Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Meanwhile, on Planet Iraq

A very rightwing figure is giving evidence to the Iraq War Enquiry this morning: Eliza Manningham-Buller, who was head of MI5, Britain's internal secret service.

Is she saying the war was a brilliant idea, punishing the Iraqis and making the world safer, as Tony Blair said?

Er, no. In fact, she's rather clear that the war made us all a lot less safe, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and that the Americans were in no mood to listen to such obstructive whinging. I know that the case for war has been repeatedly demolished, but it's amazing listening to someone so authoritative dismiss every single claim made by our lying leaders (on every side).

Manningham-Buller remembers flying up the eastern seaboard [the day after the 9/11 attacks in the US], seeing the smoke and wondering how Americans would react: "It never occurred to me they would go into Iraq."
As US and UK forces were preparing to invade, she asked, "Why now?" She said it "as explicitly as I could. I said something like, 'The threat to us would increase because of Iraq.'"
Most Iraqi CB terrrorist attacks have been assassination attempts against individuals, often emigres ... Iraq used chemcial weapons during the Iran-Iraq war and also against civilian Kurds in 1988, but there is no intelligence that Iraq has hitherto planned or sought mass-casualty CB terrorist attacks. As with conventional terrorism, we assess that Saddam would only use CB against western targets if he felt the survival of his regime was in doubt. In these circumstances, his preferred option would be to use conventional military delivery systems against targets in the region, rather than terrorism.
Manningham-Buller says MI5 regarded the threat from Iraq as "low".
Sir Lawrence Freedman asks about suggestions that Iraq gave support to al-Qaida.
Manningham-Buller says she did not give any credence to this. There was no "credible intelligence" to suggest a connection. That was the judgment of the CIA as well, she says.
There were only "tiny scraps" suggesting contact.
Those "tiny scraps" were given a weight that was not there.
To her mind, Saddam had "nothing" to do with 9/11.
She says this view was not accepted by Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary.
How significant a factor was Iraq compared with other things used by extremist terrorists to justify their actions?
It undoubtedly increased the threat.
Arguably we gave Osama bin-Laden his Iraqi jihad.
The decision by the Americans to sack the Baathists was "an error", she says.
On a visit to the US, she was asked to speak to Paul Wolfowtiz, the US deputy defence secretary, about this. She tried to persuade him it was "not sensible".
Lyne asks if she converted Wolfowtiz. "Not a hope," Manningham-Buller replies.

Manningham-Buller says there was a correlation between the war and the increase in the number of threats.
Live blog: quote
What Iraq did was produce a fresh impetus of people prepared to engage in terrorism.

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