British reserve

Somewhere, I have a bunch of photos I took in London of signs politely and verbosely requesting the viewer’s compliance. For instance, where a sign in America might simply command you to “keep off the grass,” the British version was more likely to read something like: “If it’s not too much bother, we would terribly appreciate your choosing to walk around the grass rather than on it, for you see, we are trying to seed a new lawn, and are ever so grateful for your cooperation.” (I’m paraphrasing, but not by much.)

I was reminded of this as I read summaries of the Hutton report, which purportedly clears Blair of the charges of “sexing up” British intelligence (and in which the BBC comes off pretty badly)…specifically when I read this paragraph:

However, (Hutton) did wonder whether the “desire of the prime minister to have a dossier which, while consistent with the available intelligence, was as strong as possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMD, may have subconsciously influenced Mr Scarlett and the other members of the JIC to make the wording of the dossier somewhat stronger than it would have been if it had been contained in a normal JIC assessment”.

Harrumph. Quite right, old chap.

In any event, I’m guessing that any time David Kay is brought up, our conservative friends will quickly start discussing the Hutton report instead. So keep in mind that Hutton is focused on the suicide of Dr. David Kelly, and whether Blair believed what he was saying, while Kay is discussing the actual lack of WMDs in Iraq — i.e., whether or not the primary justification for war has turned out to have any basis in reality.

It’s an important distinction, and I suspect a lot of people are going to try to blur it.

…a related cartoon from last summer.

(Edited for clairty.)