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The 50 Lies, Exaggerations, Distortions and

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Independent
January 27, 2004

Whatever the outcome of the Hutton inquiry and the vote on top-up fees, the central charge this paper has consistently made against Tony Blair is that he took this country to war in Iraq on a false pretext. Raymond Whitaker and Glen Rangwala list 50 statements on which history will judge him and his US partners.


1. Tonight, British servicemen and women are engaged from air, land and sea. Their mission: to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.

  • Tony Blair, televised address to the nation, 20 March 2003

    2. I have always said to people throughout that ... our aim has been the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

  • Tony Blair, press conference, 25 March 2003

  • Within days, Mr Blair contradicts himself about the aims of the war.

    3. But for this military action, Saddam Hussein and his sons would still be in absolute control ... free to continue the repression and butchery of their people which ... we now know was on such a savage scale that victims number hundreds of thousands.

  • Tony Blair, article in 'News of the World', 16 November 2003

  • "Regime change" again becomes a central justification of the conflict.

    4. You know how passionately I believed in this cause and in the wisdom of the conflict as the only way to establish long-time peace and stability.

  • Tony Blair to British troops in Iraq, 4 January 2004

  • No mention of WMD was made on this trip. But with Saddam now in custody and the insurgency in Iraq showing no sign of abating, the PM finds a new reason for the war.

    5. As for the existence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, there can be no doubt ... that those weapons existed. It is the job of the Iraq Survey Group to find out what has happened, which it will do.

  • Tony Blair, House of Commons, 21 January 2004

  • Mr Blair uses lawyer's language, ignoring Iraq's claim that the weapons existed, but were destroyed more than a decade ago. His next sentence implicitly acknowledges WMD may never be found.

    6. For reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction...

  • Paul Wolfowitz, US deputy defence secretary, 'Vanity Fair', June 2003

  • The Bush administration made no secret of its desire for "regime change". Some were ready to admit that WMD was a red herring.

    7. We know that he has stockpiles of major amounts of chemical and biological weapons.

  • Tony Blair, NBC TV, 3 April 2002

  • From early 2002, the PM began to stress claims that Iraq had WMD left over from before the 1991 war, without saying that most agents would have deteriorated to the point of uselessness.

    8. Iraq poses a threat to the world because of its manufacture and development of weapons of mass destruction.

  • Jack Straw, interview with David Frost, 24 March 2002

  • Claims that Iraq was still producing chemical and biological weapons were prominent, though UN inspectors hadn't found any production of banned weapons after 1991.

    9. It [the dossier] concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes ... and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.

  • Tony Blair to the House of Commons, 24 September 2002

  • No such weapons were found in place once the invasion began.

    10. I have absolutely no doubt whatever that he was trying to reconstitute weapons of mass destruction programmes. ... [Saddam Hussein] has always been intending to develop these weapons.

  • Tony Blair to the Commons Liaison Committee, 8 July 2003

  • Mr Blair switched to claims about weapons "programmes" and Saddam's intentions. No further mention of weapons "existing".

    11. Saddam was a danger and the world is better off because we got rid of him.

  • Q: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still --

  • A: So what's the difference?

  • Q: Well --

  • A: The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger. That's, that's what I'm trying to explain to you.

  • President Bush, television interview, 16 December 2003

  • For Bush, the "possibility" of Iraq obtaining weapons in future was enough to have justified the war.

    12. Already the Kay report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related programme activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations.

  • George Bush, State of the Union address, 20 January 2004

  • Weapons programmes are now WMD-related programme activities.

    13. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminium tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

  • George Bush, 7 October 2002

  • The White House ignored persistent evidence from US scientists and the UN nuclear agency that the tubes were useless for centrifuges.

    14. The British government has learnt that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

  • George Bush, 28 January 2003

  • The CIA knew the claim was based on crudely forged documents.

    15. We believe he [Saddam] has reconstituted nuclear weapons.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney, NBC's 'Meet the Press', 16 March, 2003

    16. Q: Reconstituted nuclear weapons. You misspoke.

  • A: Yeah. I did misspeak ... We never had any evidence that he had acquired a nuclear weapon.

  • Mr Cheney on 'Meet the Press', 14 September 2003

  • The VP took six months to correct his eve-of-war assertion.

    17. The dossier shows that Iraq continues to produce chemical agent for chemical weapons; has rebuilt previously destroyed production plants across Iraq; has bought dual-use chemical facilities; has retained the key personnel formerly engaged in the chemical weapons programme; and has a serious ongoing research programme into weapons production.

