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In the United States, we’re all supposed to have forgotten that the narrative leading to the Iraq War was propelled by false facts and arguments, often in circumstances where the claim of good-faith error is difficult to sustain. We’re supposed to keep listening to political figures who made false claims, and utterly exonerate the media that allowed them to circulate and gain credibility. That’s the American approach: “look forward, not back.”
In Britain, however, a careful self-assessment is underway that has gained wide public attention. A commission of inquiry is slowly dissecting the developments, measuring the statements of political actors, and pressing them—civilly but firmly—to explain themselves in view of the subsequently exposed facts. There’s plenty to criticize about the British process (and in the second foreword to Sam Dash’s book Justice Denied, I did just this). But it’s a sober and introspective act that does honor to the democratic process.
Today former Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared before the Commission and was pressed about the bogus claims of WMDs in Iraq. Here’s a key clip from his appearance this morning, courtesy of the BBC. I’ll post more on this next week, after I’ve had a chance to finish reviewing the transcripts from the past two weeks.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”