Butler, that is. This morning's pun centres on the Butler Report, which has just appeared, and is summarised in the Guardian
. Britain has a streamlined version of the many Iraq evidence enquiries that the war threw up in the US. The difference is that under the UK "constitution" the idea of entrusting parliament with an enquiry is plainly risible - few members have the requisite capacity for independent thought. Sure, senators and representatives can be a mite pompous, but they can be fairly searching.
Under the UK system, the Prime Minister first appoints a judge from Ulster to investigate how a BBC journalist's claims, that the government distorted evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass-destruction, contributed to the death of one of this journalist's sources. The eponymous Hutton Report
was about as rough on the government as might be imagined from a former brief for the government in the Widgery Enquiry into Bloody Sunday
Then, Butler, a former civil servant and now head of an Oxford College, was appointed by Tony Blair to look at the intelligence dossier behind going to war. He has followed the Senate's lead and decided that it was all the fault of the spies. Fair play, no-one wants to bring down a government, and the spooks do tend to produce some fairly shoddy goods at times. And then we take it as gospel, egged on by lurid reports to the House of Commons.
But here's the line that gets me:
Lord Butler acknowledged that calls for the resignation of the incoming MI6 chief, John Scarlett, JIC chairman at the time of the dossier's publication, would follow publication but said he hoped he would stay on. "We have a high regard for his abilities and his record," the report said.
So, he won't dump on the prime minister, realises the dossier's claims are ludicrous, has to dump on the spies, and then says of the top one, and I paraphrase, "he's a thoroughly good egg, and shouldn't have to fall on his sword." I mean, Gringcorp has had personal dealings with Lord Butler, and finds him to be pleasant and sharp enough, although his palliness with his subjects is a tad obvious (watch his "Me and Bill Clinton 4 Eva" routine). But he's patrician to the core, and far more at home with the civil servant chums that concocted this farrago, under political pressure or no, than the unwashed that doubted its veracity the moment it was uttered. Somehow Gringcorp is angry but not surprised.