Tony Blair and the Chilcot Report – July 6th 2016

UPDATE – CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL CHILCOT REPORT http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-report/

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BBC News

Chilcot report: Tony Blair’s Iraq War case not justified

July 6, 2016

Tony Blair overstated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, sent ill-prepared troops into battle and had “wholly inadequate” plans for the aftermath, the UK’s Iraq War inquiry has said. Chairman Sir John Chilcot said the 2003 invasion was not the “last resort” action presented to MPs and the public. There was no “imminent threat” from Saddam – and the intelligence case was “not justified”, he said. Mr Blair has apologised but insisted that lives had not be lost “in vain”. Amid calls for Mr Blair and others to take responsibility, the ex-Labour prime minister said he acknowledged the intelligence had “turned out to be wrong” and the invasion had destabilised Iraq but said he still believed the country was “better off” without Saddam Hussein. While accepting the grief and sorrow of those who had lost loved ones and accepting they could not “forgive or forget him”, he said British service personnel had taken part “in the defining global security struggle of the 21st Century”. The report, which has taken seven years, is on the Iraq Inquiry website.

He has said he will “take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse”. A spokesman for the families of the 179 British service personnel and civilians killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 said their loved ones had died “unnecessarily and without just cause and purpose”. He said all options were being considered, including asking those responsible for the failures identified in the report to “answer for their actions in the courts if such process is found to be viable”. Prime Minister David Cameron, who voted for war in 2003, told MPs it was important to “really learn the lessons for the future” and to improve the workings of government and how it treats legal advice. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who voted against military action – said the report proved the Iraq War had been an “act of military aggression launched on a false pretext”, something he said which has “long been regarded as illegal by the overwhelming weight of international opinion”.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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The Independent

Chilcot report: The three people most responsible for taking Britain to war

July 6, 2016

At 2.6 million words long, and published seven years since the inquiry began, the Chilcot report has laid the main culpability for the Iraq War on Tony Blair, the then foreign secretary Jack Straw, and John Scarlett, who was head of the Cabinet Office’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). On Mr Blair, the report states: “In the House of Commons on 24 September 2002, Mr Blair presented Iraq’s past, current and future capabilities as evidence of the severity of the potential threat from Iraq’s WMD. He said that, at some point in the future, that threat would become a reality. The judgments about Iraq’s capabilities in that statement, and in the dossier published the same day, were presented with a certainty that was not justified…. It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. They were not challenged, and they should have been…”

The former Foreign Secretary played a key role in making Iraq a target, the report finds. It points out that before the dossier was produced “the threat from Iraq was viewed as less serious than that from other key countries of concern — Iran, Libya and North Korea.” The Blair government commissioned an intelligence paper on the WMD threat from “rogue” states. On seeing it on 8th March 2002, Mr Straw wanted there to be more focus on Iraq. “Good, but should not Iraq be the first and also have more text? The paper has to show why there is an exceptional threat from Iraq. It does not quite do this yet.” On 18 March the report noted that a paper on Iraq should be issued without mentioning other countries of concern. However, four days later, “Mr Straw was advised that the evidence would not convince public opinion that there was an imminent threat from Iraq. Publication was postponed.”

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SOURCE = The Independent

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RTE News

Chilcot is fourth inquiry to clear me of ‘sexing up’ WMD dossier, says Campbell

July 6, 2016

Former Downing Street director of communications Alastair Campbell has said the Chilcot report is the fourth inquiry to clear him of “sexing up” a government dossier on Iraq’s supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. While acknowledging that the report had uncovered “many mistakes” in the preparation for war, Mr Campbell said its core findings had “laid to rest” a string of allegations made by Tony Blair’s critics, including the claim that the former PM secretly pledged to join the US in military action at a 2002 meeting with president George Bush in Texas. In a staunch defence of his former boss, Mr Campbell rejected claims that Mr Blair was “cavalier” about military action, insisting that he did everything he could to prevent war and agonised ceaselessly about its possible consequences.

In a blog released shortly after the publication of the Iraq Inquiry report, Mr Campbell said: “That is four inquiries now which have cleared me of wrongdoing with regard to the WMD dossier presented to Parliament in 2002, and I hope that the allegations we have faced for years – of lying and deceit to persuade a reluctant Parliament and country to go to war, or of having an underhand strategy regarding the respected weapons expert David Kelly – are laid to rest.” The report had shown “there was no secret deal, there was no lying, there was no deceit, there was no ‘sexing up’ of the intelligence”, said Mr Campbell. “What there was was a decision, a set of decisions, which ultimately had to be made by the prime minister.”

