As it's now August 2014 and Sir John Chilcot has finally said that he Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, can reach a compromise over what should and shouldn't been included in the final report...... after saying they couldn't.....

...and some Salmon letters might have been sent out ...this page is dedicated to a continuation of our back of a fag packet analysis of the Iraq Inquiry.  Sort of.  The real Inquiry report may or may not be out some time before the 2015 election.  Dont take a vote on it.

The bottom of this page follows on our now familar pattern of reviewing witnesses testimony transcripts as previously used on all the Private session transcrips. 

However since we have now perchased a copy of George W's biography for £1 in Poundland (RRP £24) which I gave a cursory review of in the previous article I thought it would be fun to read it in a bit more depth and give it a proper review ... before I only touched on the George W / Tony Blair relationship... so you will find at the top of the page a fuller review of Decision Disaster Points. 

The public transcript below it relates to the view from the Foreign Office from before 9/11 which gives an interesting perspective on how Saddam was seen by Whitehall before it all ...erm... kicked off.

Our initial interpretation of the transcripts (entirely filmed in Xtranormal) can be found
here which is more than you can say for Xtranormal (see here) ...although someone seems now to have bought Xtranormal and it has risen Lazarus like from dead ... but I dont think I'll be rushing to use it again.   Fortunately all the old Pear Shaped Iraq Inquiry Animations still exist on Youtube - and we have now gone through the painstaking tast of re-editing the Youtube videos into the old html.  Although for some reason people only ever watched the videos on Xtranormal...

Here's the usual resume of what we've covered so far in previous articles:

Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 1 Covers public evidence from Christopher Meyer, Jeremy Greenstock, Tim Dowse, Edward Chaplin, Sir David Manning, Sir William Patey, Vice Admiral Charles Style, General Sir John Reith, Alistair Campbell, Lieutenant General Sir Richard Shirreff and Geoff Hoon
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 2 Covers public evidence from Jonathan Powell, Lord Goldsmith, Margaret Beckett, John Hutton, Sir Kevin Tebbit, General the Lord Walker of Aldringham, Clare Short, Ann Clwyd, Gordon Brown and endless analysis of what Jaques Chirac meant without asking him.
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 3 Covers public evidence from Douglas Alexander, David Miliband, Cathy Adams,  Sir John Holmes, Sir Jonathan Cunliffe, Mark Etherington CBE and Lord Boateng.
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 4 Covers public evidence from Carne Ross, Lt Gen Sir James Dutton KCB CBE, Stephen White, Baroness Elizabeth Manningham-Buller, Sir Peter Spencer KCB, Lord Prescott, Tony Blair (again) and Jack Straw.  It also covers some ludicrous conspiracy theories.
Most of the first 4 pages are brief commentary with the transcripts re-edited in Xtranormal format (the videos are on Youtube).  For the next article we tried a different approach with a mixture of commentary, transcripts and Xtranormal animation...
MI6 goes Pear Shaped Iraq Covers SIS private evidence from MI6 officers SIS1, SIS2, SIS3,SIS4, SIS5 and SIS6 and C (Sir Richard Dearlove).  The Iraq Inquiry have so far interviewed (as far as I can figure out) at least 12 members of MI6. SIS1, SIS2, SIS3,SIS4, SIS5 and SIS6 have all had their transcripts published in some form whereas statements have been made that SIS8, SIS9 and SIS11’s transcripts will never be published due to the fact that “The Committee has concluded, in line with its Protocols, that it would not be possible to redact and publish the transcript without rendering it unintelligible”. Which leaves open the question of what’s happened to SIS7, SIS10 and SIS12’s testimony and will we ever see a transcript because the inquiry has not made a statement that we wont…?
Reconstruction goes Pear Shaped in Iraq Covers the reconstruction effort after the invasion and the private evidence of Edward Chaplin CMG OBE, The Hon Dominic Asquith CMG and Christopher Prentice CMG, HM Ambassadors to Iraq (2004 – 2009 collectively) and DFID and FCO functionaries JOHN TUCKNOTT, JONNY BAXTER, RICHARD JONES, ROB TINLINE, KATHLEEN REID, LINDY CAMERON, SIMON COLLIS, JAMES TANSLEY and TIM FOY
Kurdistan Goes Pear Shaped With Emma Sky - Emma Sky was sent to the US controlled region of Kirkuk in Kurdistan by the USA who secured her services from the British Council.  She maintains she was acting as effectively as a private citizen (not an employee of the British Government) at the time which is why she has a page entirely to herself.
The JIC goes Pear Shaped in Iraq - Sir John Scarlett and Julian Miller (heads of the JIC during the run up to the invasion) and Sir William Erhman and Tim Dowse (heads of of the JIC after the invasion of Iraq in 2003) discuss the actual evidence or lack of it for the claims within the two dossiers and illuminate us as the JIC intelligence QC processes in what is widely regarded as one of the most boring pages on the internet.
Defence Intelligence goes Pear Shaped - Martin Howard the head of the DIS is interviewed by the inquiry both in public and in private. This page is extremely tedious.
GCHQ goes Pear Shaped - Sir David Pepper tells us what went on at GCHQ after the war and no one tells us what went on at GCHQ in the run-up to the war
Major General Michael Laurie goes Pear Shaped - More fun from the DIS
Major General Tim Tyler goes Pear Shaped - A view of the Major General's view as Deputy Commander Iraq Survey Group and a review of Decision Points insofar as it relates to the Tony Blair/George W relationship

By the way if you cant see the inline videos properly you're probably using the 64 bit version of Windows Explorer 9.  Use a 32 bit version - you can download off the Microsoft website ...although it might just work now.  Or just use a browser that isn't entirely composed of old ActiveX controls and actually uses the HTML standards because its not built by egomaniacs.  You can also view all the animations on this Youtube page if that's easier.  As stated in the previous article this page is nonsense.  If you want a sensible analysis instead try the Iraq Inquiry Digest

That said there are NO inline animations in this page because I couldn't be bothered to struggle with GoAnimate.  We've gone for inapporopriate images instead.  I may insert some animations at a later date.  If I can be arsed..

So anyway … given we’ve now exhausted our journey through the private transcripts of the Chilcot Inquiry I thought it would be interesting to revisit George W Bush’s biography “Decision Points”… unlike normal biographies which are generally chronological George W has gone for a more informal style – making each chapter about a particular decision or set of decisions in his life and/or Presidency.  This makes the book more like a series of short stories than a cohesive narrative – although there are narrative arc elements connecting the various episodes.  Sort of like Uncle Mort’s Texas Country but sober and purposeful and with a script by Quentin Tarantino.  It gives him the opportunity to skip the boring bits of his life and also (a cynic may speculate) many of the episodes he would rather forget and/or not relate or which remain too controversial. At the back of the book there is a short section on the process of getting the book legally cleared for publication – which may further explain why some episodes of his life are conspicuously missing.   A credit is also given to George W’s speechwriter and to other staff who helped him collate and edit the book … this may explain some of the distance between the prose style of the book and George W’s notoriously individualistic use of the spoken word.   For example his peculiar announcement that he was writing the volume : 

I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened”….

Anyone hoping for a handy volume of the best “Bushisms” will be disappointed with the clear crisp style of the language contained in this publication.

The first and most important decision chronicled is George W’s important decision to give up drinking in favour of a far more potent drug -power. 

George W explains that he was never a full blown alcoholic but he was a functioning one and his alcoholism or love of alcohol prevented him from achieving other aims… although one expects that a possible conviction for Driving Under the Influence which comes back to bite him in the bum during the 2000 Presidential Election campaign may also have been a factor.  He gave up by eating lots of sweet stuff and putting on weight then going on long runs and workouts to burn off the extra fat – a chapter which convinced me I should never give up and continue to put on weight. 

Early on George W is keen to make his own way in the world.  Despite not being either that bright or hardworking (his own admission) he somehow gets into and struggles through various male only boarding schools and into Yale (I dozed off a bit in this section). 

He starts his own business drilling oil wells that goes a bit pear shaped and was bought out by someone else.  He makes his own decisions on what elections to run in … starting off as many candidates aspiring to be taken seriously do with seats he’s unlikely to win as they’re the easiest to get selected for. 

His explanations of the mechanics and psychology of campaigning are interesting reading and probably worth studying if you are insane enough to run for political office.  While George W starts by talking a lot about his own drive to make his own way in the world independent of daddy who’s busy climbing the greasy pole to become President of the USA he seems to gradually lose this independent streak as the book progresses.  One wonders too if people would lend him money with the same alacrity if daddy wasn’t head of the CIA and later USA.  To be fair he seems to make a big success of running his football club - More so than his oil business or indeed his presidency?

The turning point seems to be when his father selects him to work on his electoral team feeling that he needs people he can trust around him and later on George W admits that while he selected his own political fights …politics was very much the “family business”.  So he ends up back in the family firm.  The 2000 election campaign is covered in much detail.  George W spends a lot of time charming Dick Cheney into being his running mate … using the clever rouse of getting him to vet all the other potential candidates except himself then telling him he’s better than the alternatives.  We then move onto the controversial result of the election itself.  George W blames the closeness of the result on the revelation of his driving under the influence conviction during the final sprint to the finishing line ...

The Bush / Al Gore election was memorably decided by the result in Florida which came down to how good a set of machines were at punching holes in pieces of card.  Ticking a box is too simple it seems for the USA.  To make matters more complicated American electors do not vote directly for the candidates but correspondingly-pledged electors, who then formally elect the president.  You'd think electing one person would be as simple as everybody ticking a box?  Clearly not though ... a semi-first past the post hybrid is called for.

Bush had a lead of 2000 votes after the 1st count.  However, the count was close enough to qualify for an automatic mandatory recount.  This lowered Bush’s margin to less than 300 votes.  A count of overseas military ballots later boosted his margin to about 900 votes.  Al Gore then  requested hand recounts in four counties (Broward, Miami Dade, Palm Beach, and Volusia).  Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris announced she would reject any revised counts if they were not turned in by November 14.  The Florida Supreme Court extended this deadline to November 26.  Gore formally contested the certified results, but a state court decision overruling Gore was reversed by the Florida Supreme Court, which ordered a recount of over 70,000 ballots previously rejected by machine counters.  I know this is boring but thought I should keep it in.

Bush appealed to the U.S.
Supreme Court who halted  the Florida Supreme Court order the next day ruling that although there may be votes for Gore that remained uncounted because his supporters had hands that were too weak to punch holes fully through a piece of card ... the counting of partially punched holes was too difficult to technically achieve because the more the cards were recounted the more the chance of the partially punched holes becoming fully punched holes as the chads fell out ....  Or some nonsense like that…

"The counting of votes that are of questionable legality does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner, and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election. Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires. Another issue in the case, moreover, is the propriety, indeed the constitutionality, of letting the standard for determination of voters’ intent— dimpled chads, hanging chads, etc.— vary from county to county, as the Florida Supreme Court opinion, as interpreted by the Circuit Court, permits. If petitioner is correct that counting in this fashion is unlawful, permitting the count to proceed on that erroneous basis will prevent an accurate recount from being conducted on a proper basis later, since it is generally agreed that each manual recount produces a degradation of the ballots, which renders a subsequent recount inaccurate.
George W recalls how although he couldn’t hear the protesters from behind the bulletproof glass as the limo took him to the White House for the first time their “middle fingers spoke volumes”. Probably more important than who won the actual vote count in Florida or would have won had not the Supreme Court intervened was the fact that the electoral college had system created a result whereby although the winning candidate (Bush) had won the requisite 271 electoral college votes he had at the same time failed to get the most votes in the nationwide popular vote … but still won the presidency because of the FPTP-ish system.  This had happened before but not since 1888.  The Daily Mirror explains in painful detail here.  Still cant claim to fully understand it.

The complex legal arguments then had a knock on effect on George W’s choice of Presidential appointments.  Instead of having the usual 75 days to select his team there was a lot of pressure on time and it was done in a hurry causing some personality and internal political conflicts later down the line.  By this point George W has systems of vetting people and he gives us a lot of background on his interviewing systems but doesn’t tell us at exactly what point in his life he evolved them.  He seems to go from gifted amateur politician to slick political operator with some alacrity although one guesses the turning point was his role in George Bush Senior’s Presidential campaign.  Bush has the advantage of knowing all the ropes and nooses.  Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell were early appointments with Donald Rumsfeld being a rather more last minute choice.  At this point George W goes on a bit of a rant about Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell not being able to get on with each other and their deteriorating relationship over time with almost constant off-the-record briefings against each other by the end.  It sounds a bit like the Blairites vs the Brownites under New Labour.

Like many people who are keen on the death penalty and war George W is very “pro-life” and the next chapter concerns the thorny issue of stem cell research.  Both the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” lobbies come over as hectoring, self-serving, intransigent and full of bullshit.  George W attacks the pro-stem-cell movement for promoting cruelly unrealistic expectations of the benefits of the technology and many of the antis as having a lack of pragmatism about how actually the power of state funding had the potential to encourage the use and cultivation of stem cells other sources than embryos.  His own position is the rather interesting “life begins when love begins”.  So better make sure that he loves ya.

The book then swiftly moves on to 9/11.  You’d have to have a heart of stone not to have any empathy with George W during this chapter as he relates being told of the plane being flown into the first of the twin towers while visiting a primary school, then gives a short speech before being driven away to Air Force One which zooms him up to a height of 40,000ft where no doubt the CIA were happy to have him safe and …erm… safely out the way.  In Washington Dick Cheney is taken to the President's Emergency Operations Center To the Trap
                                                  Door...(is there really a trapdoor beneath the President’s desk in the Oval Office?) and between them they spend a lot of time not being able to communicate with each other via satellite phones as George W is pushed from pillar to post by the secret service before insisting that they take him back to Washington.  He discusses his feelings about giving the executive order to shoot down hijacked planes and the many pieces of confusing false intelligence that threatened to send everyone into more panic.  He recalls his inability to contact Donald Rumsfeld because he was busy being a first responder at the Pentagon, his visit to the Pentagon and to the site of the Twin Towers rubble and the desire by members of the rescue services for revenge … with one man saying bluntly something like “George, kill them”.   Possibly the most haunting section is where he talks about being the most powerful man on earth but "unable to save anyone". 

There’s also a rather funny-if-it-was-in-different-circumstances anecdote about Air Force One not being able to pick up any one television signal for very long.

George W tells Donald Rumsfeld that as far as a response goes this is his responsibility but doesn’t seem to realise that this is going to set him on a collision course with Colin Powell as he’s now given them conflicting responsibilities.  George W tells the CIA that from now on he wants to know everything.  They duly oblige and swamp him with details of potential threats.  

A particularly comic moment comes when everybody thinks they have been infected with botchulinum toxin after a scanning machine malfunctions.  The CIA inform them there is no cure and they have to wait to see if the lab mice die or not.  Colin Powell is clever enough to try and calculate what his chances of infection are from the date he was last in the building.  No one else seems as bright.  Rice’s underling Steven Hadley apparently said “‘Let me put it this way.  If the mice are feet up, we’re toast.  If the mice are feet down, we’re fine.”  Now it is true that botchulinum toxin is very toxic and lethal but there are anti-toxins?  Also although you can diagnose the poisoning using mice the faster way to detect the toxin in people is using mass spectrometry technology which only takes a few hours.  But maybe it wasn’t available at this time or if it was they thought George W wasn’t worth it?  (By the way this mouse is Aaron Logan's)

We then hear about the Anthrax scares and it’s at this point that the CIA start planting in George W’s mind that they think the source of the toxin may be Saddam Hussein.  This turns out to be not true.  White House officials repeatedly pressured FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove that they were a second-wave assault by al-Qaeda following the September 11 attacks.

But sadly in the end it was clear neither Saddam nor al Qaeda had the technology to produce US weapons grade anthrax.  It was the work of Bruce Edwards Ivins a US bioweapons expert working alone. 
Why exactly he wanted to include messages stating :



…is one of the great mysteries of police detection.  To make life more opaque there have been reviews of the evidence that paint a picture that is not quite as clear as first thought.  It has been suggested that the purpose of the letters was intimidation rather than murder because they gave the reader advanced warning that they had been touching contaminated material – not that this stopped 5 people dying.

Anyway … what is clear is that the President’s office leant on the CIA to prove a connection between the anthrax attacks an al-Qaeda / Saddam Hussein and none could be clearly established. Keen to do more than “put a ten million dollar missile on a five dollar tent” George W set about to change the law and put through several pieces of legislation – including the Patriot Act which allowed him to snoop on people in the USA as easily as those abroad.  This was expiring emergency legislation which had to be voted on every few years.

Great fun is the section on torture waterboarding. 

Some people from Iceland try it for themselves to figure out whether or not it hurts as
Condoleeza Rice was unwilling to try.

Stuck with a lot of Al Qaeda operatives who wont tell them anything the CIA approach George W to suggest various “enhanced interrogation techniques”.  It seems that since torture was technically illegal in the USA members of the CIA had prior to 9/11 experimented with torturing each other to alleviate the boredom on the flimsy pretext that this was necessary for them to learn how to withstand torture by foreign powers should they be tortured themselves.  Anyone else wondering whatever happened to suicide pills?  Fortunately torturing themselves did not dehumanise any of them so as a result by 2001 the CIA had conveniently managed to come up with a list of interrogation techniques which while they were painful “did not constitute torture” because they didn’t leave any physical marks on the body …such as bright lights, sleep deprivation and simulated drowning.  This they gave to George W.

George W assures us that there were one or two techniques suggested which he thought were taking things too far.  The mind boggles.  Such as what exactly?  The Rack?  The Iron Maiden?  The Rat Cage?  The Pit and the Pendulum?  Being forced to read his autobiography? 

Now don’t get me wrong Charlie Richardson connected quite a lot of people in south London up to Tucker Telephones and it never did them any long term harm…. One can see how George W rationalised the use of torture that seemed to do no physical harm to himself but his arguments are, of course, nonsense to anyone reading this volume even faintly analytically. 

To Tucker

He seems to believe that the problem is that people who had supported the enhanced interrogation program from opposition parties had done a policy U-turn when it became public ...not that the program was just simply unethical in the first instance.  One feels some slight pity for him if he has been politically betrayed but ultimately torture is torture and the buck stops with the Commander in Chief.  Also having told other people and them agreeing to keep it secret isn’t quite the same as them actually agreeing to the policy its self – we only have George W’s word for that.  These were not examples of people on the bottom rungs going out on a limb – the CIA’s torture program was sanctioned by the very highest authority in the land … him. 

To Tim Tyler...He doesn’t seem to see any direct connection either between what went on at Guantanamo Bay and what went on down Abu Ghraib…  That the selective use of mild torture would inevitably lead to the widespread use of crude torture.  Assuming that he really didn’t know about Abu Ghraib of course and hadn’t just attempted to turn a blind eye / make sure there was no direct paper trail to it. 

It just seems beyond him that any form of torture no matter how mild is torture and that he has crossed the Rubicon - That once Pandora’s box has opened he will not be able to close it.  It is often said that a man will say anything under torture.  While this cliché is true it sort of misunderstands the function of torture as being part of a judicial process whereas in fact the usual purpose of most torture is to extract information as to ongoing criminal (or politically undesirable) activities.   As George W and Donald Rumsfeld realised (like many medieval monarchs before them) if you have NO information then ANY information is better than nothing – even if it is rubbish.  Or is it?  Who cares?

Later on George W defends his inability to capture Osama bin Laden with the argument that every lead was followed but there was too much conflicting information … with no irony.  His main excuse for the use of torture interrogation techniques is on the grounds that it extracted useful information that saved lives.  The problem with defending torture using these arguments is that he’s just told us a few pages before that waterboarding isn’t torture.   If it’s not torture why is he defending it with an the-ends-justified-the-means arguments?  Perhaps because he doesn’t believe this himself.

Anyway …once he started to torture the members of Al Qaeda they started to give him information quite easily and most decided that being tortured was beyond the call of Allah.  They don’t exactly come over as Andree Borrel or Edmund Campion.  However, Geroge W fails to even consider the possibility that the perhaps forcing him to torture them may in fact have been one of their aims.  After all such activites were bound to leak eventually and would severely damage the political credibility of the “War On Terror”.  How can you have a war on terror by simulating drowning? 

Geroge W also contradicts himself by maintaining that Al Qaeda prisoners are in fact soldiers who should be dealt with by military tribunals when explaining the legal reasoning behind the existence of detention camps Guantanamo Bay and then claiming that they are not in fact combatants on behalf of any nation and so don’t deserve any legal protections under the Geneva convention when trying to explain his policies of torture.  At least I thought it was confusing.  To be fair to George W if we had to come up with an argument to defend him under the threat of torture you could argue that the “United Nations Convention Against Torture” of 1984 talks about “any act by which severe pain or suffering…” and construct an argument along the lines of the idea that although waterboarding involves suffering it isn’t “sever” or “intentional” suffering.  However, given the fact that the psychological intention of waterboarding is presumably some kind of mock execution simulation … I think it might be fairly filmsy.  I particularly enjoyed this section:

To a very bad
                                                  man..."Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was obviously planning more attacks.  It didn’t sound like he was willing to give us any information about them.  “I’ll talk to you,” he said, “after I get to New York and see my lawyer”."  Well, if you can't call on Allah call on your Solicitor.  "George Tenet asked if he had permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  I thought about my meeting with Danny Pearl’s widow, who was pregnant with his son when he was murdered.  I thought about the 2,973 people stolen from their families by al Qaeda on 9/11.  And I thought about my duty to protect the country from another act of terror.

Damn right,I said".

On page 169 George W is clearly wrestling with his conscience however when he describes the torture of To another
                                                  bad man...Abu Zubaydah (who looks a bit likeTravis number 2 out of Blakes 7) .  “I would have preferred that we get the information another way.  But the choice between security and values was real.  Had I not authorized waterboarding on senior al Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk that the country would be attacked.  In the wake of 9/11, that was a risk I was unwilling to take.  My most solemn responsibility as president was to protect the country.  I approved the use of interrogation techniques”. 

Oh well, at least it’s a refreshingly honest mea culpa compared to Tony Blair’s various “it wasn’t me honest, gov” antics.  George W does come over as a man of integrity.  The problem is he’s a man of integrity with a brain the size of a pea.  It’s rather like listening to Father Ted explaining to Father Dougal how “by committing this little sin here, Douglal, we’re preventing another much larger sin …so actually what we’re doing is a good thing”. 

