See, this is another example of what I was talking about last night. There’s a story in the Independent called “US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war“.
Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.
But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. “The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you,” he told Mr Cohen. “I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position.”
There’s a Westminster angle in that Mr Ingram is only now coming out with this whereas he knew before the election. But any MPs who cared about the issue could have read a story from August 2003, again in the Independent, called “US admits it used napalm bombs in Iraq“. I was certainly able to, and there are numerous other sources with the same story. Why Mr Ingram felt able to state that MK77s had not been used in Iraq in January 2005 when you can just Google “us napalm iraq mk77” and get the answer, I couldn’t rightly say. Why MPs did not challenge him on this I couldn’t rightly say either. But for anybody to express surprise now is quite astounding.
Perhaps they were all taken in by the oh-so-clever Pentagon spin in the matter, as laid out in this page specifically about the MK77 – that they did not use napalm, because the MK77s they were using were version 5 not version 4, and the contents had a different composition to what was originally called “napalm” (using kerosene rather than gasoline and benzene), even though the effects are basically the same and any sane person would call both of them napalm.
This allowed the Pentagon to deny reports of napalm use for several months at the time and, when found out, claim not to have been lying. It’s rather like saying “I don’t have a hoover” and then, when challenged, admitting that you do actually have a Dyson, but claiming you weren’t lying because they’re not the same and “hoover” is not a generic term. But they were found out, publicly, two years ago, so claiming that there is still confusion about the issue isn’t very believable.
According to the latest Independent piece, the State Department only actually put the details on its website a few months ago, but all of the information has been out there for a while. When Mike Lewis from the Iraq Analysis Group says:
“Evidence that Mr Ingram had given false information to Parliament was publicly available months ago.”
what he should say is:
“Evidence that Mr Ingram had given false information to Parliament was publicly available from the moment he gave it.”
It leaves me desk-head-bangingly frustrated, and it happens again and again. At the time when decisions need to be made, politicians ignore rock-solid evidence, and then, after the fact, when it doesn’t make any difference any more, they act all shocked. You know that they’ll do exactly the same the next time, too. If they’re going to suspend all critical faculties whenever “war” or “terrorism” are mentioned, why bother having them there at all during those times? Speed things up, save a bit of money – just have the administration doing what it wants for a bit without even having to bother to lie, then bring Parliament back afterwards so they can squabble about it, try to get each other sacked, and not change anything.