The Secret Downing Street Memo

Xtremehkr

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SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY
DAVID MANNING
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.

Conclusions:

(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)

MATTHEW RYCROFT

(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)
Just to settle an old issue, the war was for Oil. Cause it certainly wasn't about WMDs, terrorism or human rights issues.
 

skunk

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Jun 29, 2002
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Xtremehkr said:
Just to settle an old issue, the war was for Oil. Cause it certainly wasn't about WMDs, terrorism or human rights issues.
Great insight into the "thinking" - if that's not too kind a word - in Washington. And the lying in London.
 

WinterMute

Moderator emeritus
Jan 19, 2003
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How, exactly, does this prove the war was for oil?

This is a briefing document intended for the Cabinet Office only, and as such isn't dressed up in the usual Politico-speak that a press release would be. It's a frank overview of the situation as perceived by an intelligence/political community facing imminent military action by a close ally. Action this country had every reason to think it was going to be involved in.

The Cabinet needs this kind of information to be able to spin the info to the public, appease dissenters in it's own ranks and popularise a very unpopular issue worldwide.

Sure, it's a concern to hear that this Govt. was contemplating military action so early, but it'd be a damn sight more of a concern if they weren't.

This document is a slice of political reality, the work of people who know the crap is about to hit a fan roughly the size of Iraq.

Now, if it had said: "Sod the UN, lets bomb the bastards and nick all the oil" I'd agree with you, but as is, this is a working paper out of context, nothing more.
 

skunk

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But it certainly reveals the geopolitical ambitions of the White House. And the "war" did neatly deprive the French of their oil concessions.

It also reveals that the politicians over here were fully aware that they were misrepresenting the case for war. This may be "how things work", but it's not good enough.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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from the article:
It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.
exactly as many of us here suspected. how i hate being right sometimes.

We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. [...] The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors.
fascinating. bush pretended to be interested in a peaceful resolution, but it was really just a ploy to justify force. and if it weren't so tragic, i'd find it hilarious that saddam foiled that plan by actually cooperating with inspectors. didn't do him much good, though.

There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case.
more evidence of BS. bush and blair used known illegal reasons to sell the war.

isn't that treason?
 

Xtremehkr

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Jul 4, 2004
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How is it evidence?

Well, you remove all of the given reasons and then identify other possible reasons for why that region may be important.

Then you look at who the Administration is connected to, some would say indebted to. And you consider who has stood to profit most from this illegal invasion.

And you would have to wonder how you could come to a different conclusion considering the actual reasons for having gone in.

The UK has been an Empire in decline for some time now and they really only achieved their Empire by doing things like this in the first place. The US is no different.

Funny how all non participants were cut off, whether they were owed money or not.
 

jelloshotsrule

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Feb 7, 2002
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i find this fascinating... in a frightening way mostly. it's interesting to see behind the scenes of the gov't in any place, especially in the way they talk about talks with the US. and then of course there's the obvious sickness i feel about how pathetic this administration is and how they were somehow re-elected... sad.
 

skunk

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Jun 29, 2002
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What I find fascinating is that the story has totally disappeared from the press both here and in the US. Look it up on Google News: nothing. Look it up in the Indy or the Guardian: nothing. US press: nothing. Is it just my over-active imagination, or are people being leant on?
 

mactastic

macrumors 68040
Apr 24, 2003
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zimv20 said:
now what's that runaway bride up to?!?
Front page news again. Apparently she's checked into a hospital. Bah... what a waste of news.

Wake me up when Dubya gets involved in a sex scandal. That'll bring the newsies out.
 

zimv20

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Eighty-eight members of Congress call on Bush for answers on secret Iraq plan

link

Eighty-eight members of Congress call on Bush for answers on secret Iraq plan

Eighty-eight members of Congress have signed a letter authored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) calling on President Bush to answer questions about a secret U.S.-UK agreement to attack Iraq, RAW STORY has learned.

In a letter, Conyers and other members say they are disappointed the mainstream media has not touched the revelations.

"Unfortunately, the mainstream media in the United States was too busy with wall-to-wall coverage of a "runaway bride" to cover a bombshell report out of the British newspapers," Conyers writes. "The London Times reports that the British government and the United States government had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in 2002, before authorization was sought for such an attack in Congress, and had discussed creating pretextual justifications for doing so."

