Posted by Wordsmith on 24 November, 2009 at 10:03 am. 1 comment.

Another investigation into how we arrived at the decision to go to war and remove Saddam from power; specifically, how the UK was brought into this:

Asked about the threat posed by Iraq in early 2001, Sir Peter Ricketts, who was the then chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee – which oversees MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – said it was palpable.

He said there was a “clear impression” of Saddam’s “continuing intention” to acquire capability for weapons of mass destruction, having used them in the past.

Impact of 9/11

However, Sir Peter said there was no-one in the UK government in early 2001 “promoting support” for regime change, as it was assumed “it was not our policy that we were seeking the removal of Saddam Hussein”.

While there were “voices” in Washington calling for Saddam to be removed even before the Bush administration came to power in early 2001, this did not result in a change to the longstanding policy of trying to contain Iraq through sanctions, he said.

“Regime change” became official U.S. policy under President Clinton. Saddam had been a constant menace and cause for worry, throughout the 90’s. So there shouldn’t be anything at all alarming about pre-9/11 discussions on Iraq.

Of course, second-guessing the decisions made in going to war, has nothing at all to do with preconceived notions of “fixing the intell” and “cooking the books”. A friend of mine sent me a link to sign a petition for a Bush Truth Commission. I’d be happy to sign on board, if it weren’t such a waste of government resources. Of course, “Holder’s decision” to try KSM in federal court may be a stealth way to appease the leftwing loons in putting the Bush Administration on trial. And let’s not forget Spain’s attempt to put Bush Administration officials on trial.

In his opening statement he said it was the panel’s job to “establish” what happened in Iraq – “to evaluate what went well and what did not, and crucially why” – so that lessons could be learned.

He said he intended to produce a report which was “thorough, impartial, objective and fair”,

Despite previous pre-war investigations, the political left will never be satisfied until they are able to start rolling heads.

It begins with the presumptive premise that the decision to invade Iraq must have been a wrong/bad decision. This isn’t about shedding sunlight on the truth, but in confirming partisan beliefs.

From the Financial Times:

Sir Peter Ricketts, a top intelligence official at the time, said that while discussions on Iraq with the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, suggested that Britain and the US were “thinking very much on the same lines”, others in Washington were already pondering more radical action.

“We were conscious that there were other voices in Washington, some of whom were talking about regime change,’’ he said. He cited an article written by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, in which she warned that “nothing will change” in Iraq until Saddam had gone.

Sir Peter said al-Qaeda’s attacks on the US on September 11 2001 prompted a harder look at how to tackle the Iraqi leader. However, he insisted that the UK saw no evidence of a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

Instead, Sir Peter said that the UK, like others, was inevitably looking harder after 9/11 at many states’ weapons of mass destruction capabilities. He said that in 2001 “we saw an acceleration of work on [Iraq’s] missile programme and increased Iraqi efforts to acquire material for a nuclear programme”.

I think tomorrow, the wmd angle will be discussed.

Scheduled testimony:

November-December: Former top civil servants, spy chiefs, diplomats and military commanders to give evidence

January-February 2010: Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and other politicians expected to appear before the panel

March 2010: Inquiry expected to adjourn ahead of the general election campaign

July-August 2010: Inquiry expected to resume
Report set to be published in late 2010 or early 2011

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