Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« Iraq: The fix was in | Main | Liberals attacking Laura? »

May 05, 2005

Fortuitiously

The Independent article about the Blair's war plot memo disappeared behind the firewall this afternoon. Luckily, I forgot to close my browser window this morning. You can read the full text below the fold.

Revealed: documents show Blair's secret plans for war PM decided on conflict from the start.
Blair told war illegal in March 2002.
Latest leak confirms Goldsmith doubts

By Raymond Whitaker, Andy McSmith and Francis Elliott
01 May 2005

Tony Blair had resolved to send British troops into action alongside US 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 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 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 US government took a different view of international law from Britain or virtually any other country.

The advice, also put before the July meeting, was drawn up in part by Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the Foreign Office's deputy legal adviser, who resigned on the eve of war in protest at what she called a "crime of aggression".

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 3per cent.

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 UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US 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 Goldsmith who took part in the meeting warned 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.

Eight months later, Lord Goldsmith drew up his 13 page legal opinion, released by Downing Street last week, which echoed many of the doubts expressed in the earlier Foreign Office brief. The Attorney General echoes the Foreign Office paper, rejecting US claims to be able to decide whether Iraq was in breach of UN resolutions. The Americans were alone in this position, he said, before dramatically altering his opinion 10 days later.

Mr Blair was challenged on whether he had seen Foreign Office legal advice in a BBC interview with Jeremy Paxman on 20 April. He replied: "No, I had the Attorney General's advice to guide me." In fact, Mr Blair had seen the Foreign Office advice as early as 8 March 2002, in an annex to a secret Cabinet Office "options paper". That annex is published in The Independent on Sunday for the first time today.

Asked to account for the discrepancy, a Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister accepts his legal advice from the Attorney General, not from individual departments. We are not going to comment on any papers prepared for specific meetings."

Those present at the 23 July meeting, alongside Mr Blair and Mr Straw, included Lord Goldsmith, the Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, and military and intelligence chiefs, according to the minute leaked to The Sunday Times.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c61e653ef00d834488ebf53ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Fortuitiously:

Comments

Full text of the memo may be found here. (I forget whether registration is required or not.)

I'm not sure why the 'Joint Resolution' is not read out loud by the conservatives here. It is beyond my ability to comprehend anyone in the US, especially a liberal questioning this war.

After uncovering over 700,000 bodies in mass graves, and our resolution to go to war mentioning Saddams 'Brutality against his own people', seems like that one sticks pretty good.

After learning of the Rape rooms, the children abused and murdered by the regime, the total disregard for human rights by Saddam and his sons seems to have been disregarded. Where is the liberal community knocking on the palace doors demanding the dictator be removed?

Saddam would pay money to the families of terrorists who blew themselves up. Our resolution mentioned 'Supporting Terrorism'. As an ex-liberal, I cannot see the resistance to this war. I guess the liberals have decided to take the opposite position of any Republican cause.

A brutal dictator who murders, rapes, gasses, and abuses his own people. Why is freeing these people from a Monster giving anyone, Bush or Blair a bad name? When did liberals cheer for waiving human rights? Sure, Ok, no WMD... Do you really believe that all the dual use items were for helium balloons, and farming equipment?

When did the liberal IQ drop so far that I was forced to switch sides? When the liberals wanted to allow a dictator to add thousands more bodies to the mass graves we are finding all over Iraq. Wake up, liberals, this is why your loosing!

"Wake up, liberals, this is why your loosing!"
I am confused, so are you saying we are losing because Bush is a professional liar and we are not?

"After learning of the Rape rooms, the children abused and murdered by the regime, the total disregard for human rights by Saddam and his sons seems to have been disregarded. Where is the liberal community knocking on the palace doors demanding the dictator be removed?"
I don't think that liberals would have had a problem of going to war against Saddam if this war was actually views as a "humanitarian" war. But that’s not how the war was being sold, it was being sold as an immanent threat, which it wasn't. So, I think it’s fair to say, that all good honest people were flummoxed for a need to go to war based on a faux threat. Since there was no current humanitarian crisis taking place, other than the one that was being artificially created by the sanctions, there was little real reason for war. The mass graves which you are referring to took place under Regan and Bush I, but back then Saddam was our closest Middle East ally. Hmmm… it looks like we are to blame for allowing Saddam commit mass murder against his own people, maybe we should go to war with ourselves.

