Iraq inquiry: Government ‘intentionally and substantially’ exaggerated WMD threat

Tony Blair’s government ‘intentionally and substantially’ exaggerated the threat from Saddam Hussein ahead of the war in Iraq, a former senior British diplomat has claimed.

Carne Ross, who was First Secretary responsible for the Middle East at the United Nations, accused the former government of issuing “lies” to the public about the dictator’s capacity to launch weapons of mass destruction.

He said that it was a “disgrace” that ministers failed to exhaust all peaceful options before going to war against Iraq.

“There was no deliberate discussion of available alternatives to military action in advance of the 2003 invasion,” Mr Ross added.

“There is no record of that discussion, no official has referred to it, no minister has talked about it, and that seems to me to be a very egregious absence in this history – that at some point a Government before going to war should stop and ask itself, ‘are there available alternatives?”‘

Giving evidence before the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, Mr Ross said that “nuanced” intelligence about the threat from Iraq was “massaged” into “more robust and terrifying” messages about Saddam’s supposed WMD.

Mr Carne, who served at the UN between 1997 and 2002, claimed that the British and United States governments were fully aware that there was no “substantial threat” from Iraq ahead of the war.

He said: “It remains my view that the internal Government assessment of Iraq’s capabilities was intentionally and substantially exaggerated in public Government documents during 2002 and 2003.

“Throughout my posting in New York, it was the UK and US assessment that while there were many unanswered questions about Iraq’s WMD stocks and capabilities, we did not believe that these amounted to a substantial threat.

“At no point did we have any firm evidence, from intelligence sources or otherwise, of significant weapons holdings.”

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US in 2001, Mr Carne said, the presentation of the intelligence relating to Iraq changed significantly.

The now notorious claim in the “dodgy dossier” of September 2002, which implied that Saddam had the capacity to launch WMD within 45 minutes, had “no basis in firm intelligence”.

“This process of exaggeration was gradual, and proceeded by accretion and editing from document to document, in a way that allowed those participating to convince themselves that they were not engaged in blatant dishonesty,” he said.

“But this process led to highly misleading statements about the UK assessment of the Iraqi threat that were, in their totality, lies.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/7885629/Iraq-inquiry-Government-intentionally-and-substantially-exaggerated-WMD-threat.html

I wear many hats but history, economics and political observance have always been a passion. I am a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Business with a degree in Information Systems and Digital Business with a minor in European History. I work for a small mom-and-pop IT consulting and software design company. We deal in servicing mostly government funded non-profit mental and behavioral health care agencies in the state of Ohio. In this I deal with Medicaid and Medicare funds and have a little insight on the boondoggles of government there. Thankfully the undemanding nature of my daily profession gives me ample time to read and stay aware of our current state of affairs which I find stranger than fiction in many instances. In addition to being in the IT field, I have also been self employed with a small contracting company so I might know a thing or two about the plight of small business that employs 71% of the American workforce. I however don't draw my knowledge from my day jobs, which I have had a few; I draw it from an intense obsession with facts and observation about the world in which I live. I do have formal education in things such as history, economics and finance particularly as it pertains to global issues, but I have come to find much of what I thought I knew from the formalities of a state university I had to unlearn through much time and independent research. I hope you enjoy what I bring you which is not often heard in the mainstream news outlets. I would like to think my own personal editorializing is not only edifying but thought provoking while not at all obnoxious. That last one may be a hard to achieve.

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