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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tony Blair and Iraq Part Two

One of next weeks spectator sports looks like it will be Tony Blair's reappearance in front of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war. It is far more serious than this of course. Thousands of lives have been lost in that conflict and it is important that we get to the root of why our Government took the decisions it did in entering this illegal war.

The Independent on Sunday says that the former Prime Minister will face allegations that he "misled" members of the Iraq inquiry:

Members of the five-strong Chilcot inquiry have grave doubts over the truthfulness of statements the former prime minister made to them last January and in his memoirs, published last autumn. The Independent on Sunday understands that the inquiry is concerned over Mr Blair's evidence on the legal advice he received before agreeing to join the invasion, and the timing of the decision to go to war.

He also faces claims that he misrepresented the findings of a report from international inspectors sent into Iraq following the invasion to look for evidence that Saddam Hussein had been building an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Iraq Survey Group (ISG), found no evidence of WMD, crucially undermining the case for war.

The Coalition Government's decision to declassify important documents appears to be the key to this re-examination:

The panel, led by Sir John Chilcot, will for the first time be able to challenge Mr Blair's account of the legal advice he received using documents that were declassified several months after his appearance last year.

Among those documents was the revelation that the former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, warned Mr Blair two months before the war that an invasion would be illegal without a fresh UN mandate. The opinion was repeated two weeks later, but in Washington the following day Mr Blair was told by President George Bush that the invasion would begin in mid-March, with or without a second resolution. By the eve of the conflict, following a visit to US government lawyers, Lord Goldsmith had changed his advice.

Will we finally be getting to the truth behind the Government's decision to go to war? We will have to see.
This might turn out to be a very dark month for Tony Blair. Even with his huge evasive skills it looks as if he might have problems on Friday.

Also I would have thought that Dominic Grieve can't hold out for much longer in making a decision that could pave the way for an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly. If an inquest does take place then I can't visualise a beneficial outcome from its verdict for Mr Blair.

These are interesting times indeed!
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