Proof: Blair Sexed Up Legal Advice on War
This could be the deciding issue in the coming UK election. The Mail on Sunday is the first to leak the full 13 pages of pre-war advice drawn up by Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, which warned Blair the Iraq invasion would be in breach of international law for six reasons:
1. In law, there was a strong argument that it was the job of the United Nations - not Mr Blair - to rule whether Iraq had defied the UN's order to disarm.All six caveats were left out of the final report.
Goldsmith set out how it may be judged that it was the function of the UN Security Council, not an individual country such as Britain or America, to decide if Iraq was in 'material breach' of UN Resolution 1441, passed in November 2002 and giving it a 'final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations'. Goldsmith pointed out that although Mr Blair could in theory make the decision, a court could decide otherwise.
2. Goldsmith questioned whether Britain could attack Iraq by using UN Resolution
The legal advice explained why the resolution's warning of 'serious consequences' if Saddam continued to flout the UN fell crucially short of permitting military action. The exact wording had important implications. It did not say 'all necessary means' - UN terminology for war, used when Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990.
3. Goldsmith urged caution about going to war without a second UN resolution.
He said Mr Blair could go to war without one, but it would be much 'safer' and desirable to secure a second resolution giving specific approval to military intervention.
4. Mr Blair was warned of the risks of relying on the earlier UN resolution used to eject Saddam from Kuwait.
The legal advice challenged Mr Blair's claims that Britain and the United States had a right to go to war by 'reviving' UN Resolution 678, passed in 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait. Resolution 678 did not permit them to invade Iraq itself. The limited nature of Resolution 678 was one of the chief reasons the Allies did not try to topple Saddam when he was ousted from Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War. In principle, Resolution 678 could be revived; in practice it could be difficult.
5. Goldsmith drew attention to UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and his search for weapons of mass destruction.
On March 7, 2003, the day the legal advice was written, Mr Blix reported to the UN Security Council that 34 Iraqi al-Samoud missiles had been disabled. He said Iraq was being more helpful generally and that no weapons of mass destruction had been found so far. By the time Mr Blair received Goldsmsith's legal advice, he would have been aware of Blix's latest report.
6. He explained that the American government's position on the legality of the war did not apply in Britain.
Goldsmith explained the legal stance taken by George Bush and why he faced none of the legal restraints confronting Mr Blair. The US Congress had given Mr Bush special powers to declare the war legal in American law. It also detailed why, in the US view, a second resolution was unnecessary.
The leaked document includes references to the legal advice on the US position which will be seen as further proof that Blair was "Bush's poodle" (and given that, John Howard of Australia is just a flea on the butt of Bush's poodle).