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Chilcot report: Tony Blair didn't tell truth about WMDs, the deal with Bush or the warnings of fallout – how UK went to war in Iraq

Damning conclusion finds former Prime Minister deliberately blurred lines between what he believed and what he knew

Published 06/07/2016

Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair arrives for a press conference at Admiralty House, to responding to the Chilcot report (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair arrives for a press conference at Admiralty House, to responding to the Chilcot report (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair speaks during a press conference at Admiralty House, responding to the Chilcot report (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Anti-war poet, John Poet, dresses as a soldier alongside other demonstrators outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre on July 6, 2016 in London, England. The Iraq Inquiry Report into the UK government's involvement in the 2003 Iraq War under the leadership of Tony Blair is published today. The inquiry, which concluded in February 2011, was announced by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 and is published more than seven years later. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Demonstrators talk on a podium outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre on July 6, 2016 in London, England. The Iraq Inquiry Report into the UK government's involvement in the 2003 Iraq War under the leadership of Tony Blair is published today. The inquiry, which concluded in February 2011, was announced by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 and is published more than seven years later. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Demonstrators talk on a podium outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre on July 6, 2016 in London, England. The Iraq Inquiry Report into the UK government's involvement in the 2003 Iraq War under the leadership of Tony Blair is published today. The inquiry, which concluded in February 2011, was announced by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 and is published more than seven years later. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
File photo dated 29/05/03 of former Prime Minister Tony Blair meeting troops in the port of Umm Qasr, Iraq. PA
Composite image of the 179 troops that died during the conflict in Iraq. PA
File photo dated 24/03/03 of members of the Desert Rats - Zulu Company, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, with a portrait of Saddam Hussein taken from the local Ba'ath Party HQ in Basra, Southern Iraq. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See POLITICS Chilcot PA Stories. Photo credit should read: PA/PA Wire
File photo dated 31/03/03 of residents fleeing the city of Basra. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday July 6, 2016. See POLITICS Chilcot PA Stories. Photo credit should read: PA/PA Wire
(FILES) This file photo taken on March 24, 2003 shows a British soldier with the 1st Armoured Division guards at a checkpoint on the road to Basra. The Chilcot inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq war reports on Wednesday nearly seven years after it was launched. It is expected to deal extensively with the failures in the military operation, from the planning of the war to the occupation, after which Iraq descended into sectarian violence from which it has yet to emerge. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / DAN CHUNGDAN CHUNG/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 6, 2010 shows posters being displayed with the words 'Blair War Crimes' in the window of a building opposite the ITV Studios in London as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives at the studios for a scheduled interview about hs new book 'A Journey'. The Chilcot inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq war reports on Wednesday nearly seven years after it was launched. It is expected to deal extensively with the failures in the military operation, from the planning of the war to the occupation, after which Iraq descended into sectarian violence from which it has yet to emerge. / AFP PHOTO / CARL COURTCARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 2, 2003 shows the coffin of Corporal Simon Miller, one of six British military policemen killed in action in southern Iraq, carried from an RAF transport plane at Brize Norton. Seven years later, an Iraqi court freed two men accused of being part of a hundreds-strong mob that killed the six British troops in 2003 in the southern town of al-Majar al-kabir, angering the soldiers' parents but drawing smiles from those in the courtroom. The Chilcot inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq war reports on Wednesday nearly seven years after it was launched. It is expected to deal extensively with the failures in the military operation, from the planning of the war to the occupation, after which Iraq descended into sectarian violence from which it has yet to emerge. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / DAVID JONESDAVID JONES/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 14, 2003 shows United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan (L) and US Secretary of State Colin Powell talking prior to the start of a UN Security Council on the situation in Iraq. The Chilcot inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq war reports on Wednesday nearly seven years after it was launched. It is expected to deal extensively with the failures in the military operation, from the planning of the war to the occupation, after which Iraq descended into sectarian violence from which it has yet to emerge. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
File photo dated 15/02/03 of anti-war demonstrators during a rally in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday July 5, 2016. See POLITICS Chilcot PA Stories. Photo credit should read: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire
Tony Blair has previously apologised for aspects of the Iraq War, sparking claims of attempted "spin" ahead of the Chilcot Inquiry findings
Former prime minister Tony Blair giving evidence to the Iraq Inquiry in London's Queen Elizabeth II conference centre
Protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, where the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War is taking place
Peace activist Bruce Kent addresses protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre
Protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre
Protesters hold a banner outside the London home of former prime minister Tony Blair
Anti-Blair protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre
Protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London
Protester Michael Culver, 78, stands outside the London home of former prime minister Tony Blair ahead of the publication of the Chilcot report
Protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London
Protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, where the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War is taking place
Sir John Chilcot's inquiry is finally due to be published

Tony Blair convinced himself with unjustified certainty that Iraq’s President, Saddam Hussein, had weapons of mass destruction, when intelligence reports had not established "beyond doubt" that they existed, the long awaited Chilcot report has damningly concluded.

The Prime Minister was so convinced that of the presence of the non-existent WMDs that he sent British troops into Iraq when diplomacy might still have resolved the crisis. But the secret intelligence reports he had been shown "did not justify" his certainty, Sir John Chilcot concluded.

