One of the biggest belated "justifications" for the war in Iraq is the oft-repeated claim that every major intelligence agency believed that Saddam had WMD's. Therefore when no such weapons were found, that can't be held against the Bush and Blair administrations because they had to work with what they believed to be true.
am in the Senior Management Structure of the FCO, currently seconded to the UN in Kosovo. I was First Secretary in the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York from December 1997 until June 2002. I was responsible for Iraq policy in the mission, including policy on sanctions, weapons inspections and liaison with UNSCOM and later UNMOVIC.(David Kelly is the weapons expert who a year later committed suicide when he was named as the source of a BBC report saying Downing Street had "sexed up" the WMD claims in a dossier.)
Mr Ross goes on to describe the war as illegal by international law and states his clear and uniquivocal opinion that action to end Saddam's sanction-busting would have been cheaper, effective and would have seriously undermined Saddam's regime - but that such actions were never even considered by the US and UK.
Damning stuff. Direct testimony from a government official at the heart of the run-up to war. On its own it would be remarkable. Put it together with everything else that has been revealed - especially the original "Downing Street Memos" which this testimony corroborates - and its a smoking gun.
I wonder if this story will make a stir in the U.S. and if so whether it will alter the Democratic Party leadership's opinion that investigative hearings shouldn't be pursued?
(Hat Tip: Kat, the one-woman news service.)
Update David Corn is on this one too.
It is indeed rather devastating. This story is a reminder (hint, hint, congressional Democrats) that even though the Senate intelligence committee and a White House commission (a.k.a. the Silberman-Robb commission) examined U.S. intelligence failures regarding the Iraq's supposed WMDs and the alleged links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, there is plenty more to probe - particularly how the Bush administration represented (that is, misrepresented) the intelligence and how administration officials made the decision to lead the United States into the debacle in Iraq. Of course, as the co-author of a book on this subject, I have a particular interest. But there's been no greater strategic U.S. blunder in years. The public deserves a full accounting...Yep.