back to article Straw slaps ban on Iraq debate docs

When the government decided not to appeal the Information Tribunal's order to release Cabinet minutes related to the invasion of Iraq it seemed like a victory for open, transparent government. It wasn't. Instead of making a legal appeal against the decision Jack Straw has opted to simply veto the decision. Justice Minister …


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  1. Wokstation
    Thumb Down

    But it'd do "serious damage" to cabinet government!

    "Releasing the papers would do "serious damage" to cabinet government, he said, and outweighed public interest needs.", said the Beeb.

    So saving them from looking like corrupt moronic warmongers (allegedly...) is more important than the public interest need?

    I swear Labour are doing their best to make people either riot, demand a new government, or simply boot them out ASAP.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parliament was deceived

    Surely the time that freedom of information is most needed is when it appears that Parliament was deliberately deceived. The interest of ministers to keep their discussions secret, doesn't give them the right to keep their plotting secret surely?

    They say the minutes are not interesting and simply reveal the LACK of information they worked on. But if that was true why are they hiding them? There would be no reason to keep such an boring minutes secret,

    If the cabinet minutes discussed seizing control of the country, cancelling the election and declaring marshall law under a dictator, would 'cabinet right to private discussion' trump the countries right to know then?

    IMHO, a civil servant should just leak it, Brown has no electoral mandate to run the country and Parliament was deceived.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    "Nothing to hide...

    ... nothing to fear"?

    At least these vetoes mean it's no secret when they're trying to hide something. Or can they veto public disclosure of the vetoes? Perhaps I should ask Joseph Heller.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Testing the water?

    Is he seeing how the nation will react?

    I'm willing to bet it will be with the total apathy and disinterest they display to every other important decision made in the past 8 years.

    Just as long as it doesn't interfere with the schedule of Poop Idol, eh? (No, that's not a typo.)

    Guy Fawkes was a revolutionary and a freedom fighter. We should all take from his example.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... thus giving the perfect election-time promise to any opposition party that fancies running on an openness and transparency platform.

    Promising to publish is certainly something I could see the LibDems picking up and running with.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    If you have nothing to hide

    Then you have nothing to fear*

    *Does not apply to cabinet ministers

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Most Likely....

    .. because it will show they acted outside of the law.

    This is about saving their own skins, nothing more.

  8. Dennis

    Nothing to hide...Nothing to fear

    This seems to be becoming a bit of a tagline for the Government.

    Everyone else uses it in a ironic way to describes the Governments morbid fear of having their privacy invaded.

    But we can trust their with all our little secrets, bank account details, childrens details, which porn sites we visit…...

    I thought Jack Straw had some backbone after all his son was caught with a 'block of gear'

  9. Simon Buttress

    I'm probably not the first commentator to mention this

    but it just flies in the face of open transparent Democracy. How can disclosing the decision making process and the arguments of the time be bad for Democracy?

    Nothing to hide, nothing to fear. Hiding something? Then you must be scared of someone (in this case the voting populous that voted you and will vote you out) finding out something.


  10. Dan
    Thumb Down

    Dear oh dear...

    ...but Jack, if you've got nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear!

    You've got lots to hide, you say? Wow, who'da thunk it?!

  11. amanfromMars Silver badge

    What an Odious Arrogant Prig ...... Career Prat

    As the Title may impart, I am no great fan of the Minister for Keeping Dirty Little Secrets, and would release, under a Freedom to Inform Act, the following Missive which he is Cordially Invited to Dismiss and/or Deny is True. And although it may or may not also be carried and displayed for the Register in another form by Austin Modine, ....."Still Waters Run Real dDeep ..." ... [for of course, moderation is a subjective art which can be called upon to serve different masters in so many cases] sharing in a dedicated-to-the-particular-and-peculiar-issue thread here, will make me feel better about a dire and grievous black act, which has no place in these modern/post modern times. We do not need dinosaurs and wafflers pretending to lead and wasting AIRtime, their time and our time, thank you very much.

