Wednesday 27 January 2010


Tony Blair got the OK to invade Iraq after the Attorney General was told by US lawyers that he was wrong to oppose the war.

Peter Goldsmith told the Chilcott Inquiry that he changed his advice a few weeks before war broke out after meetings with American legal advisors. He had previously warned that UN resolution 1441 did not provide a legal basis for overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

He changed his mind in February 2003 after evidence from American officials including Condoleezza Rice. Goldsmith said their description of the negotiations that lead to the Security Council resolution helped convince him that a second resolution was not required.

In his initial draft opinion, which he gave to Blair on January 14, Goldsmith warned that he thought a further resolution authorising the use of force was necessary. He said the change of decision rested on the interpretation of “two or three” words in resolution 1441.

Goldsmith gave his “provisional advice” to Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, on February 27 which said there was a “reasonable case that a second resolution was not necessary.”

So says The Times in its coverage of the Chilcot inquiry.

It occurs to me that the reason that there is an Attorney General is that he is available to give legal advice on matters pertaining to English legal matters to the cabinet. My question would be, why it was necessary for him to be told that he was wrong by the Americans, and if we are going to listen to American interpretation of law, why do the English/Welsh/Northern Irish pay for their own Attorney General? In these hard times would it not be a good idea to ditch the post, save the millions that running his department costs and let the Americans tell them what to do?

The next point is that Mr Goldsmith was Attorney General for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As Scottish soldiers were involved in going to war and Scottish people in funding it, would it not have been good to have some advice from a Scottish equivalent (Advocate General for Scotland)? Or were we not important enough?

But my real conculsion is that old Peter is telling porkies here, and that the truth is that, after having given advice that Tony Blair did not want to hear, Mr Goldsmith was ambushed in the corridor by Alistair Campbell and that big fat bruiser Charlie Falconer, and told that it would be in his best interests (wink wink) if he rethought his advice.... After all, reading the stuff in the picture above, he doesn't sound like a very honourable sort of bloke does he?



  1. He didn't clear much up did he?

    I'm wondering if Sir John Chilcot is going to be the patsy we were all expecting. I can't understand how Gordon Brown et al were not able to get someone who is more sugestable. He better watch out if he does not get with the picture PDQ he wont get his bottom on a red baize chair.

  2. If he doesn't measure up that might be the least of his worries....

    I saw him laugh out loud yesterday when that lady lawyer from the Foreign Affairs Ministry muttered something very cutting about Jack Strawman NOT being an INTERNATIONAL lawyer.

    I wouldn't be taking any walks in the woods or up mountains any time soon Mr Chilcot.

  3. It was a slick performance. Very well rehearsed too. Of course we all know the writing had been on the wall for months - the US was going to war.

    No we know just how much Blair humiliated the name of these islands by whoring them, aided and abetted by Campbell and crew, to his pal Bush.

  4. All these politicians, most of whom are lawyers, getting up there and lying through their teeth about how it was nothing to do with them, and they did thier best, and there was no career management in it....


    President Bush was running the country. Blair was terrified to go against him for fear of being treated like what he really was....a small European prime minister of absolutely no import whatsoever........

  5. Tris,

    I agree that the behaviour of some of these cabinet ministers is simply unacceptable. They seek to extract themselvres from responsibility, such self serving behaviour is hardly fitting for a minister of Her Majesty's government.

    That said, I fail to see what is so shocking about any of this. Iraq was controvercial, and agree or disagree it has happened, and it is nearly a closed book by now. Was it legal? We will never get a definitive answer to that because the UN resolutions in question are too vague- this is what happens when we allow politicians to write these resolutions themselves. They will always use the vagaries of diplomatic 'politispeak'.

    I say that lawyers should draft future Resolutions, and politicans will have to adapt to the legalistic wording of the law. This way in the future there can be no room where we can go to war because of 'a few words'.

    That said, I do not accept the war was illegal. Though I accept there is a seperate debate to be had about the relative morality of the whole affair.

  6. I think, Dean, that all these things are done by banks and banks of international lawyers. Of course it is politicians and civil servants who present them, (but most of them appear to be lawyers anyway), and of course they are advised by other lawyers.

    The thing to do in these matters is to be vague so that you can then interpret them anyway you want to, for whatever purpose.

    In this case clearly Goldsmith (a lawyer) and Straw (a lawyer), were told by Blair (a lawyer) and Falconer (a lawyer) to do what Bush (an idiot) and Cheney (the devil incarnate) wanted them to do....

    It’s called politics. Simples!

    Morality...... hmmmm..... nope, I've checked. That's something they talk lots about and do nothing about......