After the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction it has emerged that Tony Blair could have been right about Iraq all along.
WMDs had previously been categorised as nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, but now that a pressure cooker with a bomb inside has been added to the list it appears that the joint American/British invasion of Iraq was entirely justified.
“This totally changes everything,” said an official spokesperson for Tony Blair.
“Iraq would almost certainly have had possession of pressure cookers and numerous other kitchen appliances.”
“I hope everyone is going to apologise to Tony.”
Weapons experts have warned that High street retailer Argos, whose catalogue openly boasts hardware from weapons manufacturers such as Morphy Richards and Russell Hobbs, could be stockpiling a military arsenal capable of causing widespread devastation.
Attending the elusive Bohemian Grove retreat should be a priority for former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, News Corp executive Andrew Knight allegedly writes in an email to US Gen. Colin Powell obtained by RT.
The mysterious computer hacker known only as Guccifer has once again supplied RT with a trove of presumed personal emails in which the private correspondence between some of the world’s most influential men is put under the looking glass. The hacker’s target is once again former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and this time the discourse dives into a topic rarely discussed: the annual summer retreat at California’s Bohemian Grove.
Guccifer has previously taken credit for hacking Gen. Powell’s Facebook, compromising what are believed to be sensitive emails sent to former-President George W. Bush and even uncovering emails about last year’s Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack allegedly sent to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the latest leaked emails sent to RT, Guccifer showcases a number of emails reportedly sent to Colin Powell’s AOL account during the last few years.
The few dozen emails forwarded to RT offer what appears on the surface to be little insight into Gen. Powell’s personal habits, but one email in particular referenced enough other well-known individuals that it couldn’t help but raise a red flag: in correspondence dated March 21, 2012, Knight asks Gen. Powell to have a few words with Mr. Blair about preparing for that year’s Bohemian Grove retreat, an annual gathering of the rich and powerful that has stayed so elusive for decades that countless documentaries and books have been written about the event — and journalists like Vanity Fair’s Alex Shoumatoff has even been arrested trying to infiltrate it.
According to the Sonoma County Free Press, the membership list of Bohemian Grove has included every Republican US president since 1923, as well as titans of the defense sector, banking tycoons and the CEOs of some of the largest corporations in the world. Spy Magazine linked the guest list with millionaires and billionaires from the likes of IBM and Bank of America, as well as leading politicians from Washington and abroad. And when Spy’s Philip Weiss snuck into the grove in 1989, he confirmed that attendees congregate at a shrine to an owl described as “40-foot-tall, moss-covered statue of stone and steel.”
Weiss adds that during the event’s middle weekend — the busiest session of the two-week gathering — he saw roughly 2,200 guests, all male, on the camp ground. Just last year, though, Powell was asked to ensure that Blair made it for that portion of the festivities.
“Might you be able gently/firmly to point out to Tony that you rank the Bohemia Middle Weekend in your diary before allowing any other duties to get in the way?!” writes Knight, a journalist who currently serves as a director of billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s multinational News Corp, in the latest leaked emails. “Lack of exposure suggests that Tony has not yet got his priorities straight.”
Also included in the email is a PDF attachment — unavailable to RT’s reporters — said to include a response of sorts from Mr. Blair to George Shultz, a longtime member of Washington’s elite that worked as secretary of state underneath US Pres. Ronald Reagan in the late 1980s while Gen. Powell held the position of national security advisor. In his own right, Shultz has been associated with the secretive Bohemian Grove group for decades.
In the leaked emails, Knight says to Powell, “I’m going to suggest the same to Henry,” likely implying that the journalist was determined to make sure Mr. Kissinger — who served as secretary of state under Pres. Nixon and Ford, and before that was national security advisor himself — was preparing to attend last year’s event.
Several sources online tie Powell, Shultz, Knight and Kissinger to Bohemian Grove, but Blair has only been long rumored to be an attendee at the annual soiree. In 2006, Blair did visit San Francisco, California — less than 100 miles away from the Grove’s gated campsite—where he dined with Shultz.
“There was speculation that Mr. Blair might even have been a guest at the male-only event, following in the footsteps of John Major and Prince Philip,” the UK’s Daily Mail reported at the time. “As it is, the Shultz party was said to have been littered with guests who had left the Grove in order to meet Mr. Blair.”
The San Francisco Chronicle also reported that summer that Prime Minister Blair was rumored to be attending the festivities, which have long become a topic of debate and discussion of conspiracy theorists, largely due to the sheer elusiveness of an event that attracts high-profile men of power with a strict embargo on admitting the media.
“Less than a mile from us there are millionaires, billionaires, people who control the world, control the central banks, build nuclear weapons. This is their summer playground,” Sonoma State University sociology professor Peter Phillips told RT in 2011. “We know for sure that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan sat down and had conversation about who was going to run for president when and they made a deal.” The Washington Post has even reported that a planning meeting for the Manhattan Project occurred at the grove in 1942, leading eventually to the creation of the atom bomb.
Since the list of attendees is kept under lock and key, only a confirmation from Powell or Blair themselves could verify whether or not the four star general did in fact convince the prime minister to attend last year’s event.