Eventually we read how in his majority opinion Justice John Paul Stevens ruled that “a part of the Geneva Conventions known as Common Article III – written exclusively for “armed conflict with an international character” – somehow applied to America’s war with al Qaeda”.  And George W starts to realise that he may have put members of the CIA in some legal jeopardy. 

Next we move onto Afghanistan.

It’s easy to forget just how awful the Taliban regime was in 2001.  Something like Oliver Cromwell without the Rump Parliament; killing all forms of public entertainment, painting windows black, refusing education to women and showing invention only in their increasingly bizarre forms of public execution.  At one point the regime even managed to ban paper bags.

A picture of the Tablian religious PoPo beating women from RARA

George W does a very good job of describing just how economically poor the country is (it’s at number 12 on the list of pov nations) and explaining how Osama bin Laden used his personal wealth to buy the right to so many training camps.  He also describes how difficult it is to fight in the mountainous topography.  Unlike in Iraq in Afghanistan (mainly out of fear of repeating the USSR’s experiences) the US went to great efforts to avoid appearing as an occupying force and to build international agreement and support.  Even Vladimir Putin was happy to lend a hand.  So was Pakistan.  Serious thought seems to have been given to the worst case scenarios – like that the war might spill over to and destabilise Pakistan …which, of course, already had its own WMD and military dictator in all but name General Pervez Musharraf …who eventually went into exile in London (lucky us) before returning to Pakistan where he’s currently on bail for conspiracy to assassinate Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti.  It was this man and Hamid Karzai who George W had to get to deal with each other in order to take on Al Qaeda. 

Even George W wasn’t going to violate the sovereignty of two neighbouring countries at the same time.  Modesty in a all things … particularly when a nation has nuclear weapons. 

Musharraf and Karzai clearly hated each other and Al Qaeda seems to have had an interesting time leading them both a merry dance by playing them off against each other.  Eventually however Afghanistan and Pakistan get their act together.  George W also has a rant against his NATO allies complaining about the complex rules of engagement that meant countries could send troops and stipulate opt outs as to what activities they were and weren’t able to be used for that were so complex and restrictive that many countries soldiers did little more according to him than take up space.  Of course his increasing involvement in Iraq might have had something to do with their increasing reluctance to get involved further but … On page 189 there’s this interesting exchange.

“Dealing with Iraq would show a major commitment to the antiterrorism,” Don Rumsfeld said.

Colin cautioned against it.  “Going after Iraq now would be viewed as a bait and switch,” he said.  “We would lose the UN, the Islamic Countries and NATO.  If we want to do Iraq, we should do it at a time of our choosing.  But we should not do it now, because we don’t have linkage to this event.”

George Tenet agreed.  “Don’t hit now.  It would be a mistake,” he said.  “The first target needs to be al Qaeda".

So it’s quite clear that George W intended to “hit” Iraq as early as 2001 and that the top military and political brass knew there was no linkage between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda that they could prove.  Never-the-less George W exasperatedly remarks at one point that they can surely do more than one thing at a time and America proceeds in the next chapter to violate the first law of military strategy - avoid engaging yourself in two theatres at the same time at all costs.  While George W might have had the resources to do this it’s pretty clear from Gordon Brown’s evidence to the Iraq Inquiry that the UK’s military capabilities were stretched to breaking point as a result.

The next chapter is on Iraq and starts with George W repeating his arguments for engagement as if it’s still 2003 and we haven’t learnt anything new since then.  His arguments have not matured with age … but in this book he’s a tad more candid (obliquely) about his real motivations.

It seems…

Saddam Hussein wasn’t just a sworn enemy of America.  He had fired at our aircraft, issued a statement praising 9/11, and made an assassination attempt on a former president, my father.

Taking these points in turn … George W makes a good point that by 2003 America, Britain and Iraq were already engaged in what he calls a “low grade war” in order to enforce the UN no fly zone.  George W’s starting point is … well, we’re already sort of at war why not stop pussyfooting about and put troops on the ground.

Saddam Hussein didn’t exactly “praise” 9/11 what he actually said was "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity". 

Saying that the attacks are inevitable consequence of American foreign policy while possibly some kind of inchoate crime is subtly different to saying outright “that was a great idea” … although this may be splitting hairs.  The Bush administration clearly see Saddam if not as al Qaeda … as the Lord Haw Haw of al Qaeda.   Still you would think Lord Haw Haw could keep.  Perhaps they just couldn’t stand his gloating.

After 9/11 Donald Rumsfeld immediately started making statements about the possible involvement of Saddam with 9/11.  Around October 22 Saddam wrote to a US citizen offering his condolences before going on a rant about American terrorism.  Saddam wrote: "
I don't think that your [US] administration deserves the condolences of Iraqis, except if it presents its condolences to the Iraqi people for the 1,500,000 Iraqis it killed, and apologises to them ... Do you know, brother Christopher, that your administration, in its war against the people of Iraq, has been burning not only the cereals in silos, but even the harvest by throwing flares in order to make Iraqi people starve.  Iraq has been harmed severely by the fanaticism of others, including America ... " blah blah blah

According to http://globalresearch.ca/articles/LEO306A.html Paul Wolfowitz put it to George W that they should consider invading Iraq based on his “gut feelings” as early as two days after 9/11.  The transcripts of these conversations are here http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030509-depsecdef0223.htm  Now I dont want to stir up any anti-semitism but …. it is a fact there is a big Jewish lobby in the USA.  After all almost as many Jews live there as in Israel and .....I think it was James Mann who said "Wolfowitz demonstrated himself to be one of the strongest supporters of Israel in the Reagan administration."  Many many many years ago and erm … he is Jewish.  He was also a member of the Quill and Dagger Society at Cornell University who's secretive elitist antics makes the Bullingdon Club sound inclusive.  Perhaps Saddam’s loathing of Israel and love of Hamas was a factor here.  Whatever …it’s pretty clear that Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld were pretty much dead set on invading Iraq ideally sooner rather than later.  It's hardly a shock though that so many of George W's team are pro-Israeli. 

Vice President Dick Cheney had for a long time been a member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs a washington based thinktank who's stated aim is "to ensure a strong and effective U.S. national security policy; to educate American leaders on what it views as the vital strategic relationship between the United States and Israel; and to strengthen U.S. cooperation with democratic allies, including Taiwan, Hungary, Turkey, India, and NATO member nations, amongst others".  According to wikipedia JINSA's policy recommendations for the U.S. government currently include:

    Enhanced WMD counterproliferation programs.

    National ballistic missile defense systems.

    Curbing of regional ballistic missile development and production worldwide.

    Increased counterterrorism training and funding, prior to September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Increased defense cooperation with Israel.

    Substantially improved quality-of-life for U.S. service personnel and their families.

    Support for joint U.S.-Israeli training and weapons development programs.

    Regime change in "rogue" nation-states known to provide support or knowingly harbor terrorist groups, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Libya, and support a re-evaluation of the U.S. defense relationships with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Persian Gulf nations.

Which cynics might interpret as a bit too pro-Israeli or ever so slightly warmongering.  That's not to suggest the JINSA is involved in a Jewish conspiracy.  I'm sure everything they do is above the board and all their lobbying is done in the open.  But it's hardly a shock that when George W turned to his running mate and said (according to the transcripts of Chrisptoper Meyer's evidence to the Iraq Inquiry) "I dont know much about foreign policy I'd better learn pretty damn fast" or words to that effect that Dick Cheney hooked him up with "the Vulcans" : Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, ...

...Richard Armitage, Robert Blackwill, Stephen Hadley, Richard Perle, Dov S. Zakheim, Robert Zoellick and Wolfowitz protegé, Scooter Libby. 

Scooter Libby was the Republican fall guy for the Iraq War WMD scandal.  In 2002 CIA operative Valerie Palme recommended the CIA send her husband diplomat Joseph C Wilson to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq had arranged to import uranium.  As Sir John Chilcot observed in the JIC transcripts...

THE CHAIRMAN: I can't resist a reference to the fact that somebody described Niger as having only two exports.

To the JIC goes
                                                Pear Shaped in Iraq

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, I think 75 per cent of their exports were, at that point, uranium.

THE CHAIRMAN: And the rest were chickens.

After the invasion of Iraq Joseph C Wilson wrote a series of articles questioning the use of intelligence by President Bush as misleading - stating that although he had investigated the link it was actually bollocks.  Columnist Robert Novak then wrote a piece dissing Wilson that ended up with somehow leaking the fact that Valerie Palme was a spook.  This resulted in a Department of Justice investigation.  The White House denied Karl Rove, Lewis "Scooter" Libby or Dick Cheney were involved in the leak.  Following a grand jury investigation it was found that no one knew who leaked the information but Scooter was charged with obstruction of justice.  This resulted in a trial and then a conviction and then 30 months in prison and a fine of US$250,000.  Bush commuted Libby's jail sentence, effectively erasing the 30 months he was supposed to spend in jail but not the federal felony conviction, probation and fines.  To make life more complicated the President has the power to pardon people and traditionally does so on his retirement so there's a lot of mental hand wringing about the incident in the early part of the book.

JINSA was founded in 1973 as a response to the Yom Kipur War.  The Yom Kipur War was a surprise attack on Israel by the Egyptians and Syrians in an attempt to win back the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights which Israel had confiscated off them in the 1967 Six Day War when it launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt and increased it's territory by 1/3.  It's a remarkable achievement of Israel's defensive wars that they do tend to leave the country slightly larger.  Some of this territory has now been given back.  Israel left the Sinai Peninsula in 1982 but it's still hanging on to Golan... although I cant be bothered to keep up with all the countless middle eastern wars and intifadas with Israel so forgive me if we sound a bit biased.  Egypt and Syria lost the Yom Kipur War badly but everything soon returned to normal when the USSR promised to commit its own ground forces and nuke everyone if they didn't behave.  We'll return to the six day war a bit later and more crassly if I can be bothered to over-simplify it...

JINSA wasn't the only pro-Israeli thinktank connected to the Bush Administration.  
Wolfowitz's amusingly named "Project for the New American Century" had been calling for Regime Change in Iraq since the Presidency of Bill Clinton.  Coming up with a report entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" which they sent to Isreaeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  In 1998 PNAC members Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, Elliot Abrams, and John Bolton wrote to Bill Clinton officially calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein and regime change in Iraq on the basis that "sanctions are not working".  Donald Rumsfeld was also a member of PNAC.  They said that "American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council" which you may read as "the UN is bollocks".

To be fair to George W he has a point that Saddam’s words may have been incitement ot terrorism – but this is not the argument that was advanced at the time.  The argument advanced and promoted was that Saddam was directly implicated in the activities of al Qeada.  Not true.

Then George W accuses Saddam of trying to assassinate his dad.  Yes, this time it’s personal. 

In 1993 George Bush Snr went to visit Kuwait University and a plot to kill him by car bomb was uncovered.   Two suspects Wali Abdelhadi Ghazali and Raad Abdel-Amir al-Assadi confessed but then retracted their confessions mid trial stating that they had been coerced.  According to the FBI report not only was George Bush Snr on this trip but two of his sons – did George W go?  I expect so.   George W clearly believes that Saddam came within inches of murdering not just his father but his siblings too and, indeed, probably even himself.  Was there a direct provable link?  It’s debatable.  But certainly many people believed there was a connection between Saddam’s Directorate 14 and the attack.  Wikipedia claims “Bush had left office in January 1993. The Iraqi Intelligence Service, particularly Directorate 14, was proved to be behind the plot.” Citing Charles Duelfer’s report.  Certainly reading the FBI report there does seem to be a small mountain of circumstantial evidence pointing towards Saddam: “CIA technicians found that the remote-control firing devices in the Bush case closely resembled devices used in other IIS devices, including the Middle-East devices. They found that blasting caps in the Bush case had the same characteristics as those found in one of the Middle-East devices, and the detonators matched those found in the other Middle-East device and one of the Southeast Asia devices. They further determined that the cube-bombs incorporated timing circuits and remote control firing devices containing integrated circuits used by Iraq in other devices.”  Reading the same reports however the Huffingdon post concluded that it was all bollocks... on the basis there is no direct link found in the 600,000 pages of reports reviewed by the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command report…. Even so Saddam does look as guilty as sin if you ask me.  President Bill Clinton certainly thought so and expressed this view with 23 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from USS Peterson and the USS Chancellorsville at the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in the Al Mansur district of Baghdad. 

This may well have been a reasonable and proportionate response at the time but to argue 10 years later that you’ve suddenly decided it wasn’t big enough because President Bush was your dad is perhaps pushing the envelope a tad… then again this is only one of George W’s reasons.  Not all of them.  He’s reminding us of the regime’s Horrible Histories…

Anyway George W continues …

Saddam didn’t just threaten his neighbours.  He had invaded two of them, Iran in the 1980s and Kuwait in the 1990s. 

Which is a bit like arguing that we should invade Argentina because they invaded the Falkland Islands in 1984.  None of these points are irrelevant but they don’t really add up together to Iraq being an immediate and dangerous threat.

Saddam didn’t just rule brutally.  He and his henchmen had tortured innocent people (as opposed to torturing guilty people?), taped political opponents in front of their families, scalded dissidents with acid, and dumped tens of thousands of Iraqis into mass graves… etc etc.

A reasonable point but Saddam threatening his own population isn’t the point – the point is …is he an external threat.  Bush seems to believe that all repressive regimes are likely to support and export terror.  The problem is that not all of them seem to …to the same extents.  And also, of course, if one is going to go round invading countries because their regimes are brutal one is sadly spoilt for choice.

Iraq didn’t just possess weapons of mass destruction.  He had used them.

To MI6 goes Pear
                                                  Shaped in Iraq...…argues George W … who still seems in denial of the various reports that concluded that actually the truth is that Iraq just didn’t possess weapons of mass destruction even if it had used them over a decade ago...

…after reviewing the information, virtually every major intelligence agency in the world had reached the same conclusion: Saddam had WMD in his arsenal and the capacity to produce more.…

...explains George W. 

An argument that boils down to “they told me to” …and is to say the least a tad parsimonious with the truth.  Here's the British Government's view at the time from the Iraq Inquiry transcript at the bottom of the page as expressed by Sir Peter Ricketts Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee for the first 9 months of 2001:

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Well, first of all, I don't think there was any disagreement, as you say, that Iraq had had weapons of mass destruction. After all, they had used them.

Had had isn't the same as had.  The view of the British government was "we didn't know".

SIR PETER RICKETTS: IAEA inspectors had found and largely dismantled a nuclear programme after the Gulf War. So the fact that the country had capabilities and had shown they were willing to use them was not disputed. There may have been difference of assessment, I don't know, as to whether they were actively seeking to reconstitute their WMD capabilities. There we had intelligence information suggesting that they did, which I'm sure could be exposed to you in more detail in private sessions. I don't know to what extent that was shared as an assessment with other countries.

Notice he uses the word "suggesting" whereas George W seems to insist this was known.  What did and didn't exist is probably best covered by the Pear Shaped JIC page ...even if there's rather a lot there we don't know about scuds.  Ask Scudwatch ......I've cut him a bit short but you can read him at interminable length at the bottom of the page.  And, of course, without the threat of force they would Inspectors have been let in? 

To MI6 goes
                                                    Pear Shaped...

Maybe George W’s defence that he was using corroboration by volume does hold some water – i.e. that he and the security services were not deliberate liars just massively incompetent fools who believed their own bullshit so that because intelligence service A told intelligence service B they were worried intelligence service B told intelligence service C they were worried intelligence service C told intelligence service D they were worried and intelligence service D told intelligence service A they were worried and it’s all simply a matter of recursion with everybody telling everybody else what they want to hear rather than the truth. 

Maybe that’s the truth.  Or part of the truth.  If Tony Blair decides to soup up a dossier or two why would George W have cause to doubt him?  After all he gave Tony an opt out on participation in the invasion right up to the final hour...... If Blair lent on MI6 and Bush lent on the CIA wouldn’t they both manufacture more and more nonsense endlessly? After all we’re talking about an organisation that can convince its self that waterboarding isn’t torture.

Our intelligence report summarised the problem: “Since the end of inspections in 1998, Saddam has maintained the chemical weapons effort, energized the missile program made a bigger investment in biological weapons, and has begun to try to move further forward in the nuclear area.

Erm …

…well, it’s good to see Goebbels big lie technique alive and well.  The pack of lies and half truths is now so colossal no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously?  Or as George W would put it…

The left trotted out a new mantra: ‘Bush Lied, People Died.’ The charge was illogical. If I wanted to mislead the country into war, why would I pick an allegation that was certain to be disproven publicly shortly after we invaded the country? The charge was also dishonest. …. Nobody was lying. We were all wrong. The absence of WMD stockpiles did not change the fact that Saddam was a threat.” Page 262.  Ever heard of the double bluff?

In summer 2002 the CIA tried to bounce George W into war by saying that they knew where Al-Zarqawi was and he had been originating chemical weapons.  The CIA had been trying to get Saddam to extradite
Al-Zarqawi for a long time and they refused.


Was this (combined with the anthrax threat alerts) the real reason?  George W decided not to bomb Iraq in 2002 when Colin Powell advised the attack would seriously damage the diplomatic efforts to build a political alliance.   You could create an argument that by harbouring Al-Zarqawi Saddam was sponsoring terrorism … but it was not advanced …probably because one man alone is not much of credible threat.  Also at this time al-Zarqawi was not officially affiliated with al Qaeda – he did affiliate in 2004 after the invasion.  Whether this affiliation was in fact pre-existing or whether it was a consequence of or expedited by the invasion however is a moot.  One thing’s for sure – he killed people.  Zarqawi was a Jordanian by birth who had travelled to Afghanistan to fight the USSR in 1989.  Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein the King of Jordan is generally regarded as a bit of a bore by many people of Zarqawi's ilk as he keeps going on about becoming a democracy (while appointing the whole government personally) and doesn't invade Israel as much as other people.

Ironically for an Islamic terrorist Zarqawi had drink problem. 
He was arrested in 1990 when the Jordanian government found guns and ammunition in his home and spent his time in prison trying to persuade everyone to overthrow the government.   After his release from prison in 1999 Osama bin Laden gave him $200,000 for a “terrorist organisation start up”.  One thing on the plus side of being an Islamic terrorist is there never seems to be a lack of funding.  I doubt he’d have got that amount of money for a legitimate business start up.  He next had a pop at the Radisson SAS Hotel in Jordan (although he delegated the work to some suicide bombers as you do). 

Al Zarqawi’s long term plan was to topple the Jordanian Monarchy and then attack Israel. 

Al Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden had an uneasy relationship often falling out over money and power and the fact it was very difficult to get two such giant egomaniacs in the same room at the same time.  At one point Osama bin Laden demanded unequivocally that Al Zarqawi should swear allegiance to him and al Zarqawi told him to get stuffed.  Al Zarqawi featured on Colin Powell’s infamous powerpoint presentation to the UN (above).  In fact he’s one of the few parts of it not to be retroactively shown to be bollocks but the Senate investigation into pre-war intelligence concluded that there was no strong link between Saddam’s regime an Al Qaeda.

But even assuming there to be a strong reason to suspect a direct link between Al Zarqawi and al Qaeda pre-dating 2003 … was it worth taking us all to war for?  Colin Powell told the UN that “every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence”. 

However the Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq concluded much of the information provided or cleared by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for inclusion in Secretary Powell’s speech was overstated, misleading, or incorrect.  Is it too much of a deductive leap to rephrase that as “a pack of lies”?  Of course it wasn’t all lies.  There was a selection.  As the Master would say: “for a lie to work it must be shrouded in truth”.

The US Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence also stated "As indicated in Iraqi Support for Terrorism, the Iraqi regime was, at a minimum, aware of al-Zarqawi’s presence in Baghdad in 2002 because a foreign government service passed information regarding his whereabouts to Iraqi authorities in June 2002. Despite Iraq’s pervasive security apparatus and its receipt of detailed information about al-Zarqawi's possible location, however, Iraqi Intelligence told the foreign government service it could not locate al-Zarqawi."  So it wasn’t as if Saddam had said “No, you can’t have him”… it was more that he hadn’t bothered to look that hard.   A policy of passive aggression isn’t harbouring or conspiring.  Or is it?  Maybe George W should have acted on the CIA’s advice and taken Al Zarqawi out with a targeted military strike in the same way that Barack Obama took out Osama bin Laden with a commando raid …but, of course, if unsuccessful this would make him look like a warmonger and if successful this would have removed one of his pretexts for invasion?

Playing devil’s advocate and giving George W the benefit of quite a considerable volume of doubt one could argue that it doesn’t matter that much if Al Zarqawi had a direct link with Osama bin Laden or if either of them had a direct link with Saddam Hussein as this is to miss something fundamental about the nature of Al Qaeda – that it was designed to operate not with a direct chain of command but as a clandestine cell system.  Al Qaeda’s cell system was much more complicated than conventional cell systems but there is a manual available as a result of the US New York City Attorney's Office entering it as evidence in the US Southern District Court in the case about the Africa embassy bombings.  That said I can’t be bothered to try and make sense of most of it as I got bored reading the word Allah every other sentence.   However, deducing from this that the USA has a right to just invade anywhere it wants on the basis that there may be a potential threat is a bit too much of a deductive leap …for me anyway.

There is a doctrine in international law to allow for legal pre-emptive strikes.  It is known as the Caroline Test.  This was the result of the incident when the British forces in Canada crossed the border to set the steamship Caroline on fire before sending it over Niagara falls.  The Canadians were rebelling against the British colonial government and technically the USA was neutral in the rebellion but American sympathisers had armed and supplied the rebels so the British government of 1837 argued to the American government that although they had violated the USA boarder in order to sink the ship it was an act of “anticipatory self-defense” rather than aggression.  As a result American Secretary of State Daniel Webster came up with a test for the legality of pre-emptive strikes that is generally accepted in international law.  It has two components:

1)    The use of force must be necessary because the threat is imminent and thus pursuing peaceful alternatives is not an option (necessity);

2)    The response must be proportionate to the threat (proportionality).

