The resignations at the BBC following the Hutton report caused a storm. Colin Sparks looks at the role of public broadcasting in a time of crisis.
The struggle between the BBC and the government is evidence of the deep divisions inside the ruling class over the war in Iraq and the wider issues of strategy that lie behind it. The publication of the Hutton report and the subsequent resignations of the chairman of the board of governors, Gavyn Davies, and the director general, Greg Dyke, should have been a victory for the government.
The costs of the occupation keep rising - and the ’blood price‘ is being paid by Iraqi civilians.
General Tommy Franks, the first US proconsul of occupied Iraq, famously stated that ’we don‘t do body counts‘ of Iraqi casualties of war. This is a logical response - who would expect a criminal to supply the evidence for the prosecution? Fortunately the court of public opinion - unlike government inquiries - doesn‘t allow the criminal to appoint the judge.
A year since the invasion of Iraq and the government is still in a state of crisis. Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, analyses why.
Time to draw a line. Time to move on. So the government exhorts us as it tries to turn its back on the monumental failure which is the war and occupation of Iraq. Yet the line persistently refuses to be drawn. The government lies crushed under the nightmare of the war, desperately trying to move on to any other issue. It is now nearly a year since the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down in Baghdad to proclamations of Iraqi liberation.
While Tony Blair clung to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as the justification for war on Iraq, the US administration tended to hold more with the argument that the war was about removing Saddam Hussein and delivering democracy to the people of Iraq.
As the occupation continues, both arguments are being resoundingly stripped of any credibility.
The Hutton inquiry cut into the government, exposing the messy lies and distortions underneath Blair's Iraq claims. The Hutton report puts a nice big judicial bandage over that cut.
Temporarily rejuvenated, Blair parades his Hutton-issue certificate of honesty, augmented by the BBC's 'unreserved' apology. Under the bandage the wound rapidly festers.
Contrary to Bush and Blair's familiar response to any attack on US or British forces as the work of 'Saddam loyalists' or 'foreign terrorists', it is clear that the resistance in Iraq has gained momentum, and that the Iraqi people have increasingly come to see themselves as subject to a colonial occupation.
At the end of September the US administrator, Paul Bremer, announced that the US-appointed governing council was planning sweeping reforms to enable foreign companies to take over Iraqi assets without prior approval. This move provided for 100 percent foreign ownership in all sectors except (for now) oil. As Kamil Mahdi wrote in the Guardian on 26 November, Iraqis were united in opposition to this law, since it confirmed their colonial status. Moreover, the funds provided for reconstruction will largely benefit US firms.
Six months into the occupation Iraqi society is becoming increasingly fragile. A generation living under war and sanctions has stretched the ties of social solidarity painfully thin.
Those at the bottom of the pile face utter destitution. A World Food Programme (WFP) report released on 23 September estimated the number of Iraqis living below the poverty line had increased since the war to 55 percent of the population, or more than 14 million people.
Before the war, John Barry of Newsweek produced an amazing scoop. He obtained a leaked copy of the interview between General Kamal, Saddam's son in law, and the UN weapons inspectors.
Kamal was actually in charge of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme - his defection to the west in 1995 caused panic in Baghdad. Every single assertion about Iraq's WMD programme, every government dossier and major speech relies heavily on Kamal's evidence. However, Barry showed that while Kamal exposed Iraq's pre-1991 WMD programme - the chemical and biological weapons, the plans for nuclear bombs - he actually also said these programmes were destroyed after 1991, although some documents were retained.