Drawn curtains for some, fiction for others.

Whatever its limitations the UK is at least having an official inquiry into the Iraq war. The US is not but are implored to "look forward". Glenn Greenwald on the issue.

British political news has been consumed for the last several weeks by a formal inquiry into the illegality and deceit behind Tony Blair's decision to join the U.S. in invading Iraq. Today, Blair himself is publicly testifying before the investigative commission and is being grilled about numerous false claims he made in the run-up to the war, not only about Iraqi weapons programs (his taxi-cab-derived "45-minutes-to-launch!!" warning) and Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda, but also about secret commitments he made to join the U.S. at a time when he and Bush were still pretending that they were undecided and awaiting the outcome of the U.N. negotiations and the inspection process.

A major focus of the investigation is the illegality of the war. Some of the most embarrassing details that have emerged concern the conclusions by the British Government's own legal advisers that the invasion of Iraq would be illegal without U.N. approval. The top British legal officer had concluded that the war would be illegal, only to change his mind under substantial pressure shortly before the invasion. Several weeks ago, a formal investigation in the Netherlands -- whose government had supported the invasion -- produced the first official adjudication of the legality of the war, and found it illegal, with "no basis in international law.

Lots of links in the article to follow.

Tony Blair has appeared at the inquiry. A response from Craig Murray.

Blair just said "You would be hard pressed to find anyone who in September 2002 doubted that Saddam had WMD".

It wouldn't have been that hard. If he had asked members of the Near East and North Africa Department of the FCO, the Middle East experts in the FCO's Research Analysts, or in the Defence Intelligence Service, he would have found absolutely no shortage of people who doubted it, whatever position No 10 was forcing on their institutions.

One of the many failures of this Inquiry has been a failure to ask individual witnesses before it whether they personally had believed in the existence of any significant Iraqi WMD programme. I know for certain that would have drawn some extremely enlightening answers from among the FCO and probably MOD participants

Blair seems to have preferred the opinions of taxi drivers.

Jack Straw warned Blair:

A “SECRET and personal” letter from Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary, to Tony Blair reveals damning doubts at the heart of government about Blair’s plans for Iraq a year before war started.

The letter, a copy of which is published for the first time today, warned the prime minister that the case for military action in Iraq was of dubious legality and would be no guarantee of a better future for Iraq even if Saddam Hussein were removed.

It was sent 10 days before Blair met George Bush, then the US president, in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. The document clearly implies that Blair was already planning for military action even though he continued to insist to the British public for almost another year that no decision had been made

Lord Goldsmith has given evidence on why he changed his mind about the legality of the war:

The inquiry heard that Lord Goldsmith sent a draft of his legal advice on the war to Mr Blair on 14 January 2003. It revealed that he still believed that military action would be illegal without further UN authorisation, despite the agreement of resolution 1441, which put further pressure on Saddam Hussein. "The Prime Minister accepted that it was for me to reach a judgment and that he had to accept it," he said.

However, the five-page draft caused consternation inside No 10 and was immediately sent to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary at the time, and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, then Britain's ambassador to the UN, who began to convince the peer to change his mind. Sir Jeremy told Lord Goldsmith that the signing of resolution 1441 meant that no further UN clearance was needed. Lord Goldsmith was also lobbied by Mr Straw, who wrote him a long memo on 6 February in which he told the Attorney General that he had failed to understand "both the negotiating history and the wording" of resolution 1441.

However, Lord Goldsmith said that the "most powerful" influence on his thinking was a secret meeting in Washington on 10 February with senior US government lawyers and George Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. During the briefing, he was persuaded that French negotiators, the main opponents of the invasion, had admitted privately that military action could go ahead without further UN intervention. He also said that US negotiators had been ordered to ensure that a second UN resolution would not be necessary before invading Iraq.

"Sir Jeremy on his own had some good points. He moved me in my mind, but he didn't quite get me there," he said. "It was a combination of Jeremy Greenstock, Jack Straw and what happened in Washington." Lord Goldsmith admitted that the US team could not present much evidence that their French counterparts had conceded that military action could go ahead. "I wish they had presented me with more," he said. "At the end of the day, we were dependent on their view." He said it would have been impossible to ask the French directly what they thought the resolution had meant. "You cannot have the British Attorney General being seen to go to the French and ask them 'What do you think?' The message that would have given to Saddam Hussein about the degree of your commitment would have been huge," he said

Influenced by Condi "Mushroom Cloud" Rice???!!! Perhaps he really wanted to believe.

Self delusion was rampant in the corridors of power.


  1. More reactions:

    David Swanson.

    10:00 am GMT Lyne is trying to soften his softballs. He wants to know whom Blair met with and consulted. Blair names Jack Straw. Blair says the options were:
    1. sanctions that worked
    2. the UN inspectors doing their job
    3. removing Saddam
    Blair refers to "WMD".
    But how were the sanctions not working?
    How did the UN inspectors fail?
    Since when is removing a nation's leader a legal "option"?


    10:05 Lyne points out that by April 2002 Blair was inclined to "regime change". Blair says the key issue was "WMD". But no "WMDs" could legalize an aggressive war. It's tempting to be frustrated with Lyne for not pointing out that the WMD claims were lies, but the deeper lie here is the concerted pretense that it matters. An illegal war of aggression is simply illegal regardless

    Now to Chris Floyd.

    Blair's appearance before the panel has occasioned some entirely misplaced and uninformed kudos from some in the American progressiverse, who laud the Brits for holding such a bold inquiry. "It's the kind of thing you would never see in the United States," they say, forgetting, if they ever knew, such minor matters as the Watergate hearings -- which actually had the power to send people to jail for lying, unlike the completely powerless Chilcot panel -- or the Watergate grand jury, which named a sitting president as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a criminal case, or even the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton by the United States Senate, which I believe happened well within the adulthood of at least some of our leading progressives.

