  However, it is a fact that the CIA reported to the White House that there was no definite link between al-Qaida and Iraq - something that George Bush and his close teammates continued to claim.   Tomorrow, a similar report will be published in Great Britain.  Lord Butler's report might very well be an echo of the American investigation.... At best, amateurism, perhaps ignorance and probably even bad will prevailed in the small decision-making centers of both superpowers to start this unjustified war.  It is a complete shame that all this could be done unpunished.  It is true that the CIA boss has resigned - but he left with congratulations from his President.  In Great Britain the former chief of the intelligence services, John Scarlett, will be the boss of MI6 in the near future. It is becoming increasingly clear that Iraq belongs in the category of Vietnam and Watergate - with scandals in which high-level authorities systematically lied to the people.  These were two sad episodes during which a gap was created between politics and public opinion.  The additional scandal in Iraq has only deepened that gap."



CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Iraqi Facts.  Now A Fact"


Petr Pesek wrote in the center-right daily Lidove Noviny (7/15):  "Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein probably did not have the forbidden weapons of mass destruction, but it strived to acquire them.  The realistic conclusion is included in the British investigation report of Lord Butler....  PM Blair came out of this investigation more or lease cleared, but his credibility has suffered substantially.  And what if there is a need to act against another dangerous regime?  Better perhaps not to present any evidence at all."


"Bond Was Not Allowed To Go To Iraq"


Martin Novak opined in the business daily Hospodarske Noviny (7/15):  "It's hard to guess what James Bond would say to the fact that 'his' MI6 is facing tough criticism for information it supplied to the British prime minister.  Lord Butler could not have asked him, nor can he answer all questions about the intelligence reporting.  The investigations in both the UK and the U.S. suggest that the intelligence services relied on information sources that were not all that trustworthy.  It doesn't make sense to criticize the effort for changing the regime in Iraq on the grounds that no WMD were found there, nor to ridicule the intelligence services.  What does make sense is to learn from the mistakes.  Criticism often helps improve the state of things.  Hopefully it will apply in the case of intelligence services, too."


HUNGARY:  "Late Knowledge"


Liberal Magyar Hirlap concluded (7/15):  “It should be noted that one of the players who had a key role in the Iraq war has not yet revealed his own set of arguments to the public.  The person in question is Saddam Hussein.  He could finally explain why did he hinder the weapon inspectors in their efforts to try to find the nothing.  The problem was not the war itself. The world finally became freed from a bloody handed brutal dictator.  The problem was that stabilization was messed up afterwards, mainly due to the fact that not enough soldiers were sent to post-war Iraq.  There is another, more important development, though which does not change the situation at all.  Manila is withdrawing its contingent from Iraq because a Philippine truck-driver has been taken hostage.  The consequence of the troop withdrawal will be more hostage-taking actions, whereas the ‘consequence’ of the Butler report will only be pile of studies and books.”


NORWAY:  "Low-Quality Intelligence"


The newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (7/15):  "Even if Blair has been cleared of deliberately juicing up intelligence materials, just as he was with the Hutton report in January, it looks worse for the American allegations about a connection between the regime in Iraq and the terrorist organization al-Qaida.  To see Saddam Hussein as a troublesome future threat was not altogether impossible.  To evaluate him as so serious that rule of law had to be set aside, raises other and more serious questions.  They have not yet been answered, including in  yesterday's report."


"Best Against Terror?"


The business independent Dagens Naeringsliv commented (7/15): "Less than a week apart, the American Senate intelligence committee and the British investigation committee led by Lord Butler delivered their evaluations of the intelligence which laid the basis for the invasion of Iraq.  Both reports are devastating in their criticism.  Most of the main evaluations in the American intelligence assessments before the invasion regarding Iraq's WMD were exaggerated or were not supported by intelligence reports....  Despite the criticism, President George W. Bush came out with a strong defense of the invasion on Monday. He continues to think that the invasion of Iraq was right and is the main reason why both the U.S. and the world at large are safer....  And despite the criticism: most Americans think President Bush is the best one to tackle terror....  How the British will reward Tony Blair when the Butler report is digested remains to be seen in the next few days.  Both Bush and Blair deserve to be fired, but voters forgive the most incredible things, and once again much can happen in both countries before they might be re-elected."


"Spies Out In The Cold"


The independent Dagbladet noted (7/15):  "It's possible that Tony Blair did not lie outright.  That doesn't mean he should stay in office.  Great Britain went to war on a mistaken basis, and the responsibility for that does not stop with the intelligence services.  Blair may find it necessary to apologize for letting himself be led astray by his exaggerated belief in the threat that Saddam Hussein represented.  He should regret that he saw what he wanted to see, and admit that he stretched intelligence to get better arguments for what he thought was right--to go to war at Bush's side.  Then it will be up to the voters to decide if they are served by having a man who--in good faith or not--was so wrong on the important questions."


"Devastating Criticism Of The CIA"


The independent VG observed (7/11):  "The report from the American Senate committee on the CIA's role before the U.S. went to war against Iraq last March is devastating for the intelligence organization.  The Senate Committee...concludes that the CIA's analyses of the situation in Iraq were completely wrong and exaggerated....  To put it mildly, it's scary that the world's sole existing superpower went to war on the basis of such poor and inadequate intelligence as this report indicates....  Many will opine that Bush and the CIA suffered from a collective group-think which built up Iraq as a great threat to the peace of the world.  The result of the Americans' decision to go to war against Iraq on such flimsy grounds has already had serious consequences.  The U.S.A.'s trustworthiness as a superpower is seriously weakened.  As even Rockefeller concluded, so has the U.S.A.'s stature in the world community never been lower.  The war on Iraq has cultivated a hate against Americans in the Muslim world which is directly frightening.  The war that was supposed to serve world peace has instead contributed to the opposite.  The terror and the threat picture we see daily are in large part created by the hate many now have for the U.S.  The war opened wounds that will take many years to heal.  The superpower has shot itself in the foot."


