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9-11 Inside Job and Neocons Hacked 2004
Memos Show British Concern Over
By THOMAS WAGNER, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 18, 5:55 PM ET
When Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief foreign policy adviser dined with Condoleezza Rice six months after Sept. 11, the then-U.S. national security adviser didn't want to discuss Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida. She wanted to talk about "regime change" in
President Bush wanted Blair's support, but British officials worried the White House was rushing to war, according to a series of leaked secret Downing Street memos that have renewed questions and debate about Washington's motives for ousting Saddam Hussein.
In one of the memos, British Foreign Office political director Peter Ricketts openly asks whether the Bush administration had a clear and compelling military reason for war.
The documents confirm Blair was genuinely concerned about Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction, but also indicate he was determined to go to war as America's top ally, even though his government thought a pre-emptive attack may be illegal under international law.
"The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September," said a typed copy of a March 22, 2002 memo obtained Thursday by The Associated Press and written to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
"But even the best survey of
Details from Rice's dinner conversation also are included in one of the secret memos from 2002, which reveal British concerns about both the invasion and poor postwar planning by the Bush administration, which critics say has allowed the Iraqi insurgency to rage.
The eight memos — all labeled "secret" or "confidential" — were first obtained by British reporter Michael Smith, who has written about them in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.
Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.
The AP obtained copies of six of the memos (the other two have circulated widely). A senior British official who reviewed the copies said their content appeared authentic. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secret nature of the material.
The eight documents total 36 pages and range from 10-page and eight-page studies on military and legal options in Iraq, to brief memorandums from British officials and the minutes of a private meeting held by Blair and his top advisers.
Toby Dodge, an
"The documents show what official inquiries in
Dodge said the memos also show Blair was aware of the postwar instability that was likely among
The British documents confirm, as well, that "soon after 9/11 happened, the starting gun was fired for the invasion of
Speculation about if and when that would happen ran throughout 2002.
On Jan. 29, Bush called
On Oct. 16, the U.S. Congress voted to authorize Bush to go to war against
Bush and Blair both have been criticized at home since their WMD claims about
Details of the memos appeared in papers early last month but the news in
It was in a March 14, 2002, memo that Blair's chief foreign policy adviser, David Manning, told the prime minister about the dinner he had just had with Rice in
"We spent a long time at dinner on
"It is clear that Bush is grateful for your (Blair's) support and has registered that you are getting flak. I said that you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a Parliament and a public opinion that was very different than anything in the States. And you would not budge either in your insistence that, if we pursued regime change, it must be very carefully done and produce the right result. Failure was not an option."
Manning said, "Condi's enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed." But he also said there were signs of greater awareness of the practical difficulties and political risks.
Blair was to meet with Bush at his ranch in
A July 21 briefing paper given to officials preparing for a July 23 meeting with Blair says officials must "ensure that the benefits of action outweigh the risks."
"In particular we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective... A postwar occupation of
The British worried that, "
In the March 22 memo from Foreign Office political director Ricketts to Foreign Secretary Straw, Ricketts outlined how to win public and parliamentary support for a war in Britain: "We have to be convincing that: the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for; it is qualitatively different from the threat posed by other proliferators who are closer to achieving nuclear capability (including Iran)."
Blair's government has been criticized for releasing an intelligence dossier on
On March 25 Straw wrote a memo to Blair, saying he would have a tough time convincing the governing Labour Party that a pre-emptive strike against
"If 11 September had not happened, it is doubtful that the
He also questioned stability in a post-Saddam
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