10 Dec 2009

Sawers's glamour exceeds value of his evidence

Sir John Sawers, who gave evidence at today’s Iraq inquiry session, was more notable for the glamour of his current position than for the value of his evidence.

I think most of the hacks would confess to feeling something of an anti-climax this morning. As happened with Scarlett earlier in the week, the glamour and intrigue of Sir John Sawers’ current position perhaps exceeded the actual “box office” value of his evidence, not much of which was particularly new.

He did criticise the US army’s “Darth Vader” attitude to operations in post-war Baghdad but took a fairly lonely stance defending both de-Ba’athification and the dissolution of the Iraqi army – both factors other witnesses have suggested contributed to the insurgency that was spiralling by the end of 2003.

The inquiry breaks now until Monday, when the generals return to give evidence on the views from Baghdad and Basra in 2004. That year was in many respects the most horrific of all, with the Abu Ghraib scandal coming to light; the siege of Fallujah; and bombings, kidnappings & videotaped beheadings jostling for the headlines.

Cheerful thoughts to take into the weekend. See you next week.