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Bush told Blair we're going to war, memo reveals


By Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian (UK)

· PM backed invasion despite illegality warnings
· Plan to disguise US jets as UN planes
· Bush: postwar violence unlikely

Tony Blair told President George Bush that he was "solidly" behind US plans to invade Iraq before he sought advice about the invasion's legality and despite the absence of a second UN resolution, according to a new account of the build-up to the war published today.
A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 - nearly two months before the invasion - reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme.

"The diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning", the president told Mr Blair. The prime minister is said to have raised no objection. He is quoted as saying he was "solidly with the president and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam".
The disclosures come in a new edition of Lawless World, by Phillipe Sands, a QC and professor of international law at University College, London. Professor Sands last year exposed the doubts shared by Foreign Office lawyers about the legality of the invasion in disclosures which eventually forced the prime minister to publish the full legal advice given to him by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.

The memo seen by Prof Sands reveals:

· Mr Bush told the Mr Blair that the US was so worried about the failure to find hard evidence against Saddam that it thought of "flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours". Mr Bush added: "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach [of UN resolutions]".

· Mr Bush even expressed the hope that a defector would be extracted from Iraq and give a "public presentation about Saddam's WMD". He is also said to have referred Mr Blair to a "small possibility" that Saddam would be "assassinated".

· Mr Blair told the US president that a second UN resolution would be an "insurance policy", providing "international cover, including with the Arabs" if anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning oil wells, killing children, or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq.

· Mr Bush told the prime minister that he "thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups". Mr Blair did not demur, according to the book.

The revelation that Mr Blair had supported the US president's plans to go to war with Iraq even in the absence of a second UN resolution contrasts with the assurances the prime minister gave parliament shortly after. On February 23 2003 - three weeks after his trip to Washington - Mr Blair told the Commons that the government was giving "Saddam one further final chance to disarm voluntarily".

He added: "Even now, today, we are offering Saddam the prospect of voluntary disarmament through the UN. I detest his regime - I hope most people do - but even now, he could save it by complying with the UN's demand. Even now, we are prepared to go the extra step to achieve disarmament peacefully."

On March 18, before the crucial vote on the war, he told MPs: "The UN should be the focus both of diplomacy and of action ... [and that not to take military action] would do more damage in the long term to the UN than any other single course that we could pursue."

The meeting between Mr Bush and Mr Blair, attended by six close aides, came at a time of growing concern about the failure of any hard intelligence to back up claims that Saddam was producing weapons of mass destruction in breach of UN disarmament obligations. It took place a few days before the then US secretary Colin Powell made claims - since discredited - in a dramatic presentation at the UN about Iraq's weapons programme.

Earlier in January 2003, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, expressed his private concerns about the absence of a smoking gun in a private note to Mr Blair that month, according to the book. He said he hoped that the UN's chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, would come up with enough evidence to report a breach by Iraq of is its UN obligations.

The extent of concern in Washington at the time is reflected in the plan to send US planes over Iraq disguised in UN livery - itself a clear breach of international law.

Prof Sands also says that Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's UN ambassador at the time, told a colleague from another country that he was "clearly uncomfortable" about the failure to get a second resolution.

Foreign Office lawyers consistently warned that an invasion would be regarded as unlawful. The book reveals that Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the FO's deputy chief legal adviser who resigned over the war, told the Butler inquiry, into the use of intelligence during the run-up to the war, of her belief that Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, shared the FO view.

Lord Goldsmith told the FO lawyers in early 2003: "The prime minister has told me that I cannot give advice, but you know what my views are", according to private evidence to the Butler inquiry.

Shortly afterwards, in February 2003, Lord Goldsmith visited Washington where he had talks with William Taft, Mr Powell's legal adviser. Mr Taft is quoted in the book as as saying Lord Goldsmith also met "our attorney general [then John Ashcroft], and people at the Pentagon".

