Blairs lawyer advised Iraq war could be illegal

#1
Blair's lawyer advised Iraq war could be illegal
LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tony Blair's lawyer expressed doubts on whether war in Iraq was legal 10 days before he gave a green light for invasion, according to documents cited by Channel Four television on Wednesday.

The issue could haunt Blair, who faces an election on May 5. His opponents have charged that he covered up the government's initial legal advice to make the case for war.

Channel Four news published what it said was the text of a secret March 7, 2003, opinion by Attorney General Lord Goldsmith stating that "a court might well conclude" U.N. Security Council resolutions did not authorise war without a further resolution.

"I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force," Goldsmith wrote.

The argument that earlier resolutions authorised war "will only be sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity."

"In other words, we would need to be able to demonstrate hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation."

Just 10 days later, after Britain failed to obtain a new resolution, Goldsmith presented the cabinet with a single page "summary" of his advice in which he said conclusively that the war was legal and mentioned no doubts.

The prime minister's office had no immediate comment. The attorney general released a statement saying the leaked document "stood up" the government's case.

"Contrary to the allegations that have persistently been made, it does not say the war was unlawful but confirms the conclusion I reached was that a sufficient basis for the use of force was established without a second resolution," Goldsmith said.

Blair's opponents said the March 7 document, never shown to parliament or other members of the cabinet, showed Blair had misled his own government and parliament about the advice.

"The Prime Minister has said that the attorney general's advice given to the cabinet on the 17 of March was clear and the attorney general did not change that advice," Conservative party leader Michael Howard told Channel Four.

"Well, we now know the attorney general did change that advice and the question is what or who changed it."

Blair has insisted that Goldsmith never changed his mind.

"I don't accept that at all," he told Sky Television in an interview taped just two hours before Channel Four published the text of the attorney general's initial advice.

"It (the advice) didn't change."

Opinion polls show Blair is likely to win the election on May 5 handily, and the Conservatives, who supported the war, have had trouble making an issue of it.

But disillusioned supporters in Blair's own Labour party could stay home or back the anti-war Liberal Democrats, hurting Blair's majority in parliament.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said Blair would not have been able to pass a measure in parliament supporting the war if parliamentarians were aware of the attorney general's original advice.

"I don't think the House of Commons would have been able to pass the resolution it did had it been aware of this document," he said.
Now everyone knows Blair s a lying tosser.
 
#2
Now everyone knows Blair s a lying tosser.

Why? Saying a court 'might conclude' something is just stating the obvious. I could say the court 'might conclude' that Michael Jackson is innocent, as indeed it might. Does the fact I say that, mean that he is innocent?
 
#3
Awol, your right in your example, but the fact that goldsmith wrote:

"I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force,"
Sort of tells us that good old tone chose to ignore his legal advice and lied to us that there WAS legal precendent to go to war without a 2nd resolution (A decision which he was not entitled to make, as it is ultimately the UN's right to say yay or nae)

A_S
 
#4
Awol, I think this is what I mean:

"The Prime Minister has said that the attorney general's advice given to the cabinet on the 17 of March was clear and the attorney general did not change that advice,"
Blair has insisted that Goldsmith never changed his mind.
It's obvious that attorney general did change his mind.
 
#5
Disagree Smithy.

Goldsmith was saying that a Second Resolution would have removed all doubt, which was true. I'm not sure how that converts into saying the UN would have voted against the war.
 
#6
It seems to me that you are discussing insignificant details. Really mr.Blair had only two options:

1. To support mr.Bush and lie.
2. Stand on side of France and Germany and be honest.

Mr.Blair could be of course more careful. His 45min. claim was absolutely needless. And this advice... Being a barrister himself what could mr.Blair expect? Anyway the advice would be very unclear (lawyrs are skilled in creation of such a leagal puzzles). Why on Earth mr.Blair requested the advice?

Main problem of mr.Blair: he sounds too many words. Later or sooner your words would become your enemies.
 
#7
Awol said:
Disagree Smithy.

Goldsmith was saying that a Second Resolution would have removed all doubt, which was true. I'm not sure how that converts into saying the UN would have voted against the war.
I didnt say they woudl. Just that blair et al had no legal powers to say that under the existing UN resolution (1441) that Saddam and his cronnies were in breach of the conditions laid down in 1441; ergo they had no legal right to base their decision to go to war on that presumption.