While it’s possible to agree with George W’s analysis that Iraq posed a threat, it’s pretty hard for most people to buy that that threat was either imminent or that the response to the threat was proportionate.  George W’s statements that he’s not going to wait for the threat to become imminent are a violation of the most basic concepts of international law.  His view is that his primary responsibility is to protect the American people from another 9/11 …but he doesn’t seem to ever put a cost on that.  To put it crudely to George W the ends of protecting USA citizens justify the means of killing foreign nationals.  The question he doesn’t answer clearly is how many foreign citizens he thinks it is acceptable to kill to protect each American life.  Then again maybe there isn’t an answer to a question like that.

Although pre-emptive wars and military acts are in some cases legal one can count on half a fingertip the number of pre-emptive incidents that have been clearly and definitively established as legal and accepted as such by the popular opinion in international law.  Before anyone asks there is no absolute arbiter in international law so I’ve appointed my own – me.  The standard test of defining the right to pre-emptively strike is probably that of Professor Mark R Amstutz (although there are others).  It states that there must be:

1)    The existence of an intention to injure;

2)    The undertaking of military preparations that increase the level of danger; and

3)    The need to act immediately because of a higher degree of risk.

The use of the WMD argument to try to redefine these criteria by either exaggerating the level of risk or arguing that the rules are simply outdated is not new.  Such arguments have been wheeled out for many years by the Israelis who seem to have had quite a few pre-emptive wars …most notably the 1967 Six Day war.  After Colonel Nasser amassed a large number of troops on the border they attacked first with air strikes and then with ground troops.  At the time they argued Colonel Nasser had made the first move but retroactively they argued that their attack was pre-emptive when the evidence against their original statements became overwhelming.  That is not to say that Egypt and Syria didn’t mean Israel any harm but clearly even if they did then hanging onto the occupied territories for quite so long after the war was possibly morally dubious.  Then again there were 5 major wars and many minor conflicts between 1948 and 2014 and… and… well …but … all the same … even though one can come up with moral arguments for occupying parts of another country allowing settlements of your own people in them is just morally indefensible.  Israel destroyed its settlements in Gaza when it “withdrew” in 2005 while leaving a blockade and maintaining airspace control.   After all why would Israel want to put homes in Gaza when it can build on the West bank

…apparently building homes in someone’s country is now an “appropriate Zionist response to the Palestinian terror government.”  But let’s not get bogged down in the Israel/Palestine conflict… for one thing to accurately deal with all the aggressions of Israel on its neighbours and its neighbours on Israel would take so long that I would simply die of old age before I ever finished this page… it’s best all summed up in the words of Joan Rivers: “You started it!

To attempt to respond to George W’s points seriously.  The problem as we know now in terms of intelligence is that the Weapons Inspectors and the Oil for Food program were always the primary source of it … we know now that so repressive was Saddam’s regime that there were very few in it prepared to “spill the beans”… if there were many beans to spill.

So once inspectors had left it wasn’t really possible to make a sensible assessment of the level of threat till they’d been put back in… America then argued that although Iraq destroyed Al Hussein missiles and their chemical stockpiles because they didn’t tell anyone about this they were still technically not conforming with Security Council resolution 1441.  The question then is can you take resolution 1441 as authorising war … and if you can why did they want a second resolution?

Here’s some  Sir John Scarlett turgid waffle

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: At the time -- of course there's been a lot of discussion now, and not least with the Committee, as to, as it were, what impact was being made on policy makers, and also on intelligence assessment, by the failure to find things.  I can only say that at that time -- this is a very short period of time. Progress and events are measured in days and in a small number of weeks. Events move very fast. At the time the stated view was that they had found things, and that there were items in the intelligence --

THE CHAIRMAN: Agent cases.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: -- and documents(?) and so on, which were bearing out the intelligence, and I definitely said that at the time and believed it. So my own mindset, I quite clearly recall, up until early March at least, was that intelligence to a significant extent was being borne out by what was being found by UNMOVIC. My state of mind wasn't: oh gosh, UNMOVIC aren't finding things, therefore there's something big which is wrong.  Now, if we had continued and had had more time, and this hadn't all just come to an end in the middle of March, of course that would have changed. But it's important to remember that the discoveries were in late January and the conflict started in the middle of March.

We’ve done the failure of the diplomatic effort to get a second resolution before so let’s not go through all that again.  That said on re-reading this chapter I particularly enjoyed this section: 

At Tony’s request, I made one last effort to persuade Mexico and Chile, two wavering Security Council members, to support the second resolution.  My first call was to my friend President Vicente Fox.  The conversation got off to an inauspicious start.  When I told Vicente I was calling about the UN resolution, he asked which one I meant.  “If I can give you some advice,” I said, “you should not be seen teaming up with the French.”  He said he would think about it and get back to me.  An hour passed.  Then Condi heard from the embassy.  Vicente had checked into the hospital for back surgery.  I never did hear from him on the issue.”

Perhaps we can help George W out here.  The BBC website carries this interview from 2003 where President Fox expands on his relationship with the USA.  It’s dated  12th June 2003 (three months later).  Long enough it seems for him to recover from his bad back.

On the Larry King chat show in 2007 Larry King asked Vicente Fox directly what he thought of the Iraq War

KING: Do you think the Iraq War is a mistake?

FOX: Yes, I do.

In order to go to war George W also needed the permission of the Senate and Congress so there’s a nice little section where he lists all the Democrats who voted to give him the right to invade: Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, John Edwards and Harry Reid. 

Some members of Congress would later claim they were not voting to authorise war but only to continue diplomacy.  They must not have read the resolution.  Its language was unmistakable: “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq””. 

Technically, of course, they’d voted to give him the responsibility to go to war rather than for the war itself.  Like Tony “you’d have to deploy different arguments” Blair George W doesn’t seem to see much difference between the ethics of selling a war and the ethics of selling, say, double glazing and so “You should have read the small print” is one of George W’s regular refrains but, of course, the Congressmen and Congresswomen might not have agreed with the implicit assertion here that the UN resolution had not been enforced. 

Actually Resolution 1441 hadn’t been enforced but then enforcing resolution 1441 is actually impossible… because, if you read the small print, it states that it is Iraq’s responsibility to prove that it has no WMD and George W can always argue that it hasn’t produced enough evidence to this effect because you can’t actually prove something doesn’t exist.   If you could most religious leaders would be out of work.  As George W puts it the “burden of proof is on Saddam”.  The burden of proof is reversed as in a libel action.  Saddam has to prove himself innocent rather than George W having to prove he is guilty.  There is no doubt in my mind that this was in the mind of whoever drafted resolution 1441.  It comes as close as it can to authorising war without actually using the word “war” while imposing on a Iraq a requirement that it can be argued it has never fulfilled because it’s virtually impossible to fulfil under any circumstances.  If Iraq claims it has handed over all information George W can always claim there must be more information that it has not handed over.  The wording of Resolution 1441 is recursive.  To Tim Tyler...It’s hardly surprising then that Saddam replied with the largest volume of paper he could lay his hands on that as Hans Blix said was “rich in volume but poor in information”.  Joe Lieberman called it a “12,000 page, one-hundred-pound lie.”  My guess is he thought the USA’d invade any way and was either playing for time or trying to wind them up.  When debriefed Saddam said he was more worried about being invaded by Iran.  That is that he feared looking weak to his neighbours almost as much as being invaded by the USA.  Being told what to do by a nuclear superpower isn't very good for the international reputation of military dictators particularly if what you're being asked to do is just sensible.

Of course it’s a difficult decision to go to war even if you really want to so George W cast about for advice – calling in Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel… a Jewish holocaust survivor who does a lot for peace in the same way that Yewtree suspects tend to have done a lot for children’s charities.  Well, come on… it’s not that surprising is it that a Jewish man who used to live in Israel should think invading an Arab country that had bombed Israel was a good idea?  Particularly given Saddam’s often stated view that Israel should simply not exist.  An opinion he had no problem in slipping into his final letter.  Saddam may have been no friend of al Qaeda but he was certainly mates with Hamas.  For one thing they are both Sunni.  And anyway my enemy’s enemy is my friend.  But also Iraq both under King Faisal II and Saddam Hussein was involved in wars against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973.  Israel fired missiles at a nuclear facility inside Iraq in 1981 and during the Gulf War Iraq fired missiles at Israel.  In 1992 Yitzak Rabin attempted to assassinate Saddam Hussein and in 1995 was himself assassinated by an extreme right Jewish Orthodox nut job.  I could go on but basically even today Nouri al-Maliki refuses to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.  Given such a history it’s unlikely, in my view, that Elie Wiesel would have said “nah …leave it, mate.  He’s not worth it”.

Of course I’m not suggesting that the Iraq War was a “Jewish conspiracy”.  I’m sure there are already hundreds of articles claiming that all over the internet classified by many corporate websites as “hate speech” and postulating nonsense such as the “Jew’s did 9/11 themselves” or “Osama bin Laden wasn’t responsible for 9/11”.  Never-the-less without wanting to turn this into Stormfront … it’s clear there is a Jewish/Israeli lobby in the US which is organised.   Actually, there’s nothing wrong with that. 


Mr Wiesel and the Jewish lobby in the USA are citizens of that country and they have every right to lobby it for whatever it is they desire – that is not a conspiracy.  None-the-less if you’re looking for people with a neutral viewpoint on the situation Elie Wiesel would be pretty far near the bottom of my list ……but, of course, Elie was in Auschwitz so all his views must clearly be sensible.  After all his seminal book Night about his experiences in Auschwitz sells 300,000 copies a year and this website sometimes manages 25 hits a day.  It’s all about having a demographic.  According to Wikipedia Norman Finkelstein in his book the Holocaust Industry accused Wiesel of promoting a “uniqueness doctrine” which holds the Holocaust as a paramount of evil and therefore historically incomparable to other genocides.  To be fair to Wiesel there is a uniqueness to the Jewish Holocaust in its size, speed and level of industrialisation such that …well, if it isn’t unique I’d like to know what is.  On the other hand I think I know what he means …one does tire of the Suffering Olympics.  Personally I was rather put off Holocaust exhibitions (Elie was Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council) by one at the Imperial War museum at the end of which holocaust survivors appeared on a TV screen not just to talk about their experiences but to inflict their trite opinions on me…

Testimonies from 18 survivors bring a moving and haunting perspective” the Imperial War museum website says.  Perhaps but some of them sounded like complete miseries to me.… which was fine except for one woman who went on a big rant about hating German adults even though they were children during the war and not old enough to be morally responsible for the actions of their parents.  Mind you I might have misremembered this but I’m not going back to check it was too depressing.  Okay it wasn’t a bad day out – you’re allowed to be a bit grumpy.  Okay okay … It was 13 years ago and it’s just down the road so I made the effort to go back and see if what she said was as I remember it. It pretty much was.   After telling a nice story about going back to Germany after the war and talking to people she says something along the lines (photography and video recording is prohibited so please forgive me if I paraphrase her a bit) of “I tell that story and people say “How nice that you can forgive”.   I said I forgive nothing.  You cannot forgive the unforgivable”

Emotionally true perhaps but something tells me such an attitude probably isn’t good for the Israel/Palestine peace process... or indeed any peace process?  It isn’t just that she said it, of course, but that the recording carries on saying it.  It said that in 2001.  It said it in 2014 and I guess it will carry on saying it on a 20 minute time loop from 9 to 5 for the next 13 years …and the next and the next.  But however stupid the sentiment it must be preserved forever because of all the people who can’t speak.  To put it in context there are many talking heads on the video and they don’t all come over as bitter and when you think about it many of those people are probably dead now … there was probably a rush to do these things while the last of the survivors are still alive.  But still … I can’t tell if she means she can’t forgive, she can’t forgive on behalf of other people or it just can’t be forgiven.   Of course I’m sure we could find something in the Torah about Jews being meant to forgive like:  “It is forbidden to be obdurate and not allow yourself to be appeased.   On the contrary, one should be easily pacified and find it difficult to become angry. When asked by an offender for forgiveness, one should forgive with a sincere mind and a willing spirit. . . forgiveness is natural to the seed of Israel."...  But who cares about that.  That aint going to get you on a documentary on Yesterday.

That said the other day it occurred to me that I have a grudge against Jemima Khan and Zak Goldsmith for little more than just for being the children of James Goldsmith.  And then I thought about it a bit more and thought …is it prejudiced?  Particularly given that they are all Jewish technically.  Even if I dislike them for valid reasons it might be misinterpreted as anti-semitic… Which seems silly because the Goldsmiths don’t seem to have much real interest in either their genetics or their religion.  After all Jemima Khan married a man from Pakistan and now hangs out with Russell Brand – if she does have a chosen people she’s not choosing them for their Jewishness.  Mind you Who is a Jew? In Israel Conversions and marriages within Israel are legally controlled by the Orthodox Israeli Chief Rabbinate.  This matters because interfaith marriage is not legal there.  You could also argue that the "Law of Return" is a racial policy.

In 2010 Elie wrote an article for the New York Times in which he said “For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture — and not a single time in the Koran.... It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city; it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain. When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time; it is a homecoming. The first song I heard was my mother's lullaby about and for Jerusalem.  Its sadness and its joy are part of our collective memory.” 

Which is either a romantic tract or an interesting interpretation of the doctrine of National Self Determination - It’s in the Bible so I have a right to it.  Hum… I mean the fact that you’ve suffered in life doesn’t instantly turn all your opinions into common sense as readers of Hilter’s autobiography may have noticed.  Indeed one might postulate the theory that some of the greatest monsters in History had the worst childhoods.  Elie was last seen waffling on about “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,000 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’ turn. Blah blah blah….Not to put too fine a point on it there was a slight issue when Israel was created when 700,000 Palestinians were told by their wireless to leave when someone made a mistake reading a radio script – probably the greatest ever cock up in broadcasting history which has ever happened …because it never did.  A state who’s population is now 8 million …up 7 million from 1948 …due to it’s anyone-genetically-Jewish-can-come policy which isn’t too racial like it’s inter-marriage laws aren’t sectarian.  Mind you I'm sure a similar policy exists down Lunar House but at least we've got the shame not to openly say it.

Israel now contains 40% of the Jewish population worldwide.  If the rest of the diaspora moved there its population would be 20 million.  When I suggested to Daniel Finkelsteinon of the Times on twitter that this policy may have some flaws I was told by some people that I must not advance it because it might create anti-semitism.  

Anti-semitsm would, of course, result in more Jewish people being forced to move to Israel to escape persecution which would make the problem worse.  All Jews move to Israel because of anti-semitism …none of them are economic migrants.  I mean why is it every other country on earth wants to control immigration but Israel can never stuff enough people in? 

When I pointed out to one woman from north London that if I was persecuted I’d emigrate to the Caribbean rather than Israel she said “the difference is I know Israel would have me”.  Maybe that's cool but can the country really just go on expanding its population forever?

“You don’t understand people don’t want us there and they don’t want us anywhere else,” someone else opined.  Talk about self-pity corner.  Another soul told me there’s lots of room in Negev (a desert region where the Israelis are busy trying to build an artificial river which contains a nuclear reactor, 22 agro and petrochemical factories, an oil terminal, closed military zones, quarries, a toxic waste incinerator, cell towers, a power plant, several airports, a prison, and 2 rivers of open sewage), the Gali (cant even find it on the internet unless he means Galilee) or Golan (an occupied territory annexed from Syria in the 1981 six day war)

So I pointed out that under the Geneva Convention every country has a responsibility to take refugees whereupon lots of people started asking if I hate Israel or the Jews – a loaded question.  I just don’t understand why any God would be so interested in everybody’s postcode.  In my view Zionism is a 19th century invention that parallels the rise of the nation state under leaders such as Otto von Bismark and King Victor Emmanuel  … a modern political invention …a sort of doctrinal bolt on which no one really bought into till after two world wars…

Then someone started on at me about how I must regard the creation of Israel as legitimate because the United Nations recognised it as a country so I pointed them back to Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points where he states that “in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined”.  Which means just because you’ve created a country doesn’t mean I either want to take it away from you or have to think it was a good idea.  As far as I’m concerned you’re just there and if you’re there just because God told you to be ....  My view is its creation in the geographical form it holds was not legitimate at the time but its there now so we have to live with it.  The UN agreed to A state of Israel.  It didn’t agree to THE state of Israel as it is today.  There was a considerable argument about dimensions which is still to be resolved.

Still we mustn’t bash Israel too much it is, after all, as its advocates would say “the most democratic country in the region”.  Wow - Setting the bar high.  These people seem to think that all you have to do to get peace is start lots of democracy all over the place.  Well, it worked for us when we set up the Weimar Republic I suppose.  George W cites the democracies we created in Japan and Germany after World War II.  Leaving aside that Germany was actually partitioned from 1945 to 1990 ... it doesn't seem to occur to him that it might be easier to de-Nazify a country that's been completely devastated by war than to de-Baathify a country that you've taken over very quickly while trying to keep the infrastructure intact.  There's lots of arguments in the book about whether de-Baathification went too deep or too shallow but I'm not repeating them here as this page is already too boring.

Of course since Judaism is a religion that involves DNA it’s almost impossible to criticise its theology without being racist and I’m sure this is an intentional conceit.  For example people complained my statement that Israel’s marriage laws are weird was anti-semitic …while at the same time trying to claim that Israel is a secular state … which it actually does believe its self to be in the teeth of all the evidence.  “But other religions are weird too” they protest.  True but it’s not a competition?  I mean come on if even the Jerusalem Post says Israel’s marriage laws are bollocks they probably are… I mean I just don’t get it, alright? the African disapora doesn’t all want to move back to Africa so (apart from some NOI nutters) so why do all Jews supposedly want to “return” to Israel?   Tell any other ethnicity it might be a good idea to go back where they came from and they’ll rightly call you racist but … okay I’m being childish and probably racist but …  why should Israel be safer than anwhere else away?  It wasn't in 70AD?  Still as Arnold Brown might say: "Aliyah - and why not?"

Here’s the thing.  Intellectually believing that Zion is the promised land probably isn’t any more stupid than believing that a man in a dress can turn unleavened bread into the body and blood of Christ but the problem is that there’s a more or less unlimited supply of unleavened bread whereas land is unfortunately, as Mark Twain once observed, the one thing they're not making any more of.  So even if Zionism is a thing that will always exist – should anyone encourage it?  I believe that Zionism is a dangerous ideology.  Although like all forms of nationalism there’s probably a spectrum.  I mean technically the Queen still believes that God gave her the United Kingdom and she’s just letting us live on little bits of it.   Isn’t there a point when we should give up on nonsense like the divine right of Kings?  But, said my detractors, if you support a Palestinian state you must support the right of the State of Israel to exist.  False logic. 

Honestly I don’t give a toss if either of them exist …any more than I care whether Alsace-Lorraine is part of France or Germany even though people spent hundreds of years fighting over it.  It just is.  Nation States are socio-political constructs that exist because they are needed they don’t have to be logical… ask the Vatican.  Don’t look like that it’s nowt to do with me.  Hang out where you like I say… after all where’s the fun in going where people want you?  We completely agree too with Joan Rivers too that if you started it you deserve to be killed.  That’s a sensible argument.   After all if it worked for bomber Harris during world war two so why shouldn’t it work equally well for Benjamin Netanyahu?  When analysing how to end wars not enough people worry about who started it … which is in the end what this page is all about.

Anyway Elie said “Mr President, you have a moral obligation to act against evil”.  So George W did and continues to wonder why many critics of the war did not acknowledge the moral argument made by people like Elie Wiesel.

And after all time was moving on now.  People were telling him he would look weak and if he didn’t act it would make Saddam stronger and there was an election coming up – he might not have the chance or time next year.  Dick Cheney advised thoughtfully ...

Donald Rumsfeld warned they couldn’t leave 150,000 troops on the border of Iraq forever.  After all they’d only had 265,000 troops stationed in Europe in 1970 and 300,000 in 1980 doing nothing for decades and that didn’t work either to end the Cold War.  To show just how stupid that argument is here's a graph I stole from the Economist.  If the same number of troops sat around not fighting they'd probably have the same number there as they had fighting ...if you follow that.

To the

Condoleezza Rice said Saddam would do nothing but stall and he should go for it.  Colin Powell said the threat in Iraq could be managed diplomatically and worried that they weren’t sending enough forces but said that if it was what the President wanted he’d do it.  After all he was a soldier and didn’t really have any choice and was just obeying orders.  I don’t know…  I remember the days when Jimbo could defeat the Soviet Union without firing a bullet.  Sometimes I think that the problem isn’t that there’s too much proliferation of mass destruction but that there aren’t enough nuclear weapons.  If everyone had their own personal nuclear deterrent I bet everyone’d suffer from a lot less shit. 

George W then explains the many iterations of the invasion plan shown to him by the military and how they got better and better with each attempt.  He explains that the “Shock and Awe” bombings were actually designed to drive the military out of Bagdad to prevent the Coalition Army being ensnared in street fighting.  He complains about the cliché of people complaining about the lack of post war planning “that’s sure not how I remember it”.  There were it seems lots of plans – the problem was that none of them worked very well.

He also points out he didn’t act unilaterally.  Apart from Tony Blair President Schuster of Slovakia was very keen and broke down in tears on hearing of the “liberation” of Iraq. 

I kept that moment in mind when I heard critics allege that America acted unilaterally.  The false charge denigrated our allies and pissed me off”.

World leaders preparing to replicate President Schuster's brave stand on principle may perhaps be wise to cogitate on the fact that in his 2004 re-election campaign he won only 7.4 per cent of the vote - the world anti-record of an incumbent president's support ...at the time.

America acted unilaterally.  There that’ll piss him off.  I suppose one thing you can say about George Bush’s commitment of US troops to war is that at least he had a sound mandate at the time.   That is to say the US people were for it.  Well Polls in March 2003 showed 54% were for it if there was a second UN resolution and 47% were for it if there wasn’t.  So actually no he never had a majority support.  Despite Tony Blair’s “masochism strategy” tour of TV studios before the invasion a whopping 67% of people still opposed the war without a 2nd UN resolution if the weapons inspectors found no evidence of Weapons of Mass destruction.

The ultimate mystery question remains – how did Tony Blair manage to take Britain to war when the majority of people were against it?  Blair’s supporters claim that he won the election after the war.  This is a half truth.  On the 30th of September 2004 Blair had said that if re-elected he would resign at some point during his next term.  So the public knew they weren’t electing him for a full term.  Blair was already toxic.  Today even his deputy John Prescott says he was deceived about our reasons for going to war.

