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Iraq Inquiry Digest Everything about the Chilcot Inquiry in one place 2014-07-17T22:02:44Z http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?feed=atom WordPress Chris Ames <![CDATA[“Everything he wants to publish”]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14573 2014-07-17T22:02:44Z 2014-07-17T22:02:44Z by Chris Ames

According to the Financial Times:

Sir Jeremy Heywood, cabinet secretary, told a parliamentary committee on Thursday that Sir John Chilcot had written to him recently to say “he will be able to publish everything he wants to publish”.

Heywood was appearing before the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. It seems the rest of what he said was a lot of yes but, no but:

“My starting point for this is I would like to publish everything that the Chilcot inquiry would like to publish. I start from a presumption of maximum transparency.”

He acknowledged this approach conflicted with “longstanding conventions about the publication of documents”, including Cabinet minutes and details of conversations between the then-prime minister Tony Blair and US president George Bush “that one would not normally dream of . . . becoming public for a variety of very strong reasons”.

Discussions had been undertaken with legal advisers, the Foreign Office and the US in considering which could be made public, he added.

Highlighting transatlantic sensitivities, Sir Jeremy added that he wanted to publish “the maximum possible without destroying our relationship with the US [and] without revealing secrets that don’t need to be revealed”.

If you are thinking, well he would say that, wouldn’t he?

Asked by Paul Flynn, a Labour MP and longstanding critic of the Iraq war, whether his previous close working relationship with Mr Blair had influenced his decision about which documents to publish, he insisted it had “nothing to do with my loyalty to a previous prime minister”.

Chris Ames <![CDATA[Straw’s deceit in his own words]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14557 2014-07-07T22:21:05Z 2014-07-07T22:21:05Z by Chris Ames

In a post yesterday, I pointed out that Jack Straw had, in a statement to the Inquiry, avoided explaining why he conspired with Tony Blair to give Cabinet colleagues a piece of propaganda but not the Cabinet Office Options paper, which explained how regime change in Iraq could be secured via “the UN route”.

h) Why did you think it important that the policy should be circulation to Cabinet members but you did not submit a formal paper on Iraq policy?
1.26 I was aware that Iraq was down to be discussed in Cabinet on Thursday 7th March 2002 and I therefore forwarded them the brief.
1.27 I felt the brief would be helpful for fellow ministers in preparation for discussion of the topic in Cabinet.

It’s worth just comparing and contrasting what Straw said about the two papers in the same statement. He said this about the document drawn up to “brief” the Parliamentary Labour Party:

If anything it made the case for UN action and the return of UN inspectors, it was never intended to make the case for war.

And said this about the Cabinet Office Options paper:

I almost certainly discussed this document with the Prime Minister, if not the document itself specifically, then all the issues in it were then part of the current debate about Iraq.

By way of a quick recap, the Options paper explains how regime change is illegal in itself but can be achieved and justified by obtaining UN cover:

33 In sum, despite the considerable difficulties, the use of overridng force in a ground campaign is the only option that we can be confident will remove Saddam and bring Iraq back into the international community.
34 To launch such a campaign would require a staged approach:
* winding up the pressure: increasing the pressure on Saddam through tougher containment. Stricter implementation of sanctions and a military build-up will frighten his regime. A refusal to admit N inspectors, or their admission and subsequent likely frustration, which resulted in an appropriate finding by the Security Council could provide the justification for military action. Saddam would try to prevent this, although he has miscalculated beofre [sic];

So rather than tell the Cabinet that “the UN route” was a way of achieving regime change, Straw arranged for them to be given a document that “made the case for UN action and the return of UN inspectors, it was never intended to make the case for war.” That essentially is the deception for which former Cabinet Secretaries have criticised Blair and which is likely to be a major part of the Inquiry’s findings.