    "43. At 07:58am on 25 Feb 2009, amanfromMars wrote:

    Good Morning, Jane,

    It is hard not to conclude, and especially so in a time of national/international emergency and/or breakdown/manipulative monetary meltdown, that media was an active/proactive partner in all that has transpired by way of its conspiracy/associative complicity, whether in a bissful ignorance of their broadcasting role or in arrogant and malicious indifference to it, with key players who are given/whose chosen role provides by default, the global stage to present their views as to what is happening [in the world] and what they are going to do about it, which of course, will require the help/action of others who will be effectively "ordered" to carry out their tasks.

    It is surely the height of criminal folly and an insult to Intelligent/Ignorant Man for an exact and truthful chronicle of [personal] decisions shared amongst a leading group of talking heads/conspiring-to-be-a-united-dominating-right-and-proper-voice voices, and which create and/or support Wars/Free Fire Rape Kill and Steal Zones, with the convenient cynical protection of a "legal" immunity to act barbarously with impunity, to both expect and stand up before the nation/world and argue the case for such decisions/decision processes/conversation minutes to be subject to Veto/Secrecy, with the added insult of claiming that a harming of democratic process or State Security in their disclosure, would result.

    As our view of the world is phormed by what we learn remotely and experience personally and what Media shows and tells us, to not know of how that view has been created is to allow for a false picture to be shown and us all living in a manipulated virtual reality which is not true, with it servering to the personal needs/whims/feeds of those who are broadcasting their views.

    To present Unrivalled Transparency and Freedom of Information will Guarantee that such a Perversion and Subversion of Intelligence and State for Personal Use and/or Abuse, does not and cannot Occur to have Us all Living in a Lie and Maliciously Fabricated Reality. And it is surely the Role of Media to ensure such Honesty exists or they too can expect, and quite rightlyso too, to be tarred and feathered with the same brush as paints the rogue peddler/warmonger/lying cheat.

    And that is not anything anyone with Intelligence would want to achieve and richly deserve, although in such cases would Intelligence be missing and probably be replaced and described as First Degree, Malice Aforethoughts.

    Jack Straw and the Government would be so here accused ... and the BBC has been hereby reasonably requested to carry the Charge into the Public Domain and Virtual Sphere for BroadBandCasting LOUD AND CLEAR, so that the Pantomime at Westminster and which is called Government all over the World, can be held Accountable for their Actions which result in the Reality of our Lives following Paths of Politically Incorrect Choosing to Death and Destruction ...... Booming Busts.

    But one is never alone in either adversity or triumph, and such as is requested here is also requested of elsewhere and of others, and who would Play Media Mogul, with the following quoted piece sent to a flagship newspaper being one example, which we can easily check on to see whether Truth and Free Speech has been made Victim of Subjective Moderation and Censure in Support of Continuing Deceit and a Hostage to Secret Terrorist Interests and Imprisonment, for that is what is Peddled by this Government and its Strawman Veto, is it not .........

    " "What can one expect from an incompitent government naturealy thier not willing to here thier misstakes in the public domain."


    It is not mistakes they fear and try to hide from, it is a Catalogue of Crimes which amount to Treason.

    Print and be Lauded, Mr Murdoch. England XXXXPects ...... "

    I trust in Global Operating Devices that none of that is ambiguous nor should it be difficult to understand. And should there be any faults or omissions, then please feel free to amend so that no false impressions are given.

    Have a nice day.

    PS It may be uncomfortable reading but by House Rules, there is nothing submitted which can possibly have any grounds for complaint.

    Enough is enough is it not, and the Micky Mouse Charade being Followed/Pimped/Broadcast deserves its Ignominious End so that we can Rebuild Nations on Dreams rather than Soldier on in Nightmares. After all, it is not as if it is not easily fixed with IT and Media and the Truth Leading for a Change you can Believe in.

    And if you can't fix it with IT and Media, at least you now know of some who can."

    And a flame to light your fire, and put a rocket just where it is needed?

