Source: Tom Mctague Dail Mirror
Tony Blair 'knew Iraq had very few weapons of mass destruction' - Mirror Online
Tony Blair knew Iraq only had a “very, very small” stash of weapons of mass destruction before going to war, evidence suggests.
The ex-Prime Minister was told Libya was a greater threat but was urged to target Iraq by US President George Bush, according to previously unseen papers.
An MI6 officer told the Chilcot Inquiry British spies had discovered that the weapons of mass destruction in dictator Saddam Hussein’s hands could fit on the “back of a petrol lorry”.
And the inquiry heard that the day before Mr Blair went to see Mr Bush in the States, he appeared to accept Iraq did not pose a threat to Britain.
He was said to have understood “it would not be sensible to lead the argument on Saddam and the WMD issue”. But on April 5, 2002, Mr Bush and Mr Blair spent the evening alone in Texas.
And, according to the inquiry papers, he returned a “changed man” and ordered spy chiefs to “find the intelligence” to justify going to war.
The claims were made in a private evidence session with one of MI6’s top officers, named as SIS4. But Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd said he also saw a leaked secret government paper suggesting Mr Bush and Mr Blair had made a pact in Texas to invade.
He said Mr Blair had been “starstruck” and “had his head turned” by Mr Bush.
Mr Llwyd said: “The deal had been struck. There’s no doubt in my mind – that weekend saw Blair decide to go to war.”
The Chilcot report, looking at how we ended up going to war, is set to be published this year and is expected to be damning for the ex-Labour leader.
Former MI5 chief demolishes Blair's defence of the Iraq war - UK Politics - UK - The Independent
The Chilcot panel published a previously classified document which showed that the former MI5 boss was not simply being wise after the event. A year before British troops went into Iraq, she sent the Home Office a memo which – though phrased in official language – demolished the idea that Saddam Hussein's regime represented a credible terrorist threat to the UK.
In a memo to John Gieve, Permanent Secretary to the Home Office, in March 2002, Lady Manningham-Buller told him that Saddam was not likely to use chemical or biological weapons unless "he felt the survival of his regime was in doubt".
The memo went on: "We assess that Iraqi capability to mount attacks in the UK is currently limited."
Lady Manningham-Buller also hinted at tension between Mr Blair's office and MI5 over the dossier that the Prime Minister presented to Parliament in September 2002, to prepare public opinion for the likelihood of war.
"We were asked to put in some low-grade, small intelligence to it and we refused because we didn't think it was reliable," she said.