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The Open And Shut Case Against Tony Blair
The open and shut case against Tony Blair
If Blair cannot give satisfactory answers to the questions below, there is only one conclusion: he should stand trial for war crimes.
By By Philippe Sands QC, Professor of law, University College, London | Stop the War
Here are the key questions to think about in assessing Mr Blair's performance, and that of the inquiry:
The case for war – "regime change"
Early on Mr Blair was told that military action for regime change would be illegal under international law. The inquiry has heard that he therefore justified action as disarmament and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). However, Alastair Campbell's diary entry for 2 April 2002 confirms that participants at one meeting "discussed whether the central aim was WMD or regime change" and that "TB felt it was regime change". So was regime change one of your aims?
"Solidly with the president"
Mr Blair claims no decision on war was taken until after parliament had voted on 18 March 2003. Yet evidence shows he communicated his unconditional support for regime change much earlier, in spring 2002. In January 2003 Mr Blair met President Bush at the White House. Sir David Manning, his foreign policy adviser, records the president telling Mr Blair that military action would be taken with or without a second Security Council resolution and the bombing would begin in mid-March 2003. The note records the reaction: "The prime minister said he was solidly with the president." Why didn't you tell the Cabinet or parliament that you were "solidly with the president" about military action with or without a second UN Resolution, when you reported on your meeting with President Bush on 3 February 2002?
In September 2002 the government published a dossier. Mr Blair's foreword said the intelligence established "beyond doubt" that Saddam was producing WMD and continuing efforts to develop nuclear weapons; we now know doubts were expressed. On 24 September 2002 Mr Blair told parliament that the intelligence was "extensive, detailed and authoritative"; we now know the intelligence was patchy and old. He also told parliament that Saddam night acquire a usable nuclear weapon in "a year or two"; no substantive intelligence supported that claim. How do you account for these misleading statements?
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