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    Britain's former Prime Minister and former Labour Party leader, Tony Blair.

    Blair Blamed for Excluding Military Top Brass Ahead of Iraq Invasion

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    Chilcot Report on UK Role in 2003 Iraq Invasion (55)
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    Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has been accused of excluding top military chiefs from discussions over the controversial decision to follow US President George W. Bush into the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.

    Blair has been at the center of the Iraq Inquiry by Sir John Chilcot, who is investigating the intervention. Blair's government, in the run-up to the invasion, faced down one of the biggest popular uprisings Britain had seen against going to war with Saddam Hussein's regime. Blair agreed with then US President George W. Bush's view that the Iraqi dictator had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against British targets.

    However, according to a new book 'Broken Vows: Tony Blair — The Tragedy of Power' by Tom Bower, Blair is alleged to have cut senior Ministry of Defense officials out of discussion ahead of the invasion. According to Bower, Sir Kevin Tebbit — former Director of the GCHQ intelligence agency and Permanent Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Defense at the time — discovered he was being left out of meetings with Blair and his advisers.

    Tebbit is alleged to have asked Blair's foreign affairs adviser Sir David Manning:

    "How can you plan a war without the head of the ministry of defense?"

    Manning is alleged to have replied that he could not attend, otherwise several other senior civil servants would have to be invited as well.

    Bower says that Blair kept his conversations close to a small coterie of politicians and advisers, unwilling to hear of problems and operational details of manning and equipment for senior military chiefs.

    Illegal War?

    Blair was heavily criticized for releasing a 'dodgy dossier', ahead of the invasion, justifying the invasion and which turned out to be largely plagiarized from unattributed sources. Another document released for the same effect said that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction which he could deploy to UK targets within 45 minutes — a claim later withdrawn by the head of MI6, according to a House of Commons statement by Blair's then foreign secretary Jack Straw.

    Blair was further accused of breaking international law because his invasion of Iraq was illegal and did not having the backing of the United Nations. In 2004, the — then — UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, was asked in an interview if it was true that the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN's founding charter. He replied: "Yes, if you wish. I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal."

    After years of pressure to uncover the deals made between Bush and Blair, the — then — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown caved in to public pressure and called for an inquiry which was launched in July 2009, chaired by Sir John Chilcot. Four years after hearing the last evidence, the inquiry — which has cost over $16 million — has yet to report.

    Topic:
    Chilcot Report on UK Role in 2003 Iraq Invasion (55)

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    Tags:
    invasion of Iraq, Chilcot Inquiry, officials, investigation, military, war crimes, book, Iraq War, UK Ministry of Defence, John Chilcot, Tony Blair, Great Britain, Iraq, United Kingdom
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