In his evidence to the Inquiry, former UK Washington ambassador Christopher Meyer made clear that Blair and Straw were on the same page:

It is not as if the British Government was speaking with a forked tongue, that the Foreign Office was sending out one set of instructions and Number 10 another, I think the attitude of Downing Street on this was this: it was a fact that there was a thing such as the Iraq Liberation Act. It was a fact that 9/11 had  happened and it was a complete waste of time, therefore,  in those circumstances, if we were going to be able to work with the Americans, to come to them and say any longer — and bang away about regime change and say, “We can’t support it”, and the way I think the attempt was  made to square the circle of supporting something to  which the Foreign Office, and maybe other lawyers objected, was actually so to wrap it, so to contextualise it, that regime change, if and when it happened, would be with the benefit of the support of the international community in the framework of UN action, quite possibly through a Security Council Resolution.

What I still find astonishing is that even though the Options paper sets out quite clearly that the UN route is the route to achieving regime change and explicitly rejects the idea of using it to toughen containment and thereby achieve disarmament, people like Straw continue to insult our intelligence. From the beginning of the Inquiry, people like Straw, David Manning and other officials have played a game of the emperor’s new clothes with the Inquiry, daring them to look a documents like the Options paper and reject their utterly transparent sophistry.

In the meantime, Blair can apparently no longer be bothered pretending it was ever about anything other than regime change.

Chris Ames <![CDATA[Sedwill to be probed over dossier cover-up allegations]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14554 2014-07-09T19:37:14Z 2014-07-06T19:07:43Z by Chris Ames

Mark Sedwill, the Home Office permanent secretary who is to appear before a parliamentary committee over his department’s somewhat careless handling of allegations of child abuse by politicians, is an important figure in the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq, in his role as foreign secretary Jack Straw’s private secretary. However, although a number of documents from or to Sedwill have been published by both the Hutton Inquiry and the Iraq Inquiry, he was not asked to give evidence to either. This contrasts with Tony Blair’s private secretary for foreign affairs, Matthew Rycroft, who did give secret evidence, of which a redacted version was subsequently published in which Rycroft effectively called Blair a liar.

It was Sedwill who circulated to the Cabinet the briefing paper that had been produced for the Parliamentary Labour Party in March 2002. As the Inquiry has noted, Blair and Straw conspired to give MPs a propaganda document while concealing from them the formal Options paper that the Cabinet Office had drawn up. Here is the relevant bit of Straw’s statement to the Inquiry, in which Straw typically avoids the Inquiry’s question about this concealment:

h) Why did you think it important that the policy should be circulation to Cabinet members but you did not submit a formal paper on Iraq policy?
1.26 I was aware that Iraq was down to be discussed in Cabinet on Thursday 7th March 2002 and I therefore forwarded them the brief.
1.27 I felt the brief would be helpful for fellow ministers in preparation for discussion of the topic in Cabinet.

Sedwill also sent a briefing document to the Tony Blair in September 2002, which, as the Inquiry has noted, set out an unequivocal claim that Iraq had WMD, which did not match JIC assessments. Essentially though, this was intended as a Q&A for Blair to use when launching the September dossier.

And during the drafting of the dossier, Sedwill passed on both his own comments and those of Straw. Having been a weapons inspector in Iraq, he obviously felt qualified to comment in his own right. Both Sedwill and Straw liked the dossier’s executive summary, which presented claims as if they came from the JIC, but which Straw’s spin doctor John Williams has now admitted creating.

A good establishment figure to get to the bottom of claims of an establishment cover-up.




andrewsimon <![CDATA[The Lords debate Chilcot]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14541 2014-07-09T19:41:02Z 2014-07-02T11:02:35Z by Andrew Mason

The House of Lords yesterday held a short debate on the delays being experienced by the Iraq Inquiry, following a question by Lord Dykes, who asked Her Majesty’s Government on “what date they expect to agree with the Chilcot Inquiry for the publication of the Inquiry report.”

The full transcript can be read here.

Whilst no direct answer to the question was given, a small number of interesting points were aired.

On the matter of Maxwellisation -

Lord Wallace, who was responding on behalf of the Government, stated:

The answer on the Maxwellisation process, which comes next, is that the second letters have not yet gone out but we hope to send them out within the near future. The Maxwellisation process will then take, we hope, a matter of weeks rather than months.


We are doing all we can—with a number of very hard-working officials, who are themselves doing all they can—to complete the final stages of the process of clearing these very difficult and delicate documents so that we can send out the second stages of the Maxwellisation process to those who will be named in the report.

