Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, November 09, 2006

  More explosive charges from former British UN diplomat

On Wednesday the former First Secretary of the British delegation to the U.N., Carne Ross, made to a Committee of Parliament some pretty stiff allegations against Tony Blair and George Bush regarding their plans to drag the U.K. and U.S. to war in Iraq. Ross resigned his position in protest over the Iraq war nearly two years ago.

Though he has made certain charges in the past about the rush to war, and Blair's eager embrace of Bush's war mongering, until now Ross has cooperated with the British government in keeping the documentary evidence from the public. He's had to, since he could be charged under the Official Secrets Act if he reveals it.

But now Ross says he's decided the public has to see the evidence. It is evidence, he implies, that the Butler Inquiry ignored when it reported that the Blair government did not manipulate the pre-war intelligence on WMD.

Briefly, some background on Ross:

In June 2005, he alleged that he and all his diplomatic colleagues at the British mission to the U.N. had known in 2002 that the Blair government was mischaracterizing the intelligence on Iraq in order to make a case for war. Even earlier, in March of 2005, he appeared in a BBC Panorama program on the run-up to the war, giving a scathing critique of Blair's deceptions.

Now for the new developments:

On Wednesday, he gave testimony to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in which he said he has finally decided to release to the Committee documents he posseses, particulary relating to the testimony that he gave to the Butler Inquiry, which have been kept secret until now. He thinks that it is long past time for them to be made public.

The best reports about his testimony are in the Independent and at the BBC.

From the BBC:

Carne Ross told MPs the intelligence presented to the public about weapons of mass destruction was "manipulated".

He also added that "the proper legal advice from the Foreign office on the legality of the war was ignored".

Mr Blair has always defended the war's legality and the Butler inquiry said there was no evidence of "deliberate distortion" of intelligence on WMD....

His [i.e. Ross'] Butler testimony concluded that the invasion had been unlawful, he told the MPs in a separate, written submission. It also accused the government of misleading the public over the threat posed by Saddam, and of failing to consider alternatives to military action.

Ross also claimed that along with other British diplomats, he met repeatedly with Bush administration officials, whom the British delegation warned over and over again that "regime change" would likely lead to chaos in Iraq. Then suddenly in mid-2002 the British diplomats stopped telling their American counterparts the unwelcome truth, because of pressure from the Blair government to fall in line with what the Bush administration wanted to hear. Ross says that he gave Foreign Office documents to the Butler Commission that prove the claim.

From the Independent:

Speaking in public for the first time since he left the diplomatic service two years ago, Mr Ross also confirmed suspicions that the Prime Minister made up his mind months before the Iraq invasion in March 2003 that the war was going to happen and British troops would take part. Mr Ross said when he was serving in the embassy in Afghanistan, as early as April 2002, British officials there knew troops were being held back in readiness for the Iraq invasion.

He claimed that when official documents from the Foreign Office are made public, they will prove that the view of British officials, repeatedly conveyed to the Americans, was that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would cause chaos.

He told MPs: "I took part in the bilateral discussion between the State Department and the Foreign Office for four years. One of the items repeatedly on the agenda was regime change. Whenever that item came up, the leader of our delegation would say, with emphasis: 'We do not believe regime change is a good idea in Iraq. The reason we do not believe that is because we believe Iraq will break up and there will be chaos if you do that'. That view will have been recorded in the telegrams that have remained secret, and will do for years. That was emphatically the unified view of the Foreign Office.

"That view changed in mid-2002. There was no basis for changing the view from what was going on inside Iraq. What changed was our view of what the future policy would be."

The Parliamentary Committee also heard testimony from other senior ex-diplomats, such as Jeremy Greenstock (who gave an interview recently that was highly critical of British and American policy in Iraq, as I reported at the time here).

So it may very well turn out that inconvenient information about the pre-war conspiracy of Bush and Blair will begin to trickle out again, as pressure mounts once again for a serious inquiry into how Britain got dragged into this war.

That could be a boon to any inquiries in Congress into the same subject.


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