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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 — 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.
The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.
Amount an auditor estimated last year that Oregon could save each year by feeding prisoners less food:
Kentucky is the saddest state.
An Italian economist was questioned on suspicion of terrorism after a fellow passenger on an American Airlines flight witnessed him writing differential equations on a pad of paper.
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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.'”