14 Mar 2013

Jack Straw ‘edging towards the S word’ on Iraq

Ten years on from Iraq and – inevitably – more violence in the country today. So this morning I spoke to the former foreign and home secretary Jack Straw – as foreign secretary very much Tony Blair’s point man in the now infamous run-in to the invasion of Iraq.

A decade on, he’s not about to accept Iraq is quite a wholesale mess, though he accused the US Defense Department of “criminal negligence” in the post invasion phase of de-Baathification and dismantling of the Iraqi army. I clarified;  he said he meant criminal adjectivally rather than legally.

Is he about to say sorry for the notorious “dodgy dossier” on non-existent weapons of mass destruction? Well see for yourself. I felt he’s edging towards the S word, albeit at geological pace, and certainly comfortable saying sorry for various matters all around the terrible error upon which the invasion was largely sold.

But more tellingly,  what of the world into which the Americans and British have passed in that decade; the world where people are kidnapped and tortured at the diktat of western powers?

Politicians have come up with the depressing American neologism “rendition“, but it’s kidnap and torture and Jack Straw doesn’t bat an eyelid or demure for a nanosecond on my saying that.

Critically, at the end of the interview he says “we” – the British government are not involved in kidnapping and torture. Then seconds later a sudden dramatic change to “I”.

Jack Straw clearly cannot stand by the statement that the British are not kidnapping and torturing people using third-party countries, merely that he insists he was not involved himself.


After this blog appeared, Jack Straw’s office sent us this comment: “There is nothing new in what Mr Straw told Channel 4. He explained to his interviewer, in the same terms as he had used last week in the House of Commons, that he could not comment on the legal proceedings because they were current; that he had at all times been scrupulous about his legal duties, and that he hoped to be able to say more about the issues at an appropriate time.

“His switch to the first person was done for the obvious reason that he can only speak for himself, and no implication should be drawn from it”.

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