In his email to RT, Guccifer signed with the signature, “illuminati free world.”
by Simon Hooper
It was only as David Cronin saw Tony Blair and his entourage striding towards him that he finally plucked up the courage to go through with his plan to attempt to arrest the former British prime minister over his role in the invasion of Iraq and claim a bounty on his head.
“I walked up to him very briskly and managed to put my hand on his arm and say, ‘Mr Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest,’” Cronin told Al Jazeera of the 2010 encounter at the European Parliament in Brussels, where he worked as a journalist.
“I didn’t have time to say anything else before his bodyguards pushed me away, so I just shouted at him, ‘You are guilty of war crimes!’ He looked at me for a split-second before I was bundled off. I can only describe it as a look of puzzlement and contempt.”
Ten years since British forces joined the US-led assault, many in the UK are more critical than ever of the country’s involvement in a conflict documented by the Iraq Body Count database to have killed more than 112,000 civilians.
More than a fifth – 22 percent – of Britons polled by YouGov this month said they believed Blair should be tried as a war criminal for his role in the conflict, which was preceded by massive anti-war demonstrations in London and other cities.
Fifty-three percent said the invasion was wrong, while half said Blair, a key international ally of US President George W Bush, had deliberately misled the British people over the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.
Blair’s schedule these days is a closely guarded secret to avoid ambushes by the protesters who stalk his public appearances armed with eggs, shoes and banners reading: “BLIAR”. Even his testimony at last year’s phone-hacking inquiry was interrupted by an intruder shouting, “This man is a war criminal!”
Fresh evidence has been revealed about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.
Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was “active”, “growing” and “up and running”.
A special BBC Panorama programme aired on Monday night details how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries.
It describes how Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, told the CIA’s station chief in Paris at the time, Bill Murray, through an intermediary that Iraq had “virtually nothing” in terms of WMD.
Sabri said in a statement that the Panorama story was “totally fabricated”.
However, Panorama confirms that three months before the war an MI6 officer met Iraq’s head of intelligence, Tahir Habbush al-Tikriti, who also said that Saddam had no active WMD. The meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, took place days before the British government published its now widely discredited Iraqi weapons dossier in September 2002.
Lord Butler, the former cabinet secretary who led an inquiry into the use of intelligence in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, tells the programme that he was not told about Sabri’s comments, and that he should have been.
Butler says of the use of intelligence: “There were ways in which people were misled or misled themselves at all stages.”
When it was suggested to him that the body that probably felt most misled of all was the British public, Butler replied: “Yes, I think they’re, they’re, they got every reason think that.”
The programme shows how the then chief of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, responded to information from Iraqi sources later acknowledged to be unreliable.
One unidentified MI6 officer has told the Chilcot inquiry that at one stage information was “being torn off the teleprinter and rushed across to Number 10″.
Another said it was “wishful thinking… [that] promised the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow”.
The programme says that MI6 stood by claims that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger, though these were dismissed by other intelligence agencies, including the French.
It also shows how claims by Iraqis were treated seriously by elements in MI6 and the CIA even after they were exposed as fabricated including claims, notably about alleged mobile biological warfare containers, made by Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, a German source codenamed Curveball. He admitted to the Guardian in 2011 that all the information he gave to the west was fabricated.
Panorama says it asked for an interview with Blair but he said he was “too busy”.
Tony Blair effectively subcontracted the decision to invade Iraq to former United States president George Bush, according to a former senior diplomat.
Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s ambassador to Washington between 1997 and 2003, also claims the former prime minister’s “black and white” view of the world fuelled mistakes before and during the invasion.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph 10 years after the invasion, he described Mr Blair as “more evangelical than the American Christian Right”.
“He (Mr Blair) has always argued that, by keeping close to Mr Bush, he was able to influence him,” Sir Christopher wrote. “But for Mr Blair the ‘special relationship’ became an end in itself, leading him to tell Mr Bush that, whatever he decided, he would have Mr Blair’s support.
“This was tantamount to subcontracting to Mr Bush the decision to invade Iraq. It was not for nothing that Mr Bush once congratulated Mr Blair on having the “cojones” to back him.”
Sir Christopher said the former Labour leader’s “unquestioning support” for the president “eliminated what should have been salutary British influence over American decision-making”.
He wrote: “With his Manichean, black and white view of the world, Mr Blair was in his way more neo-con than the neo-cons, more evangelical than the American Christian Right. From this flowed Britain’s contribution to the mistakes made before and after the Iraq invasion, despite repeated warnings from the Foreign Office and the Washington embassy.”
[...] Mr Blair has repeatedly been criticised for sending British troops into Iraq on March 20, 2003 in the mistaken belief that its leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
In the weeks leading up to the invasion, more than one million people marched through London against the Iraq invasion.
Asked whether he minded if “people call you a liar, some people call you a war criminal, protesters follow you; it’s difficult to walk down the street in a country”, he replied: “It really doesn’t matter whether it’s taken its toll on me.
“The fact is yes there are people who will be very abusive, by the way I do walk down the street and by the way I won an election in 2005 after Iraq. However, yes it remains extremely divisive and very difficult.”
Mr Blair conceded that he had “long since given up trying to persuade people it was the right decision”.
He added: “In a sense what I’ve tried to persuade people of now is understand how complex and difficult decision it was. Because I think if we don’t understand that, we won’t take the right decision about a series of these problems that will arise over that next few years.
