Iraq Cabinet Minutes to be made public (maybe)

We are getting closer to the truth...there won't be any smoking gun in black and white but it will be possible to work out exactly when Goldsmith was leaned upon by Bliar and the lack of Cabinet oversight. From there, join the dots.

The precarious dominoes stacked up by Hutton continue to topple...we have seen that the legal opinion was changed, that the dossier was put together by spin doctors and sexed-up.... :twisted:

The Government was today ordered to release the minutes of Cabinet discussions where ministers discussed military action against Iraq.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, said the papers should be released under the Freedom of Information Act because of the "gravity and controversial nature" of the discussions. Ministers said that they had not yet decided whether to appeal against the decision.

It marks the latest stage of a battle over the March 2003 meetings, where ministers discussed the advice by Lord Goldsmith, then the Attorney-General, on the legality of the war in the run-up to the invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein's regime.

The Cabinet Office has refused to make the details public on the grounds that the papers were exempt because they related to the formulation of Government policy and ministerial communications.

However, Mr Thomas today ruled that, in this particular case, the public interest in disclosing the minutes outweighed the arguments.

"The commissioner considers that a decision on whether to take military action against another country is so important that accountability for such decision-making is paramount," a statement said.

"Though not strictly relevant, acceptance by the current Prime Minister that decisions to go to war should ultimately be referred to Parliament reinforce arguments flowing from the gravity of subject matter.

"In this case, in respect of the public debate and controversy surrounding the decision to take military action in Iraq, the process by which the Government reached its decision adds to the public interest in maximum transparency.

"This is reflected by, among other matters, the controversy surrounding the Attorney General’s legal advice on the legality of military action and the ministerial resignations which took place at that time.

"It is also the case that there is a widespread view that the justification for the decision on military action in Iraq is either not fully understood or that the public were not given the full or genuine reasons for that decision.

"In coupling this context with his analysis of the information itself, the commissioner believes that its release would assist in addressing uncertainties and controversies in this respect."

The ruling is likely to re-ignite the controversy over Lord Goldsmith’s legal advice on the war. Under Tony Blair, the Government strongly resisted demands for his advice to be released until a large section was leaked during the 2005 General Election campaign.

Clare Short, the former international development secretary, who quit the Government following the war and has launched a string of attacks on Labour foreign policy since then, said that the Cabinet minutes would only give a "sanitised" account of the meetings, but that the ruling set an important precedent.

"Having made this decision, the discussion won’t stop there. There will be pressure for more," she told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.

The Government said it was "considering" the commissioner’s ruling this afternoon, and did not rule out appealing to the Information Tribunal on the matter. It has five weeks in which to do so.

"The requirements of openness and transparency must be balanced against the proper and effective functioning of Government," a spokesman said.

"At the very heart of that system is the constitutional convention of collective Cabinet responsibility."
if they are given to the puplic who thinks they are the real minutes?

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