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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Blair and the Iraq Leaks

British Prime Minister Tony Blair faces re-election this week: 05/05/05.

Iraq has become a major issue in the campaign and new leaked documents are causing the incumbent some political problems. Earlier this week, for instance, the Prime Minister's website posted a previously secret Memo (warning, pdf) from the UK Attorney General to Blair revealing the legal justification for the war. The AG was somewhat skeptical about the war's legality, but clearly did not say that the it would be illegal. He fudged.

Today, the Times of London printed a leaked document that purportedly demonstrates Blair's intent to go to war against Iraq long before March 2003. Minutes from a 23 July 2002 meeting were considered "extremely sensitive" and "no further copies should be made." Of course, now anyone can read it on the web. Here's a troubling paragraph based on an unnamed "C" present at the meeting (CNN reports that this is Sir Richard Dearlove):
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.
What the hell does this sentence mean: "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy"?

Jack Straw apparently knew what-was-what (and promoted an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein even though the US was apparently opposed and/or skeptical about that approach):
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.
Blair is getting heat because he apparently talked about the need for "regime change" despite his public focus on the weapons of mass destruction.

Nonetheless, polls reveal that Blair's Labour party is likely to win the election and he'll be PM for another term. Apparently, the advantage in Parliament will be reduced somewhat.

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