From the above we can presume that those who are to be criticised have now been notified of the fact, although they may not yet have been informed of the exact charges against them, probably due to the fact that discussions continue about what can be eventually published. This may explain the ‘further delay’, as reported by Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian a few days ago, and covered here on the Digest two posts back.

On the matter of the duration of the Iraq Inquiry -

At the end of the debate Lord Wallace stated:

My Lords, we have already agreed that the Government are well aware that it is highly undesirable that publication should run into the election campaign. I stated clearly that I share the views of the noble Lord, Lord Owen, on what that means as regards publication. That is part of the context in which we are operating.

From the above I think it is fair to assume that, in the event of the Inquiry not being able to report before the onset of electioneering, the Inquiry will not be concluded until after May 2015 and the establishment of a new Government.

On the matter of the ‘missing’ WMD -

Lord Pearson (UKIP) asked (twice):

My Lords, I rise not to make a speech in the gap but simply to ask the Minister whether he would care to comment on rumours that I have heard from friends in the Washington community to the effect that, before action started on the ground, we knew that the famous weapons of mass destruction were in fact in bottles and already in Syria…?

and later in the debate:

Does the Minister agree that if the British and American Governments knew, before action started on the ground in Iraq, that the famous weapons of mass destruction had in fact been in bottles—they were that kind of weapon—and that they were already in Syria, that is not a fact that should be kept from the public in consideration of this matter?

There appears to still be a belief, at least held in certain quarters, that Iraq either knowingly retained or deliberately disposed of proscribed items just prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This second assertion, in particular, is not borne out by any factual evidence, this matter is further discussed on page 1 of Charles Duelfer’s addendum to the ISG Final Report, itself issued in March 2005.

Chris Ames <![CDATA[Inquiry costs rise]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14537 2014-07-09T19:38:00Z 2014-06-28T22:27:39Z by Chris Ames

The Inquiry has published its costs for the last financial year. Rather embarrassingly, this has gone unnoticed by this website and the media generally for a few days, until this story in the Sunday Telegraph.

The Sunday Telegraph points out that a lot of money has been spent paying people not to do very much and that compared with the figures with the previous year:

There was also a big increase in spending on IT and website development – from £71,000 to £196,100 – as the inquiry prepares to publish hundreds of thousands of pages of its findings online.

It’s a good point, based on the inclusion on “website development” in this category, although of course there will not be hundreds of thousands of pages of findings, and probably not hundreds of thousands of pages of supporting documents either.



Chris Ames <![CDATA[New report of new delay]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14534 2014-07-09T19:41:13Z 2014-06-26T19:57:54Z by Chris Ames

The Guardian’s Richard Norton-Taylor reports that:

The Chilcot inquiry, which is expected to contain damning criticism of the way Tony Blair and his close advisers led Britain into war against Iraq, is unlikely to be published until next year, the Guardian has learned.

A further delay in the report on the 2003 invasion, due to have been published three years ago, could mean the issue will continue to haunt British politics in the runup to next year’s general election.


Whitehall sources suggest the latest delay in the long-awaited report is the result of continuing disputes over criticisms the Chilcot panel plan to make of Blair and other ministers and advisers involved in the decision to invade Iraq.

It’s not entirely clear what the connection is between the planned criticisms and this new delay, or even whether this is a new delay. It isn’t being said here, as has been said before, that the knock-on effect will be to postpone the report beyond the election.


andrewsimon <![CDATA[The appeal letter to the Quartet]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14530 2014-07-06T17:57:31Z 2014-06-24T22:19:29Z by Andrew Mason

This Friday, 27 June, will mark the seven-year anniversary of Tony Blair’s appointment as the Quartet representative to the Middle East. We, the undersigned, urge you to remove him with immediate effect as a result of his poor performance in the role, and his legacy in the region as a whole.

We, like many, are appalled by Iraq’s descent into a sectarian conflict that threatens its very existence as a nation, as well as the security of its neighbours. We are also dismayed, however, at Tony Blair’s recent attempts to absolve himself of any responsibility for the current crisis by isolating it from the legacy of the Iraq war.