This is the kind of "analysis" that drives me up a wall. I agree the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, all else being equal, and I have never heard anyone say otherwise. But there are many ways to achieve worthy ends. And not all worthy ends are worth achieving simultaneously. Further, worthy ends need to be achieved intelligently if the results are to be a net gain.

Getting rid of Hussein intelligently requires dealing with several other related questions. One, what will replace him? Two, what will be the impact of our efforts on our own country? Three, what will be the impact of what we do on our relations with other countries?

As to number one: even American generals admit that the insurgency has not lost any fighting power in the last year. American troops are too few to secure the country due to explicit decisions by the Bush administration. Incompetence has marred American performance, except for the fighting ability of our troops. Pretty much everyone else involved should hang their heads in shame. Iraq is nowhere close to having a stable democratic government.

Two: we have a case where our president lied to the American people and manipulated a war in part in order to win an election. This is no longer reasonably open to question. So, we have dead Americans and countless others in order to help Bush and the Republicans stay in power. Boy, that's really building democracy, isn't it? In addition, our military is failing month after month to obtain the new volunteer troops needed to refill its ranks, and the Reserves have been seriously undermined. We simply do not have the troops to fight if they are needed in other places with OTHER horrible regimes - like N. Korea. One of the problems with what you think of as "analysis" is apparently thinking there is only one horrible regime. The world has quite a few, some supported by George Bush.

Another problem regarding the impact of all this on our own country is your thinking in dualisms: Liberal vs Conservative. A sort of mindless "I disagree with liberals on this issue so I'll support the ant-liberals on every issue" point of view. You thereby help perpetuate the zero sum game mentality that is destroying this country. But that is a whole other essay.

Since you want to play the patriot game: you support efforts that have undermined our military, divided our country, wasted our resources, and are no where close to achieving their announced goals. Why do you hate America?

Third, the war on terrorism requires international cooperation more than big time military actions. Bush and company have poisoned the waters with respect to international cooperation. Wire cutters took out the WTC. Think about that. We need cooperation with Europe and other places, not the cowboy macho bullshit of this administration.

Finally, think about the track record of the men who led us unto this mess. George Bush has an unequalled record of mismanaging every company he ever ran before entering politics. Only his baseball team didn't go broke - and that was because it is a quasi monopoly and also in no small part because he got government to use eminent domain to force people to sell their homes at prices they didn't want so he could make money on a new stadium. Cheney bankrupted Halliburtion while its CEO - though their lips on his ass have certainly more than refilled thier coffers since - but at tax payer expense.

These guys can win elections because they believe the end justifies the means. But they cannot govern, cannot look ahead, and cannot play straight with the American people.

I do not think it was the liberal IQ that dropped....

This is the kind of "analysis" that drives me up a wall. I agree the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, all else being equal, and I have never heard anyone say otherwise. But there are many ways to achieve worthy ends. And not all worthy ends are worth achieving simultaneously. Further, worthy ends need to be achieved intelligently if the results are to be a net gain.

Getting rid of Hussein intelligently requires dealing with several other related questions. One, what will replace him? Two, what will be the impact of our efforts on our own country? Three, what will be the impact of what we do on our relations with other countries?

As to number one: even American generals admit that the insurgency has not lost any fighting power in the last year. American troops are too few to secure the country due to explicit decisions by the Bush administration. Incompetence has marred American performance, except for the fighting ability of our troops. Pretty much everyone else involved should hang their heads in shame. Iraq is nowhere close to having a stable democratic government.

Two: we have a case where our president lied to the American people and manipulated a war in part in order to win an election. This is no longer reasonably open to question. So, we have dead Americans and countless others in order to help Bush and the Republicans stay in power. Boy, that's really building democracy, isn't it? In addition, our military is failing month after month to obtain the new volunteer troops needed to refill its ranks, and the Reserves have been seriously undermined. We simply do not have the troops to fight if they are needed in other places with OTHER horrible regimes - like N. Korea. One of the problems with what you think of as "analysis" is apparently thinking there is only one horrible regime. The world has quite a few, some supported by George Bush.

Another problem regarding the impact of all this on our own country is your thinking in dualisms: Liberal vs Conservative. A sort of mindless "I disagree with liberals on this issue so I'll support the ant-liberals on every issue" point of view. You thereby help perpetuate the zero sum game mentality that is destroying this country. But that is a whole other essay.

