Thursday 20 August 2009

Sir John Chilcot: Not yet Another Inquiry into the Iraq War!

by Trowbridge H. Ford

The terrible state of public accountability in the Anglo-American world became all too clear when Britain had to make some kind of accounting of its devastating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - where it had only followed American orders by joining, and felt increasingly obliged to render some scrutiny of since Washington did so too. When Washington did agree to the Iraq Intelligence Commission, co-chaired by Senator Charles Robb and Judge Lawrence Silberman, to assess the adequacy of the intelligence justifying Saddam's ouster - after the Iraq Survey Group had failed to find any of its claimed WMD, the Blair Government followed suit, appointing the Butler Review to see if Downing Street had sexed up the intelligence to justify war - what the similar secret Franks Commission had found to be essentially not the case when Argentina increasingly threatened to invade the Falklands in 1982. Instead of Thatcher's Downing Street ignoring the growing isolation of the Falklanders - what gave the Junta the expectation that it could get away with a successful assault - the Blair goverenment had used all kinds of suspect intelligence to justify most dubious claims, especially the one that Iraq could mount a serious WMD missile attack within a period of 45 minutes.

What was really interesting about the Butler Report is that most people thought that it was the creation of his Lordship - a well-known mandarin, noted for dealing with responsible politicians, especially serving as private secretary to no less than five PMs - and those who didn't took offence at Labour MP Ann Taylor, who was a vigorous supporter of the war, and chairman of the influential Intelligence and Security Committee in the Commons, making these complaints. There were actually three other members of the inquiry, Field Marhal Lord Inge, Conservative MP Michael Mates, and mandarin Sir John Chilcot. The Liberal Democrats had refused to participate in it because the efforts by politicians, unlike even the Franks Commission, were excluded from its scrutiny. Chilcot performed for three previous Home Secretaries, Merlyn Rees, Roy Jenkins, and William Whitelaw, the same kind of secretarial duties that Butler was known for with Prime Ministers. During the Butler Inquiry hearings, Chilcot was expected to mind the clock while witnesses, especially the current Prime Minister Blair, were giving their expected testimony while Butler presided from the chair.

The Butler Inquiry was further limited in the scope of its investigation by the Hutton one, appointed to clear up the unexpected death of weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly whose earlier claim about Saddam Hussein's expected WMD capability with medium-range rockets was the centerpiece of what it was supposed to be investigating. Lord Hutton was a law lord, noted for his most servile service for government authorities, especially in Northern Ireland, and he quickly showed that its confidence in giving him the responsibility for determining how Kelly died - what would normally have been decided by an inquest - was not misplaced when he simply delegated the decision to suicide expert, Oxford Professor Keith Hawton. The Hutton Report, consequently, concerned why, when and how Kelly had apparently been allowed to kill himself.

While Blair's replacement, Gordon Brown, fully expected this dribs and drabs approach to Britain going to war in Iraq would finally kill off calls for why it all happened, he was obliged to appoint a Chilcot Inquiry into why it still had. While one would have expected in the first place something like what happened to Lord Aberdeen's Ministry in Parliament 154 years ago, Chilcot was obliged at least to hold an inquiry in public, unlike what happened during the Franks Commission, and to put hard questions to leading politicians about why the war was a complete snafu from start to finish, unlike what the Butler Inquiry had done. Still, the Chilcot Inquiry sounded too much like the Hutton one, though many proclaimed that the investigation was in 'good hands' with the well-respected mandarin. This is also the motto of Allstate insurance, increasingly noted for ripping off its customers.

The doubts become more serious when one looks into the background of Chilcot's Whitehall service, especially when he really got on the map with his leaderhip of the Home Office's Police Department in February 1987 when John Stalker - leader of the inquiry of the Shoot-to-Kill murders in Northern Ireland - was being forced to resign from the Greater Manchester Police; apparent assassin Captain Simon Hayward of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was causing increasing problems about the still unsolved murder in Stockholm a year before, and the ongoing effort to stop the flow of Libyan arms to the Provisional IRA; the murders of private eye Daniel Morgan and Hayward's sister-in-law Chantal who were trying to clarify problems relating to the Haywards: and the continuing struggle by Manchester businessman Kevin Taylor, who was an acquaintance of Stalker's, to clear his name of cavorting with criminal associates. If these problems were not solved quickly, and effectively, no one could predict where the continuing problems would end up.

