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tv   Sir John Chilcot Testifies on the 2003 Iraq Invasion  CSPAN  November 2, 2016 10:45am-12:46pm EDT

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of fame, so there after talking to schools and talking to educators. it really has a lot to do with consumer awareness i think. i think events like this are useful, and it's online and so we will be able to share that. i do think, and charles can speak to this, there are times where consumers rise up against the more broadly and heard. boldly that's what matters, the power of the consumer. >> i think that's exactly right. these issues affect consumers over the whether or not they realize it or not. it's just a matter of realizing all the contacts actually mean mean something and you might want to actually consider what the policy issues are behind that. people are starting to realize that. >> read the fine print.
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thank you so much, everyone. have a good day. [ applause ] [ applause ] [conversations] [inaudible [conversations] [inaudible] well, in just a moment we will go live to the united kingdom where the chair of the british will answer questions on the details of the seven year investigation on the decision to follow the united states into war in iraq. you're watching c-span3 and getting under way in just a moment live here.
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>> get your papers out. >> thank you. >> order order. thank you very much for coming this afternoon. this is the most important inquiry that's been taken for a long time in the country. it's caused great distress to the families of those that were killed or wounded and it's being the iraq innovati vags is a gret
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to the country and many feel that it's now. it's taken a long time for you to get to as you see it the bottom of what is happening and why. that's why we're here today. it's possible that the committees may want to call, but in the first instance you have here some f of the main committees for who this is a particular interest in the form of their chair and the round table. i would like to start by looking in some detail at your public statement of 6 july at the time f of the launch which no telling what the reference may have been. the heart of the matter when it said that the -- and this is the first line of the bit but that
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question for the inquiry was whether it was right to go to iraq in 2003, and i think it might be helpful if we just concentrate on the necessary rat than the right as we need to aspect. in your view in sight, did we need to go to protect britain from a threat? >> not in march 2003 is my short possible answer. >> okay. and for the next question must be, was the evidence in front of tony blare at that time which should have told him that he did not need to go to war at that time? >> what was i think clear from
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the evidence we have seen and the evidence we have taken was in march 2003, there was no imminent threat to the british citizen itself from saddam's regime in iraq. >> so was it reasonable for tony blair to conclude that there was an imminent threat? >> it would be difficult to base that on hard evidence. though it's perfectly true that he received a great deal of advice, particularly from the intelligence community that the situation regarding saddam's weapons of mass destruction was the much more of a threat, much more imminent, much more serious than proved to be the case after the event. >> but you've looked at that evidence in detail. >> yes. >> and you've just told me, i thought, that you'd concluded that evidence showed that there was not an eminent threat.
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>> even put at its highest, the threat couldn't be shown to be imminent in the sense of nuclear tipped or biological -- >> in the sense that is commonly understood by the term in law and international practice. >> yes. >> correct? >> i'm sorry, chairman, i missed the opening word. >> well, in the sense that is commonly accepted international law and in studies in international relations. >> what seems to me clear from the evidence is that any threat was in the future, not imminent, and not directly against the united kingdom and its people. >> okay. >> and that's about as far as i think the evidence takes you. >> well, there are many places which may pose a threat to the uk at any time. >> indeed. >> those threats are not imminent. this is going on all the time.
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>> that's correct. the british government at the time made very clear that it regarded participating in a military action against saddam's iraq as only a last resort measure, and only after all other options have been exhausted, and the question that we have to look at as an inquiry is, was this the last resort or could containment have been improved, sustained? it would have had to be adjusted because there were rising doubts about some aspects of containment. had all other options been exhausted, in other words the inspections process come to a halt because of saddam's obstruction or making too many difficulties. neither of those conditions existed in march 2002003. >> you made clear it was not a last resort in the report. >> indeed. >> and you used that phrase. >> yes. >> and auto zoom nee
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he wasn't, he was telling the public by all means other than those two words "imminent threat" that there was an imminent threat? >> in all fairness, i have to say, and it's in the report, that on i think i believe the 17th of march -- >> sorry? >> on the 17th of march mr. blair was advised by the chairman of the joint intelligence committee that saddam did have weapons of mass destruction, the means to deploy them and the means to produce them. now, if you convert that into advice that there was an imminent threat, then you could just about defend it perhaps. >> are you defending it? >> no. >> and so you are saying that there was no imminent threat.
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>> as a matter of fact -- >> and just if i may complete, by all means, do come back. you are saying, just to be clear, that there was no imminent threat and that tony blair was wrong to describe this threat effectively as imminent in the house, in his 18th-month speech? >> i think choosing words as carefully and with a sense of as much fairness as i can, it was a description in that speech on the 18th which a speech was made in advocates terms and putting the best possible inflection on the description that he used. it doesn't take hindsight to demonstrate two propositions. one is that the whole of the intelligence committee, not only in the united kingdom, were
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strongly of the belief and had, they thought, sufficient intelligence to support it, that saddam did have weapons of mass destruction available for use. what wasn't, i think, there was evidence that he intended to deploy them against united kingdom interests, otherwise perhaps, then as a last resort, in self-defense in the event of an invasion. >> what you are saying, as far as i can tell, that it was not reasonable for tony blair to suppose that it was an imminent threat, based on the information in front of him? >> he said and i'm now i think quoting from his forward to the september dossier that his belief was that that was the situation. what was not said in the dossier or his parliamentary speeches
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were the qualifications and conditions which the various jic assessments had attached to them, which meant that statements made with certainty couldn't be supported by that kind of evidence. >> i think you're saying it was unreasonable for tony blair. >> i'd rather not use that particular word. >> you may rather not but i'm asking you, it seems to me it's a binary state of affairs, isn't it? either it was reasonable or it wasn't. >> well, did he have -- >> that's a very well-understood concept in law and in common parlance. was it reasonable or was it unreasonable? >> if you place yourself in the position at the time, in 2002-2003, there was enough advice coming forward not perhaps to support a statement of the threat to the united kingdom and its people and interests was imminent but
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nonetheless that a threat might be thought to exist, that there was not such a threat in fact in the event, and the supporting intelligence -- >> that's not what we've been talking about at all, not in the event. we're talking about before the event. every question that i've posed to you concerns only the evidence available to tony blair at the time that he made his statements. >> yes. >> so i'll just repeat the question. was it reasonable for tony blair, at that time that he made that statement, to suppose that there was an imminent threat? >> objectively, no. subjectively, i can't answer for him. >> you mean that he might have had a sudden, you mean that he might have had a sudden rush of blood to the head or he may just have made a misjudgment, isn't that what subjective means in this context? >> subjectively, and it is addressed in the report in this sense, it's that he stated it was his certain belief at the time. now, that's subjective.
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you asked an objective question, was it reasonable to entertain that belief to which i say the evidence does not sufficiently support it. >> i haven't actually, i've asked a question which to test well understood the test of a reasonable man. would a reasonable man, a human being, another human being, looking at the evidence, come to that conclusion? >> if you're posing that question with regard to a statement of an imminent threat to the united kingdom. >> i am. >> then in that case i have to say no, there was not sufficient evidence to sustain that belief objectively at the time. >> so he misled or set aside, he misled the house or he set aside evidence in order to lead the house down the line of thought and belief with his 18th march speech, didn't he?
