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Thread: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

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    Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

    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.

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    Re: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

    Tony Blair is as corrupt as Rice or Powell or any other of Bush's henchmen.

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    Re: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry David View Post
    Tony Blair is as corrupt as Rice or Powell or any other of Bush's henchmen.
    This war certainly changed the way I see politicians and the media. I can still remember believing the 'September Dossier' and the sensational Armageddon like headlines in 2003. I was embarrassingly fooled by all of this at the time.

    Won't get fooled again

    I wonder if in our life times we'll ever know what was discussed and decided in the ranch between President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. What was the benefit?

    September Dossier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    See also: Iraq Dossier
    Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Assessment of the British Government, also known as the September Dossier, was a document published by the British government on 24 September 2002 on the same day of a recall of Parliament to discuss the contents of the document.[1] The paper was part of an ongoing investigation by the government into weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which ultimately led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It contained a number of allegations according to which Iraq also possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including chemical weapons and biological weapons. The dossier even alleged that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons programme. Without exception, all of the allegations included within the September Dossier have been since proven to be false, as shown by the Iraq Survey Group.

    The much-anticipated document was based on reports made by the Joint Intelligence Committee, part of the British Intelligence 'machinery'. Most of the evidence was uncredited, ostensibly in order to protect sources. On publication, serious press comment was generally critical of the dossier for tameness and for the seeming lack of any genuinely new evidence. Those politically opposed to military action against Iraq generally agreed that the dossier was unremarkable, with Menzies Campbell observing in the House of Commons that:

    “ We can also agree that Saddam Hussein most certainly has chemical and biological weapons and is working towards a nuclear capability. The dossier contains confirmation of information that we either knew or most certainly should have been willing to assume. ”
    However, two sections later became the centre of fierce debate: the allegation that Iraq had sought "significant quantities of uranium from Africa", and the claim in the foreword to the document written by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that "The document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them."

    Britain's biggest selling popular daily newspaper, The Sun, subsequently carried the headline "Brits 45 Mins from Doom",[2] while the Star reported "Mad Saddam Ready to Attack: 45 Minutes from a Chemical War", helping to create the impression among the British public that Iraq was a threat to Britain.

    Major General Michael Laurie, one of those involved in producing the dossier wrote to the Chilcot inquiry in 2011 saying "the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care."[3] On 26 June 2011, The Guardian reported on a memo from John Scarlett to Blair's foreign affairs adviser, released under the Freedom of Information Act, which referred to "the benefit of obscuring the fact that in terms of WMD Iraq is not that exceptional". The memo has been described as one of the most significant documents on the September dossier yet published as it is considered a proposal to mislead the public.[4]

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    Re: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry David View Post
    Tony Blair is as corrupt as Rice or Powell or any other of Bush's henchmen.
    Has that secret evidence eluded us up until now? Don't count on it. Unanimous votes in the UN security council about the weapons. Come on even our enemies thought he had them. Bill Clinton even thought so. Drop the subject because you can't win on it.
    "He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else." -- Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men (1872)
    "Fly-over" country voted, and The Donald is now POTUS.

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    Re: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

    Quote Originally Posted by American View Post
    Has that secret evidence eluded us up until now? Don't count on it. Unanimous votes in the UN security council about the weapons. Come on even our enemies thought he had them. Bill Clinton even thought so. Drop the subject because you can't win on it.
    You don't understand how the 'intelligence' community works. most nations don't produce their own data but review and postulate of data 'shared' by bigger agencies. The premise is if you can't disprove then the data is considered good. Most smaller nations have no way of verifying or disproving much of what they receive.Unable to prove a negative and spy agencies are loath to say anything contradictory least it be proven otherwise the international community just pointed to the USA and UK and said they are in the best position to know.

    Does Bill Clinton have his own intelligence service? Did he have anyway of knowing more than the CIA?

    Our 'enemies' who voted for the resolution, I guess you mean Syria, is on record right after the vote as saying they received assurances the USA, UK and France would not use the resolution as a pretext to strike Iraq. Guess someone lied. The resolution you refer to includes a lot more than WMD, it includes compensation for Kuwait, harboring al-Queera agents (false), discontinued inspections and subversion of the oil for food program(Iraq had willing allies for that all through the world)

    Inspectors did return to Iraq, a 1000+ page report was filed, the edited version of the inspector's report was released but in the unedited report Hans Blix declared he could find no evidence of a continuing WMD program and no stockpile of WMD. 18 122mm tactical chem warheads were found and the intermediate range rockets destroyed, but nothing rising to a regional threat was found.

    When BushII pushed for a second resolution, one for action, France refused. So there was no resolution for war.

    The bottom line is there was only one UN Security Council vote on Iraq and WMD, it was NOT for war, and when that resolution was floated the Security Council refused to go along.

