Five days after 9/11 I covered a parliamentary occasion finishing with the words: "...there was something in Mr Straw's manner which made me say, 'God, they're going to invade Iraq'."
I got the same sort of frisson halfway through Tony Blair's evidence yesterday as he repeated with quivering earnestness and his bionic eye glaring, that "ANY possibility of WMD should be stopped" and "don't take ANY risks with this issue", and "Iran is very similar situation [to Iraq], which is why these lessons are so important".
The lessons he's learnt aren't quite what we might have hoped. He can't admit error. So he has to rearrange ever larger events to fit in with the things he has chosen to believe.
Decent old Chilcot began by saying two new documents had been declassified. Terrific, one would be the devastating Manning Memo, leaked some years ago, and now all over the internet. One of Blair's big advisers had met with Condi Rice before the Crawford signed-in-blood meeting, and he reported this: "I said that you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a Parliament and... public opinion."
Incredibly, that's still classified. It's a state secret that everybody can read.
Google the full text and in six seconds you'll see things the Inquiry can't mention. It's a line directly into Blair's brain and backs up his Fern Britton interview. Confronted with that text he couldn't have got away saying, "I didn't use the words 'regime change'".
The memo makes it impossible to believe him when he says: "I really hoped 1441 would avoid conflict."
There isn't space for full denunciation of the committee but as ever, they really didn't nail it. Here are some other remarks.
"I can't remember any specific conversations" with Lord Goldsmith in the weeks before he came to his "better view".
The 45-minute claim he wrote in the foreword to his dossier? "I didn't focus on it."
"The planning for the aftermath of war was good."
"Saddam threatened the world."
"I didn't say it was 'beyond doubt' I said 'I believed' it was beyond doubt."
He finished with the only clear lie of the day. He had no regrets. That can't be true. Too many dead for zero regrets, surely. And some of their parents there in the room behind him. But there it was: no regrets, only responsibilities. They'll like that in the US. The world is his moral gymnasium. We can only pray that his new fitness regime doesn't kill too many of our friends.Reuse content