Monday, May 04, 2009

SIS chief #2 - "we got dragged into a war"

Ex-MI6 chief says UK was ‘dragged’ into Iraq war

May 4th, 2009 - 2:42 pm ICT by ANI

London, May 4 (ANI): Britain was “dragged into a war in Iraq which was always against our better judgment” a former deputy head of MI6 has claimed. Former MI6 deputy director Nigel Inkster’s comments make clear there were reservations over the war at a very senior level within the Secret Intelligence Service.

MI6 was blamed for the failure of intelligence that took Britain to war after helping produce a dossier in which Tony Blair claimed that Iraq was ready to use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes. In a speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research, Inkster blamed weakness at the Foreign Office for allowing Britain to get dragged into a war over which officials had serious doubts.

“The Foreign Office no longer does foreign policy. It acts as a platform for a multiplicity of UK departments and the lack of a clearly articulated sense of our strategic location in the world explains how we got dragged into a war with Iraq which was always against our better judgment,” The Telegraph quotes Inkster, as saying.

His views on Iraq, expressed for the first time in public, may also explain why he was passed over as the head of MI6 in favour of Sir John Scarlett, who took responsibility for the dossier during the Hutton inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly.

Sir John, the current director of MI6, was head of the Joint Intelligence Committee at the start of the war and was criticized for being too close to Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, and Alastair Campbell, his spin doctor.

Inkster said the world was moving from “being policed by America to be policed by nobody” and the danger of an increasingly unstable world meant populations were likely to fall back on the “snake oil and voodoo” of religious and nationalistic movements.

Inkster, who now works for the International Institute of Strategic Studies, worked for MI6 from 1975 until 2006 in posts including Asia, Latin America and Europe. (ANI)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Over and Out

Calls for Iraq inquiry as troops withdraw

Demands for an immediate inquiry into the war in Iraq grew today as Britain's military involvement in the country came to an end after six years.

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent Last Updated: 9:46AM BST 01 May 2009

Campaigners and opposition MPs said a public investigation into the legitimacy of the invasion and the subsequent failures in nation building could not be delayed any longer.

They spoke out after a final memorial parade in Basra in which the names of each of the 179 servicemen and women killed during the conflict were read out before control of southern Iraq was handed over to an American commander.

David Cameron, the Tory leader, called for an immediate inquiry similar to that carried out by Lord Franks following the Falklands War in 1982.

"After years of foot dragging, I believe it is the time for the Government to announce a proper Franks-style inquiry. Instead of starting in many months' time, it should start right now.

"There are vital lessons to learn and we need to learn them rapidly and the only justification for delay can, I'm afraid, be a political one."

An inquiry is expected to examine the faulty intelligence that led to the invasion, including information on weapons of mass destruction, and should look at why British forces were poorly equipped and under-resourced.

Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign spokesman, said the Government's "threadbare excuses" for delaying an inquiry were "finally gone".

"Ministers now owe it to the troops to talk to opposition parties about the remit for the inquiry."

He warned if the inquiry lacked openness and a broad remit the public would see it as "another whitewash."

Following the transfer of authority in Basra, John Hutton, the defence secretary, said an inquiry would begin "at some point in the future".

During a meeting in London with Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, Gordon Brown announced a new declaration of friendship, partnership and co-operation between their two countries.

"Britain and Iraq have deep historical ties. The last six years have changed our relationship again," he said.

"Today we open the next chapter in our relations, a chapter which I preface with my deep respect and appreciation for Iraq's achievements and my gratitude to Britain's armed forces who have made such a lasting contribution."

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon Gentle was killed in Iraq, said: "I'm glad that it's coming to an end. It's been a long time coming. I still don't think my son should have been there. I don't think we should have been there in the first place.

"We're happy and glad that the soldiers are coming home, but it's still a sad day. My son should have been coming home today. It's a bittersweet day and I still think there needs to be an inquiry."