Then the manpower shortage predicted by Colin Powell kicks in on page 248 but of course this is the fault of Turkey for not letting US troops in to invade from the north.  Actually it’s probably a blessing in disguise that Turkey didn’t get involved because then it’s Kurdish population and the Kurdish Iraqis might have … but I wont tell him that.  After that it’s the usual round of stories of increasing sectarian tension and the attempts to form a government which has gone strangely sectarian again following the exit of US troops as ISIS / IS starts to do a lot of naughtiness.  There’s a nice story about George W visiting the troops.  George W pinpoints the 2006 al-Askari Mosque bombing as the start of the sectarian civil war … if we’re allowed to call it that.  I try not to get bogged down in the post war situation on these pages.  Let’s just say it could be going better.

And there’s a funny bit where George W says the war wasn’t about oil only a page or 30 later to tell us that with oil prices as they are today if his regime was in power he would be awash with wealth.  To be fair you do have to wonder where and how the sanctions policy and oil for food program were ever going to end.  Was the war about oil?  Was the war about Israel?  Was the war about George Bush Snr?  Was the war about removing a dictator?  Was the war about WMD?  I would say a bit of all of them … but most of all it was a war about the idea of redefining the doctrine that all pre-emptive strikes are usually wrong.  In that aim it failed.

The next chapter is about home policy.  It focuses on George W’s campaign to reform Medicare to introduce more “competition” and also to get prescription charges included – previous versions of Medicare only did operations.   There’s also a lot on his No Child Left Behind policy… a league table system for state schools that we too seem to have absorbed now...   And there’s stuff about giving money to religious groups.  Praise be.

Then there’s a chapter on Katrina where George W puts the messed up response to the hurricane down to the State authority’s inability to give the Federal authority emergency powers to deal with the situation.  There’s a lot of finger pointing, arguing and mea culpas in this chapter.  In the end he compromises and puts troops that aren’t allowed to shoot anyone in.  He gets particularly “pissed off” with the Rev Jesse Jackson for insinuating he is racist … insisting this, not the Iraq war, was the absolute low point of his presidency.  George W rightly points out that he appointed two African American war criminals to his team and one of them is also a woman.  At this point I found myself wondering if it's easier for Jesse Jackson to baptise everyone if they're already underwater and also why didn't ordained politicians go out with Cardinal Richelieu. George W’s quite candid about how he didn’t prioritise his legislative battles very well. 

To PEPFAR...And then there’s a chapter about his AIDS program PEPFAR and his work to eliminate malaria in Africa which was something to do in the lame duck period at the end of his Presidency.  Bono turns up and there are charges of it all being an Iraq distraction technique and/or targeted philanthropy.  Arch nemesis Jacque Chirac points out that the linking of aid to anti-corruption efforts has moral implications.  George W explains that the better off other countries are the less likely they’ll be to export terror.

In theTo the DIS goes
                                                  Pear Shaped ... next chapter we move onto the “surge” where George W puts all the troops into Iraq that he hadn’t done in 2003 in order to end the sectarian violence so he can pull US troops out.  An action that actually turns out to be a good idea but in the short term makes him hugely unpopular.  There are advantages with being happy to look unpopular.  In the end General Petreaus sorts it all out... at great cost to his personal life.  And it all ended happily ever after.  I'm not going to go into this chapter in too much detail as I dont want to give the plot away.

We then move on to a very funny chapter on the Israel/Palestine peace process and US foreign policy generally.  It starts with George W visiting a newly elected Ariel Sharon who has managed to get himself entangled in another Palestinian Intifada.  “Sharon subscribed to the Greater Israel Policy,” George W tells us, “which rejected territorial concessions.  He knew every inch of the land and it didn’t sound like he intended to give any of it back”. 

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Likud party’s position.  To them “Greater Israel” doesn’t mean what Israel has acquired since the six day war in 1967.  It means “Eretz Yisrael Ha-Shlema” or literally the “Whole Land of Israel”.  To the most hard line Zionists it means Biblical Israel (although what that is depends on which book of the Torah you take as definitive).  It is a restatement of Menachem Begin’s policy of actively starting Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 
Not for nothing did Sharon's successor Prime Minister Ehud Olmert remark in 2008 that

In 1988 the Bank of Israel minted a coin showing “Greater Israel” on one side for anyone deluding themselves as to it’s size.  Yasser Arafat immediately pointed this out and accused Israel of plotting to expand “from the Nile to the Euphrates”.  Either George W is thick or he is being very diplomatic here.  Don’t take a vote on it.  As a helicopter they are both in flies over the West Bank “I fought there” and “I built that settlement” rants an aerial Ariel. 

The Arab view of him at the time is best expressed by
Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia:

When will the pig leave Ramallah.” 

It's hard to think of someone less likely to create Arab trust than Sharon who was famous for quotes like : "Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Judean) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours. ... Everything we don't grab will go to them" at the end of the Yom Kippor War and was synonymous with the Sabra and Shatila massacre in the 1982 Lebanon War when Israel launched a pre-emptive strike Lebanon in retaliation for the assassination of their UK ambassador by the Abu Nidal Oranisation - a schismatic terrorist splinter group of Fatah / the PLO.  I hope you're following this....  In the end Ariel Sharon did (whether out of pragmatism, ideology or the mellowing of old age) make concessions including withdrawl of settlements from Gaza.  The problem was that if you were to read the 1999 Likud party platform of what they're actually supposed to be standing for it reads "The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting." and "The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs".  How anyone can decieve themselves that settlement is an act of defence is just beyond me but there it is ... anyway as Sharon moved his party toward the centre it started to split and shism - a problem he solved by starting a new party "Kadima".  Having effectively lost political control but managing to cling onto power things continued to go pear shaped for Sharon when he had a debilitating stroke that he never recovered from.  On the plus side he had managed to implement much of his "unilateral disengagement plan" before he started not being able to remember where he may have once invaded... please note I may have simplified the the plot a tad it's rather like trying to give a plot synopsis of the whole of Coronation Street in a couple of hundred words.

George W seems to think that solving the conflict is as simple as ending “terror” on both sides but he never seems to bluntly suggest that expansionist territorial policies should have no place in mainstream politics.  Some of the peace plans advanced are quite funny.  I particularly enjoyed the idea of building a big tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank so the Israelis and the Palestinians never have to mix.  George W’s plan of two states living in peace side by side sounds lovely but his understanding of middle eastern politics seems hopelessly over simplistic, obviously biased and pro-Israeli.  Don’t just take my word for that – when on page 404 he refuses to deal with Arafat his own mum rings up and says tartly:

And so the peace plans plod on.  The Palestinians hold elections to show their aspiration to democracy and then inexplicably keep electing people from Hamas … rather awkwardly classified as an international terrorist organisation.  Hamas suffers from the inverse problem of Ariel Sharon's Likud.  Even if they want to compromise they're struck with the slight technical issue that their founding charter says they want to completely destroy Israel.  Or so it is said often enough so it must be true.

Bush’s plan to invade Iraq to send out a message that developing WMD will be punished might have none-the-less all worked out for the best if Iran hadn’t instead taken the message from the Iraq war episode that with US forces fully committed to Iraq and tied down fighting the insurgents they were funding there’s never been a better time to ramp up your nuclear program … so George W spends a lot of time trying to get everyone to enforce tougher sanctions on Iran.  Syria decides to enrich some Uranium to and Israel lobs a few missiles.  Who can blame them?  The North Koreans also don’t seem to be put off working on their nuclear program but George W has a brainwave here and blackmails the Chinese by saying that if they don’t lean on Korea to stop their nuclear program he’ll stop leaning on Japan to halt theirs.  George W describes Kim Jong-il as a man who behaves like a child throwing their food on the floor for attention who ‘s “propaganda machine claimed that he control the weather, had written six renowned operas, and had scored five holes in one during his first round of golf”.  Maybe he’s just got Inkey Jones as his promoter.  Anyway Libya gave up its WMD program so maybe it wasn't all bad...

Photo by J.A. de Roo

Despite his aversion to booze George W also shows us he’s still a party animal by showing great interest in the Beijing Olympics and spending a lot of time getting touchy feely with the US Volleyball teammates Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.  Operation Yewtree detectives please note – these incidents were entirely consensual.  Although one did wonder if Laura consented and what kind of leash she has him on.  I mean it’s nice that she and George W trust each other that much but as the man himself might say: “once people taste freedom they eventually want more”.

George W then goes on to his relationship with Putin and Medvedev (who he clearly thinks is just Putin’s puppet).  They seem to have a fairly good relationship although it does seem to get strained later on.  Particularly when Medvedev and Putin get involved Georgia…. Which like the Ukraine is very keen on joining NATO.  Medvedev wastes no time in saying Saakashvili is like Saddam Hussein” and George W says with a straight face “My advice is to start deescalating this thing now.  The disproportionality of your actions is going to turn the world against you”.  Monkey see monkey do.  Luckily the bigger they are the harder they fall over themselves.

In a normal political biography there’d be a lot about the economy stupid.  In George W’s biography it’s relegated the final chapter as the world banking system goes into meltdown.  One was reminded of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s claims that he saved the world from economic meltdown by his conspicuous absence from this chapter.  That said the UK government does prevent Barclays buying some toxic US assets at one point.  It’s almost one of George W’s almost redeeming features that he doesn’t admit to having seen everything coming and got everything right and he does at least hold his hands up to his mistakes here.  Determined to be remembered as Roosevelt and not Hoover he runs about sorting out major bailouts of the banking system and begging Congress to vote for them resulting in the strange situation of him ending up a right wing President who has increased public spending.   Indeed with his inclusion of prescription charges in Medicare (an end to all those awful TV adds about “cant afford your meds and no credit..." that were on the TV when I visited in 2005?) his administration seems to have ended up in many ways more socialist than many “Democratic” ones.  Yes, so bad is George W he couldn't even be extremely right wing properly - A fact those on the right of the Republican party have no problem in pointing out…

With no one wanting his endorsement for another election for some reason George W decides to retire quietly into obscurity and at least he’s got the grace to not be telling his successors what they should be doing better every five minutes as Tony Blair seems to do to Ed Miliband / David Cameron.  To George W the job transcends the individual and he seems to have a lot of time for President Obama ... more at least than for John McCain who he paints as, well, a twat.  He was last seen tipping a bucket of ice over his head ...I'm sure a few million people have done a waterboarding joke already...

Whatever the verdict on my presidency, I’m comfortable that I won’t be around to hear it” he finally concludes.  Come on George W… you’ve got at least 12 years of us calling you a war criminal to look forward to yet.

Anyway all that was far too entertaining back to the turgid Chiloct transcripts...................................

In the top part of this article of course I've used a completely different colour convention just to confuse you...

But anyway...
Tuesday, 24 November 2009  (10.00 am)

We start with the Chairman's Opening Statement's opening statment which is amazing if for nothing else than its verbosity and it's optimism.  I've included this particular transcript because it seems to give an impression of ...er ... a decrease in Colin Powell's power...?

THE CHAIRMAN: Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Iraq Inquiry's first day of public hearings. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Sir John Chilcot, Chairman of the Inquiry, and I'm joined by my colleagues, Sir Lawrence Freedman on my right, Sir Martin Gilbert at the end there, and Sir Roderic Lyne at the end on my right, and Baroness Usha Prashar.  Next to me is Margaret Aldred, who is the Secretary  to the Inquiry. I propose that we should sit in silence for a few moments out of respect for all those from the  United Kingdom, and its allies, and people in Iraq, who lost their lives in this period.

Thank you. The Iraq Inquiry was set up to identify  the lessons that should be learned from the UK's  involvement in Iraq to help future governments who may  face similar situations. To do this, we need to  establish what happened. We are piecing this together from the evidence we are collecting from documents, or  from those who have first-hand experience. We will then  need to evaluate what went well and what didn't and, crucially, why.  My colleagues and I come to this task with open minds. We are apolitical, we are independent of any political party, and we want to examine and rely on the evidence. We will approach our task in a way that is thorough, rigorous, fair and frank.  We are committed to openness and we are determined to conduct as much of our proceedings as possible in  public, and I welcome those members of the public who  join us here today. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to travel here this morning, and  I also welcome the media presence here in the centre.  For those not physically able to be here, I'm  pleased that the Inquiry proceedings are available for  broadcast and are being streamed on the Internet. These  public hearings are the activity which will attract the  most publicity. They do form only one part of our work and it is important to emphasise that. Over the past months, we have requested and received mountains of written material from government departments involved in Iraq during 2001 and 2009. We have spent many hours already combing through these official records and will continue to do this in the months ahead. We are confident that we will have, and do have, access to all the material we need, but we don't want to and are not just hearing from official representatives. We value hearing a broad spectrum of  views from a wide range of people and organisations. We  want to know what people across Britain think are the  important questions. We want to get a range of  challenging perspectives on the issues we are  considering and we have already made a start on this by  holding five meetings, so far, with the families of  those who were killed or are missing in Iraq, and we are all very grateful to those who came to talk with us. We have held preliminary meetings with Iraq veterans and there will be more. We have held, so far, two  seminars with a range of experts, and hope to have further seminars early next year. We have also asked anyone who has information, or who wants to make points relevant to our terms of reference, to contact us, and we thank all those who have already been in touch, a considerable number. But the next phase begins today. We have called as witnesses those with first-hand experience of the  development and implementation of the United Kingdom Government policy in Iraq. Our first round of public hearings begins today and runs until early February 2010. We will then take a break from public hearings, returning to our analysis of the written material and the witness testimony we will have received by then. We will hold some private hearings in that period, take evidence on matters, which, if disclosed in public, will cause genuine harm to the public interest, or where there are other genuine reasons why a witness would have difficulty in being frank in public. Circumstances in which we will hold private hearings are set out in the protocols which are published on the Inquiry's website. Then, in the middle of 2010, there will be a further round of public hearings. We expect to invite back some previous witnesses and, where relevant, call new ones. What I would like to stress now is that people shouldn't jump to conclusions if they don't hear  everything or everyone they expect in the first round of hearings, there will, in fact, be more to follow. Once we have collected all the evidence we need, we will be in a position to draw conclusions and make our recommendations and we plan to report by the end of 2010.

It is not in our, or, I judge, in the country's interest to delay the process. Our objective, however,  is to produce a thorough analysis that makes a genuine contribution to improving public governance and  decision-taking. If that takes a bit longer than the beginning of 2011, I hope that people will bear with us. That's for next year. For now, it might be useful to set out what we aim to cover in this initial phase of public hearings and how we plan to conduct our business. We want to establish a clear understanding of the various core elements of the United Kingdom's  involvement in Iraq and how things developed over time.

We will start by hearing from senior officials and military officers who had a key role in developing advice for Ministers and/or implementing government policy. We want them to take us through the main decisions and tasks. That will help to give us a clear understanding of the various strands of British policy development and implementation since 2001. We need to learn the reasons why particular policies and courses of action were adopted and what consideration was given to alternative approaches. Once we have heard that initial evidence, we will begin to take evidence from Ministers and other officials about issues which run throughout the period we have been asked to consider; 2001 to 2009. In some cases, we will be able, on the basis of the evidence we have heard from officials earlier in the session, to get into considerable detail. In other cases, we may need  to return to a number of issues at later stages, and it will be during those hearings in the New Year, and not before, that we will begin to hear about the legal basis for military action. In all our questions we will be drawing on the vast number of documents we have already seen and read, and that will give us a good sense of the main events of the hearing and the issues and preoccupations. Witness evidence will build on our previous knowledge. It will help to develop our lines of inquiry and these, I must stress, are still developing. We remain, as we have been from the outset, open-minded, but what we are committed to, and what I believe the British general public should expect from us, is a guarantee to be thorough, to be impartial, to be objective and fair. So perhaps this is an appropriate moment to set out our expectations of how these proceedings will run from now. The Iraq Inquiry Committee members will ask questions, witnesses will respond for themselves. We expect them always to give evidence that is truthful, fair and accurate. We do not intend to ask questions today that will involve evidence that might harm national security or other important public interests, as described in the protocols we have published, if they were to be made public. In the extremely unlikely event that evidence moved towards such matters sensitive to national security, I would intervene to halt the proceedings. Such matters can, and, where necessary, will, be pursued in private hearings at another time.

As I have said before, we are not a court of law, nor are we an inquest, or, indeed, a statutory inquiry and our processes reflect that. No one is on trial here. We cannot determine guilt or innocence, only a court can do that.

But I make a commitment here that, once we get to our final report, we will not shy away from making criticisms either of institutions or processes or individuals where they are truly warranted. Finally, as I said earlier, all of us are pleased these are public sessions. We welcome those of you who join us today and will do so over the coming months.

There are, however, serious matters that we have to examine. We want to get to the heart of what happened and don't wish to be distracted in that task by any disturbance. So we have set out on our website, and to all here today, the kind of restraint and behaviour we expect from those present in this room. They are no different from those expected of the public when they attend Parliament, for example, before Select Committee hearings. Just as there, though, if anyone, later on, were moved to fail to meet them, they would have to leave. As to today's proceedings, as I have set out, the first five weeks aim to establish the main features of United Kingdom involvement in Iraq over the period. We have invited to give evidence both senior officials and military personnel, who, by the post they occupied, had a unique perspective on United Kingdom Government decision-making and the implementation of those policies. Today, we start in 2001.

Before us are

Sir Peter Ricketts, who, in 2001, was the Director General Political
in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office;

Sir William Patey, who was head of the Foreign Office's Middle East Department;

To Simon Webb's
                                                  earlier transcript

and Simon Webb, who was Policy Director in the Ministry of Defence
who's private evidence we've already covered here.
No we still cant get a photo of him.

The objectives for today are these: we start to build a picture and set a context. It is important we understand the recent history in all its complexity, and it is difficult to understand events in the years that follow without understanding this earlier period. Two sessions will cover the state of UK policy on Iraq in 2001 and the evolution of policy in the course of that year.

We will examine Iraq policy reviews, initiated by the United Kingdom and by the US Government in 2001, including a sanctions regime and the No Fly Zones. We will see Sir John Sawers for the Number 10 perspective on these at a later date. At this morning's session, we are going to examine broad lines of policy with those involved from the Foreign Office, Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defence. I expect this will last up to about three hours.

In the afternoon, we are going to focus more closely on the No Fly Zones and on sanctions. I estimate each of these sessions may last from between two to three hours at most. I would like, before closing, just to recall that the Inquiry has access to thousands of government papers, including the most highly classified, for the period we are considering. A developing picture is of the policy debates and of the decision-making process in that period.

The evidence sessions are an important element in informing our thinking and in complementing the documentary evidence. It is important that witnesses are, and feel able to be, open and frank in evidence while respecting national security.

I must remind witnesses, as I will on each occasion, that they will later be asked to sign a transcript of their evidence to the effect that the evidence they have given is truthful, fair and accurate.

What I will start by doing, if I may, is to invite each of our witnesses in turn to describe who they are, and then I will, if I may, turn to Sir Peter Ricketts for a brief introduction for a few minutes to this area of policy at this time.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Thank you very much indeed, Mr Chairman. Maybe, as the first official witness, I can just repeat the undertaking that the Prime Minister gave in the House of Commons when he set up the Inquiry, that the government pledged the fullest cooperation with the Inquiry, and I know all the departments concerned will continue to give you the fullest cooperation throughout the Inquiry.

In 2001, I was Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee for the first nine months of the year, and I moved into the Political Director position at the Foreign Office a few days before 9/11 in September 2001 and was then in that position through to July 2003. I'm now the Permanent Secretary in the FCO.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I wonder, Sir William, as to whether if you could just describe very briefly your responsibilities at that time, and then I will turn back to Sir Peter to bring us into the subject.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: Thank you. I'm Sir William Patey. I'm currently ambassador to Saudi Arabia. In 2001, I was the head of the Middle East Department, which is the department responsible for policy towards Iraq, amongst other things, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, and I was probably leading on policy in respect of development of the policy on Iraq during that period. I left the department in March 2002 to go off to be ambassador to Sudan.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Mr Webb.

MR SIMON WEBB: My name is Simon Webb, I'm currently undertaking in the Cabinet Office a study of the lessons of crisis management over the last 15 to 20 years, and I'm also on secondment part-time to the Football Association to help with government support for the World Cup in 2018. "England united, the world invited", but in that era, I was, at the start of 2001, the Director General for Operational Policy in the Ministry of Defence, advising on the political and military dimensions of current operations. That ran through until about September. In July, I was promoted to become Policy Director of the Ministry of Defence, which deals with the wider issues about the overall balance between the armed forces and the structure and budget and so on. I probably ought to say that I was promoted during this period -- on the recommendations in a competitive process, of a panel which included two members of the Inquiry, Baroness Prashar and Lawrence Freedman. I think, for transparency, it is for me to say that rather than anyone else.

THE CHAIRMAN: Coming back to you, Sir Peter, would you like to give us a few minutes to lead us into this time period?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Certainly, Mr Chairman. Thank you very much. Let me try to set the scene in terms of policy-making as at the beginning of 2001. That's a point in a continuum, of course, because Iraq had been a major foreign and defence policy issue for the UK throughout the 1990s ever since the Gulf War, but, as 2001 dawned, we had the arrival of a new administration in Washington and Whitehall was busy reviewing policy towards Iraq in preparation for discussions with that new administration. I think the simple summary of our view at that time was that we had been pursuing a policy of containment, containment, most important, of Saddam Hussein's ambitions to redevelop weapons of mass destruction but also containment of the threat which Iraq had posed to the region, but, by 2001, that containment policy was failing and the rate of failure was accelerating. There were three standards, I would say, to the containment policy.

One was sanctions, of which perhaps the most effective was an arms embargo, but there were also sanctions on Iraqi oil exports and revenues from them, handled through this complex machinery of the Oil For Food programme the UN ran.

The second strand was an incentive strand. Resolution 1284 of the Security Council passed in 1999, had offered the Iraqis a deal, the incentive of suspension of sanctions 120 days after the Iraqis had accepted to return the weapons inspectors to Iraq.

