Middle East News
Dutch government admits failings in response to Iraq war inquiry
Feb 9, 2010, 14:04 GMT
Amsterdam - The Dutch government should have provided more information to parliament during the months lead up to the the US-led invasion of Iraq, the cabinet admitted Tuesday.
The letter to parliament from the government marked the first official written response to the report prepared by the so-called Davids Committee - an independent inquiry looking into Dutch support for the Iraq war.
That report, published on January 12, said there was insufficient legal basis for the war, and accused the government of failing to inform parliament properly.
It added that on some occasions the government even misled the legislature.
The committee - led by retired Supreme Court judge Willibrord Davids - criticized Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende directly for taking 'hardly' any leadership role at the start of the debate about the war.
Balkenende, a conservative Christian Democrat, initially distanced himself from the report's findings, infuriating the second largest coalition party Labour - which had always opposed the US invasion.
In Tuesday's letter, the government writes that 'in hindsight, it should have been better when the communication with parliament would have provided more insight into the available information from intelligence services, the arms inspectors, and the interpretation of their data.'
The government also responded to the Davids committee's conclusion that parliament should have been told that the US had officially requested that the Dutch government in late 2002 to contribute to a possible US-lead military operation.
The government wrote it still feels it had no 'legal obligation' to inform the legislature about this, but that it should have been 'wise' had the cabinet told parliament about the matter 'confidentially'.