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Posted by Melmac on April 20, 2003 at 21:52:44:
In Reply to: Lies, lies and more lies * The Iraqi WMD myth posted by OP on April 20, 2003 at 20:30:14:
Blair 'no' to Iraq arms inquiry
By Jo Dillon, Deputy Political Editor
20 April 2003
Tony Blair has ruled out an inquiry into allegations that the public was misled about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the main justification for the war.
Putting himself at odds with a growing number of MPs, the Prime Minister said there was no need for a separate inquiry as a 1,000-strong Anglo- American inspection team prepares to search Iraq for weapons.
Meanwhile a cross-party alliance is getting behind the campaign for an inquiry to be conducted by the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee into whether MI6 misled ministers about WMDs, and into the exact nature of the intelligence information used to convince waverers in the Labour Party to back military action. The campaign is unlikely to win Downing Street's co-operation.
Asked if Mr Blair would assist such an inquiry, a Downing Street spokesman said: "We don't believe any inquiry is needed, as we stand by our assessment that Saddam harboured an active WMD programme. We have had a conflict to fight as well as getting humanitarian aid to the people, but we are confident of finding weapons of mass destruction in the longer term."
This response is unlikely to satisfy Labour opponents of the war. There is deep-seated mistrust of the decision to leave the search of hundreds of suspicious sites to the Anglo- American task force.
Alice Mahon MP, a prominent member of Labour Against the War has added her support to calls for an inquiry. She joins fellow Labour MPs Lindsay Hoyle – who voted in favour of war because he was told there was "hard evidence" of an Iraqi weapons programme – David Hinchliffe and Doug Henderson, the former Defence minister, who warned that the war would retrospectively be deemed illegal if no weapons were found.
Ms Mahon said she would be calling for the United Nations, and not the US, to send inspectors to Iraq. "There is cynicism about the US," she said, "and a number of people have said this to me: they will find them [WMDs] because they will take their own in there with them. That was the reason we went to war, so let's get it verified."
While not opposing the idea of a Commons inquiry, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell, said he believed the Government should go further and push for the United Nations weapons inspectors, led by Dr Hans Blix, to be allowed back into Iraq.
Mr Campbell told The Independent on Sunday: "Any inquiry held in the UK or the US will inevitably be accused of bias. The only credible approach is to allow Dr Blix and Unmovic to complete the mandate the UN Security Council gave them under Resolution 1441. Only the United Nations will be trusted."
The Conservative Party, too, has backed the broad principle of an inquiry to find out whether the evidence presented to ministers and to members of the Intelligence and Security Committee was an accurate reflection of the situation on the ground in Iraq. They also called for the UN to be allowed back in.
A spokesman for the Tories said: "We have said there should be independent verification of any materials that have been found. We have not said it has to involve the UN but it probably should.
"We would certainly support the general principle that there has to be an appropriate inquiry into the extent to which Saddam had weapons of mass destruction but we are still confident they will find the kind of materials they were talking about."