"A Half Report"


The independent Dagbladet editorialized (7/11):  "The main point is not that the intelligence service was sloppy in dealing with the facts....  The question now is to what degree the politicians got the intelligence information they asked for.  Was the information that supported an invasion used diligently--while information that spoke against an invasion thrown out?  An administration that has decided to go to war will naturally not want to hear counter-arguments....  The separate investigation on how much intelligence was misused, distorted or exaggerated by political decision-makers will not be issued until November--when the presidential election is over.  It's too bad for the American democracy that the Senate's report only raises half the reality."


PORTUGAL:  "Responsibility For Mistakes"


Center-left daily Diário de Notícias columnist Francisco Sarsfield Cabral opined (7/14):  "Much has already been said about Bush’s mistakes relating to Iraq.  But it is worth it to look at them as a whole....  If the intelligence services functioned poorly (as had already happened on September 11), the political responsibility rests with the president.  It is even worse if they were pressured into saying what best suited the invasion enthusiasts.  It is irresponsible to begin a war based on such weak information....  There are those who speak of lies and not of mistakes.  We had good faith in Bush:  we are left with the mistakes.  But aren't these too many mistakes for the president of the only superpower to make?  It would be less worrisome if they were deliberate lies."


ROMANIA:  "If He's Innocent, Why Did Blair Need To Apologize?"


In the independent daily Ziua, foreign policy analyst Ileana Cornea opined (7/19):  "For a person who for years has taken pleasure in being named ‘Bush’s valet’ by the world media, and who behaves as such, Blair’s apology for the exaggerated report on Iraq which led to the invasion of that country is strange.  Especially when the conclusions of the so-called independent investigation carried out by the venerable Lord Butler exonerated him of any responsibility linked with the respective report.  If he is as innocent as the Butler report makes him seem, why did Blair need to apologize?  For the moment, there is no sign from Big Brother Bush that he will offer a mea culpa.  Tony Blair is now being torn between fidelity, not necessarily crucial but traditional, towards Washington (no matters who rules there) and the fear of losing his own mandate.… Willing to do anything to keep his position, including apologizing for the Iraqi file, Blair did not even have the elegance to apologize for one of the most concrete consequences of making up the Iraqi file: David Kelly’s life."


"Butler Report Like U.S. Senate Report"


Cristian Campeanu opined in the opposition daily Romania Libera (7/15):  “The conclusion of the Butler Report regarding information provided by MI6 about weapons of mass destruction are not new, as they coincide with those of the American Senate in referring to information provided by the CIA.  But unlike the American Senate, the Butler Report says there were no links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.”


SPAIN:  "An Uncompleted Report"


Centrist La Vanguardia wrote (7/15):   "Everything that involves the reports about what happened before the invasion of Iraq is grotesque....  The U.S. Senate commission has, at least, obtained some much more serious and developed conclusions than Lord Butler's report.  Maybe because of this, the majority of public opinion shows a great skepticism when a commission of investigation is opened."


"Manipulation Of Intelligence"


Independent El Mundo editorialized (7/15):  "Neither in Blair nor in Bush have the reports provoked the least indication of repentance for having provoked a war with false information....  Could it be a coincidence that both of them arrived at the same conclusions without a single piece of solid evidence?  The minimal dismay shown by Bush and Blair in admitting that they made so grave a decision with false information allows for the supposition that it was precisely they who pressed to have the evidence point in a predetermined direction.  If so, we would not be victims of incompetent intelligence agencies, but rather of those responsible for such incompetence....  To convert intelligence services into communications offices and utilize only vague information, insufficiently solid or balanced, provided by exiled anti-Saddam groups in order to legitimize the war exceeds ethical limits and is an unmistakable case of manipulation."


"The CIA, Scapegoat"


Conservative ABC commented (7/11):  "In the war in Iraq, the reality is less important than the perceptions, something as relevant in policy as the truth of the facts.  And the perception commonly accepted after [the Senate report on pre-war intelligence] S-11 is that Saddam's ambitions, not only his supposed arsenals, were becoming intolerable."




SAUDI ARABIA:  "Butler Inquiry"


The pro-government, English-language Arab News (7/15):  "So that's all right then--or is it?  The WMD inquiry in Britain led by retired top civil servant Lord Butler has concluded after a careful investigation of the facts that the evidence on which the Blair government joined in the U.S. invasion of Iraq was almost entirely wrong.  However, Butler has gone on to conclude that no one in the British intelligence community is specifically to blame....  No individual was culpable of misleading anyone else....  Butler therefore has discharged the British government from any involvement in a plot to mislead Parliament and the voters into backing the war.  Prime Minister Tony Blair acted in good faith....  Butler even leaves open the possibility that somewhere within the considerable land area of Iraq, WMD might still be found.  This comment resonates nicely with Tony Blair's assertion last week that despite all the evidence to the contrary, WMD could still exist.  Only the British can manage inquiries like this that admit to errors that absolutely no one committed.  Only a British committee of inquiry can manage to conclude that a policy that was based on a series of what its American counterpart described as 'catastrophic intelligence failures' was nevertheless entirely justified.  The Butler report suggests in essence that all the British government should be now saying is:  'Whoops!  We mistakenly invaded Iraq.  Sorry.'  But the Blair government is unlikely to bring itself to say any such thing, because it is absolutely sure that in ousting Saddam Hussein, albeit at the cost of the subsequent months of chaos and terror, it was entirely right.  What it cannot bring itself to say unequivocally is that these were the real grounds for its support for the Bush attack.  This is because such a move, especially when lacking UN sanction is a breach of international law.   President Bush may not fare so well when the senatorial inquiry reports on his administration's involvement in any massaging of intelligence to justify the invasion.  But that report is likely to come after the November election."


