Category Archives: Chilcot Enquiry

CHILCOT – the tombstone: Bliar, R.(not)I.P.

The Blairite Guardian in its editorial today finally nails Blair to the cross of infamy, squarely through the head. Blair, Campbell, and Blairites can continue to bleat (… but we got rid of Saddam…) … now its over.

… a country ruined, trust shattered, a reputation trashed

As always in matters of military aggression, the humane perspective has to start with the victims. Since the US-led, UK-backed invasion of Iraq in 2003, estimates of the lives lost to violence vary from a quarter of a million to 600,000. The number of injured will surely be several times that, and the number of men, women and children displaced from their homes is put at between 3.5 and 5 million, somewhere between one in 10 and one in six of the population.

read full editorial

also read damning letter 2002 from Blair to Bush ‘I will be with you whatever

CHILCOT – Key conclusions

  • There was “no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein” in March 2003 and military action was “not a last resort”
  • The UK “chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted”
  • Tony Blair’s note to George Bush on July 28, 2002, saying UK would be with the US “whatever”, was the moment Britain was set on a path to war
  • Judgements about the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD “were presented with a certainty that was not justified”
  • Tony Blair told attorney general Lord Goldsmith Iraq had committed breaches of UN Security Council resolution 1441 without giving evidence to back up his claim
  • Ministry of Defence was “slow” to react to clear need for better equipment and it was not clear whose job it was to do so
  • Planning for post-war Iraq was “wholly inadequate”
  • Blair government “failed to achieve its stated objectives”
  • The legality of the war can only be decided by an international court

CHILCOT REPORT: Blair trashed, expectations not disappointed

A deliberate policy of exaggeration and omission in the intelligence over Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction paved the way for the invasion of Iraq: this was the damning conclusion of Sir John Chilcot’s report.

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which produced the now notorious dossier claiming that Iraq had nuclear, chemical and biological warfare capabilities broadly produced what Tony Blair’s government wanted to hear. And, it remained silent when the Prime Minister even ignored what caveats there were in the dossier to make his case for war.

“In the House of Commons on 24 September 2002, Mr Blair presented Iraq’s past, current and future capabilities as evidence of the severity of the potential threat from Iraq’s WMD” stated Sir Chilcot.

“He said that, at some point in the future, that threat would become a reality. The judgments about Iraq’s capabilities in that statement, and in the dossier published the same day, were presented with a certainty that was not justified… It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. They were not challenged, and they should have been.”

The highlighting of the alleged WMD threat was part of a “clever strategy” that Mr Blair had suggested to George W Bush for regime change in Iraq, the report held. This was one of the main factors with what subsequently unfolded. “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not the last resort.”

Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, played a key role in making Iraq a target. The report points out that before the dossier was produced “ the threat from Iraq was viewed as less serious than that from other key countries of concern —- Iran, Libya and North Korea.”

The Blair government commissioned an intelligence paper on the WMD threat from “rogue”  states. On seeing it, on 8th March 2002, Mr Straw wanted to stress “ Good, but should not Iraq be the first and also have more text? The paper has to show why there is an exceptional threat from Iraq. It does not quite do this yet.”

On 18th March, the report noted, that a paper on Iraq should be issued without mentioning other countries of concern. However, four days later, “Mr Straw was advised that the evidence would not convince public opinion that there was an imminent threat from Iraq. Publication was postponed”.

So the operation began to find material to convince public opinion that military action was necessary began to take place. Central to this was the JIC which was tasked by Downing Street to produce the dossier and its chairman, John Scatlett. What the report does not say was that after producing the “dodgy dossier” Mr Scarlett was knighted and made the head of MI6, something he had coveted.

CHILCOT REPORT OUT TODAY: we know already roughly what it will say

Thanks to leaks, we already have a good idea of what to expect.  A report in the Sunday Times on May 22 predicted that Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Sir Richard Dearlove – the former head of MI6 – face ‘damage to their reputations’ and that the report will be ‘absolutely brutal’ in its verdict about the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.  In particular, the Sunday Times’ source revealed that Blair will not be ‘let off the hook’ for allegedly offering British military support to George W Bush a full year before Iraq’s invasion.  Many others – politicians, military officers, the intelligence services, and senior civil servants – will be severely criticised .

This is despite the fact that it is not the purpose of the Chilcot Report apparently to point fingers .  So it appears that the report is stripped of any legal content that might trigger further government action against Blair, Straw and co.

The main point contained in the report is the decision to provide military support to the Americans made by Tony Blair long in advance of the decision to go to war, in private and kept secret not just from Parliament and the public but from his own ministers and diplomats. Without Blair egging him on Bush may not have gone to war.

There is a parallel here with the O. J. Simpson trial. A decision has been made on principle to avoid political sacrifice on the official stage: hence the ICC pre-emptive declaration that it won’t pursue Blair for war crimes, although it actually could if it wanted to. But, on the other hand, families of war veterans killed are being gathered together in a civil suit to go after Blair’s money.

The failure of the Blairite counterrevolution against Jeremy Corbyn may yet mean, however, that the door hasn’t been completely slammed shut on war crimes charges potentially being brought by a conviction politician.