  • Tony Blair to the House of Commons, 24 September 2002

  • All the sites in Britain's WMD dossier were visited by UN inspectors, and found to be clean.

    18. What we are talking about is chemical weapons, biological weapons, viruses, bacilli and anthrax - 10,000 litres of anthrax - that he [Saddam] has.

  • Jack Straw, House of Commons, 17 March 2003

  • If the UN said it couldn't prove that Iraq had destroyed agents, Britain said this proved Iraq still had them.

    19. Saddam has ... the wherewithal to develop smallpox.

  • Colin Powell to the Security Council, 5 February 2003

  • UN inspectors said there was no evidence Iraq had any seed stock from which to produce smallpox.

    20. Those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them.

  • George Bush, Polish TV interview, 29 May 2003

  • This claim about mobile biological laboratories, echoed by Tony Blair, was rubbished by David Kelly, who saw the vehicles and believed they were for producing hydrogen. They were built to a British design.

    21. The Iraq Survey Group has already found massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories, workings by scientists, plans to develop long-range ballistic missiles.

  • Tony Blair, on British Forces Broadcasting Service, 16 December 2003

  • The Iraq Survey Group had never talked of a "massive" system, and didn't link the laboratories with weapons production or research.

    22. Is it not reasonable that Saddam provides evidence of destruction of the biological and chemical agents and weapons the UN proved he had in 1999?

  • Tony Blair to the House of Commons, 25 February 2003

  • In 1999 the inspectors emphasised they didn't have proof that Iraq had prohibited weapons. They had suspicions that needed to be checked.

    23. The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 litres of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure."

  • President Bush, State of the Union address, 28 January 2003

  • UNMOVIC said in March 2003: "It seems unlikely that significant undeclared quantities of botulinum toxin could have been produced, based on the quantity of media unaccounted for."

    24. By 1998, UN experts agreed that the Iraqis had perfected drying techniques for their biological weapons programmes.

  • Colin Powell to the Security Council, 5 February 2003

  • Unmovic said it "has no evidence that drying of anthrax or any other agent in bulk was conducted".

    25. If Saddam Hussein does ... readmit the weapons inspectors and allow them to do their job... then the case for military action recedes to the point almost of invisibility and that is obvious.

  • Jack Straw, interview with David Frost, 15 September 2002

  • When the inspectors returned to Iraq, Britain and the US said they were ineffective and were being obstructed, leaving force as the only option.

    26. Journeys are monitored by security officers stationed on the route if they have prior intelligence. Any changes of destination are notified ahead by telephone or radio so that arrival is anticipated. The welcoming party is a give away.

  • The PM's dossier of 3 February 2003

  • "In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming," chief inspector Hans Blix told the Security Council.

    27. I have every confidence - and I have expressed that confidence - in the weapons inspectors ... As long as this regime is in place, and as long as it is refusing to co-operate, the inspection process becomes well-nigh impossible.

  • Jack Straw to the House of Commons, 17 March 2003

    28. The reason why the inspectors couldn't do their job ... was that Saddam wouldn't co-operate.

  • Tony Blair, interview, 4 April 2003

  • The inspectors reported they were making progress. Iraq was destroying missiles they had declared illegal when the US ordered the inspectors out on the brink of war.

    29. Never once did I come to this House and say that I believed that we should not give the weapons inspectors more time because I did not think that they were going to get any more co-operation than they had had in the past.

  • Jack Straw to the House of Commons, 27 November 2003

  • The Foreign Secretary tortuously acknowledges that the weapons inspectors were getting somewhere at the time of the invasion.

    30. There is no evidence linking Iraq to the events of 11th September; there is no evidence either so far that links Iraq to the anthrax attacks in the United States."

  • Geoff Hoon, 29 October 2001

  • This was before the war in Afghanistan to oust al-Qa'ida.

    31. Iraq could decide on any given day to provide biological or chemical weapons to a terrorist group or individual terrorist ...

  • Dick Cheney, 10 January 2003

  • The White House concentrated instead on questionable connections between Iraq and terrorism.

    32. There are things that haven't been explained ... like the meeting of Mohammed Atta [leader of 9/11 hijackers] with Iraqi officials in Prague.

  • Q: Which now is alleged, right? There is some doubt to that?

  • A: Now this gets you into classified areas again.

