WARREN HOGEEx-aide: Blair lied Iraq had weaponsSun Jan 11 20:09:07 2004188.8.131.52
http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/1003/06blair.html [ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 10/6/03 ]Ex-aide: Blair lied Iraq had weaponsBy WARREN HOGENew York TimesLONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair conceded privately that Iraq did nothave quickly deployable weapons of mass destruction as the Britishgovernment was claiming as justification for war, says Robin Cook, aformer foreign minister.Cook quit his post as leader of the House of Commons in March because ofBritain's decision to join in the American-led war in Iraq.He says Blair also made it clear to him in a conversation two weeksbefore combat began that he did not believe Saddam Hussein's weaponsposed a "real and present danger" to Britain.Cook's account was made public in extracts published in The Sunday Timesof London from "Point of Departure," a book based on his diary entriesfrom the period.An intelligence dossier published in September 2002 argued that Iraq hadunconventional weapons that could be used within 45 minutes of an orderbeing given.Cook said he had no reason to doubt Blair believed the claim at the timeit was made. But he said that in their conversation on March 5, Blairtold him the weapons were only battlefield munitions and could not beassembled by Hussein for quick use because of "all the effort he has putinto concealment."Cook wrote, "If No. 10 [Blair's government] accepted that Saddam had noreal WMD, which he could credibly use against city targets, and if theythemselves believed that he could not reassemble his chemical weapons ina credible time scale for use on the battlefield, just how much of athreat did they really think Saddam represented?"In response, a Blair spokesman said: "The idea that the prime ministerever said that Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction isabsurd. His views have been consistent throughout, both publicly andprivately, as his Cabinet colleagues know. Robin Cook's views are wellknown and have been expressed many times before."
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