Sunday 20th of June 2021

Great book, pity about our Government (Geoff Taylor)

I have found your book a great read.

I had no idea of the Webdiary in the months preceding the start of the Iraq war. It was a period when I corresponded by email with everyone who might have been able to prevent it or exercise influence. I corresponded with the PM's war team pointing out what their decisions were doing to people in Iraq. Bill Patterson wanted to hear no more of it. I corresponded with Jim Staples and John Valder, with the US, UK , German, Russian, Chinese and French press and the UN.

I pointed out that a five person chiefs of staff group of the UN security council permanent members was supposed by law as adopted by Australia as a UN member to run any UN military intervention by force. I asked the govt to see the UN documents which by law are supposed to authorize Australia's participation for the UN. There weren't any.

It was clear after the US Congress rejected the invitation by the Iraq National Assembly in August 2002 to send a WMD inspection team to Iraq accompanied any specialists that the US didn't want to know.

Senator Kay Patterson didn't want to hear about helping rehabilitate those of the Iraqi people we were 'trying to help' that we had injured'.

While John Howard says he had acres of intelligence, it is also true that he had a duty to objectively assess what was being put before the public. The Australian press fell down in not doing that. A sprayplane was just that - an agricultural spray plane in the absence of evidence to the contrary. One picture of a 'biological WMD works' could have just as easily been a picture of CSL Melbourne. Another sequential picture of a suspect WMD place was deliberately shown from two angles to make any changes very difficult to assess. The recorded conversations put before the UN could have meant anything without the context and identification of the speakers.

And the US had a well known diplomat in Niger, Jean Kirkpatrick Owens from memory, who could easily have told them that the Niger foreign minister was a woman not a man, as in the yellowcake letter. Did our DFAT run a website check on who the Niger foreign minister was? It was that easy.

I and lots of other people tried our damnedest but our government didn't want to know any of it. I was sorry that a few highly placed lawyers on our side didn't make a better fist of trying legal avenues.