“You’ve got one in Syria right now, you’ve got one in Iran to come, and the issue is how do you make the world a safer place?”
He said: “The question is supposing I’d taken the opposite decision. Sometimes what happens in politics, unfortunately these things get mixed up with allegations, deceit, lying and so on but in the end sometimes you come to a decision where whichever decision you take the consequences are difficult and the choices ugly.
“This was one such case. If we hadn’t removed Saddam from power just think for example what would be happening if these Arab revolutions were continuing now and Saddam who’s probably twenty times as bad as Assad in Syria, was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq.”
Mr Blair admitted that life in Iraq today was not what he had hoped for when he sanctioned the invasion by British troops 10 years ago.
Tony Blair has given his backing to David Cameron’s warning of a “generational” struggle against terrorism, in the wake of the Algerian hostage crisis.
The former prime minister who led Britain into Afghanistan and Iraq said Britain could not allow north Africa to become a “safe haven for violent extremists”.
Writing in The Sun on Wednesday, Blair said the UK “cannot afford to allow large areas of our world, no matter how remote or inhospitable they might seem, to fall under the control of those determined to export their brand of violence and hatred”.
“David Cameron is right to warn that this is a battle for our values and way of life which will take years, even decades,” he said.
“We cannot pull everyone back within our borders, nor guarantee their safety if we did. For we also found out on 9/11 what can happen if we allow a country, even a nation as far away as Afghanistan, to become a safe haven for violent extremists.”
Blair also said it would be “totally wrong” to blame French military intervention in Mali for the attack on the Algerian gas field that led to the deaths of at least 57 hostages.
“I also believe that France was entirely right to come to the aid of Mali. President Hollande was courageous to sanction it,” Blair said.
Last week Cameron made one of his most pro-interventionist speeches to date – telling MPs he would pursue terrorists with an “an iron resolve”.
In opposition Cameron had explicitly distanced himself from Blair’s liberal-interventionist approach to foreign policy that saw Britain sign up to the invasion of Iraq.
However professor Michael Clarke, the director-general of the think-tank RUSI has warned that it would be wrong for Cameron to regard the threat in north Africa as a continuation of the same jihadist challenge that produced the 9/11 attacks and much else thereafter.
Writing on The Huffington Post UK Clarke said: “The danger of the prime minister’s rhetoric and what might follow from it, is that it can serve to unite forces that might otherwise be fractious and ineffective.
“The most obvious strategic mistake would be to unite forces which will otherwise become more disparate in the natural course of events.”
by Robert Mendick, and Edward Malnick
His investment unit, headed by a former senior banker at Barclays, reflects the former prime minister’s growing business empire, worth tens of millions of pounds.
Five members of his staff are registered with the Financial Services Authority and trading screens have been installed at Mr Blair’s offices, in Grosvenor Square in central London.
Mr Blair has established a complex web of companies, designed, according to accountants, to hide just how much money he makes and from where his money comes.
He has denied being “super rich”, but having built up a property portfolio of several homes and two multimillion-pound businesses, it is expected that he will enter the rich-lists for the first time this year with a fortune of somewhere between £35 million and £60 million.
Details of his trading desk have been pieced together by The Sunday Telegraph, which has conducted a series of investigations into Mr Blair’s finances since he left office in 2007.
by Richard Eden
Lord Mandelson warned Ed Miliband last week that he and the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, had yet to prove that they could be trusted on the economy. The former Labour cabinet minister and his mentor, Tony Blair, are, however, flourishing under the Conservative-led Government.
Mandrake can disclose that profits at one of Mandelson’s firms have risen by almost 60 per cent in the past year, while those at one of Blair’s have tripled.
Newly published accounts for Windrush Ventures Limited, part of a complex web of the former prime minister’s companies, show an increase in profits from £1.1million in 2011 to £3.6million last year.
Palestinian officials say Tony Blair shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home. They say his job, and the body he represents, are “useless, useless, useless”.
Mr Blair became the representative of the Middle East Quartet – the UN, EU, US and Russia – a few weeks after leaving Downing Street. Last week, he visited the region for what he said was the 90th time since being appointed in June 2007. He spends one week a month based in Jerusalem or globetrotting on behalf of the Quartet. His office is funded by the Quartet members and his 24-hour security detail is on secondment from Scotland Yard but he receives no direct salary.
Peace activists, left politicians and academics have united to condemn a London university’s decision to invite former prime minister Tony Blair to speak at a “security and resilience” event next week.
The former PM is scheduled to give the keynote address at the inaugural conference of University College London’s Institute for Security and Resilience Studies (ISRS), a body alleged to have close links to the arms industry, on Tuesday.
Also on the panel will be Education Secretary Michael Gove MP and former home secretary and arch-Blairite John Reid.
In an open letter sent to the college’s management this week, public figures including Tony Benn, John Pilger, Jeremy Corbyn MP and leading academics have called on the institution to withdraw the invitation, arguing that Blair is a war criminal and therefore not fit to address the event.
The Office of Tony Blair has admitted to the use of interns for three months and replacing them with new interns to avoid regular payments.
Blair’s office had to confess about the malpractice after careers website Graduate Fog handed evidence of potential breach of minimum wage laws to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The website revealed last week that a London university graduate had been offered a three-month unpaid internship at Blair’s office, but was later refused a job when he said he could only afford to work four days rather than five days a week.
