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Channel 4 News in the UK has revealed some of the background to Phillppe Sand's new version of a book about the Iraq war. One document they detail is more important than the "Downing Street memo". The record of Blair's visit to the US in January 2003 reveals the extent of the conspiracy to go to war. Bush and Blair were aware there was no evidence Saddam was in material breach of the UN Resolutions and were exploring ways of provoking him so that war could be declared. War would go ahead regardless of a "second" UN Resolution.

The report was so significant that Channel 4 kept details of it secret until broadcast in case the UK government tried to stop the transmission.

Acting leader of the LibDems was, Sir Ming Campbell, interviewed (blogging this live). Reported that there were suspicions that the US was to go to war no matter what, the memo confirms this. Blair desperate to get justification for war. Blair deceived Commons over what was said at the meeting on January 30, 2003. Both knew there was no evidence that Saddam had WMD before Powell went to the UN on February 4th.

The  Channel 4 site report on this news item:


Channel 4 News tonight reveals extraordinary details of George Bush and Tony Blair's pre-war meeting in January 2003 at which they discussed plans to begin military action on March 10th 2003, irrespective of whether the United Nations had passed a new resolution authorising the use of force.

Channel 4 News has seen minutes from that meeting, which took place in the White House on 31 January 2003. The two leaders discussed the possibility of securing further UN support, but President Bush made it clear that he had already decided to go to war. The details are contained in a new version of the book 'Lawless World' written by a leading British human rights lawyer, Philippe Sands QC.

President Bush said that:

"The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway.''

Prime Minister Blair responded that he was: "solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam."

But Mr Blair said that: "a second Security Council resolution would provide an insurance policy against the unexpected, and international cover, including with the Arabs."

Mr Sands' book says that the meeting focused on the need to identify evidence that Saddam had committed a material breach of his obligations under the existing UN Resolution 1441. There was concern that insufficient evidence had been unearthed by the UN inspection team, led by Dr Hans Blix. Other options were considered.

President Bush said: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

He went on: "It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddams WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated."

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Sands said:

"I think no one would be surprised at the idea that the use of spy-planes to review what is going on would be considered. What is surprising is the idea that they would be used painted in the colours of the United Nations in order to provoke an attack which could then be used to justify material breach. Now that plainly looks as if it is deception, and it raises some fundamental questions of legality, both in terms of domestic law and international law."

Also present at the meeting were President Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleeza Rice and her deputy Dan Fried, and the Presidents Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. The Prime Minister took with him his then security adviser Sir David Manning, his Foreign Policy aide Matthew Rycroft, and and his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell.

Extracts from the memo


President Bush to Tony Blair: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach"

Bush: "It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddam's WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated."

Blair: "A second Security Council Resolution resolution would provide an insurance policy against the unexpected and international cover, including with the Arabs. "

Bush: "The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway.''

Blair responds that he is: "solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam."

Bush told Blair he: "thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups."

FURTHER INFORMATION The book is to be published on Thursday. The Mail on Sunday had a review but was not shown the primary documents.

Originally posted to londonbear on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 11:20 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow (none)
    I have heard mutterings about this, but this is the first coherent encapsulation of this story i have read.  Seems like a huge story to me.  Fake UN plane as bait to draw Saddam into war?  Damn.
    •  That HAS to have been a joke (none)
      How could Bush and Blair have possibly thought they could send up a fake UN plane, get it shot at, and then get the UN to authorize military action?  Wouldn't the UN know that they hadn't had a plane in the area?  Wouldn't they know that any survivors making a report were not UN pilots?  I mean, if those words were said, they had to have been a joke.

      Because even if Bush is that dumb, Blair is not.

      Is he?

      Sometimes you cover your ass with the lame excuses you have, instead of the lame excuses you wish you had. (-3.00, -5.49)

      by litigatormom on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 12:09:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  US were flying for the UN (none)
        The USAF were using U2s to fly surveillance missions under the auspices of the UN which is why they were flying under UN colors. This plan was to fly much lower than usual with two USAF fighters in formation so that the Iraqis would be tempted to fire on them.
  •  Dear America on whose shores... (none)
    the UN charter was signed and where the security council meets - Gladwyn Jebb spins in his grave

    I dare say that are you truly deserving of the Statue of Liberty?  Or at least cloak her until the light on the hill is restored for the world.

    Now will the wet noodle republicans finally say that they were wrong?  (Psst - Jr Sen from NY I'm looking at you)

    "now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." W. Churchill

    by Thor Heyerdahl on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 11:34:14 AM PST

  •  We still need hearings on these deceptions (none)
    We still need congressional hearings on the manipulation of the public, congress, the UN, and international community on the intelligence letter up to the war in Iraq.

    I remain convinced that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the White House Intelligence Group, and assorted Neocons engaged in a two year conspiracy to bypass both the constitutionally required congressional oversight and international law.

    Yes, we need more evidence of specific crimes for impeachment, but we shouldn't miss the big picture.  

    The worst crime was not the dozen or so specific transgressions such as this or the 16 words in the SOTU address that may or may not rise to impeachment threshhold.  But rather, that these are small tips of a much bigger iceberg involving a conspiracy of almost 2 dozen administration officials to violate congressional and judicial oversight.

    Helping to bring justice back to the White House, one indictment at a time.

    by HoundDog on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 11:45:12 AM PST

    •  I meant White House Iraq Group (none)
      not Intelligence Group.  The WHIGs met every week for two years under the micromanagement of Dick Cheney to coordinate these ongoing deceptions. See the 23 White House Co-Conspirators in Think Progressive for an excellent overview and summary links to 100s of supporting documentation.

      Helping to bring justice back to the White House, one indictment at a time.

      by HoundDog on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 11:48:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  These are the hearings I'd like (none)
      Thanks to Billmon's classic

      "now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." W. Churchill

      by Thor Heyerdahl on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:13:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, This is great. Sad...but a great picture (none)
        I do not think history will judge the Bush administration well.  Bush and company are skillful at their daily Rovian media spin control.  But scholars and historians will shift through the smoke and depict them more honestly.

        And I beleive the image will be even more devastating than implied by your funny photo above.  Thanks

        Helping to bring justice back to the White House, one indictment at a time.

        by HoundDog on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 02:24:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is really huge... (none)
    I would hope that this doesn't get swept under the rug like the Downing Street memos but you never know these days but I'm not going to count on it.  I'm tired of being disappointed.  
  •  i wish (none)
    i could say this was shocking

    weather forecast

    The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. - Paine

    by Cedwyn on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 12:18:56 PM PST

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