21 October 2003

Holding leaders accountable for untruths about war

While the pot continues to boil in Washington and London over the manipulated evidence used to ''justify'' attacking Iraq, an equally passionate debate has been taking place in Australia, where former Australian intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie resigned before the war and immediately went public about the lying.

That the Australian Senate saw fit, in a rare move on Oct. 7, formally to censure Prime Minister John Howard for misleading the public shows that truth can win out even in a country with a largely apathetic populace and a mainstream press all too eager to parrot the official line. There are lessons for us, of course, but Americans cannot be accused of apathy in this particular instance because the U.S. media have largely ignored the story.

The Australian Senate censured Howard for producing no evidence to support his claims last March that Iraq had stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, and for suppressing Australian intelligence warnings that war with Iraq would increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks. One senator accused Howard of "unprecedented deceit."

Sadly, the deceit was all too precedented. Tampa. SIEV-X. The Nigerien yellowcake. Abbot's involvement in the destruction of One Nation. The Manildra meeting Howard forgot he had attended. The 14 February JIC report. The qualifications to the US analysis. The whole sorry invention of 'pre-deployment' - the war you've committed the nation to without telling the nation.

I've previously blogged about why Howard is escaping the popular outrage emerging in the US and Britain. We'll see whether you can found a government on fooling all of the people all of the time between now and the next election.

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