While Blair’s office has admitted to the use of interns, it has tried to whitewash the matter arguing the interns were volunteers and that they were supported by paying travel and lunch expenses.
Yet, evidence passed to the HMRC by the Graduate Fog website shows that the interns were given set tasks including answering the phones, that, according to employment norms, means they should have had paid worker status rather than being considered volunteers.
“From what I can tell, they are trying to staff the office with that classic, rotate your interns; get the interns to do the office admin, don’t pay them a thing and, after three months, kick them out and get someone else in. That’s what it sounded like to me,” a 22-year-old who was given an internship at Blair’s office toldThe Guardian.
The HMRC has not confirmed they will investigate the matter only saying they will launch a probe “where we have reason to believe the rules are being abused.”
Blair called on the British government to play a “constructive role” in shaping the new EU in a speech on Monday 29 October. The former Prime Minister was careful not to directly name Cameron and issued a warning of the dangers of creating a two- or three-speed Europe, as new governmental arrangements are being created in an attempt to stabilize the eurozone.
“I would give a stark warning: if eurozone structures end up with a Europe that is fundamentally divided politically as well as economically, rather than a Europe with one political settlement that accommodates different levels of integration within it, the EU as we know it will be on a path to break-up”, said Blair.
Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne have broken a 40 year-long British EU diplomacy by backing a two-speed Europe, where the 17 members of the eurozone would create new governance structures.
In a speech back in June, Cameron said, “The eurozone … either has to make up or it is looking at a potential break-up. Either Europe has a committed, stable, successful eurozone with an effective firewall … or we are in uncharted territory.”
Security forces in the Maldives have increased attacks against peaceful demonstrators since the resignation of its first democratically elected president, Amnesty International says.
It accuses police of beatings, arbitrary detentions and torture.
The government of the Maldives has so far not commented on the report.
Rights groups also condemned a recent court ruling in which a teenaged girl was sentenced to a public flogging after confessing to pre-marital sex.
The unnamed teenager was convicted under Sharia law after her family complained that she had sex with a 29-year-old man in July.
The man was sentenced to 10 years in jail during a court hearing on Sunday.
Last year UN human rights chief Navi Pillay urged the Maldives to stop public floggings of women for having extra-marital or pre-marital sex.
Human Rights Watch has described the flogging sentence as a “degrading and inhuman punishment [which] should find no place in a democracy”.
Nicolas Sarkozy follows in the highly lucrative footsteps of old friend Tony Blair by lining up £200,000-an-hour job with investment bank – Daily Mail
Nicolas Sarkozy is contemplating a £200,000-an-hour job with banking giant Morgan Stanley.
If the former French president accepts the job with Morgan Stanley he will be following a similarly lucrative path to the one trodden by his old friend and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who earns millions in his role as an advisor to investment bank JP Morgan.
But critics on the other side of the Channel have already expressed disgust at once-elected politicians effectively using their reputations to enrich themselves to the tune of millions.
Since quitting as PM in 2007, Mr Blair has bought at least six homes, travels the world by private jet, and has an income of at least £20 million a year.
Around £2.5 million of that comes from his role as an advisor to the U.S. investment bank JP Morgan.
According to the French investigative weekly Le Canard Enchaine, Morgan Stanley has offered Mr Sarkozy a quarter of a million euros for one hour’s work.
He will be expected to make a speech of 45 minutes and then pose for pictures for a further 15.
The controversial Mr Sarkozy is currently facing a number of corruption allegations in France, including claims that he accepted illegal cash payments from Lilian Bettencourt, the l’Oreal heiress and France’s richest woman.
But the conservative politician’s five years spent running France are considered of huge interest to international companies, and Mr Sarkozy is in a good position to exploit this.
The offer from Morgan Stanley is far more than the £17,000 odd a month he earned as President, but it is still a lot less than the fees Mr Blair can command.
Referring to Mr Sarkozy, French agent Nicolas Teil, said: ‘As a head hunter I can see why a company would spend so much money for (Mr Sarkozy’s) economic expertise.’
But Mr Teil added: ‘This is a very taboo subject in France at the moment. You will never get a former president boasting of having sold his services to a company as it would offend public opinion.’
Mr Blair has regularly been accused of abusing his former position to make massive profits. He also runs a financial advisory service, Tony Blair Associates, which has deals with the oil and gas-rich governments of Kazakhstan and Kuwait and sovereign wealth funds in China and Abu Dhabi.
Before the murder of Colonel Gaddafi during the Arab Spring, Mr Blair regularly met the dictator in Libya, and advised companies on how to make money in the oil-rich country.
Mr Blair, who speaks French, has been a frequent visitor to Paris over the years, both officially and as a friend of Mr Sarkozy’s.
Neither have commented on the claims in the latest edition of Le Candard Enchaine.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for Tony Blair and George Bush to be hauled before the international criminal court in The Hague and delivered a damning critique of the physical and moral devastation caused by the Iraq war.
Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner and hero of the anti-apartheid movement, accuses the former British and US leaders of lying about weapons of mass destruction and says the invasion left the world more destabilised and divided “than any other conflict in history”.