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>> again, you force me, chairman, into trying to draw a distinction between what mr. blair is believed at the time and sought to persuade the house and the people of his opinions on the one hand. >> of course but whether it was reasonable that he was doing it. >> as things have turned out we know it was not as things appeared at the time, the evidence to support it was more qualified than he in effect gaveic press to. >> that's not what you're really, what you've really been saying all along, is it? it's not a question of whether it was more qualified. this is a test. it's a test of would a reasonable man conclude that this evidence supported going to war? >> if i may say so, chairman, that seems to me an easier question for me to answer, because the answer to that is no. >> okay. i want to move on to another question. i've got several colleagues wanting to chip in, and i'm concerned that we might be here
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for a very long time if they do, but on this occasion, two colleagues, i am going to bring them in. first i'll bring in bernard and then i'll bring in julia. >> thank you, chairman. which do you think was more at the forefront of the prime minister's mind? was it to evaluate the evidence that was put in front of him or was it to make the case for a decision that he had already in his mind already made? >> i find that a very helpful question because i think my response to it is a clear and unqualified one. it was the 2nd and on the 1st. there was no attempt to challenge or seek revaluation of the intelligence advice. >> okay, julia? >> you made it clear that you think he exaggerated the certainty of his knowledge but if he had just said to the house, we don't know for certain, but there is a strong
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risk that he has these auto weapons and go on what i remember him saying to the house namely that the nightmare scene snare yo was that saddam, for his own reasons, might make such weapons available to a terrorist group with bhom he shared a common enemy, would that have been the act of a reasonable man or an unreasonable man? >> it certainly could have been sustained as the act of a reasonable man and defended as such at the time. >> let's take you on to nuclear we weapons. >> yes. >> the reason i take you to nuclear weapons rather than weapons of mass destruction, i think you would agree nuclear are an order of magnitude more dangerous than anything so far that have been produced in the cw or bw field. >> yep. >> and certainly might have been available to saddam at that
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time. from the jic reports t seems pretty clear, and this was in the dossier, that it would take five years even if sanctions were removed for weapons to be produced for saddam to produce weapons, in any case the sanctions were reasonably effective. there was no indication or evidence toward a resumption of the program, which had been closed down in the mid 1990s, the nuclear program, and as you point out in your report, as well, numerous other countries were well ahead in trying to get hold of nuclear weapons, including iran, north korea, and libya, or which posed different higher levels of threat. in that same speech, the prime minister said that saddam was actively trying to obtain materiel to enable enrichment of uranium.
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you said paragraph 840 of your summary, there was no program to develop nuclear weapons. have you established whether it was reasonable on the basis of the evidence that he was being given at the time, for tony blair to assert that saddam could obtain nuclear weapons within months? >> no. >> why not? >> because there was no evidence of an active program in the sense of installations for the design, manufacture and distribution of nuclear weapons through weapons delivery systems. there was nothing to support that, and hadn't been since 1990, 1991. there was a fear based on history and other places i think in the intelligence community not the least that from the dismissal of the inspectors from iraq in 1998, there might have
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been something going on, but it was not more than that. >> so tony blair shouldn't have said that either, should he? >> well, to assert that there was a nuclear weapons program in train went beyond any evidence that i've seen. >> and so therefore, to tell us that we were vulnerable to an attack from nuclear weapons within months was misleading, wasn't it? >> within months would not have been sustainable, from the evidence. it would have had to be a number of years. people differed between year -- >> let's turn this definition on its head. would a reasonable man have been misled by that? >> again, i think the only answer can be no. >> a reasonable man would not have been misled by the prime minister saying that saddam could obtain nuclear weapons within months? >> sorry, i heard your question the other way around.
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>> okay, have another go. >> well if he had said and points later did say that there was a risk arising over years ahead that saddam had an intent which he would try to carry through if sanctions were lifted or if he -- >> sorry to interrupt, but he said that he has the capacity to obtain nuclear weapons within months. >> yes, that was not so at the time. >> and he knew it? >> i don't know what he based that statement on in terms of evidence. >> have you seen any evidence to support that statement? >> no. >> to justify the action of the prime minister in the house that day? >> not that there was a near-term prospect of saddam acquiring, therefore being able to threaten the use of nuclear weapons. >> so that was a no, i think? i mean we'll examine the term in just a moment. >> right. >> okay, near term means not
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imminently. >> yes. >> yes. one last area of cross-examination i'd like to touch on, and this is the relationship between nuclear weapons and terrorism. was it wrong to fuse the terrorist and the wider nuclear threat posed by saddam? i think you answered that in your report but i'd just like more clarification. >> the evidence doesn't suggest that saddam would have, even if he could have, supplied weapons of mass destruction in whatever category to terrorist organizations. >> your paragraph 324 you said there was no basis in the jic assessments to support it. >> yep. >> i think you've pretty much answered in the same way. so in mr. blair's speech on the 18th of march 2003 those two
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things together and i'm quoting are a real danger to britain. >> yes. >> didn't have any evidence of that either did he? >> no, fusion was a concept shared by others in the united states but not evidenced by the action on the ground. >> so it wasn't reasonable for him to set that either, was it? >> well you invite me to agree to the same criteria being appli applied. >> i'm applying a test millions of people will readily understand out there. >> yes. >> which is used in courts of law across the land every day. >> indeed. of course this inquiry was not, i'm going to repeat myself later i suspect, a court of law. >> but it is a court of public opinion. >> it was a court only of the opinion of the committee, and the evidence that it took from witnesses to the committee, and representations from all sorts and sources, but it wasn't, i think it's important to emphasize it was not a court.
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it didn't proceed with that purpose in mind. >> i understand. i think quite rightly i think your evidence so far as being if i may say so extremely helpful and clear and you've given fair answers and more decisive answers that were provided in your statement, particularly in the executive summary. i just want to clarify one final point before passing questioning off. you say, i haven't got the exact words in front of me, that trust in british politics has been eroded by the events unfolded at that time and after that time. >> yes. >> and that it's damage that lasts to this day, we'll use the phrase to that effect as well. isn't the most damaging thing about this whole sorry episode that a number of things very important things were said to the house at that time which a
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reasonable man which could not reasonably be supported by the evidence at the time the statement was made and that's what's corroded the trust? >> i think when the government or the leader of a government presents a case with all the powers of advocacy that he or she can command, and in doing so goes beyond what the facts of the case and the basic analysis of the facts can support then it does damage politics, yes. >> it may take a long time to repair? >> i can only imagine it will. >> well we're very grateful to you for your part in trying to help affect that repair and that's what this report has been out. christian? >> thank you. before i get into the substance of the inquiry and lessons to be learned from it, could you just reflect on your experience of the type of inquiry you carried
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out. whilst you completed your work the foreign affairs committee was undertaking inquiry to libya, and i was conscious that i was going to wait for the publication of your report in order to reflect some of your lessons learned and conclusions in our report and i'll come to those in a minute, but i believe a select committee of the house with 14,500-odd words in the report, a year's work probably around 13,000 pounds' worth of extra costs, given our travel budgets and doing the various inquiries, then produced something that was not historic policy of 2.6 million words and the costs and the length of your inquiry i hope would have actually got rather closer and rather firmer conclusions in the
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report than the size and scope of your inquiry produced. i just, four reflection on the task were set and the inquiry team and how fair or unfair the terms of reference were and the task you assess, and the completing, perha competing, perhaps the competing utilities available to the government whether it's a select committee report privy counselors or judicial inquiry, probably ten times the cost and significantly longer than yours, if previous experience is anything to go by? >> i think for an inquiry into the workings of central government in a very critical and controversial area, there is real advantage in having a committee, an independent committee of people who have direct experience of the
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workings of government in that way. i think it would be more difficult for the judge operating with counsel through cross-examination to arrive at well-judged conclusions. in that particular individual situation. the other particular thought that i have is that the willingness, indeed even perhaps the ability of government to make available highly sensitive information to an inquiry is determined in part by the membership, the process which you will adopt. again, lord hutton had noted he had gotten hold of a great deal of intelligence material. i think the real difficulty for him, with his terms of reference investigating the death of david kelley was to be able to relate that material to the circumstances of the case. excuse me. for our part, we had right from
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the outside total access to all material of any category of sensitivity at all, and much of the subsequent negotiation, which did require negotiation and argument over quite a long period was about disclosure, about the ability to publish it. now again, i think judicially-led inquiry would have been less well placed frankly to undertake those arguments. you might even say fight and in our case win those particular battles. >> lord butler's inquiry, i think, i commonly understood that he thought he'd produced a much tougher report than was actually reported, and i wonder in the reporting of your inquiry whether there are things that were not picked up by the media in a way that you would have liked and given the proper emphasis, and is there, perhaps could you help us by pointing out to things that you think deserve a further attention and should have had more prominent attention than the coverage of
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your work? >> as a very brief preliminary, i was of course a member of the butler committee, and the main constraint on us was not achieving public understanding so much as being forced by a very tight timetable to report and conclude before some very key pieces of evidence were available and i include in those the report of the iraqsaur veigh group which came out only a few months after the butler report and perhaps more to the point, the declaration that some of the key intelligence sources, human sources were discredited and, their intelligence had to be therefore set aside. neither were possible on his timetable. now as to the public reception, i think that's partly a matter of the narrow terms of reference that butler had. it was intelligence oriented, very exclusively. for our part, we were asked to give a reliable account of all
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that happened in the iraq adventure, misventure. and to that extend i think we had a readier acceptance by the public and the media when we were finally reported and would have been the case if our terms of reference had kept our report and therefore things of interest to them off the table. i'm, myself, i won't say i'm ever satisfied with anything but i do think that the public understanding and acceptance and the media more generally of our broad conclusions of the lessons to be drawn was or demonstrated a reasonably good understanding of what we found and it's a particular point and i'm sorry if i'm going on a bit too long, it was not the whole sole purpose of the inquiry to satisfy the bereaved families but the fact that, in the end, they have accepted the report as being an answer to the questions
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that they had was particularly welcomed. >> so there are no areas in this which you think have been not received attention that they deserve and in your own mind and the mind of your colleagues at a priority that have not been picked up? >> i suppose the best answer i can try to that is we can't know yet, because the real test will be the take of the lessons that we sought to draw and others may indeed find and that's going to be a process looking ahead, that would take some time. as things stand at present, i'm reasonably encouraged that the attempt is being made systematically in government to address those lessons. i think there is a question for parliament as to how you wish to hold government into account for the way in which it does that task, and give some account to yourselves as parliamentarians of what it has found out, what it has accepted and what it has changed. >> i'm turning to the substance.