On March 7 2003 Lord Goldsmith advised the prime minister that the Bush administration believed that a case could be made for an invasion without a second UN resolution. But he warned that Britain, if it went ahead, could be challenged in the international criminal court. Ten days later, he said a second resolution was not necessary.

Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat acting leader, said last night: "The fact that consideration was apparently given to using American military aircraft in UN colours in the hope of provoking Saddam Hussein is a graphic illustration of the rush to war. It would also appear to be the case that the diplomatic efforts in New York after the meeting of January 31 were simply going through the motions, with decision for military action already taken."

Sir Menzies continued: "The prime minister's offer of February 23 to Saddam Hussein was about as empty as it could get. He has a lot of explaining to do."

LINK TO ORIGINAL

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What if everyone in the Bush administration were offered a simple clemency deal - full, absolute disclosure to the public, in exchange for complete forgiveness of their crimes? Who would be the first to come forward? And is there any other way we can get these bastards out? They know they've done wrong. They must know that they've done wrong. Someone in the Administration must want to confess. There are human beings behind those emotionless masks. Maybe they don't really know what they're doing any more than we know what they're doing. Maybe they're just lost.

They're aren't lost, they're deceitful, lying bullies. If you
think that you can make an honest deal with these people, you
are truly deluded. If you turn your back on a bully, they will
attack at the first sign of weakness. Also if you let your guard
down with these bullies, they will eviserate you.
The best way to deal with them, is to put a chock-chain on them
and don't let up. They are desparate and they are mean.Hold them
accountable with the truth. It's your best weapon.

Why waist money on the bastard, make the cabal resign!

What if everyone on Earth were guaranteed the truth about the Bush Administration, in exchange for anyone willing to confess and repent be held free of charges of any kind throughout the globe? Wouldn't it be nice if Mr. Bush could step down and apologize, and still be able to go to France without being arrested? If he didn't have to lead the dual life of a Kissinger, he might be ready to go. Why shouldn't Bush want to step down? He's done his job. He's danced with them that brung 'im, and that's exactly what a Texas politician is supposed to do. Until he resigns in disgrace, and no one ever talks about it again.

How do you turn an inept bon vivant into a world leader? You don't. Unfortunately, that is what the U.S. president demonstrates.

• When he speaks, it's without authority. (He has no command of the English language or the art of nuance.)
• He begs for platform coaching. (Rule #1, never lean on the podium!)
• He keeps his own counsel, which is limited in scope. It appears that advisement to him smacks of weakness, when, in fact, it is inclusive and carries more clout.
• He is a frightened man constantly swashbuckling against personal demons and displaces that fear and anger onto the rest of us.
• His stance is one of punishment rather than redemption, a concept attractive in a paradoxical way to his "born again" view of the world.
• He clings so tightly to righteous ideals, hoping they will somehow rub off on him. (Fewer choices are easier.)
• He is a straw man, hollow and depleted because his life has been lived only for him.
• I believe the loss of his sister had a deep, dark impact on him and he has never recovered.
• His absolutism is indicative of insecurity, because if there is gray, there may be another way!

Privilege has different angles. It doesn't automatically come with power. Warts and all, the Kennedy family has served this country with an insight into the impoverished and disenfranchised typically reserved for those who come from that place. Much like a Mafia family that wants to turn "straight," this family has used its influence and power to uplift others (e.g. civil rights, entrepreneurship).

Privilege without boundaries creates a false sense of being. This is what we see today with "W." Even Dad Bush is still on the trail and has befriended his arch rival, Bill Clinton, to bring a ray of hope into the world with their joint relief projects and fundraising. That takes courage.

"W" would do well to learn from his dad. "W" is arrogant, petulant and appears so uncomfortable in his own skin, he makes me feel uncomfortable.

I wish him well. I wish him an epiphany! It's never too late to do the "right thing." Just ask Dad, George.

Coach Cubas

Sorry. I'm not agree with you.

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