Friday, August 29, 2003

[Dodgy] Dossier was part of strategy decided with Bush

Tony Blair decided to publish an intelligence-based dossier on Iraq's weapons programme in a strategy decided during a telephone conversation with President George Bush, the Hutton inquiry was told yesterday....

He said a "tremendous amount of information and evidence" was coming across his desk last summer about the "weapons of mass destruction and the programmes associated with it that Saddam had".

Every day, he said, stories appeared saying we were about to invade Iraq and that military action had been decided.

He added: "President Bush and I had a telephone call towards the end of that [August] break and we decided: look, we really had to confront this issue, devise our strategy and get on with it"....

James Dingemans QC, the inquiry counsel, later referred the prime minister to an email written by Jonathan Powell, the Downing Street chief of staff, on September 17, a week before the dossier was published. Mr Powell urged caution in the presentation of the dossier, warning against claims that Iraq posed a threat, let alone an imminent threat, to the west, or even to its Arab neighbours.

"You need to make it clear," Mr Powell told Alastair Campbell, the prime minister's communications director, and Sir David Manning, his foreign policy adviser, "Saddam could not attack us at the moment. The thesis is he would be a threat to the UK in the future if we do not check him."

Mr Dingemans pointedly asked the prime minister whether such comments were reflected in the dossier.

Mr Blair sidestepped the point....



UPDATE: Oh, and I forgot to mention that Alastair Campbell, accused sexer-upper of the dossier, has resigned.

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