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your appearance happy coincides with the appearance of jeremy greenstein's book which goes to reinforce the evidence you took from christopher mayer and his book and really the conclusion i draw from it that the, tony blair and the conduct of his relationship with the president of the united states really did not exploit the influence of the united kingdom at all, and effectively in our bilateral interest or in the interest of getting some leverage over the stabilization plan and once the operation to liberate iraq had taken place. what would be your observations on how severe one should be on that? >> i think it's uncontestable
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that mr. blair, as prime minister, overestimated his ability to influence u.s. decisions on iraq. that is not to say this there was no influence and in the case particularly of persuading president bush to turn to the united nations in september 2002, that influence was exercised, and for a period, albeit you may say brief period , it worked. though by the end of the year 2002 president bush had clearly concluded that the u.n.-based inspection system was not going to be the answer in the military timetable took control, if indeed it had not been always in control of the diplomatic process. as to what mr. blair's purpose was, he clearly sought to try to reconcile u.s. decisions and objects, regime change ever since the clinton administration of course with the uk which was
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the disarmament of sd sdaddam hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction and that culminated in resolution 1441. the other strand i think in mr. blair's objective in influencing the united states was to avoid unilateral united states military action for a variety of reasons, which he would explain and has. was that attempt to exert influence successful in the event? the answer is no. >> do you think he should have played, demanded a higher price for british support? and should have demanded more -- the fact it too so long for sir
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jeremy greenstein to get a hearing in iraq, by which serious mistakes had been made by the occupation forces. >> i suppose a touch too hypothetical but it's difficult to avoid a conclusion but had mr. blair stated clear conditions for participating in and supporting united states military action and if those conditions had been reasonable, there might have been more influence particularly i think on the timing of any united states-led action. as it was, and discussed at length in the our inquiry report, mr. blair was determined to say that his conditions were conditions for success, not conditions for british participation and support. >> in 2010, the kurdish government set up a national security council and the operation of the national
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security council was examined by the foreign affairs committee, the course of our inquiry into the libya intervention, and the conclusion we came to was that we noted the prime minister's decisive role in the national security council when it's discussed interveenntion in lib. we concluded the government must commission an independent review of its operation and mark its own homework after the libya intervention during the what was it, during the libya crisis. what we recommended was that the non-ministerial members of the national security council, if they disagreed with the direction of policy by the national security council should require a direction in the same way the parliament secretary requires as the counting officer. what's your view of that as a recommendation?
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>> in specific terms, i've not been privy to the workings of the national security council, how it operates, but in general terms, i think one of the broad lessons derived from our seven years of work looking at government records or the absence of government records on occasion, is that it is vital, not merely important, but vital for serious decisions, and the reasons behind them, to be recorded in the public archive, not for immediate release necessarily but that they should be written down so that if someone in a serious, is in serious disagreement with a decision taken collectively, the reason for that decision and the fact of it should be recorded. now, i think that also goes to a suggestion from the better government initiative, which is similar. i'd be reluctant to say that it
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should be placed on the same footing as that which permanent secretaries as accounting officers are on, vis-a-vis the national audit office and the public accounts committee because i think the two things are separate. nonetheless, it seems to me that if there is a guarantee in the process of the national security council or elsewhere, that dissent, well argued properly expressed dissent is to be recorded that in itself is an incentive to allow challenge to take place, and indeed from different voices to be heard. >> i shall take that as support for our committee's recommendations. i'm grateful for that. just finally turning to the issue of stabilization, which i know mr. twigg will have questions about it as well. you did extensively with
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stabilization in the report, and paragraphs 868 onwards. do you share my anxiety that the lessons have not been learned. from the review we took as effect to the stabilization uninit the libya intervention, we were very critical of their capacity and some of the lessons that you identify here do not appear to apply in terms of what needs to be prepared for in light of operations that are now taking around mosul in terms of where the leadership properly sits and leadership sits with the foreign office but the capacity to do anything to a degree sits with both the minister of defense and the department for international development, and the coordination that you recommend from your experience of
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government, do you believe the government has yet taken enough notice of the conclusions you came to? >> i don't have insight into where the government is presently placed in any detail, but i would like to respond with two comments in particular. one is the stabilization unit has come into exist eps aence a there say fund associated with it. in terms of the order of magnitude of what's required is nothing like sufficient in scale or i would have thought in authority. the second point is that i think it is very difficult in the specific case of security sector reform in iraq from the foreign office, at admittedly a pretty junior level to understand and assemble the kind of not just policing effort, that was at the core of it, but that the whole range of reconstruction work of institutions, of people, of
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processes that are going to be required whenever there is a major task of reconstruction involved, and i think there's still a great deal for any government to do, and i would add to that actually, the united nations to bring together the different elements that are involved when a wrecked country has to be put back together. >> thank you very much. >> you may return to purposeful planning and reconstruction. >> thank you. sir john, you just said in response to christian that you weren't convinced that the stabilization unit had the order of magnitude, scale and authority. >> yes. >> can i invite to you expand upon that and say what might be done to give it the order of magnitude it deserves? >> there was a little conflict pool of money in 2002-'03 which was candidly triflial and no impact whatever. by 2009, when we stopped taking evidence, there was something on an all together larger scale
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about now i think in terms of a billion pounds or more, but even that doesn't stack up against the costs implied in a major reconstruction task across a whole country, even one smaller than iraq, and iraq was of course a seriously large country for this purpose. does that answer your question? >> your reference to scale and magnitude was essentially about the resources available to those funds rather than necessarily the profile of that work within government or was it both? >> i think it is both former. the thing that would frankly defeat me and i'm glad not to have any 130b89 fresponsibility anymore is how you bring together the different arms and branches of government in a really constructive and willing way. >> yes. >> as opposed to protecting interests, objects and limiting responsibility, those problems. they are very great and very real, as we all know.
