Afshin Rattansi speaks with filmmaker and journalist John Pilger about MI6’s connection to the Libya-Manchester atrocity ahead of Sunday’s Arianna Grande’s benefit gig for those affected by the Manchester attack. Pilger’s latest article is titled ‘Terror In Britain: What Did the Prime Minister Know?‘ (Going Underground)
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has yet to say anything about Monday’s heinous, nihilistic suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. According to current reporting, the attack has been claimed by ISIS and was carried out by a 22-year-old man born in Manchester to Libyan refugees.
But when Blair does speak, we can be certain he won’t mention one key fact: Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq led by the U.S. and U.K., he was forcefully and repeatedly warned by Britain’s intelligence services that it would lead toexactly this type of terrorist attack — and he concealed these warnings from the British people, instead claiming the war would reduce the risk of terrorism.
We know this because of the Chilcot Report, the seven-year-long British investigation of the Iraq War released in 2016. The report declassifies numerous internal government documents that illustrate the yawning chasm between what Blair was being told in private and his claims in public as he pushed for war.
On February 10, 2003, one month before the war began, the U.K.’s Joint Intelligence Committee — the key advisory body for the British Prime Minister on intelligence matters — issued a white paper titled “International Terrorism: War With Iraq.”
[…] However, those worried the original Blairite will grab control of the Labour party need not worry – for now.
He told the tabloid that he has no current plans to return to frontline politics or become an MP, but it appears he could be laying the groundwork for a new political party or movement.
Nigel Farage, for example, has never been elected as an MP but lead the Brexit movement with Ukip.
“It is not frontline politics in the sense I am not standing for parliament,” Mr Blair explained.
“I am not sure I can turn something into a political movement but I think there is a body of ideas out there people would support.”
[…] In my view the ruptures in British and American politics happened in the 1990s with the accession of Bill Clinton in 1993 and Tony Blair in 1997. These were men who inherited the Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Labour Party of Clement Attlee, but instead of pursuing the kind of prosperity yielding democratic socialism of their predecessors they adopted a “third way” strategy.
Clinton and Blair held onto power by slightly slowing down the radical and destructive right-wing neoliberalisation agenda rather than actively working to reverse the worst of the damage. Of course they seemed like an improvement after the chaotic crisis-ridden 1980s, but both men slowly continued the progress of the right-wing zealotry introduced by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
One of Clinton’s most overt moves towards hard-right economic dogma was a piece of legislation called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 which exempted all manner of derivatives trading from financial regulation. a move that unleashed the frenzy of speculative derivative trading that resulted in the 2007-08 global financial sector insolvency crisis.
Aside from the extraordinarily dodgy PFI privatisation scams and the commodification of the higher education system through the introduction of student fees (aspiration taxes), one of Tory Blair’s most blatant rightward lurches saw the de facto privatisation of the Bank of England and the establishment of what turned out to be an astoundingly weak tripartite system of financial sector regulation.
A cross-party group of MPs will make a fresh effort to hold Tony Blair to account for allegedly misleading parliament and the public over the Iraq war.
The move, which could see Blair stripped of membership of the privy council, comes as the former prime minister tries to re-enter the political fray, promising to champion the “politically homeless” who are alienated from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour and the Brexit-promoting government of Theresa May.
The group, which includes MPs from six parties, will put down a Commons motion on Monday calling for a parliamentary committee to investigate the difference between what Blair said publicly to the Chilcot inquiry into the war and privately, including assurances to then US president George W Bush.
Backing the motion are Alex Salmond, the SNP MP and former first minister of Scotland; Hywel Williams, Westminster leader of Plaid Cymru; and Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas.
The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war was designed to “avoid blame” and reduce the risk that individuals and the government could face legal proceedings, newly released documents reveal.
The papers show the thinking and advice at “the highest level of government” prior to Gordon Brown’s announcement of an inquiry. They were disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, after the Cabinet Office lost a two-year battle during which it stated that disclosure threatened to “undermine the inquiry”. They confirm that many officials who took part in the events that the inquiry investigated, including former spy chief Sir John Scarlett, were involved in setting it up.
And they reveal that Sir (now Lord) Gus O’Donnell, cabinet secretary under Brown, went against Whitehall protocol when he appointed a civil servant with significant involvement in Iraq policy during the period covered by the inquiry to the key role of inquiry secretary.
The documents, a series of memos by Whitehall officials, cover a four-week period in May and June 2009. They show the officials favoured from the outset a secret inquiry to be conducted by privy counsellors, based on the Franks inquiry into the Falklands war.
Documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis released on 16th October 2016 exclusively on BBC iPlayer. (BBC)
Afshin Rattansi speaks to Scotland’s Former First Minister, Alex Salmond, about Tony Blair, Iraq, Chilcot and whether the Corbyn coup been co-opted by Blairites. (Going Underground)
Former Labour Party spin doctor Alastair Campbell continues to whitewash the truth about Tony Blair and the Iraq War after the long awaited release of the Chilcot report last week. (BBC Breakfast)
The war on Iraq won’t be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as “weapons of mass destruction” and “rogue state” were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.
To understand the Iraq war you don’t need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.
Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair’s plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student’s website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister’s bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair’s speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?
Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.
Tony Blair is a War Criminal for Pushing Britain into Illegal Iraq Invasion: Interview with Tariq Ali and Sami Ramadani
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Tariq Ali, and Sami Ramadani about the long-awaited British inquiry into the Iraq War, the legacy of Tony Blair and the state of Iraq today. (Democracy Now!)
Eleven years ago, three suicide bombers attacked the London subway and a bus and killed 51 people. Almost immediately, it was obvious that retaliation for Britain’s invasion and destruction of Iraq was a major motive for the attackers.
Two of them said exactly that in videotapes they left behind: The attacks “will continue and pick up strengths till you pull your soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq. … Until we feel security, you will be targets.” Then, less than a year later, a secret report from British military and intelligence chiefs concluded that “the war in Iraq contributed to the radicalization of the July 7 London bombers and is likely to continue to provoke extremism among British Muslims.” The secret report, leaked to The Observer, added: “Iraq is likely to be an important motivating factor for some time to come in the radicalization of British Muslims and for those extremists who view attacks against the U.K. as legitimate.”
The release on Tuesday of the massive Chilcot report — which the New York Times called a “devastating critique of Tony Blair” — not only offers more proof of this causal link, but also reveals that Blair was expressly warned before the invasion that his actions would provoke al Qaeda attacks on the U.K. As my colleague Jon Schwarz reported yesterday, the report’s executive summary quotes Blair confirming he was “aware” of a warning by British intelligence that terrorism would “increase in the event of war, reflecting intensified anti-U.S./anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, including among Muslim communities in the West.”
The bitter political debate over the 2003 Iraq War resumed once again on Wednesday in the United Kingdom and the United States, thanks to the release of a report on the British role in the invasion and occupation.
Parsing the report, prepared by a committee of Privy Counsellors chaired by Sir John Chilcot, will take time since it runs to 2.6 million words, but the reaction online has already begun. Partisans for and against the war are sifting through the text for new details that might support their original positions, a reminder that Iraq has only ever mattered to most Americans and Britons as material for attacks on their political opponents.
That becomes glaringly obvious when you compare the intensity and volume of commentary on the report to how relatively little was said about a suicide bombing in Baghdad on Sunday that killed 250 Iraqis.
The Chilcot report the U.K.’s official inquiry into its participation in the Iraq War, has finally been released after seven years of investigation.
Its executive summary certainly makes former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who led the British push for war, look terrible. According to the report, Blair made statements about Iraq’s nonexistent chemical, biological, and nuclear programs based on “what Mr. Blair believed” rather than the intelligence he had been given. The U.K. went to war despite the fact that “diplomatic options had not been exhausted.” Blair was warned by British intelligence that terrorism would “increase in the event of war, reflecting intensified anti-US/anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, including among Muslim communities in the West.”
On the other hand, the inquiry explicitly says that it is not “questioning Mr. Blair’s belief” in the case for war — i.e., it is not accusing him of conscious misrepresentations. Blair is already spinning this as an exoneration, saying the report “should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies, or deceit.”
But consider that for as long as the Chilcot commission has existed, the U.K. and U.S. intelligence communities have probably fought over the language of the executive summary.
So the place to look for the less adulterated truth about Blair and the U.K. government is in the rest of the report’s 2.6 million words, including footnotes and newly declassified documents.
Sir John Chilcot’s report is more than just a carefully worded, clearly argued dissection of the decisions that led Britain to go to war in 2003, and the failures thereafter. It amounts to an uncompromising and deeply critical exposition of the way Tony Blair conducted himself in office during this period.
In page after page, the report highlights how the former prime minister appeared to be privately saying one thing “sotto voce” to George W Bush, while keeping many of his own ministers – and military commanders – almost completely in the dark.
