This is just sickening. Rupert Murdoch's "The Australian" is leaking details of the Cole Inquiry into the AWB scandal. The latest leak shows that Howard government officials will not be criticized in the final report. Neither will top executives at our flagship corporate cash-cow, BHP Billiton (surprise, surprise). By leaking now, the government can claim that this is all "old news" when the report itself is published on November 24th.
It's the Hutton enquiry all over again. It's the 9/11 Commission all over again. It is disgraceful.
It is generally forgotten that the AWB (now privatized) was fully under the control of the Howard government at the time of this sanctions-busting. If they didn't know what the AWB was doing, that would itself be a scandalous lack of oversight. And lest we forget: the sanctions-busting hypocrisy helped drive up the share price for the government's later privatisation!
Of course, the terms of the Cole inquiry were carefully crafted to ensure that investigation of government wrong-doing was outside the scope of their questioning, and yet even so, government involvement repeatedly came to the fore. Just imagine if a Royal Enquiry had been set up properly to uncover the full truth!
To re-cap: on the one hand, our government was condemning Saddam and helping the US neo-cons secretly pre-plan a military invasion, based on fabricated intelligence. On the other hand, and simultaneously, we were breaching UN sanctions by paying massive bribes to Saddam. Millions of Iraqis, particularly children, died because those UN sanctions were ineffective in removing Saddam. Indeed, it can be argued that properly enforced sanctions could have forced Saddam out of power before military action was ever seriously considered at the UN.
Our government hypocrisy stands laid bare for all the world to see.
And let the people of the world know that we, the people of Australia, have voted for these lying bastards again and again and again. We stand condemned, hoisted by our own petards in Canberra.
UPDATE: As Tim Dunlop notes, the report includes a "top secret sealed section":
One section of Mr Agius's 1300-page submission, which includes a top-secret sealed section, refers to "knowledge of the commonwealth" and deals specifically with officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.