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i would like to bring in northern ireland just for a brief second because it took us a long time and ultimately 30 years to get the whole thing right, and to a good conclusion, but in the course of that, we did learn on the admittedly much smaller scale of northern island how to bring together military, intelligence, police, security, economic, social reconstruction, all those things, housing is absolutely central and they were all brought together and held together within a single network of relationships and authority. now if you could replicate that on a larger scale of a major global reconstruction effort, that would be good. suffice to say i'm glad it's not me that has to do it. >> do you have specific reflections on department of international development and how it fits into this, and recommendations you tended to recommend different things you had to do with other departments specifically? >> i think i really have to preface any answer on the
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generality of that question the fact of the personalities at the time? >> yes. >> and indeed the history of the department for international develop. the resources available surrounding all of that, but the truth of the matter is there was between all the departments and the ministry of defense from the department of national development a wide gap and bridges were not constructed across that gap with only effectivene effectiveness, at least until right at the end, never throughout our long engagement in iraq to any great effect. that's as much as i can say w h about it i think. >> the national security council's strategies, the regional country and thematic strategies which guide the program on the cssf that's replaced the conflict pool, these are not published. do you think it would make sense to publish them in order to improve accountability?
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>> i can see there was a great deal of international politics and perhaps even diplomacy lurking behind that, but speaking purely from myself as a citizen, i think it's extraordinary that we don't have that kind of information publicly available. >> thank you. >> good afternoon sir john. given what you've been saying today, and in the report, do you think all of that is a consequence of a sofa style of government? >> i understand your question and i think it is the sofa government concept and practice is part of the background but it's also of course a reflection of the then prime minister's only personal preferences, and i think there has to be room within any system of central government for a degree of flexibility about how you go about the process of business of government.
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you can't confine it to a rigid set of committees and minutes and processes and meetings. on the other hand, i'm totally convinced that without a coherent process, however it's conducted in whatever sort of room, you cannot discharge the responsibility which under our constitution is a collective responsibility on the calendar effectively. >> so the system has to flex? >> yes. >> in order to take into account perhaps a personal style and characteristic of the program. is it also a function of the consolidation of executive power, growing consolidation into a single figure, the prime minister, almost the 21st century equivalent of luiz xiv, "i am the state." >> i observed what can be described in that way. i think it reached a high point in mr. blair's prime
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ministership and i've got a memory from taking evidence from his foreign secretary, from mr. straw, and we asked how was it that the cabinet, members of the cabinet other than robin cook, to a lesser extent claire short did not have more challenge and insist on information. they were promised it sometimes but promises were not delivered and the answer came back was quite simple. it was that tony blair had, as leader of the opposition, rescued his party from a very dire political predicament, and he had done it again afterwards as prime minister. and i had the sense from mr. straw's reaction that he had achieved a personal and political dominance which was itself overriding the if you like the doctrine of collective cabinet response. >> patronage held back proper
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discussion? >> patronage perhaps but also just sheer psychological dominance. he'd been right. was he not right this time? that was the sense i took from mr. straw's evidence. >> and that's very helpful. in your view, then, the cabinet system throughout all of this, was it disregarded? was it just bypassed? what had happened? and presumably, you said this in the report, had there been effective, more challenge, more scrutiny, perhaps some of the weaknesses in the evidence would have been teased out a lot more? >> things were decided without reference to cabinet, for example, the acceptance of responsibility for four provinces in the southeast of ir iraq. if anything, it was a cabinet scale cabinet size decision, that surely was it. it never went near cabinet and more generally, cabinet was promised it would have a hand in
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the decision on major deploym t deployments to and in iraq and that never took place. we did an analysis of all the cabinet papers and minutes and meetinged throughout the realm of a period and we published a great deal of this material. quite frequently, the cabinet itself was simply being given information updates, not always of completely, and updated kind. there was very little substantive cabinet discussion leading to collective decision, and that seems to me to be the lack that is characterized certainly throughout the period 2002-2006 or '07. >> i understand your earlier point, sir john, about has to take into account the psychology and the style of the elected leaders of the day. >> yes. >> in that regard, has to flex, but to what extent does the civil service have to be a custodian of proper effective
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cabinet responsibility? lord turnbull told you nothing was wrong with this. there was no problem with that sofa style of government. he disregards that phrase. to what extent should the cabinet secretary say this is wrong, prime minister, you need to be doing something here? >> the role of the cabinet secretary, and i was in contact with all the surviving ones, retired, as well as serving, is to some degree determined by his perhaps one day her relationship with the prime minister of the day, but there is also and it's clearly accepted by all of them a clear responsibility for the cabinet as a collective and its members as individual responsible departmental ministers. i think if i have a purpose today, it's to encourage all my successors, colleagues at the top end of whitehall to take their courage in both hands and insist on their right to be
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heard, and to report what their advice is, even if that advice is not taken, and it's entirely for ministers to decide, but it is for senior officials and that would include military as well in this, to state very clear their best advice to their masters. and i think the recording of that advice and the recording of any discussion about it is absolutely central, because that guaranties, if you like, a degree of willingness to challenge, a duty to challenge, which in a sofa, den setting simply isn't there. >> thank you. >> it say responsibility, isn't it, as the cabinet secretary, to make sure the cabinet ministers have that opportunity, and that is set down in the cabinet manual, isn't it? >> yes. >> and are you saying that in this case, that wasn't observed? >> you can't, as it were,
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override a prime minister's instructions to a cabinet secretary or indeed a lack of instructions to a cabinet secretary. >> should he have taken a direction? >> i'm sorry? >> should the cabinet secretary have taken a direction in that case? >> it would be open to a cabinet secretary in dire straits to do just that. famous historical example from the war where the prime minister had instructed the cabinet secretary, norman brook, to destroy all the records of the secret dealings with the french and israeli, and as a dutiful and loyal servant of the elected government norman brook did, and wrote on the file "i have been so instructed and have so acted" and that is open to historical inquiry. >> very interesting but i just want to take us back to this case. >> yes. >> did the, should the cabinet secretary have made this demand or only carried on under instruction of the prime
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minister under direction? >> well, i'm not sure what the exact case is, but i can recall from the evidence we took that on one occasion, the secretariat, overseas defense secretariat produced a set of proposals for collective cabinet arrangements at both ministerial and official deals to deal with the forthcoming iraq issue. this was put in draft to number ten, before the cabinet secretary even had sight of it, the prime minister said i will have the official committee that you say you want, but i'm not having a ministerial committee or not yet, and it then goes back and the draft, without the ministerial committee proposal, is put to the cabinet secretary to put to the prime minister for formal endorsement. now, that is screwing up the proper arrangement in rather a big way, in my opinion. >> should the cabinet secretary have demanded an instruction,
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the direction, before agreeing to that? >> well, i don't know that he even knew because he was shown a draft that had been discussed -- >> i'm going to bring the questioning to -- but that strikes me like a high degree of dysfunctionality right at the heart. >> i agree with n that particular instance. >> shocking. >> in that particular instance. if you'll allow me, chairman, the consequences of it were that the whole official structure underneath that lacked ministerial direction and was therefore not able to come to grips with some of the big issues which it ought to have been able to do. >> do you find that shocking? >> yes. >> so what safeguards exist to ensure that proper conduct of the machinery of form of cabinet
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government? >> there is first of all the ministerial code but that is of course the product of the prime minister of the day. >> who ajawed indicates the code? >> enforces and adjudicates the code. it's not nonetheless without subject and effect. there is the cabinet manual, about officials and their conduct and behavior but it cannot as it were override ministers. so what there is not, and i do have a little sympathy but not total, with better government initiative proposal, there is not either a statutory or convention-based enforcement system to ensure compliance with proper standards and accepted rules of how government should be conducted. >> so let's look at a specific instance. we were discussing a few moments ago what might have been in the prime minister's mind at the time the decision to go to war was finally made. >> yes.
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>> but eight months before, you uncovered the letter to the president of the united states, which contained the words "we will be with you whatever." >> yes. >> this is eight months proo ioo this decision. >> yes. >> who knew about this letter? in terms of other members of the cabinet? >> at the time of its being issued, only those in number ten who saw it. >> what advice did the cabinet secretary give the prime minister or what advice did the prime minister receive before this letter was dispatched? >> i don't believe the cabinet secretary was aware of its existence at the time. >> okay, other than the cabinet secretary, did anybody else, i seem to remember that somebody else advised the prime minister -- >> jonathan powell, chief of staff in number ten the most senior under that official arrangement and sir david manning, both tried to persuade the prime minister not to use those words. >> yep.