"Where Are The WMD In Iraq?"


Makkah’s conservative Al-Nadwa editorialized (7/14):  "We will not be astonished if eventually it were proven that Iraq did not have any WMD.  To date the CIA investigations have failed to prove that Iraq possessed any of these weapons prior to the war....  The former Iraqi regime has been toppled, and no secret chemical or biological weapons have been found.  Not because Iraq did not own such weapons, but because the U.S. does not want to disclose that such weapons did at some point exist in Iraq.  Since April 9, 2003 Iraq has become a part of the U.S.  Iraq now isa friend of the U.S. rather than a foe....  Preserving what is left of its weapons program is of interest to the U.S. because these weapons now are at the disposal of America to do with them what it sees fit." 


JORDAN:  "How Did They Make The Quagmire?"


Daily columnist Jamil Nimri opined in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (7/15):  “The Butler report did not accuse Blair of ill intentions or misleading the British people, but it clearly and completely showed that the war was based on false foundations.  There was not any serious information indicating that Iraq owned or developed weapons of mass destruction....  The British report complements the American report in putting an end to the argument about justification for war.  The war was launched on the basis of lies, deceit and misinformation, and there is no other incident in the history of those two countries (the U.S. and UK) that has so debased their democracies as this one did.  A rabid, fabricated campaign was created from A to Z to unjustifiably launch a war.  Who holds Bush and Blair accountable for the costs of this war, both material and human?  It won’t be the United Nations or any other international organization ruled by the same powers that allow Israel to brutalize an unarmed people and to prolong occupation for decades without any denunciation.  Only the British and American peoples can punish these leaders in the next elections.  Now we can understand why matters in Iraq took this disastrous turn.  An action of such immorality cannot yield moral results in war, either during its course or in the post-war era....  A false start for a false path.  A noble and moral action, such as claiming to save the Iraqi people from dictatorship, cannot be achieved by way of lies, deception and misinformation.”


KUWAIT:  "Heads Rolling?!"


Dr. Yaser Al-Saleh wrote in independent Al-Rai Al-A'am (7/13):  "So many damning reports turned up after the war in Iraq, disputing Bush and Blair's reasons for waging war.  Subsequently, the two administrations cited spreading democracy and human rights as the main reasons for going to war.  However, the Abu Ghraib scandal revealed that Iraqis, in the eyes of the occupiers, have no rights, and that their tormentors enjoyed the episodes of torture.  Despite all these events, neither Bush nor Blair were thrown out of their respective posts, and no heads rolled.  Does this mean that the two administrations, the American and British are in good shape?  Or is this the beginning of the descent?"


SYRIA:  "Policy Of Talk And Political Talk"


Khaled al-Ashhab observed in government-owned Al-Thawar (7/14):  "President Bush still insists that it was America's right to strike Iraq despite the failure of his pretext of on Iraqi WMD.  He relieved Americans that their country's war and victims were not in vain.  He speculated that Iraq might have a capability to produce such weapons and that it might transfer them to terrorists who might use it against America!  This is not a political talk, not even a policy of talk which requires logical preludes that lead to a logical outcome.  There are so many countries in the world that have the capability to produce and obtain WMD.  Therefore, America needs to wage lots of wars to provide its with such security!"




AUSTRALIA:  "Lord Butler And Mr Blair”


An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald read (7/16): “In sum, Lord Butler has found that the Blair Government took poor intelligence and made it worse....  In this, the British report echoes the recent United States Senate report on the poor performance of the CIA with its delineation of weak information compounded by feeble analysis. None of this is a surprise.  After all, no WMD have been found. The interest is in why intelligence services got it wrong....  As an advocate for war, Mr Blair projected rock-solid conviction. The Butler report shows that conviction was built on sand. Such shaky foundations would have been evident to any prime minister seeking objective information rather than arguments to support his case.... Lord Butler does not choose to point the finger at any individual. Rather he chooses to see the intelligence failures as collective. British voters are not likely to be so circumspect in laying the blame. They know who it was who sent them to war in Iraq.”


"Weapons Report No Whitewash”


An editorial in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review observed (7/16): “Another whitewash? Iraq war critics who had hoped Lord Butler's review of intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would charge British Prime Minister Tony Blair with lying his way to war may think so. But in declining to do this, the Butler review echoes the earlier Hutton report, last week's United States Senate Intelligence Committee report, last year's report to Congress of Iraq Survey Group leader David Kay, and the March report by Australia's joint parliamentary committee on intelligence services.... Even so, there is much in the Butler report, as in the earlier ones, to embarrass the governments and their intelligence services.... If we knew then what we know now, we wouldn't have gone to war. Whether the coalition made the correct prudential decision to go to war on the basis of what we knew then, or whether governments allowed themselves to be stampeded, is harder to say."


TAIWAN:  "Will Bush's Team Change Policy After Acknowledging Mistakes It Made?"


Centrist, pro-status quo China Times noted (7/10):  "The first-hand lesson that the Bush administration has learned lately is that it is impossible for the United States to spread its influence all over the world through only the use of force.  People inside the Bush administration are clearly aware of the mistakes they have made.  As a result, the Bush team will pull in its horns regarding U.S. foreign relations in the next four months.   Its [diplomatic] style will definitely change even if Bush wins re-election and his team is still headed by Dick Cheney."