Writing in the Observer, Tutu also suggests the controversial US and UK-led action to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003 created the backdrop for the civil war in Syria and a possible wider Middle East conflict involving Iran.
“The then leaders of the United States and Great Britain,” Tutu argues, “fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.”
But it is Tutu’s call for Blair and Bush to face justice in The Hague that is most startling. Claiming that different standards appear to be set for prosecuting African leaders and western ones, he says the death toll during and after the Iraq conflict is sufficient on its own for Blair and Bush to be tried at the ICC.
“On these grounds, alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague,” he says.
The court hears cases on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. To date, 16 cases have been brought before the court but only one, that of Thomas Lubanga, a rebel leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been completed. He was sentenced earlier this year to 14 years’ imprisonment for his part in war crimes in his home country.
Tutu’s broadside is evidence of the shadow still cast by Iraq over Blair’s post-prime ministerial career, as he attempts to rehabilitate himself in British public life. A longtime critic of the Iraq war, the archbishop pulled out of a South African conference on leadership last week because Blair, who was paid 2m rand (£150,000) for his time, was attending. It is understood that Tutu had agreed to speak without a fee.
In his article, the archbishop argues that as well as the death toll, there has been a heavy moral cost to civilisation, with no gain. “Even greater costs have been exacted beyond the killing fields, in the hardened hearts and minds of members of the human family across the world.
“Has the potential for terrorist attacks decreased? To what extent have we succeeded in bringing the so-called Muslim and Judeo-Christian worlds closer together, in sowing the seeds of understanding and hope?” Blair and Bush, he says, set an appalling example. “If leaders may lie, then who should tell the truth?” he asks.
“If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without an acknowledgement or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children?”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pulled out of an international summit because he doesn’t want to share a platform with the “morally indefensible” Tony Blair, it emerged yesterday.
The retired archbishop, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his campaigning against apartheid, said that he had withdrawn from the event because he believed the former Prime Minister had supported the invasion of Iraq “on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence of weapons of mass destruction.”
In a statement, Archbishop Tutu’s office added: “The Discovery Invest Summit has leadership as its theme. Morality and leadership are indivisible. In this context, it would be inappropriate for the Archbishop to share a platform with Mr Blair.”
A spokesman added that it was not a snap decision, saying that the Archbishop “thinks and prays and then acts”. He added: “That’s how he’s always done things, including during the struggles.”
Mr Blair and Archbishop Tutu, alongside the chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, were due to appear at the leadership summit in Johannesburg later this week. The Muslim political party Al Jama-ah has already said that it will attempt to arrest Mr Blair when he arrives in Johannesburg for “crimes against humanity”.
Mr Blair’s office said he regretted the decision. In a statement, it said: “Tony Blair is sorry that the Archbishop has decided to pull out now from an event that has been fixed for months and where he and the Archbishop were never actually sharing a platform.
“As far as Iraq is concerned they have always disagreed about removing Saddam by force – such disagreement is part of a healthy democracy.
“As for the morality of that decision, we have recently had both the memorial of the Halabja massacre where thousands of people were murdered in one day by Saddam’s use of chemical weapons, and that of the Iran-Iraq war where casualties numbered up to a million, including many killed by chemical weapons. So these decisions are never easy morally or politically”.
Archbishop Tutu has long been a critic of Mr Blair’s stance on Iraq – even before the invasion.
In 2003 the archbishop said Mr Blair’s support for the Bush administration was “mind-boggling”. “I have a great deal of time for your Prime Minister, but I’m shocked to see a powerful country use its power frequently, unilaterally,” he said.
After the invasion he called on Mr Blair to apologise for an error of judgement on Iraq. “How wonderful if politicians could bring themselves to admit they are only fallible human creatures and not God and thus by definition can make mistakes,” he said. “Unfortunately, they seem to think that such an admission is a sign of weakness. Weak and insecure people hardly ever say sorry.
“President Bush and Prime Minister Blair would recover considerable credibility and respect if they were able to say: ‘Yes, we made a mistake’.”
Blair’s £400,000-a-year bill to taxpayers: Multi-millionaire ex-PM enjoys perks and pension – Daily Mail
Tony Blair is costing taxpayers more than £400,000 a year despite building up a £30million fortune since leaving Downing Street.
Figures have revealed that multi-millionaire Mr Blair is drawing the maximum Prime Ministerial pension – worth about £70,000 a year.
The gold-plated pension comes on top of the £115,000 allowance that Mr Blair received last year to support his ‘public duties’.
Then there is his security team, which is estimated to cost at least £250,000 a year.
The government has vetoed an order by the independent freedom of information watchdog to release the minutes of cabinet meetings held immediately before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The decision was announced on Tuesday by Dominic Grieve, the attorney general, the only minister to have access to papers of a previous administration, in this case Tony Blair’s Labour government. Grieve said he issued a certificate under the Freedom of Information Act vetoing disclosure after consulting former Labour ministers, his cabinet colleagues, and the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband.
He described the case as “exceptional” and one where, in his view, the public interest demanded the papers should be kept secret. He says he took into account “serious potential prejudice to the maintenance of effective cabinet government”.
