5/13/2005

"Military action was now seen as inevitable,"

"Military action was now seen as inevitable," said the notes, summarizing a report by Richard Dearlove, then head of MI6, the British intelligence service, who had just returned from consultations in Washington, along with other senior British officials. Dearlove continued, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and (weapons of mass destruction). But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."



New light on Bush's war plans
By July '02, U.S. set on invasion, British intelligence reported


- Walter Pincus, Washington Post
Friday, May 13, 2005

Eight months before the invasion of Iraq, the head of British foreign intelligence reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair that President Bush wanted to topple Saddam Hussein by military action and warned that U.S. intelligence was "being fixed around" that goal, according to notes of a 2002 meeting with Blair at No. 10 Downing Street.

"Military action was now seen as inevitable," said the notes, summarizing a report by Richard Dearlove, then head of MI6, the British intelligence service, who had just returned from consultations in Washington, along with other senior British officials. Dearlove continued, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and (weapons of mass destruction). But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The notes were first disclosed on May 1 by the Sunday Times of London, triggering criticism of Blair on the eve of the May 5 British parliamentary elections that he had decided to support an invasion of Iraq well before informing the public of his views.

The Sunday Times article described minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting of Blair and his intelligence and military chiefs, a briefing paper for that meeting, and a Foreign Office legal opinion prepared before the summit of Blair and Bush in Crawford, Texas, on April 6-7, 2002.

The notes of the Blair meeting, attended by the prime minister's senior national security team, also disclose for the first time that Britain's intelligence boss believed that Bush had decided to go to war in mid-2002, and that he believed U.S. policymakers were trying to use the limited intelligence they had to make the Iraqi leader appear to be a bigger threat than was supported by known facts.

Reverberations from the report blew over quickly in Britain, where Blair won a third term as prime minister, although with a smaller majority for his Labor Party.

But in the United States, there has been a growing groundswell of indignation among critics of the Bush White House, who say the documents helped prove Bush and Blair settled on the invasion nearly a year before launching their attack, shaped intelligence to that aim and never seriously intended to avert the war through diplomacy.

Both Blair and Bush have denied a war decision was made that early. The White House and Downing Street maintain that they were preparing for military operations as one option, but the option to not attack also remained open until the start of the war on March 20, 2003.

In a letter to Bush last week, 89 House Democrats, including seven from the Bay Area, asked whether the memos proved that the White House had already agreed on an invasion months before seeking authorization from Congress.




[more at referring link, above and the title-linked google news headline search, much more.]

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