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April 04, 2006

Jack Straw, Liar?

I know it's hard to believe, but it appears British foreign minister Jack Straw is a liar.

Here's an account of a television appearance he made on June 1, 2003—two months after the invasion of Iraq, as concern grew over the absence of WMD:

...the foreign secretary was asked on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost Programme if there was "any truth to this: did you in January or February have any conversation with the secretary of state [Colin Powell] where you shared your doubts about the strength or probability of the evidence for the claims you were both making about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? Did you have any such conversation?"

Mr Straw replied: "Let me deal with that. No I didn't about the quality of the evidence. What is the case is that I've always been very anxious to test the evidence and so, I know, was Powell and President Bush and our prime minister, Tony Blair."

Now, compare this to the account Philippe Sands gave in his talk last week at the New America Foundation:

By early January [2003], from the material I've seen that has not yet made it's way into the public domain, it's clear that in London, at least, there is a sense of serious concern if not panic that the project is going to unfold [sic] because nothing is going to turn up. I refer in the new edition of the book to conversations between Colin Powell and Jack Straw which indicate quite clearly that Colin Powell had no expectations that WMD would be found, that indicate quite clearly that Jack Straw had no expectation that WMD would be found.

What we will tell the anglophile children?

(The relevant section of Sands' book Lawless World is below, courtesy of The Washington Note)

What is clear is that by January 2003 there was very real concern in the British and American governments that it could prove difficult to establish that Iraq was in material breach.

In early January 2003 Mr. Straw wrote a private note to the Prime Minister, expressing the hope that the inspections by Dr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei would produce a big smoking gun that would be sufficient for them to report a breach of obligation by Iraq sufficient to trigger Operational Paragraphs 11 and 12 of 1441, a further meeting of the Security Council, and a resolution authorizing the use of force.

That did not happen.

Mr. Straw's note worried that it should not be assumed that over the next three weeks there would be sufficient non-cooperation by Hussein in respect of interviews outside Iraq to add up to a material breach under OP4.

This indicates that in January 2003 Mr. Straw did not consider that Iraq was in material breach. His note also describes a call four days earlier in which Colin Powell had recognized the danger of proceeding without a second resolution, and told him that "if there was an insufficient case for a second resolution, there would be equally an insufficient case for the US to go unilateral".

Posted at April 4, 2006 10:25 AM | TrackBack

Why, of course you can only tell them that the truth will set them free, and to remember Churchill in these times of stress.

Posted by: Jesus B. Ochoa at April 4, 2006 11:24 AM

"How is the world ruled and how do wars start? Diplomats tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read."
Karl Kraus

Posted by: donescobar at April 4, 2006 01:10 PM