Jack Straw’s Biggest Lie 94


I was a British Ambassador at the time of the events covered by the Iraq Inquiry. I know many of the witnesses and a great deal of the background. I can therefore see right through the smooth presentation. Jack Straw was the smoothest of all – but he told lie after lie.

Straw’s biggest and most important lie goes right to the heart of the question of whether the war was legal. Did UN Security Council Resolution 1441 provide a legal basis for the invasion, or would a second resolution specifically authorising military action have been required? The UK certainly put a massive amount of diplomatic effort into obtaining a second resolution.

Here is Straw’s argument that the invasion was legal without a second resolution:

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Then you make a point very strongly in your statement and this has been confirmed by Sir Jeremy Greenstock that you did not believe that

military action thereafter, in the event of noncompliance, would depend on a second resolution. It would be desirable but it wasn’t dependent on that. We are not, today, going into the legal arguments on that. Sir Jeremy’s basic contention was that he had got the Americans and British into a comparable position as before Desert Fox in December 1998. So I think that’s

quite important, that your understanding, at least of the position, was that it wasn’t absolutely essential to have a second resolution.

RT HON JACK STRAW: I was not in any doubt about that and neither was Jeremy Greenstock, and for very good reasons, which is that there had been talk by the French and Germans of a draft which would have required a second resolution, but they never tabled it. We tabled a draft, which, as I set out in this memorandum, and which Sir Jeremy Greenstock confirms in his memorandum, was aimed to be selfcontained, in the sense that, if very important conditions were met through failures by the Saddam regime, that of itself would provide sufficient authority for military action, and no doubt the next time we will get into the wording of the resolution, which, as I say in this memorandum, I can virtually recite in my sleep, but there are reasons why in OP12 we use the language that we do, and serious consequences are mentioned in OP13 and so on. For sure, we wanted a second resolution after that and well, again, I set out

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We will come on to that in a moment.

http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/43198/100121pm-straw.pdf

As Ambassador in an Islamic country, I was copied all or nearly all of the telegrams of instruction on the diplomatic efforts to secure a second resolution. I can tell you these facts as an eye-witness.

Straw argues that the proof that no second resolution was needed is that

I was not in any doubt about that and neither was Jeremy Greenstock, and for very good reasons, which is that there had been talk by the French and Germans of a draft which would have required a second resolution, but they never tabled it.

But they did not table it because we gave assurances to the French and Germans (and Russians and Chinese) that our draft of UNSCR 1441 did not authorise military action. The instructions were to inform those governments that UNSCR 1441 contained “no automatic trigger” which would lead to military action. I remember the phrase precisely “no automatic trigger”. Rod Lyne on the committee must remember it too, because he was one of the people, as Ambassador in Moscow, instructed to give that message.

It is the most perverse of lies by Straw to argue that the fact that the Germans and French did not table their draft proved that 1441 authorised war, when we had told them not to table their draft because 1441 did not authorise war.

I read with enormous care and in real time every single word of the scores of telegrams on the effort to secure the second resolution. Not one word gave any hint at all that a second resolution might not be necessary to authorise war. There was absolutely no mention in telegrams to Embassies of the notion that UNSCR 1441 was a sufficient basis for war, and no second resolution needed, until many weeks after 1441 was passed, just before the invasion.

STOP PRESS ADDITION

In response to New Labour hacks questioning my word, I can offer you irrefutable evidence to back up my own evidence that all the FCO material at the time of the adoption of UNSCR 1441 and for weeks afterwards right up until March, took the view that UNSCR 1441 did not provide legal grounds for the invasion.

It is the resignation letter of Deputy FCO Legal Adviser Elizabeth Wilmshurst in which she stated:

“I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force against Iraq without a second Security Council resolution to revive the authorisation given in SCR 678. I do not need to set out my reasoning; you are aware of it.

My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of UN security council resolution 1441 and with what the attorney general gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March. (The view expressed in that letter has of course changed again into what is now the official line.) “

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4377605.stm

All FCO instructions in the period to which I refer would have had to be in line with the view expressed by FCO legal advisers at that time. That view was precisely as I have stated it above.

This part of Straw’s evidence is therefore a huge lie.

