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Arab states are largely squalid, corrupt, brutal dictatorships. No surprise there. We created most of these dictators - Robert Fisk IndependentFeb 12 ~
24 hours in Iraq: 102 dead, al-Qaida bombers blamed - Guardian
Mandelson sparks war over Iraq - Guardian
Ex-officer points to failings on 45-minute claim Guardian
Phew. Cynicism is back in diplomatic fashion - Simon Jenkins in the Times
Terrorists spark fear of civil war in Iraq as 50 die in car bomb - Independent
Blair's case for going to war in Iraq Times letters
From Sir Christopher Beauchamp
Sir, You say (leading article, February 7) that nowhere does the dossier claim that long-range weapons of mass destruction could be deployed within 45 minutes, as if that absolved Tony Blair from the charge of misleading the public. But omitting facts or necessary qualifications can surely be as bad as inserting them if the effect is to give a false picture.
The case for war was self-defence. We had to defend ourselves against the use of chemical or biological weapons against us. The threat posed by the build-up of such weapons was painted in such lurid colours by Blair, and in the way he was reported in the newspapers, that the public were left in little doubt that Iraq could launch an attack outside its borders in less than an hour. That was the reason why we had to act so quickly, without waiting for the United Nations inspectors to complete their work and in default of any further UN resolution specifically authorising war.
For Mr Blair to say now that he did not know what kind of weapons these were beggars belief. He wonders what all the fuss is about. Members of his Cabinet like Geoff Hoon and Margaret Beckett have put it about that the issue is unimportant. That is quite preposterous. Why those in his Government who did know never told the Prime Minister and why he did not trouble to find out must surely be the central issues for any investigation.
C. R. P. BEAUCHAMP,
The Coach House, 4 Balfour Mews,
Sidmouth, East Devon EX10 8XL.
From Mr George Thomas
Sir, You say: “Many voters will now be thoroughly exasperated by the continual refighting of the arguments about Britain’s decision to go to war”. The exasperation comes from our inability to pin the Government down long enough to nail a point.
Iraq was in breach of UN resolutions — but the UN did not authorise action against Iraq. Iraq was a threat to its neighbours — but only one of Iraq’s neighbours supported the war. Iraq supported international terrorism — but there is no worthwhile evidence of this. Iraq was a threat to Britain and/or the US — but this is clearly not true.
We are left with the knowledge that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator — true, but what precedent does the unauthorised military action of a self-appointed group of nations set? In future can any country or group of countries decide, without reference to others, which regimes need changing?
And why is it not good enough, as you suggest, that the judgment on whether or not Mr Blair should resign be left for the voters at the next election? Because Mr Blair is also answerable to another constituency — the families of those servicemen and women who died in this action. If he failed them because he relied on faulty intelligence, that is no excuse.
It is not enough to apologise to the families of the dead; the only honourable thing for him to do now is to apologise and resign.
17 Campden Hill Square, W8 7JY.
WMD expert's staff said: "We've been on the dossier. There are problems.'' Independent "....When he returned from leave, Dr Jones was already thinking about taking early retirement. But such thoughts were quickly put aside when he discovered that his staff had made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to modify sections of the dossier. As he toured his section, staff came up to him. "They said: 'We've been doing nothing much other than this dossier and there are real problems'" He looked at the claims himself and agreed.
He wrote a memo raising concerns about the dossier and mentioning two key claims: the 45-minute claim and another that Iraq was continuing to produce chemical weapons.
Acutely aware that parts of the DIS had been criticised in the Scott Inquiry into arms to Iraq, he was determined to ensure the same fate would not be repeated over the dossier. But his comments failed to influence his boss and the dossier went out. As a result, it lacked the approval of the Government's most senior expert on WMD intelligence...."