The third strand was a deterrent strand; it was the No Fly Zones in the north and in the south. Now, our review at the beginning of 2001 has suggested that each of those strands of policy were in trouble. The sanctions strand was subject to increasing smuggling of oil through a new pipeline in Syria and then leakages of oil round the region, of abuse of the Oil For Food programme providing substantial revenues to Saddam Hussein and the regime, and, as I say, the arms embargo perhaps the most effective part of it, but also with problems.

The incentive strand had not been implemented because Saddam Hussein had not accepted the return of the weapons inspectors to Iraq, so that was on hold, and the No Fly Zone strand was thought to be risky, for reasons which we will come on to explore, but also very unpopular. We were very aware, in 2001, that international support for this structure of sanctions and deterrence was eroding, both in the region and in the Security Council. The net effect of that was that Saddam Hussein in Iraq was feeling pretty comfortable. He had substantial illegal revenues from which he could pursue patronage inside Iraq and continue the efforts to procure materials for his weapons of mass destruction programme. He was busy restoring his standing in the Arab world by very visible support for the Palestinian Intifada, which was another major issue that was happening at that time. There were no inspectors in the country to inspect his weapons programme and the US/UK sanctions policy was pretty unpopular. He was able to put the blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people on the west. So our review of the policy -- and I will now come to the end of this introduction -- was really designed to try to regain the initiative, to put the effort more effectively on controlling the ambitions for weapons of mass destruction, to lift controls over civilian goods going into Iraq, to tighten up border controls, and to clamp down on smuggling.

Those ideas of a reformed sanctions package were ones that we discussed in the early weeks of new administration with Colin Powell and others coming into power in Washington, and we found that their thinking was very much along the same lines. Colin Powell was also very conscious of the need to rebuild international support for an effective, more focused sanctions regime in Iraq.

One immediate difference that we discovered with the incoming administration was that they were much less keen on getting weapons inspectors into Iraq, but apart from that, we saw considerable similarity of approach.  We were conscious that there were other voices in Washington as well, some of whom were talking about  regime change, and I certainly remember reading in the summer of 2000 Condi Rice's article in Foreign Affairs on the national interest, which was a Republican Party manifesto before the party came into office, where she said thatnothing will change until Saddam has gone, so the US must mobilise whatever resources it can, including support from his opposition to remove him.” So that line of thinking about regime change was already there from before the new US administration arrived, but our early exchanges with the new administration suggested our thinking was on very much the same lines.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Is it fair from that description to say that United Kingdom policy had, for quite a long time, been settled and stable, but the elements of it were breaking down in the judgment of United Kingdom Government? By contrast, the United States and the new administration coming in was essentially possessing a provisional undeveloped policy towards Iraq, the new administration, and when both the United Kingdom and United States began to review their policy, they did so from different starting points, albeit perhaps with a shared analysis.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think our policy had certainly rested on containment throughout the 1990s with different emphasis on different strands of that policy throughout that period, and we had been very much on the same lines as the Clinton administration. We had certainly read, as I say, suggestions that the Republican Party coming into office would come in with a different approach to Iraq, but, in fact, the early exchanges we had with the administration -- and this was largely with Secretary Powell and the State Department, who were leading on the policy at that time -- suggested that, actually the policy was not that different, that the Americans, too, recognised that containment was the right policy at that point. They were worried that it was not being pursued effectively and they wanted to regain the initiative by focusing more clearly on arms control rather than the elaborate control of civilian goods going into Iraq, and I think we were encouraged by those early exchanges.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I don't want to go too soon in these sessions into sanctions in detail, but I would be grateful if one of you could say a word about the oil embargo in particular, as to whether, by 2001, it was being seen as having handed Saddam something of a weapon in his own hand to use in terms of corruption, influence over neighbours for trading concessions and the rest of it. Was that particular element a positive for Saddam and a negative for the other?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think that was one of the problems -- one of the reasons why we were coming to the conclusion that the current policy was failing in the sense that in an attempt to address the humanitarian concerns that the sanctions were hitting ordinary Iraqis. Saddam had been very good at manipulating this and preserving advantage for his own regime, but the Oil For Food had given him money which he was able to use to influence neighbours. So, yes, there was a sense that that was one element of why the policy was seen to be failing. Saddam was sitting comfortably and the sense that, on the present course, he would eventually escape from the constraints, from the continued policy. The policy was designed to prevent him from developing his weapons of mass destruction, designed to get rid of whatever weapons of mass destruction he had and prevent him from threatening his neighbours. Those policy aims looked increasingly vulnerable, and I think the money that inevitably came to his regime in our desire to provide the Iraqi Government with the wherewithal to supply their people with the humanitarian needs, it did give him an opportunity to exploit that.

THE CHAIRMAN: I imagine this is more for Mr Webb, but I would be grateful if you could say just something about the arms embargo component of the policy, as it then stood, of containment. There was a naval embargo, as I understand it, but also a wider embargo on arms or material that could be used for arms development.

MR SIMON WEBB: Yes, the arms embargo had been in place throughout the 1990s and was an essential plank of the policy on Iraq, and the UK played a role along with a multinational force in the maritime dimension of that. We had a frigate or destroyer permanently on station in the Gulf which had powers to intercept inbound ships for arms and also to help policing the oil embargo with outbound ships from Iraq.

The general impression we had, I think, by the start of 2001 was that the arms embargo was, in general, holding up well -- I just keep looking at my notes because I want to try and be accurate about this -- and that the majority of -- almost all members of the United Nations were abiding by it, which was preventing the Iraqis from acquiring major new weapons systems, surface-to-air missiles and that kind of thing, but there was some leakage still of parts and components which allowed them to be a bit more effective.

For example, they appeared to be flying their aircraft a bit more regularly than we had previously expected, and that kind of thing. And, of course -- I expect you want to get on separately to the question of weapons of mass destruction, but that, of course, was also a part of the arms picture.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. So we have a situation where both governments, the United Kingdom and the United States, are reviewing their policy against a background of -- in the Washington case of a change of administration, but in both cases a growing lack of confidence in the components of the containment policy. Were the assessments of the threat posed by the regime pretty much the same in Washington and London at the beginning of 2001?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think they were, Mr Chairman.

THE CHAIRMAN: So the objectives that each government had in initiating the review did stem pretty much from that common assessment as well as the background. How widely was that assessment shared outside of the London and Washington axis, in other European capitals, for example, in the wider world?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think it is fair to say that there had been a declining recognition of the threat from Saddam Hussein, both in the region and more widely in the Security Council, and that's why the No Fly Zones for example, were not popular, indeed increasingly unpopular. The French had been part of the No Fly Zones until the mid-1990s, but by then, by 2001, were publicly critical of them and were not supporting them. Regional countries were increasingly coming to see Iraq, I think, subject to Sir William, as a commercial opportunity through oil exports and trade, and less and less concerned about Iraq as a threat to the region. So I think the sense of the threat that Iraq posed was probably sharpest in London and Washington, and less so elsewhere.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: That is certainly true, and part of the narrative through 2001 is an attempt to get P5 unity back on to Iraq and increasingly other countries not sharing -- not sharing the threat. I think the passage of 1284, Security Council Resolution 1284, was the high point of P5 unity. Everything since then was an effort
to regain that, which we never achieved.

THE CHAIRMAN: So it is fair to say, is it, that one of the objectives of having a policy review, at least from the
London perspective, was to rebuild more of a consensus, both in the P5, the Security Council and more widely as well as, as it were, to deal with the inherent breakdown of elements of the containment policy.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Yes, absolutely, it was explicitly so, and to focus international attention back on what we continued to see as the primary concern, which was Saddam Hussein's continuing efforts to acquire material and expertise in his weapons of mass destruction programme. We felt that that was much more likely to be a place where we could find consensus, for example, in the P5, than the wider sanctions, which was too easy to portray as somehow the west denying civilian goods to the suffering Iraqi people.

MR SIMON WEBB: Can I just put a point about homogeneity of view really, in the sense that I think -- well, I wouldn't want to leave you with the impression that there wasn't a variety of opinions in some areas. For example, in Kuwait they were still very exercised about the risk from Iraq, and I remember, when the Defence Select Committee went and visited them, this came through in their report. Similarly, Washington, having spent quite a lot of time in the embassy there, at the start of any administration, you will find a variety of different views, and one of the issues about handling Washington in any period is that you are going to find people were debating issues out in the early months. That's quite normal and natural, so to say there is a universal Washington view on day one is probably not quite how it was.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: In the region, if I may add there, the message we were getting from the region was, "We need P5 unity". That was a message from the Kuwaitis and the Saudis and others, that their willingness to do things and support things was increased if we could achieve unity in the P5.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I would like to ask one question about process with the British policy review. It clearly had a number of objectives. Was there a clear sense, right from the beginning of the review process, what these objectives were to deal with the breakdown of the existing containment policy, or elements of it, to promote greater international support not least in the P5 itself, and also to reassure regional neighbours of Iraq of, at any rate, British policy towards their interests? Was this a shared set of assumptions and objectives?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Yes, I think so. The review was coordinated by the Cabinet Office and it was Whitehall in its classic consensus building mode, where the departments came with different perspectives and different interests, but the papers that were going through the Cabinet Office, for example, for the Prime Minister's first visit to the new administration in late February 2001, I think, reflected an  interdepartmental view. It continued the lines of policy objectives which had run through British policy since the Gulf War, of containment on the basis of WMD and avoiding it being a threat to the region. That I think was settled policy across Whitehall departments.

THE CHAIRMAN: Given the coherence of the British review process and given the facts of life that the new administration was taking office in Washington, in a sense forming its policy from a different set of starting points in a way, was it possible coherently to link the two processes as they went along? I think it is not contestable that the power in a new American administration will tend to shift around until it settles down. If it does, your interlocutors from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but clearly with the State Department, there were other interests, DOD, and others. How did that interaction work in the process of this review?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: My experience of Washington is there tends to be one dominant force on policy at any particular time, and for Iraq, through to 9/11, the dominant player was the State Department. Colin Powell was leading policy, and that was very apparent when the Prime Minister went to Camp David in late February and, indeed, Powell left that Camp David meeting for a trip to the region which began to set out this smarter sanctions policy that the Americans were developing in parallel with us. At that time, I think it is fair to say that the Pentagon and others may not have been fully aligned with that, but Powell was in the lead, and Powell had the President's authority.

I think we can talk later about what happened after 9/11, but I think you can see there the change and the change of dominant force in Washington was very clear at that point, up until then we felt that, dealing with the State Department, we were dealing with the people who were leading the policy-forming in Washington.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I went to Washington during this period, and we certainly had the sense that the State Department were being given a chance to see if they could make this policy work. That was how I looked back at it; that they were being given a chance to see if they could make containment work. Could they do what we had set out to do, was contain Saddam by narrowing and deepening the sanctions, and that for at least until 9/11, Colin Powell was the main player on that and the State Department were intent on trying to make that work.

THE CHAIRMAN: I would like just to introduce the term "regime change", really to know how early that began to loom in American, or, indeed, for that matter, joint thinking as a possible objective or a possible outturn for the process of review. It wasn't of itself an objective of containment, as I understand that policy.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: No, and I have quoted, Mr Chairman, Condoleezza Rice in her pre-administration article in foreign affairs, which I think was in the minds of many of us. It was in a section of her article entitled "Rogue States", and so the concept of rogue states and of regime change was there in the public rhetoric of the incoming Republican administration, and we were conscious of that, but I don't think any of us felt that there was an operational consequence of that in the early days.

I think, as William puts it well, the State Department was given the chance to show whether containment would work. We did hear voices around Washington talking about possibly looking at arming Iraqi opposition groups and so on, but it didn't feel, to us, operational at that point; we were conscious it was a strand in their thinking, but was not being played through into policy.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I made a note that, in fact, on 22 February 2001, there was a policy board which our policy should be to keep a long way from the regime end of the spectrum. So in February 2001, we were aware of these drum beats from Washington and internally we discussed it. Our policy was to stay away from that end of the spectrum, but in the course of the year, we were obviously aware of the dichotomy and I think, later on, you may want to talk about the Contract with the Iraqi People, which was our way in the Foreign Office of trying to signal that we didn't think Saddam was a good thing and it would be great if he went, but we didn't have an explicit policy for trying get rid of him.

MR SIMON WEBB: Perhaps I should fill in the defence part of this. I haven't mentioned this so far because we are going to spend some time this afternoon on the no-fly zones, but that was a current military operation which had been in place for a number of years to patrol over northern Iraq and southern Iraq in a coalition with the United States. So obviously, while we had a current live military operation and, as I will explain this afternoon, it was getting more difficult in some ways with an increasing risk to patrolling aircraft and new techniques that the Iraqis had developed, we had to have closer links with the Pentagon about it both at an operational level and at a political level. To answer your question about how did we coordinate, actually we went on a first visit round Washington in March as I recall, with the Foreign Office in the lead and myself and other people as a team. We went round and talked to the Department of Defence and others about the position, and I then went back on subsequent visits at their request.

To Kurdistan
                                                    goes Pear Shaped
                                                    with Emma Sky...The point I would like to make is that those discussions did raise questions about the operation of the No Fly Zone. People would indeed -- you know, sensible strategists would ask questions about why we were doing this patrolling under attack, and the strategic progress we were making was limited. So the zones were only justified by the protection of minorities of the Kurds in the north and the Shias in the south for humanitarian reasons, but there were questions which people would quizzically have asked about all that. So we talked about all that. I think the important point was to say that -- the question of regime overthrow was, I recall, mentioned but it was quite clear that there was no proposition being put in our direction on that, and, indeed, we got propositions -- and we can talk about the detail of those -- on the No Fly Zones, but we did not get the proposition about regime change.

To enduring
                                                      America...THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. We are still in 2001, 9/11 is still a way ahead.  Was there a narrowing of focus of the review, either in London or in Washington, because there seems to be, from reading, a mounting determination to achieve, if at all possible, a new Security Council Resolution and then to focus on a review of the goods lists that were authorised. What I don't know is how much that displaced review of other aspects, such as those that Mr Webb has just been talking about, the NFZs. Was there a growing concentration?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think that went on in parallel and I think the MoD continued intensive discussions with the Pentagon on that NFZ operation, which was an ongoing operation. We fairly quickly moved our thinking on from generalities about the need to focus the sanctions regime into a specific proposal for a new resolution, which then became the goods review list resolution and which then took us a good year to push through the Security Council to, finally, adoption in May 2002, but that went along with efforts to tighten up the border controls, to talk to Syrians and others about clamping down on the smuggling. So it was part of a package of making the sanctions regime more effective.

THE CHAIRMAN: We are beginning to talk, aren't we, about smart sanctions, the attempt to achieve international agreement on them. Can we go forward at a slightly faster pace just on that? That effort went through the months of the spring into the early summer, but then ground to a halt. I would really like to hear from you, perhaps all of you, about the consequence of that grinding to a halt, but, first, just how did we get there and what happened in the Security Council? We shall be talking to Sir Jeremy Greenstock later, but I would like to hear it from the London end.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think, by March, we had reached agreement with the Americans on a sort of structure and framework for narrowing and deepening the sanctions, the essence of which was to try to produce a system where everything was allowed that wasn't controlled. We had got ourselves into a position where everything that could conceivably be of dual use was subject to holds, and we had our own small number of holds, but the Americans adopted quite a liberal policy on hold. I think at one stage we even had eggs on hold because they could be incubated for weapons of mass destruction. So there was a proposal to get away from this nonsense and to allow everything that wasn't controlled. So we got to a system where we would define a controlled goods list, which would be based on internationally acceptable lists already of dual-use equipment. We had a discussion of the Wassenaar list. There were already lists available. So that was getting a controlled goods list, but at the same time toughening up on the implementation of the remaining sanctions. So to try and prevent Saddam from smuggling oil, there was to be a concerted effort to increase border monitoring, perhaps, or to bring illegal pipelines under the UN control system. So there was a sense in which we would narrow the scope of the sanctions but make their implementation more effective. So this was the essence the smarter sanctions and the controlled goods list, which we throughout that year tried to get. You had certain deadlines, and we decided that it was better to try and deal with this in the Oil For Food rollover resolution, which had to be reviewed every six months, rather than go for a new resolution which would have allowed the Russians in particular, and possibly others, to reopen the essential deal which was in 1284 which remained part of the bedrock of the policy, which was that, in return for Iraq allowing inspectors in and fulfilling its obligations on WMD, we would lift sanctions.

That was the essential deal in 1284 and that was still there. So this was an attempt to deal with sanctions until Saddam accepted that deal. So you had that -- so every rollover, we tried to get agreement, and we missed the first -- in June, we weren't able to get the Russians engaged on the controlled goods list, but, later on, we discovered they were never going to agree to it. It became a commercial issue for them, an internal political issue, but we didn't know that at the time, so we engaged realistically on this list. We didn't meet the June rollover, we were -- we thought we would get it done in another month, so we would give ourselves one more rollover. We got a commitment that we would discuss a controlled goods list and we rolled that over until July and then we didn't get it in July. So we had a five-month rollover into November and in the middle of that we had 9/11, which changed the game a bit.

THE CHAIRMAN: It is of course a counterfactual question, but had we been successful in securing a revised goods list, had that worked, would that have satisfied both our policy objectives in finding a new and workable regime towards Iraq, towards Saddam, and would it have satisfied the Americans as well, or was it simply a part a medium for a much larger set of objectives?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: You are asking me to conject, and I will. It certainly satisfied us, because it would have restored Security Council unity. It would have brought this policy of containment. It would have been arguable even against the hawks in Washington. Colin Powell and the State Department people who supported containment would have had a credible argument. I remember conversations with my French and Russian colleagues saying, "You know if you don't agree to this, where this is going", and each time I remember they always agreed three months too late.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think it certainly would have been a major step forward, but it would only have really changed the course of events if it had so increased the pressure on Saddam Hussein that he had been prepared to think again about the 1284 deal, and the 1284 deal, getting the weapons inspectors back into Iraq, would really have changed the game, I think, and if a tighter sanctions regime had put enough pressure on Saddam to bring him to the 1284 table, then I think we would have been getting somewhere.

THE CHAIRMAN: That would have extended, perhaps indefinitely, for the life of, broadly speaking a containment strategy.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: It would have reinvigorated the containment strategy and would have given us inspectors back on the ground in Iraq. It would never have stopped some leakage round the edges of the sanctions policy, nor would it necessarily have stopped some revenues finding their way into Saddam Hussein's pockets -- that is the nature of sanctions regime -- but it would have made it much more effective.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think it would have given more light. I think that ultimately we would still have been left with Saddam Hussein there, whose objectives hadn't really changed much.

THE CHAIRMAN: I would like to move back from conjecture to what actually happened, but, Mr Webb, if you would like to come in first.

MR SIMON WEBB: I would just like to say that the way we looked at the sanctions regime and the controlled goods list issue was, from a defence point of view, we were very keen to see a very effective regime in that arena and, if you like, to see reductions in other parts of the sanctions process in order to get it. It is worth remembering at this stage that we were starting to get a feel for the problems of wider proliferation, which you will be, I know, taking up later in the week, but even by that stage -- because, at that stage, there was a very small number of people, as the Butler Report brought out, who knew about it, but To AQ Khan
                                                      and his naughty
                                                      nuclear arms...we knew by that stage about concerns about Libya, we were getting increasingly concerned about Iran and we knew that the supply chain from AQ Khan and so on was getting around. So that was all starting to come through in 2001 and was greatly increasing the level of anxiety amongst defence people about the risks of nuclear proliferation, particularly across the Middle East. So you were starting to see Iraq in one sense from our limited knowledge and also the role of United Nations in that broader context. I would just like to say that we were keen on the controlled sanctions regime in these sorts of regions, but there was starting to be a bit of a wider context to it.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. What happened in reality was it wasn't possible to achieve that degree of acceptance in the United Nations' Security Council. Didn't that have an effect in terms of the United States' objectives? There was a one-month rollover, and if that failed, we were looking to the end of 2001 -- we, the United Kingdom, were -- but it must have had some effect on the dynamics of the United States administration about where to send their review.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Yes, I think it probably did. I don't think it helped Colin Powell's position in Washington, frankly, that he had tried for the first six months of the administration and, by July, had not been able to give this containment policy a refresh through the sanctions resolution. I don't think it led to an immediate shift in American policy because I remember,as 9/11 happened, we and the Americans were still working on further pushes with the Russians to see whether we could get a goods review list resolution through in the autumn, but I think it didn't help the cause of the State Department that the flagship of this strengthened containment policy had not succeeded by July.

THE CHAIRMAN: I think at that sort of mid-point in 2001, with the first policy attempt, as it were, having been stalled, I would like to turn to Sir Roderic Lyne.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Thank you. I wonder if you would just go back a little bit on the question of the extent and the period before September 2001 when the British and American Governments really shared the same view? Sir Peter, you said that their thinking was very much on the same lines, although the Americans were less keen on weapons inspectors. You have noted that there were those in Washington, voices in Washington, that were in a favour of regime change. Was there, in fact, a substantive difference -- I mean, regime change had been part of American policy since the 1990s; a substantive difference between the British and the American Governments over regime change in this period.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I don't know if there was a substantive difference, because I did not feel that regime change was, in any operational sense, US policy at that point, it was part of the rhetorical backdrop of the incoming Republican administration. What we had, actually, in the operational world, was US and UK working side by side in the Security Council to get the goods review list resolution through to strengthen the containment policy. So I didn't feel it was operational US policy at that point.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Sir William said that it was an article of faith -- not the word you used -- to keep a long way from regime change within HMG at this time. Was that the universal view within the British Government or were there elements of our policy or people in the decision-making positions who actually saw regime change as perhaps part of our policy towards Iraq? Was it completely excluded or not?