"The Times reports, based on a newly discovered document, that in 2002 British Prime Minister Tony Blair chaired a meeting in which he expressed his support for "regime change" through the use of force in Iraq and was warned by the nation's top lawyer that such an action would be illegal," he adds. "Blair also discussed the need for America to "create" conditions to justify the war."

The members say they are seeking an inquiry.

"This should not be allowed to fall down the memory hole during wall-to-wall coverage of the Michael Jackson trial and a runaway bride," he remarks. "To prevent that from occuring, I am circulating the following letter among my House colleagues and asking them to sign on to it."

The letter follows.

###

May 5, 2005

The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States of America The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write because of troubling revelations in the Sunday London Times apparently confirming that the United States and Great Britain had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in the summer of 2002, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action. While various individuals have asserted this to be the case before, including Paul O'Neill, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Richard Clarke, a former National Security Council official, they have been previously dismissed by your Administration. However, when this story was divulged last weekend, Prime Minister Blair's representative claimed the document contained "nothing new." If the disclosure is accurate, it raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war as well as the integrity of your own Administration.

The Sunday Times obtained a leaked document with the minutes of a secret meeting from highly placed sources inside the British Government. Among other things, the document revealed:

* Prime Minister Tony Blair chaired a July 2002 meeting, at which he discussed military options, having already committed himself to supporting President Bush's plans for invading Iraq.

* British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw acknowledged that the case for war was "thin" as "Saddam was not threatening his neighbours and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea, or Iran."

* A separate secret briefing for the meeting said that Britain and America had to "create" conditions to justify a war.

* A British official "reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

As a result of this recent disclosure, we would like to know the following:

1) Do you or anyone in your Administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?

2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?

3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?

4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?

5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

We have of course known for some time that subsequent to the invasion there have been a variety of varying reasons proffered to justify the invasion, particularly since the time it became evident that weapons of mass destruction would not be found. This leaked document - essentially acknowledged by the Blair government - is the first confirmation that the rationales were shifting well before the invasion as well.

Given the importance of this matter, we would ask that you respond to this inquiry as promptly as possible. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Members who have already signed letter:
Neil Abercrombie
Brian Baird
Tammy Baldwin
Xavier Becerra
Shelley Berkley
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Sanford Bishop
Earl Blumenauer
Corrine Brown
Sherrod Brown
G.K. Butterfield
Emanuel Cleaver
James Clyburn
John Conyers
Jim Cooper
Elijah Cummings
Danny Davis
Peter DeFazio
Diana DeGette
Bill Delahunt
Rosa DeLauro
Lloyd Doggett
Sam Farr
Bob Filner
Harold Ford, Jr.
Barney Frank
Al Green
Raul Grijalva
Louis Gutierrez
Alcee Hastings
Maurice Hinchey
Rush Holt
Jay Inslee
Sheila Jackson Lee
Jessie Jackson Jr.
Marcy Kaptur
Patrick Kennedy
Dale Kildee
Carolyn Kilpatrick
Dennis Kucinich
William Lacy Clay
Barbara Lee
John Lewis
Zoe Lofgren
Donna M. Christensen
Carolyn Maloney
Ed Markey
Carolyn McCarthy
Jim McDermott
James McGovern
Cynthia McKinney
Martin Meehan
Kendrick Meek
Gregory Meeks
Michael Michaud
George Miller
Gwen S. Moore
James Moran
Jerrold Nadler
Grace Napolitano
James Oberstar
John Olver
Major Owens
Frank Pallone
Donald Payne
Charles Rangel
Bobby Rush
Bernie Sanders
Linda Sanchez
Jan Schakowsky
Jose Serrano
Ike Skelton
Louise Slaughter
Hilda Solis
Pete Stark
Ellen Tauscher
Bennie Thompson
Edolphus Towns
Stephanie Tubbs Jones
Chris Van Hollen
Nydia Velazquez
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Maxine Waters
Diane Watson
Melvin Watt
Robert Wexler
Lynn Woolsey
David Wu
Albert R. Wynn
the letter is downloadable in pdf directly from house.gov, here.
 

zimv20

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skunk said:
What I find fascinating is that the story has totally disappeared from the press both here and in the US.
you're not the only one who noticed.

link

Smoking Gun Memo?

