Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lucky Tony Blair

Tony Blair must be very pleased with the way the Chilcot Enquiry has gone. Nobody seriously expected that it would expose any new evidence, given that Blair (a trained lawyer) was being interviewed by a bunch of people without any such training. His testimony was the normal self-justifying tosh about how there were obvious links between Saddam and al-Qaeda when it was a case of justifying an invasion (because, y'know, al-Q might get their hands on all those non-existent nukes). However, when it came to planning for Iraq's future following its "liberation", it apparently never occurred to Tone the Drone that al-Qaeda might involve themselves and pose a problem to the occupying forces. I can't decide whether he effectively admitted there that the link with Saddam was made up (it was, but I'm not convinced he admitted it) or whether he just confessed to utter incompetence and an inability to remember who he said he was fighting against.

But that isn't what I meant. Tony must have been overjoyed that with everyone concentrating on the Chilcot sideshow, what could have been a vastly more damaging scandal, one that could have ended his career right there, just softly and silently vanished away.

You may remember British Aerospace? The arms dealers whose conduct in a deal with Saudi Arabia attracted the attentions of the Serious Fraud Office? Attentions which were discontinued on the explicit personal instruction of Tony Blair. Well, on 5 February BAe pleaded guilty to false accounting and making misleading statements. These related to both the al-Yamamah deal (the one whose investigation Blair prevented) and the sale of an air traffic control system to Tanzania which was wildly unsuitable but which, coincidentally, was forced through cabinet by....Tony Blair. These were deals that stank of corruption. In their submission to the US courts BAe explicitly said that one of the things being covered up by the false accountin was the paying of bribes. With Blair's hands in every part of these deals, and with his notorious keenness to involve himself in anything which will add to his personal wealth, one can only speculate as to the identities of those being bribed.

But the beauty of BAe's plea bargain is this. By pleading guilty to false accounting and lying to cover up wrongdoing, they have won permanent immunity from any further investigation into the corrupt deals being covered up. It's as though I were to confess to the police that I had disposed of a dead body in a wood chipper, and were then let off any investigation into the identity of the body, or how I came to be in possession of it. This means that Blair is safe from any investigation into his involvement in all this corruption, investigations which it is safe to say had far more potential to terminate his career (and indeed his freedom) should wrongdoing be uncovered than anything Chilcot could come up with. Tony can easily bluff and bluster his way out of anything to do with the Iraq war because doubt can be cast on so many things. A proper SFO investigation into the BAE deals, though, could have led to much more embarrassing revelations. A dodgy dossier can be wriggled out of: a dodgy entry in a bank account is harder to shrug off.

So instead of whining to the Murdoch media about the Chilcot enquiry and the British in general being obsessed with conspiracy theories (because they had the temerity to ask questions of Tony Superstar), Blair should have been thanking Chilcot and the tabloids for diverting attention from the sordid legal deal-broking that was probably keeping his sorry ass out of Wandsworth.

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