He did tell us that Bush was trying to link Saddam to 9/11 within three days of the Twin Towers attack. That was interesting but we knew it.
Sir David Manning – one of the thousand-and-one knights giving his trusty evidence to Chilcot – also told us that by March 2002 Bush had set up a committee to prepare for war – just as Armando Iannucci had told us in his film In The Loop. So we sort of knew that too.
But then he said that Blair would "only act as part of a coalition through the UN". This was at the time of the Crawford meeting when Blair and Bush "signed in blood" their deal, as Sir Christopher Meyer put it.
That got our blood thumping.
The memo! Oh, boy he'd walked straight into it. Now we were going to see some inquisitorial action. Baroness Prashar would show him the instruments of torture and Manning would... She said nothing. She looked at him with her big goofy eyes and the mandarin wandered away with his story.
This was around the time Manning had written a memo to report on a dinner with Condi Rice ("Her enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed"). Regime change was hotly denied as a motive or objective by the PM and by his advisers. A bit too illegal for public taste. Manning's memo however proclaimed: "I said you would not budge in your support for regime change."
Wouldn't this get the Chilcoteers examining and cross-examining what that meant? On the one hand British policy was set firmly against regime change, on the other hand an official memo showed the prime minister actively but secretly supporting it. And here he was, the author of the memo in front of them, referring to that trip, that visit, that very dinner!
The Inquiry didn't enquire. Maybe it was ungentlemanly to quiz about something that had been dishonourably acquired.
They have "thousands of official documents". They keep saying it. That Manning memo must be among them. We've got it – they must have it too. And they ignore it.
What else have they got? They must have Lord Goldsmith's first legal advice. Are they going to ignore that, too?
Manning had a brilliant piece of administrative footwork to defend himself, by the way. Blair (unbudging in his support for regime change) wasn't supporting "regime change", he only wanted "disarmament". If Saddam disarmed it would all be so different in Iraq that it would count as regime change.
There must be some sort of award or decoration – the Manning Medal – for that. They can award it to the gallant secretariat who decide to go to war, at the same time men who have gone to war get theirs, what there is left of them.Reuse content