Inquiry on the war in Iraq will shield Bush

Former President George W. Bush. Photo / AP
Former President George W. Bush. Photo / AP

The public will never be told what George W. Bush said to Tony Blair in the run-up to the Iraq war, despite a request by the inquiry into the conflict for documents detailing their conversations to be published.

Sir John Chilcot, who heads the British inquiry, conceded partial defeat yesterday in his attempt to publish records from more than 130 exchanges between the former British Prime Minister and the United States President of the time.

In a compromise, the inquiry will be able to publish some details of what Blair said to Bush - although not what Bush said to Blair.

Details of more than 200 Cabinet-level discussions on the war will also be available to the inquiry for publication or reference. Rose Gentle, whose son died fighting in Iraq, was disappointed that full correspondence was not going to be published.

"I feel let down. I want to know why my son was killed. I feel that Tony Blair is just being allowed to walk away," she said.

Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition convenor, added: "This just confirms what a feeble report it's going to be. After 8 million ($16 million), two years of hearings and three years of examining the evidence, it now appears we're still not going to be able to judge for ourselves what exactly went on between Bush and Blair in the run-up to the conflict. It makes you wonder what it's all been for."

Extracts of discussions between Blair and Bush will be limited to "quotes or gists" and the inquiry's use of the material "should not reflect President Bush's views".

However, there is likely to be more extensive reference to what Blair said to Bush.

Officials have said they hope the report will be out by the end of the year.

- Independent

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