John Witzenfeld

Iraq is back

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One of the revelations at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war was the statement by Geoff Hoon, the former defence secretary, that versions of Lord Goldsmith's opinion about the legality of waging war without a further UN resolution had been circulated to some members of the cabinet before the Commons vote of 18 March 2003.

I do not know what "ifs" and "buts" were omitted from this secret document. Before this was known, as long ago as June 2005, I wrote a letter to Socialist Review raising the issue, as I understood it then, that no copies had been given to cabinet members. I asked how the cabinet could have questioned Goldsmith about his doubts about the legality of the Iraq war if they had not seen the document detailing them?

Democracy in the Dark

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I found the interview of Philippe Sands (May SR) very interesting with his view clearly stated.

Since that interview Blair has been forced to publish the Attorney General's advice of 7 March 2003 in full. It is now absolutely clear that members of New Labour's cabinet did not see this advice before they decided to sanction war with Iraq on 17 March 2003. Although Lord Goldsmith was present at that cabinet meeting to answer questions and discuss the position, it would have been virtually impossible to do so cogently or properly without having read a copy of the advice. It was, as the Guardian called it, 'democracy in the dark'!

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