Had they just had the balls to say, look this guy is a tyrant, we want him out and want democracy in, i would have had so much more respect for him. But as it happens, he jumped from excuse to excuse like a rat on a sinking ship to try and justify the war. One minute it was about WMD's, then that was discredited, then it was for contravening 1441, then it was a humanitarian mission to rid iraq of saddam, and then right at the last minute blair said that he was willing to forget all that as long as he gave up his WMD capabilites (which were already in question). Therefore, all his previous arguments which he made with such vigour and personal backing, were just ready to be discarded.

Lets just put it this way. Blair was desperate to follow W into iraq, and he knew the excuses were thin on the ground. He also knews that good old W was gonna send in the cavalry regardless. Therefore, tony strived to find a good enough excuse to warrant following W into the sandpit. He didnt give a shit about the moral or ethical side, he was just ready to sell his mother down the river just to get a piece of the action.

Rant off! :D
 
#8
the matter is Bliar said the AG did not change his mind or show any doubt, the evidence now shows otherwise.

He lied to us, we here on this site knew that but hopefully the rest of the electorate now see this and vote/not vote accordingly
 
#9
Bliar promised Dubya in 2002 that he would support him in an Iraq venture.

Bliar made a case for war based on weapons of mass destruction, outlined in two dossiers. An earlier dossier on Afghanistan had gone down well.

The dossiers claimed to be authoritative and intelligence based. The intelligence was patchy, caveats were omitted, and material was plagiarised from the internet. Key concerns from within the intelligence community were suppressed. In short, they were "sexed up" as propaganda tools.

Bliar tried to get a first resolution in 2002. He got 1441, which meant many things to many people and was an ineffectual compromise. Bliar knew at the time that this was not substantive authorisation for military action.

Bliar tried to get a second resolution. This ran into difficulties in the face of opposition from permanent members of the security council other than the UK and US and in the absence of a clear declaration of a material breach from UN inspectors.

Bliar asked the attorney for advice. The attorney advised that a second resolution was the only legally safe case for war, although that a case could be made on the basis of previous resolutions and "hard evidence" of non-compliance - although this case could be open to challenge. The attorney also advised that failure to obtain a second resolution through an "unreasonable veto" was no excuse for falling back on 1441 and predecessors.

CDS asked Bliar for an unequivocable "yes or no" to the legality of the war. The answer was "yes".

Somewhere in between these events, Bliar decides ("we" = Bliar and the attorney according to Straw this morning) that, as he wasn't going to get a second resolution, another reason for war - that Iraq was in material breach and that the French were employing an "unreasonable veto" - was required. This excuse drew upon the caveatted advice of the attorney that previous resolutions could be used although it flew in the face of the attorney's criticism of the "unreasonable veto" argument and the "hard evidence" of noncompliance appeared to be in Bliar's imagination.

The attorney presented a summary answer to cabinet although no questions were allowed. This had none of the earlier reservations. This formed the basis of the parliamentary answer upon which a vote on war was taken.

The public and parliament and Armed Forces - and his own cabinet - have been misled by Bliar at every turn. If he is elected in one week he will attempt to use the re-election as a vindication of his corrupt actions over Iraq. He will use this as justification for future military interventions based on the same pattern of lies. The Armed Forces cannot trust this man - he sent them into war on the basis of a lie knowing that the unequivocal answer he gave to CDS was misleading and that British troops could end up in the dock. If this wretch is re-elected, and he tries to follow Dubya again, I predict mass civil unrest in this country and resignations and noncompliance with mobilisation orders from the Armed Forces. In other words, a constitutional and political catastrophe. This man cannot be trusted with power and must be dealt a crippling blow next week, in lieu of impeachment and imprisonment in the Tower.
 
#10
The attorney also advised that failure to obtain a second resolution through an "unreasonable veto" was no excuse for falling back on 1441 and predecessors.
What is the logic here? If there was an unreasonable veto (which the French veto undoubtably was, being an excuse to get one over on the US), surely that justifies falling back on the previous resolution?
 
#11
Awol said:
The attorney also advised that failure to obtain a second resolution through an "unreasonable veto" was no excuse for falling back on 1441 and predecessors.
What is the logic here? If there was an unreasonable veto (which the French veto undoubtably was, being an excuse to get one over on the US), surely that justifies falling back on the previous resolution?
Quite possibly true awol, but the thing is that it was not legally Blair (or the AG's) decision to make. Only the UN could rule that previous decisions were enough.

It may be said that we should be able to make the ultimate decision on if we go to war (and in matter so self defence we do), but this is what comes of signing upto international treaties.
 
