06 February 2006

Paper Trail

Another disturbing memo.

Lucky for Bush, the US media won’t bother writing about it.

Tony Blair told President George Bush that he
was "solidly" behind US plans to invade Iraq
before he sought advice about the invasion's
legality and despite the absence of a second UN
resolution, according to a new account of the
build-up to the war published [Friday].

A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two
leaders at the White House on January 31 2003
- nearly two months before the invasion -
reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US
intended to invade whether or not there was a
second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors
found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons

"The diplomatic strategy had to be arranged
around the military planning", the president told
Mr Blair. The prime minister is said to have
raised no objection. He is quoted as saying he
was "solidly with the president and ready to do
whatever it took to disarm Saddam".

The disclosures come in a new edition of Lawless
World, by Phillipe Sands, a QC and professor of
international law at University College, London.
Professor Sands last year exposed the doubts
shared by Foreign Office lawyers about the
legality of the invasion in disclosures which
eventually forced the prime minister to publish
the full legal advice given to him by the attorney
general, Lord Goldsmith.

The memo seen by Prof Sands reveals:

· Mr Bush told Mr Blair that the US was so
worried about the failure to find hard evidence
against Saddam that it thought of "flying U2
reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover
over Iraq, painted in UN colours". Mr Bush
added: "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in
breach [of UN resolutions]".

· Mr Bush even expressed the hope that a
defector would be extracted from Iraq and give a
"public presentation about Saddam's WMD". He
is also said to have referred Mr Blair to a "small
possibility" that Saddam would be

· Mr Blair told the US president that a second UN
resolution would be an "insurance policy",
providing "international cover, including with the
Arabs" if anything went wrong with the military
campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by
burning oil wells, killing children, or fomenting
internal divisions within Iraq.

· Mr Bush told the prime minister that he "thought
it unlikely that there would be internecine
warfare between the different religious and
ethnic groups". Mr Blair did not demur, according
to the book.

Think Progress has more.