Downing Street Memo-updated biography recaps that Key # 10 Aides were split over the war
The build-up to the invasion began in April 2002 when Blair travelled to George W Bush’s ranch in Texas. It was at this meeting that the possibility of invading Iraq in 2003 was first raised with Blair.
Over the next few months, Blair is understood to have backed the American plan but insisted on several conditions, including UN involvement and a push on the Middle East peace process. However, Seldon details how Blair’s negotiating position was quickly eroded. Meyer told Seldon he had warned Downing Street officials that Britain was being “taken for granted” by the Americans.
The book notes: “Prior to the most important of his (Blair’s) frequent phone calls to Bush, in the run-up to the Iraq war and on other issues, pointed briefing notes would be prepared for Blair, urging him to tackle the president directly. ‘We’d then read the record of the conversation and see that Blair had gone off at a tangent,’ said one insider. ‘He just seemed oddly reluctant to confront Bush head-on.’” Reports began to circulate round Whitehall that Blair did not read his briefs, and that he shied away from tough one-on-one encounters.
Seldon writes that during the autumn of 2002 British diplomats and politicians were involved in tense negotiations at the UN, but it seemed that Blair was being bounced into war. Dick Cheney, the vice-president, was hostile to Blair and the British and sat in meetings “like a lump”, according to one official present.
However, Blair was told by diplomats, thought to be Meyer and Greenstock, that he could have stopped America invading Iraq had he been prepared to use his influence. ...
LEAKED DATA REVEAL REASONS FOR INCREASED BOMBING RAIDS WERE A SHAM
Figures released by the Ministry of Defence have shown the reasons given by Britain and America for stepping up bombing raids in Iraq in the run-up to war were a sham, writes Michael Smith.
Geoff Hoon, who was then defence secretary, and Donald Rumsfeld, his American counterpart, both claimed that the rise in air attacks was in response to Iraqi attempts to shoot down allied aircraft
However, the minutes of a meeting of Tony Blair’s war cabinet on July 23, 2003, leaked to The Sunday Times, record Hoon saying "the US had begun spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime".
Ministers have since insisted that the stepped-up attacks, which began in May 2002, were as a result of increased Iraqi activity and were not an attempt to provoke a response that would give the allies an excuse for war.
The figures do not support those claims. In the first seven months of 2001 the allies recorded a total of 370 "provocations" by the Iraqis against allied aircraft. But in the seven months between October 2001 and May 2002 there were just 32.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, who obtained the MoD data in a Commons written answer, said it reinforced the need for an inquiry into ministers’ conduct in the run-up to war.
Iraqi bombing survivors shot by soldiers at scene, some say (US and Iraqi soldiers)
RABIAH, Iraq — Some survivors of a suicide bombing targeting Iraqi army recruits were shot and wounded immediately afterward when U.S. and Iraqi soldiers opened fire at the scene, police, doctors and witnesses said yesterday.
The bomber wandered into a crowd of Iraqis waiting Friday to enlist in the army and detonated his explosives, said police and witnesses to the attack in this northern town near the Syrian border. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility in a statement posted on the Internet.
After the blast, U.S. and Iraqi troops opened fire, believing they were under attack, said Rabiah's police chief, Col. Yahya al-Shammari.
He said some of the army recruits were killed by the gunfire, although it was unclear how many because dead and wounded were taken to hospitals across a wide area of northern Iraq.
Spy's Notes on Iraqi Aims Were Shelved, Suit Says
WASHINGTON, July 31 - The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged
In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former C.I.A. officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase.
The officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, including several years in a clandestine unit assigned to gather intelligence related to illicit weapons, was fired in 2004.
In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. Among other things, he charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions.
"We Regard Falluja As a Large Prison"
Eight months after the second invasion of Falluja, there is hardly a street that does not still feature a building pulverized during the assault. I had not been in the city since last July, when I was escorted out by three cars of mujahedeen — that's when things were still relatively nice — and though I had expected it, the destruction was still shocking.
The dome of one mosque I had previously used as a landmark was completely missing, large holes had been blown in others. Houses have been pancaked, it is hard to find a façade without the mark of at least small arms fire. As many as 80 percent of the city's 300,000-plus residents have returned, but the city has by no means returned to normal. On Sunday, the police were hard at work adding razor wire and new concrete blast barriers to the already sprawling fortifications around their main station in the center of town while US and Iraqi army patrols traversed the main street, the Iraqis firing their rifles in the air to clear traffic. Small arms chattered in the distance, followed by a response from a larger gun. The tension is palpable. Curfew begins at 10 p.m. but low-level fighting continues.
"They are killing one or two of us everyday," says an Iraqi soldier at one of the checkpoints into the city, a claim confirmed by local doctors.
I have heard Iraqis make comparisons between their occupation and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but it wasn't until I saw families walking through the kilometer-long checkpoint, from a parking lot outside Falluja to one on the other side, that it seemed apt. Once inside, seeing the life continuing amidst the rubble, it was harder still to ignore the physical similarities.
Contractors/Military in "Bidding War"
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has hired private companies at a cost approaching $1 billion to help dispose of Saddam Hussein's arsenal in Iraq. That spending has created fierce competition for specialized workers that's draining the military's ranks of explosives experts.
Experienced military explosives specialists can earn $250,000 a year or more working for the private companies. In the military, an enlisted man with 10 years' experience can make more than $46,000. The better pay from private companies has led troops to sign on with contractors when their service ends and has aggravated tensions between military and civilian workers in Iraq. (Related story: Bomb specialists needed)
"When I was put face down on the ground to be cuffed, I heard one Marine ask me, 'How's it feel to make that contractor's money now?' " said one of the former Zapata workers, Matt Raiche of Dayton, Nev.
Private contractors are doing many jobs once done only by military personnel, such as delivering mail, washing clothes, slinging chow and serving as translators, bodyguards and interrogators.
It's the extension of a shift the Pentagon began in the 1990s in a drive to save money and focus a shrinking military on essential war-fighting jobs. But it has led contractors to hire away experienced troops to do their old jobs for up to 10 times their military salaries.
Iraqi female police officers hold signs reading 'where is our government support?' as they demand back pay from the local government during a protest, Sunday, July 31, 2005, in the holy city of Najaf, 165 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq. Many of these government-hired police officers claim to have not been paid for over a year and have no steady means of income. The average monthly income for these female police officers is US$350. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Murjani)
A car bomb exploded at an Iraqi police checkpoint south of Baghdad on July 31, 2005, killing seven people and wounding 12, police said. In this photo, a U.S. Army tank stands guard near a burned truck in western Baghdad Sunday. Police said that a truck carrying food supplies was hit by a roadside bomb late Saturday, destroying the truck and its cargo. Photo by Ali Jasim/Reuters
An unidentified woman reacts as she views the damage caused by a massive car bomb attack near the National Theater, Saturday, July 30, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq. A car bomb targeting Iraqi police exploded Saturday near the National Theater in south-central Baghdad, killing seven people and injuring 25, including a mother and her two children, police and witnesses said. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)