Since you want to play the patriot game: you support efforts that have undermined our military, divided our country, wasted our resources, and are no where close to achieving their announced goals. Why do you hate America?

Third, the war on terrorism requires international cooperation more than big time military actions. Bush and company have poisoned the waters with respect to international cooperation. Wire cutters took out the WTC. Think about that. We need cooperation with Europe and other places, not the cowboy macho bullshit of this administration.

Finally, think about the track record of the men who led us unto this mess. George Bush has an unequalled record of mismanaging every company he ever ran before entering politics. Only his baseball team didn't go broke - and that was because it is a quasi monopoly and also in no small part because he got government to use eminent domain to force people to sell their homes at prices they didn't want so he could make money on a new stadium. Cheney bankrupted Halliburtion while its CEO - though their lips on his ass have certainly more than refilled thier coffers since - but at tax payer expense.

These guys can win elections because they believe the end justifies the means. But they cannot govern, cannot look ahead, and cannot play straight with the American people.

I do not think it was the liberal IQ that dropped....

This is the kind of "analysis" that drives me up a wall. I agree the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, all else being equal, and I have never heard anyone say otherwise. But there are many ways to achieve worthy ends. And not all worthy ends are worth achieving simultaneously. Further, worthy ends need to be achieved intelligently if the results are to be a net gain.

Getting rid of Hussein intelligently requires dealing with several other related questions. One, what will replace him? Two, what will be the impact of our efforts on our own country? Three, what will be the impact of what we do on our relations with other countries?

As to number one: even American generals admit that the insurgency has not lost any fighting power in the last year. American troops are too few to secure the country due to explicit decisions by the Bush administration. Incompetence has marred American performance, except for the fighting ability of our troops. Pretty much everyone else involved should hang their heads in shame. Iraq is nowhere close to having a stable democratic government.

Two: we have a case where our president lied to the American people and manipulated a war in part in order to win an election. This is no longer reasonably open to question. So, we have dead Americans and countless others in order to help Bush and the Republicans stay in power. Boy, that's really building democracy, isn't it? In addition, our military is failing month after month to obtain the new volunteer troops needed to refill its ranks, and the Reserves have been seriously undermined. We simply do not have the troops to fight if they are needed in other places with OTHER horrible regimes - like N. Korea. One of the problems with what you think of as "analysis" is apparently thinking there is only one horrible regime. The world has quite a few, some supported by George Bush.

Another problem regarding the impact of all this on our own country is your thinking in dualisms: Liberal vs Conservative. A sort of mindless "I disagree with liberals on this issue so I'll support the ant-liberals on every issue" point of view. You thereby help perpetuate the zero sum game mentality that is destroying this country. But that is a whole other essay.

Since you want to play the patriot game: you support efforts that have undermined our military, divided our country, wasted our resources, and are no where close to achieving their announced goals. Why do you hate America?

Third, the war on terrorism requires international cooperation more than big time military actions. Bush and company have poisoned the waters with respect to international cooperation. Wire cutters took out the WTC. Think about that. We need cooperation with Europe and other places, not the cowboy macho bullshit of this administration.

Finally, think about the track record of the men who led us unto this mess. George Bush has an unequalled record of mismanaging every company he ever ran before entering politics. Only his baseball team didn't go broke - and that was because it is a quasi monopoly and also in no small part because he got government to use eminent domain to force people to sell their homes at prices they didn't want so he could make money on a new stadium. Cheney bankrupted Halliburtion while its CEO - though their lips on his ass have certainly more than refilled thier coffers since - but at tax payer expense.

These guys can win elections because they believe the end justifies the means. But they cannot govern, cannot look ahead, and cannot play straight with the American people.

I do not think it was the liberal IQ that dropped....

The US political & military campaign in Iraq follows a pattern. Whether by design or by accident, (but definitely with a lot of practice), Western powers (US, Britain, Australia, Israel, in particular) have mastered the art of usurping resources from other peoples while simultaneously preserving in their minds their own morality.

Having successfully withstood the real Soviet threat there really was no reason to fear a defanged Saddam. But our leaders fed us lies, and the majority of the public willingly believed them. A big driver for that gullibility is the tacit realization that there are Iraqi resources we covet. By mutual winking we get over any moral hurdles in the way of our real goals.

The comments to this entry are closed.