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What's in a word?

Posted by Richard Tuesday, December 05, 2006 ,

In a written question Andrew Selous, Conservative MP for south west Bedfordshire, asks the secretary of state for defence "what assessment he has made of the security of military and civilian personnel at Basra Air Station; and if he will make a statement."

Bully-boy Ingram tells him:

We keep the threat to both our military and civilian personnel under continuous review and take all practical measures to ensure their safety and security wherever deployed throughout Iraq. Additional protection is - and will continue to be - provided as the operational situation requires.
Whether you believe that, of course, depends on your interpretation of the word "practical". From this, this, this and this, we appear to be using a different dictionary.

What you see though, is the classic technique by which ministers can do exactly as they please and avoid the charge of lying. This answer lays the ground for diverting criticisms about failures to take specific precautions. They can be dismissed on the basis that any "additional" precautions (i.e., those not taken) will simply have been "not practical" under the circumstances.

And the MPs will nod sagely and roll over. Which is why we admire, respect and love them so much.

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