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Bush & Blair's Secret War Pact Revealed

by Guardian/UK Thursday, Jun. 19, 2003 at 10:19 AM

...Tony Blair had made a secret agreement last summer with George Bush to invade Iraq in February or March, she claimed yesterday.

Bush & Blair's Secre...
death2cap.jpgm99sa5.jpg, image/jpeg, 375x500

Short: I was briefed on Blair's secret war pact

18.06.2003 [11:30]



Senior figures in the intelligence community and across Whitehall briefed the former international development secretary Clare Short that Tony Blair had made a secret agreement last summer with George Bush to invade Iraq in February or March, she claimed yesterday.

In damning evidence to the foreign affairs select committee, Ms Short refused to identify the three figures, but she cited their authority for making her claim that Mr Blair had actively deceived the cabinet and the country in persuading them of the need to go to war.

Ms Short told the first day of the committee's inquiry into the events leading up to the Iraq conflict that Mr Blair had "used a series of half-truths, exaggerations, reassurances that were not the case to get us into conflict by the spring".

She claimed Mr Blair told President Bush that "we will be with you" without laying down conditions to temper US ambitions.

She also claimed that the intelligence and diplomatic community had privately opposed the war. This is the first time she has alleged that intelligence figures had serious doubts about the need for early military action.

Justifying her charge of deception, she said: "Three extremely senior people in the Whitehall system said to me very clearly and specifically that the target date was mid-February."

She went on: "I believe that the prime minister must have concluded that it was honourable and desirable to back the US in going for military action in Iraq and therefore it was honourable for him to persuade us through various ruses and ways to get us there - so for him I think it was an honourable deception."

No 10 last night denied Ms Short's charge and said Mr Blair had worked as hard as possible to secure support for a second UN resolution that might have persuaded Saddam Hussein to cooperate.

In the same evidence session Mr Cook exonerated Mr Blair of the charge of deliberately misleading the country, but asserted that intelligence material was chosen selectively to fit a predetermined policy.

He said his own personal briefing by the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) confirmed him in his belief that Iraq did not have weaponised chemicals, let alone weapons capable of being fired within 45 minutes, a claim made in the main intelligence document published last September.

"I think it would be fair to say there was a selection of evidence to support a conclusion," he said. "I fear we got into a position in which the intelligence was not being used to inform and shape policy, but to shape policy that was already settled."

He asserted that No 10 had "a burning fixation" with weapons of mass destruction that led Mr Blair to reject Mr Cook's view that the policy of containment was working.

Both former cabinet ministers confirmed a previous Guardian story that cabinet ministers had been given private intelligence briefings by SIS, but insisted the briefings did not indicate that the world had to act immediately to stem an imminent Iraqi threat. At best, Ms Short said, Iraq had scientists working to try to develop biological and chemical weapons, but it was wrong to suggest that meant there were "weaponised" materials.

Ms Short also claimed there was a shocking collapse in proper government procedure, with a small unelected entourage in Downing Street making the decisions without minutes, proper options papers or any written material. She said the cabinet was never shown military options papers.

She also gave the impression that the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, was a cypher who "went along" with the decisions, while the real decision-making was "sucked out" of the Foreign Office.

The vehemence of the attack by the two ex-cabinet ministers and their damning analysis of the intelligence failure over Iraq raises fresh questions for Mr Straw when he gives evidence before the committee next week.

He will defend the use of intelligence material in both public and private evidence sessions. The prime minister has declined to speak to the foreign affairs committee, but will co-operate with the private inquiry by the intelligence and security committee.

He is determined to disprove the claim that the September document was manipulated by No 10 to exaggerate the case for war.

The former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has withdrawn his earlier offer to give evidence to the foreign affairs committee, arguing the misuse of intelligence is a matter for the British government and parliament.

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 34 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Proof Positive Bush Lied Thursday, Jun. 19, 2003 at 10:31 AM
Dead Horse brigg Thursday, Jun. 19, 2003 at 10:38 AM
War Criminals Meyer London Thursday, Jun. 19, 2003 at 11:05 AM
Dead Horse #11 brigg Thursday, Jun. 19, 2003 at 11:09 AM
Bush Lied! Bush Lied Thursday, Jun. 19, 2003 at 11:25 AM
"War crimes trials"? daveman Thursday, Jun. 19, 2003 at 2:38 PM
SOmetimes Antisthenes Thursday, Jun. 19, 2003 at 4:20 PM
daveman kicked too many times Thursday, Jun. 19, 2003 at 6:16 PM
kicked daveman Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 1:28 AM
I need help... brigg Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 7:42 AM
^ brigg Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 7:46 AM
brigg anti-brigg Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 7:53 AM
KOBE KOBE SBM Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 10:48 AM
Bush Has Done a Good Job Meyer London Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 11:39 AM
And... Meyer London Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 11:47 AM
How do you figure? Ted Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 12:42 PM
Difference Meyer London Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 12:59 PM
Nuremburg Trial Meyer London Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 1:24 PM
International approval? Ted Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 1:34 PM
agreement Meyer London Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 1:42 PM
feh Q&A Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 1:44 PM
I already answered the question. Meyer London Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 2:00 PM
"international condemnation of the US attack on Iraq" daveman Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 2:11 PM
the aproval Back Seat Nodding Toy <> Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 2:30 PM
Missed it by *that* much Ted Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 2:34 PM
Pax Americana daniel Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 2:39 PM
Not very sporting Ted Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 2:49 PM
back door toy and daniel daveman Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 3:36 PM
World War II Meyer London Saturday, Jun. 21, 2003 at 6:10 AM
International coalition against the Axis Meyer London Saturday, Jun. 21, 2003 at 7:14 AM
But Ted Saturday, Jun. 21, 2003 at 7:57 AM
Which wars? Brian OConnor Saturday, Jun. 21, 2003 at 9:41 AM
policy policy Saturday, Jun. 21, 2003 at 11:02 AM

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