Nick Robinson, BBC political editor, offered these words on the Today programme, this morning:
The issue … is did they (the government) fail to see the controversy over payments or did they regard the controversy as a price worth paying in order to get those stories told in that way, as against what might have been the alternative … which is very heavy scrutiny of why these soldiers (sic) were taken prisoner when they were and whether that could have been prevented.Inevitably though, caught in the Westminster "bubble" as he is, Robinson is thinking in terms of "the government" – i.e., ministers. But why would ministers want to avoid scrutiny of the events which led to the capture of the sailors and marines? These are operational issues and the primary responsibility rested with operational commanders in the field.
The one thing on which ministers could be tasked is on the vexed question of rules of engagement, but even then it is up to the military to make ministers aware of whether they are appropriate, or put service personnel unnecessarily at risk.
If it could be shown that representations had been made to ministers, and they had been over-ruled, then there would be something for ministers to cover-up, but then it would be in the interests of the Navy to make sure that that little gem emerged. So far, though, it is the Navy which has set its face against a formal Board of Inquiry.
So who is really covering up and why?