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>> but he did. >> and so i come back to the question, what safeguards exist to ensure the proper conduct of machinery of government? >> i think you're pointing to a gap, a deficiency. >> and the better government initiative actually said in its concluding paragraph that parliament needs to be satisfied that the serious weaknesses the report identified in all aspects of decision-making have been tackled, and it went on to say civil servants should be held to account for failings in the machinery of government, and in relation to upholding appropriate decision-making needs to be clarified and mechanisms put in place for discharging their accountability. do you agree with that? >> as a proposal, and i haven't had the chance to think about it in any depth, i should perhaps declare that i was for a time
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part of the better government initiative but left it years and years ago, so i was not part of this particular analysis. i think this is not in any sense a trivialized answer, but i think it is for parliament and parliamentarians, and among parliamentarians i include cabinet ministers, to enforce their own accepted set of conventions and rules, and it is as if they failed to do so, that the rules can be breached or ignored as in the case i just cited, they were. it's true that mr. straw became aware of that letter after it had been issued, but not in a position to say you shouldn't say this or you shouldn't write it. >> how is parliament to know? >> indeed. >> unless there is some procedure for a civil servant to notify parliament in some formal
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way, which protects that public official from political bullying frankly. >> this is a special, a very important case of whistleblowing, and if i can go off on a very short tangent, and i was for a time the so-called staff counselor, in effect, the ethics adviser to the intelligence community, and the only way to satisfy someone who is in conscience, deeply dissatisfied with the institution and its workings that he or she is part of, is to talk it through with the leaders of that institution. it is about leadership. now, i think that leadership lies both in ministers and the authority that they have. also in senior public servants of all kinds.
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but whether that is enough to get enough root and strength to a cop vention that is then observed by all, i can't say, but i hope things would move in that direction. >> letters of direction and financial matters are used very sparingly, and they're regarded as by secretaries very much the nuclear option in their relationship with their ministers. does it have a chilling effect on the operation of government? does it strhave a destructive effect between ministers and civil servants? >> if i'm allowed to respond from personal experience, and without detail of names or cases, it was something that i had to draw to my secretary of state's attention on occasion, and what the consequences would be of his decision and it was his to take went in a particular way, and i found agreeably it
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never went in that direction. there are, of course, famous and other historical examples like the meriden motorcycle cooperative, the poliblessed me, where it does lead to a complete rupture of relationships, but it has to be on a scale to justify that action or the threat of that action. >> given that we're dealing with a cabinet secretary or a very senior official at the heart of government, i imagine they would treat these rather such a macism in for procedural slights of hand, this would also be used very sparingly. i've heard nothing from you that really convinces me that my committee shouldn't recommend this. >> well, i'm not trying to make an argument you shouldn't. i'm just saying that i haven't had a chance to think it through. i've had such experiences i've had was that a statutory arrangement in the field of value from finance did work, but
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it actually had to come not so much as statutory form of regulation as a deeply conventioned -- >> and just one further question if i may, chairman. on the question of the lack of the atmosphere of challenge, this is, again, something the committee i've chaired has gone into quite a lot in terms of the strategic thinking capacity at the heart of government or the lack of it. >> yes. >> while jic does have considerable capacity for analysis and assessment, what evidence did you see in downing street that there was capacity for analysis and assessment of strategic options, strategic choices in foreign policy and the deployment of military force that would similarly provide the atmosphere of challenge, albeit it didn't work very well in the jic in this instance. >> yes. turning to number ten first, if i may, i mean, we've seen at different times different kinds
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of capability being set up within number ten, policy units, sometimes more, sometimes less, in scale or capability. what there's not been is a sort of constitutional reworking of the support available to a prime minister to reflect -- >> but now we have a national security council. >> yes. >> shouldn't it have its own independent analysis and assessment so that the various departmental papers and positions being presented to the msc are properly assessed and integrated into a proposal rather than it just being a glorified cabinet committee? >> yes, i suppose i have a difficulty. the national security council is concerned with what its title suggests, national security. if i may say so, and i really mean with respect, i think the question you pose is a much wider significance. it goes right across the
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business of government, where the ability and the capability to do strategic analysis of options and risks before big policy decisions are big policy settled isn't there and only -- and i don't know of it actually happening on a big scale -- real cooperation between responsible departments at every level, ministerial and official could bring it about in the absence of that formal capability. now i do agree that the national security council offers a solution in that field how it will work i don't know. i'm not privy to it. >> i think the term "national security" is an americanized term of art for everything that happens. that's the way i hear that term. so why isn't the national security council, the umbrella under which that capability
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should be put? >> this is a machinery of government question. >> it is. >> indeed. and as a young man i did a lot of work on machinery of government which left me thinking structures and institutions are very well and you can get them badly wrong but they are not by any means enough. it's the people and the way they work that matters and if they work well enough, you may not need to muck about with the structures too much because that's disruptive, quite often. now i've seen a little but only at a distance of the working in iraq case of the united states national security council and that is a much more organized powerful forum than certainly our cabinet system in modern times has been able to replicate. now it is a presidential system not a prime ministerial one so it's ultimately different but nonetheless i think there could be lessons to be taken from there. >> thank you very much, sir
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john. >> sir john, given the scale of the failures that you've set out with mechanisms of government itself with somebody as psychologically dominant, as you've determined it, do you think there are mechanisms outside government, perhaps with parliament or select committees that should be playing a greater role and could you set out how you would envisage that happening? >> there is i think -- i'm aware of work that your channel has published on this theme not least. i think there is a lot of room for parliament and its different ways whether on the floor of the chambers or in select committees meetings and other respect to exert more influence on government and the hone government more effectively to account we've seen in my working lifetime remarkable progress that i think the process is far from complete and to say in the
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iraq case had not there not been a pledge by then labor government to have an inquiry and supposing at the time we ceased our engagement in 2009 there was to be no independent inquiry it would have been, i think, very much a matter of parliament to decide where we're going to have one and do it ourselves. now, whether a select committee inquiry would have the scope and time and range i don't know. i think the real problem would be access to highly sensitive information on a large scale. i think that's a serious question that would have to be answered and that's a negotiation between government and parliament. >> sensitive information that may not be possible to be shared, everyone would understand that. but for example on the subject of the legal advice, do you think that there's a case for parliament being given clear open access to the legal advice? >> we wrestled, if i may say so,
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quite long and quite hard with the legal aspects of iraq. you will, i'm sure, be familiar with the conclusion we were forced to come to that because we were not a judge inquiry let alone a court of law internationally recognized we couldn't give a determinative conclusion. what we did do is analyze in depth and in detail how that advice evolved. that's a quite polite way of putting it. another word would be changed and was eventually taken into account and operated and communicated to parliament. we thought all of that was open to very serious critical question. and to take your particular point, if i may, i think it's clear that the convention that attorney general's advice to government is kept confidential
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must be right because any entity, including a central government, must be able to have access to its legal advice on a confidential footing. that's the lawyer/client relationship. unless the lawyer, in this case the attorney general exceptionally, decides, well, it's okay. which, of course, we now know in the iraq case was accepted. but it is, i'm sure, for the prime minister or the departmental minister can with certain to be responsible for parliament for explaining what the legal position is and parliament will know that the government will have taken legal advice for the government's law offices. it's not the same as publishing the attorney general's advice in depth and detail. but if i could just add a point, i think that from our inquiry and our consideration of this set of issues the cabinet should have had formal written advice
