Memorandum from Richard Heller
I was glad to hear that the Select Committee
is to hold an inquiry into the pre-war assessments of the threat
from Saddam Hussein and their public presentation. I hope you
will not mind a few suggestions for lines of questioning. I hope
that they do not go wide of the Committee's terms of reference.
(1) When did the Prime Minister first commit
Britain, in principle, to participate in an armed attack on Iraq?
What discussion did he have with the Americans on the justification
for such an attack?
(2) What conditions, if any, did he set
for the actual engagement of our forces (eg did he say "with
the support of a UN resolution" or "on internationally
accepted proof that Saddam was in possession of weapons of mass
(3) Arising from (2) did the Prime Minister
hold out to the American administration any kind of promise, or
express a high degree of confidence, that the UN would in fact
authorize war to enforce the resolutions on WMD?
(4) Did the Prime Minister consider the
possibility that the allies had already secured effective control
over Saddam Hussein by the return of the UN weapons inspectors
and the threat of war? Did he ever present the case for maintenance
of this containment policy to the American administration (if
necessary by presenting it as a great victory for American determination)?
(5) Was there any discussion by the allies
of a making a humanitarian case for military action against Saddam
Hussein, as an alternative to WMD? They took no action to enforce
UN resolution 57/2332 on human rights in Iraq before the war and
it was not mentioned in the Attorney General's legal defence of
the war. The humanitarian case has been developed after the war:
it is of course incompatible with the case based on weapons of
(6) Was the Attorney General invited to
review the quality of the intelligence assessments before they
were published as dossiers, given that they might be needed as
evidence to justify war?
(7) What provision did the allies make for
the capture, secure control and investigation of alleged sites
of weapons of mass destruction in the planning of the war itself,
and the presentation of any discoveries to the United Nations
and international opinion?
There are two more fundamental questions to
be answered about the war.
First, did the government ever consider a policy
of "reasoned opposition" to the American plans for war
in Iraq, and how to communicate it to the American people and
Congress? Such opposition could have enjoyed widespread support
in the United States given Tony Blair's high reputation as an
ally after September 11 and the Afghan war. He might have said
"We understand the administration's case but we still think
it better that the allies continue to fight directly against Osama
Bin Laden and other terrorist groups, and to complete the unfinished
business in Afghanistan." Did he consider alternative uses
for British forces, in support of American and Western objectives,
in other theatres beside Iraq? (This is a particularly interesting
question in view of Sir Michael Boyce's statement that after Iraq
the British army is incapable of fighting another major war for
Second, what benefit for Britain did the Prime
Minister seek, and actually obtain, from our participation in
the war? The Americans would have fought the war without us.
All its declared benefitsending the threat from Saddam,
liberating the Iraqi peoplewould have happened without
us. What difference did Britain make to the outcome of the war?
9 June 2003