There were numerous other minor lies from Straw. It is completely untrue that we had persuaded the three African security council members to support a second resolution authorising war. Baroness’ Amos mission to Francophone states we had ignored for years was a miserable failure. That was clear from reporting telegrams from posts.

It’s a small point, but Straw’s lie that upset me most personally was:

I don’t in the least mind people disagreeing with me, indeed I encourage it, but I do ask them to be loyal, because, otherwise, you can’t operate any kind of governmental system.

I disagreed with Straw, over the issue of the use of torture to gain intelligence in the “War on Terror”. I was very loyal. I kep my disagreement entirely internal and argued it in top secret telegrams and internal policy meetings. As a result of my disagreeing, Straw attempted to have me framed on false charges, destroying my health in the process and leaking false accusations to the tabloids to ruin my reputation too. When my name was finally cleared, they had to give me six year’s salary to settle.

I defy anyone to read Murder in Samarkand and say Straw is not a liar.


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94 thoughts on “Jack Straw’s Biggest Lie

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  • Jon

    @eddie, you were being nearly reasonable in the other thread, but to persist with the questioning about professional misconduct when you know this is not true is a bit much for someone who claims to stick to the facts.

    Yes, still playing at amateur psychologist – I take that as a complement. I think the exercise is worthwhile, in the wider case at least.

    For what it is worth, I have replied to you on the other thread.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Craig,

    I must read your book as suggested – but thank-you for your stance and information. I wish you had copies of the correspondence. I hope to try and get another statement from Elizabeth; before she appears on Tuesday.

    I have the problem that I think Lord Goldsmith will interject to swing the scales towards legality at his interrogation if pushed. Here is the argument.

    Lord Bingham, one of Britain’s most distinguished jurists, is of course right: the invasion of Iraq was illegal because no UN Security Council resolution expressly authorised it.

    What follows from that? None of the consequences which Lord Bingham claimed follow – as you can see by considering the case of Nato’s bombing of Serbia in 1999. Nato’s “invasion of Serbia’s national sovereignty” was certainly illegal under international law. It was not endorsed by the UN Security Council and, unlike the invasion of Iraq, there was no Security Council resolution which could even remotely plausibly be interpreted as justifying it. Indeed, there was no UN Security Resolution at all. That was because at least two permanent members of the council, China and Russia, had stated publicly that they would veto one.

    Britain and the US nevertheless thought it important to stop Serbia from massacring Kosovans, so they decided to bomb Serbia in order to persuade the Serbian government to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Since they could not get a UN Security Council resolution endorsing that action, they simply went ahead without one.

    Were they wrong to do so? Lord Bingham is committed to the position that they were: in his terms, the action, as a violation of the international legal order, qualified as reversion to “the rule of the jungle”. But Goldsmith has indicated that far from destroying international moral order, Nato’s illegal action bolstered it. As a result of the bombing, hundreds of thousands of Kosovars were spared the awful fate the Serbs were preparing for them; Slobodan Milosevic, the tyrant ruling the country, was forced from power; and Serbia itself attempted to behave like a responsible member of the international community.

    I am playing devil’s advocate of course and I am interested in Craig’s response.

    I will fight tooth and nail for Anthony Blair be held jointly responsible for this massacre – I owe it to the children of Iraq for whom I have pledged justice.

  • eddie

    Craig. Wiki says you were charged with gross misconduct and then left the FCO. It does not say you were cleared of gross misconduct. If this is the case then I suggest that you update wiki. If not, I suggest you tell us what actually happened. Just to be clear, you and others on here are CONSTANTLY saying that Blair is a war criminal and yet he has NEVER been either charged or found guilty of anything, so I think your defence is slightly hypocritical, don’t you. One rule for you and another for Blair?

  • eddie

    George Laird I think the 9th word on your website probably sums it up. If you can’t be arsed to explain in words of one syllable why your human rights have been compromised I don’t see that I can bothered to read your tedious website.

    Jon the spelling is compliment.

  • eddie

    And Craig, I know enough about employment law to understand that, if someone is charged with gross misconduct and they choose not to stay and fight such charges but instead choose to bugger off with a significant payoff that, as the old saying goes, there is no smoke without fire. You know full well that employers will often take this option, even when they know that their case is cast iron, just to avoid all the hassle and publicity of an ET. So why did you choose to go exactly? I accept that you were not “sacked for incompetence” but as near as.