    I'd say it is the pro-bushies and pro war crowd who want this dopped as they know the more information is leaked the worse it looks for them...

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    Re: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

    Not everyone saw the evidence. Virtually everyone else heard the interpretation of what was in the evidence, as described by the Bush regime.

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    Re: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

    Wow, the same guys who brought us "Hussein is amassing weapons of mass destruction" are now spinning the tale that "Iraq has limited ability to attack the UK".

    And exactly what amount of weapons of mass destruction does this moron think is acceptable in the hands of raving psychopath who has no issue with genocide against the own people of his country? The back of a lorry? Isn't that a semi in british vernacular? So, what, they could only fit a couple dozen nuclear warheads the size of little boy/fat man, and that's not a problem?

    No wonder they gave us such poor info. They are run by morons.

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    Re: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

    Is that the person played by Judi Dench or Ralph Fiennes?

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    Re: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq war

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry David View Post
    Tony Blair is as corrupt as Rice or Powell or any other of Bush's henchmen.
    IMO, given what is known today, the stronger narrative is one that the war was not necessary. Having said that, a flawed decision does not mean that the British Prime Minister, U.S. National Security Advisor, U.S. Secretary of State were "corrupt." The quality of a decision and corruption are not the same thing.

    Some ten years after the war was launched, hindsight from what was found after the war (a small number of hidden pre-Gulf War remnants of WMD), makes it easy to re-evaluate the decision. Unfortunately, the political leaders at the time did not possess the benefit of hindsight. They did not know that Saddam Hussein was engaging in deception to create ambiguity concerning his country's weapons-related activities to deter Iran, calculating that the U.S. and others would avoid war given the lack of evidence found by the inspectors to justify war.

    What he didn't know and what many of today's critics (fully armed with hindsight) don't know or appreciate is that human decision making is not purely objective. It is influenced by context and cognitive biases. The relevant context was that the U.S. was caught by surprise by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. There was public pressure to avoid such attacks in the future. The leaders at the time were determined to avoid another surprise. That context lowered the proverbial bar with respect to military action being limited situations where an attack had either occurred or was imminent.

    Even as the Intelligence data subsequently declassified beginning in fall 2003 revealed that Iraq did not pose an imminent threat, it also suggested that Iran had an active WMD program underway. The former President, among others, placed their emphasis on that latter aspect. They were determined to prevent what appeared to be a low probability, catastrophic-type event and were focused on the catastrophic element. In other words, their tolerance for risk had been markedly eroded since the 9/11 attacks.

    To appreciate how such factors played into their calculations, take two hypothetical scenarios. Scenario 1: Low Tolerance for Risk/Fear from Recent Attack; Scenario 2: Higher Degree of Tolerance for Risk. Consider a Bayesian-type probability assessment.

    Scenario 1:
    Bayesian Prior of Iraq's having a WMD program: 90% (past program +Intelligence confidence of WMD activities + 9/11 worries)
    Probability that if no evidence has been found that Iraq is cheating: 50%
    Probability that if no evidence has been found, Iraq is not cheating: 25% (other factors i.e., not enough sampling, not enough time, etc., could explain the other 25%)

    The probability that Iraq had a WMD program would be estimated at 94.7%

    Scenario 2:
    Bayesian Prior of Iraq's having a WMD program: 66.7% (past program +Intelligence confidence of WMD activities + but no 9/11 worries + confidence in sanctions regime)
    Probability that if no evidence has been found that Iraq is cheating: 25% (confidence in the role of inspections and sanctions)
    Probability that if no evidence has been found, Iraq is not cheating: 65% (other factors i.e., not enough sampling, not enough time, etc., could explain the other 10%, which is lower given the higher confidence in the inspections and sanctions)

    The probability that Iraq had a WMD program would be estimated at 43.5%

    These numbers are used to illustrate the situation. What's important is that the assumptions undertaken made a critical difference between the two scenarios. Something along the lines of scenario 1 influenced the outcome of the decision to go to war. The "surprise" element of 9/11 undermined confidence in the inspections that preceded the war and the Hussein regime's deliberate deception/lack of cooperation helped reinforce those worries.

    In sum, unless one has credible evidence that Prime Minister Blair and President Bush, among others, "knew" that Iraq did not possess WMD and did not have an active WMD program, I don't think one can make a strong case that they were "corrupt." One can today make a strong case that the decision was incorrect, but that's very different from arguing that they were "corrupt." Hence, I don't believe it is fair to accuse them of corruption.

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    Re: Former MI5 chief criticises Blair's defence of the Iraq 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.
    We'll have to wait and see, it seems, or leap to the same iffy conclusions others are accused of doing.

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