Memo confirms Bush and Blair knew claims Iraq had WMDs were lies…

A confidential memo obtained by the Observer, detailing a meeting between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, confirms their determination to press ahead with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 without any evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and without United Nations approval.

The five-page memo, written by Blair’s foreign policy adviser Sir David Manning, is dated January 31, 2003, some two months before the invasion began. It records the thinking of Bush and Blair as it became increasingly obvious that United Nations weapons inspectors would not find the advanced weaponry, including a nuclear capability, that both leaders were using to justify military action.

According to the memo, Bush discussed various possible provocations that might trigger a second UN resolution to justify war in the absence of any WMD. One plan being considered by the White House was “to fly U2 reconnaissance aircraft painted in UN colours over Iraq with fighter cover” provoking Iraqi forces into opening fire and thereby putting them in breach of a UN resolution.

Bush also discussed his hopes that an Iraqi defector might still be “brought out” to talk about WMD, or that someone might assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo confirms that the decision had already been taken to go to war. Bush expressed his readiness for war, even if their provocations failed to produce the second UN resolution.

The US, in order to offset its economic decline relative to its rivals, was determined to use its military strength to seize strategically crucial energy resources in the Middle East. Bush, accordingly, had already decided on a date for the start of the war. Manning records, “The start date for the military campaign was now pencilled in for 10 March. This was when the bombing would begin.”

“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” wrote Manning.
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Tony Blair pushed Gordon Brown to hold Iraq war inquiry in private…

Tony Blair urged Gordon Brown to hold the independent inquiry into the Iraq war in secret because he feared that he would be subjected to a “show trial” if it were opened to the public, the Observer can reveal.

The revelation that the former prime minister – who led Britain to war in March 2003 – had intervened will fuel the anger of MPs, peers, military leaders and former civil servants, who were appalled by Brown’s decision last week to order the investigation to be conducted behind closed doors.

Blair, who resisted pressure for a full public inquiry while he was prime minister, appears to have taken a deliberate decision not to express his view in person to Brown because he feared it might leak out.
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Tony Blair knew of secret policy on terror interrogations…

Tony Blair was aware of the ­existence of a secret interrogation policy which ­effectively led to British citizens, and others, being ­tortured during ­counter-terrorism investigations, the Guardian can reveal.

The policy, devised in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, offered ­guidance to MI5 and MI6 officers ­questioning detainees in Afghanistan whom they knew were being mistreated by the US military.

British intelligence officers were given written instructions that they could not “be seen to condone” torture and that they must not “engage in any activity yourself that involves inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners”.

But they were also told they were not under any obligation to intervene to prevent detainees from being mistreated.

“Given that they are not within our ­custody or control, the law does not require you to intervene to prevent this,” the policy said.

The policy almost certainly breaches international human rights law, according to Philippe Sands QC, one of the world’s leading experts in the field, because it takes no account of Britain’s obligations to avoid complicity in torture under the UN convention against torture. Despite this, the secret policy went on to underpin British intelligence’s ­relationships with a number of foreign intelligence agencies which had become the UK’s allies in the “war against terror”.
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War Criminal Tony Blair believed God wanted him to go to war to fight evil, claims his mentor…

Tony Blair viewed his decision to go to war in Iraq and Kosovo as part of a “Christian battle”, according to one of his closest political allies…

The former Prime Minister’s faith is claimed to have influenced all his key policy decisions and to have given him an unshakeable conviction that he was right.

John Burton, Mr Blair’s political agent in his Sedgefield constituency for 24 years, says that Labour’s most successful ever leader – in terms of elections won – was driven by the belief that “good should triumph over evil”.

“It’s very simple to explain the idea of Blair the Warrior,” he says. “It was part of Tony living out his faith.”

Mr Blair has previously admitted that he was influenced by his Christian faith, but Mr Burton reveals for the first time the strength of his religious zeal.
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UK: MPs’ expenses: Tony Blair facing questions over the £296,000 mortgage…

Tony Blair is facing fresh questions over how he funded his multi-million-pound property empire after details of the former Prime Minister’s claims were leaked to The Sunday Telegraph…

The documents show that Mr Blair remortgaged his constituency home for £296,000, almost 10 times what he paid for it, months before he bought his town house in London for £3.65 million. Mr Blair was able to claim on his parliamentary expenses for the interest repayments on almost a third of the new mortgage on his constituency home.

The amount loaned was sufficient to cover the deposit on his house in Connaught Square, west London, one of five properties owned by the former prime minister, valued at £10 million in total.

Although Mr Blair did not break parliamentary rules, dozens of MPs appear to have used similar strategies to build property portfolios, which has given rise to suggestions that they “played the system”.

Mr Blair, who has earned about £16 million since leaving office, through public speaking, directorships and a book deal, bought his constituency home in Trimdon, County Durham, shortly after he was elected as an MP in 1983.

He took out a £30,000 mortgage to buy the house, later remortgaging it for about £90,000 to cover the cost of improvements and renovations.

The parliamentary Green Book, which sets out the rules on what MPs can claim, states that members can increase their mortgages to pay for improvements if they have the prior permission of the fees office.
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Tony Blair earns nearly £400,000 for two 30-minute speeches…

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair earned more than £6,000 a minute for giving two half-hour lectures, making him the world’s most expensive public speaker, according to reports.

Mr Blair, who is thought to have earned more than £15 million since standing down, gave the speeches during a 36-hour visit to the Philippines, where he arrivedby private jet on March 23.

He was paid £182,000 for giving a talk called ‘The Leader as Nation Builder in a Time of Globalisation’, according to Manny Pangilinan, chairman of telecommunications company PLDT, which sponsored the lecture, and is said to have received a similar amount for a a talk entitled ‘The Leader as Principled Negotiator’ in a luxury hotel in Manila later the same day.

“Politics really matters, but a lot of what goes on is not great,” Mr Blair was quoted as telling his audience.
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