Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Straw Man

In yesterday's post, there is a link to the Channel 4 News report which revealed parts of a memo that the government would rather we didn't read. It is difficult to understand why they wouldn't want us to read it, unless you accept the accusation that the government is attempting to hide the truth from the public. I'm listening to Radio 4 right now and the Attorney General has just stated that it was "his view" which was expressed in the one page A4 document presented to Cabinet and subsequently made public. Apart from being a questionable statement, this avoids a main point of concern. The real issue is that it has now become undeniable that there were other views on the legality of the invasion, not least from the Foreign Office legal department. Did the government make it clear that the Attorney General's personal view was not supported by members of the Foreign Office legal department and that the legality of the invasion was open to interpretation? Was the debatable nature of the legal position passed on to the Cabinet, to MP's, and to the public? It would appear that it was not.

The BBC report on Jack Straw's response to this accusation makes for interesting reading. I can only conclude that the full legal advice, which Mr Straw still refuses to make public, is so damning to the government that they'd prefer to let this controversy run on into the general election campaign. If there is nothing to hide, the release of the full legal advice in this one exception case, would bring this difficult episode to a close. Instead, the government chooses to keep the advice hidden and leave themselves open to more accusations of dishonesty.

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