Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Blair hit by new leak of secret war plan
London Sunday Times ^ | 01 May 2005 | Michael Smith

Posted on 05/01/2005 7:36:17 PM PDT by Lando Lincoln

A SECRET document from the heart of government reveals today that Tony Blair privately committed Britain to war with Iraq and then set out to lure Saddam Hussein into providing the legal justification. The Downing Street minutes, headed “Secret and strictly personal — UK eyes only”, detail one of the most important meetings ahead of the invasion.

It was chaired by the prime minister and attended by his inner circle. The document reveals Blair backed “regime change” by force from the outset, despite warnings from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, that such action could be illegal.

The minutes, published by The Sunday Times today, begins with the warning: “This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. The paper should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know.” It records a meeting in July 2002, attended by military and intelligence chiefs, at which Blair discussed military options having already committed himself to supporting President George Bush’s plans for ousting Saddam.

“If the political context were right, people would support regime change,” said Blair. He added that the key issues were “whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan space to work”.

The political strategy proved to be arguing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed such a threat that military action had to be taken. However, at the July meeting Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, said the case for war was “thin” as “Saddam was not threatening his neighbours and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran”.

Straw suggested they should “work up” an ultimatum about weapons inspectors that would “help with the legal justification”. Blair is recorded as saying that “it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors”.

A separate secret briefing for the meeting said Britain and America had to “create” conditions to justify a war.

The papers, the second sensitive leak close to the election, appear to be an attempt by disaffected Whitehall insiders to attack Blair’s integrity. They are likely to fuel claims he misled the country on Iraq.

One reason for the secrecy is that the minutes record discussion of US plans for invasion; another is that at the time Blair had given no indication that plans were so advanced.

He had not revealed to MPs or the public that in April 2002 he had told Bush “the UK would support US military action to bring about regime change”, as recorded in the Foreign Office briefing paper. Both before and after the July meeting Blair insisted in public no decision had been made.

The July meeting was later mentioned by Lord Butler in his report on the use of intelligence on WMD as a “key stage” in the road to war; but its details have never been revealed until now.

The minutes show Goldsmith warned Blair eight months before war started on March 19, 2003 that finding legal justification would be “difficult”. The attorney-general only ruled unambiguously war was lawful a few days before the war started after Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the defence staff, demanded unequivocal written confirmation.

Boyce was never shown Goldsmith’s more equivocal advice to Blair of March 7, 2003, and says today ministers failed to give him protection from prosecution at the International Criminal Court. “I have always been troubled by the ICC,” he says, adding that if British servicemen are put on trial, ministers should be “brought into the frame as well”. Asked if that should include Blair and Goldsmith, he tells The Observer: “Too bloody right.”

Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said the leaked minute showed Blair had “agreed to an illegal regime change with the Bush administration. It set out to create the justification for going to war. It was to be war by any means.”

Downing Street claimed the document contained “nothing new”.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; United Kingdom; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: blair; prequel; tonyblair; uk

Lando

1 posted on 05/01/2005 7:36:18 PM PDT by Lando Lincoln
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln
This is the Document in question......Strange how an election can get these things to surface.

The secret Downing Street memo

::nobreak::SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY

DAVID MANNING
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.

Conclusions:

(a) 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 firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)

MATTHEW RYCROFT

(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)

Lando

2 posted on 05/01/2005 7:41:43 PM PDT by Lando Lincoln (How many liberals does it take to win a war?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln
Kerry was in Vietnam so what.
3 posted on 05/01/2005 7:45:06 PM PDT by solo gringo (Liberal democrats And Flori-duh judges are parasites)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: solo gringo
Kerry was in Vietnam so what.

He was?! I wish I had known that, I would have voted for him. Too bad he didn't get the word out better; after all, it is communication that is the Dems' problem.
4 posted on 05/01/2005 7:47:50 PM PDT by Cyclopean Squid (History remembers only what was, not what might have been.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln

Wait until these shocked liberals find out about FDR's attempted to lure Germany into war by attacking German subs in the Atlantic in 1940...