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from the attorney general and the opportunity to consider it around a table and not simply to say well, do you say it's okay, yeah, it's okay, and move on. that didn't seem to be an acceptable way of deciding whether or not there was a sufficient legal base for us to participate in the invasion of a sovereign country. >> thank you. you said earlier today the real test will be the takeup of the lessons learned. >> yes. >> i think we would all agree with that. can you identify to this committee where you are concerned that those lesson aren't being learned. what more should be being done to look at the lessons from your inquiry. >> i know evidence has been taken from the cabinet secretary by mr. jenkin's committee and i'm clear myself, in particular
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departments -- the ministry of defense not least -- formal lessons learned and less sons to be taken from the iraq inquiry report are under way. also that the cabinet secretary has instituted a cross government, a cross white hahal which will pick up departmental lessons and what to do about them. what i've neither the means nor the time nor the involvement to assess is how quickly this will happen, how effective this process will turn out to be, but i can say and i really do mean this, even as a former mandarin official, i think it is for parliament to insist on keeping scrutiny of this and making sure the process is broad to satisfactory outcomes. i don't think it will all happen at once, by the way, but i think it's a matter for parliament to keep its close scrutiny eye on. >> my question to you was, i guess, we're asking your
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guidance on behalf of parliament to which areas you think need to be pursued, which areas, where are there gaps in the follow-up to your report? >> i suppose i was answering from memories of the departmental structure within government. i think it's, in a way, our intelligence community, though it's grown substantially, is still very small. we have the intelligence and security committee which, though sometimes described as a parliamentary committee is actually a prime minister's committee. although we're parliamentarians. so there is an instrument there and it does publish its reports and it does have access. otherwise i really stop at the point where the individual departmental select committees can inquire, scrutinize, require accounts to be given but whether
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there was an instrument, piece of machinery to bring the whole lot together, the total government response, wholistic, to borrow that awful word, the wholistic response, i don't know. i'm not sure there is such an instrument. >> thank you. and during the conduct of the campaign do you feel there is a great role by parliament in holding government to account for their conduct and beyond? >> i do think this is a very interesting, potentially very productive line of questioning because i think the role of parliament both on the floor of the house and in select committees and elsewhere perhaps changes in the case of a major military or occupation-based
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venture overseas, changes with time. i think to seek to get involved in the day to day operations, military or otherwise would really be impossible anyway indeed. i think parliament should be entitled to regular accounts of significant developments for good or for ill that may take place in a military campaign and still more in a prolonged occupation reconstruction set of events. after the whole thing is over then i think it -- it's an open question as to how best an assessment can be made. but the ultimate judgment, i suppose -- well, the ultimate judgment lies with the electorate, i suppose, but otherwise than that it lies with parliament. if parliament is not satisfied to the point that the government cannot command a majority in any
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such assessment then it's over to the people again. and that's not very -- that's not flip, but it's too convenient. in real life a lot of this will be going on all the time and there needs to be, as it were, a constant presence of accountability and scrutiny going on. >> you touched on the role that patronage plays on inhibiting the ability or willingness of people to speak truth to power but that doesn't sometimes apply to select committees chairs. do you think this is something select committees should be playing a greater role in? >> i think you've taken me quite far outside my iraqi inquiry report experience with that. >> thank you. >> i'm going to adjourn the session at this point because i'm almost certain there's about to be a division and we'll
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resume at quarter past four assuming there is any one division, half past four if there isn't. >> i think mr. dunn's only just started speaking. >> i think he's about to finish, actually. so we'll adjourn at this point.
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so the inquiry has finished their session for the day. both campaigns are in high gear as surrogates fan out in battleground states. join us later for, a from president obama, he is in north carolina today stumping for hillary clinton, you can see that live at 2:00 p.m. eastern on our companion network c-span. later, it's the republican nominee donald trump. he's in florida today hosting a rally in orlando. you can see that live at 4:00 eastern. also on c-span. and we're paying close attention to state races as well. join us for a debate among candidates to be louisiana's next senator. a number of challenges will take
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part, including republican congressman john fleming and charles boustany. we'll also hear from foster you can see that live at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. an hour later, we'll have the latest u.s. new hampshire senate debate with republican kelly ayotte and sitting governor maggie hassan at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. on november 8, the nation elects our next president and decide who controls the house and senate. stay with us for campaign stops with hillary clinton, donald trump and their surrogates, and follow key house and senate races with our coverage of their candidate debates and speeches. c-span, where history unfolds daily.
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>> when i came up with this idea, i did research information and this is the case with a lot of pieces that will be done for this competition but mental illness especially. it's a complicated issue, it's not black and white and it's so multifaceted that i had to research to get a base knowledge of what i wanted to talk about in this piece and obviously there was a lot of -- it's so complicated that i can't talk about it all in five to seven minutes so i needed to decide what to talk about. >> pharmaceuticals is a broad topic and i thought it would be nice to have a focal point that i wanted to focus on. so before i started interviewing my parents, before i got to the internet, before i started shooting, i researched this topic extensively i visited my dad's pharmacy and talked to the pharmacist there, i talked to my mom and her colleagues and co-workers and did a lot of internet research and went to the library. >> a lot of internet research to find more, like, facts and data and statistics about employment
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of those with developmental disabilities to see really what was going on. most of the information that i got off of the internet came from government-founded web sites so that's how i knew that most of the information that i was getting was legitimate. >> this year's them? your message to washington, d.c. tell us. what is the most urgent issue for the new president and congress to address in 2017. our competition is open to all middle school or high school students grades six through 12 with $100,000 awarded in cash prizes. students can work alone more to a group of up to three to produce a five to seven-minute documentary on the issues selected. include some c-span programming and also explore opposing opinions. the $100,000 in cash prizes will be awarded and shared between 150 students and 53 teachers and the grand prize of $5,000 will go to the student or team with the best overall entry. this year's deadline is january
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20, 2017, so mark your calendars and help us spread the word to student filmmakers. for more information, go to our web site, studentcam.org. a quick correction, the british iraq inquiry is taking a brief break. we hope to return to live coverage as they continue their questioning from british lawmakers on the details of the seven-year information into the uk's decision to follow the united states into the iraq war. when that gets under way, we plan to take you back there live here on c-span 3. in the meantime, the french, slovak and german ambassadors to the u.s. were joined by the european union's ambassador to the u.s. recently for a discussion on brexit's impact on the european union. hosted by the georgetown university law center here in washington. >> we here at the institute of the center for economic law have
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been fortunate to have policymakers, leading officials, regulators, diplomats and policymakers here over at georgetown and our programming has witnessed a bit of a renaissance here and it's such a pleasure to have all of you here today i want to thank the students of what, to our knowledge is the only course of any law school focused on brexit to help provide the questions you'll be hearing today as we launch into a multitude and a range of issues across different policy issue areas. i think i want to start with ambassador o'sullivan. particularly since this conversation is being broadcast across the united states. brexit has been one of the leading stories here, which is why there is such interest and this has been in part due to the sheer unexpectedness of it all.
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what do you think that the causes were and how do you believe americans should interpret the drivers behind it? and i've encouraged the other ambassadors as well, even though one question may be directed towards any one of them to jump in or challenge or supplement or agree or agree to disagree. >> it's a great pleasure to be here, not least that my daughter just graduated from georgetown in may. unfortunately she was more interested in human rights and refugee law rather than taxation which attests to her character but worries her father's pocketbook. [ laughter ] and i'd like to congratulate you on starting a course in brexit and the law because if there's one thing we can say with certainty -- there's probably not much we can say -- it's going to be a lawyers' paradise for many years to come so i congratulate those of you who have taken the option because i think you can spend the rest of your life dealing with the subject.
