Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rumsfeld's Thank-You Note To Blair.

Iraq is a conflict told in part by the documents and memos that have leaked out over the last five years.
It was trademark Tony Blair. Speaking at the Labour Party spring conference on 15 February 2003 he made an impassioned case for military action in Iraq to a largely sceptical audience.

He spoke of "ridding the world of Saddam" and talked of the "bloody consequences" of inaction. And he acknowledged his stance was not universally shared. "I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour but sometimes it is the price of leadership and cost of conviction."

On the other side of the Atlantic was a man who did share his point of view. Someone who felt compelled to write a 'thank you' letter.

The note was penned by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and has not been seen by the public until now.

Read the Rumsfeld note to Blair

Click on the image below to open the document (PDF).


It was unearthed as a result of a Freedom of Information request by Channel 4 News online asking for correspondence between the two men in the three months leading up to the war.

Rumsfeld wrote: "Last week I was able to see a tape of your speech to your party conference. I had been told that it was a brilliant are providing superb leadership. "I congratulate you for it, I respect you for it, and I thank you for it." The letter, dated 5 March 2003, was the only document provided by the Cabinet Office in relation to our request.

Below, we present seven key documents that help paint the story of the Iraq war, its inception and its aftermath.

1. US spooks 'dirty tricks' campaign exposed

Reported: 2 March 2003
Dated: 31 January 2003

American spies were bugging UN Security Council delegates in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq.

The details were outlined in a memo written by a top official at the National Security Agency.

It read: "As you've likely heard by now, the Agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR of course) for insights as to how to membership is reacting to the on-going debate RE: Iraq"

Read the memo

2. Attorney general doubts legality of war

Reported: 27 April 2005
Dated: 7 March 2003

The doubts of the government's top legal advisor over the legal basis for war in Iraq were exposed by Channel 4 News.

Top secret documents - which the Government tried to suppress - detailed Lord Goldsmith's fears for impending conflict.

Watch our exclusive report

3. Downing Street Memo - conflict 'inevitable'

Reported: 1 May 2005
Dated: 23 July 2002

War in Iraq was considered "inevitable" by Blair - eight months before the invasion began, secret memos showed.

The documents detailed a meeting between Blair and his closest colleagues, in which Blair states his commitment to support US plans for "regime change" in Iraq.

The documents appear to show a decision had been made to go to war long before the public were informed or parliament consulted.

4. Downing Street warned of Iraq war terror link

Reported: 28 August 2005
Dated: 18 May 2004

Blair was warned the Iraq war was fuelling Muslim extremism in the UK a year before the London bombings.

A letter from top Foreign Office official Michael Jay said the conflict was having a damaging effect on relations with the Muslim community, something Blair had been keen to deny.

It read: "Colleagues have flagged up some of the potential underlying causes of extremism that can affect the Muslim community, such as discrimination, disadvantage and exclusion.

"But another recurring theme is the issue of British foreign policy, especially in the context of the Middle East peace process and Iraq."

5. Bush to Blair: First Iraq, then Saudi

Reported: 16 October 2005
Dated: January 2003

Bush told Blair two months before the invasion of Iraq that Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea may also be dealt with over weapons of mass destruction.

A secret Downing Street memo shows the US President told Blair that he "wanted to go beyond Iraq".

6. Bush's 'fake' plane plot

Reported: 2 February 2006
Dated: 31 January 2003

Bush floated the idea of using a 'fake' plane to lure Saddam into war, Channel 4 News revealed.

Confidential documents relating to a White House meeting between Bush and Blair showed the Americans had considered plans to fly a spy plane over Iraq - mocked up in UN colours - to try and goad Saddam into war.

Another memo stated that Blair, two months before the conflict, "stood solidly with the US President" in terms of going to war.

Watch our exclusive report

7. Iraq civil war warning for Blair

Reported: 3 August 2006
Dated: n/a

A bloody civil war was a more likely outcome in Iraq than democracy, Britain's outgoing ambassador in Baghdad warned.

The fears were voiced by William Patey in a secret memo to Blair. He also said the situation would be "messy" for five to 10 years.

8. Rumsfeld: US policy 'not working' in Iraq

Reported: 3 December 2006
Dated: 6 November 2006

Just two days before quitting as US Defense Secretary, Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged the strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major shake-up.

"In my view it is time for a major adjustment. Clearly, what US forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough," he wrote.

9. 'Dodgy dossier' exposed
Reported: 6 February 2003
Dated: n/a

The government's carefully co-ordinated propaganda offensive took an embarrassing hit when Downing Street was accused of plagiarism.

The target was an intelligence dossier detailing Iraqi's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Its claims were heralded by US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the UN.

Channel 4 News learned that the bulk of the 19 page document was copied from three different articles - one written by a graduate student.

It was not the up-to-the minute analysis of which the government had boasted.

Read it