Sunday, January 24, 2010

Iraq war was illegal, top lawyer will tell Chilcot inquiry.

The Chilcot Inquiry will be told, just days before Blair is due to appear before them, that the Foreign Office believed that the Iraq war was illegal.

The Observer has been told that Sir Michael Wood, who was the FO's most senior lawyer, is ready to reveal that, in the run-up to war, he was of the opinion that the conflict would have been unlawful without a second UN resolution. This will provide an explosive backdrop to the former prime minister's appearance before the inquiry on Friday.

A senior legal figure close to the discussions at the time told the Observer: "The advice that was given consistently in the Foreign Office [by Wood] was that war would be unlawful without a second resolution. The important thing is that Foreign Office advice was given consistently in one way, and then the attorney general, right at the end, gave advice to the contrary. That is what will come out.".
We already know, from the resignation of Elizabeth Wilmshurst, that the Attorney General was of the opinion that the Iraq war would be illegal without a second resolution until days before the conflict began.

The Attorney General has never adequately explained what brought about his abrupt change of mind. There are many of us who think that he was simply responding to pressure from Blair when he made his total U-turn on the subject.

His U-turn was certainly enough to make someone like Wilmshurst resign rather than pretend that she thought what they were engaging in was legal.

Now we will have Woods, the Foreign Office's most senior lawyer, make clear that he too was of the opinion that the war was illegal without a second UN resolution.

"People shouldn't be focusing on Elizabeth so much as the others who will be giving evidence on Tuesday – in particular, Sir Michael Wood," a source said last night. "He advised clearly that the war was unlawful.

"Elizabeth was one in a team – she wasn't a voice in the wilderness. They worked closely together and spoke about this a lot. The invasion ran counter to international law."

It staggers me that this is still under discussion. We all KNOW that the Iraq war was illegal. The law couldn't be any clearer. There was nothing in UN resolution 1441 which allowed the US and the UK to invade. And yet, because Bush and Blair pretended that there was, we all have to kid on that this matter is somehow still unresolved.

The law, it would appear, is murky only when Prime Ministers and Presidents break it.
Whitehall sources have revealed that Goldsmith and Wood had worked closely on the issue of the legality of war. But in the days before invasion, Goldsmith abruptly changed his position, declaring that it would in fact be legal. "There was agreement. [Goldsmith] then went to talk to the Americans, the US State Department. And the Americans were very clear what they wanted and what they thought, and that is what changed his mind," said an FO source.
Unfortunately for Goldsmith (and the US State Department) most of us can read.

And anyone who can read knows that 1441 did not give permission for invasion. It was for that very reason that the Americans and the Brits spent weeks trying to get a second resolution. It was only when it became obvious that they were not going to get it that Goldsmith changed his mind and declared that it was not necessary anyway.

But the sheer amount of effort they put into getting a second resolution undermined the argument they eventually came to rely upon.

Blair will argue that he was only following advice he was given from the Foreign Office. But Woods testimony will undermine that argument and suggest that pressure was put on the Attorney General to change his mind and give Blair the answer he wanted to hear.


Isn't this a wet dream for conspiracy theorists?
Lord Hutton, who chaired the inquiry into the death of government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly, has ordered that medical records in the case be kept secret for 70 years, it was learnt last night.
Now, why on Earth would he feel the need to do that?

Click here for full article.

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