#12
What is the logic here? If there was an unreasonable veto (which the French veto undoubtably was, being an excuse to get one over on the US), surely that justifies falling back on the previous resolution?
A veto can't be unreasonable. That is the whole point of a veto.

Vetos have been used for UN political point-scoring for the last five decades, most often by Russia, China and the US.

Why the big fuss now?
 
#13
MrPVRd said:
What is the logic here? If there was an unreasonable veto (which the French veto undoubtably was, being an excuse to get one over on the US), surely that justifies falling back on the previous resolution?
A veto can't be unreasonable. That is the whole point of a veto.

Vetos have been used for UN political point-scoring for the last five decades, most often by Russia, China and the US.

Why the big fuss now?
Again, quite true. Just look at how many times the US (and Uk) have vetoed anything contradicting Isreal.

It's just used as a political point scoring system and this time it was our turn to be on the losing side.
 
#14
There are now suggestions that the request to AG for his opinion was couched in such a manner that it didn't ask if war was legal but what would be needed for us to go to war. Kinda suggests the answer apparently
 
#15
MrPVRd said:
What is the logic here? If there was an unreasonable veto (which the French veto undoubtably was, being an excuse to get one over on the US), surely that justifies falling back on the previous resolution?
A veto can't be unreasonable. That is the whole point of a veto.

Vetos have been used for UN political point-scoring for the last five decades, most often by Russia, China and the US.

Why the big fuss now?
Precisely. It was point-scoring by the French, not a veto based on the merits of the situation. In other words it was an 'unreasonable veto'.
 
#16
Smithy wrote..

Only the UN could rule that previous decisions were enough.
The point of the previous resolution was that it 'appeared' to authorise further action if conditions weren't met. That is the UN making a decision.

The exact wording of 1441 is ambiguous, but it is reasonable to read it thus. As reasonable at least as reading it to say the opposite.
 
#17
So why didn't they just say that "after a given date we'll kick their arrses iaw Resolution 1441. If the UN wants to make a fuss we'll quite happily veto it."

Why did we have to have all the b@lls about WMDs deployable with 45min and all the rest of the crap. If the Govt are so happy about the legal advice about the war, then why won't they release it officially. The lying, useless t0ssers, the lot of them.
 
#19
At the end of the day, it all boils down to the simple fact of trust...

Do you or dont you trust Blair and the rest of his New Labour pack to:

1 - Tell the whole truth, all the time.

2 - Not to 'adjust' or hide the facts to get a required result (for them).

3 - To run this Country in an honest open manner for the good and betterment of its citizens.

4 - Not to sell out the country to all and sundry after a quick bargain or the first sharp operator/con merchant to knock on the door.

5 - Not to tax the country to death ie: Pension raids etce (£5Bn a year and then wonder why there is a pension black hole ffs....)

Answers please.......

btw, for the record ... mine is NO on all accounts and has been since they got in the first time!

(MODS... New thread on this if u see fit)
 
#20
There's no such thing as an unreasonable veto and never was. The point of a veto is that it is unconditional and authoritative. The permanent members of the security council have thrown them around for all sorts of reasons in the last half-century. No veto was ever challenged as "unreasonable" in order to bypass the UN until 2003 and the "unreasonable veto" argument was discredited then.

1441 was a useless resolution as it promised restraint to those that wished this and opened the door slightly to the prospect of military action. However, it did not have the crucial phrase "by all possible means" which is UN-speak for military action. The clause is below from http://www.un.int/usa/sres-iraq.htm and uses the phrase "serious consequences".

13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;
At the time, I thought that "serious consequences" would mean possible air strikes on suspect sites or a limited and temporary military presence to assure compliance.

However, 1441 had no automaticity, even though Bliar has dusted off resolutions dating back to GW1 to try and justify unilateral UK/US action. The clause on authorisation is below:

4. Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 below;

11. Directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director-General of the IAEA to report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution;

12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;
The UN Security Council was empowered to authorise military action upon a report of noncompliance from UNMOVIC or the IAEA. Bliar's opinion - whether based on flawed intelligence or judgement - had nothing to do with it. No such report was forthcoming.

There is also the issue of proportionality. Regime change in pursuit of forced compliance with 1441 would be unlikely to be viewed as proportionate.

The US could wriggle off the hook because Congress granted Dubya sweeping powers after 9/11 and because they do not recognise the International Criminal Court. Bliar has no such get-out. He is (literally) a war criminal and should be impeached. He is also guilty of maladministration and of misleading Parliament.
 

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