increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war “to put pressure on the regime” was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.
The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began “spikes of activity” designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.
The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was “not consistent with” UN law, despite American claims that it was.
The decision to provoke the Iraqis emerged in leaked minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair and his most senior advisers — the so-called Downing Street memo published by The Sunday Times shortly before the general election.
Democratic congressmen claimed last week the evidence it contains is grounds for impeaching President George Bush.
Those at the meeting on July 23, 2002, included Blair, Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, and Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of MI6. The minutes quote Hoon as saying that the US had begun spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime.
Needless to say, the righties are going all out to claim that the Downing Street Memo is a forgery. Which is odd, considering that several attendees of the meeting have confirmed that it's genuine. And here are more confirmations. My daring prediction: that won't stop them from spreading the forgery claims.