  • George Laird

    Dear Eddie

    The 9th word on my website starting from the top, going left to right is ‘in’.

    My blog is in?

    What does that mean?

    Is it rude to ask, did you finish school?

    Finally,can I ask you to stop being rude to me.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

    ps the 18th word is s**t, rather like your ability to count

  • Ruth

    Eddie,

    What are your motives in attacking Craig so personally and in doing so diverting attention away from the real issues under discussion?

    Are you an employee of HM or a mate of Tim Spicer or what?

  • Craig

    Eddie,

    Wikipedia “In January 2004, the FCO, after a four-month investigation exonerated him of all 18 charges, but reprimanded him for speaking about the charges.”

    I did stay for the entire investigation procedure. I was cleared on all charges after a full formal process and a hearing. I am sorry, but anything else your New Labour pals tell you is not true.

    Would you want to continue to work for an employer who was colluding in torture, and who had tried to frame you on charges some of which were very grave and criminal?

    Their efforts to frame me failed. That is why they were forced to give me six years salary as severance.

    Now how about forgetting the diversion and discussing the subject of the Post?

  • eddie

    That is rather disingenuous of you Craig. A few sentences later Wiki says this:

    “A few days later he was charged with “gross misconduct” by the FCO[19]. Having negotiated a settlement whereby he was paid six years’ salary payment in compensation, Murray agreed to resign from the FCO in February 2005″

    If that is untrue I suggest you get it changed. As I say, a charge of gross misconduct would not be made lightly. So why did you decide to go and not fight if you were innocent? And why is it ok for you to accuse Blair of being a war criminal when he has neither been charged nor convicted, yet it is NOT ok for me to suggest that you were sacked for incompetence when you WERE charged with gross misconduct? Double standards son. The subject of the post is that you and those like you are wasting your time. This is the fifth inquiry and you are getting increasingly desperate. It’s like the old debate about angels on a pinhead, you are struggling for semantic justification for your point of view.

    George you must be reading a different website. The 8th word is Uni and the 9th is Shit on the site I am reading. And you still haven’t answered the question about human rights. You are involved in the campaign for human rights AT glasgow university. So again, what human rights abuses have been perpetrated at glasgow university exactly? Can’t you answer a simple question?

  • Richard Robinson

    Oh for God’s sake, eddie. I’m not suprised people are questioning your motives. To say the least, you show considerable discourtesy to your host.

  • mike cobley

    The ad hominem attack is hardly surprising. New Labour (including most of its mouthpieces) has become a heartless, dead-eyed machine staffed with the soulless minions of orthodoxy. Hundreds of thousands of human beings died in Iraq as a direct consequence of the Blair government’s actions for which they express not a scintilla of remorse, guilt or shame. The performances of Hoon, Campbell, Blair et al, constitues a mere dance of politesse dressed up as a Serious Inquiry. If Chilcot had had the slightest ability (or indeed purpose) to question harshly and issue legal censure, Blair wouldn’t have gone near it with the proverbial. Thus it is ultimately worthless.

    Sure, history will show them up for the gory charlatans they are, but that’s too late for my liking.

  • Ruth

    The government and its agencies have a habit of not only smearing people, charging people and even convicting people who threaten them.

  • eddie

    Richard Robinson Well it’s easy to evade the question if you choose not to respond to difficult points. I didn’t realise that one was supposed to be courteous to the owners of websites. Perhaps someone should tell CiF. He hasn’t been very courteous to his former hosts, and the fact that this site is funded by taxpayer’s money suggests to me that he has no monopoly on courtesy.

    Mike Cobley – yawn. You sound like yet another scratched record. Genocide, war criminal, illegal, Bliar, etc etc (cont p 94) yawn. Time for bed.

    Anyway I’m off to the pub to meet some real people.

  • Owen Lee Hugh-Mann

    John Rent-Tool’s grinning death mask has been appearing a lot on recent discussion programmes, acting as an apologist and propagandist not only for Blair but also the banks in recent days. Now that Obama has given detailed proposals to curb the obscene excesses of the latter, New “Labour” are having to invent new excuses for their total lack of action.

