Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jack Straw agrees to check records of secret calls to US over Iraq

·                                 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7020107.ece

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February 9, 2010

Jack Straw agrees to check records of secret calls to US over Iraq

Secret telephone calls between Jack Straw and Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State in the months before the war against Iraq, became the focus yesterday of the official inquiry into Britain’s decision to join the invasion.

Mr Straw, the former Foreign Secretary, said that he would check records of his conversations after it was suggested he had been told that President Bush would invade Iraq even if Saddam Hussein complied with inspectors.

Details of the calls emerged after Mr Straw had defended his decision to reject the advice of his chief legal adviser that the war would be unlawful.

Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, a military historian and a member of the Iraq Inquiry panel, hinted that documents seen by the inquiry — but not made public — showed that Mr Bush planned to attack Iraq even if Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector, said that Saddam was complying with United Nations resolution 1441. He asked: “Was there any point where Powell said to you that even if Iraq complied, President Bush had already made a decision to go to war?” Mr Straw, who is now the Justice Secretary, replied: “Certainly not to the best of my recollection. I would have to check the record of my many conversations I had with Secretary Powell.”

Inquiry officials said that the panel wanted to speak to members of Mr Bush’s Administration.

Tony Blair told an American television show yesterday that Britain was fixated by “conspiracy” theories over the Iraq war. He said: “There’s always got to be a scandal as to why you hold your view. There’s got to be some conspiracy behind it.”

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