  12. Roger Heathcote

    Hardly surprising... Straw was a cabinet minister in charge of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs during that time. It is very convenient he's now in the right place to censor any expose of the Bliar cabinet's shameful weakness during that period (excepting of course Clair Short and Robin Cook).

    Really they ought to have done this 12 months from now when Straw is a regular citizen again and not in a position to protect his own scrawny hide.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anglo-saxon for Canute?

    Wasn't it Cnut or something similar?

  14. richard


    gutless old straw strikes again, larry the lamb has more balls than this bloke. jesus, good bye labour and thanks for all the....nothing.

    oh, and amanfrommars - go and fucking grow up you silly sod

  15. Joe
    Thumb Down

    And as democaracy slowly dies...

    The vast majority of the public care not one jot. As long as nothing affects the TV schedule. I weep for the future of the nation, I really do

  16. Andy Landy

    not in the public interest?

    I quote from the oral statement ( :

    "Mr Speaker, to permit the Commissioner’s and Tribunal’s view of the public interest to prevail would in my judgement risk serious damage to Cabinet government; an essential principle of British Parliamentary democracy. That eventuality is not in the public interest."

    Wait... what? Did he just say that the view of the public interest is not in the public interest?!


  17. Andy

    Man of straw- Jack.

    Completely unbelievable, if you were to make it up people would laugh.

    What next, The Smith Youth and internment camps?

    * can we have a "Christ on a bike" avatar instead of the blue circle please? *

  18. Anonymous Coward

    A proto-facist state

    Thanks to Muslim extremists and 9/11, we are precisely in that just now. Maybe it's time us human beings learnt that nothing gets accomplished by the use of aggression and antagonism. It simply leads to a vicious circle and ends in an unsatisfactory stalemate after generations of stupidity. No doubt someone will remind me that had the Crusades not started we wouldn't be in the mess we are in or is it due to the first primate tribe that subdued its neighbour and pinched its food?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well can't we just apply the governments police state thought crime to themselves.

    If this were say a nerdy guy with greasy hair who wouldnt' give the filth access to his 250gb encrypted disk, the police would say it was full of Extreme pronz/CP or in a years time drawings and that he was witholding evidence. He'd then get 2 years for witholding the keys then he'd probably get charged with being a sexual deviant.

    So in this case the charge is that the government are a bunch of lying basterds who went to war illegally. These same lying basterds have been told to give up the goods and havn't as such these lying basterds are by their own level of proof a: lying basterds who went to war illegaly and b: they are witholding evidence of war crimes and should go to jail for a while.

  20. Wayland Sothcott

    Nothing To Hide Nothing To Fear

    so since they are hiding stuff from us in such and obvious way, they must be crapping themselves with fear.

    Icon, gang of looting crooks.

  21. Lottie

    I thought

    Isn't Jack in Nigeria?

  22. Richard Johnson
    Thumb Down

    I don't buy his argument

    I don't buy the argument of Jack Straw at all. We all understand the idea of collective cabinet responsibility: they argue in cabinet, but all support whatever is agreed at the end of the argument. I've been involved in similar approaches many times in the course of my career.

    If people know what the arguments were, this in no way diminishes the final agreement or each individual's support for that final agreement. That whole process is a prime exampe of honest democratic decision making. There is simply no logical reason to hide the detail of the arguments prior to reaching a collective decision.

    One can only assume there must be another reason for hiding the argument. To whit, he wants to cover up possible evidence that the final decision of cabinet was illegal, and that cabinet members including himself, knew this.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    A veto that would be popular?

    Can we veto amanfromMars please?

    Lunchtime isn't long enough to grok his comments

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is standard operating procedure for Zanu Labour. Maintain the appearance of democracy and openness as long as that gets you what you want. Bollocks to them if they don't give you what you want.

    It's similar in its way to the American double standard. Reason, enlightenment, and human rights as long as those lead to advantage for Americans. B52s, cruise missiles, and Hellfire strikes the minute they don't.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    View few outside the inside.