In reality, the invasion and occupation of Iraq had been a disaster long before the recent gains made by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The sectarian conflict responsible for much of the war’s reprehensible human cost was caused in part by the occupying forces’ division of the country’s political system along sectarian lines.

In order to justify the invasion, Tony Blair misled the British people by claiming that Saddam Hussein had links to al-Qaida. In the wake of recent events it is a cruel irony for the people of Iraq that perhaps the invasion’s most enduring legacy has been the rise of fundamentalist terrorism in a land where none existed previously.

We believe that Mr Blair, as a vociferous advocate of the invasion, must accept a degree of responsibility for its consequences.

The occupied Palestinian territories represent another tragic failure of western engagement in the Middle East.

It is our view that, after seven years, Mr Blair’s achievements as envoy are negligible, even within his narrow mandate of promoting Palestinian economic development. Furthermore, the impression of activity created by his high-profile appointment has hindered genuine progress towards a lasting peace.

Seven years on there are still over 500 checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank. The Gaza Strip, severely damaged by Israel’s 2009 bombing, remains in a humanitarian crisis, with 80% of its population reliant on foreign aid for survival. Israel continues to build settlements that are illegal under international law. According to the Palestinian Authority’s former chief negotiator, Nabil Shaath, Tony Blair has “achieved so very little because of his gross efforts to please the Israelis.”

It is also our view that Tony Blair’s conduct in his private pursuits also calls into question his suitability for the role. Mr Blair has been widely criticised for a lack of transparency in the way he organises his business dealings and personal finances, and for blurring the lines between his public position as envoy and his private roles at Tony Blair Associates and the investment bank JPMorgan Chase.

With the current impasse in negotiations, it is time to rethink international engagement on the Israel-Palestine question. Alongside our call for you to remove Tony Blair as the Quartet special envoy, we are urging members of the public who feel the same way to sign the petition via the campaign website, sackblair.org.


Mamdouh Aker, Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights
Mourid Barghouti, Palestinian writer and poet
Crispin Blunt MP, Conservative party
Professor Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sir Richard Dalton, former UK ambassador to Libya and Iran
Professor Hani Faris, University of British Columbia
George Galloway MP, Respect party
Jeff Halper, director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London
Christopher Long, former UK ambassador to Egypt
Caroline Lucas MP, former leader of the Green party
Michael Mansfield QC, barrister
John McDonnell MP, Labour party
Sir Oliver Miles, former UK ambassador to Libya
Peter Oborne, writer and journalist
Professor Ilan Pappé, Israeli historian, University of Exeter
Rt Hon Clare Short, former secretary of state for International Development
Baroness Tonge, independent Liberal Democrat peer
Tom Watson MP, former defence minister, Labour party

andrewsimon <![CDATA[More on Tony Blair’s ‘untruths’]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14519 2014-07-06T17:54:24Z 2014-06-22T10:28:23Z by Andrew Mason

In a letter to the Observer published yesterday, John Morrison wrote:

You quoted Tony Blair last week as saying: “What we now know from Syria is that Assad, without any detection from the west, was manufacturing chemical weapons. We only discovered this when he used them.” He (Blair) adds: “We also know, from the final weapons inspectors’ reports, that though it is true that Saddam got rid of the physical weapons, he retained the expertise and capability to manufacture them.”

As well as being DCDI from 1994 to 1999, Morrison had been head of the intelligence analytical staff and the secretary to the JIC. He was also the founder and head of the ‘Rockingham cell’, a small intelligence unit set up within DIS which coordinated with UNSCOM personnel, Dr David Kelly and quite likely Charles Duelfer amongst them. After leaving the civil service in 1999, Morrison became the ISC’s first formal ‘investigator’. His contract was ended in 2004 after he told the BBC’s Panorama programme that he “could almost hear the collective raspberry going up around Whitehall”, after Blair had asserted that the threat from Iraq’s WMD was “current and serious”.

As holder of these various positions within the intelligence community, Morrison would have been well aware of the Iraqi ‘Air Force document’. This had a fairly long history, going back to July 1998, when it had been initially discovered during an UNSCOM inspection of the operations room at the Iraqi Air Force headquarters building in Baghdad.