JAPAN:  "Leaders Should Be Held Responsible for Intelligence Fraud "


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai Shimbun editorialized (7/16):  "Recent reports of prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction drafted separately by the U.S. Senate and an independent British panel both apparently suggest that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair should not be held accountable for launching the Iraq war because they merely acted on faulty intelligence.  However, the intelligence authorities are a part of the governments and under the supervision of the president and the prime minister.  Blame should not exclusively fall on the intelligence authorities.... The two leaders' judgment on starting the war must also be critically examined." 


"Blair's Resignation In Sight"


Liberal Mainichi noted (7/15):  "The report results are expected to further fuel public distrust of Prime Minister Blair, who is now found to have justified the Iraq war on the false premise that the Hussein regime had usable biological and chemical weapons programs.  It is unlikely that the prime minister could recover lost political ground and reassert his policy initiatives any time soon.  Depending on public opinion, Blair might even be forced to resign prior to a general election that could be held as early as next May."


SOUTH KOREA:  "Bush Administration’s Deceit Confirmed By U.S. Congress"


The nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (7/13):  “A recent bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report confirmed that the Bush administration invaded Iraq based on incorrect and exaggerated intelligence on weapons of mass destruction...and that there is no evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaida, even indicating that such a claim originated from the White House.  This unanimous report is especially noteworthy in that it has made clear that the U.S. administration’s two biggest rationales for invading Iraq were totally groundless....  Nevertheless, far from apologizing to the Iraqis and the international community for the U.S. deceit and distortion, President Bush is repeating the same, false claims....  Well over 10,000 civilians have died since the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  Jay Rockefeller, the Senate Committee’s Democratic member, has said that Congress would not have approved the U.S. war on Iraq had it known what it does now, once again proving that the U.S. invasion of the Gulf state was fundamentally invalid and a crime against humanity.  We strongly urge the ROKG to immediately withdraw its plan to deploy Korean troops to Iraq.”


NEW ZEALAND:  "When Good Faith Isn't Good Enough "


An editorial from the Manawatu Standard asserted (Internet version, 7/16):  "There is plenty of evidence in the past that good intelligence has saved lives but there is also plenty of evidence that it isn't the answer to everything. What is troubling about the two Iraqi reports, however – apart from the fact that no one seems to be actually to blame for anything – is that the decision to go to war on Iraq was based largely on what the US and British intelligence agencies had to report; that, in the end, Saddam was a clear and present danger to his neighbourhood and to western interests because of the weapons of mass destruction he possessed and was prepared to use. In the event, no such weapons have been found after the United Nations was, in effect, sacked from the task of looking for them by Washington, with London bringing up the rear. Now it is all very well for George Bush and Tony Blair (and John Howard, for that matter, not that he does much) to now say that they acted in good faith based on the information they had at the time. But to launch a war? And a war which was almost certainly an illegal action because it lacked UN support and approval (so crucially different from what took place in Afghanistan)? Few people will regret the passing of Saddam and his odious regime, but look at what has happened since. Can, hand on heart, the world be said to be a safer place today as a result of taking the road to Baghdad? Some very bad people have been rounded up and killed, no doubt about that. And some terrorism networks have been severely disrupted, if not broken up. But the casualties of war, in terms of material, innocent lives and political consequences, have been horrendous and almost entirely predictable. Given the expertise that the U.S. and Britain were supposedly able to bring to bear on Iraq and the wider Middle East – the British especially because of their long involvement one way or another in the region – the magnitude of the failure of the intelligence they had about events, and who was doing what, is surprising. Perhaps it was, and is, lack of people on the ground and too much reliance on sophisticated electronic and satellite information-gathering. No doubt the post-mortems will go on for years but for the moment, what is more relevant are the fates of Messrs Bush, Blair and Howard in their respective electorates. Both Mr Bush and Mr Howard face elections this year. Will they be punished at the polls for what they did? Or don't people care too much, given that Iraq is a faraway place about which we know little? The outcome of the elections will say a lot about the societies of the U.S., Australia and Britain, societies which are mighty similar to our own. One more thing: It surely says something about the attractions of our fair land that an overstayer from the tropical climes of Tonga hid in a fridge to try to avoid deportation. He didn't, needless to say, after eagle-eyed authorities spotted cabbages strewn over the kitchen floor and put two and two together.


"Justified Decision" 


An editorial in the moderate, largest circulation South Island Christ Church Press asserted (Internet Version, 7/16):  "Now that Lord Butler and his colleagues on the inquiry have concluded after exhaustive examination of the evidence that Blair did not misrepresent the case for going to war, a central charge against the Government by those who oppose the war, no doubt Butler too will be denounced, as Lord Hutton was, as an establishment stooge.  Indeed, one English newspaper has already headlined its front-page story on the Butler report 'Whitewash II.'...  It is a sad fact that intelligence failures in the Middle East are chronic. Around Iraq, in particular, in recent times the West has repeatedly been taken by surprise. The aftermath of the first Gulf War following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait revealed an even larger intelligence failure when United Nations inspectors discovered advanced chemical and atomic weapons programmes no-one had been aware of. The invasion of Kuwait itself was not predicted by Western agencies. In addition, since the war, it has emerged that Saddam was close to obtaining rocketry from North Korea. If he did not have weapons at the time the war broke out, it is now known that he was using every resource he had to obtain them.  Intelligence gathering is a murky, misty business at the best of times. Obtaining reliable information from within a country as vast as Iraq and governed by a totalitarian tyranny of the kind run by Saddam is even more hazardous and uncertain. Even now, Butler says that only a "rash person" would claim that stocks of biological or chemical weapons would never be found in Iraq.  The threat of terrorism added to the danger posed by Saddam. Reliable information about terrorist activities is even harder to find. Neither September 11 nor the March 11 outrage in Madrid were predicted. The connections between Saddam and al-Qaeda may, in 2003, have been tenuous, but Saddam financed terrorism and sheltered terrorists. Bellicose dictators are not entitled to the benefit of any doubt. The intelligence available to Blair and Bush may not, in retrospect, have been sufficient to support the decision to go to war. But the decision was, nonetheless, justified. Even without WMD he was an evil, mass-murdering despot. The moral case for getting rid of him was irrefutable. 