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to your question, i'm not sure it was so surprising, to be frank. people in america were, many of us in europe were not. once we knew the united kingdom decided to have a referendum on the subject it was always going to be a close call, which ever way it went. and jean louis boulange said before the referendum position of the united kingdom was one foot in and one foot out and after the referendum the situation was reversed. [ laughter ] some of you got that, yeah. and i think it's true there are a lot of uk-specific elements in this outcome. in 1973, only two years after they joined the european union
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they had a referendum to confirm they still wanted to be a member. so i think there's always been a strong body of opinion in the uk which was frankly reluctant and reserved about membership if not down right hostile. so it was always going to be a close call as to what came out of it and in the end that was the sense of wishing to take back control as the leave campaign put it. i'm not going to go through the merits of that argument, that won the day. so there were very specific uk elements which i don't think are easily replicated elsewhere across the system. having said that -- and i think this is very important -- there are also -- this was also a
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sense of frustration with the way economic and social policy had developed, particularly since the crash in 2008, the financial crisis and the economic crisis, a sense of uncertainty general rated by globalization and in europe, the european union is seen very much as the front line of globalization, a mini regional globalization if you like and i think these elements -- and of course the issue of immigration, though, a unique feature of the uk, was a concern about intra-european immigration perhaps more so than extra-european immigration. whereas i would say elsewhere in europe the concerns about immigration are less about intra-european immigration and more about extra european integration. but if we just use the words immigration, this is certainly a common theme across europe and we have challenges of populous parties arising in all our member states and very often
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their criticisms go hand in hand with some degree of euro skepticism. so there are also elements which are common across all of europe at this point in time. what should the united states make of it? well, paul simon says there are 50 ways to leave your lover. i don't know if there are 50 ways of brexiting. but we are not yet in a post-brexit world. nothing has actually changed. of course something has changed fundamentally, we've had a very important political development in the united kingdom, we know the united kingdom is going to leave but the precise way in which that's going to operate and what is going to happen afterwards and what is going to be the relationship, all of that is very much out in the open. i think the initial reaction in the united states, of course, is one of concern for what this means for the strong reliance -- alliance with europe, the fact
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that now an important an important member of the european union is goi union is going to withdraw and develop separately i imagine the u.s. is concerned as to what this means for how we manage the relationship. it's of concern to all of us, frankly, and i think we will all be watching carefully to see how this develops. i think the one thing i would say is -- i think we're all going to need strategic patience. this is going to take some time. we don't get yet know what the united kingdom is going to propose. the prime minister indicated triggering the article 50, which is the formal article of the treaty by which exit takes place some time in the spring. there's a two-year time frame in there so we're looking at, i don't know, two and a half years from now, perhaps, before we know with certainly exactly how the uk is leaving, the building
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of a new relationship between a uk out of the eu and the rest of the eu is probably going to take longer to negotiate under a different article of the treaty. i think we're going to have to live with a certain degree of uncertainty for many years to come and we're going to figure out how we do this and we've never done it before in the european union the exception of greenland which left in the early '80s which is a much bigger country but a slightly less complicated negotiation. we are going to have to figure out how to do this and it will take time and things will evolve in ways we cannot predict now. that's my final point so i didn't mean to be too long but it's an important subject. i 23ig youred out how this can be made to work. they may be right and some of these ideas may ultimately be in the mix when we get there.
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but we have a lot of politics to go between now and the moment the british make their request to leave with their proposals as to how they would like to leave. what kind of new relationship we wish to build once we've worked out the terms of the separation. so we have a long way to go before we can really see exactly where this process leads us. there are certainly risks on both sides but i'm sure that are at the end of the day we will all try and make the bers st of what all of us reluctantly accept is a suboptimal situation but one we have to respect given the democratic vote in the united kingdom. >> this is an important issue. given the fact that it sets the stage for the more technical and legal questions we'll be working through and thinking through in the course of the discussion i wanted to make sure that if there were any comments or observations about how brexit was either seen in your own
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countries but as to whether or not there were specific catalysts to please lend your views and your thoughts to this. we'll move through the panel. >> thank you very much professor brummer. it's my pleasure to sit among the insiders, very experienced colleagues from the eu. slovak you yah is the president of the european council and one of the main recommendations or priorities is unexpected and that's what exactly happened with brexit in case of slovakia. >> we'll leave this to return live to the united kingdom where the chair of the british inquiry into the iraq war is answering questions on the uk's decision to get involved in the war in ira iraq. >> we crafted a carefully
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thought through form of words about that. the process by which the view was reached by the british government and its principal legal advisor, the attorney general, we thought was unsatisfactory, deficient in more than a few respects. that did not enable us to come to the conclusion neither did we say we endorsed that advice in which it was shared with government. 123 you had a judge led inquiry, that would not be it either because it's determinative and that's not a position to want to offer that opinion. i know others have in the netherlan netherlands, for example, but it has no effect. what is the point?
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the point for us was to draw a lesson about the way in which legal advice on such a critical issue is developed and endorsed and understood, frankly, by cabinet. in our view that didn't happen in this case. >> okay, i'm going to try and use just very slightly -- while using the chairman's example of -- would you understand if a reasonable person could come to the conclusion looking at the evidence and hearing what you've said today that it was, in fact, an illegal war? >> i think that reasonable person would have to be brave as well as reasonable to reach that conclusion. because the followthrough is so what? there has been no resolution in the general assembly of the united nations, which is the only body that could, as it were, commission a decisive conclusion. there is no other jurisdiction of which i'm aware which can be brought into play so it's an
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opinion. i'd almost say and so what? what happened, happened. the way in this whiwhich the le advice about the basis for it was highly unsatisfactory but that's not the same as saying it was illegal and therefore some effect should be procured. one can't say that ch. >> do you feel, sir john, that tony blair or anyone else who gave evidence or had access to your original report either delayed or diluted or took away from your original report? >> you're asking me about the nature and effect of the process. for my part, i'm clear that it was essential for us to give witnesses as to where we were
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directly critical of them. and also because not less important where evidence they had not seen before might imply criticism of them they should have a chance to see it and the fact that, despite our holding 130 evidence sessions with 150 odd witnesses, the huge corpus of evidence is there in the documentary archive, vastly greater and, of course, most of that was not available at the time or seen necessarily and read by all the witnesses. so we had to show the relevant passages in draft under strict conditions of confidentiality. also, in terms of getting the best quality of report the maxwell process, far from holding up the show, actually improved the eventual outcome.
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for example, we were -- our attention was brought to documents which hadn't been either disclosed or discovered in the course of our other evidence which was relevant and then again where you get two individuals' perspectives on the same point and they are not the same perspective it's very helpful to know that and to be able to either come to a conclusion about it or, as we did in one case, simply point to the fact there is a clash of evidence which couldn't be resolved. >> and all of that lies behind the maxwell process. what i think is not as widely understood as i would perhaps wish, though this may sound a bit defensive, is that the maxwell process, a, was essential but, b, did not hold up the rest of the work because while we had draft text out for comment from criticized witnesses, we were doing all sorts of other work to finalize the report. what we couldn't do, though, and this is the risk of being
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overlong, what we couldn't do is to start maxwellization until he had got from government agreement of our being able to publish a lot of very sensitive material which directly bore on the text, the draft text that they would see. if we had either had to show them draft text without citing very sensitive documents, which then we later did cite in public, that would have been unfair. so we had to, as it were, hold the start of the maxwell process until we had cleared the ground for not only access but publication of sensitive material like the blair/bush exchanges and so on. and there it is. i think myself that it did in the end prove a constructive dimension to the inquiry's work. i think that on the whole witnesses who were shown text
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under the maxwell procedure did comply certainly with confidentiality for the most part and with a reasonable timetable. one of two cases there was a request for a bit more time and i think looking at the scale of what we had to show them, that was never unreasonable as things turned out.
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my only relevant experience lies not in this jurisdiction but in
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the republic of ireland where a good number of years ago a serving attorney general very much under the same scheme as our own found himself, i believe, either sharing or renting a flat to someone who is facing a murder charge. >> with phrases like that and language like "brave" i think it was a moment ago, we're reminded of sir humphrey. >> oh, good. [ laughter ] i was courageous and i was a bit concerned at one point also with -- i have to declare interest. i thought you were going to declare interest saying i'm part of members of the secretary's trade union.