                                                    Reconstruction goes
                                                    Pear Shaped in IraqSIR WILLIAM PATEY: At that early stage, I didn't come across anyone suggesting regime change within the government. I think, later on, there were people saying we should have entirely excluded it, that there was no legal basis for it. At that time, as Peter says, we were aware of the voices because they had been -- in the lead-up to the election of President Bush, there were many of the incoming administration who had been very clear on this, but even within the American system there was no plan. Indeed, you had disputes over how you would -- if, on a theoretical basis, you could produce this, how you would do it. There were supporters of Chalabi and people who had discounted Chalabi, so there was no -- through this period, we didn't have discussions, that I was aware of, with the Americans, and the Americans didn't put this as a proposition. We were aware of the background noise. The first five months of the new administration, it was essentially left to Colin Powell and the State Department to drive this policy.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I was certainly never aware of anyone in the British Government at that point promoting or supporting active measures to achieve regime change. What we did have was advice to Ministers, which I think they accepted, that we could set out this Contract for Iraq, which was a declaration of what the world would look like for Iraqi people post-Saddam Hussein. The consequence rather than a policy to achieve it. That, I think was accepted and, indeed, we drafted contracts, but this was all against the assumption that it would not be our policy that we were seeking the removal of Saddam Hussein.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: By what process was the review of our policy in this period conducted? Were there meetings held at senior ministerial level, meetings of Cabinet Committees, meetings of senior officials at which all of the options were reviewed and thrashed out and we decided that this was the right thing to do?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: It was essentially driven by the Cabinet Office, so all the departments were represented at the official level. I attended lots of Cabinet Office meetings. The Cabinet Office put up the joint advice to groups of Ministers. So I don't recall -- I don't recall personally a ministerial group looking at this, but it was certainly interdepartmental with advice, written advice, going to Ministers.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I remember several rounds of Cabinet Office process leading up to the papers for the Prime Minister in advance of key events in the course of 2001. I have mentioned one, which was the February visit to Camp David for the first meeting with the new President, and, subsequently, through that period there were several further rounds of that classic Cabinet Office-led process.

MR SIMON WEBB: We had done a review of the No Fly Zones at the turn of the year, as one normally does with a new US administration inbound, and we contributed the results of that into this review from about February onwards and then were part of the collective discussion. So, yes, it was a classic bit of cross-departmental process.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So it was essentially a common view in Whitehall that the policy of containment that you said at the outset, Sir Peter, was our policy at the time was one that needed strengthening and needed improving because it wasn't working terribly well in all its aspects, but it was a policy that was, in Whitehall's view, sustainable over the long-term and could be enforced?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: It was not sustainable on its present course, but, as strengthened, we thought it was the right policy.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did you feel that that view was shared by the dominant force in American policy-making at the time?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Yes, as I said, Colin Powell explicitly did support the approach of a strengthened, narrowed, focused sanctions regime.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: When Mr Webb went to talk to his opposite numbers in the Pentagon, did you get the same sense that  this was American policy?

MR SIMON WEBB: I did. I did. Yes. It was -- I suppose the truthful answer is that, when I went across in March to talk about the No Fly Zones -- for the first time there were No Fly Zones -- the issue of overthrowing came up and I wrote in my notes about "the dog that didn't bark".

I said it “grizzled”, but it didn't bark. So we didn't have a sense of anything going on, and that reflects the fact that -- whatever discussions might have been going on in Washington, this is a serious, disciplined administration. We were talking -- these were senior people in the administration and they don't, as it were, you know -- they -- they stick to, when talking on official business, to their coalition partners, they give you a straight reading of what the position of the administration is at the time, never mind what they might have said themselves or discussed in the past. So you do have that sense of them having concluded that they were not going to put this issue on the agenda first.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I did get a sense in the months that it was more difficult to persuade them. There was a heightened degree of scepticism, the intellectual case for containment and sustainability as a policy. It got tougher and tougher to argue with bits of the American -- even the State Department, that it was viable. So I did notice an increased scepticism, but it hadn't tipped over into anything more direct at that stage.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So you and the Americans at this time wanted to make containment work, but then you have paragraphs which Sir Peter, I think, referred to, which was that the regional countries, the countries most vulnerable to threat from Iraq, were becoming less and less concerned about the threat from Iraq; the threat was felt most sharply in London and Washington rather than countries next door and directly beside Iraq. Why was that? Why did they feel less threatened than we?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think you can't take all the regional countries as one. As I think Simon rightly said, the concern was greater in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia than it was in Syria and Turkey, and Jordan had a rather special relationship with Iraq, a dependency relationship, it was very worried about its economy and being cut off. So there were a complex set of relationships. I think I would describe the region as, if they had had faith in the policy, they would have supported it more, but if it was going to fail, they didn't want to be on the wrong side of Saddam. So you know, I would -- I would say they were hedging their bets, it is not that they were unaware of the threat. Indeed, when we talked about southern No Fly Zones, it was quite clear for the Kuwaitis and the Saudis, that was an important aspect of their security. So it was a mixed picture. They were unhappy within the Arab world. I think, as Sir Peter said, it was against the backdrop of a Palestinian Intifada, of daily photographs of hospitals, Iraqi children, you know, Saddam would have very good propaganda efforts.

So they were feeling uncomfortable. So I think -- I wouldn't sort of characterise it as they were perfectly comfortable with Saddam re-emerging as the strong man in the region; they had a complex set of attributes depending on the efficacy of the policy.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But they were not so worried about him that they were really enthusiastic to make containment work. They were actually helping it to break down.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: One of the strands of this complex was, of course, they had commercial interests, many of the regional countries, in an eroding and porous sanctions regime. They were getting oil, they were getting trade, there were commercial interests in play as well as one of the elements of this mix. So it was not
a straightforward picture. I think the way it has been described is right.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: If they felt there was an imminent threat, presumably that would have overridden their commercial interests?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: If they thought there was a threat of him re-invading a neighbouring country, absolutely, and that's why, for Kuwait -- and Simon is quite right to say that Kuwait's position in this is perhaps rather different from most other neighbours -- the continuation of the southern No Fly Zone and the deterrent effect that that created, and it was very important to those closest to them.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Just taking the story forward, in the first half of the year, building up to July, we tried to develop this policy of improved containment, of smart sanctions, and let us remember what Mr Webb said, which was that the arms embargo part of the policy was working, you thought, quite well, that there wasn't major leakage on that. The leakage was much more on the area of sanctions and there was vulnerability about No Fly Zones. Why, then, were we not able to get the so-called smart sanctions resolution through the Security Council in July 2001? What was the cause of that?

CIA graph of who was owed $ by Iraq in 2004.
Cynics might lie to cogitate on how the people with the biggest chunks of the pie
were not that keen on regime change apart from Japan

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think the Russians took a very cold, commercial view of this. They were doing okay on smuggling and sanctions and developing their relationship with Iraq. So I think they were quite explicit with us at one point. I think the Russian foreign minister had run out of arguments and said, "Yes, I accept all of that, but actually we have got a lot of commercial interests at stake and it is very difficult domestically". The Russians had $8 billion of debt owed to them by the Iraqis, which they were hopeful of getting repaid, and they were doing quite well on -- contracts were being given, even for non-military grounds, because they were being given on political grounds, so the Russians were being given lots of contracts. So the system at the time quite suited them. It took a long time to flush that out. In the end, it was -- with retrospect, it was virtually impossible to change the Russian view, and I imagine you were involved in it at the time, trying to change the view. I'd imagine you probably know more about the Russian view than I do at the time.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I should just note as a footnote that I was ambassador in Moscow at the time. Do you think that, after the initial failure to get this through the Security Council, there would have been a chance of changing the Russian view further down the road? As Sir Peter said, 9/11 changed this, but after we had failed to get it through the first time, did we think that we needed a new policy or did we think that we should bang on with trying to get the Russians to change their mind. You had already persuaded the French, I think, to change their view and most of the Chinese.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think we persisted because the policy containment was the least worst option, we thought at the time. We persisted and we began to look at ways of bringing the Russians on board by removing some of the objections that had come from the neighbours of Iraq, who didn't like the prospects for border controls, didn't like the tightening aspects of it, and I think in November we looked at the possibility of removing those aspects from the resolution to get broader consensus in favour of it. We looked at the prospect of doing a deal with the Russians on their debt to allow Iraq to pay off their debt to increase. We looked at various ways to sweeten the deal for the Russians. So we actually -- although 9/11 intervened, we were still pursuing this in November and we did another rollover to May and we were still trying to get Russian agreement on the goods review list, but the Russians wouldn't even agree to the definition of what constituted military equipment, even though in the Wassenaar agreement we had a perfectly good  internationally-recognised agreement. So we hadn't given up.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did the Americans share that view?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think it became more and more difficult, because the Americans, post-9/11, were less inclined to go along with anything.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Pre-9/11, after the smart sanctions, had this undermined Colin Powell's position?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think pre-9/11 we were -- the Russian refusal in July?


SIR WILLIAM PATEY: We hadn't been up at that point. In 25 July --

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But the Americans, were they beginning to give up on the policy at that point or not?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: It is not clear that they had given up. They had certainly said that they would work -- they would have a five-month rollover to November and we would continue to work on the Russians on the goods review list.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You said this was the least worst option in your view. What were the other options, the worst options?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: The other options were the sanctions regime would collapse completely. Saddam would re-emerge and be free to develop his weapons of mass destruction or we would be going down a path of military action.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: How far would he have re-emerged just because one plank of containment had failed? I mean, we had troops deployed, the British and the Americans, in some of the neighbouring countries as a deterrent, we had a naval embargo, we had an arms embargo. Would the failure of the sanctions have completely undermined containment?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: It would have provided revenue streams that would have allowed him to go out and increasingly buy material for his weapons of mass destruction programme, short-circuiting border controls and arms embargos. We will come on to talk about the JIC assessments, but I was chairman of the JIC at that time and I remember our estimates of the revenue that the regime was making through smuggling and abuse of OFF were rising all the time, and by shortly before 9/11, we estimated that they were probably making about $3 billion. If we had had further erosion which, as I said at the beginning, we felt was an accelerating erosion of the sanctions regime, the revenues the regime would have had their hands on would have grown and grown, and I think, at that point, if you have money, you can usually find ways of getting what you want.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: That was certainly our assessment. If Saddam had full control of all revenues, as Saddam had full control of the revenues from his oil, he would very rapidly be able to influence the region, build up his capabilities and emerge reasonably quickly to the sort of threat he was prior to 1991.

MR SIMON WEBB: It is perhaps worth saying there weren't actually that many ground force groups in the region at this time. What we were doing was to use the no-fly zones in a way to do -- it had a side benefit of risk reduction. Because we were flying over southern Iraq most of the time, we knew what the military situation was on the ground, and that gave us some time, if there had started to be a build-up of another repeated attack on Kuwait, which had indeed -- they had moved towards that at least once during 1990 already -- it would have given us the opportunity to interdict any ground force movements which were the start of an attack on Kuwait and some time to reinforce, but those two things together actually allowed us to be in the rather comfortable position of having a not very expensive military operation -- 30 million a year I think was the figure used at the time on the air side. It allowed us to manage without big ground force deployments, which, for all sorts of reasons, not least the pressure on the armed forces busy in the Balkans and so on, and costs and, of course, the regional countries not being very comfortable about large deployments of our troops all the time. So to that extent, there were, as William was suggesting, quite substantial stakes here. If we had had breakdown, we would have to think about reinforcing, I think our assessment was that the troops we had on the ground couldn't hold a renewed Iraqi attack.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: We will come back this afternoon in more detail to the question of No Fly Zones. It is obviously important for the reasons you give. But while we are in this very beginning stage of our hearings, trying to set the whole of the scene to describe the problem, if you like, that the British Government believed it was facing in 2001, I would like to go back a bit to the question of the assessment of the threat, and in particular, Sir Peter, you were Chairman of the JIC until September, when you moved to become Political Director in the Foreign Office. I'm obviously not going to ask you in open session to go into any details of sensitive intelligence, but can you tell us in broad terms, first of all, where Iraq and the question of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stood in the priorities of the JIC in 2001? Perhaps if we pause on that one.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: In both 2000 and 2001, Iraq was a major feature of the JIC agenda, but by no means the dominant one. In 2000, it was probably the Balkans that we spent most time on. By 2001, we were spending a great deal of time on Sierra Leone, where there had also been military operations, as well as the Balkans continuing, as well as Afghanistan and other places, but in each year it was a significant part of JIC's time, essentially.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So it was important that it wasn't seen as the sort of biggest problem that we had to think about at the time.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Yes, it was important, but it was by no means the only major issue the JIC was focusing on.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: How did the JIC see the threat that was posed by Iraq? The Iraqi military machine had obviously degraded in the course of the 1990s, containment had been followed for a number of years. Was this a high threat, a medium threat or a low threat to international peace and security?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: We certainly continued to see Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction as a continuing threat, for some of the reasons that Simon referred to, and the JIC's work on this has been extensively reviewed in the Butler Inquiry and so is on public record, but a reader of JIC papers during my time as Chairman, I think would have come away with a clear impression that Iraq retained the intention to acquire a WMD capability, that they were still trying to go around procuring equipment and material for it, and that they were at work to ensure that they had at least a breakout capability of manufacturing CW and BW. That absolutely was a cause for concern and something which it monitored pretty closely. Of course, their missiles as well, just to add the fourth component of that, that we saw continuing work on missiles which went beyond the permitted 150-kilometre range for Iraq missiles. So it was among the threats of ballistic missile and WMD development that the JIC monitor around the world.

MR SIMON WEBB: I've just done the military end of the JIC assessment, and I joined the JIC later in this piece. The things that we took from it were, under Saddam Hussein, there had been human rights abuses, which included the use of military force against civilians, and that the international monitoring process of enforcement had constrained it but hadn't actually prevented that. I think we haven't mentioned the north yet. In the north, Iraqi forces remained poised to retake the territory, if they could. They had had a look at trying to do that in 1996 and were only restrained from it by the No Fly Zone. In the south -- well, I have already been over the situation there, but there was a sense, I think, of Saddam gaining in confidence. He was taking positions, I think, on the Palestinian issue which would ingratiate himself with more Arab opinion. So there were those things happening --

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I can develop on the JIC, if you like. The weapons of mass destruction aspect of it was one part of our work. We also spent a lot of time reviewing the sanctions issue and the question of erosion and leakage from sanctions, which I have talked about, and we also had certainly one paper during my time on the implications of the No Fly Zones for Iraqi persecution of the civilian population. I can go into each of those a little bit more, if you would like.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I think we are going to take a break in minute and then probably we'll want to come back to this question after the break, I think collectively, but just to follow through this line before we do so, again, in very broad terms, you have described the problem of weapons of mass destruction that the JIC was looking at, did you see this as something that was essentially in a static condition, the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programme, or did you see this as a growing threat or possibly even a diminishing threat in the year 2001?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: In the year 2001 we saw an acceleration of work on missile programme and I think our reports were specific that there was an acceleration there. We saw increased Iraqi efforts to procure material for their nuclear programme, we saw continuing interest in CW research and development and I think we suspected that the increased availability of money from the increasing revenues diverted from smuggling and OFF were allowing that acceleration of work, certainly in the missiles and the nuclear area.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I wonder, before we have a short break, if my colleagues would like to follow up what has happened so far?

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Could I ask a question? Could I just go back, Sir Peter? When you were talking about the view of the USA in the early days, you said that they were on the same lines as ours, but the USA was less keen on inspectors. Why was that the case, given what you have just said about the growing threat?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: There was a concern in American circles that if we had the weapons inspectors back in Iraq, somehow Saddam Hussein would be able to pull the wool over their eyes and we would have the inspectors reporting that all was fine, whereas all was not fine. So they feared that they would be manipulated by the Saddam regime to producing an answer that was misleading.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: That was the view held by the USA but not the UK?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I have been rightly prompted by Simon to remind all of us that the USA are not homogenous. There were a whole different range of views. But I think there was a dominant feeling in the US that a weapons inspection regime was risky, that it would have to be really good and really professional if it was going to get to the heart of what was going on in these very secret Iraqi programmes. We, I think, probably had more confidence that the UNMOVIC weapons inspection that had been developed in Resolution 1284 was professional under Mr Blix, and if we could get the UNMOVIC inspectors into the country with assistance from our experts, that would be better than not having them in, but it was an area where we probably disagreed with many on the American side.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: The implementation of 1284, which would have got UNMOVIC into the country, on the ground inspecting, we certainly believed that would be the best way to deal with the weapons of mass destruction and we had confidence in Hans Blix, but there was a high degree of scepticism in different American circles, and I think at one stage Colin Powell said the last thing we want is a Potemkin UNMOVIC.

Presumably he means he didn't want UNMOVIC to go all UNSCOM again.

So there was a degree of scepticism because of the experience that they had had with UNSCOM, because they had watched how UNSCOM had been manipulated and obstructed by Saddam. So it wasn't an entirely unreasonable position on their part, having had the experience of UNSCOM, that this UNMOVIC might go the same way, but it wasn't shared by us.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Could I ask another clarification? You talked earlier about a Contract with the Iraqi People, what it would look like after Saddam, but you said that, although it was in the public domain what the US said Condoleezza Rice was saying about regime change, was it any -- what were the assumptions? How would you achieve Iraq without Saddam? I mean, were they considerate of how you would get there.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: On the American side?


SIR PETER RICKETTS: Because, as I said, we quite clearly distanced ourselves in Whitehall from talk of regime change, and I think in all the initial advice I saw going to Ministers in 2001 it was clear that was not something we thought there would be any legal base for. On the American side, in the early months, when people talked about regime change, they weren't so much talking about military invasion, they were tending to talk about arming the Iraqi opposition parties or fomenting difficulty, fomenting uprisings and arming opposition groups.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: It was a dilemma for us. It was our way of saying, "We are not going to do anything to deliver regime change, but actually our point of view is it would be very good for Iraq." So it was a way of signalling to the Iraqi people that because we don't have a policy of regime change, it doesn't mean to say we're happy with Saddam Hussein, and there is a life after Saddam with Iraq being reintegrated into the international community. The attempt of the Contract with Iraq was to set out what the international community would do if Iraq became fully compliant with all the requirements of the international community. So it set out investment in Iraq and normalisation of relations, but it also left open that we think these things are probably impossible so long as Saddam is in place and we -- there was a phrase in there supporting -- if there was to be a change, supporting that, but without any -- there was no action points to fulfil the contract.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: What was the status of the Contract with the Iraqi People?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: The contract was never issued. It was an internal document. We sort of proposed it as part of reconfiguring of sanctions, of saying to the Americans -- trying to help those within the US administration who wanted containment to deal with a dilemma of not signalling that you were okay with Saddam. So the contract was designed as sort of part of a public presentation of a relaunched -- smarter sanctions, if you like, but it never went anywhere.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think if we had got the goods review list resolution through in the summer of 2001, it would then have been accompanied with some sort of Contract for the Iraqi People.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: It would have remained an internal discussion document.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just another question that was made before about why the Americans didn't want inspectors back, or weren't so keen. You have referred to the deal inherent in Resolution 1284, which was, as I recall, December 1999, and which offered the end of sanctions, in effect, if  inspectors went back in and the inspections were deemed satisfactory. So if you didn't have the inspectors back in, in a way there was no way out of the regime that had been established in terms of sanctions and containment and so on.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Yes, I mean, Resolution 1284 offered a two-stage approach, as I remember. First of all, suspension of sanctions after 120 days, provided Saddam was cooperating with the inspectors, and then ultimately lift of sanctions, but that was some way down the line, and that still seemed to us, in 2001, a good package, the best way of leading the international community out of sanctions and isolation towards reintegration of a reformed Iraq in the international community.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But the difficulty presumably for a new American administration would be that it would be a reformed Iraq with Saddam Hussein still at its head. In a sense, it raised a tension between whether the aim of sanctions was to disarm Iraq or to contain Iraq, because, for the reasons that you have given, once the sanctions were lifted, there might be all sorts of ways by which -- not necessarily weapons of mass destruction, but it would have come back into being a regional power with Saddam Hussein there. So, first, is that a reasonable assessment of American concerns?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Yes, and I'm sure there were vigorous debates and differences of view around Washington on that point, but the operational conclusion, at least for the period of 2001, was the one that we've talked about, that Colin Powell was given the opportunity to show a strengthened containment policy and they -- the Americans preferred the sanctions end of that to the weapons inspectors, sanctions suspension, sanctions lift path. That's where they put the emphasis of their policy. Of course, the other person who was reasonably comfortable under the sanctions regime was Saddam Hussein, because it wasn't actually doing him any harm at all. So I mean, there are many dilemmas in international policy when it comes to sanctions and that I'm sure was being eagerly debated around Washington tables in early 2001.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just one final point, if I may, just following on from that, we haven't heard much about the views of the Iraqi Government during this period. Presumably, we were getting them through the United Nations and elsewhere. I mean, it is fair to say that the view of the Iraqis was first that sanctions should go before the inspectors went back in, but as they didn't believe sanctions would be removed anyway, because of the views of the American administration, there weren't really that many incentives in the system, as you have described it, for the Iraqis to change their policies as things were at the time.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: William knows better than me, but, yes, we had not succeeded in increasing the pressure sufficiently on Saddam to interest him in the 1284 package. He was watching his revenues grow from smuggling, he was doing quite well in blaming the west for the sufferings of the Iraqi people, he was posturing on the Palestinians and the Intifada, and, although his relationship with the Arab world was complex, on the Arab street there was probably quite a lot of support for the Iraqi position on the Palestinian issue. So Saddam did not feel under great international pressure, and that was, going right back to the beginning, one of the reasons why we were keen to review policy and shift into a different gear on smarter sanctions at the beginning of the year, because we didn't feel that they were having traction on Saddam.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: We did get some Iraqi views mainly from the Russians, but at one stage the Russians proposed that a revision of 1284, which basically said, "You lift sanctions and then the inspectors go in", but that was never acceptable to the Americans. There was a difference between us and the Americans because we -- the French and the Russians tried to incentivise the Iraqis by removing -- there were some ambiguities in 1284. Nobody had spelt out exactly what post-suspension looked like and there was a debate amongst the P4 on whether we would elaborate those, elaborate on those and clarify, and the Americans were against that. The Russians and the French were for it. We were ready to do it as part of a broader package of smarter sanctions and 1284, so we were ready to elaborate what post-suspension was in order to try and incentivise Iraq to accept them.

THE CHAIRMAN: I think this is probably the right moment for the Committee and the witnesses to take a short break. We will return promptly in ten minutes. Can I ask that if any members of the public or others in the room do need to leave, that they return before the session recommences in ten minutes from now. You will need to hand your pass in to security and return through the security screen, but please bear in mind there cannot be any readmission to the rest of the morning's proceedings after we have recommenced the hearing in ten minutes. The committee will now leave through that door, and the witnesses. We will be back in ten minutes.