Britain in its hour of trouble needs a Tony Blair. It has a queen, a prime minister, a chancellor, a leader of the opposition, but it is deficient in Tony Blairs. Or that is what Tony Blair thinks. He last year earned £20m from this and that, and feels that now his purpose “is not to make money but to make a difference”. The old phraseology still brings a tear to the eye
Blair’s contribution to economic policy is that “Britain must not hang 20 bankers at the end of the street”, a dutiful nod in the direction of his £2m salary from JP Morgan. He is an adviser to Kazakhstan on human rights and to the Labour party on Olympics legacy, a double whammy of hopeless causes. The Kazakh dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev, apparently paid him $13m to eulogise his odious regime in a state video and applaud him for “subtlety and ingenuity … in a region fraught with difficulties”.
This is a story of two letters and two Britains. The first letter was written by Sebastian Coe, the former athlete who chairs the London Olympics Organising Committee. He is now called Lord Coe. In the New Statesman of 21 June, I reported an urgent appeal to Coe by the Vietnam Women’s Union that he and his IOC colleagues reconsider their decision to accept sponsorship from Dow Chemical, one of the companies that manufactured dioxin, a poison used against the population of Vietnam. Code-named Agent Orange, this weapon of mass destruction was “dumped” on Vietnam, according to a US Senate report in 1970, in what was called Operation Hades. The letter to Coe estimates that today 4.8 million victims of Agent Orange are children, all of them shockingly deformed.
In his reply, Coe describes Agent Orange as “a highly emotional issue” whose development and use “was made by the US government [which] has rightly led the process of addressing the many issues that have resulted”. He refers to a “constructive dialogue” between the US and Vietnamese governments “to resolve issues”. They are “best placed to manage the reconciliation of these two countries.” When I read this, I was reminded of the weasel letters that are a specialty of the Foreign Office in London in denying the evidence of crimes of state and corporate power, such as the lucrative export of terrible weapons. The former Iraq Desk Officer, Mark Higson, called this sophistry “a culture of lying”.
I sent Coe’s letter to a number of authorities on Agent Orange. The reactions were unerring. “There has been no initiative at all by the US government to address the health and economic effects on the people of Vietnam affected by dioxin,” wrote the respected US attorney Constantine Kokkoris, who led an action against Dow Chemical. He noted that “manufacturers like Dow were aware of the presence and harmfulness of dioxin in their product but failed to inform the government in an effort to avoid regulation.” According to the War legacies League, none of the health, environmental and economic problems caused by the world’s most enduring chemical warfare has been addressed by the US. Non-government agencies have helped “only a small number of those in need”. A “clean up” in a “dioxin hot spot” in the city of Da Nang, to which Coe refers, is a sham; none of the money allocated by the US Congress has gone directly to the Vietnamese or has reached those most severely disabled from the cancers associated with Agent Orange.
For this reason, Coe’s mention of “reconciliation” is profane, as if there were an equivalence between an invading superpower and its victims. His letter exemplifies the London Olympics’ razor-wired, PR and money-fuelled totalitarian state within a state, which you enter, appropriately, through a Westfield mega shopping mall. How dare you complain about the missiles on the roof of your flats, hectored a magistrate to 86 residents of London’s East End. How dare any of you protest at the “Zil car lanes”, reminiscent of Moscow in the Soviet era, for Olympic apparatchiks and the boys from Dow and Coke. With the media in charge of Olympics excitement, as it was for ‘Shock and Awe’ in Iraq in 2003, now enter the man who played a starring role in making both spectacles possible.
On 11 July, a so-called Olympics evening – “a coming together of the Labour tribe”, declared the Labour Party leader Ed Milliband – celebrated its “star guest” Tony Blair and his 2005 “gift” of the Games and “provided the perfect opportunity for Blair’s return to frontline politics”, reported the Guardian. The organiser of this contrivance was Alistair Campbell, chief spinner of the bloodbath Blair and he gifted to the Iraqi people. And just as the victims of Dow Chemical are of no interest to the Olympic elite, so the epic criminality of Labour’s star guest was unmentionable.
The source of the Olympics’ chaotic security is also unmentionable. As established studies in Britain have long conceded, it was the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the rest of the “war on terror” that served to recruit new jihadists and bolster other forms of resistance that led directly to the London bombs of 7/7. These were Blair’s bombs. In his current rehabilitation, courtesy of his Olympics “legacy”, there is the additional spin that Blair’s huge post-Downing Street wealth is concentrated on charities.
The second letter I mentioned was sent to me by Josh Richards who lives in Bristol. In March 2003, Josh and four others set out to disable an American B-52 bomber based at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, before it could bomb Iraq. So did four other people. It was a non-violent action faithful to the Nuremberg principles that a war of aggression was the “paramount war crime”. Josh was arrested and charged with planning to lay explosives. “This was based on the ludicrous idea,” he wrote, “that some peanut butter I had on me was actually a bomb component. The charge was later abandoned after the Ministry of Defence performed extensive tests on my Tesco crunchy nut peanut butter.”
During two trials and two hung juries, Josh was finally acquitted. It was a landmark case in which he spoke in open court about the genocidal embargo imposed upon Iraq by the British and US governments prior to their invasion and the false justifications of the “war on terror”. His acquittal meant that he had acted in the name of the law and his intention had been to save lives.