  • Paul Wolfowitz, to 'San Francisco Chronicle', 23 February 2002

  • US intelligence had established Atta was in the US at the time of the alleged meeting.

    33. Mohammed Atta met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad prior to September 11. We have proof of that ... The meeting is one of the motives of an American attack on Iraq.

  • Richard Perle, Pentagon adviser, September 2002

  • If there was any proof, it would surely have been produced by now.

    34. Iraq has trained al-Qa'ida members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases

  • George Bush, 7 October 2002

  • This claim, four days before Congress authorised war, omitted classified caveats and warnings that the information might be unreliable.

    35. There is some intelligence evidence about linkages between members of al-Qa'ida and people in Iraq.

  • Tony Blair to the House of Commons Liaison Committee, 21 January 2003

  • Blair had just seen an intelligence report, later leaked, which said al-Qa'ida was "in ideological conflict" with the "apostate" Iraqi regime, and there were no current links.

    36. In the event of Saddam refusing to co-operate or being in breach, there will be a further UN discussion.

  • Tony Blair on Security Council Resolution 1441, 8 November 2002

  • When Britain later claimed that Iraq had violated the resolution, it said another Security Council meeting was unnecessary.

    37. Resolution 1441 gives the legal basis for this [war].

  • Tony Blair to the House of Commons, 12 March 2003

  • The opposite of his earlier pledge.

    38. France said it would veto a second resolution whatever the circumstances.

  • Tony Blair to the House of Commons, 18 March 2003

  • President Chirac said France would vote against any resolution that authorised force whilst inspections were still working.

    39. The oil revenues... should be put in a trust fund for the Iraqi people administered through the UN.

  • Tony Blair to the House of Commons, 18 March 2003

  • Britain co-sponsored a Security Council resolution that gave the US and UK control of the oil revenues.

    40. The United Kingdom should seek a new Security Council Resolution that would affirm... the use of all oil revenues for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

  • Commons motion for war, proposed by Tony Blair, 18 March 2003.

  • Iraq's oil revenues have been used to pay US firms, often at vastly inflated prices.

    41. Over some period of months, the Iraqis will have their government selected by Iraqi people.

  • Donald Rumsfeld, press conference, 13 April 2003

  • Direct elections are not expected until the end of 2005.

    42. This is about building a new civil society in Iraq after 35 years when we know women were suppressed, and ensuring women have a voice in Iraq.

  • Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary, 16 October 2003

  • The US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council has removed all the rights Iraqi women have acquired since the 1950s on divorce, marriage, inheritance and child custody, reverting them to the "traditional" form.

    43. Iraq's ... got tunnels, caves, all kinds of complexes. We'll find them.

  • George Bush, press conference, 3 May 2003

  • This combination of vagueness and certainty was common during and immediately after the fighting.

    44. There will certainly not be the quantity and proximity [of WMD] that we thought of before. [Saddam might even have launched] a massive disinformation campaign to make the world think he was violating international norms, and he may not have been.

  • Kenneth Adelman, member of US Defence Policy Board, 17 May 2003

  • The excuses begin.

    45. It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them [WMD] prior to a conflict.

  • Donald Rumsfeld to the Council on Foreign Relations, 27 May 2003

  • Hans Blix is now convinced they were destroyed before the conflict - at least seven years before.

    46. It is not the most urgent priority now for us since Saddam has gone ...

  • Tony Blair 30 May 2003

  • Finding WMD slides down the scale of importance.

    47. In a land mass twice the size of the UK it may well not be surprising you don't find where this stuff is hidden.

  • Tony Blair, interview with David Frost, 11 January 2004

  • This excuse variously describes Iraq as "the size of California" or "twice the size of France".

    48. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

  • Donald Rumsfeld, 30 March 2003

    49. I should have said, 'I believe we're in that area. Our intelligence tells us they're in that area,' and that was our best judgement.

  • Mr Rumsfeld, 10 September 2003

  • WMD excuse which is now most prevalent: we believed it at the time.

    50. Q: But it is absolutely clear now that the 45 minute thing and so on, that the weapons of mass destruction idea and you've moved on to talking about programmes now rather than weapons of mass destruction. But that was wrong wasn't it?

  • A: Well you can't say that at this point in time. What you can say is that we received that intelligence about Saddam's programmes and about his weapons that we acted on that, it's the case throughout the whole of the conflict.

  • Tony Blair, interview with David Frost, 11 January 2004

  • The PM blames the intelligence.


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    FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C ß 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.