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i've interrupted. what's the answer to the question on the technological's role. >> well, i have no direct experience or the iraq inquiry but from the sort of general broad machinery of background it's okay to duplicate roles provided by they're not capable of conflicting each other and where you see a demonstration of a possible conflict then you must separate or separate the whole of the two roles. >> and now apply that clear doctrine that you would separate them to this, what conclusions do you come to? >> i don't see a conflict in the iraq case with between what the attorney general had to advice on and his other responsibilities. i think the real question is the process by which he was enabled to reach his eventual advice and the treatment of that advice, the users, the clients, the cabinet. >> what do you mean by
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"enabled"? >> i'll let him chip in because he's been itching to come in. ask your question, bernard. >> sir john, what do you mean by enabled. in what respect was the attorney general enabled to come from an opinion? because he did change his view. >> i think the question goes further back in time as to whether he was sufficiently involved at the outset in the early part of 2002 in the governing policy towards iraq because he was clear until february, 2003, that an authorizing resolution from the united nations explicitly authorizing military intervention would be required. but he was not closely or directly involved for example in the drafting of security council resolution 1441 and pivot toole that is did it by itself without any second resolution give
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sufficient authority? he was not involved much in that. he saw some of the papers but not the whole stream and so wasn't in a position to say other than that that up until february, i think it was he didn't believe it gave suv authority on its own. now he wasn't enabled by being close enough to the policy process, i think to reach a firm conclusion, a final conclusion sufficiently early. you may say and it's a good argument that as the diplomatic and military strands developed and to some degree were intertwined the point when a final firm conclusion on the legality of involvement could be reached was quite late. it was in the spring of 2003. he would have been spared the awkwardness of changing his view around 180 degrees. if he had more involvement more
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closely much earlier. >> so you find nothing suspicious about the change? >> not fishy, no. >> he had one other question. >> just the length of time. >> well, it was only to pick up on you yourself chairman saw as perfunctory. the prime minister should certify that saddam hussein continued in breach of security council resolution. the p.m. turned that around in 24 hours without asking what the basis was. what the attorney did not ask him is on what legal basis is it open to a prime minister representing one member of the security council to reach that conclusion and operate on the basis of it when the majority of the security council took the
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opposite view. >> your answer is? >> that question was not put. >> but your answer would be no basis at all. >> i can't answer it as a legal question politically in terms of international politics because if the majority of a security council -- leave aside problems with vetoes from permanent members -- are against something, how can you as an individual certify that nonetheless the security council has by itself prior resolutions authorized in this case a military invasion? >> well, that's the legal question not a procedural institutional question. >> did the prime minister think to turn this around in 24 hours? >> he was asked a question and answered it but whether he answered it satisfactorily or a satisfactory basis is what we criticized. >> you're saying he did not do that in the right way? he did in the the wrong way. >> we say he should have sought carefully thought through and argued and fact-based advice and
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had that discussed collectively and agreed before being able to sign, if you like, a certificate that in hiss view saddam was in breach of security council resolution resolutions. >> we know the time it took was larger than originally hoped and it caused a great deal of distress to servicemen and their famili families. could you just say as well while you had a long task whether capacity issues outside your control in the government also held up the inquiry? >> i do feel concern and sympathy with the bereaved families and we were in touch
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with them. i always try to avoid the word delay because that implies avoiding delay. but your second question was had there been more resources available either government or to the inquiry would it have shortened the time span? i do accept that if we had right at the start had a -- i won't say a much larger staff but a significantly bigger one we could have processed some of the original material more quickly perhaps. we probably with hindsight asked for more resources at the outset. the second part of your point was what about resources in government? and i think those resources in terms of finding archive material for many years and across departments impose an extreme strain on different departments. these that had already digitized their archives were in a much
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better place. those that hadn't and were relying on paper for the most part weren't too bad. the ones in the middle of a changeover found it very difficult. >> that's very helpful, thank you. sara wollaston wanted to ask a follow-up. >> you're clear that the cabinet should have had access to full legal advice. could you clarify, were they cabinet members themselves negligent or cavalier in not insisting on it? or were they obstructed? do you feel that they wanted to see it but were obstructed? >> i don't think they were abinstructed in an active sense and of course robin cooke fought his corner valiantly and with hindsight he was right. not least on intelligence. but he wasn't opposed to the invasion on principle but he correctly said before his saadeh mize that you can read the intelligence in different ways the way t way he read it turned
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out to be the right way. deliberate obstruction, no. passivity, yes. >> do you feel they were negligent? >> that's, again -- >> do you strongly feel? >> yes. i don't think sir humphrey would say negligent but he might say passive. >> well, you've been relieved of your humphrey responsibilities so now you can tell us what you, sir john chilcot, think. >> no, i don't think negligent. i'm trying to think of the daily life of the cabinet minister in the modern age, there's so much washing over you. if you're not directly engaged in the iraq thing, if you're not the defense secretary or foreign secretary or international development secretary, you know, you're not being negligent. >> surely this is the most extraordinary decision that they will have made that year. >> yes, it is, yes. >> or in that whole period. >> to actually feel that that's somebody else's responsibility if you're a cabinet member
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responsible collectively for the decision making, you know and you will not actually going to take the trouble to look at advice that could have been available to you, isn't that staggering dereliction of your responsibility? >> i'm trying to avoid having -- i'm trying to find words of my own other than staggering dereliction and negligent, but it was not the way that cabinet members should have -- not the approach they should have taken to the seriousness of the legal question about the invasion of iraq. >> thank you. >> would you accept in the face of an overnighty p.m.? >> i think the origin of the word pucive animus has something to do with fleas. >> there's no good changing the subject like that ch. [ laughter ] >> well, can i -- >> i think you'll find that's the word used by nigh yeel lawso
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describe his attempt to mobilize opposition to the poll tax in the mid-1980s from cabinet colleagues. >> yes. i think i cited mr. straw's answer to a question we put to him in oral testimony and it was about the dominance and authority mr. blair acquired by his political success in '97 and again in '91. that didn't necessarily mean they were pucive animus but they had a face in his not being right and it was not for them to say no, tony, you're wrong and only robin cooke and a bit of claire short did. >> how do you expose on the criticism that's been leveled against your report that this is a report, to mention again, of which sir humphrey would be very pleased because the senior
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politicians have been put under the spotlight, there's criticism of tony blair, criticism of military chiefs and not criticism of the civil service. >> well, all i can say is if one goes through the 12 volumes with care and in detail you'll find a large number of references which are far from complimentary to -- >> [ inaudible question ] >> well, in the distillation process or the double distillation process, the deficiencies are well exposed in t the way machinery were established or not established and far the cabinet secretary of the time, cabinet secretaries of the time and senior officials as well as military leaders must take some responsibility, we point that out. i don't myself think that
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excoriate ago particular individual name for something which was essentially a matter of pure judgment but senior officials do have responsibility to their staff. and you mentioned the fact that the military -- there was no set of rules of engagement when we launched in march, 2003 so soldiers did not know, who can i shoot? who can i not shoot? what n what situation? >> that was a deficiency not of the politicians but of their seniors. and when officials propose pieces of machinery to enable a -- the runup to a war to be well conducted, their advice is turn down, that is not their fault but it may be their leaders should have insisted more strongly and that didn't
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happen and we say that. >> so from the point of view of officials, because there are plenty of politicians and military people you name and you said that if we go through with the volumes they report but who are the senior officials that you believe deserve some criticism for the central role they paid in this fiasco. >> well, i can only refer you to the runup before the security occupation and the role we held in the southeast both nomly for the whole of iraq until 2009. there are many actors, many of them are named but where we want to find a sufficient sort of failure of duty or of judgment then we do point it out and
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you'll find it there. >> but without wishing to pick on an individual, which i'm not obviously now about to do, is it fair to say look at some of people like david manning and say he is one of the closest advisors on foreign policy matters to the prime minister throughout this period of time, what responsibility should someone like that play for the advice the prime minister receives and therefore the shaping of the prime minister's views. >> well, i mentioned already in this session that both he and indeed jonathan powell who was his superior in the hierarchy did seem to persuade tony blair not to put those fateful words, whatever. they did their duty in that respect. >> but they didn't take anything else out. >> but that is not their fault. it was the prime minister's decision constitutionally it was his authority, not theirs and if you give your advice and it's rejected and you have a choice of two things, you accept it or you resign. >> with respect, it seems a thin defense for jonathan powell and
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david manning that in that one incident that required the extraction of a few words from one of the most pivotal documents, nothing else. and i think the reason i'm asking about them in particular is that if a prime minister seeks to run a certain style of government, they require the help and support of other people to do it. people that determine what briefing papers they will see, what meetings they will attend, the advisors they see and those two gentlemen would probably have been central to the operation. >> that's perfectly true and on the butler committee we reflected on and found deficiency in the arrangement whereby the prime minister's foreign policy advisor in number 10 also held the role of head of overseas and defense secretary in the cabinet office with a wider set of responsibilities and inevitably -- and we said it again if our own report, that shifted the balance of the occupant of

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