Surprising almost noone, the lastest news from England has placed Prime Minister Tony Blair in rather hot water leading into Thursday's upcoming national election as leaked documents indicate that the reasons for entering the War with Iraq were not entirely justified.
"The latest slap in the face by the United States," was the verdict of the authoritative Corriere della Sera newspaper, which quoted an Italian official rejecting the testimony of the soldiers on which the U.S. military report was largely based.
"The soldiers' evidence was contradictory and in some cases totally untrustworthy," the investigator told the paper.
A SECRET document from the heart of government reveals today that Tony Blair privately committed Britain to war with Iraq and then set out to lure Saddam Hussein into providing the legal justification.
The Downing Street minutes, headed “Secret and strictly personal — UK eyes only”, detail one of the most important meetings ahead of the invasion.
It was chaired by the prime minister and attended by his inner circle. The document reveals Blair backed “regime change” by force from the outset, despite warnings from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, that such action could be illegal.
The minutes, published by The Sunday Times today, begins with the warning: “This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. The paper should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know.” It records a meeting in July 2002, attended by military and intelligence chiefs, at which Blair discussed military options having already committed himself to supporting President George Bush’s plans for ousting Saddam.
“If the political context were right, people would support regime change,” said Blair. He added that the key issues were “whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan space to work”.
The political strategy proved to be arguing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed such a threat that military action had to be taken. However, at the July meeting Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, said the case for war was “thin” as “Saddam was not threatening his neighbours and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran”.
Straw suggested they should “work up” an ultimatum about weapons inspectors that would “help with the legal justification”. Blair is recorded as saying that “it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors”.
A separate secret briefing for the meeting said Britain and America had to “create” conditions to justify a war.
In the US, while the President has publically denounced the practice of racial profiling, it seems that the Secret Service hasn't quite received the memo according to the Washington Post.
And lastly, although President Bush continues to proclaim that we are "winning the war on terror" the insurgents in Iraq don't seem to agree, as continuing attacks have killed 123 since the Iraqi government selected a partial cabinet last week.
The Secret Service has requested racial information on journalists and guests scheduled to attend a reception tomorrow night with President Bush.
White House reporters said they were offended that after furnishing the customary information -- name, date of birth and Social Security number -- they were also asked for the race of each person expected to attend the small reception scheduled before the White House Correspondents' Association's annual dinner.
The Secret Service said that it has been routine for many years to request such information of people who will be near the president, and that the information allows for quicker and more accurate searches of criminal databases. The policy has not been applied universally, however; such information is not requested of the people who greet the president and first lady at White House Christmas parties, for example, and is not always asked of people who have appointments in the White House complex.
May 2, 2005 -
Bombs kill 11, wound 29 in Iraq,
Three car bombs strike Baghdad, killing eight,
Car bomb kills 6 in Iraq; militants claim new hostage
April 30, 2005 -
Four killed by Iraq car bombs