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Prime Minister Tony Blair Confirms Authenticity of Downing Street Memo
SAN STEFFAN / WESTMINSTER
DATGANIAD I'R WASG PLAID CYMRU THE PARTY OF WALES PRESS RELEASE
Wednesday 29 June 2005 - for immediate release
The Prime Minister has confirmed the authenticity of a Downing Street memo in which Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, tells Mr Blair that the Bush administration was "fixing" the intelligence and facts about Saddam Hussein's regime to back up a decision that had been taken to invade Iraq as early as July 2002.
The Downing Street memo which was leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper in May 2005 has become a critical issue in the US. Senators Kennedy and Kerry have joined the escalating debate by writing to the President asking whether or not the memo was authentic and accurate. Downing Street has previously refused to comment on the memo's authenticity, but challenged for the first time on the floor of the House of Commons the Prime Minister has finally confirmed its authenticity.
Speaking after Prime Minister's Questions, Adam Price MP said:
"The confirmation that the memo is authentic will cause ripples throughout the United States where 122 Members of the US Congress have written to the President asking if Sir Richard Dearlove's statement in the memo, that 'the intelligence and the facts are being fixed around the policy' is correct.
"I challenged the Prime Minister on whether Sir Richard Dearlove was a reliable intelligence source, and if so, could he confirm whether his statement was an accurate assessment of the Bush administration's intentions and actions. In his answer, the Prime Minister refuses to distance himself from the assessment made by the former head of MI6 and simply goes on to say resolution 1441 changed the position. I fail to see how this is relevant to my question.
"Today is a significant step forward in establishing the truth about the US and UK's policy to invade Iraq. However difficult it proves to extract information about the war from the government, the Prime Minister must be held to account by Parliament, and the President must be held to account by Congress."
Diwedd / Ends
Notes to Editors
For a copy of the Downing Street memo, please visit:
Adam Price MP (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) asked the Prime Minister:
Does the Prime Minister still regard Sir Richard Dearlove as having been a reliable source of information on Iraq? And if he does, is it safe to assume that Sir Richard's statement in the summer of 2002 that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" was an accurate assessment of the intentions and actions of the Bush administration?
The Prime Minister:
First of all, as I'm sure the honourable Member knows that memo and other documents of the time were covered by the Butler Review (1). In addition to that I have to say to him that this was of course before we went to the United Nations and secured a second resolution, the resolution 1441 that had unanimous support and I would also say to the honourable gentleman that contrary to his view when I stood next to the new PM of Iraq, somebody who has had five of his relatives assassinated by Saddam, when I stood by him and realised that he was in power because of the democratic vote of 8 million Iraqis then I was glad that we took the action that we did and made sure that Iraq was no longer governed by a dictatorship but by a democracy.
(1) Butler Review paragraph 287 refers to Downing Street meeting on 23 July 2002 but omits to mention key statement that "the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy"
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