The specifics of the document were raised by Dr Hans Blix on three occasions after the adoption of R.1441. The collective content of these briefings explains the importance of the document:

From the 19 December 2002 briefing to the Security Council: Inspections in Iraq and a preliminary assessment of Iraq’s weapons declaration -

“While I am on the subject of new information, I would like to mention a document recently provided by Iraq. This is the so-called Air Force document, which was once in the hands of an UNSCOM inspector and which relates to the consumption of chemical munitions in the Iraq/Iran War. Potentially, it could assist in resolving some questions relating to the material balance of chemical weapons. We are now closely examining this document to establish the scope of the information and to evaluate it in the light of information in our archives. It is too early to say whether it will support the information in Iraq’s Declaration.”

From the 9 January 2003 briefing to the Security Council: Inspections in Iraq and a further assessment of Iraq’s weapons declaration -

“Comparisons between the Iraqi Declaration and earlier full, final and complete declarations have shown several cases of inconsistencies in terms of numbers declared.

The so-called Air Force document, which was provided separately from the Declaration, relates to the consumption of chemical munitions in the Iraq/Iran war. It was hoped that the submission of this document would help verify material balances regarding special munitions. After having analysed the document, we have concluded that it will in fact not contribute to resolving this issue. There remains therefore, a significant discrepancy concerning the numbers of special munitions.”

From the 27 January 2003 briefing to the Security Council: An update on inspections -

“I would now like to turn to the so-called “Air Force document” that I have discussed with the Council before. This document was originally found by an UNSCOM inspector in a safe in Iraqi Air Force Headquarters in 1998 and taken from her by Iraqi minders. It gives an account of the expenditure of bombs, including chemical bombs, by Iraq in the Iraq-Iran War. I am encouraged by the fact that Iraq has now provided this document to UNMOVIC.

The document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi Air Force between 1983 and 1988, while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tonnes. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for.

On 27 November 1998, Richard Butler, then Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, had addressed two letters to Tariq Aziz, the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq.

With regard to the Air Force document, the second letter stated:

“On the issue of the Air Force document on the consumption of special munitions, and in the light of the discussions in the Council, I request that the Iraqi side hand over to the Acting Director of the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Centre, by 30 November, the sealed envelope containing the document, so sealed, on 18 July 1998. If you deem it appropriate, the transfer of the document may be accompanied by a written statement with explanations that Iraq may wish to make, on this occasion, concerning the format and content of the document. Upon completion of translation and examination of the document by the Commission’s experts, I will be ready to take appropriate decisions on follow-up steps, including, if required, meetings between experts from Iraq and the Commission, their timing and format.”

The Air Force document related to chemical-weapon loaded bombs used by Iraq during the Iran/Iraq War of 1980 to 1988.

An appendix to UNMOVIC’s eighteenth quarterly report of 27 August 2004 describes the scale of Iraq’s CW usage during this war:

3. According to Iraq’s declarations, of the 130,000 munitions filled with chemical warfare agents, some 105,000 munitions were supplied to the armed forces during the Iran-Iraq war, in the period from 1981 to 1988, the first large-scale production phase. Of these, some 101,000 deployed munitions filled with about 3,000 tons of chemical warfare agents were used in combat by Iraq during the same period. The remaining 25,000 filled chemical munitions were delivered by the Muthanna State Establishment to the armed forces after the Iran-Iraq war, shortly prior to the 1991 Gulf War. The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) has no evidence that chemical munitions of any type were filled by Iraq with chemical agents after the adoption of Security Council resolution 687 (1991).

Although the Air Force document was finally given to UNMOVIC in December 2002, at the time of the submission of its CAFCD in accordance with R.1441, no full explanation for its obvious discrepancy has ever been recorded. Therefore it was never definitively determined whether or not these weapons were ever used against Iran, had been secretly retained, or had been unilaterally destroyed in the early 1990s.

It was then not until September 2004, and the publication of the Iraq Survey Group’s ‘Duelfer’ report, that further public light was shone of Iraq’s decision to limit cooperation with respect to what it considered to be the limits of the UN inspection mandate:

On 18 July 1998, another incident created a confrontation between UNSCOM and Iraqi officials. During an inspection of the operations room at Iraqi Air Force Headquarters, an UNSCOM team found a document containing information about the consumption of special (chemical) munitions during the Iran-Iraq War.