The letter Josh wrote to me included a copy of my book, The New Rulers of the World, which, he pointed out, had provided him with the facts he needed for his defence. Meticulously page-marked and highlighted, it had accompanied Josh on a three-year journey through courtrooms and prison cells. Of all the letters I have received, Josh’s epitomises a decency, modesty and determination of moral purpose that represent another Britain and antidotes to poisonous Olympic sponsors and rehabilitated warmongers. During these extraordinary times, such an example ought to give others heart and inspiration to reclaim this receding democracy.
Tony Blair has admitted he would be prepared to become Prime Minister again, in an interview marking the fifth anniversary of his resignation.
During the interview, which appears in the London Evening Standard newspaper he guest-edited today, Blair says that although he would be prepared to accept another term in office, he understood it was unlikely to ever happen.
Blair described his relationship with Gordon Brown during the interview, saying he hadn’t wanted to resign as Prime Minister, but “felt I had to” in order to avoid “a very bloody battle internally which I thought would damage the country as well as the party.”
He also accuses Brown of leading Labour to an inevitable election defeat by failing to get to grips with the identity of the party.
Blair told Evening Standard Editor Sarah Sands, “The problem for the Labour party was that it couldn’t make up its mind whether to stay New Labour or not, so it didn’t really and then in my view defeat was inevitable after that.”
Speaking of how much British politics has changed since his time as Prime Minister, Blair said that although he was in office during a period of enormous world events, including 9/11, it had been “in one sense very calm”.
“There was a predictability about government and an inherent stability. I did not foresee the tumult which would follow — the financial crisis and the aftermath of that,” he added.
Discussing his life since leaving office, Blair said: “I am seeing a lot of the world and I have learned an immense amount in the past five years. One of my regrets is that what I have learned in the last five years would have been so useful to me [as prime minister]. Because when you see how the world is developing you get a far clearer picture of some of the issues our country is grappling with.”
“What I can do is contribute to the debate, whether it is Europe or the Arab spring or areas to do with economy and public service reform here.”
Setting out his predictions for the future of British politics, Blair said: “I think the Lib-Dems will struggle at the next election. My advice to the Labour party is to sort ourselves out with a strong modern policy.
“Ed Miliband has made a conscious decision that he is going to keep the Labour party in the centre, and that is sensible.”
Read the full interview here.
A confidential record of a meeting between President Bush and Tony Blair before the invasion of Iraq, outlining their intention to go to war without a second United Nations resolution, will be an explosive issue for the official inquiry into the UK’s role in toppling Saddam Hussein.
The memo, written on 31 January 2003, almost two months before the invasion and seen by the Observer, confirms that as the two men became increasingly aware UN inspectors would fail to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) they had to contemplate alternative scenarios that might trigger a second resolution legitimising military action.
Bush told Blair the US had drawn up a provocative plan “to fly U2 reconnaissance aircraft painted in UN colours over Iraq with fighter cover”. Bush said that if Saddam fired at the planes this would put the Iraqi leader in breach of UN resolutions.
The president expressed hopes that an Iraqi defector would be “brought out” to give a public presentation on Saddam’s WMD or that someone might assassinate the Iraqi leader. However, Bush confirmed even without a second resolution, the US was prepared for military action. The memo said Blair told Bush he was “solidly with the president”.
The five-page document, written by Blair’s foreign policy adviser, Sir David Manning, and copied to Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff, the chief of the defence staff, Admiral Lord Boyce, and the UK’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, outlines how Bush told Blair he had decided on a start date for the war.
Paraphrasing Bush’s comments at the meeting, Manning, noted: “The start date for the military campaign was now pencilled in for 10 March. This was when the bombing would begin.”
Last night an expert on international law who is familar with the memo’s contents said it provided vital evidence into the two men’s frames of mind as they considered the invasion and its aftermath and must be presented to the Chilcott inquiry established by Gordon Brown to examine the causes, conduct and consequences of the Iraq war.
Philippe Sands, QC, a professor of law at University College London who is expected to give evidence to the inquiry, said confidential material such as the memo was of national importance, making it vital that the inquiry is not held in private, as Brown originally envisioned.
In today’s Observer, Sands writes: “Documents like this raise issues of national embarrassment, not national security. The restoration of public confidence requires this new inquiry to be transparent. Contentious matters should not be kept out of the public domain, even in the run-up to an election.”
The memo notes there had been a shift in the two men’s thinking on Iraq by late January 2003 and that preparing for war was now their priority. “Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” Manning writes. This was despite the fact Blair that had yet to receive advice on the legality of the war from the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, which did not arrive until 7 March 2003 – 13 days before the bombing campaign started.
In his article today, Sands says the memo raises questions about the selection of the chair of the inquiry. Sir John Chilcott sat on the 2004 Butler inquiry, which examined the reliability of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, and would have been privy to the document’s contents – and the doubts about WMD running to the highest levels of the US and UK governments.
Many senior legal experts have expressed dismay that Chilcott has been selected to chair the inquiry as he is considered to be close to the security services after his time spent as a civil servant in Northern Ireland.
Brown had believed that allowing the Chilcott inquiry to hold private hearings would allow witnesses to be candid. But after bereaved families and antiwar campaigners expressed outrage, the prime minister wrote to Chilcott to say that if the panel can show witnesses and national security issues will not be compromised by public hearings, he will change his stance.
