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Calls for John Howard to face Iraq inquiry

Federal independent, MP Andrew Wilkie, wants former prime minister, John Howard, to front a “proper inquiry” into Australia’s decision to join the war against Iraq in 2003.

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Mr Wilkie, a former army officer and intelligence analysT, quit the Office of National Assessments (ONA) in March 2003, publicly disputing claims Iraq posed a clear risk through its possession of

weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

“There needs to be an inquiry, a proper inquiry with very broad terms of reference which looks at the behaviour of the political leadership at the time,” he told ABC Radio, adding THAT there had been two inquiries into the intelligence agencies.

“While the intelligence agencies did make some serious errors at the time, they were never responsible for the war.”

Mr Wilkie’s call comes a few days after the last Australian troops departed Iraq.

Combat troops withdrew in mid-2008 but a security detachment remained in Baghdad to guard Australian diplomats.

Security responsibility has now been handed over to private security company, Unity Resources Group.

The last 17 soldiers withdrew on August 6.

Mr Wilkie said previous inquiries focused on intelligence advice to the government and it just wasn’t known what other policy advice the government received.

No light had ever been shone on the behaviour of Mr Howard and former foreign minister Alexander Downer.

“They have never been made to sit down and explain why over many, many weeks and months arguing about WMD and terrorism when it was very quickly apparent that the official case for war was a lie,” Mr

Wilkie said.

The MP rejected suggestions he was just trying to settle scores.

“I won this argument eight years ago,” he said.

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