It also underlines how huge decisions about the legality of the war and the execution of the military campaign were never properly discussed at cabinet meetings.
In one particularly damning passage – paragraph 634 of the executive summary – Chilcot clinically exposes the inadequacies of organisation, analysis and management within government that contributed to Britain’s disastrous mission in Iraq.
- Tony Blair: ‘I Express More Sorrow, Regret and Apology Than You Can Ever Believe’
- Chilcot Report on Iraq War Offers Devastating Critique of Tony Blair
- Chilcot: Tony Blair Told George W. Bush, “If We Win Quickly, Everyone Will Be Our Friend.”
- Blair Had Qualms on Iraq War, but Promised Bush Support ‘Whatever’
- Families of Iraq War Victims: ‘Blair Is World’s Worst Terrorist’
- Iraqi Who Hammered Saddam’s Statue Says Blair Should Be Put on Trial
Could the War in Iraq Have Been Averted? Interview with Nafeez Ahmend, Piers Robinson and Frank Ledwidge
Presenter Martine Dennis discusses the Chilcot report and its conclusions with Nafeez Ahmed, investigative journalist and author, Piers Robinson, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Manchester, and Frank Ledwidge, Senior Fellow at the Royal Air Force College at the University of Portsmouth and former Military Intelligence Officer who served in Iraq. (Al Jazeera English)
The long-awaited Chilcot Report was finally released today, examining the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War and occupation. Unfortunately, on the most important question, the report’s conclusions are all but silent: why did the UK go to war?
Chilcot takes at face value the Blair government’s claim that the motive was to address Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and limits its criticism to mistakes in the intelligence on WMD, and on insufficient administrative and military planning. He shows a remarkable lack of curiosity about the political factors behind the move to war, especially given the weakness (even at the time) of the WMD case.
Most important of these is oil. Buried in deep in volume 9 of the 2.6 million-word report, Chilcot refers to government documents that explicitly state the oil objective, and outlining how Britain pursued that objective throughout the occupation. But he does not consider this evidence in his analysis or conclusions. Oil considerations do not even appear in the report’s 150-page summary.
Chilcot report: The demonisation of Tony Blair distracts from where things really went wrong in Iraq
Denunciations of Tony Blair as the evil architect of Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War often dominate discussions of what happened there and many will look to the Chilcot inquiry to provide further evidence of his guilt. But the demonisation of Mr Blair is excessive and simple-minded and diverts attention from what really happened in Iraq and how such mistakes can be avoided in future.
He may have unwisely followed the US into the quagmire of Iraq, but British government policy since 1941 has been to position itself as America’s most loyal and effective ally in peace and war.
There have been significant exceptions to this rule, such as the Suez Crisis and the Vietnam War, but during the last 70 years the UK has generally sought to influence US policy in its formulation and then support it unequivocally once adopted.
Little is more corrosive of democracy than impunity. When politicians do terrible things and suffer no consequences, people lose trust in both politics and justice. They see them, correctly, as instruments deployed by the strong against the weak.
Since the first world war, no British prime minister has done anything as terrible as Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq. This unprovoked war caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the mutilation of hundreds of thousands more. It flung the whole region into chaos, which has been skillfully exploited by terror groups. Today, three million people in Iraq are internally displaced, and an estimated 10 million need humanitarian assistance.
Yet Blair, the co-author of these crimes, whose lethal combination of appalling judgment and tremendous powers of persuasion made the Iraq war possible, saunters the world, picking up prizes and massive fees, regally granting interviews, cloaked in a forcefield of denial and legal impunity. If this is what politics looks like, is it any wonder that so many people have given up on it?
- Chilcot report: Findings at-a-glance
- Chilcot delivers crushing verdict on Blair and the Iraq war
- Chilcot: U.K. Failed to Exhaust Peaceful Options Before Invading Iraq
- Chilcot report: MI6, a Hollywood movie and faulty intelligence
- Chilcot report: What Blair said to Bush in memos
- The US needs its own Chilcot report
- Tony Blair did not bewitch us into backing war in Iraq, we let him do it
- I governed in Iraq, and saw the lack of postwar planning first-hand
- MoD left UK forces in Iraq lacking equipment and a plan, Chilcot says
- The Iraq war inquiry has left the door open for Tony Blair to be prosecuted
- Corbyn: MPs could take action against Blair for misleading Commons over Iraq
- Caroline Lucas: ‘I believe Tony Blair is a war criminal’
- ‘Blair is world’s worst terrorist’, says families of Iraq war victims
- Cameron warns against conclusion military intervention is always wrong
- We don’t need to wait for Chilcot, Blair lied to us about Iraq: Here’s the evidence
- Journalists and newspaper owners must also reflect on part they played in the march to war
As the UK parliament released its long-awaited Chilcot report on the country’s role in the Iraq war on Wednesday, there have been renewed calls all over Britain to try former prime minister Tony Blair for war crimes. This brings up another question: what about George W Bush?