Lord Guthrie, a former chief of the defence staff under Blair, described the memo as “quite shocking”. He said that it underscored why the Chilcott inquiry must be seen to be a robust investigation: “It’s important that the inquiry is not a whitewash as these inquiries often are.”
This year, the Dutch government launched its own inquiry into its support for the war. Significantly, the inquiry will see all the intelligence shared with the Dutch intelligence services by MI5 and MI6. The inquiry intends to publish its report in November – suggesting that confidential information about the role played by the UK and the US could become public before Chilcott’s inquiry reports next year.
Tony Blair has said the UK will face an “interesting choice” over whether to join the euro if the currency’s current crisis is resolved.
The former prime minister told the BBC he believed the UK should still be keeping open the option of joining it.
He said that looking at the “broad sweep of history” in the long term “the European integration project” was going to go ahead, “like it or not”.
The UK, as a “small island nation”, had to be part of it to have influence.
Mr Blair said that the only thing that would save the single currency now was to have a “grand plan” where Germany was ready to commit its economy fully – “treating the debts of one as the debts of all”.
This would be difficult for Germany, he said, and would have to be in return for other countries having “precise, deliverable” programmes of change and reform that could restore European competitiveness.
As well as economic changes, political change was also inevitable with Europe needing reform of labour markets, pensions, welfare, public services the role of the state, he said.
He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that his former chancellor Gordon Brown had “always been right” on the economic case against the UK joining the euro when Labour was in power.
A British legal tribunal today ruled that the government must release the details of a phone conversation between Prime Minister Tony Blair and George W. Bush on March 12, 2003.
The ruling said “the circumstances surrounding a decision by a UK government to go to war with another country is always likely to be of very significant public interest, even more so with the consequences of this war.”
The details of the conversation have been kept secret for nearly a decade, but reportedly included a discussion between Blair and Bush of whether or not to seek UN authorization to attack Iraq. Ultimately they did not.
The Foreign Office had demanded to keep the files related to the conversation secret, saying that allowing any part of the discussion to go public would do “serious damage” to UK-US relations.
This has been a common tactic for British officials, arguing that things need to be kept secret to avoid enraging the US. Last month, British spies said that the CIA had deliberately withheld information about a possible terror attack in the UK, saying they feared that courts would go public with the details.
Fifteen years ago, the carefully stage-managed crowds cheered as their hero arrived in Downing Street to take office on a wave of hopes for a better Britain. What was his legacy? What did Tony Blair achieve? Debt, war, ignorance, welfare dependency, social division.
The crushing burden of debt has held back our wealth creating industries, left us with higher taxes, lower pensions, higher prices, and fewer jobs
Blair’s wars – the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq and the consequential war in Afghanistan – have left thousands of our servicemen dead or injured, tens of thousands civilians dead or injured, a prosperous secular Iraqi middle class destroyed, Islamic extremism gaining in strength, and our historical friendly relationship with Pakistan soured.
Blairite education policies have brought about an upsurge in illiteracy and innumeracy, and left a generation of near-unemployable young people.
High taxes, low tax thresholds and distorted welfare policies have created an army of welfare junkies, families in which no one works or indeed intends to work, and a culture in which idleness often pays better than employment.
A welter of “equality” legislation, the doctrines of political correctness which have inhibited robust debate, ‘elf ‘n’ safety regulations which inhibit rational behaviour and a calculated confusion of entitlements with rights combined with uncounted, uncontrolled, unlimited immigration and the sickness of multiculturalism, have torn society apart and led to racial and cultural tension and near-apartheid by consent in parts of our cities.
Blair’s licensing law reforms have brought back Hogarth’s Gin Lane to a city centre near you.
Mr Blair’s complicity in the vast extension of powers of Brussels and the creation of a European Union with almost all the attributes of a sovereign state may well prove to be the step too far which precipitates the collapse of the whole construction, but it will be at a heavy price.
There is comfort to be found in the rational response of one-time Labour voters, some 5 million of whom deserted the party during the Blair-Brown years.
None the less there is one matter wherein he has achieved extraordinary success. His creature Lord Mandelson famously remarked that he was relaxed about people getting filthy rich. His master Mr Blair has certainly done that. But his riches are not just filthy. Much of his wealth has been made in the United States and to some of us it carries the reek of the blood of the British servicemen whose services he contracted out to President Bush in their Middle Eastern wars.
He at least has done well out of his time as Prime Minister.
‘I’m Ready for a Comeback’: Blair’s Made Millions Since Quitting… Now He Wants to ‘Re-Engage with UK Politics’
‘Tony Blair is preparing a new push to re-enter British politics as he hires a new spin doctor to put a gloss on some of the criticism that has followed him since leaving Number 10.
The former prime minister ‘has things to say’ and believes the time is right for him to make an impact on the home front after years in political exile.
Mr Blair’s is expected to launch his comeback as he appears on a joint platform with Labour leader Ed Miliband in July at an event to celebrate the Olympics. His wife Cherie is also due to attend, making it a rare public outing for the Blairs together.
The ex-PM is understood to believe that enough time has passed for people to have forgotten the disastrous effect of the Iraq war on his image and how he was humiliatingly forced from office by Gordon Brown.
The move to hire a public relations expert is proof that Mr Blair wants to be heard on a range of subjects.’