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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:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average duration of a Japanese prime minister’s tenure since August 1993, in months:
Brain shrinkage has no effect on cognition.
An Indianapolis fertility doctor was accused of using his own sperm to artificially inseminate patients, and a Delaware man pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his former psychiatrist.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”