Monday, February 09, 2004

Down the garden path

Following Bush's lead, Blair is adopting a "blame the spooks" strategy, claiming that he was led down the garden path by intelligence reports that incorrectly said that Saddam had WMDs and was an imminent threat to his neighbours or the world. The problem? The intelligence agencies said no such thing:

Tony Blair was sent three intelligence reports in the six months during the run up to the Iraq war, including one that warned him that information on whether Saddam Hussein still held any chemical or biological weapons was "inconsistent" and "sparse".


...the intelligence services had already reported, before the war began, that Iraq's ballistic missiles had probably been dismantled, and that the presence of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq was making it difficult for Iraq to threaten anyone with weapons of mass destruction.

In other words, the spies were properly cautious about the information they had, and were providing what is in hindsight a relatively accurate picture of events in Iraq. The British government ignored that picture, preferring to believe worst-case scenarios and lurid fantasies of vast stockpiles deployable "within 45 minutes". The only person who led Tony Blair down the garden path was Tony Blair himself.