INDIA:  "National Obession And Intrigue"


Former Chairman Joint Intelligence Committee Keki N.Daruwalla asserted in the nationalist Hindustan Times (7/18):  "To most observers--with the exception of many gullible Americans--the U.S. Senate report on pre-war intelligence on Iraq is a big yawn.  A sense of déjà vu engulfs the reader. The worthies haven't told us anything we didn't know....  It is now believed that within a day of taking over as president, 'regime change' in Iraq was being discussed by the national security team. Columnists assert that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had planned to attack Iraq in early 2001, long before 9/11. And weeks after 9/11, a secret unit called 'Office of Special Plans' was set up in the Pentagon to create 'a base for invading Iraq.'  Bush's statements bear testimony to his prejudice. All this takes us into the realm of morality and metaphysics. What does an intelligence agency do if the executive is hell-bent on war? The ideal answer, of course, is that if intelligence on the ground does not support a political objective, agencies should still cite facts and not tamper with them....  Intelligence is always an easy scapegoat.  But the CIA alone is not to blame.  A reason to invade Iraq seems to have become a national obsession, fuelled by presidential prejudice and a collective phobia built in no small measure by the American media. Think tanks will also have to introspect on their role. Iraqi poison gas, WMDs, mobile biological warfare launchers were a national concoction."


"Lacking In Intelligence"


An analysis in the centrist Times Of India by K. Subrahmanyam stated (7/19):  "Never before in its history of over five decades has the CIA come in for such devastating criticism. The denunciation of its performance on Iraq by the Senate intelligence committee has been unanimous with both Democrats and Republicans joining hands....  The intelligence assessors, it would appear, finally succumbed to the relentless pressures from the administration....  One wonders whether the U.S. will learn from its mistakes and take necessary steps to put in place an autonomous and independent assessment agency.   The present intelligence structure was presumably influenced by Cold War considerations when the U.S. was on the offensive in containing the Soviet Union. The attacks of 9/11 clearly brought into focus the stark vulnerability of the U.S.   The inconclusive end to the Afghan military operations in early 2002 and the survival of Osama bin Laden, Al Zawahiri and other leaders of Al-Qaida ought to have alerted the US to the limitations of its military power.   The global proliferation network should have further reinforced this message. Yet, the obsession about Iraq and Saddam Hussein resulted in a unique lack of professionalism in the American intelligence processing.   Unless the Congress reforms the US intelligence structure and makes assessment process autonomous, other countries would be ill-advised to overlook this flaw while dealing with Washington."


"Senate Blasts Bush"


The Mumbai-based, left-of-center Free Press Journal commented (7/13):  "That the U.S. has misled a whole host of countries and the United Nations on the basis of a faulty intelligence report has made the Democrats on the committee suspect that the Bush administration might have pressurized the CIA to write a report in consonance with the administration's thinking....  The Senate committee has come to the conclusion that a policy of containment was preferable to invasion.  President Bush's problems in Iraq are of his own making.  Now that he finds it difficult to extricate the U.S. from the rising flames of insurgency and guerrilla war in Iraq, his withdrawal routes are becoming fewer by the day.  No self-respecting nation will send its troops to serve under a U.S. commander.  Bush has to seek the help of UN.  No other way."




The Chennai-based leftist English-language News Today editorialized (7/12):  "[The Senate report] is directed against the U.S. intelligence agencies on whose findings Bush launched the unjust war against Saddam.  It is wrong to describe them as findings.  They should instead be called inventions....  At this point of time, all these revelations are like crying over spilled milk.  The war had been fought with a ferocity of which savages would have been capable....  It is proof of the hegemon's arrogance that he has not expressed any regrets.  It is immaterial whether Bush loses the elections or not.  What is lost, on the contrary, is the dignity of the U.S. and its credibility."


"Not By Truth Alone"


The centrist Telegraph editorialized (7/12):  "The full impact of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's harsh criticism of American intelligence agencies cannot be appreciated without...context.  The committee has exonerated the Bush administration of the charge of pressurizing the agencies to produce predetermined results, but this is a frightening indicator of the weak reasoning on which the U.S. bases its military aggression.  The first question yet remains to be answered:  what did Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction have to do with the post-9/11 'coalition against terror'?  It is one thing to build international strategies to fight murderous extremists, and quite another to condemn tyrant-ruled countries to destruction."


"Sharp Report"


The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer took this view (7/12):  "That the United States' intelligence agencies exaggerated the threat Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed to their country was alleged even before the start of the American invasion of Iraq....  What the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's recent report has done is to confirm the allegation officially and come out with sharp criticism of the agencies concerned which overstated the threat during the run-up to the invasion....  The report has, without doubt, absolved the Bush administration of the charge that it had pressured intelligence analysts to reach pre-set conclusions.  One can, however, hardly expect the matter to rest there in America's public discourse in an election year....  With the level of popular support for the Iraq war and confidence in President George Bush's handling of it declining, the report may well have an adverse impact on his chances of re-election."


