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Wednesday, November 08, 2006 

More explosive charges from British UN diplomat

The former First Secretary of the British delegation to the U.N., Carne Ross, who resigned his position in protest over the Iraq war, has made some pretty stiff allegations against the war mongering of Tony Blair and George Bush.

Last summer, he alleged that he and all his diplomatic colleagues knew that the Blair government was mischaracterizing the intelligence on Iraq in order to make a case for war. Even earlier, he appeared in a BBC Panorama program on the run-up to the war, giving a scathing critique of Blair's deceptions.

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 has been warned that he could be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act if he does release them, but he thinks that it is time for them to be made public.

The best reports are in the Independent and at the BBC.

From the BBC:

Carne Ross told MPs the intelligence presented to the public about weapons of mass destruction was "manipulated".

He also added that "the proper legal advice from the Foreign office on the legality of the war was ignored".

Mr Blair has always defended the war's legality and the Butler inquiry said there was no evidence of "deliberate distortion" of intelligence on WMD....

His Butler testimony concluded that the invasion had been unlawful, he told the MPs in a separate, written submission. It also accused the government of misleading the public over the threat posed by Saddam, and of failing to consider alternatives to military action.

Ross also claimed that along with other British diplomats, he met repeatedly Bush administration officials, whom they warned that "regime change" would likely lead to chaos in Iraq. Then suddenly they stopped saying that in mid-2002, under pressure from the Blair government to fall in line with what the Bush administration wanted to hear. Ross says that he gave Foreign Office documents to the Butler Commission that prove that claim.

From the Independent:

Speaking in public for the first time since he left the diplomatic service two years ago, Mr Ross also confirmed suspicions that the Prime Minister made up his mind months before the Iraq invasion in March 2003 that the war was going to happen and British troops would take part. Mr Ross said when he was serving in the embassy in Afghanistan, as early as April 2002, British officials there knew troops were being held back in readiness for the Iraq invasion.

He claimed that when official documents from the Foreign Office are made public, they will prove that the view of British officials, repeatedly conveyed to the Americans, was that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would cause chaos.

He told MPs: "I took part in the bilateral discussion between the State Department and the Foreign Office for four years. One of the items repeatedly on the agenda was regime change. Whenever that item came up, the leader of our delegation would say, with emphasis: 'We do not believe regime change is a good idea in Iraq. The reason we do not believe that is because we believe Iraq will break up and there will be chaos if you do that'. That view will have been recorded in the telegrams that have remained secret, and will do for years. That was emphatically the unified view of the Foreign Office.

"That view changed in mid-2002. There was no basis for changing the view from what was going on inside Iraq. What changed was our view of what the future policy would be."

The Parliamentary Committee also heard testimony from other senior ex-diplomats, such as Jeremy Greenstock (who gave an interview recently that was highly critical of British and American policy in Iraq, as I reported at the time here). So it may very well turn out that inconvenient information about the pre-war conspiracy of Bush and Blair will begin to trickle out again, as pressure mounts again for a serious inquiry into how we got dragged into this war.

 posted by smintheus  # 11:17 PM  
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