The drawn-out Stalker inquiry was running out of control, thanks to RUC Chief Constable's increasing stone-walling of the inquiry for fear that it was focusing on Simon Hayward's activities further afield, apparently the Stockholm assassination on February 28, 1986. The immediate cause of the delay was Stalker wanting a copy of the tape recording of the Hayshed shooting of Michael Tigue on November 24, 1982 near Lurgan in Northern Ireland, fearing that it would confirm Hayward's leadership of the reinforced RUC Special Branch operation - what Home Office Regional Inspector of Constabulary (Northwest) Sir Philip Myers feared would be extended to the statsminister's assassination, thanks to the clandestine Interim Report Stalker had provided. As Francis X. Clines of The New York Times wrote when Stalker finally resigned from the GMP: "His inquiry also looked into the death of one unarmed man who was shot through the back and heart when, policemen said, he presented a threat.." ("Detective in Ulster 'Shoot to Kill' Inquiry Quits," March 17, 1987, A13) This was obviously an allusion to the Stockholm shooting where Palme was shot by a single bullet which severed his spinal column and aorta. (Jan Bondeson, Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme, p. 52) When Stalker attempted to continue his investigation despite Myers telling him twice to desist, he was removed permanently from it. (John Stalker, The Stalker Affair, p. 280)

Its effect upon the operation of the security forces in Northern Ireland, especially Hayward's South Detachment of the 14 Intelligence Company, was dramatic, with its refraining from all offensive operations, especially ambushes, despite the fact that the body of Frank Hegarty, the British tout who had tipped them off about where PIRA weapons caches in Ireland were located in anticipation of the Anglo-American non-nuclear showdown with the Soviets - what was to be triggered, if everything had gone ahead as planned, by the Palme assassination. The weapons were the threat that Clines had referred to in his article about Stalker's retirement. In contrast to the Brits adopting a most low profile, assuring that there would be nothing new to add to Hayward's alleged assassinations, the Provos went on a rampage in December, mounting 22 attacks on RUC stations until Hayward was finally rendered harmless by a drugs setup in Sweden in March. With the Op Officer finally out of the way, the British security forces then responded in April with the famous Loughgall Massacre.

Meanwhile, Hayward was lulled into thinking that he was going up the British military promotion ladder, attending classes which would allow him to be promoted to major (PQS 2) while he was not performing routine duties with the 14th back in Ulster. Hayward's problems were compounded, though, by the activities of Soviet spy, Michael Bettaney, who had worked for MI5's K Branch, and had become completely disaffected by its conduct in Northern Ireland. especially the Shoot-to-Kill murders. While he was on remand in Brixton jail, awaiting trial, he told IRA suspects all he knew about what the Security Service had done in Ulster, supplying, as Mark Urban wrote in Big Boys' Rules: The Secret Struggle against the IRA, "...the names and addresses of senior officers. including those involved in anti-IRA work, (who) had been compromised, and that the people concerned had taken increased security precautions, some moving house." (p. 99)

In Hayward's case, this meant getting a new job elsewhere - as he was now believed to be on the IRA death list - so he, it seems, was transferred to a new top-secret military intelligence postition in London, once he had taken a vacation with his brother Christopher on his catamaran, The True Love, in the Mediterranean. The Haywards were on a mission to carry out some kind of terrorist action, apparently an assassination, at Libya's expense This was just when Chilcot was taking over the Home Office's Police Department, and it decided, along with Anthony Duff's MI5, to make the best of Bettaney's betrayals. Now the Security Service was committed to capturing the Eksund, loaded with Libyan weapons for the IRA, and was willing to set up Simon as a drug runner to satisfy its tout in the PIRA Council, DOOK apparently aka 'Steak Knife', whose cooperation was vital to capturing the vessel. (For more on this, see Simon Hayward, Under Fire: My Own Story, p. 57ff.)

Once the set up of Hayward had finally been achieved, thanks particularly to the efforts by informant Forbes Cay Mitchell, it was the job of the Home Office's National Drugs Intelligence Unit (NDIU), especially Detective Sergeant Brian Moore and Detective Inspector David Morgan, to secure his conviction. They submitted a signed statement, claiming that Hayward was a professional cannabis trafficker who knowingly used his brother's Jaguar to transport 50.5 kilos of it into Sweden, and for which he was to be paid £20,000 - claims which fellow suspect Mitchell fully and freely corroborated. (p. 147) When Hayward's defense demanded that they be forced to give evidence at any upcoming trial, Scotland Yard's Assistant Commission Colin Hewett, under the supervision of the Chicot's Home Office police, refused to allow the officers to attend because what the NDIU officers had supplied was only hearsay evidence which would be inadmissable in an English trial.

When it seemed that this dubious case against Hayward was starting to break down, it was suddenly revived by the suspected murder of his sister-in-law Chantal by a massive drug overdose a few day later. "There is very little doubt in mind that Chantal was murdered" (p. 185), Simon wrote. The most disburbing evidence was that she, not known as a drug user, had suffered a puncture wound on her left arm, just below the elbow. Then right after Hayward's lawyer, Tom Placht, informed the prosectuor of DOOK's existence, and asked what it knew about him, Hayward's mother was immediately interviewed by British police on July 24th. "It also would appear that the authorities suddenly became extremely worried as to the security of the trial proceedings because of the possiblity, in their eyes, of IRA reprisals." (p. 195) Prosecutors then decided to prosecute Hayward, changing the venue of the trial to Stockholm because of fears as to his safety, and that of members of his family. Thanks to the hearsay evidence which British authorities were not willing to back up under oath, Hayward was duly convicted of drug-trafficking, and sentenced to five years in prison.