According to Husam Muhammad Amin, former director of the National Monitoring Directorate, “It was laziness on behalf of the Brigadier that the document was found. The Brigadier had more than one hour to hide the document while the inspectors waited at the entrance of the Air Force command. The Brigadier was sent to court and his judgment was imprisonment for 5-10 years in jail.”

The inspection team felt that this document could be helpful in their efforts to verify the material balance of Iraq’s chemical munitions. Rather than take possession of the document, the chief inspector on the team requested a copy. Initially Iraqi officials on the scene agreed; then reneged, saying inspectors could only take notes on the document or receive a redacted copy. The chief inspector objected to these restrictions after which Iraqi officials seized the document from the chief inspector’s hands and refused UNSCOM any further access to the papers. According to Amin, Iraq considered any documentation or discussions detailing the use of chemical weapons to be a redline issue. Iraq did not want to declare anything that documented use of chemical weapons for fear the documentation could be used against Iraq in lawsuits. Iraqi Regime leadership was concerned Iran would seek legal reparations for the death and suffering of Iranian citizens due to Iraq’s use of CW in the 1980s.

From 1998 until 2003, Iraq was unwilling to hand over the Air Force document. According to Tariq ‘Aziz, “In most cases Saddam listened and agreed with me when I would tell him that we must be forthcoming with the UN.” However, ‘Aziz added, “The Higher Committee did not want to release the document to the UN because the delivery times and methods contained in the document were thought to be sensitive.” When pressed further on why the Iraqis were so adamant about maintaining the Air Force document ‘Aziz paused, then stated, “We did not have to hand over the document because it was a matter of our national security.”

A second piece of evidence confirms the political aspect of Iraqi high-level thinking. The following document was released as part of the Fort Leavenworth document ‘dump’ of papers recovered by the Iraq Survey Group in Iraq, and released for public scrutiny during the Spring of 2006. This policy of releasing documents was shortly afterwards reversed and all were subsequently removed from the Fort Leavenworth website due to claimed proliferation concerns.

Original URL: http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents-docex/Iraq/Audio-transcripts/ISGQ-2003-M0004666_TRANS.pdf (now a dead link)

Reference: ISGQ-2003-M0004666_TRANS.doc (Part only reproduced here)

Male 1 (Identity unknown, although this could potentially be Amir Al Saadi, Saddam Hussein’s most senior WMD advisor. Otherwise it is likely to be a member of Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council, liasing with someone from the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate, the body that most closely liased with UNSCOM and UNMOVIC.)

“Let me talk in details, the 17 Tons you didn’t answer him a satisfactory answer. Which is related to the previous programs, this doesn’t mean that these 17 Tons are maybe hidden! I don’t think so. Then what is preventing you and comrade Tariq before you came, he said we for sure produced Biological, means Biological weapons. So he is really looking in the previous programs. I am telling you, that not all your answers to Ekeus about the Chemical are correct and precise. You gave him numbers to satisfy him, and it seems until now he is satisfied with the total. But at the same time I know that America is looking to prove our use of chemicals against Iran! And we in fact did use Chemical on the Iranians. And we didn’t answer them that we used Chemical on the Iranians. So in all your programs that you present in Chemical there still will be a gap, and whenever he wants to raise it he can raise it with what’s called Leveling, the one you talked about. Between the imported data and the weapons produced and the destroyed, there is going to be a gap a number of weapons used in Iran you guys didn’t cover.”

Far from Mr Blair’s claim that Iraq “got rid of the physical weapons”, the evidential base indicates that much of what was formally ‘unaccounted’ for was in fact used militarily in one of Iraq’s earlier conflicts, and that Iraq sought to conceal this fact in order to prevent itself from being formally charged for such illegal usage beyond its own borders, this considering that many other weapons of this type were used internally, both against the Kurds and to repel Iranian counter-offensives which ultimately threatened Basra.

Chris Ames <![CDATA[Even Prescott (finally) gets it]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14513 2014-07-06T17:58:10Z 2014-06-22T07:38:04Z by Chris Ames

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott has already said that, although he supported the invasion of Iraq at the time, he no longer believes it can be justified. Now, writing in the Mirror, he admits that, despite what Tony Blair said at the time, it was all about regime change.

