Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Monday, November 30, 2009

  Further evidence on the rush to war against Iraq

Last Tuesday Britain opened yet another investigation, the so-called Chilcot inquiry, into the circumstances that led to the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Like the four previous official inquiries, this one looks set to be a pretty tame affair. It is being conducted by careerists who have little incentive to embarrass the government. John Chilcot, who heads the inquiry, served on the notorious whitewash in 2004 known as the Butler inquiry. So far at the Chilcot inquiry, the self-serving testimony of Tony Blair’s closest advisors has told us little we didn’t already know. The former British ambassador to the US, Christopher Meyer, stressed that the UN inspections of Iraq were a charade and were not permitted to interfere with George Bush’s pre-determined timetable for war. But we knew from the Downing Street Memo as well as from the March 18, 2002 letter of Christopher Meyer that the “UN route” was always intended to be a charade.

An article in the Mail on Sunday, however, provides a few new details. First of all, we learn that on July 29, 2002 the UK Attorney General secretly wrote a letter to Blair reiterating what he’d stated at the July 23 war council (as recorded in the Downing Street Memo): that regime change was not a legitimate grounds for invading Iraq and that no legal grounds existed for such an attack. The Mail reports that Blair went so “berserk” to receive this letter that he told the Attorney General not to commit his thoughts on the subject to writing again in order to preserve deniability. Blair also excluded the AG from most future Cabinet meetings and kept the contents of the July 29 legal opinion secret so as to be able to sell the war to his Cabinet and Parliament. (Blair has all along denied that he was ever told that an invasion would be illegal. Three days before the invasion started, the Attorney General was persuaded by Blair to reverse his opinion on the legality of it.)

Secondly, we learn that around the time of the AG’s letter, Blair and Bush spoke on the phone. According to David Rose’s source inside the White House, their conversation showed that both leaders had decided that war was all but certain.

A few days [after July 26, 2002], Bush and Blair spoke by telephone. A senior White House official who read the transcript told me: 'The way it read was that, come what may, they were going to take out the regime. I remember reading it and thinking, "OK, now I know what we're going to be doing for the next year."'

Later, both leaders would state repeatedly that they had not decided to go to war. But the official said: 'War was avoidable only if Saddam ceased to be president of Iraq. It was a done deal.'

At exactly this time, Bush was (illegally and secretly) approving the transfer of $700 million in appropriated funds from operations in Afghanistan to build infrastructure for the invasion of Iraq. Of course it was a done deal.