Monday, November 23, 2009

Leaked documents reveal No 10 cover-up over Iraq invasion.

British military commanders were so shocked by the lack of preparation for the aftermath of the Iraq invasion that they believe members of the British and US governments at the time could be prosecuted for war crimes by breaching the duty outlined in the Geneva convention to safeguard civilians in a conflict, the Guardian has been told.

And this lack of preparation came about because Tony Blair's government wanted to conceal from the British public his intention to invade Iraq, maintaining his public stance that war was not inevitable and that what he really sought was Iraqi disarmament.

But the documents reveal what many of us have long suspected; Blair was always going to war, he just wanted it to appear as if there were other options.

Significantly, the documents support what officials have earlier admitted – that the army was not allowed to prepare properly for the Iraq invasion in 2002 so as not to alert parliament and the UN that Blair was already determined to go to war.

The documents add: "In Whitehall, the internal operational security regime, in which only very small numbers of officers and officials were allowed to become involved [in Iraq invasion preparations] constrained broader planning for combat operations and subsequent phases effectively until Dec 23 2002."

Blair had in effect promised George Bush that he would join the US-led invasion when, as late as July 2002, he was denying to MPs that preparations were being made for military action. The leaked documents reveal that "from March 2002 or May at the latest there was a significant possibility of a large-scale British operation".

Documents leaked in 2005 show that, almost a year before the invasion, Blair was privately preparing to commit Britain to war and topple Saddam Hussein, despite warnings from his closest advisers that it was unjustified. They also show how Blair was planning to justify regime change as an objective, despite warnings from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, that the "desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action.

Now, there are military commanders arguing that Blair could be prosecuted as a war criminal for failing to adequately prepare for the avoidance of civilian casualties. I would say that the invasion itself, which occurred outside of the United Nations Charter, would be enough to warrant such a prosecution.

However, as we'll never get to see Blair prosecuted as he should be, we can only hope that Chilcot avoids producing another whitewashed report and that he assigns the blame squarely where it is deserved.

Blair lied. And he did so repeatedly. He had long promised Bush that Britain would join the US in an invasion. But he wanted to hide this fact from the general public.

This meant that all preparation for that war had to be done without alerting the public and the UN to what was actually going on.

Inevitably, this left the armed forces ill prepared. But what did Blair care? He got what he wanted and that was war.


The key question: Is Blair a war criminal?
We've had umpteen Iraq inquiries already, but this one should be different. Its terms of reference are open. Previous inquiries concentrated on the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the misuse of intelligence to make the case for war, the "dodgy dossier" and so on. But there are plenty of other questions, starting with the big one: was this a war of aggression and therefore a war crime? There were two views about its legality, and the then attorney general seems to have held both of them.
There is mounting evidence that this was, at the very least, a war of choice. Saddam was complying with the inspectors, therefore there really was no need for Bush and Blair not to allow them to complete their task.

However, there are some of us - myself included -who think that the entire UN route was simply carried out to placate Blair and that a decision had already been made to invade. That's why Bush spoke of the UN's need to prove it's relevance. He was announcing at that point that the UN could either give him what he wanted - permission to invade - or it could deem itself to be as relevant as the League of Nations.

I think there are very few people who seriously think that Bush and Blair were not always going to invade no matter what the UN said.

Click here for full article.

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