(11.33 am)


(11.50 am)

THE CHAIRMAN: Right, let's restart. I will turn to Sir Roderic Lyne to pursue, Roderic, the questions you had on the JIC and other things.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Sir Peter, we were discussing the JIC's view of Iraq in the period before 9/11. What I would like to know at this stage is, what was the JIC being asked to do on Iraq? What questions were you getting from the people who tasked the JIC, from either Whitehall departments or from Ministers, the Prime Minister's office. What questions were they asking you to explore on Iraq?

I've shrunk this section down because there's only so much about No Fly Zones even I can read.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Three sets of issues in the course of my time in the chair, which was a year. One was to track the erosion of the sanctions regime and to report on diversions, smuggling, illegal revenues, opportunities that gave the regime, which we did in three or four papers through the year. One quite specifically on the effectiveness of the No Fly Zones in reducing Iraqi capacity to persecute its own civilian population, and then the third we have already talked about, assessing Saddam's intentions and success or otherwise of acquiring WMD material. Those were the three areas that we were asked to study and which we did report on.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Were they asking you the sorts of questions that suggested that they saw Iraq as a serious threat, perhaps a -- in some dimensions growing? You talked earlier about attempts to break out from the restrictions on their nuclear programme, for example, that they were really worried about this and they wanted the JIC to look at this.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I don't remember specific requests from Ministers on those lines. The WMD work was part of our worldwide review of WMD programmes, which the Committee did on a regular continuing basis. The work on sanctions, as I remember it, was specifically commissioned by the FCO and was intended to keep track with the development of policy. So, for example, in the middle of the year 2001, we were asked for a paper on the effect of a smarter sanctions resolution on Saddam Hussein and whether we thought that that would successfully increase the pressure on him to the point where he was interested in the 1284 deal. So I remember that as a specific request to us, I remember the NFZ effectiveness issue. I don't recall other specific requirements laid on us by officials, senior officials or Ministers.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Now, at this time, neither the United Kingdom, nor the United States had embassies inBaghdad. Therefore, we weren't getting a sort of normal stream of diplomatic reporting on the situation inside the country. How much did this mean that the JIC was being asked to provide the government, provide Ministers, with an assessment of what was going on in Iraq, of how firmly Saddam Hussein was in control, of what tensions existed between different groups within Iraq, paint the picture of the inside of Iraq for the decision-makers?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: We did not, as far as I recall in my period, try to write a paper in detail on the internal dynamics of the regime in Iraq. We were concerned with the more operational issues, as I have talked about, sanctions and No Fly Zones and weapons of mass destruction, and I don't believe we wrote in that period a paper on the internal regime, economic, social or political aspects of Iraq.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Sir William, you were the head of the department. How much did you know about what was going on inside Iraq in 2001?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: We had to rely on officers who would go into northern Iraq. We had officers -- I had an officer based in Ankara who covered northern Iraq and made regular visits into the Kurdish area. So we had a reasonable insight into what was going on in northern Iraq and we would talk to the Kurds about what was going on in other parts of Iraq. We talked to the opposition. We were -- didn't have a -- we had a less good picture than we would have had if we had had some people on the ground, but we put it together with -- we talked to people who did go to Iraq, there were people who went to Iraq, George Galloway and a few MPs went to Iraq, others went to Iraq. We talked to the opposition, but, if you are asking me, did I know as much about what was going on inside Iraq as I knew what was going on inside Iran, probably the answer was no.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did you feel that Saddam Hussein was firmly in control?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: Yes. That was our assessment, that he wasn't under any threat. He was ruthless, he had a long history of eliminating anyone who appeared a threat to him. So our assessment was that he was secure and comfortable.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So if someone had come to you, maybe an exiled group and said, actually, there would be a chance of toppling Saddam through an internal uprising or set of uprisings, how would you have responded to that?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: We were fairly sceptical. There were people who came from time to time suggesting that they could mount coups. We had a fairly jaundiced view of the capabilities of the external opposition and the extent to which there was an internal opposition. We were pretty sceptical about its ability to do anything. Attempts -- previous attempts in the late 1990s from Kurdistan had met with brutal repression, so our assessment was that the chances of Saddam being overthrown internally were limited.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did you think he was strong enough, or could become strong enough, perhaps, with the lifting of sanctions, to be in a position again in which he could within a year or two threaten neighbouring countries?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think that was our assessment, that, free of sanctions, Saddam would -- we would be back to a pre-1991 position, with Saddam having -- maybe even stronger regionally, because, having survived an attack and having survived 10 years/12 years of sanctions, he might even be stronger.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Yet, in those 10 or 12 years his economy had fallen apart and his military machinery had been degraded and from time to time attacked, so was he really in that strong a position?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I don't think he was an immediate threat at that time.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: What do you mean by "immediate"?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: Well, if sanctions suddenly stopped tomorrow, he wouldn't have had a fully-functioning capable army.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: How long would it have taken him to become threatening again?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: Within a few years.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You were confident that, despite the lack of the conventional reporting that you would have had from an embassy, we had a good understanding of what was going on inside Iraq?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: The French had embassies there, and the Russians, and we did talk to our partners with embassies there. So I don't think anyone was seriously questioning, our assessment was based on our discussions with allies.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Sir Peter, did Ministers show an interest in what the JIC was telling them about Iraq in the course of 2001 before 9/11?


SIR RODERIC LYNE: You had feedback on some of your reports?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Certainly. We had feedback. Indeed, the report I referred to about the effectiveness of the No Fly Zones and their impact on Iraqi persecution figured, as I remember it, in a ministerial discussion of the No Fly Zones in the middle of 2001. The weapons of mass destruction material was always read with close interest, including in Number 10, and we got regular requests to keep our focus on that and to monitor it closely.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So your understanding at official level of what was going on there essentially was shared by Ministers, you didn't have an argument or a debate or you didn't feel that they were disconnected from this picture, that they had their eyes elsewhere?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: No, not at all. I would see from time to time that JIC papers that were fed in were then followed up by requests, for example, from Number 10 for further policy work to be done, for example, on the Syrian pipeline which was becoming a increasing concern in terms of diversion of Iraqi oil and circumvention of the sanctions regime. Our JIC paper on that led to a Number 10 request to policy departments to put up advice on what we should do about it.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: How did you get this feedback? Did you discuss the intelligence directly with the Prime Minister, or the Foreign Secretary or the Defence Secretary?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I tended to be at ministerial meetings when they took place on Iraq. I had feedback, more often John Sawers than from the Prime Minister directly, and from senior officials in the FCO who, indeed, were on the JIC.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Were there frequent ministerial meetings on Iraq?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I can't remember frequent meetings, I can remember a number of meetings in the period that I was JIC chairman.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Do any particularly stick in your mind as having reviewed policy in a fundamental way?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I particularly remember a discussion of the No Fly Zones on the basis of our NFZ paper in the JIC. That, I think, was at the heart of the period of discussion about the operation of No Fly Zones. I don't recall being at a general discussion of Iraqi policy in -- for example, in terms of the development of the smarter sanctions policy, no.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: In such meetings, was there much discussion at ministerial level about how our policy meshed with the new administration in Washington?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Not at meetings that I was at.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Were you aware of any ministerial discussion about this?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I did not attend any ministerial discussions about this at this time other than with the Foreign Secretary.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So you attended meetings with the Foreign Secretary on this subject. Were there a number of those meetings in the course of 2001?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I honestly don't know. Two or three, I think.

So no one ever met Jack Straw... much?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Yes, thank you. Can I just move past 9/11 and then perhaps pass the ball on to my colleagues? What effect did 9/11 have on the JIC's view on Iraq, the tasking of the JIC, the amount that the JIC was asked to report on Iraq? Did 9/11 put Iraq up your priority list and bring it into a sharper focus, Sir Peter.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I just need to make a footnote here that I moved out of the chairmanship of the JIC a week before 9/11 and I therefore became a policy consumer of the JIC product more or less as 9/11 happened. Can I just say one word about --

THE CHAIRMAN: Could I just interject? We shall be taking evidence from John Scarlett, who followed immediately after you when 9/11 happened.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: John I think would be a better witness on the effect on the JIC, but as we enter the 9/11 point in this discussion, can I just recall for the Inquiry the depth and breadth of the effect it had on policy thinking?

THE CHAIRMAN: Could I just call a short pause on that? I think there are one or two things we would like to establish before 9/11 happens, before we come back to what you want to say. Sir Lawrence, would you like to begin?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I just want to -- really almost sort of summing up where we had got to, the position that we were in on the eve of 9/11. I suppose my question is whether we really had a tenable, sustainable policy if -- it is an unfair question maybe, but if 9/11 hadn't happened, do you think the policy that we had developed as of this point could have been sustained?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Counterfactuals are always interesting questions, aren't they? I'm pretty sure we would have stuck to our guns on the policy that we had. Indeed, you can see that, even after 9/11, the effect was not immediate on our policy. We continued to push for a goods review list resolution and to urge the Americans to push that on the Russians. I think, if 9/11 hadn't happened, we would have reminded convinced that a strengthened sanctions regime, tightened, narrowed, was the right way to go, and we would have continued to push to get weapons inspectors back into Iraq. It is a theme throughout western -- I mean, British policy, from early in the 1990s, all the way through to 2003 to want to see inspectors back in.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: If we just go through what we have already heard this morning, we have heard from the Russians who, more than we realised, had no particular interest in changing the nature of the sanctions regime, they were doing quite well from it. The French were distancing themselves from British and American policy. Colin Powell was the dominant voice possibly in American policy, but there were other voices pointing in completely the opposite direction. In the Arab world, in a sense, Iraq was almost yesterday's issue because of the Intifada and all of the concerns that that was raising, and Iraq's regime was managing perfectly nicely with the situation as it was, because it controlled the smuggling and the rationing. So whereas it may have been British policy, were we sort of short of allies on this? Were we really in the position to push forward with our particular policy at that time?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think we sensed a bit more momentum behind the policy on the eve of 9/11 than you are suggesting there, Sir Lawrence. We had got quite close to a resolution in July. Indeed, we got a resolution which I think looked forward to a more detailed resolution to come in November, if I remember rightly. So we had got a growing majority on the Security Council to see that the current sanctions regime was not working and that it should be replaced by something better, including lifting civilian holds and freeing up civilian trade into Iraq. The French were certainly on board for that, and, yes, we had a continuing Russian problem, but we were used to dealing with Russian problems in the Security Council and we had a degree of confidence that with time and with our, you know, adjustments to the resolution to take account of some of their concerns, that we could have got there. I think that's where we felt we were on the eve of 9/11.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think in July the French were possibly closer. I wouldn't characterise them as distancing themselves. I think, post-9/11, what they were prepared to agree to in November, had they agreed to it in July, we would have been better off. I used to tell my French colleagues, "You are always agreeing with things five months too late". So I would see them, in July, as coming on board, and we hadn't given up on the Russians, because the Russians were running out of arguments, other than the blatant one, that "It is in our commercial interests to see this continuation of the sanctions regime". It is hard to say, but we would have still felt it was a viable policy and still the best option amongst the others that might be canvassed.

THE CHAIRMAN: I can recall a quote, maybe it wasn't quite from this time, but I think it was from Tariq Aziz, which described smart sanctions as "the kick of a dying mule". You wouldn't accept this as a characterisation of where this policy was going?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I'd rarely accept anything Tariq Aziz said, as far as I recall.

MR SIMON WEBB: Can I reinforce the point Peter was making about the importance of inspectors? In the stocktake I referred to which went into policy debate, we looked at how effective had been the attempt in 1998 to keep, if you like, the WMD lid on by bombing -- there was a short bombing campaign at that point after the inspectors were thrown out, and we concluded it was not effective and we were not able to offer any assurance that you would have been able to deal with the WMD problem solely by air power. Therefore, that reinforced, quite explicitly -- I must have a look at my notes -- the point that you needed to get the inspectors back in. So we were strongly behind the Foreign Office position on all that.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, I think we have dealt with 2001 from its beginnings, the new American administration, and, through the spring and summer, the events in the United Nations and elsewhere, and then we have to come to 9/11. I suppose the first question I should like to put to our witnesses is, how far did the event itself -- we shall come on, I'm sure, to the United States -- but how far did it change the United Kingdom's assessment about the security environment threat that could arise from Iraq as well as from other sources, and did that itself inject a requirement to review policy by reason of a change of the assessment of the threat?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: What it did, first and foremost, and obviously, is push counter-terrorism right to the top of the agenda, and that was true from the moment it happened, but it also was the starkest indication we had had that this new breed of terrorists were intent on mass casualties, that they were innovative in finding unconventional ways of achieving that, that they didn't mind at all dying in the process and that this was all a new dimension, really, of the terrorist threat.  One thing it did immediately do is redouble our concern about the possibility of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction, because, if you put together unconventional means, willingness to die, intent to create mass casualties, weapons of mass destruction would be a very good weapon for such terrorists, and that concern, which had been around and which the Prime Minister had articulated earlier, I think was made worse by the discovery by the coalition forces in Afghanistan that AQ was interested in experimenting with CW or BW in Afghanistan, and so --

Does he mean AQ Khan or Al Qeada?

THE CHAIRMAN: I think -- sorry -- some indication, too, of an interest in, if not work on, radiological.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Indeed. All of which threw into greater relief concerns about WMD proliferation, not just Iraq, but more widely. Simon has already referred to the AQ Khan network, but then, when you came to WMD and Iraq, I think it gives the whole issue greater political salience and prominence. Not to say that we had any evidence that Iraq was directly linked in any way to the 9/11 attack, we didn't have any such evidence, but it did throw into greater relief the threat from Iraqi WMD without any inspector control over it, and I think that's probably the way in which 9/11 impacted Iraq policy in the first place. It didn't change, as we have said, the thrust of our general policy. I mean, we were still, after 9/11, working for a GRL resolution, for containment, for getting the weapons inspectors back in, but it added an edge to that work on WMD.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I accept that.

THE CHAIRMAN: You stated -- and we know from reading -- that the United Kingdom did not itself assess that there was a direct threat from Iraq and its potential, in WMD terms, in terms of linkage with Al-Qaeda or other terrorist movements. Was the same true in the United States?


THE CHAIRMAN: I don't know if you can help.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: We heard people in Washington suggesting that there might be some link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, undocumented, and I don't think we ever saw any evidence of it. Certainly, at that early stage, they didn't produce evidence, but the tone of voice was more, "If there turns out to be a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, then you know, that's going to have major implications for Iraq and Saddam Hussein". We began to get that sort of tone of voice early on.

THE CHAIRMAN: You say a "tone of voice", but what was the nature of the change in US attitude towards policy, the way it was developing its policy from the impact of 9/11, both, as it were, politically, militarily, but also emotionally?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think I have seen the phrase in official papers that US policy hardened after 9/11 and that, I think, captured some of it. Counter-terrorism became absolutely the dominant issue, the War on Terror, but, immediately, the operational implication of that was Afghanistan, and the US, with support from others, went into coalition operations in Afghanistan straight away, and it was not until some months later, probably late November, that one began to hear talk of a phase 2 of the War on Terror from Washington, not always specifically looking at Iraq, but a sense that Afghanistan would not necessarily be the only phase of the war on terror. So it certainly gave the US immediately much greater focus on counter-terrorism. I think in terms of interdepartmental politics in Washington, it made the Pentagon the dominant instrument of American policy, particularly when they moved into coalition operations in Afghanistan.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thereby importing an additional set of policy options into American thinking, but not into our own, insofar as we might have to follow them?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think that's fair. It changed the weighting of policy players in Washington immediately, I think, in favour of the Pentagon, but that did not reflect an immediate change in UK policy.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: There wasn't an immediate change in  American policy in some ways, but the tone changed. I made a note here that the US was ready to support a new resolution in November, but its intrinsic worth had fallen since 9/11. So there was a sort of -- for the time being, they were going to go along with our attempts to get agreement, but, of course, it came at a time in order to get agreement, we were going to have to make more concessions to get P5, and the willingness to make any concessions had fallen away when -- with the Pentagon coming to the fore in policy-making.

THE CHAIRMAN: So although there may have been a degree of sympathy with the United States by reason of the effects of 9/11, in political terms in the P5 in the Security Council it actually went the other way, because of the internal effect in Washington of giving more power, more influence to, if you like, the Pentagon component of policy-making.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: That is true, if you look narrowly at the Iraq issue. If you look more generally, those early weeks after 9/11, there was a tremendous surge of worldwide support for the Americans. I mean the invocation of Article 5 in NATO, the passage of a unanimous Security Council Resolution on the day after 9/11, I think. Everybody was prepared to support the US in their immediate counter-terrorist policies. Over the months, when that was translated into thinking about Iraq policy, yes, I think that probably did move things away from any prospect of consensus immediately.

THE CHAIRMAN: I wonder, Mr Webb, your own perspective on this with the, as it were, rise of the Pentagon in relative terms, immediately following 9/11 and afterwards, did that change our bilateral relationship on the military side?

MR SIMON WEBB: Perhaps I can talk about what I saw as the sort of shift of thinking and come back to the relationships. On the shift of thinking, the striking shift was this: previously, terrorism had been seen as something where, if you like, you would experience an incident, you would deal with them on a reactive basis. The huge shift after 9/11 was that both the scale of the casualties that had been inflicted and all these people who had given up their own lives meant a shift in thinking to say,

"We can't afford to wait for these kinds of threats to materialise upon us; we must be ready to engage the potential threats wherever they emerge".

So it shifted from something which is, in a way, often part of the American feeling that, "We are a big country who have everything within our boundaries and we will wait for things to happen", into a much more proactive sense that they needed to deal with security threats before they arrived. We, ourselves, did a new chapter of the Strategic Defence Review -- in fact, I oversaw the production of the White Paper -- and we acknowledged some of that. You will find British Ministers saying, "We need to deal with threats before they arrive, rather than just waiting for them to come here", and, of course, you know, domestically we were now running an air defence operation on an ongoing basis against hijacked airliners and you needed to -- that gave you a sense of it being preferential to engage these issues before they arrived with you. A general change of thinking.  It didn't -- I mean, we were immensely busy, all of us, at this period. It is perhaps worth mentioning, as we were just doing in late August and early September, we had an operation running in Macedonia, in fact my discussions with Washington were mostly about Macedonia in all this, where -- people forget all this, but we did a 60-day deployment of a NATO coalition led by the UK, which the Americans had interests in. We then went on to Afghanistan, which for any defence department was a substantial deployment and the Americans went in first and then we were arranging the international security assistance force in the Kabul area and we led the coalition on that. So we were very busy on that, and I think there was a sense in which Iraq was there but it was second on the agenda for a while. That was reinforced by the fact that actually the penetrations in the No Fly Zones dropped off quite suddenly after 9/11. The Iraqi aircraft ceased to come through into the No Fly Zones as often as they had done before, and you had a sense that Saddam was being careful for a while. That reversed later on, but all these things combined to -- I don't think -- I did not have a sense of anybody saying, "Oh, great! Now we are in charge", feeling. It was more, "These issues have come to us. We are a defence department. We are going into Afghanistan. We are very busy with that, so we will lead because it is time for us to do the military operations which are necessary".

THE CHAIRMAN: You have talked already this morning about regime change and its sort of contextual position even before the election of President George W Bush. Did that come more obviously to the fore, and, if so, how quickly, following 9/11, whether in political discourse or, indeed, in military consideration of what might need to be done.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think in the immediate post-9/11 period from Washington it was more in the tone of voice that I have described, that, if we find that there were links between Iraq and the terrorists either who carried out 9/11 or the Osama bin Laden group, then that puts Iraq very much on our agenda. I think it was only later, in the autumn, after the initial surge of work in the Afghanistan operation that we began to hear the phrase I have used, phase 2. Phase 2 was not clearly defined at all, what it meant. Did it mean military action, did it mean other kinds of action, did it herald a completely different US policy towards Iraq? But it was clear from the late autumn, I suppose, from late November, that Iraq was being considered in a different light in the light of the 9/11 attack.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: I just wanted to go back to this whole question of why did Iraq become an area to pursue, because there was the question of containment being pursued? You said yourself that there was a very tenuous link, if any -- no documentary evidence of links with Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. So why did it become so important to pursue the policy of regime change or the removal of Saddam? I just want to explore that a little bit. Can you just reflect on that?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: You are asking me really to explain US policy here, because it was not British policy at that point. British policy remained the very familiar one of, "Let's go back to the idea of getting the weapons inspectors in"
, and that was very much the flavour from London. I think for many in Washington, the new urgency of weapons of mass destruction, the risk that weapons of mass destruction might fall into the hands of terrorists, with incalculable consequences, the fact that Iraq, in our view at that time, probably did still have some weapons of mass destruction, had been prepared to use them against its own population and against Iran at earlier stages, meant that Iraq and their WMD programme was a real cause for concern in Washington. That didn't translate immediately into any concrete policy to what to do about it, but it made their tolerance of uncontrolled, unsafeguarded weapons of mass destruction capacity in Iraq, made that tolerance less.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: But we heard from you earlier that, post-9/11, there was sympathy for the USA and you nearly got these smart sanctions, and I still don't understand why it was so urgent to pursue Iraq.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Well, I think we have said that was not the first priority after 9/11. The first priority was to go after Al-Qaeda, the presumed people responsible for the attack. That led on to a large US military operation in Afghanistan, the overthrow of the Taliban regime, the arrival of an international force which we first led in Afghanistan and a cranking up of US counter-terrorism policy across the world; in the UN, in many other fora. That was the first response. Later, towards the end of the year, people did begin to look at Iraq, for the reasons that I have described, because of the fact of weapons of mass destruction and continuing programmes there, as part of what they called phase 2. So by the time you came to the State of the Union address at the beginning of 2002, you had President Bush talking about an axis of evil, of which Iraq was one part. I think Iran and North Korea were the other parts. So there wasn't an exclusive focus on Iraq in American policy at that time, but it was one of the Axis of Evil countries, as the President put it, that they were worrying about. Perhaps Simon can explain --

MR SIMON WEBB: Yes, I think it was read in that way and, as you mentioned yourself, Chairman, there are obviously indications discovered in Afghanistan of interest of Osama bin Laden in some sort of improvised nuclear device, and the thing he was short of was expertise and fissile material to try to do that kind of thing. So you would -- that made you look at all the countries where you might have a WMD problem, of which Iraq was one, he had obviously overstated -- that was overstated because we didn't quite know what was going on there, but also the other countries that were mentioned. The other point I think was something like this, that the only instrument you had to deal with this problem of proliferation was the United Nations non-proliferation regime. You didn't have any other real instruments for trying to tackle it. So restoring that, in the way that Peter has described, in Iraq became a policy priority; because, unless the UN could show itself effective in Iraq, where, for ten years, we had been talking about disarmament, and yet they had thrown the inspectors out and we had apparently done nothing about it, unless you could make the UN effective over Iraq, then how were you to -- what were you to say to Libya, and particularly their neighbours in Iran, about -- to try to persuade them not to go down the same course? So these things tended to merge together a bit in that way, I think, at that stage.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So what you are saying is that because the United Nations was seen to be ineffective, therefore disarmament and use of inspectors was seen to be ineffective, and therefore the alternative was the removal of Saddam.