    I'm an officer in a large public authority and deal with FOIA and DPA every day. Me and all my associated colleagues are of the opinion that this is a dark day for the concept of transparent and open government and for Freedom of Information itself.

    The UK gov's philosophy seems to be we'll share what we like as long as we like it.

    Oh, as for the suggestion to veto amanfromMars, please don't. I really enjoy his input.

    And sometimes I even think I understand it.

  26. Christoph

    Why have the police not acted?

    The police insist that they have to grab and store details of every single thing that we do, just in case we might commit a crime.

    Here they have someone openly covering up details of a known crime. A far, far worse crime than the terrorist activity of trying to get your kids into a good local school. A crime which has directly resulted in the deaths of approximately a million people.

    Why have the police failed in their clear duty to seize this evidence?

  27. Steve W

    Advice from his friend?

    Has Jack Straw been taking advice from his good friend Robert Mugabe? It would seem that way.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No, I don't need a title.

    Gosh, do you think that they might use something like this to bury the ID card report findings too?

    Surely not.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Historical point...

    "No doubt someone will remind me that had the Crusades not started we wouldn't be in the mess we are in"

    More aptly, if the muslims hadn't blizkrieged out of Arabia and taken those lands at the point of a sword, the Crusaders wouldn't have come into existence to try to reclaim them.

    Back to the point, Straw's actions stink of the guilty covering their arses.

  30. amanfromMars Silver badge

    IT takes all sorts .....and Life is not easy for some/many.

    "gutless old straw strikes again, larry the lamb has more balls than this bloke. jesus, good bye labour and thanks for all the....nothing.

    oh, and amanfrommars - go and fucking grow up you silly sod" ... By richard Posted Wednesday 25th February 2009 11:35 GMT

    Playing truant from school again, richard? Not a very bright idea whenever you have so little/nothing of any novel value to share. However I would always defend your right to say it.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Historical point...

    They didn't blizkrieged out of Arabia they had a long running conflict with Byzantine. Byzantine had lost some major battles and pleaded with the pope to send mercenaries.

    More historically if the Crusaders hadn't of raped and murdered the Christian Orthodoxy in Constantinople it may still be a beacon of modern society.

    Interestingly whilst the Muslims weer generally quite nice (by the standards of the time - and at the start of the whole affair) to the people they conquered, and it was at the time more of a local war between two kingdoms, the crusaders on managing to gain access to areas (Antioch) just murdered everybody. They weren't limited to murdering Muslims, they butchered the Jews too, lots of orthodox christians and well anyone that got in the way at the time.

    There really wasn't a single good or noble thing about the crusaders as a group. They did manage an impressiev number of massacres though, they were good when it came to slaughtering thousands of unarmed civilians. Also they were good at creating puppet states...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: not in the public interest?

    > Wait... what? Did he just say that the view of the public interest is not in the public interest?!

    No, he just said that vetoes are there for protecting democracy.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Terrorist Training Camps? Safe Havens?

    I remember seeing Jack Straw, on telly, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. He was repeating the lie about Saddam Hussein providing terrorists with a "permissive environment" in which to operate within Iraq. He looked very uncomfortable, as if he knew he was lying.

    At some point, probably on another news programme, a map of Iraq was shown, showing where the alleged terrorist training camps were - right on the border with Iran.

    The map reminded me of the "safe havens" established by the UN - the US, UK and France had taken the lead on that at the time - following the liberation of Kuwait. As well as the main northern and southern "safe havens" with associated no-fly zones, I vaguely remembered there being some odd little ones - right on the border with Iran.

    Were the alleged terrorist training camps the little "safe havens"? I don't know if they were, as I don't remember well enough. But it would certainly explain Jack Straw's discomfort. If those "safe havens" were the terrorist training camps that formed part of the excuse for invading Iraq, then it wasn't Saddam Hussein that provided those terrorists with a "permissive environment" in Iraq, it was the US and UK instead!

    Or maybe my memory is just wrong, and I'm writing rubbish here.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Re: @Historical point...

    "There really wasn't a single good or noble thing about the crusaders as a group."

