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November 28, 2005

Blair-faced

Britain’s prime minister is either a liar, a fool, or both:

LONDON (AP) - Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday he had received no information suggesting the United States planned to bomb the Al-Jazeera television network.
The Daily Mirror last week published a document it said was a transcript of an April 2004 meeting between President Bush and Blair in which Bush spoke of attacking Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar.
… Lawmaker Adam Price asked Blair in a written question made public Monday “what information you received on action that the United States administration proposed to take against the Al-Jazeera television channel.”
Blair replied: “None.”

Blair is pushing his luck here, because several parliamentarians reckon they can prove he had plenty. Which would put one of the most unpopular British prime ministers in recent history in a tenuous position. The Global Policy Forum summed up his dilemma in an article published early last year:

This is not the first occasion in modern times when Britain has sent troops to the oil rich Middle East on an imperial adventure. Nor is it the first occasion when a prime minister has found himself accused of duplicity when mired in such an exercise. In the wake of the Suez fiasco of 1956, cabinet and parliamentary colleagues condemned Sir Anthony Eden for misleading them on his degree of collusion with Israel in the planning of the invasion. Eden was forced to resign as a consequence.
Of course, the odds are still against Blair’s resignation. But in Britain the removal of a prime minister does not require the constitutional hand-wringing or wrenching national spectacle of impeachment. In this case the responsibility clearly lies with the cabinet and the rank and file members of parliament from Blair’s own Labor Party to force his hand.
Tony Blair has often, even eloquently, talked the talk about the demands of morality and responsibility. But will he walk the walk—or literally drive the drive from 10 Downing Street to Buckingham Palace—to take responsibility for a war, built on false declarations of dangers and advanced by the needless harassment of a government scientist, that has destroyed his credibility and compromised the principles of his party?

We now know that the answer on that occasion was a resounding “no.” But times and public opinion have changed since January 2004—although Blair wasn’t exactly popular even back then—and the price of being caught in a lie has gone up.

Way up.

Posted by Stephen at 8:54 PM in Media | Politics | Terrorism | War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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