Monday, May 02, 2005

Bush and Blair Planned Regime Change A Year Before Invasion of Iraq

The Times of London and The Guardian are reporting on secret documents recently released which show that Tony Blair and George Bush planned on military action in Iraq, directed towards regime change, a year before the invasion took place. They also discussed how to influence public opinion to make this possible.

From The Guardian's Report:

Secret documents revealed yesterday show that, almost a year before the Iraq invasion, Tony Blair was privately preparing to commit Britain to war and topple Saddam, despite warnings from his closest advisers that it was unjustified.

The documents show how Mr Blair was told how Britain and the US could "create the conditions" for an invasion, partly, in the words of Jack Straw to "work up" an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein even though in the foreign secretary's own words, "the case was thin".

They also show how Mr Blair was planning to justify regime change as an objective, despite warnings from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, that the "desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action".

In his legal advice on March 7 2003, released by the government last week, the attorney repeated his view that "regime change cannot be the objective of military action".

In a classified document published by the Sunday Times, headed Iraq: Conditions for Military Action, Whitehall officials noted on July 19 2002: "When the prime minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford [the Bush ranch in Texas] in April he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change".

The officials said "certain conditions" should be met and that efforts should be made to "shape public opinion". Before and after his Texas meeting, Mr Blair insisted to MPs that no decision had been taken on military action.

That regime change was an objective of the prime minister appears clear from a document leaked last year. It records Sir David Manning, the prime minister's foreign policy adviser, writing to Mr Blair about a meeting with Condoleezza Rice, then President George Bush's national security adviser, on March 14 2002, a year before the war. Sir David reported: "I said that you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a parliament and a public opinion".

Another document leaked last year records Sir Christopher Meyer, British ambassador to the US at the time, as telling Sir David on March 18 2003, the eve of the invasion, about a meeting with the US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz. He said: "I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice. We backed regime change, but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option."

A second highly classified document published yesterday by the Sunday Times records Mr Blair on July 23 2002 as saying: "If the political context were right, people would support regime change."



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