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SOURCE = RTE News

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ABC Australia

Chilcot Inquiry finds Tony Blair led Britain into Iraq war based flawed intelligence

July 6, 2016

A British inquiry into the Iraq war strongly criticised former prime minister Tony Blair and his government, saying they led the country into war based on flawed intelligence that should have been challenged. The long-awaited inquiry report also said Britain had joined the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 without exhausting peaceful options, that the legal basis for military action was not satisfactory, and that the planning was wholly inadequate. Published seven years after the inquiry was set up, the report runs to 2.6 million words — about three times the length of the Bible — and includes details of exchanges Mr Blair had with then US president George W. Bush over the invasion. “It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. They were not challenged and they should have been,” the head of the inquiry, John Chilcot, said in presenting its findings.

“Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein, I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.”

Iraq remains in chaos to this day. Islamic State controls large areas of the country — and 250 people died on Saturday in Baghdad’s worst car bombing since the US-led coalition toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. The inquiry rejected Mr Blair’s view that Iraq’s post-invasion problems could not have been known in advance. The inquiry’s purpose was for the British Government to learn lessons from the invasion and occupation that followed, in which 179 British soldiers died.Following the release of the inquiry, Mr Blair insisted he had acted in Britain’s “best interests”. “The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit,” he said in a statement.

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SOURCE = ABC Australia

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CNN

Chilcot Report: Soldiers’ families seek answers, closure

July 6, 2016

London (CNN)Shaun Brierley kept his deployment to Iraq a secret from his parents. A father himself, the 28-year old didn’t want them to lose sleep over any dangers he might face in the war zone. Leon Spicer had faced his own personal battle before he even made it to Iraq: A serious leg injury meant the 26-year old couldn’t travel with the rest of his battalion, and had to fight his way back to fitness first. The two young soldiers were both proud to serve in the British Armed Forces — Brierley as a radio operator, Spicer as a top-cover sentry — but their Iraq tours would be cut shockingly short.

Within weeks of arriving in the country, each was flown home in a coffin, to be greeted by their stunned and grieving families. Over the past decade, their relatives have struggled to cope with the void in their lives — the empty chairs at birthday parties, the loved one missing from family photos. The men’s parents have taken very different approaches to their loss. And as the Chilcot Report on Britain’s role in the Iraq War is finally published, five years after the final hearings of a related inquiry, they have very different hopes for its outcome.

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SOURCE = CNN

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The Mail (UK)

Chilcot vows his Iraq War report will NOT be a whitewash and ‘a few’ people will get the blame but admits he is ‘not judge and jury’ as military families tell him troops cannot carry the can for politicians

July 6, 2016

It has been seven years in the making, but the results of the inquiry into Britain’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 will finally be unveiled today. Thirteen years after British troops crossed into Iraq, Sir John Chilcot will deliver his verdict on the UK’s most controversial military engagement of the post-war era – and he has warned the Government, army and intelligence service to expect criticism.The report, believed to have cost around £10million to produce, is published amid calls for former prime minister Tony Blair to be held to account for ‘misleading the public and Parliament’ when taking the UK into the conflict.  The former Whitehall mandarin said his report would not be a ‘whitewash’ and would not shy away from laying the blame.

But he added he could not rule on whether the invasion in 2003 was ‘legal’ and he was ‘not judge and jury’ of a court. Sir John also said the central lesson was that it ‘would not be possible in the future’ to engage in a war of such a scale without ‘really careful analysis’. He said: ‘The main expectation that I have is that it will not be possible in future to engage in a military or indeed a diplomatic endeavour on such a scale and of such gravity without really careful challenge analysis and assessment and collective political judgement being applied to it.’

 

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SOURCE = Daily Mail

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guardian logo

Chilcot delivers crushing verdict on Blair and the Iraq war

July 6, 2016

Sir John Chilcot has delivered a devastating critique of Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, with his long-awaited report concluding that Britain chose to join the US invasion before “peaceful options for disarmament” had been exhausted. The head of the Iraq war inquiry said the UK’s decision to attack and occupy a sovereign state for the first time since the second world war was a decision of “utmost gravity”. He described Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, as “undoubtedly a brutal dictator” who had repressed his own people and attacked his neighbours. But Chilcot – whom Gordon Brown asked seven years ago to head an inquiry into the conflict – was withering about Blair’s choice to join the US invasion. Chilcot said: “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”

