Sunday, September 07, 2003

There are still a few questions left for Lord Hutton:

  1. The Sunday Herald has a very good summary of the current state of the Hutton Inquiry, and a list of those witnesses who may be recalled as their testimony appears to be contradicted by the later testimony of others (that is a nice way of saying that they lied). Of course, they leave off the man who most needs to be recalled - Tony Blair himself. Hoon has big problems over his testimony that he had nothing to do with Kelly's 'outing' (besides being contradicted by other testimony, Hoon's story made it seem that he had nothing to do with his own Ministry!), and Blair and Campbell both have the problem that they stressed the whole issue of 'ownership' of the dossier without mentioning that such ownership clearly reverted to Blair's office on September 20, at a time when there were still problems with the dossier in the minds of the intelligence agents whose comments were no longer being listened to. Blair, Campbell and Scarlett all have to explain how it is that none of them had an inkling about any of these problems (for Scarlett's obliviousness, see here, section 79). Blair's statements to the press regarding the mechanism of the 'outing' of Kelly also seem to be contradicted by the evidence, and his involvement in the whole matter of Kelly's fate is much larger than he has had us believe. Blair has blustered through the details by broadly taking 'responsibility' for the whole matter, but people would presumably like to know exactly what he did.

  2. From the testimony of Roy James Green, a forensic biologist, who examined the scene where Dr. Kelly's body was found (here, at section 143):

    "Q. We have heard from some ambulance personnel, and they said they were not specifically looking, for obvious reasons, at the distribution of blood but they noted, just on their brief glance, not very much blood. What were your detailed findings?

    A. Well, there was a fair bit of blood.

    LORD HUTTON: There was - I beg your pardon?

    A. A fair bit of blood, my Lord. The body was on leaf litter, the sort of detritus you might find on the floor of a wood, which is - and that is very absorbent, so although it may not have appeared to them there was that much blood, it would obviously soak in.

    MR DINGEMANS: A bit like blotting paper in some respects?

    A. Yes."

    Note that he says that it would obviously soak in - he gives no indication that he checked to see if it did soak in. The same witness later said (sections 146 to 147; my emphasis):

    "The jeans, as I have talked about, with this large contact stain, did not appear to have any larger downward drops on them. There were a few stains and so forth but it did not have any staining that would suggest to me that his injuries, or his major injuries if you like, were caused while he was standing up, and there was not any - there did not appear to be any blood underneath where he was found, and the body was later moved which all suggested those injuries were caused while he was sat or lying down."

    So it is clear he relied on superficial appearances to judge that there was no blood under the body, thus putting into question his confidence about the blood soaking into the leaf litter (and what does he mean by major injuries?). Given that the police and the paramedics differed on the amount of blood at the scene, and it was the paramedics with the better view who noted the surprising lack of blood (presumably they would have had experience at attending scenes of suicides by slit wrists, and would have an appreciation for the amount of blood involved), this is an important issue that has not been properly resolved. If there is not enough blood, the body was moved to where it was found, and foul play would have been involved.

  3. Blair has said he would have resigned if it were true that his government had inserted the 45-minute claim knowing it to be untrue (see here, sections 19, 20 and 21). Campbell says he had nothing to do with it (here, section 29 and 30, and 64 and 65), and it first appeared to his knowledge in the draft he saw on September 10. We know that the experts on the issue vehemently disagreed with it (Kelly thought it was 'risible'; see here, sections 63 and 64). So where did it come from? Somebody must have drafted it. Who is the culprit? According to Scarlett, the 45-minute claim first appeared in a document created by the Secret Intelligence Service, which was reviewed by the Current Intelligence Group on August 28, and reviewed by the whole JIC on September 4 (see here, sections 45 to 48). This process was parallel to, but completely separate from, the creation of the dossier. The 45-minute claim appears to have entered history in the dossier of September 10 (see the testimony of Julian Miller here, at section 148), and was altered somewhat in the draft of September 16 (see here, sections 69 to 72, in particular lines 20 to 24 of section 71). Scarlett says that the drafting was done mainly by two people, working under the leadership of Julian Miller (sections 72 and 77). We are left with the following questions:

    • Was it just a coincidence that the 45-minute claim appeared days before the drafting of the 'dodgy dossier' began (the claim has been revealed to be a single source and is based on hearsay with many questions about the source, who may very well be another of the infamous Iraqi dissidents who the neocons used to mislead the American people)?;

    • Was the claim inserted by the mysterious 'Operation Rockingham', and, if so, what is its relationship to the Blair government?;

    • Who instructed that the 45-minute claim be inserted into the dossier?; and

    • Who actually did the drafting?

    The 45-minute claim was considered 'risible' by the experts on the subject, and received specific negative comment from the CIA, who had seen the September 11 draft. The criticisms mean that the story that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the 45-minute claim, that it just ended up in the dossier in the ordinary course of drafting, is untrue. It was Scarlett, a personal friend of both Campbell and Blair, who was responsible for allowing it to survive into the final dossier. Of course, it was also Scarlett who turned over 'ownership' of the dossier to Blair's office at a time when there were still comments outstanding from the intelligence experts that had not been reflected in the dossier.
  4. An American military linguist, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Mai Pederson, acted as a translator for Kelly in Iraq in 1998, and he later visited her in California, where she helped him convert to the Baha'i faith. She may have been associated with the Defense Language Institute (in one of those weird coincidences, 9-11 hijacker Saeed Alghamdi may have taken classes at the Defense Language Institute). She is said to be 43 years old, Arab-American, and still much of a mystery.

Lord Hutton has been holding a clinic on how to run an inquiry. He started in a hurry; has had a disciplined list of witnesses; his Senior Counsel, James Dingemans, QC, has asked questions which lead right to the heart of the inquiry (none of the powder puff questions you often see lobbed at witnesses); and the transcripts of witness testimony appear on the website amazingly quickly. However, he still has quite a bit of work to do.