Mon Aug 1st, 2005 at 04:28:51 AM EST
"What fresh hell is this?" (Shakespeare) Stay tuned to the Times On Line. Tony Blair is going to have one of the worst weeks of his life this week. Just to kick off the celebrations, it is Monday Bank Holiday in Ireland. Buy a pint of Guiness and buy a banned book today.. Whitehall is trying to supress a biography that gives further details about the lead-up to the war on Iraq and the pre- war double bombing campaign.... more and more ministers and advisors are giving evidence and naming names.... and dates.... and once again the fastidious British record keeping has left a trail of paper that can't be scrubbed.
The curious thing is that one of those who says she expressed her doubts about the war's legality is Baroness Sally Morgan.... and this is really fishy since she co-wrote with Falconer the final opinion that the illegal war would be legal under existing UN Resolutions...... thus spinning the ball back into Attorney Lord Peter Goldsmith's court.
D-Day For Tony Blair, Part I. 9 May 2005 ;By Linda Heard;Counterpunch Magazine. (Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Mid-East affairs based in Cairo.)
D-Day for Tony Blair, Part 2. Seldon's New Biography of Blair; Not quite available at bookstores near you
And not looking good at all for George Bush, either.
Key No 10 aides were split over war
Times On Line UK; July 31, 2005
Robert Winnett, Whitehall Correspondent
The disclosures have been made by Blair's biographer Anthony Seldon, who has benefited from insider accounts that the government is now seeking to suppress
Seldon is understood to have had access to the private unpublished papers of key officials. Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British ambassador in Washington; Lance Price, former deputy to Campbell at Downing Street; and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations and then special envoy to Iraq, are all understood to have kept detailed records and were all interviewed by Seldon
Blair/Whitehall Attempt To Supress The Facts About Going To War on Iraq
The most sensitive sections of Seldon's biography detail the run-up to the war in Iraq during 2002 and 2003, Blair's relationship with the White House, and attempts to persuade the United Nations to back action.
Decisions were made largely by a tight group of Downing Street advisers, diplomats and intelligence chiefs working with the prime minister. However, Seldon discovered that even within this group there was unease about Blair's actions. "Even No 10 was divided, with Jonathan Powell (Blair's chief of staff) strongly advocating closeness to the (American) administration, and Sally (Baroness) Morgan in particular pressing for the need to go down the UN route, " writes Seldon.
"Many senior diplomats in the Foreign Office were deeply concerned but failed to speak out . . . Within his closest team in No 10, Campbell and Morgan had private reservations while (David) Manning (Blair's foreign policy adviser) was often uneasy . . . The intelligence chiefs (Sir John Scarlett, Sir Stephen Lander and Sir Richard Dearlove) were not counselling caution."
The noose tightens:
LEAKED DATA REVEAL REASONS FOR INCREASED BOMBING RAIDS WERE A SHAM
Figures released by the Ministry of Defence have shown the reasons given by Britain and America for stepping up bombing raids in Iraq in the run-up to war were a sham, writes Michael Smith.
Geoff Hoon, who was then defence secretary, and Donald Rumsfeld, his American counterpart, both claimed that the rise in air attacks was in response to Iraqi attempts to shoot down allied aircraft
Blair Was Told He Could Have Stopped The War
Seldon writes that during the autumn of 2002 British diplomats and politicians were involved in tense negotiations at the UN, but it seemed that Blair was being bounced into war. Dick Cheney, the vice-president, was hostile to Blair and the British and sat in meetings "like a lump", according to one official present.
However, Blair was told by diplomats, thought to be Meyer and Greenstock, that he could have stopped America invading Iraq had he been prepared to use his influence.
"Advice Blair received from diplomats that autumn (in 2002) was that Britain could be the swing vote on whether or not the US would go to war."
The Intelligence Has Come Unfixed: The Numbers Don't Add Up
Ministers have since insisted that the stepped-up attacks, which began in May 2002, were as a result of increased Iraqi activity and were not an attempt to provoke a response that would give the allies an excuse for war.
The figures do not support those claims. In the first seven months of 2001 the allies recorded a total of 370 "provocations" by the Iraqis against allied aircraft. But in the seven months between October 2001 and May 2002 there were just 32.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, who obtained the MoD data in a Commons written answer, said it reinforced the need for an inquiry into ministers' conduct in the run-up to war.
Once again, Michael Smith of Times On Line, contributed to this story.... what would our weekends be like without him?