The report suggests that Blair’s self-belief was a major factor in the decision to go to war. In a section headed Lessons, Chilcot writes: “When the potential for military action arises, the government should not commit to a firm political objective before it is clear it can be achieved. Regular reassessment is essential.” The report also bitterly criticises the way in which Blair made the case for Britain to go to war. It says the notorious dossier presented in September 2002 by Blair to the House of Commons did not support his claim that Iraq had a growing programme of chemical and biological weapons. The then Labour government also failed to anticipate the war’s disastrous consequences, the report says. They included the deaths of “at least 150,000 Iraqis – and probably many more – most of them civilians” and “more than a million people displaced”. “The people of Iraq have suffered greatly,” Chilcot says. Chilcot does not pass judgment on whether the war was legal. But it says the way the legal basis was dealt with before the 20 March invasion was far from satisfactory. The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, should have given written advice.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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telegraph

Anti-war demonstration from Stop the War Coalition and CND planned for Westminster as Chilcot delivers Iraq report

July 6, 2016

Anti-war supporters will stage a demonstration in Westminster on Wednesday as Sir John Chilcot presents his long-awaited report on the UK’s role in the Iraq war. Leaders of the Stop the War Coalition, CND and other groups will demand “truth and justice” and there will be calls for former prime minister Tony Blair and others to face the full force of the law. Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, said: “The Iraq war was a disaster, a disaster that began with a lie. “If Tony Blair and other politicians responsible had told the truth it would never have happened. A country was destroyed, millions of innocent Iraqis were killed, British soldiers were killed, and terrorism has spread across the Middle East. Those responsible must now be brought to justice.

“We seek from the Chilcot Inquiry an accurate reckoning of the factors involved and finally to get clarity from the British state about this disastrous war. But it must not end there. “The anti-war movement will gather in Westminster to demand truth and justice. It comes down to a principle – where individuals, no matter how lofty, are found to be responsible for crimes, they should face the full force of the law. No-one is exempt from justice.” Chris Nineham, of the Stop the War Coalition, said: “What the majority of people want from the next few days is an open admission that the war on Iraq was disastrous, illegal and wrong in itself, and that those who took us into it, led by Tony Blair, did so knowingly and by lying to people and parliament.

 

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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VICE News

British Chilcot report slams Tony Blair for joining Iraq war

July 6, 2016

A British inquiry into the Iraq war strongly criticized former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government on Wednesday for joining the US-led invasion without a satisfactory legal basis or proper planning. The Chilcot report, named after former diplomat and civil servant John Chilcot who served as the chair of the inquiry, said there was no imminent threat from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in March 2003, and the chaos in Iraq and the region which followed should also have been foreseen. The long-awaited inquiry report stopped short of saying military action was illegal, a stance that is certain to disappoint Blair’s many critics. “We have, however, concluded that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for military action were far from satisfactory,” Chilcot said in a speech presenting his findings.

The report said Britain had joined the invasion without exhausting peaceful options, that it had underestimated the consequences of the invasion, and that the planning was wholly inadequate. The invasion and subsequent instability in Iraq had, by 2009, resulted in the deaths of at least 150,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians, and displaced more than a million. Blair responded saying that he had taken the decision to go to war in Iraq “in good faith,” that he still believed it was better to remove Saddam, and that he did not see that action as the cause of terrorism today, in the Middle East or elsewhere. Blair argued the report should exonerate him from accusations of lying. “The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit,” he said in a statement.

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SOURCE = VICE News

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AP

UK’s Chilcot report questions Britain’s role in Iraq

July 6, 2016

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s decision to go to war in Iraq was a failure born of flawed intelligence, lack of foresight and “wholly inadequate” planning, an official inquiry concluded Wednesday in a report seven years in the making. Retired civil servant John Chilcot, who oversaw the inquiry, said “the U.K. chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.” The 2.6-million-word report is an exhaustive verdict on a divisive conflict that — by the time British combat forces left in 2009 — had killed 179 British troops, almost 4,500 American personnel and more than 100,000 Iraqis. It continues to divide Britain and overshadows the legacy of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. As Chilcot introduced his report at a London conference center on Wednesday, dozens of anti-war protesters with placards reading “Bliar” rallied outside.

For families of British troops who died in the conflict, the long litany of mistakes by Blair and others provides some vindication of their struggle to hold the war’s planners to account. But it did not declare the conflict illegal, which might have opened the way for Blair to be prosecuted for war crimes. Chilcot refrained from saying whether the 2003 invasion was legal and didn’t accuse Blair of deliberately misleading the public or Parliament. But he said that “the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for U.K. military action were far from satisfactory.”

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SOURCE = Associated Press

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