The UK government has had a hard time convincing the public of the necessity of the Iraq War in recent years. In 2003, over 1,000,000 people marched against the proposed military action Iraq, yet the government ever since has stuck by the rhetoric that the war was necessary for national and international security.
The public was told time and again that Saddam Hussein had WMDs (weapons of mass destruction), though these WMDs have never been found. The UK government has been accused of entering an ‘illegal’ conflict and of spinning the truth to convey the need for military intervention. Even now, there are still debates as to whether or not the UK was justified in the drawn-out war, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and the displacement of many innocents.
The Chilcot Inquiry was convened in 2009 as a public inquiry into the UK’s role in the Iraq War, to determine the what happened in the run-up to conflict and to establish the way decisions were made. Newly released evidence submitted to the Chilcot Inquiry suggests contradictions between what the Blair government told the public, and what actually happened. Particular focus is on Alastair Campell, the former chief spin doctor for Blair, who stated that the purpose for the Iraq Dossier was not to make the case for war. Now it is emerging that the dossier was intended for exactly that purpose. The dossier has been contested in recent years and the previous government has been accused of ‘sexing up’ the document to make the case for war seem more legitimate.
Major General Michael Laurie, a military intelligence official, has submitted secret evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry which has recently been made public. Laurie has suggested that the dossier on Iraq’s weapons programme was primarily drawn up to “make the case for war”, contradicting previous claims by the Blair government.
Laurie said: “We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care.”
According to the Guardian, this is “the first time such a senior intelligence officer has directly contradicted the then government’s claims about the dossier.”
Laurie said in evidence to the inquiry: “I am writing to comment on the position taken by Alastair Campbell during his evidence to you … when he stated that the purpose of the dossier was not to make a case for war; I and those involved in its production saw it exactly as that, and that was the direction we were given.”
“Alastair Campbell said to the inquiry that the purpose of the dossier was not ‘to make a case for war’. I had no doubt at that time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used.”
Major General Michael Laurie was director general in the Defence Intelligence Staff, and was responsible for commanding and delivering raw and analysed intelligence, the Guardian reports. Laurie said that Air Marshal Sir Joe French, the chief of defence intelligence, was “frequently inquiring whether we were missing something” and was under pressure. “We could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to WMD [weapons of mass destruction], generally concluding that they must have been dismantled, buried or taken abroad. There has probably never been a greater detailed scrutiny of every piece of ground in any country“, the Guardian continues.
Other Chilcot documents include top secret MI6 reports, “warning of the damage to British interests and the likelihood of terrorist attacks in the UK if it joined the US-led invasion of Iraq.” However, on the flip-side to this, it appears as if the the UK was worried that the US would “feel betrayed by their partner of choice”, Britain, if we did not join them in the invasion, according to Sir Kevin Tebbit, then a top official at the Ministry of Defence, in a warning to the defence secretary Geoff Hoon in January 2003.
It seems as if Britain was torn between damaging British interests and increasing terrorists attacks in the UK, or “betraying” the US opinion of Britain. Hmmm… tough choice.
MI6 also allegedly told ministers before the Iraq invasion that removing Saddam Hussein “remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies”.
- Iraq dossier drawn up to make case for war – intelligence officer (guardian.co.uk)
- Iraq WMD dossier claim denied (independent.co.uk)
- UK military official: Iraq dossier case for war (sfgate.com)