Iraq Bombshell Goes Mostly Unreported in US Media

[...]

But it has provoked little media follow-up in the United States. The most widely circulated story in the mainstream press came from the Knight Ridder wire service (5/6/05), which quoted an anonymous U.S. official saying the memo was ''an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during Dearlove's meetings in Washington.

Few other outlets have pursued the leaked memo's key charge that the "facts were being fixed around the policy." The New York Times (5/2/05) offered a passing mention, and the Charleston (W.V.) Gazette (5/5/05) wrote an editorial about the memo and the Iraq War. A columnist for the Cox News Service (5/8/05) also mentioned the memo, as did Molly Ivins (WorkingForChange.com, 5/10/05). Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler (5/8/05) noted that Post readers had complained about the lack of reporting on the memo, but offered no explanation for why the paper virtually ignored the story.

In a brief segment on hot topics in the blogosphere (5/6/05), CNN correspondent Jackie Schechner reported that the memo was receiving attention on various websites, where bloggers were "wondering why it's not getting more coverage in the U.S. media." But acknowledging the lack of coverage hasn't prompted much CNN coverage; the network mentioned the memo in two earlier stories regarding its impact on Blair's political campaign (5/1/05, 5/2/05), and on May 7, a short CNN item reported that 90 Congressional Democrats sent a letter to the White House about the memo-- but neglected to mention the possible manipulation of intelligence that was mentioned in the memo and the Democrats' letter.

Salon columnist Joe Conason posed this question about the story:

"Are Americans so jaded about the deceptions perpetrated by our own government to lead us into war in Iraq that we are no longer interested in fresh and damning evidence of those lies? Or are the editors and producers who oversee the American news industry simply too timid to report that proof on the evening broadcasts and front pages?"

As far as the media are concerned, the answer to Conason's second question would seem to be yes. A May 8 New York Times news article asserted that "critics who accused the Bush administration of improperly using political influence to shape intelligence assessments have, for the most part, failed to make the charge stick." It's hard for charges to stick when major media are determined to ignore the evidence behind them.
 

solvs

macrumors 603
Jun 25, 2002
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You'd think with so many of our friends and family being injured or killed over there, we'd care more. Perhaps it's simply easier to attempt to justify this war and our current leaders than to realize what a mistake we made. I do have to wonder how many of those who agree with this war actually understand the real motivation behind it, and of those, how they justify it.

Say, whatever happened to bin Laden?
 

zimv20

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solvs said:
Say, whatever happened to bin Laden?
he snuck into the cast of Spamalot and was nominated for a Tony for his role, in what the Guardian called, "an hilarious send-up of a Medieval locksmith, his devotion to his son tinged with a fascinating yet subtle mixture of regret and ennui."
 

WinterMute

Moderator emeritus
Jan 19, 2003
4,715
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I can see why this memo and the contents would be such a bombshell in the States, and I'm sure some "pressure" is being brought to bear on those who would have it more widely reported, but I still don't see how it throws suspicion on Blair and his government, I want my government to be aware and evaluating the positions of events that will ultimately lead to armed conflict, they were doing their job correctly.

The oil issue does not get resolved in any way with this document, sure it lands Bush in the brown, sticky stuff, but he's up to his arse in it anyway, no?

Speaking as an Englishman I think the document is a snapshot of a cabinet doing it's duty to the country and to it's allies, it's out of context and later briefings would have clarified and refined policy and intention.

Blair knew this was going to be unpopular, he knew it might cost him his job, and it did cost him 2/3 of his majority in the House, but he did it anyway because he thought it was right to support an ally and right to act on the information he had at hand.

History will judge him harshly for that I think.

Of course this was a war for oil, of course it was a personal vendetta waged by the Bush family, of course there are masses of unanswered questions about the prosecution of the war. Anyone with a brain and clear vision can see that. Those people can should also acknowledge that this war, legal or not, MAY result in a better life for the people of Iraq in the long term.