The former US president most responsible for the foreign policy catastrophe has led a peaceful existence since he left office. Not only has he avoided any post-administration inquiries into his conduct, he has inexplicably seen his approval ratings rise (despite the carnage left in his wake only getting worse). He is an in-demand fundraiser for Republicans not named Donald Trump, and he gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to speak at corporate events. The chances of him ever saying in public, “I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you can ever believe,” as Blair did on Wednesday, are virtually non-existent.
The only thing close to the Chilcot report in the US was the Senate intelligence committee’s long-delayed investigation on intelligence failures in the lead-up to Iraq, released in 2008. The Democratic-led committee faulted the CIA for massive intelligence failures and the Bush administration for purposefully manipulating intelligence for public consumption. It led to a couple days of headlines, denunciations from the Bush White House (still in office at the time) and that was it.
NASA’s Juno probe took two years fewer to reach Jupiter than the UK’s Chilcot Inquiry needed for completion. British troops spent less time on Iraqi soil than Lord John Chilcot and his team spent investigating the government’s behavior before, during and after the 2003 decision to go to war. World War II was over more quickly, too. Vietnam did at least drag on longer.
Expected to clear 2 million words, the report won’t be a swift read either – weighing in at double the length of the Harry Potter series, or three times the complete works of Shakespeare.
Years of evidence gathering and witness testimony should culminate on Wednesday in the release of the mammoth report, which is expected to be highly critical of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s actions in the lead-up to the Iraq war. The burning question is set to revolve around intent – did Blair knowingly mislead the electorate, or did he merely propagate false and flawed information he genuinely believed to be true?
Afshin Rattansi speaks to former MI5 agent Annie Machon about the dangers of drowning in data as the House of Lords discusses the Snoopers Charter. They also cover the long awaited Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War which is due to be published in a couple of weeks, seven years since it began. (Going Underground)
Tony Blair has suggested that he will refuse to accept the verdict of the Chilcot inquiry if it accuses him of committing Britain to invading Iraq before he told parliament and the public.
In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, the former prime minister said he did not think anyone could say he did not make his position clear ahead of the 2003 war that led to the toppling of Saddam Hussein.
Sir John Chilcot is due to publish his long-awaited report into the war on 6 July. It is expected to be highly critical of Blair and other political and military figures. During the inquiry hearings there was particular focus on evidence suggesting Blair had given a firm commitment to back President George W Bush’s decision to invade while he was publicly saying a final decision had not yet been taken.
- Tony Blair comments on long-awaited Chilcot inquiry
- Tony Blair ‘will not be investigated for breaking international law’ in the Iraq War inquiry
- Tony Blair could be sued by families of Iraq war dead over Chilcot report findings
- Tony Blair: I underestimated Iraq’s destabilising forces
- Ghost of Blair continues to haunt Labour
- Chilcot report will savage Blair in ‘absolutely brutal’ verdict over Iraq war
- Chilcot report to be published on 6 July
Tony Blair obtained a “blessing” from Chinese leaders for a company owned by a Saudi prince to do business in China as part of an arrangement that paid the former UK prime minister’s firm £41,000 a month and a 2% commission on any multimillion-pound contracts he helped to secure.
A series of documents, seen by the Guardian, show how Blair courted some of the most influential Chinese political leaders in 2010 and then introduced them to the Saudi-owned company he worked with, PetroSaudi. The company was not allowed to divulge his role without permission, according to the contract.
The emails suggest PetroSaudi was told of fears that the City regulator was targeting Blair over concerns he was not just opening doors but arranging and advising on deals for investors – a regulated corporate function that he is not authorised to conduct.
Blair began lobbying for PetroSaudi, a London-based company co-owned by Prince Turki bin Abdullah – the son of Saudi Arabia’s then monarch – in the summer of 2010. By the end of the year, the emails show, the former prime minister had arranged a meeting between the chair of the China National Petroleum Corporation, one of the largest companies in the world, and PetroSaudi in Saudi Arabia.
