Sir David Manning, a top foreign policy advisor to Tony Blair and the latest in a parade of top officials detailing the run up to the Iraq War to the Chilcot Report, took the stand today to discuss the pre-war planning.
According to Sir David, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair joined the Coalition of the Willing and pledge to help President Bush invade Iraq in April 2002, 11 months before the invasion, and ordered the military to plan for the invasion in June, nine months before the start of the war.
Sir William Patey began the testimony last week and revealed that President Bush had been discussing attacking Iraq just weeks after he took office in 2001. At the time, Britain rejected the invasion as “illegal.”
On September 14, 2001, President Bush telephoned Blair and according to Sir David he claimed that Iraq was secretly in league with al-Qaeda. This appears to have been the turning point at which Britain’s rejection of the war was abandoned and the Bush Administration was given another opportunity to convince Blair of the value of attacking Iraq.
The US, Britain and others invaded Iraq in March of 2003, with a combination of claims about Iraq’s secret weapons of mass destruction arsenal and al-Qaeda ties used as a pretext. Both claims were ultimately proven false, and the British government probe is meant to reveal the errors made which led the nation into attacking Iraq on false pretexts.
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