What we already know is damning enough. The UK went to war over Iraq because Bush wanted British support, and at the Crawford summit in April 2002, 11 months before the war started, Blair in effect committed to providing that, though the exact terms of that surrender to Bush still remain secret. The rationale for war however was not easy to find. Bush initially favoured saying Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the 9/11 attack, but there was no evidence for that whatsoever. So B;air settled on finding proof of large-scale activity by Iraq in WMD. However, since the UN inspectors left in 1998, the evidence was almost non-existent. The case put together for the ‘dodgy dossier’ in September 2002 was deeply flawed. The inventory of chemical and biological weapon parts which Blair presented to the Commons was weapons ‘unaccounted for’ after the first Gulf War 12 years before, but they were presented as weapons currently possessed by Saddam. The 45-minute claim referred to battlefield nuclear weapons, but when it was reported (perhaps on deliberate advice) as a much wider threat, no attempt was made to correct the mistake.
Then the claim was made in the dossier that Iraq tried to buy 500 tonnes of uranium yellowcake from Niger, even though it was already known from a visit to Niger by a former US ambassador 6 months before that the claim was wholly bogus. Then the claim was made by Blair in the Commons in February 2003 that the defection of Hussein Kamal, Saddam’s son-in-law, in 1995 had revealed “the offensive biological weapons and the full extent of the nuclear programme”, yet Newsweek found out that in his de-briefing Kamal had said exactly the opposite, namely that “all weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed”. The lies and massaging of data then finally produced the really big lie in the dossier that Saddam’s WMD programme was “active, detailed and growing” and the intelligence to support that judgement was “extensive, detailed and authoritative” when in fact Saddam had no WMD at all.
A man who could misuse and abuse the evidence to such a degree on an issue of such overriding critical importance for the nation was not worthy to be prime minister. It may be said that being sinuous with the truth is not lying, but it is certainly not open and honest. Or it may be said that deliberately presenting a seriously misleading account of the facts is not lying, but again it is not truthful or straightforward either. Maybe Chilcot will tell us more, perhaps how deeply cynical the exchanges were between Blair and Bush, perhaps how dismissive they were about any accountability to their cabinets, parliaments and peoples, and perhaps how cocky and over-confident they were that they could do it all alone. But the case against Blair and Bush is already overwhelming and conclusive: what is needed is not more details, but a determination to hold them to account for the crimes they have committed.