The Libyan uprising always contained more extreme Islamists than portrayed by its supporters inside and outside Libya. There is a measure of truth in Muammar Gaddafi’s claim to Tony Blair that the jihadis had “managed to set up local stations and in Benghazi have spread the thoughts and ideas of al Qaeda.”
His claims sound particularly prophetic since the transcript of the Blair-Gaddafi phone conversations are published on the same day that a suicide bomber driving a truck packed with explosives killed an estimated 65 people at a Libyan police academy. The attack is likely to be the work of the Libyan branch of Isis which today controls Sirte, Gaddafi’s home region and last stronghold, and has been battling over the last week to take over Libya’s main oil ports.
But it is also true that protests which began in Libya on 15 February and turned into a general uprising had wide popular support among Libyans. By the time of the phone call, protesters had seized Benghazi, Misurata and many other cities and towns while part of the regular armed forces had defected to the opposition.
Gaddafi’s repeated claim to Mr Blair that there was nothing happening in much of the country shows that he was either eager to downplay the swift spread of the rebellion or he did not know what was going on. The latter seems the most likely explanation, given Gaddafi’s repeated invitations to Mr Blair, who was in Kuwait, to come to Tripoli and his belief that once foreign journalists arrived they would see for themselves that accounts of violence had been exaggerated. “Send reporters and politicians,” the Libyan leader says. “Talk to them [protesters] directly; see what kind of people they are and their connections to AQ [Al-Qaeda].”
A new report from the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics, a think tank that is part of the “Tony Blair Faith Foundation,” is warning that the military defeat of ISIS, while nominally desirable in and of itself, will do materially nothing to stop the Islamist takeover of the region.
The report says a third of the rebel factions, representing roughly 60% of rebel fighters, are ideologically similar to ISIS, and that 15 different rebel factions would eagerly step in and fill the vacuum if ISIS was defeated militarily.
Exactly how broadly they define “ideologically similar” is unclear, but the report appears to focus on Salafist movements, which would include several major rebel factions, including al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra and the Saudi-backed Ahrar al-Sham.
Ironically, at times a lot of these Salafist groups have been presented by Western officials as “moderates,” and as the allies who could be used to defeat ISIS. While that may be technically true, the think tank warns the defeat of ISIS doesn’t really end anything, but simply props up another, ideologically compatible faction in their place.
Tony Blair went to war in Iraq despite a report by South African experts with unique knowledge of the country that showed it did not possess weapons of mass destruction, according to a book published on Sunday.
God, Spies and Lies, by South African journalist John Matisonn, describes how then president Thabo Mbeki tried in vain to convince both Blair and President George W Bush that toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003 would be a terrible mistake.
Mbeki’s predecessor, Nelson Mandela, also tried to convince the American leader, but was left fuming that “President Bush doesn’t know how to think”.
The claim was this week supported by Mbeki’s office, which confirmed that he pleaded with both leaders to heed the WMD experts and even offered to become their intermediary with Saddam in a bid to maintain peace.
As background to our work, I asked my friend Dr David Morrison to prepare a series of background narratives on the four crucial questions. These are published today by openDemocracy and they address four key questions:
Question 3: Was the war legal?
I have known Dr Morrison for more than 12 years. Back in 2003, I read the devastating evidence that he dispatched to the Foreign Affairs Committee, as it made its report into the Iraq war. The Foreign Affairs Committee ignored the thrust of Dr Morrison’s arguments. However, they did publish his brilliant paper as a memorandum to their own report.
His paper and a later one on the Committee’s findings, which are still worth reading today, provided devastating evidence that Tony Blair misled the British public about the threat from Saddam Hussein in order to make the case for war.
I have not accepted all of Morrison’s arguments. However, his narratives provided an invaluable basis for our work, because he has a remarkable gift for highlighting like nothing else the key issues.
These documents set out with great clarity the key facts that everyone will need in order to assess whether John Chilcot has produced a fair report. I have summarised Morrison’s most devastating points here.
Tony Blair has finally said sorry for the Iraq War – and admitted he could be partly to blame for the rise of Islamic State.
The extraordinary confession by the former Prime Minister comes after 12 years in which he refused to apologise for the conflict.
Blair makes his dramatic ‘mea culpa’ during a TV interview about the ‘hell’ caused by his and George Bush’s decision to oust Saddam Hussein.
In the exchange, Blair repeatedly says sorry for his conduct and even refers to claims that the invasion was a war ‘crime’ – while denying he committed one.
Blair is asked bluntly in the CNN interview, to be broadcast today: ‘Was the Iraq War a mistake?’