  • Craig

    Eddie

    I was charged with 18 counts of gross misconduct in July 2003, after in 2002 and 2003 querying the policy of obtaining intelligence from torture.

    Those charges of gross misconduct were fully investigated and a hearing held. I was found not guilty on all counts in Jan 2004.

    In Sept 2004 one of my telegrams condemning the use of intelligence from torture was leaked to the Financial Times (not by me). I was immediately dismissed as Ambassador because of this.

    I had already told the FCO that if I were dismissed as Ambassador I would resign from the FCO. So when I was dismissed as Ambssador, I immediately went on the Today programme to tell the whole story.

    The new charge of “Gross Misconduct” you refer to was purely for appearing on the Today programme and telling people about intelligence from torture, after I had already decided to resign.

    I then proceeded to take legal and trade union advice on fighting the FCO for constructive dismissal, which given their earlier efforts to frame me with ludicrous allegations of visas for sex, would have been extremely embarassing to them. So they offered me 6 years salary to settle.

    At the time I had been diagnosed as having between six months and three years to live. I needed the cash for my family, so I accepted as I was not expected to have a good chance to live to see the case through.

    I said to you a year ago that if you really wanted to intervene on behalf of New Labour every time I came up with a pretty damning post, and try again to smear my reputation, then the least you might do is actually read Murder in Samarkand.

    The fact that you won’t is to me sufficient evidence that you don’t actually hold any of the values of the original Labour Party founders, which you claim to espouse.

  • Tim

    You don’t have to read secret telegrams:

    “We heard loud and clear during the negotiations the concerns about “automaticity” and “hidden triggers” – the concern that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action; that on a decision so crucial any Iraqi violations should be discussed by the Council. Let me be equally clear in response, as one of the co-sponsors of the text we have adopted. There is no “automaticity” in this Resolution”

    Sir Jeremy Greenstock (November 8, 2002). [http://www.un.org/webcast/unitedkingdom110802.htm “Explanation of Vote by Sir Jeremy Greenstock KCMG, United Kingdom Permanent Representative”]. United Nations Secretariat. http://www.un.org/webcast/unitedkingdom110802.htm.

  • Steelback

    Craig’s recollection of the run-up to the attack on Iraq is spot on.

    “Automaticity” was the key word and the one used to dupe the reluctant signatories to Resolution 1441.The machinations of Greenstock at the UN and Goldsmith in London were vomit-inducing.

    Inernational law is perceived by such actors to be a malleable tool pressed into the service of long-term geopolitical strategy which employs war as its major instrument.

    The UN is their ultimate stage.The place where their deception and duplicity,their inducements and threats come into their own.Manipulations,bribes and murders are run in tandem with the promotional work for war conducted at the UN in NY.

    It was ever thus.The League was designed by those who saw war as central to their plans for a final Pax Judaica.

    http://sweeetliberty.org/perspective/jewishpersecution4.html

    Straw,and now Milliband,work to the same game-plan.

  • Tim

    You don’t have to read secret telegrams:

    “We heard loud and clear during the negotiations the concerns about “automaticity” and “hidden triggers” – the concern that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action; that on a decision so crucial any Iraqi violations should be discussed by the Council. Let me be equally clear in response, as one of the co-sponsors of the text we have adopted. There is no “automaticity” in this Resolution”

    Sir Jeremy Greenstock (November 8, 2002). [http://www.un.org/webcast/unitedkingdom110802.htm “Explanation of Vote by Sir Jeremy Greenstock KCMG, United Kingdom Permanent Representative”]. United Nations Secretariat. http://www.un.org/webcast/unitedkingdom110802.htm.

  • mike cobley

    Hoowhee, wot a card that Eddie is, eh? “You sound like yet another scratched record. Genocide, war criminal, illegal, Bliar, etc etc (cont p 94) yawn.” Well, let me tell you, sir, I thought we’d heard some cracking examples of callous irrationality from you but…damn, you’ve surpassed yourself! I can just imagine you round at your pub, sharing your online derring-do with your chums – “Genocide… bwah hah hah hah … war criminal … ho ho hee hee hee har Har Har….illegal…and then I said ‘continued p94….HAAARGH HAAARGH HAAARGH!”

