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Friday, December 15, 2006 

British Committee lets cat out of the bag

On November 9, I wrote about the on-going struggle in the British House of Commons to break the stranglehold of the Official Secrets Act: More explosive charges from former British UN diplomat. Many MPs want to get documents out in public regarding the run up to the Iraq War, and Tony Blair's role in manipulating intelligence to make a case for invading Iraq.

Former British diplomat Carne Ross has been complaining for more than a year that the evidence he saw before the war demonstrated that Blair was definitely aware that his claims about Hussein's WMD ran counter to the evidence. Ross said as much long ago to the Butler inquiry, but his testimony was marked 'Secret' and never released to the public.

Well, last month Ross testified before a House of Commons committee, restating for them what he had earlier told Butler.

On Wednesday, he gave testimony to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in which he said he has finally decided to release to the Committee documents he posseses, particulary relating to the testimony that he gave to the Butler Inquiry, which have been kept secret until now. He thinks that it is long past time for them to be made public.

Since then, the Blair government has been trying to prevent the Committee from releasing its copy of Ross' testimony to the Butler inquiry.

Today, the Committee published that testimony, as the Independent reports:

The Government's case for going to war in Iraq has been torn apart by the publication of previously suppressed evidence that Tony Blair lied over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction....

In the testimony revealed today Mr Ross, 40, who helped negotiate several UN security resolutions on Iraq, makes it clear that Mr Blair must have known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction. He said that during his posting to the UN, "at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests."...

The Foreign Office had attempted to prevent the evidence being made public, but it has now been published by the Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs after MPs sought assurances from the Foreign Office that it would not breach the Official Secrets Act.

It shows Mr Ross told the inquiry, chaired by Lord Butler, "there was no intelligence evidence of significant holdings of CW [chemical warfare], BW [biological warfare] or nuclear material" held by the Iraqi dictator before the invasion. "There was, moreover, no intelligence or assessment during my time in the job that Iraq had any intention to launch an attack against its neighbours or the UK or the US," he added.

Mr Ross's evidence directly challenges the assertions by the Prime Minster that the war was legally justified because Saddam possessed WMDs which could be "activated" within 45 minutes and posed a threat to British interests. These claims were also made in two dossiers, subsequently discredited, in spite of the advice by Mr Ross.

Every time new evidence comes forth, it always points in the same direction: Bush and Blair misled the world and misrepresented the evidence in order to justify their determination to invade Iraq.

Crossposted from Inconvenient News

 posted by : smintheus ::  # 12:52 AM   4 comments  

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