MR SIMON WEBB: No, no, I am saying that what we wanted to do is get the inspectors back in again. I mean, the inspectors had been out since 1998 and, as we discussed earlier, we had now had a new inspection regime under 1284. We wanted to get that regime working again in Iraq, which was why we came back to it. The questions started to come up,

"Well, if you can't get that to work, what next?"

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think one of the clear trends post-9/11 was the willingness to accept the risks intrinsic in a containment policy had declined in the United States.

THE CHAIRMAN: I would like thank you for registering that. It is a very fundamental point in the sequence, isn't it? But going back just briefly to Afghanistan, the first reaction by the United States and then by the international community was itself a military success of some speed. That not only disclosed further information about the links between Al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime which was hosting it -- or was it the other way round -- but it also must have given some degree of confidence both in the direction of effort and the capacity of both the United States itself and its military, but also more widely, including the United Kingdom. So did Afghanistan, that enterprise, shift assumptions, confidence levels, in the coalition, between the United States and the United Kingdom?

MR SIMON WEBB: It didn't feel quite like that. It just felt busy, rather than -- I suppose we were pleased that the operations that we had done that year in Macedonia and in Kabul had worked well, and I suppose you could say we were in practice and had been ever since Kosovo, but I don't think we felt kind of more than that.

THE CHAIRMAN: Does "we" include Ministers as well as officials, or was there a sense that, you know, we had been able to pull something off here? I'm talking about politicians in office both in London and in Washington. Was that not an encouragement to consider a wider range of options or a different set of likelihoods attaching to different options?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I don't think British Ministers ever underestimated the scale of the challenge of a military operation in Iraq, a hypothetical military operation in Iraq, in late 2001. I mean, I think it is hard for us to speak about the view in Washington. It may have been that there were some in Washington who felt that the Afghanistan mission had gone extremely well, relatively few US casualties, and, you know, that therefore other military operations would be the same. I don't recall that as a feeling around in London at the time.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I was certainly not aware, right up to March 2002, when I left, of any increased appetite by UK Ministers for military action in Iraq.

THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. There is a lot more to say and we shall be discussing WMD issues tomorrow. What I would like to do now, I think, is to ask my colleagues, in the light of the evidence we have been taking throughout this morning, for points that have arisen out of it that we would like to take up with you in the last few minutes or half hour. Sir Martin, would you like to?

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Yes. I would like to get a stronger sense of how the Americans were reacting to the idea of the return of the inspectors, how they really understood our sense of the containment policy could be effective.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I mean, my sense was that the Americans didn't hold great store by the inspection regime and, therefore, there was always a debate as to just how much effort were they prepared to put into getting 1284 implemented. I think we were almost more enthusiastic about getting inspectors, had greater faith that the inspection regime would ultimately deliver the answers on WMD and lead to a different situation in Iraq. I think the Americans were more sceptical about it, and, therefore, it came back to this issue of how -- how far down the road did you go to explain post-suspension arrangements in order to incentivise the Iraqis? They were much more focused on making the containment policy work, keeping Iraq -- keeping a regime which limited Iraq's ability to spend its oil revenue, which maintained tight controls on its ability to acquire weapons or anything that could contribute to it. That was much more their focus, and, indeed, smarter sanctions. So my own impression is that they were less sanguine about the impact. We certainly had discussions with them about, "Why don't you think Hans Blix -- he is a serious player, he has learned the lessons of UNSCOM", but we had to have these debates with them because they didn't take it as a given.

THE CHAIRMAN: Did you want to comment on that, Usha?

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: I wanted to move to a different area because this morning, Sir Peter, when you were talking about the Whitehall machinery, you said it was a classic Whitehall operation of policy being coordinated across government departments and the Cabinet Office was leading on that. Was there any change after 9/11, or did that policy machinery continue?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: No, I don't think there was. I don't think there was.


SIR PETER RICKETTS: I think the focus of policy debate shifted to counter-terrorism, where there was a huge priority for work right across the board in counter-terrorist cooperation with many different countries, including work in the UN and then Afghanistan, but, no, the Whitehall coordination mechanism worked through that.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: It continued to work post-9/11?


BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Okay. My second question really is about, could the UK and the US have done something different to achieve the objectives of containment over this period? Could they have done something different?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I mean, I think we were interrupted, as it were, by 9/11, because, as we were saying earlier, I think we had built some momentum behind a policy that would shift towards tighter, narrower, more effective sanctions freeing up the civilian goods, getting away from the sense that the west was responsible for the humanitarian crisis in the Iraq, and over time, you know, I think that could have succeeded in putting containment on to a more sustainable footing. If there were things we could have done differently -- I mean, perhaps we could have anticipated that the Russians would have seen these huge commercial difficulties in going down that path and perhaps have got on to that and tackled that earlier, but, looking back, I think we first of all achieved the initial objective, which was to work well with the incoming US administration, and out of that mass of different voices in Washington in January 2001 come down on a policy throughout the rest of that year until September, which was basically the policy we had been advocating. With more time, we might have been able to get the GRL resolution and, therefore, get the sanctions policy on to a better footing.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: We did look at different options. I remember writing a paper that went all the way from, you know, hard containment, current policy which didn't seem like hard containment, to soft containment, to lifting of sanctions, to -- I have to say, it even had at the end of it a regime change option. It said go all out for regime change, which we dismissed at the time as having no basis in law, but we did look at the various options and our policy review conclusion was, given the international circumstances, because, you know, it wasn't just up to Britain, it was what was feasible, given the Russian position, given the French position, given the regional position, and given the American position. So we did look at the other options.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: When you looked at the other options, was it something within the FCO, was that paper considered by Number 10?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: It was an FCO paper. I don't recall us going to the -- within the FCO, the extremes were knocked out. So within -- I think within the Cabinet Office machinery we were really talking hard containment and current policy soft containment. So the lift sanctions and see what happens option, we knocked out. So there was an internal FCO.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: That was your paper which wasn't fully considered at Number 10?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: We didn't put it up beyond the department.

MR SIMON WEBB: Could I try and answer Sir Martin's point? Can I just do that very quickly? Which is really to say something like this, that, if you like -- and this was a trend which came through particularly after the axis of evil speech at the end of January by President Bush -- was, previously, we had tolerated a situation in which this containment was sort of jogging along and not doing very well, and I have talked earlier about the issues about on WMD. I think it got, as Peter described, a further run after, because, you know, that seemed to be the best way to try to deal with the WMD problem in the new context after 9/11. But inexorably, the military departments do do this. They start asking themselves, "If that doesn't work" -- and the question I think became, "Are we prepared to tolerate the containment policy or even the inspectors not working?", and that, I think, is the shift, and once you start to say that, you start to say, "Well, what might one then do?" It is not a plan, it is not -- it is certainly not anywhere near a decision, but it is a question that has to come up about how you move your policy forward in this new context where you have a feeling you can't wait for threats to come to you.

The Butler report on the total lack of WMD found after the war is remembered as much for the natty attire of the particpants as it's total lack of political credibility.  From left to right ....

Sir John Chilcot (previous SIS shop steward now heading this Inquiry)

Michael Mates (Conservative MP who sat on the committee despite Michael Howard saying that the Conservative Party would not be officially taking part as the terms of reference of the Inquiry were "unaccetably restrictive"

Ann Taylor, Labour MP who supported the invasion of Iraq and was actually involved in drafting the "dodgy dossier" (please consult the dossiergram if you can't remember which dossier was which), chair of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), and former chief whip of the Labour Party
Field Marshal The Lord Inge former Cheif of Defence Staff

The Lord Butler of Brockwell (ex Cabinet secretary)
SIR PETER RICKETTS: Can I just put on the record, as it were, a quotation from a document of mine of March 2002, which I think has now sort of circulated as a result of the Butler Inquiry? I said: "The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's work in the weapons of mass destruction programme, but our tolerance of them post-9/11." That's what I said in a note to Jack Straw in March 2002 and I think the "our" in that sentence is as much America as -- perhaps more America than the UK.

MR SIMON WEBB: I said "The real anxiety is WMD, of which Iraq is the first example", or something like that.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Sir Roderic?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I would just like to follow up on this. This is a very interesting series of points that you have made, about the way that policy evolved in the period autumn 2001, after 9/11, into the early months of 2002. Sir William Patey talks about a paper put up within the FCO about options, but you say that paper didn't go beyond the FCO, although you referred to the Cabinet Office looking at a narrower range of options. Mr Webb has talked about the Ministry of Defence asking itself the question,

"What do we do if this doesn't work?"

MR SIMON WEBB: I was talking more about the Americans.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Sir Peter Ricketts is noting that the tolerance of Saddam has changed as a result of 9/11. Now, at what point, if at all, did the people at the top, the very top, the Ministers, sit down with their experts, people like yourselves, the chiefs of staff, the intelligence chiefs, and say,

"We are in a different situation. The American approach has clearly changed.  If you have any doubt about that, the Axis of Evil speech by President Bush made that pretty clear, but we are still committed to a policy of containment. It is a policy that, by our own assessment, isn't now working properly, it is not functioning well, and our closest allies are now on a different tack".

Was there -- did our policy just drift from one line eventually into another or was there a point at which Cabinet Ministers sat down and looked at the strategy. They reviewed the problem we were facing, the extent of the threat, they reviewed the strategy that we were following and, above all, most importantly, they were presented with a series of options to discuss and debate so that they could then take a decision about where we go from here? Did that happen at any point?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: You are now moving the focus forward well into 2002, if we are talking in the period beyond the "axis of evil" speech, and I think the policy process that I remember in that period was another of these classic interdepartmental processes, coordinated by the Cabinet Office in late February/early March 2002, to prepare the Prime Minister for his important discussions with President Bush at Crawford in March 2002, and that would seem to be an important moment to take stock of policy, and there certainly was a Whitehall-wide process to stocktake, review policy options and put advice to Ministers at that point.

THE CHAIRMAN: I don't want to halt you on this but we will have, in later sessions, the opportunity to go in more detail into that period of early 2002 and the run-up to the February meeting. But, Roderic, did you want to pursue this --

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Just one short rider to that. In the classic Whitehall manner, as you have put, did this classically include Ministers sitting down to look at these options before the Prime Minister went to Crawford?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I was not present at such a meeting, but then I probably wouldn't have been in the position that I held, so I can't answer that.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But you would have been aware of it as the political director at the FCO and Sir William would have been aware of it as the head of the department.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I would need to research further that point. My researches have not extended at this point --

THE CHAIRMAN: In fairness, we did ask didn't ask you to look at 2002 for this session.

MR SIMON WEBB: I distinctly remember in that period us from Defence offering Mr Hoon a view, which he then put to his colleagues, certainly before Crawford. So I'm sure -- we weren't talking --

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Okay, we will come back to this at a  later stage.

Why does Sir Peter Ricketts cutt Mr Simon Webb dead and why does Sir John Chiclot allow him to just change the subject... turning to Sir Lawrence Freedman to come up with a change of direction?

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Sir Lawrence?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Sir William Patey mentioned the paper which discussed regime change, only to dismiss it as having no basis in law. Can we just clarify, therefore, what people had in mind during 2001 when they were talking about regime change? What sort of series of events did they assume that this would entail?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: Well, we never got into that in 2001. This was a paper I commissioned from my staff, to say, "Come on, let's think of the whole range of options out here. Let's go from -- nothing is off the table. I know this is the policy we have been pursuing for the last ten years, but nothing is off the table." And it was very much an internal paper. I would have to go and research again to see where it went to, but it wasn't circulated, but it did -- because I came across it again -- it did look at lift, give up and see what happens, deal with the consequences and -- so it didn't go into any how you would achieve regime change. Obviously, regime change -- we are talking about a paper that had two pages and seven or eight --

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Accepting that, but it is a more general question: when this phrase was used, which I think was mentioned before -- it had been used by the Americans since 1998 or indeed before that, with the Iraq Liberation Act. Hadn't it, by and large, been about supporting, say, the INC or other exiled groups? It wasn't necessarily about a full-scale military  invasion, which is how it has now come to be seen.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Correct. In that pre-9/11 period -- I think our understanding, when Americans in Washington talked about regime change, they were thinking about fomenting uprisings or arming the external opposition forces, and we treated all that with great scepticism in Whitehall.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: What sort of response did you get when you told them so?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: It never became an operational policy. The operational policy was the one that we were pursuing with the State Department, and there were expressions of opinion, that perhaps that would be a great thing to do, but it never concretised into operational policy.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So after 9/11 -- and you mentioned these discussions of stage 2. Afghanistan was stage 1. That had a very clear and obvious purpose and was widely supported. But then, late November, you start getting the discussions, "Well, what do we do next?" And at this point quite quickly Iraq is raised publicly, including a (inaudible) by the President. So at that stage, presumably, you did have to start thinking about what regime change might now mean. Did you have those discussions still in 2001 -- at the end of 2001?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I don't recall discussions like that at the end of 2001. No, I don't think that they began to  – plan for the contingency: what if US policy began to develop in the direction of military invasion of Iraq. I don't recall any such discussion in 2001.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: And we were never asked as a department to provide advice on regime change or how it might look, nor did we.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But in December 2001, when the President was making statements which indicated that Iraq was coming into his sights, so you are saying that Ministers didn't ask you -- and I also recall Jack Straw responding to some of these statements. But you weren't asked then for any assessment of where this might be going?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I don't believe so, no. We certainly never put up any advice on that, as far as I recall.

MR SIMON WEBB: I don't think there were any substantive discussions until after the weapons of mass destruction speech.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: It was still background noise, I think. The background noise was louder but it was still background noise.

MR SIMON WEBB: I think there is a point to make here also that the focus didn't shift to regime change; the focus shifted to weapons of mass destruction problems, of which in the case of Iraq -- in order to deal with the weapons of mass destruction problem in Iraq, you would probably end up having to push Saddam Hussein out of power. That was the sequence of events, if you couldn't do it by inspection. So it wasn't hopping straight to regime change. In fact I don't think we ever thought there was really a legal basis for a regime change as such in that period. It was all about an objective -- the objective was about the WMD after 9/11.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Do you think this ambiguity about policy can have led to confusion, because was it about disarming Saddam Hussein -- and that was it about WMD -- or was it about regime change? The way you were going to get there. It seems to me to be a deliberate policy of ambiguity.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: No, I don't think that's true. It is for the Americans to describe their own policy. Our policy I don't think was ambiguous. I think we were still along the same old track of trying to get weapons inspectors back into the country, and indeed in the first months of 2002 we got a tip-up of interest again in the GRL resolution. We found that the State Department were more interested, and the Russians were beginning to sniff around as well, a revival of the goods review list mechanism. So we still had our focus on weapons inspector route and sanctions-type means, and if we heard these voices about regime change, they weren't really impinging on the Whitehall policy debate at that point.


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I'm curious about this because we now know that the President was actively discussing this in December internally. The military planners were starting to think about what it might mean. This was the period when the US did start to think this through. So you are saying there was no indication penetrating into Whitehall that the US debate had suddenly taken this rather sharp turn?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I don't remember a sharp turn, no. What I remember of late 2001 was huge work going on on Afghanistan, the UK deeply engaged in putting together a coalition to go in as ISAF to Kabul, us continuing to pursue weapons inspections and there being a range of different views in Washington. Of course we were hearing people talking about regime change. I've said we were hearing people saying, "If we find any evidence of Saddam Hussein connected to UBL, my goodness, that's going to have a major impact on our policy”. But I don't remember a clear turning a corner on American policy, as you describe, in late 2001.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: In pursuit of this policy, we were saying to the French and the Russians and others, "If we can't make this sanctions regime work, if we can't make this containment policy work and deliver on WMD, then the noises from Washington will lead us in a different direction." We were saying that but we weren't --

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So you picked up something?

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: No. We picked up the signs but we weren't -- we could see that as pressure on us to deliver on our policy.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Maybe the question, just to finish that, for all of us in interpreting our transatlantic friends is: when does debate about options, when does disagreement, when do a dozen competing ideas become policy. And I don't recall by the end of 2001 that we were at all clear that this was becoming policy.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just one question just to wrap this up, that gives it a broader context, and it goes back to the stage 2 debate. As you will be aware, well aware, after 9/11 there were major issues about the "war on terror": what it would mean, what it would require, was this going to be essentially about intelligence and police work, picking up non-state actors, or was there, as was the strong view in the States, really about the state sponsors of terrorism, which is why "war" might then seem a more appropriate word. Were you having those sort of broader debates about what this long-term policy might mean? If you declared war on terrorism, where was this going to take you and, if so, was Iraq part of that discussion?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: I don't remember "War on Terrorism" ever being our phrase. Indeed, I remember British Ministers being fairly -- you know, not very impressed with it as a phrase. Yes, of course, we had endless debates and discussions and decisions about what our counter-terrorist policy should be, and that ranged from intelligence sharing, from building up capacity of countries around the world to deal with terrorists, improving border control regimes, and many, many different policies that came together into a broad counter-terrorism policy. I don't remember us sitting down and having debates about whether, you know, we should be thinking about military action against state sponsors of terrorism. No, I don't recall such discussions.

THE CHAIRMAN: We have covered a lot of ground this morning and I'm going to ask my colleagues if they have got any last questions before the conclusion of this session, and then I will, if I may, ask our witnesses whether there are any final points that they would like to make. So, just to go round the table ...

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Just one point that continues to puzzle me, which is the paradox between our assessment of Saddam Hussein's aspirations to develop weapons of mass destruction, which you described earlier and which the JIC had quite a lot of information that it reported on. As I understand it, broadly speaking, the assessment that Saddam was trying to do this, that he had certain capabilities, which he was trying to develop further, was not disputed by other countries, by other members, permanent members of the Security Council, broadly shared by countries in the region. So there wasn't a major difference of opinion -- correct me if I am wrong -- between us and France, or Germany, or Russia, on this basic assumption. But at the same time the United Kingdom and the United States, working off this database, saw Iraq clearly as a major threat that had to be contained or more serious, and all of these other countries came to a very different conclusion. Now, why did they look at the same information but not regard it as threatening, whereas we did?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Well, first of all, I don't think there was any disagreement, as you say, that Iraq had had weapons of mass destruction. After all, they had used them. IAEA inspectors had found and largely dismantled a nuclear programme after the Gulf War. So the fact that the country had capabilities and had shown they were willing to use them was not disputed. There may have been difference of assessment, I don't know, as to whether they were actively seeking to reconstitute their WMD capabilities. There we had intelligence information suggesting that they did, which I'm sure could be exposed to you in more detail in private sessions. I don't know to what extent that was shared as an assessment with other countries. But, for example, the French certainly were concerned about Iraq's WMD, and one policy line that the French were always in agreement with us on was getting the inspectors into Iraq. So the disagreement with the French was really about how to go about it. The French had serious doubts about the NFZs. They had serious doubts about the sanctions regime, but they wanted to see the inspectors back in Iraq. So there was a difference of how to achieve your objective. The Russians -- honestly, I don't know exactly what was driving them. I think their commercial interests were probably pretty prominent in their view. And regional countries -- I mean, I guess they thought that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were not something that they could do anything about and they were rather looking to the western countries to deal with that problem. They saw probably as not something that they had the capacity to deal with. So there was a bit of handing off that problem to the US, UK and others.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But they didn't think it was so menacing to them that they needed to assist in the process of dealing with it? They were actually undermining that process.

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Well, they were living with Iraq as a large and potentially powerful neighbour. They were profiting commercially. They were doing their best to avoid antagonising Iraq and they were hoping that the West would do enough to keep Iraq deterred.

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I think it is a reflection of the differing levels of tolerance and the different levels of economic and commercial engagement, and when the economic cost of doing what was required went up, the level of tolerance seemed to go up as well. So I think that's what we were dealing with.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But with the exception of Kuwait, were the countries in the region banging on doors in London and Washington saying, "We are very worried about Saddam Hussein; please will you do something about him."

SIR WILLIAM PATEY: I can't say my door was being knocked on very regularly, no.


MR SIMON WEBB: One point just to make is that the intelligence about the wider proliferation issues, which we were talking about and you will get on to, was not on the whole shared -- it was extremely sensitive and it was very much held within the UK and probably people within the US, if you like, but it was not widely available to other allies.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Sir Peter, Sir William, Mr Webb, final remarks from this morning's session from yourselves?

SIR PETER RICKETTS: Not from me, thank you, no.

THE CHAIRMAN: Right. Well, we have covered 2001 in policy terms. We arrived at 9/11 and the immediate aftermath, although there is much more to say in 2002 and onwards. This afternoon we want to go in more detail into the No Fly Zones and also the sanctions components of the UK's 2001 policy and the policy before. There will be a slight change of cast, I think.  Sir Peter, I think, you will give way and we have Sir Michael Wood joining us. What I would like to say to those present: thank you for sitting so patiently through quite a long morning with a lot of detail. We are going to resume at 2 pm. I hope, if you are coming back, which I hope you will, you will come back by 2 o'clock. On going out, please, as in the break, hand in your passes to the security people and collect them again on coming back. Sad to say, unlike the opera, those who don't get in before we restart at 2 pm don't get in until the next break. Thank you all very much and thank you to our witnesses.

(12.55 pm)


If you have any questions about or criticisms of this piece I’m sorry I can’t answer them. 
I’ve got a bad back.

Photo Credits

   Most are freebies from the US Army and Government
but some have been stolen off the internet and wikipedia
in the public interest