    Indeed. Sadly, the educational system of the Britards focuses on the myths of Richard the Lionheart and other swill fed to the masses to feed their sense of patriotism and to stave of that nagging feeling of cultural inadequacy. In line with such low standards, if there's a Kingdom of the Britards in a few hundred years from now, it'll probably feature Saint Tony complete with halo in the history book (or, more likely, cave painting) along with his disciples Gordon the Prudent and Jack the Fair and Just. The future-Britards will all lap it up, I'm sure.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to hide

    I'm rather surprised that Jack Straw has not taken the line advocated for compulsory ID cards that "If you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear". Perhaps he ought to have a word with Jaqui Smith

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Re: well

    "If this were say a nerdy guy with greasy hair who wouldnt' give the filth access to his 250gb encrypted disk, the police would say it was full of Extreme pronz/CP"

    Whereas hackers would probably say "250Gb? He's not even trying ..."

    Joking aside, I expected nothing less from a gutless, objectionable oxygen thief like Straw. Given the religious/ethnic makeup of his constituency, if there's any justice he'll be out on his arse at the next election.

    Unless, of course, Crash Gordon decides that it's not in the public interest.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to see here

    Look, this decision suggests one thing and one thing only: whatever was discussed during said cabinet meetings, everyone present did NOT agree on the course of action. In the interest of a functioning government, such deep divisions were smoothed over and they presented a unified, albeit wrong, decision to the public. Minutes of their bickering floating about would serve no purpose other than undermining not only faith in the actions of these officials, but perhaps even faith in the institution of the cabinet as it operates. There really is nothing to see here, and furthermore, knowing that Minister X called Minister Y a right tosser for thinking Z during a meeting really serves no reasonable public agenda.

    Mines the one with "Political Science" on the back

  38. Ad Fundum

    Can I

    Just call him a twat and leave it at that? It would make me feel everso much better.


  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only...

    Oi, Jack.

    You're a public servant. You work for me. I want that paperwork on my desk by Monday morning or you're fired.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Unless of course Jack cancels the elections under an administrative order.

    Terrible threat to public order, having people wandering down to the polling stations - imagine if they voted for the wrong party .

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh really?

    "Minutes of their bickering floating about would serve no purpose other than undermining not only faith in the actions of these officials, but perhaps even faith in the institution of the cabinet as it operates."

    And you perceive this undermining of faith as a bad thing? Why? If this information is so damning that it reveals fundamental flaws in the institution, wouldn't you think that a debate as to the merits of that institution would be in the best interest of the public?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    "There is simply no logical reason to hide the detail of the arguments prior to reaching a collective decision."

    the "argument" was something like "back me and your brothers company gets the contract... type of deal making and not an argument at all.

  43. Sillyfellow
    Thumb Down

    chris w ?

    " > Wait... what? Did he just say that the view of the public interest is not in the public interest?! No, he just said that vetoes are there for protecting democracy."

    and this is a shining example of democracy is it?

  44. Anonymous Coward

    1984 + Animal Farm

    "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

    Time to foment rebellion I think. How about a 'national unrest' day for the UK? Switch off the TV you brits, wake up and smell the roses. Your country is rotting and needs you.

  45. TimNevins
    Thumb Up

    JFK on Secrecy

    Never a more pertinent reference can I think of than JFK's Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association (27 April 1961)

    Watch the full video on You Tube


    "The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings.

    We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.

    Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it.

    And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

    That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control.

    And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know."


  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >and this is a shining example of democracy is it?

    I take it that you're one of our liberated distant cousins, in particular of the Amercan variety, as such you need to learn about a wonderful thing we have in England called sarcasm.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    AC @Opportunity

    "Terrible threat to public order, having people wandering down to the polling stations - imagine if they voted for the wrong party ."

    What party would that be, then - is there a real political party in Britain? Would Cameron be any different from Bliar? Who else is there to vote for?

    Mine has a one-way airline ticket abroad in the pocket -where's the nearest democracy?

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