"Downing Street secured vital changes to the Butler Report before its publication, watering down an explicit criticism of Tony Blair and the way he made the case for war in the House of Commons...
The Telegraph has established that the disagreement between No 10 and Lord Butler's inquiry team centred on a passage in an original draft of the report about Mr Blair's statement to MPs in September 2002...
The original passage drew a much clearer contrast than the final version of the Butler Report between the strong case for war made by Mr Blair and the weakness of the intelligence the Prime Minister received about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.The changes secured by No 10 diluted the criticism of Mr Blair and helped Downing Street to mount its main defence - that the report showed that the Prime Minister was acting in good faith...
A member of Lord Butler's team has disclosed to The Telegraph that changes were made at the behest of No 10. However, the inquiry member also revealed that on the day he published his report, Lord Butler was preparing publicly to distance himself from Mr Blair if asked at his only press conference whether the PM should resign...
"It was not his job to bring down the Government," the inquiry member said. "But he was not going to back Blair either."
The deliberately equivocal answer Lord Butler had prepared - which in the end he did not have to deliver because the question was not asked - would have stood in conspicuous contrast to his explicit request in his report that John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, should not have to step down from his new post as head of MI6.
The attempts by the inquiry to make stronger criticism of Mr Blair in their report were hampered during an exchange of views between Lord Butler and Downing Street that began some 10 days before publication last Wednesday.
Under the rules governing inquiries, any individual who has been criticised or fears he may be criticised has the right to be shown sections of the draft in advance with a view to giving a response...
Members of the Butler inquiry have privately expressed frustration that the early reaction to the report included allegations of "whitewash", but they believe the evidence contained in it is damning.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "Lord Butler gave the final copy of the report to the Prime Minister on Tuesday last week. There is only one Butler Report."Yesterday Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, called on Mr Blair to resign because, he said, he had taken the country to war on a false premise."Of course, the Senate report on 9/11 was edited by the White house, too.
"The message of the Butler Report and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been the same. The British and American intelligence services have been compromised and politicised.
Their findings on Iraq were edited to deliver the conclusions Prime Minister and President wanted, justifying an invasion the two had already decided on.
Criticism has in the past focused on the issue of deliberate bias or lies introduced into the evidence by interested ideological or exile groups.
But more pernicious in the end was probably the analytical distortion produced by the conventional wisdom.
Lies risk being challenged and discredited. The conventional wisdom carries no risk for the person who invokes it. It has become what 'everybody knows'."
[I might have been wrong about North Korea. There are four aircraft carriers on their way to the Persian Gulf (And one on standby in the Atlantic) so...]
Also, from the Telegraph on Sunday:
"Iran was declared part of an "axis of evil", along with Iraq and North Korea, by President George W. Bush in 2002.
The [Senate 9/11] report will add to pressure for Iran's theocratic rulers to be the first target of a re-elected Bush administration.
Hawks within the administration want a concerted effort to overturn the regime by peaceful means.
Some Bush officials are privately contemplating a possible military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities before Russian fuel rods are delivered next year."
"...The bipartisan commission has established that between eight and 10 of the September 11 hijackers, who had been based in Afghanistan, travelled through Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.
The terrorists in question are believed to have been the "muscle" - hired to storm the aircraft cockpits and overpower crew and passengers.
Iranian officials were instructed not to harrass al-Qa'eda personnel as they crossed the border and, in some cases, not to stamp their passports.
According to testimony received by the commission - based on information from prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and about 100 electronic intercepts by the National Security Agency - an alliance of convenience was established between the Shia Muslim Iranian leadership and the Sunni terrorist organisation, well before September 11, 2001.
The report is expected to confirm the claim by Thomas Kean, its chairman, last month that 'there were a lot more active [al-Qa'eda] contacts, frankly, with Iran and Pakistan, than there were with Iraq'..."