    Oh man, I can barely keep the chuckles of wonderment from my lips. But hey, maybe your iridescent prose is being read this very moment by someone in Iraq, maybe someone who lost a son or a mother, and I’m sure they’re reaction will be as clear cut as you’d expect.

    And with my special writer’s powers, I can actually predict your response to this comment of mine. Yes….it goes something like this….

    “Yaah … bombs falling on restaurants …. huh, phht …. bombs on marketplaces …. heh heh hur hur … blood spattered pavements …. ho ho heh heh … body parts …. Har Har HAAAAAH HAAAAAAH (honk snort)…”

    I can’t wait for your next lesson in humanity.

  • dreoilin

    “So why go ‘off topic’ in an attempt to slur character?”

    And why now, considering Eddie’s been around for so long?

  • Richard Robinson

    “Richard Robinson Well it’s easy to evade the question if you choose not to respond to difficult points.”

    Lancet !

    Lancet !!

    Lancet !!!

    FFS. I hope you _are_ getting paid, the way you humiliate yourself.

    Don’t worry, I won’t address you further.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    “It is the most perverse of lies by Straw to argue that the fact that the Germans and French did not table their draft proved that 1441 authorised war, when we had told them not to table their draft because 1441 did not authorise war.”

    Brilliant!

  • writerman

    Craig,

    What on earth are you doing engaging in a “debate” with this chap “eddie” for? His personal attacks on your character are beneath contempt, and should be answered with merely a shrug and disdain. I realize this is easy for me to say, and that it’s damned irritating to be smeared and compared to fucking war criminal like Blair by this… this twit.

    On a more serious note. I too remember the attempt to smear Chirac and twist and edit his words, to provide an excuse or cover-story for the collapsed attempt to railroad the security council into passing a second resolution which would have been prostituted and spun into a justification for war with Iraq.

    Chirac never said France would veto *any* second resolution for always, therefore, according to the UK, there was no point anymore in going down the UN route because France would use it’s veto no matter what. This was an absolutely outrageous twisting of what was really happening. Truly shameful, and so easily refuted, if only the UK media had bothered to look at what Chirac actually said, surely french is that much of barrier, even among the hacks?

    France, like most others knew that the UK and the US was intent on attacking Iraq, no matter what. Their tactic was to try and delay any decision in the securiyt council until the inspectors had time to report back that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Only the UK and US never wanted the inspectors to finish their work, because they too knew what the result would be. The UK and the US knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. All that was just propaganda for the public, the media, and parliament.

    Chirac never said he wouldn’t support an attack on Iraq under any circumstances, or use the veto to protect Iraq if it was shown that they had weapons of mass destruction. Yet the myth and lie continues still.

    Surely the Chilcot committee has the resources to examine Chiracs statements and confront Straw over this? But then it would have to be an impartial, competent, and fair enquiry, dedicated at revealing the truth, instead of what it is, the opposite.

  • Owen Lee Hugh-Mann

    “International law is perceived by such actors to be a malleable tool pressed into the service of long-term geopolitical strategy which employs war as its major instrument.” Steelback.

    Too true. Sadly, International Law is often just the Law of the Jungle, which, being a subsection of the Laws of Nature, is merely descriptive of reality, (reality as in Realpolitik), rather than prescriptive or proscriptive.

  • an ornery person

    “In his first six years, Blair had ordered British troops into battle five times ?” more than any other prime minister in history”.

    Hmmm. Curious that Blair is an even bigger warmonger than PMs who were managing the largest empire the planet has ever seen.

    “I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people … and if you believe in God, it’s made by God as well.”

    “In an interview with Michael Parkinson broadcast on ITV1 on 4 March 2006, Blair referred to the role of his Christian faith in his decision to go to war in Iraq, stating that he had prayed about the issue, and saying that God would judge him for his decision”.

    I’m just an ordinary bloke and all, and don’t know much about politics, but shouldn’t society be protected from nutters like this.

    I mean, it’s not as if like he don’t have a lot of previous and all…

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