Bring on Zimbabwe and North Korea I say... ;) ;) ;) :rolleyes:
 

skunk

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11,745
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WinterMute said:
I can see why this memo and the contents would be such a bombshell in the States, and I'm sure some "pressure" is being brought to bear on those who would have it more widely reported, but I still don't see how it throws suspicion on Blair and his government, I want my government to be aware and evaluating the positions of events that will ultimately lead to armed conflict, they were doing their job correctly.
Doing their job correctly would have entailed complying with the spirit of the UN Charter. Doing their job correctly did not include conspiring to deceive Parliament and the electorate. Doing their job correctly did not include sending British troops into war on an illegal mission.

Speaking as an Englishman I think the document is a snapshot of a cabinet doing it's duty to the country and to it's allies, it's out of context and later briefings would have clarified and refined policy and intention.
You have an extraordinary faith in the frankness of Blair. Surely the whole point is that the briefings should have been earlier rather than later, before the hindsight and the revisionism set in.

Blair knew this was going to be unpopular, he knew it might cost him his job, and it did cost him 2/3 of his majority in the House, but he did it anyway because he thought it was right to support an ally and right to act on the information he had at hand.
Not what the US thought at the time of Suez, it seems.

Those people can should also acknowledge that this war, legal or not, MAY result in a better life for the people of Iraq in the long term.

Bring on Zimbabwe and North Korea I say... ;) ;) ;) :rolleyes:
You don't wage aggressive war and kill tens of thousands of people on a "maybe". Even more so in Zimbabwe and North Korea. There are enough political levers to use, if only war was not seen as a quick fix solution.
 

3rdpath

macrumors 68000
sadly, as long as laura bush is telling some funny jokes, dubya is safe.

and anyway, isn't the war over?

and how about that micheal jackson trial.

and paula and that american idol dude?

i heard oprah lost 3 more pounds...



we don't need fascism here to control the people....just tv.
 

solvs

macrumors 603
Jun 25, 2002
5,693
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3rdpath said:
we don't need fascism here to control the people....just tv.
Watch the f-word, ruffles IJ's feathers. :p

I think we last settled on "Plutocracy".

Plus, I'm pretty sure that damn, liberal media is just giving us what we (and by we, they mean the lowest common denominator among us) want. So that makes it ok.
 

WinterMute

Moderator emeritus
Jan 19, 2003
4,715
4
London, England
skunk said:
Doing their job correctly would have entailed complying with the spirit of the UN Charter. Doing their job correctly did not include conspiring to deceive Parliament and the electorate. Doing their job correctly did not include sending British troops into war on an illegal mission.
But it wasn't and (to date) still isn't illegal, sure there may be challenges in the future, but as of right now it's a legal action. Blair HAS to take the advice of the legal bigwigs, his decision to go was based on a report that said it was legal.

skunk said:
You have an extraordinary faith in the frankness of Blair. Surely the whole point is that the briefings should have been earlier rather than later, before the hindsight and the revisionism set in.
This briefing was well in advance of the action, it was well in advance of military planning, if the text is to be believed, I do believe Blair thought he was doing the correct thing. Other than that I'm a firm sceptic when it comes to politicians and the truth. An awful lot of crap is being spouted with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, a very dangerous thing.

skunk said:
Not what the US thought at the time of Suez, it seems.
Two wrongs make a right now do they? Blair was in nappies when Suez blew up, why should he be constrained by the mistakes of the French?

skunk said:
You don't wage aggressive war and kill tens of thousands of people on a "maybe". Even more so in Zimbabwe and North Korea. There are enough political levers to use, if only war was not seen as a quick fix solution.
Blair didn't go to war on a maybe, he went on hard intelligence, from previously un-impeachable sources, the fact those sources were compromised isn't Blair's fault. I'd go as far as to say that the UK intelligence community didn't know the intel was "skewed" till far too late, if they ever did. take a look at the sources for the reports that were fed to Blair's cabinet, where did they come from?

The Zimbabwe line was a joke, I'm PPP, remember? ;)

If Blair has a fault in this it is that he has been too trusting of his allies opinions, the report shows that not everyone in the Cabinet Office was as trusting of Bush's motives. The UK's involvement in this war was less to do with oil as it was to do with the fact we export and import more to the US than we do to Europe.

The US can afford to ignore world opinion on many things, the UK cannot.