BLAIR’S spin-master, Alastair Campbell, told the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry yesterday, that he ‘defends every single word’ of the 2002 dodgy dossier on Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. These words included the establishment ‘beyond doubt’ that Iraq had WMDs that it could deliver on target within 45 minutes, and that it would have a nuclear bomb in a year.
Campbell told the inquiry the dossier could have been ‘clearer’ but did not ‘misrepresent’ the threat from Saddam’s weapons, despite the fact that all of the ‘intelligence’ that had been assembled was evaluated by experts as being ‘patchy’ and extremely doubtful.
The fact that the dodgy dossier resulted in the death of one scientist, Doctor Kelly, and the deaths of over a million Iraqis, with over four million being sent into exile or suffering internal exile, with all of Iraq’s infrastructure being destroyed did not even rate a mention at the inquiry.
It was clear even from yesterday’s inquiry session that Campbell’s role was to turn the patchy intelligence ‘evidence’ into sensational facts, which led to ‘45 minutes from doom’ headlines in the capitalist press.
Campbell’s protestations that this headline was not of his making, and that he was not interested in headlines, drew laughter even from the audience at yesterday’s inquiry.
Campbell added that claims that Blair ‘tightened’ his stance on regime change on Iraq following a meeting with President Bush at his Crawford ranch – made by former UK ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer – were not ‘accurate’.
The spin-doctor said that he attended key meetings with intelligence chiefs in the run-up to war because Blair ‘wanted me to be there’.
Sir John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, told the inquiry last month that the foreword by Blair to the ‘dodgy dossier’, in which he wrote that he believed the intelligence had established ‘beyond doubt’ that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, was ‘overtly political’ and ‘quite separate’ from the rest of the dossier, and that is why the 45-minute claim was not challenged.
Campbell drafted the first version of the foreword that was then approved by Blair. He told the inquiry that no-one in the intelligence community challenged this claim, despite being free to do so.
He condemned as misguided earlier testimony from Sir Christopher Meyer that Mr Blair had undergone a major change of heart during a summit at Mr Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April, 2002. Sir Christopher told the panel last year that a deal had been ‘signed in blood’ at Crawford to oust Saddam by force.
He did admit that the former Prime Minister sent a series of notes to President Bush in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in which he made clear that Britain would ‘be there’ if it came to military action against Saddam Hussein.
Under questioning from Sir Roderic Lyne, who was British ambassador in Moscow at the time, Campbell admitted that Blair had made it clear to the White House that the US would not be left to go it alone in an invasion of Iraq.
Campbell admitted that Blair had written a lot of notes to Bush throughout 2002.
He told the inquiry: ‘I would say the tenor of them was that . . . we share the analysis, we share the concern, we are going to be with you in making sure that Saddam Hussein is faced up to his obligations and that Iraq is disarmed.’
He added: ‘If that cannot be done diplomatically and it is to be done militarily, Britain will be there. That would be the tenor of the communication to the President.’
Campbell also related how he had been shaken by the march on the eve of the war by over a million people opposing it, and that he had brought a group of Iraqi exiles to see Blair to strengthen Blair’s resolve to go to war regardless of the opinion of the majority of the British people.
There is not the slightest doubt that Blair and his henchmen deserve to be indicted at the war crimes tribunal at the Hague.