As Tony’s Deputy Prime Minister at the time, I know I must carry my share of responsibility.

His recent statements on Iraq have clearly increased the demand for the early publication of the ­Chilcot Report into the war.

That’s something I totally support.

At the Iraq Inquiry I made clear Tony always told us the invasion was not about regime change and he was determined to push US President George W Bush down the UN route, rather than rush to war. To his credit, that’s what he tried to do.

But it’s clear now, from his recent statements, it was all about regime change.

For the former deputy prime minister to say that Blair lied to him is pretty significant. Given all the statements Blair has made since and the extensive documentation available, it’s surprising it has taken him so long.

Prescott’s main point is in fact that, despite what Blair has said recently, the invasion did bring Iraq to where it is now.

I cannot agree our invasion of Iraq did not contribute to the chaos and violence we see in the Middle East today.

The truth is it did.

So let’s learn from the past and leave Iraq and its neighbours to sort out this mess.

The current condition of Iraq will clearly be a relevant issue when the Inquiry finally reports. Who knows what that will be?


andrewsimon <![CDATA[Ye ancient ghoste of impeachment]]> http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/?p=14497 2014-07-06T17:53:40Z 2014-06-18T21:30:25Z by Andrew Mason

Quite possibly, the Father of the House, Sir Peter Tapsell, read Simon Heffer’s Daily Mail piece published yesterday. Today, Sir Peter raised the same issue at Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons.

The process for impeachment of a high official (be they a peer or a commoner) has long been a statutory tool. First used in the Parliament of England in 1376 against William Latimer, 4th Baron Latimer, for the long string of crimes, this legal remedy fell out of use beyond the unsuccessful trial of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, the first Secretary of State for War, in 1806. According to the book ‘Royal Dukes’ by Roger Fulford (1933), it was said that Dundas was “so profoundly ignorant of war that he was not even conscious of his own ignorance.” One further attempt at impeachment was made in 1848, when Lord Palmerston was accused of having signed a secret treaty with Imperial Russia and of receiving monies from the Tsar.

However, Palmerston survived a vote in the House of Commons and the Lords did not hear the case.

In recent times (1967 and 1999) the question of the obsolescence of the impeachment procedure has been discussed. Despite this, in 2004 Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price attempted to move for the impeachment of Tony Blair for his role in involving Britain in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

At this time, Price consulted with the then Leader of the House of Commons, Peter Hain, as to whether the power to impeach was still available. Hain informed him that, based on the 1999 Joint Committee’s report, and with the advice of the Clerk of the House of Commons, that impeachment “effectively died with the advent of full responsible Parliamentary government.”

This situation arises because it is normally in the House of Lords that the case would be heard. The procedure used to be that the Lord Chancellor presided (or the Lord High Steward if the defendant was a peer) – but this was when the Lord Chancellor was both the Lords’ presiding officer and head of the judiciary of England and Wales.

Since both these roles were removed from that office by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which created the Lord Speaker to preside over the Lords and made the Lord Chief Justice head of the judiciary, it is not certain who would preside over an impeachment trial today.

If Parliament was not in session, then the trial could be conducted by a “Court of the Lord High Steward” instead of the House of Lords (even if the defendant was not a peer).

(The technical and legal differences between this court and the House of Lords are that in the House all of the peers are judges of both law and fact, whereas in the Court the Lord High Steward is the sole judge of law and the peers decide the facts only – this bearing in mind that the bishops are not entitled to sit and vote in the Court.)

Whilst no legislation has been produced to abolish the remedy of impeachment, and it is argued by some that it remains as part of British constitutional law, it would appear that other (quite likely considerably time-consuming) legislation would be required to bring this power into the modern age. In particular this could possibly require the re-establishment of a formal “Court of the Lord High Steward”; also the election of a suitable Lord High Steward in person. Alternately, a new mechanism in the House of Lords would have to be established whereby more than one judge could oversee the proceeding, namely the Lord Speaker and the Lord Chief Justice plus necessarily one other high-ranking Lord in order to form a decisive quorum.

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