5 posted on 05/01/2005 7:50:52 PM PDT by swilhelm73 (Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. --Lord Acton)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln
...the leaked minute showed Blair had “agreed to an illegal regime change with the Bush administration."

As opposed to the perfectly legal genocide Blair helped stop.

6 posted on 05/01/2005 8:00:46 PM PDT by denydenydeny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln

It has always been about necessary geopolitical change and spreading democracy. That's always been enough for me.

Deposing a tyrant and ending the worthless lives of his villainous progeny were chocolate sprinkles. What more do these people want? Ah, is it the coming cherry?


7 posted on 05/01/2005 8:05:43 PM PDT by Born and Razed in America (The ninth plague was my first.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln

"A SECRET document from the heart of government reveals today that Tony Blair privately committed Britain to war with Iraq and then set out to lure Saddam Hussein into providing the legal justification."


If this assertion is based upon the document posted then it is simply a BLATANT LIE. There is nothing in that document to suggest that Blair committed the UK to anything in the Summer of 2002. Three options are listed for UK involvement, but there is no indication that Blair was committed to any of them.

As for legal justifications, all the Euro-twits constantly ignore the 12 year history of Saddam violating the cease-fire accord of 1991.... not to mention the 17-18 UN Security Council resolutions which we violated.... We had ample justification to take out his regime at any time since, because we had already tried the naive UN internationalist route and Saddam continued to give the bird to everyone.


8 posted on 05/01/2005 8:06:08 PM PDT by Enchante (Kerry's mere nuisances: Marine Barracks '83, WTC '93, Khobar Towers, Embassy Bombs '98, USS Cole!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln
The papers, the second sensitive leak close to the election, appear to be an attempt by disaffected Whitehall insiders to attack Blair's integrity.
After the fiasco with SeeBS and Rathergate only two questions pop into my mind:

1. How fake?

2. How 'accurate'?

9 posted on 05/01/2005 8:07:53 PM PDT by _Jim (<--- Ann C. and Rush L. speak on gutless Liberals (RealAudio files))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln
From what little I have seen of British classified documents this smells of a CBS-like document fabrication.
10 posted on 05/01/2005 8:10:28 PM PDT by wattsup ("It's best to stay silent and be thought of as a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.." ..Abe L.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: wattsup

If it isn't, Blair's toast.


11 posted on 05/01/2005 8:14:16 PM PDT by Joseph_CutlerUSA (New blogspot at "http://yankeestation.blogspot.com". Mostly military and political affairs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln

Isn't it funny how most major elections in Europe seem to drag the US into the mix. Germany, France, Spain, and now the UK. It's pathetic how Europe is absolutely obsessed with America.


12 posted on 05/01/2005 8:32:53 PM PDT by Cali_Conservative03
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Cali_Conservative03

"It's pathetic how Europe is absolutely obsessed with America."
They truly love us.


13 posted on 05/01/2005 9:02:47 PM PDT by Marine_Uncle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: swilhelm73

Actually I recall a newstory about an oil tanker being sunk by a German sub off Galveston around 1940 in full view of civilian witnesses at an amusement park.


14 posted on 05/01/2005 11:35:10 PM PDT by beaver fever
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Enchante

"If this assertion is based upon the document posted then it is simply a BLATANT LIE. There is nothing in that document to suggest that Blair committed the UK to anything in the Summer of 2002. Three options are listed for UK involvement, but there is no indication that Blair was committed to any of them."

The fact that none of the mitigating conditions were met and we still took part is fairly conclusive that Blair was committed no matter what.

"As for legal justifications, all the Euro-twits constantly ignore the 12 year history of Saddam violating the cease-fire accord of 1991.... not to mention the 17-18 UN Security Council resolutions which we violated.... We had ample justification to take out his regime at any time since, because we had already tried the naive UN internationalist route and Saddam continued to give the bird to everyone."

The legal advice given to Blair by the Attorney General which us mortals (oh and some cabinet ministers) were finally allowed to see for the first time this week specifically rejects the argument that violations of UNSC resolutions can be decided by anyone other than the UNSC themselves.