    In any case, there was never any chance that the well-wadded Chilcot worthies were going to lay a glove on former PM turned corporate shill and Catholic saint-in-waiting. Blair was never going to do anything but repeat the bluster -- and outright lies -- he has regurgitated ad infinitum about his blood-soaked adventure with George W. Bush -- and the Chilcotniks were never going to call him on his bullshit. [Blair's knowing and deliberate lies are thoroughly detailed here.

    Do read the link detailing the lies. As to the matter of previous US inquiries mentioned above, that was back when the rule of law and the Constitution mattered more than they do now.


    Blair's absolute erasure of the Iraqi people in these passages is a perfect encapsulation of the whole mindset that drove the Anglo-American attack: the Iraqis are non-people, they are worthless chits in a geopolitical game, they are rags and automatons at the mercy of big-time players like the Western powers, Iran and al Qaeda.

    Indeed, this was his main theme of the day: it was Iran's fault. In fact, Blair seemed to regard his appearance before Iraq War panel chiefly as an opportunity to foment war fever for a new "humanitarian intervention" against Iran. As Jonathan Freedland notes:

    Blair pushed further, apparently touting a new war in the Persian Gulf, this time against Iraq's neighbor, Iran. All day Blair used his platform to bring up Iran, even when it was only tangentially related to the topic in hand. The arguments that applied in 2002 – about WMD falling into terrorist hands – applied in spades to Iran in 2010, he said

    Indeed - we have seen lies and forgeries and the drums keep on beating.

  2. The Strawman to face the inquiry again and Blair's spinmeister wells up ...

    Craig Murray on a sniveling little ...

    I was watching the Andrew Marr show when Alistair Campbell broke down, apparently overcome that anybody could doubt the integrity of Tony Blair.

    A minute later Andrew Marr asked him if he were not troubled by the 800.000 deaths following the invasion of Iraq, and Campbell snapped back:

    "You can't prove that".

    It was a very revealing riposte. Not only did it contradict the tearful innocent demeanour, it revealed the mindset of the guilty. Innocent people in the throes of deep emotion shout out "That's not true". They don't shout out "You can't prove that".

    "You can't prove that" is the riposte of the criminal who thinks he is too clever to be caught. It actually answered the question perfectly - no, Campbell never thinks about the Iraqis whose deaths he helped to cause

    The following point about casualty estimates is oh so familiar:

    Marr's question was exactly the one the Chilcot committee failed to ask Blair. They allowed him to witter on about how much better Iraq is now than it was under Saddam. Nobody asked if it was better for the million dead, the four million maimed, the four million refugees, the tens of thousands of new babies with birth defects.

    Blair was allowed to get away with a whole stream of top end estimates of Saddam's atrocities using the phrade [sic] "On some accounts". "On some accounts" 50,000 were gassed, "on some accounts" 1 million Iraqis died in the Iran Iraq war.

    Nobody put it to Blair that "On some accounts" 1.4 million died as a result of the invasion he launched on a basis of lies

    If that point was put to people in the blogosphere who used the highest (and unsubstantiated) claims for Saddam's victims hile disputing the Lancet figures the response would be evasion, accusation or none at all.

  3. The Strawman reappeared ... here's Chris Floyd's take.

    Pinning the tail on the donkey ...

  4. Documents they didn't want you to see .... Blair's trousers shown to be a blazing inferno.

    An invasion of Iraq was discussed within the Government more than two years before military action was taken – with Foreign Office mandarins warning that an invasion would be illegal, that it would claim "considerable casualties" and could lead to the breakdown of Iraq, The Independent can reveal.


    Secret Foreign Office strategy papers drawn up by senior civil servants at the end of 2000 have been obtained by this newspaper and are published for the first time today. The Iraq: future strategy document considers options for dealing with the belligerent Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. It is one of the key documents that Sir John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry has declined to release

  5. no honour amongst (murdering!) thieves

    .. nor any morality except *bad* ...

      .. they tell us filthy lies ...

        .. continually


    G'day Bob,

    another nice one, from your citation:

    Blair warned in 2000 Iraq war was illegal
    Secret papers withheld by Chilcot inquiry reveal Foreign Office fears over invasion
    By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent
    Tuesday, 2 March 2010
      «The document also calls into question Mr Blair's claim that using troops to bring down Saddam Hussein was only discussed after the 9/11 terror attacks on New York – and will increase pressure on the inquiry to call Mr Blair back to give further public evidence this summer.» 

    Comment 1: Yet another 'whitewash' underway; recall the adage "Never have an enquiry where the result is not pre-ordained" - or some-such.

    Comment 2: Lies are deployed to deceive; IF lies THEN crooks. In this case (Iraq), murder for oil, same as for the endlessly threatened attacks on Iran. In and around Israeli-occupied Palestine, murder for land - for 61+ bloody years, and no just end in sight.

    Comment 3 (Most significant:) Each of B, B & H have long-since been replaced, in the US & Aus case by the alternate political party. But nothing changes; they continue to lie and kill. (This all goes double, triple, etc. for Israel.) IF the people are not offered a valid choice (i.e. war/no war, lies/no lies, murder/no murder, theft/no theft) THEN the (shitty!) system is (totally!) undemocratic.

    IF the so-called 'leaders' (both political and business) of the Anglo/Judaic bloc (US, UK, Aus & Z-Lebensraum) behaved with *good* morals THEN anything they wanted (land, oil/gas) could be purchased, and a fair return paid to the resource-owners.

    But Oh, no: the Anglo/Judaic bloc continues to illegally invade, brutally occupy, murder and steal.

    And all the while, they show their 'courage' by lying about it.