Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cabinet 'Not Told of Secret War Plans'; Howard Says PM Lied to the Nation over Intelligence

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cabinet 'Not Told of Secret War Plans'; Howard Says PM Lied to the Nation over Intelligence

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW GILLIGAN;PAUL WAUGH

ROBIN COOK and Clare Short have revealed that the Cabinet were kept in the dark about secret plans to prepare Britain for war in Iraq.

The former ministers said a leaked Pentagon document obtained by the Evening Standard had underlined their belief that Tony Blair agreed an invasion with George Bush well before the conflict.

Their remarks came as Tory leader Michael Howard for the first time accused the Prime Minister of lying to the nation over the war and the intelligence that drove it.

Mr Cook and Ms Short, who both resigned from the Government over the conflict, seized on the fresh revelations that military planning took place nine months before the invasion.

The leaked Pentagon paper showed that British and American commanders took part in a highlevel planning conference in June 2002.

The coalition partners discussed sending British troops to Turkey as early as August 2002, in what would have been the first deployment of the conflict.

Yet three weeks after the military conference, Mr Blair denied to MPs that he was preparing for a possible invasion. Former Commons leader Mr Cook said the Cabinet had been as unaware as the public of the military planning. "It is of course no surprise in a sense that military preparations went back such a long way because we had to shift 40,000 troops to the Middle East by November and that takes serious planning," he said.

"But it does underline my belief that at some point early in 2002, George Bush and the Prime Minister had agreed on what to do. That also came out clearly in other papers leaked recently.

The Cabinet didn't see those either."

Ms Short went further, stating that the documents were further proof that Mr Blair had deceived the country in taking Britain into the war.

"We are now learning, by revelation on revelation, that Blair committed himself to go to war a year before it was agreed.

Tony Blair deceived his country and then managed us to get us there," she said. …

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