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Commissione d’inchiesta sull’Iraq: Blair, rammarico per le vite perdute. Il pubblico: “Troppo tardi”,

Rammarico per le vite perdute in Iraq. Così Tony Blair oggi di fronte alla Commissione d’inchiesta Chilcot sull’Iraq. “Troppo tardi”, un mormorio dal pubblico. L’articolo del Guardian del 21.1.2011:

Tony Blair ‘regrets’ Iraq deaths but says Britain must stop apologising for invasion

Chilcot inquiry: murmurs of ‘too late’ from public seats after former prime minister expresses sorrow over loss of allied and civilian lives

Questioned for a second time at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, Tony Blair says ministers discussed regime change in Iraq as early as March 2002 Link to this video

Tony Blair insisted today that Britain had to give up the “wretched policy of apology” for the allies’ action in Iraq.

But he offered the Chilcot inquiry his regrets for the loss of life in Iraq. At his appearance before the inquiry last year he was heavily criticised for not answering a question about whether he regretted the invasion.

At the end of his evidence this afternoon he said it had never been his meaning. “Of course I regret deeply and profoundly the loss of life,” he said. As he extended his regrets to British and allied troops and Iraqis, there were murmurs of “too late” from the public seating behind him.

In his second appearance before the Chilcot inquiry the former prime minister repeated the warning he gave in evidence a year ago that Iran was a “looming, coming challenge” to the peace and stability of the whole region and must be tackled.

He accused the Tehran regime of fomenting terrorism and destabilising the Middle East, deliberately impeding chances of peace.

“The Iranians are doing this because they fundamentally disagree with our way of life,” he said. “At some point we have got to get our head out of the sand and understand Iraq is one part of a far bigger picture right across the region. People are going to have to face that struggle.”

Blair told the inquiry today that he regarded the advice of his government’s attorney general that the invasion of Iraq would be illegal as only “provisional” during the run-up to the war in early 2003.

In a written statement to the inquiry and in oral evidence, he said he was entitled to ignore the advice of Lord Goldsmith and was not obliged to inform the US president, George Bush, of internal discussions taking place among legal officials in London.

But he admitted it would have been better if Goldsmith had been involved in discussions with the Bush administration’s legal advisers at an earlier stage.

The former prime minister “held to the position” that another UN security council resolution explicitly supporting military action before an invasion took place was unnecessary, despite being told the opposite by Goldsmith.

Blair said he believed the attorney general would come round to his interpretation of the legal position once he knew the full history of the negotiations behind UN security council resolution 1441, which declared Iraq in “material breach” of its obligations to disarm.

In a statement to the inquiry, he said: “I had not yet got to the stage of a formal request for advice, and neither had he got to the point of formally giving it.

“So I was continuing to hold to the position that another resolution was not necessary.”

Blair said he was aware of Goldsmith’s concerns about the legality of attacking Iraq, but added: “I believed that he would, once he was abreast of the British, but most of all the US negotiating history, conclude that 1441 meant what it said – Saddam had a final opportunity to comply, failure to do so was a material breach, and that revived the earlier resolutions authorising force.”

Blair told the inquiry team that Goldsmith was a lawyer “through and through” and his advice was taken seriously.

But he said his focus in the run-up to the invasion was in dealing with political pressures and keeping the maximum pressure on Saddam Hussein, adding: “I was having to carry on while an internal legal debate was continuing.”

Asked if the legal doubts of the attorney general constrained him from making a commitment to the US, Blair said “No”.

He told the inquiry: “I was going to take the view, and I did right throughout that period, that there might come a point when I had to say to the president of the United States and to other allies ‘I cannot be with you’.

“I might have said that on legal grounds if Peter’s [Goldsmith’s] advice had not – having seen what the Americans had told him about the negotiations – come down on the other side.

“I might have had to do that politically – I was in a very, very difficult position politically.”

He continued: “I was going to continue giving absolute and firm commitment [to the US] until the point at which definitively I couldn’t.”

Airing legal doubts to the US at that time would have damaged the coalition and encouraged Saddam, Blair suggested.

The former PM told the inquiry: “I believe if I started to articulate this, in a sense saying ‘I cannot be sure’, the effect of that on the Americans, the coalition and most importantly on Saddam would have been dramatic.”

He added: “I was not going to be in a position where I was going to start putting that problem before the president of the United States before I was in a position where definitely I knew I had to.”

In his second appearance before the Chilcot inquiry in London, Blair insisted he did not bypass his cabinet colleagues in deciding that Britain should help the US in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He repeated the evidence he gave to the inquiry when he appeared before it in open session exactly a year ago, when he said the international situation changed fundamentally after the al-Qaida attacks on the US on 11 September 2001.

He told the inquiry he had offered Bush Britain’s support in tackling the terrorist threat. He supported the containment of the Iraq regime and then the presentation of an ultimatum to Saddam.

Blair said cabinet ministers had been kept fully informed and had taken part in full discussions about British plans.

“The cabinet discussions were immensely detailed,” he said. “The notion that people were not discussing it [is wrong]. People were talking about this the whole time. This was a perpetual conversation going on in depth. All of this was being discussed pretty broadly and pretty deeply.”

The content of briefing papers was “very, very adequately discussed”, he said, adding: “I cannot believe a single cabinet minister did not know what the position was. It was being articulated by me weekly, occasionally daily.”


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