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back to article ICO tells Cabinet Office to release Iraq docs

The Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has told the Cabinet Office that it must release documents relating to Cabinet debates over the invasion of Iraq. The order refers to discussions between 7 and 17 March 2003 when the Attorney General's advice on the legality of any invasion was discussed. This decision potentially goes …

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Bronze badge

dodgy documents?

Is that with 'revision marks' on or off?

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Shredded

...long since, surely?

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Alien

It won't do any good

Blair's a liar, not stupid. If there was anything incriminating to be said he would not have said it during official minuted meetings.

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Silver badge

Want to bet

That not one of Blair's Cabinet colleagues dared speak up against the proposal for war?

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Unhappy

Tony Bliar is a trator and should face war crimes

We invaded Iraq and countless innocent people died for NO GOOD REASON because Tony Blair deceived parliament and betrayed the trust of the British people by making out that battlefield weapons were actually weapons of mass distruction. As Lord Butler himself pointed out, Tony Blair claimed that the infamous intelligence dossier (which had already been spun out of proportion as a result of 10 downing street interference) actually said something that it did NOT say. Tony Blair told the nation at the dispatch box that the intelligence was extensive, detailed and authoritative that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that could be used against us within 45 minutes, when in actuality the very intelligence that he was referring to was thin and patchy that there were even battlefield weapons. Even if Saddam Hussein had such weapons, there was no indication that he was spontaniously intending to use them (unlike us).

Apart from making the poor Iraqi people suffer even more, the officially illegal invasion of Iraq has only served to pour vast quantities of oil upon the flame of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. It is almost as though Tony Blair and George Bush actually wanted to create a new threat in a post cold war era in order to satisfy one of the requirements of the neo-conservative political ideology. Or maybe SOMEONE simply had to pay for 9/11 even if they had nothing to do with it (I note that George Bush's oil buddy Osama is still free). Either way, we are all less safe as a result.

Most people go to prison for needlessly killing lots of innocent people, but Tony Blair was offerred a Congressional Medal of Honor. As far as I am concerned, Tony Blair is a deluded murderer who didn't even have the decency to admit that he was wrong. People like him make me ashamed to be a member of the human race.

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Non-disclosure

"However the ICO does allow for the non-disclosure of "a number of specific references... likely to have a detrimental effect on international relations." These can be kept secret."

So, they'll disclose the stuff we already know and redact the parts we're actually interested in. No surprise there then. The fact that it was an illegal invasion is obviously going to be detrimental to international relations.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mike

Not a pop at you, but don't forget that Robin Cook resigned from the Cabinet rather than have blood on his hands.

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@Tony Bliar is a trator and should face war crimes

Spot-on, Chris. Every word.

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Thumb Up

@Chris

Agreed.

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Anonymous Coward

Shredding, Release and Redaction

Having some experience with government documents, I can assure you they don't just get shredded willy-nilly. This is not Enron. Although we may, from time to time, disagree strongly with Government decisions, Government members, and the civil servants supporting them, are not so irresponsible, negligent or criminal as to shred documents that by law must be filed and archived. Any shredding that does occur is routine destruction of duplicates (non-primary records) once the matter is concluded and an agency goes to archive its files.

Cabinet documents would never be shredded - there's no way that would happen since too many people are involved in the process and the civil servants are most professional. Individual intelligence assessments or private letters from one member to another may be another thing, but even they are very unlikely to 'disappear' - they're simply not released and/or not referred to.

Most of the arguments will come down to what can lawfully be withheld (or redacted) and what must be released (or is chosen to be released by a Government member or Cabinet). That is where 'politics' comes into play.

The easiest way to prevent release yet fulfill one's obligations (and stay within the law) is to keep to discrete correspondence rather than voluminous reports and file said correspondence on disparate files with vague titles*, which are archived as soon as possible. And then, of course, you get the "I have no recollection of any such file" argument. I've never done such a thing, but I've been on the other end, trying to piece together a project's activities from archive material ...... not easy.

(* Files are usually created by central admin staff based on a form request - they sometimes reject a request because the title is either vague or mirrors an existing file).

With respect to the Cabinet documents in question, it's a breath of fresh air that the ICO has instructed that material be released at all.

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Flame

@Chris

meh.....

to be honest I think the reasoning for Iraq was wrong but the actual fact we did it was not. Heck I support us doing something about Zimbabwe... with force if necessary. So stop with the damn complaining and get on with your life.

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@chris

actuley it has allways confused me say what you like about tony (and I have lots of times) he loved popularity but the war was unpopler so why did he do it.

all the rest of the time he was a slave to public opinion why did he go against it this time?

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Blairs 'Blood debt' earns him £7 million

After struggling all his life to become more powerful, wealthy and famous his retirement would have been his first loss of power. His betrayal of the British people ensured his personal power - in effect he was already working for free as for the corporations that now enrich him. A nice smile and the constant protestions of 'sincerity' were traits Tony shared with Ted Bundy, and I bet Shipman had a nice bedside manner. Sociopathic traits that are common in successful politicians lead to sociopathic policy. 92% of the public were against war without a UN resolution so Bush allowed Blair to opt-out of the war but Blair chose to sacrifice other peoples children . His decision to go to invade and any crimes the occupation has been carried out in Iraq, should mean that he is tried in a British court, though since that hasn't happened then in the International Criminal Court.

Over a million Iraqis have died and hundreds of British troops. Regardless of whether you think Blair sincere or not, if even the negligence of a company director led to the death of hundreds of employees, they would be charged in any truly independent court.

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How long before the CPS get interested?

The sub-text here of course is that members of the Government may have exceeded their authority and committed a crime. That's pretty unlikely, because UK law gives the PM very wide discretion to basically do whatever he likes. However, we have signed up for the ICC, which means (at least in theory) that politicians who breach some "international laws" should be prosecuted.

So, how much evidence do we need before the CPS is compelled to take an interest?

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