"Beyond Partisanship"


The nationalist Hindustan Times opined (7/12):  "The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the pre-war assessment of Iraqi weapons has told us a lot about the failure of America's vaunted intelligence agencies.  But it also tells us of America's great strength:  its mature institutions which are able to apply correctives with great rapidity....  The report rebuts the assessments of the US National Intelligence Estimate of 2002 used by the Bush administration  to publicly justify the case for an invasion....  Indian politicians...could learn a lesson or two from the manner in which the U.S. Senate is dealing with the issue.  There is partisanship, but in the interests of rehabilitating vital national security institutions, both sides have moderated it and come together with remarkable objectivity to examine the problem and recommend solutions."


PAKISTAN:  "Truth Is Finally Out"


An editorial in the Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language daily, Dawn (7/16):  "For the second time in less than a fortnight, the Anglo-American establishments that waged a war on Iraq stand discredited....  Iraq had no 'smoking gun.'  Evidently, the Blix report prompted Washington and London to come up with new, contrived pretexts for a war on Iraq ...  No wonder, a war whose premise was based on falsehood should have ended trapping the victors in a cul de sac.  The latest from Iraq is horrible both for its people and for the occupying powers....  The provisional government does not inspire the people's confidence.  It is seen as a tool in American hands...  In Washington and London, the powers that launched the war should now ask themselves whether the world is more peaceful and secure today than it was before the war."   


"Exemplary Traditions Of America, Britain"


An op-ed by Irshad Ahmad Haqqani in the leading mass circulation Urdu-language Jang (7/16):  "That the action taken by Bush and Blair in March 2003 to attack Iraq was unjustified has now been proven from various aspects.  During the last 15 months, many arguments given by the U.S. and the UK in favor of war have proven to be false.  In order to deceive the international public opinion the U.S. formed an interim and sovereign government in Iraq on June 28 but this could not deceive the Iraqi people or the Arab and Islamic world as well as the international community.  The people of the United States and the UK itself have expressed so much resentment against Bush and Blair that could be witnessed nowhere else.  This is a reflection of their realism and righteousness.  They have proved that Bush and Blair are not as dear to them as is humanity, peace and tenets of truthfulness. Various inquiry reports conducted in these two countries also proved that the traditions of accountability of the leaders is so much deep-rooted in these countries that no ruler could dare ignore them.  It has also been proved that in these countries there is full independence and impartiality of investigation of any incidence." 


"American, British Intelligence Services Exposed" 


An editorial in the leading mass circulation Urdu daily, Jang (7/16):  "The ground reality remains that whether the United States and Britain attacked Iraq due to faulty intelligence or any other reason, a country has totally been destroyed and thousands of people have got killed, and million of people are confronting grave human tragedies and sufferings. This all has taken place at the hands of those two countries that claim to be the champion of global peace and security."


"British Inquiry Report"


An editorial in the Karachi-based, right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Urdu daily, Jasarat (7/16):  "Prime Minister Blair has accepted responsibility for the failure of his intelligence agencies.  The admittance of guilt demands that he should have resigned.  Blair, by siding with the biggest deceit and lie of this century, has disgraced Britain the world over.  The Britons would definitely punish him for this.  This report has also hit the Bush administration. But the shameless and obstinate Bush administration has refused to present the intelligence report on Iraq before the Senate Committee."


"The Scandal Of Iraq's WMD"


An editorial in the sensationalist Urdu-language Ummat (7/16):  "The British investigative Commission on Iraq's WMD, has reported that there was no stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  The report accused Tony Blair of taking America's side in the war on incorrect and unverified information.  Even in America the CIA report was based on un-authentic information from several agencies, which lead America to openly show its hatred towards the Muslim world.  Verbal expressions of friendship defy America's killings of several thousand innocent people."


"British Admittance Of Wrong Intelligence Reports" 


An editorial in the Karachi-based, pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu daily, Islam  (7/16):  "The British Investigation Commission has admitted that Iraq didn't have any chemical or biological weapons.  The secret information collected was false and the British reliance on such unverified reports, which resulted in the war, was wrong.  Both Bush and Blair are, however, adamant that notwithstanding the faulty intelligence, their decision to go to war was right.  With great vehemence and stubborn-ness they are justifying the heavy bloodshed of the innocent people in Iraq.  What could be more un-civilized and barbaric than this?"


"Searing Indictment"


Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn editorialized (7/12):  "'We in Congress would not have authorized that war...if we knew what we know now.'  There cannot be a more searing indictment of the dishonesty of the case built up by the Bush administration for its war on Iraq....  Unfortunately, the opposition in the shape of the Democrats, despite castigating Mr. Bush's conduct of the war, shows little collective signs of seeking to reverse the damage....  When superpowers make blunders, the consequences for the world are disastrous."


"Iraq War And U.S. Senate Report"


Center-right Urdu-language Pakistan noted (7/11):  "The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has declared the attack on Iraq as unjustified and based on lies....  If the American people could understand this fact they would withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and would not elect President Bush again."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Exaggerated Claims On Iraq"


Liberal This Day editorialized (7/13):  "Almost everyone comes out of these reports badly except the people they work for...Bush and...Blair.  But the U.S. president and the British prime minister are not yet off the hook....  The Butler report may...point the finger at the prime minister’s office for political manipulation of intelligence....  Conveniently for Bush, the second part of the Senate report will be published after the U.S. election.  The question is how the American public will judge the material that has been released so far, along with a less-than-rosy outcome in Iraq."


"The World Was Misled"


Balanced Business Day commented (7/13):  “A U.S. Senate committee’s report...shows the world was misled about the true reasons for the war....  It is not valid to argue that although the intelligence case may not have been watertight...Bush and...Blair could not say so at the time....  They misled the world and violated public trust....  What is particularly frightening from the Senate report is the poor state of the CIA....  The absence of agents on the ground may well account in part for its shoddy political planning for the period after last year’s invasion.  Better intelligence would have given the U.S. a far better ability to assess the reaction to an invasion.  It is tragic that it did not have the capacity to report accurately on Saddam’s weapons plans or Iraqi politics.  For the world’s superpower, the committee’s report is part of an unfolding saga of arrogance, lies and incompetence.”