US president George Bush was told of Tony Blair's support in a 2002 memo
US president George Bush was told of Tony Blair's support in a 2002 memo

Sir John Chilcot's damning report into the Iraq War also revealed that Blair and US President George W. Bush were made fully aware that Iraq could descend into sectarian chaos after the invasion – directly contrary to what Mr Blair told the inquiry.

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The Prime Minister was so convinced that of the presence of the non-existent WMDs that he sent British troops into Iraq when diplomacy might still have resolved the crisis. But the secret intelligence reports he had been shown "did not justify" his certainty, Sir John Chilcot concluded.

Sir John Chilcot's damning report into the Iraq War also revealed that Blair and US President George W. Bush were made fully aware that Iraq could descend into sectarian chaos after the invasion – directly contrary to what Mr Blair told the inquiry.

Sir John Chilcot did not use the word “lie” – in fact his report specified that it “is not questioning” Mr Blair fixed belief - but his damning conclusion is that the former Prime Minister deliberately blurred the distinction between what he believed and what he actually knew.

However, Mr Blair claimed that the 12 volume report proved that, at worst, he had made an honest mistake. He said, in a statement: “The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit. 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.”

Sir John also said the risks of internal strife, regional instability and the burgeoning of al-Qaeda in Iraq "were each explicitly identified", yet planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam were "wholly inadequate". 

And he criticised intelligence chiefs for allowing the Prime Minister to get away with misrepresenting what they had told him when he presented his now notorious dossier to the House of Commons in September 2002.

Sir John Chilcot’s report into the Iraq war has concluded that Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to go to war with U.S. President George W. Bush in July 2002 -- before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and that the invasion was based on “flawed intelligence and assessments” that went unchallenged. to U.S. President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Sir John Chilcot’s report into the Iraq war has concluded that Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to go to war with U.S. President George W. Bush in July 2002 -- before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and that the invasion was based on “flawed intelligence and assessments” that went unchallenged. to U.S. President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The dossier itself, which accurately reflected what the intelligence services knew, came with a foreword signed by Tony Blair, which claimed that tit established “beyond doubt” that Iraq held WMDs. This was a “deliberate selection of a formulation which grounded the statement in what Mr Blair believed, rather than in the judgements which the JIC had actually reached,” Sir John’s report concluded.

“The judgements about Iraq’s capabilities in that statement, and in the dossier published the same day, were presented with a certainty that was not justified,” he said.

 “The Joint Intelligence Committee should have made clear to Mr Blair that the assessed intelligence had not established ‘beyond doubt’ either that Iraq had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons or that efforts to develop nuclear weapons continued.”

But he acquitted Tony Blair’s director of communications, Alastair Campbell, of the charge that he  “sexed up” the September dossier to distort the intelligence  – an allegation aired on the Today programme in May 2003 by the journalist Andrew Gilligan, who claimed to have heard from the weapons inspector Dr David Kelly. “There is no evidence that intelligence was improperly included in the dossier or that No 10 improperly influenced the text,” the report concluded.

Sir John’s report damningly added that as the prospect loomed that the US was going to invade Iraq whatever the British decided, the intelligence chiefs gave “no consideration” to the possibility that Saddam Hussein was – for once –telling the truth when he said that his regime had destroyed all the chemical weapons it possessed and used in the 1980s.

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Alastair Campbell, left, vigorously denied he ‘sexed up’ the intelligence dossier on Iraq handed to then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2003
Alastair Campbell, left, vigorously denied he ‘sexed up’ the intelligence dossier on Iraq handed to then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2003

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The Iraq government announced in November 2002 - four months before the invasion - that it no longer had any weapons of mass destruction, but Mr Blair refused to believe that. Speaking on the telephone to President George W Bush the following month he said that the Iraqi declaration was “patently false” and that he was “cautiously optimistic” that weapons inspector would be able to prove that the Iraqis were lying.

On 18 March, 2003, Tony Blair persuaded the House of Commons to give the go ahead for military action, but “at the time of the parliamentary vote, diplomatic options had not been exhausted,” Sir John concluded.

“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."

From September 2002, six months before the invasion, Foreign Office and intelligence reports indicated the war would create an "easier environment for terrorists" and the destabilisation of the country.

A demonstrator dressed as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives with painted red hands and in hand cuffs outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre on July 6, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
A demonstrator dressed as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives with painted red hands and in hand cuffs outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre on July 6, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

An FCO paper on Islamism in Iraq, shared with the Americans in December 2002, even foreshadowed the rise of extremist groups like Isis which went on to exploit the chaos of post-war Iraq.

It warned that it was likely groups would be looking for “identities and ideologies on which to base movements” and anticipated that a number of emergent extremist groups would use violence to pursue political ends.

Isis, which 11 years after the invasion declared a caliphate in Iraq, remains in control of vast swathes of the country, including its second city Mosul. The group claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bombing in Baghdad, the death toll of which has now risen to 250 – the worst such attack since the invasion in 2003.

“Mr Blair told the inquiry that the difficulties encountered in Iraq after the invasion could not have been known in advance,” Sir John said, as he released the report in London on Wednesday morning.

“We do not agree that hindsight is required. The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests, regional instability, and al Qaeda activity in Iraq, were explicitly identified before the invasion.”

Independent

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