Bush, Blair Decided in '02 to Invade Iraq and Worry About Justification Later, Say Brit Papers
Days before U.K. election, old documents finally surface
A British government memo from '02 indicates that the Bush regime got Tony Blair to go along in July of that year with a plan to invade Iraq and then build the "intelligence and facts" to justify the decision, British newspapers are reporting tonight.
The bombshell memo, leaked to The Sunday Times (U.K.), was written a few weeks after Prime Minister Tony Blair traveled to George W. Bush's Crawford ranch for what the papers described as basically a "council of war" between the dumbass POTUS and the bright Brit who should have known better.
And why should Blair have known better? The Independent (U.K.) is also reporting tonight that the Foreign Office told Blair even earlier, in March '02, that it had grave reservations about invading Iraq.
If what the papers are saying is true, we're not exactly shocked. But we're in awe of their gall.
Here's how The Independent reports both new pieces of info in "Revealed: Documents show Blair's Secret Plans for War":
Tony Blair had resolved to send British troops into action alongside U.S. forces eight months before the Iraq War began, despite a clear warning from the Foreign Office that the conflict could be illegal.
A damning minute leaked to a Sunday newspaper [The Sunday Times] reveals that in July 2002, a few weeks after meeting George Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Mr. Blair summoned his closest aides for what amounted to a council of war. The minute reveals the head of British intelligence reported that President Bush had firmly made up his mind to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, adding that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
At the same time, a document obtained by this newspaper [The Independent] reveals the Foreign Office legal advice given to Mr. Blair in March 2002, before he travelled to meet Mr. Bush at his Texas ranch. It contains many of the reservations listed nearly a year later by the Attorney General in his confidential advice to the Prime Minister, which the Government was forced to publish last week, including the warning that the U.S. government took a different view of international law from Britain or virtually any other country.
Michael Smith of The Sunday Times led his blockbuster this way:
A secret document from the heart of government reveals today that Tony Blair privately committed Britain to war with Iraq and then set out to lure Saddam Hussein into providing the legal justification.
The Downing Street minutes, headed "Secret and strictly personal — UK eyes only", detail one of the most important meetings ahead of the invasion.
It was chaired by the prime minister and attended by his inner circle. The document reveals Blair backed "regime change" by force from the outset, despite warnings from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, that such action could be illegal.
The minutes, published by The Sunday Times today [May 1], begins with the warning: "This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. The paper should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know." It records a meeting in July 2002, attended by military and intelligence chiefs, at which Blair discussed military options having already committed himself to supporting President George Bush's plans for ousting Saddam.
There were strong suspicions anyway that the Foreign Office had advised Blair that the grounds for invading Iraq were shaky. That's because a key Whitehall official, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, pulled an Elliot Richardson on the eve of the invasion by resigning in protest.
Here's more from The Independent story:
The latest revelations could scarcely have come at a worse time for Labour, with a general election only four days away and the opposition parties lining up to attack the Prime Ministers credibility. Two polls last night showed the gap between Labour and Conservatives narrowing to 3 percent.
The minute revealed last night was of a meeting held in Downing Street on 23 July 2002. Signed by the Prime Minister's foreign policy adviser, Matthew Rycroft. It concluded: "We should work on the assumption that the U.K. would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of U.S. planning before we could take any further decisions."
The minute records that the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, had warned that the case against Saddam was "thin." He suggested that the Iraqi dictator should be forced into a corner by demanding the return of the UN weapons inspectors: if he refused, or the inspectors found WMD, there would be good cause for war.
The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmithwho took part in the meetingwarned then that "the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action". But the Prime Minister countered that "regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD."
The document ended with the admonition: "We must not ignore the legal issues," adding that "the Attorney General would consider legal advice." The Government has consistently refused to say when the Attorney General was first asked for an opinion on the legality of war.
Fucking liars, Bush and his handlers, not to mention Blair. All politicians lie, but if the stories about these documents are true, this is a really big liethe one that started the whole chain of bullshit justifications for breaking off the hunt for Osama bin Laden and sending young Americans to Iraq to die for the big oil companies and their Wall Street backers.
Invading Iraq to liberate Halliburton from its financial woes. You just can't make it up.
OK, you can go back to the runaway bride story now.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.