“Islands Of Freedom No More”


Political analyst and freelance journalist Allister Sparks writes in liberal The Star (7/13):  “Today the American and British newspapers are filled with stories of detentions without trial and the torture of political prisoners.…  A terrible corrosion of values is taking place in the great democracies that have been the role models for so many of us.…  A series of hearings...have revealed that a patter of ‘intensive interrogation’ developed at Guantanamo Bay was extended…to Abu Ghraib prison.…  And in all of this the interrogators have emphasized the public nature of the humiliation.…  All this, remember, has been done in the name of spreading the enduring blessings of Western freedom and democracy.  Our way of life as opposed to Saddam Hussein’s.  The damaging legacy is incalculable.  Not only must it convince the Islamic fundamentalists that they are indeed fighting the forces of evil, but the Americans and the British have surely stripped themselves of their moral authority.  How can they now protest against the abusive treatment of prisoners or political opponents anywhere in the developing world.… To say nothing of the corroding blow-back effect the condoning of such immoral treatment of others is likely to have on their own societies.” 


MAURITIUS:  "Lies And Flawed Intelligence"


The predominantly French-language Muslim weekly Star had this to say (7/11):  "The...United States Senate has, in its report, made a scathing attack on the Bush administration and the CIA on going to war in Iraq.  Simply stated the decision to go to war was based on false premises and on utterly flawed intelligence.  It is now evident that the right wing hawks of the Pentagon of the Bush administration were hell bent to attack Iraq, and used intelligence, which they...[used] to mislead the Senate, the Congress and the people of the United States of America.  Their lies have been made naked and they should resign.  They, similarly, lied about their policy of torture against the detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.  These people have got blood on their hands.  Bush, Cheney and others will soon face the wrath of American public opinion for all the grotesque lies they have been perpetuating and they keep doing it.  Cheney's past is catching up with him, especially his involvement in the Enron scandal.  In an attempt to scare the people of the States to vote for them, the Bush administration keeps on raising the terror alert, the latest being this week that al-Qaida is about to have a major strike on American soldiers--lies and pack of lies!"




CANADA:  "Bush, Blair Won't Repent"


Editorial page writer Haroon Siddiqui observed in the liberal Toronto Star (7/18):  "Two American and four British reports have exposed the tall tales told by George W. Bush and Tony Blair to manufacture consent for invading and occupying Iraq. Yet neither is to blame, it seems, nor anyone else, except the Central Intelligence Agency - always an easy scapegoat. Both leaders remain unrepentant, even though nearly 1,000 allied troops and at least 12,000 Iraqis are dead. Terrorism is growing. America has lost moral authority, even among allies who are unlikely to believe Bush or Blair in case of real threat. Washington's terror warnings are fodder for late--night TV comics.... The moral here is not that the world is a less dangerous place than we were led to believe but that America seems so clueless about it. No wonder it creates havoc wherever it treads. The other lesson is that we must be skeptical not only about our leaders but also the pundit-ocracy that has become so central to our post-9/11 discourse.... Yet the British panels probing the Blair government's pre-war behaviour have managed to provide rhetorical escapes for their prime minister: He was not lying. He was not deliberately exaggerating the Iraqi threat. Poor Tony didn't know the information was wrong. We can't question his good faith, can we? Of course not.... In Washington, the Republican-dominated Senate committee found no evidence that Bush and Co. ordered the intelligence community to cook the books. Of course not... There was one kind of dishonesty before the war and now there's another-- that of covering political tracks. Perhaps American and British voters will render all these probes moot by passing their own clear verdicts when the time comes."


"Final Justification For War On Iraq Rests With Finding Saddam Guilty Of Genocide"


Columnist Richard Gwyn commented in the liberal Toronto Star (7/18): "Authoritative reports have now been issued in London as well as in Washington--by Lord Butler and by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee--that confirm what has been obvious for some time: Saddam Hussein posed no threat whatever with weapons of mass destruction, nor had any ties to Al Qaeda; thus there was no justification for the attack on him in the terms originally proclaimed by George Bush and Tony Blair. The defence of the invasion--which has cost around 20,000 lives with many more maimed, and stirred up far more terrorism than existed in Iraq before--now rests on one proposition that is still powerful.  This is that Saddam was a murderous, genocidal dictator of whom Iraq, the region and the world are all well rid of. The explicit proof of Saddam's misdeeds will come when he goes on trial in Baghdad later this year. For Bush and Blair, their great opportunity for vindication is Saddam being brought to justice, with all the evidence against him being laid out before what will amount to the court of world opinion, and most particularly before the Iraqi people. But maybe not. The trial of Saddam may not unfold at all in the way that just about everyone has always assumed it would.... Certainly, Iraq, the region, the world, are all better off for Saddam's downfall. He was a brutal tyrant. But these benefits, although real, simply cannot justify the costs--human, political, diplomatic, economic, financial and moral--of the war. And, in the continuing insurgency, those costs are by no means yet completed."


"Peddling the Iraq war"


The liberal Toronto Star opined (7/17): "U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair may not have lied when they told people Saddam Hussein had befriended Al Qaeda and had weapons of mass destruction that could be launched on 45 minutes' notice. But they crafted a case for war by spooking Americans and Britons with flimsy, fatally flawed evidence from unreliable sources.... Had a fraction of the effort against Saddam been spent chasing down Al Qaeda, the terror network might already have been destroyed. Instead, Americans have just had a surreal debate about empowering federal officials to cancel the presidential election, if the U.S. is attacked. While that seems unlikely, the fear is genuine. Yet Bush continues to blindly insist that 'America is safer' for having toppled Saddam, while Blair lamely argues 'everyone genuinely tried to do their best in good faith.' On both sides of the Atlantic, the ranks of their supporters are thinning. People feel betrayed, and rightly so.... They may not have lied outright, or wilfully distorted. But as the British say, they were economical with the truth. And they were wrong."