The main point here again is not whether Blair could have used other justifications and got away with it (as George Bush did - his view was "who cares if some UN body may not think it legal, I'm going to do it anyway, what you gonna do"). Blair himself set great store by the legality of his actions under International Law and by establishing that basis. In the process he lied to and mislead to the British people, Parliament and even his own cabinet. This is the issue.

The full legal advice from Lord Goldsmith was never shown to members of the Cabinet who had to decide firstly to back Blair. This is a blatant breach of the Parliamentary code which states that all Cabinet officers must have access to any legal advice given. Blair even had his Cabinet Secretary deny on the record that it existed. Well we know that was a lie because he released it this week!


15 posted on 05/02/2005 1:50:25 AM PDT by Canard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Cali_Conservative03

It's not so much about the U.S. - rather it's about the fact that our Prime Minister is a bare-faced liar.

He did not have the guts to say "international law is a pile of horsemanure - getting rid of Saddam Hussein is the right thing for these reasons x, y, z" but rather he lied to the British public, and insisted that Pres. Bush bog down the whole procedure in the U.N. Security Council (which gave credibility to that organisation).

Many of us who have been watching Blair for over ten years are not at all surprised by this.

As an aside, I am delighted to say that this part of the country is the only place to have inflicted electoral defeat of Blair. He stood at a by-election in my constituency in 1983 and lost his deposit (which means he got less than 5% of the vote - the Tories nearly always get over 50%).


16 posted on 05/02/2005 2:07:56 PM PDT by tjwmason (Viva il Papa!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: Canard

International law... Gotta love it.

A mish mash of treaties, agreements, and conflicting documents from present to centuries past.

Sounds like a situation where I could justify genocide more easily than justify deposing the one committing genocide.

If that's the case, international law can suck its thumb while the U.S. and its allies do what should be done, and in the process create a new precedent for yet another international law to add to that prestigious mess of paper work.


18 posted on 05/06/2005 12:56:00 AM PDT by coconutt2000 (NO MORE PEACE FOR OIL!!! DOWN WITH TYRANTS, TERRORISTS, AND TIMIDCRATS!!!! (3-T's For World Peace))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Lando Lincoln

A late hit ahead of the election, but how that doesn't benefit the US, I can't imagine. :')


19 posted on 05/06/2005 1:03:25 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Monday, April 11, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: beaver fever

It would have been in '42 or later. And there were amusement parks along the coasts that would be used by the surfaced subs that used the reflected light to spot the oil tankers, merchant and passenger vessels.


20 posted on 05/06/2005 2:12:06 AM PDT by endthematrix (Declare 2005 as the year the battle for freedom from tax slavery!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: wattsup
From what little I have seen of British classified documents this smells of a CBS-like document fabrication.

You're dead on. First it reads like a lefties wet dream. And because it does it has no mention that I can see of the numerous no fly zone violations. The no fly zone burden was bore by the British and the U.S. With all the complications involved there is no way it is not going to be mentioned in a document like this. I call BS.

21 posted on 05/06/2005 2:28:39 AM PDT by bad company (Attempts to create heaven on earth invariably produce hell. (Karl Popper))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: bad company

Everyone claiming that this is fake should read the original linked article. There is a quote from Downing Street confirming that it is genuine (but saying it contain's 'nothing new').

You'd have to be half cut to imagine that the Times would publish anything like that this close to an election without 100% guarantee of it's authenticity.


22 posted on 05/06/2005 6:30:15 AM PDT by Canard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: coconutt2000

I agree. Just so we're clear, Tony Blair was the one who decided that his actions had to be 'legal' under International Law, not me.


23 posted on 05/06/2005 6:31:07 AM PDT by Canard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Canard
You'd have to be half cut to imagine that the Times would publish anything like that this close to an election without 100% guarantee of it's authenticity.

That's funny.

24 posted on 05/06/2005 10:42:14 PM PDT by bad company (Attempts to create heaven on earth invariably produce hell. (Karl Popper))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson