Lord Goldsmith's concluding summary of his legal advice on the legality of the Iraq war has been leaked - and as expected, it doesn't look good for Tony Blair. The document shows that Lord Goldsmith thought that while a "reasonable case" could be made that the UN had already authorised force, he did not believe it would stand up in court, and that
the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force. [...] The key point is that it should establish that the Council has concluded that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441, as in the draft which has already been tabled.
He also noted that in the absence of such a resolution, any argument that previous resolutions had been revivied would hinge on the opinions of the weapons inspectors. Interestingly, the same day the opinion was given to Blair, Hans Blix reported that Iraq was making "substantial" progress in destroying its long-range missiles, and that no WMD had been found. Tony Blair ignored those findings, instead stating that it was his "unequivocal view" that Iraq was in breach of prior resolutions. As a result, a sexed-up version of the opinion, with all caveats, qualifications, and doubt removed, was presented to Parliament and used as the basis for war.
But it wasn't just Parliament. Blair mushroomed his cabinet, and responded to his armed forces with lies. In the process, he exposed each and every one of them to legal risk. But there is no doubt on whose shoulders the responsibility really lies: Tony Blair's. British voters should remember that when they go to the polls next week.