"'No One Lied' On Iraq"


The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (Internet version, 7/15):  "The United States and Britain invaded Iraq last year on the grounds that it could threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction.  No weapons have been found.  Were U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair lying to the world?  Did they distort or manufacture evidence of Iraq's WMD threat to justify the invasion?  These are natural questions, given the embarrassing failure to find chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.  But, on the evidence so far, the answer is no.  In Britain, three inquiries have absolved the Blair government of lying or twisting the facts....  Now Lord Butler's comprehensive 196-page report concludes that while the intelligence used to justify the invasion was 'seriously flawed,' Mr. Blair did not misuse the intelligence to back his case for war....  Similarly, on the other side of the Atlantic, a report last week from the U.S. Senate 'did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.'  A second part of the report will look into how the Bush administration handled the flawed intelligence it was given, but so far there is nothing to show that Mr. Bush or his top officials lied or distorted either....  Of course, that does not clear either government of all responsibility.  The fact remains that both made the decision to invade based on faulty intelligence, a failure for which Mr. Blair accepted full personal responsibility yesterday.  If they knew then what they know now, they might not have pulled the trigger. But hindsight is 20/20.  Given what intelligence agencies around the world thought they knew at the time, given the Saddam Hussein regime's proven record of developing and even using WMD, given the regime's repeated lies and deceptions about those programs...--given all that, it was hardly unreasonable of the U.S. and British governments to see a threat.  As Lord Butler puts it, Mr. Hussein's regime had the 'strategic intention' of resuming development of WMD, including nuclear weapons, if international sanctions were lifted or fell apart.  He was carrying out illicit WMD research and developing long-range ballistic missiles.  Whether or not he had stockpiles of weapons ready for use, it is a very good thing he is gone."


"From One Style To The Other"


Editorialist Jean-Marc Salvet commented in the centrist Le Soleil (7/13):  "Three days after the publication of the devastating Senate report, [George W. Bush] tried to go back on the offensive, justifying once again, as if it were nothing, going to war with Iraq.  As if this war had not been waged under false pretenses....  The problem that, sadly, George W. Bush always sweeps under the carpet, is that the conditions and justifications behind the war are not without importance.  Quite the contrary.  That is where the States are divided.  That is also what has caused the human price of the conflict to rise."




Jorge Elias, daily-of-record La Nacion international columnist, opined (7/18):  "Bush and Blair resurfaced unharmed, with just a few scratches after jumping from a plane without parachutes. In Washington, CIA director George Tenet resigned for deliberate lies, negligence and distorting facts.  In London, following a superficial report on the distortion of MI6 reports, nothing happened. It was better for certain sectors that his author, Lord Butler, didn't find any 'evidence to question the Prime Minister's good faith.'  And so it was.... Thanks to the investigation requested by him, Blair has found a legal tool to justify his attitude. The MI6 and the government exaggerated intelligence reports, but behaved with dignity.... There have always been mistakes among presidents and spies.... However, there was never an operation of such magnitude that could negatively affect secret services in order to benefit economic interests -- linked with the exploitation of oil and the reconstruction of a destroyed country -- and political interests -- linked with Bush and Blair's re-elections and above all, with the continuation of a plan of geo-strategic dominance....  In both cases, they blamed the secret services' low level of professionalism, not the bad will of the rulers....  Nevertheless, the U.S. investigation was more incisive than the British investigation on the work of intelligence services.  However, the gist of the situation hasn't been solved: why the hell did they decide to start an illegal war, not authorized by the UNSC and which, in view of the lack of evidence, focused its brutality on a rais no different from others in the region?"


"Blair, Exonerated Of Intelligence Mistakes On Iraq"


Gabriela Litre, London-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion commented (7/15):   "According to Lord Butler, the intelligence reports ensuring that Saddam Hussein had WMD, which led the UK to the war in Iraq, 'are seriously flawed.' Nonetheless, neither PM Tony Blair nor the MI6 were declared guilty of 'deliberate distortion or negligence.' Neither was Butler particularly tough on John Scarlett, the current head of the MI6 and author of the questioned intelligence report that led the UK to war. While Butler questioned Scarlett's performance, he said he had 'high consideration' for his work, and urged him to stay in his position. As a matter of fact, Butler limited himself to finding out huge intelligence faults and did not go further in the use the government made of said information. Due to this limitation, the conservative and liberal opposition refused to participate in the investigation."


TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO:  "Bogus Intelligence"


The tabloid style Newsday newspapers had this commentary (7/10):  "The spectacle of the world's only superpower being betrayed by a totally inept intelligence organization is both amazing and disturbing.  This is a country that launched a war on terror after the 9-11-01 bombings which badly exposed the weakness of its intelligence gathering capacity.  This failure to detect the worst enemy attack on U.S. soil should have taught the Bush administration a lesson, but it obviously did not.  It should have driven home the fact that the CIA, which bore an awesome reputation around the world, was in fact a grossly incompetent organisation and should not really be trusted.... The fact is, the pressure was on and nobody in the CIA wanted to be a nay-sayer or even raise a cautionary voice against Bush's obsessive thrust to topple Saddam Hussein.  Bush and his war hawks, whipping up mass paranoia in their post-September 11 'war on terrorism,' virtually asked for it and the CIA dutifully but dishonestly delivered.  In our view they are both equally to blame for this terrible fiasco."




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