While Hayward was being legally disposed of, South London, private detective Daniel Morgan and Hayward's sister-in-law Chantal, Christopher's former wife, were being physicallly eliminated. Morgan had learned through his contacts in the underworld that Hayward had been set up to help protect the continuing trade in narcotics which the Metropolitan police were deeply involved in, and threatened to publish his information in media tycoon Robert Maxwell's Daily Mirror for an alleged £250,000, but when the criminal underworld got wind of what he was up to, it arranged a meeting in the parking lot of a South London pub on March 10th where a professional assassin killed Morgan with an axe in his head. Interestingly enough, the London police, thanks to the direction of officials like Chilcot, have not been able to find, and convict his killers of this terrible crime for 22 years now.

Then the security risk to Hayward's family had already resulted in the apparent murder of Chantal, who had visited her mother-in-law in Putney over Hayward's problems, and was in the process to fleeing to Canada because of fears over her own safety and that of her son Tarik. On June lst, a woman sounding like Chantal had met a female police officer in the South Croydon Railway Station, telling her of the drug ring which had set up Simon in Stockholm, and wrote to Hendon MP John Gorst, who was activity involved in securing Simon's release, thanks to encouragement by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former Home Secretary Merlyn Rees, to the same effect. The policewoman had simply allowed the woman to disappear without a trace. However way Chantal died, whether it was by her own hand or that of the Provos, the drug ring or crooked Metropolitan cops, it has never been investigated, though the Metro did revive her existence years later when it apparently wanted to finally solve the Morgan murder, and apparently set up GMP Chief Constable Mike Todd for a similar fate when he threatened to take action last year against Britain's covert state's complicity in secret rendering of suspected Muslim terrorists to places like Diego Gardica and beyond.

For more on this, see this link:

If all this wasn't enough to keep Chilcot most busy, then there were the problems that Manchester businessman Kevin Taylor was continuing to cause because of the police's pursuit of him. Even before Stalker was removed from his inquiry, he suspected that they raided Taylor's house on May 9th, hoping to find real evidence which would cooroborate simmering interest in their criminal activity - what, Stalker wrote, "...was brought to the boil only after the contents of my interm report became known in late 1985 and early 1986." (p. 267) Then Chilcot saw to the quashing of Taylor's summons against GMP Chief Constable John Anderton and some of his associates for conspiring to subvert the course of justice. In July, when Hayward's trial was beginning, the Home Office saw to the quashing of judicial review of the authority which allowed police access to his bank accounts. Then, when Hayward was convicted, the police arrested Taylor on a charge of conspiring to defraud one of the banks where he had an account - what would justify Stalker's removal from the inquiry if proven true, but turned out to be nothing more than the police committing perjury and losing documents when Taylor was acquitted right after Hayward's release from prison in Sweden in September 1989.

Then there was the problem of Stalker possibly revealing in some blockbuster book untoward action by the Home Office in his removal, especially the role of Chilcot and his Police Department. Actually, they were never even mentioned in The Stalker Affair, but Stalker added enough to make clear to the reader that it was not so. Chilcot managed to get the current Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, to conveniently write this in a letter to an unnamed Conservative Member of Parliament (Gorst?): "The Home Office played no part in the enquiry into Mr Stalker and there is no basis on which the Department might pay his cost." (Quoted from p. 223.) Of course, the claim was an outrageous lie as the text and index of Stalker's book showed, but since the responsible Minister was willing to say so, that was the end of it. It even has references to the role its Inspectorate played in his ouster, especially Sir Philip Myers, adding that Stalker would have seriously considered instituting a "...formal statutory disciplinary process that would have involved officials of the Northern Ireland Police Authority and the Home Office" (p. 266) if he had been allowed to continue his inquiry.
Little wonder that Chilcot was then made Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Northern Ireland Office. During his tenure there, the still unsolved fire on January 10, 1990 at the NIPA which destroyed the files of the Sir John Stevens' investigation of collusion of the security forces in paramilitary murders - reminscent of what had started the Stalker inquiry - remained, though the Stevens' team after a decade finally got access to the Force Research Unit's " secret records (including the book that recorded all intelligence passed to the Special Branch) and getting ever closer to the truth of what happened." (Peter Taylor, Brits: The War Against the IRA, p. 295) Unfortunately, this expectation was suddenly crushed when the Castlereagh headquarters where the Special Branch files were kept was raided on St. Patrick's Day, 2002, and were carried away by a three-man team which had inside information about the facility. Then Sir John Chilcot was appointed to get to the bottom of the break-in - what he, unsurprisingly, did not manage to achieve.

With a track record like this, anyone who expects any surprises from the Chilcot Inquiry will be sadly disappointed.