Afternoon session at Chilcot.
So it all went wrong when those pesky Iran and Al Qaeda outsiders got involved. Even though there was a 911 issue. But Al Qaeda? And the criminality! Who'd have guessed the blighters would have fought back? Blow me down, is that what happens when a country's infrastructure is allowed to collapse?
"The purpose of the people we were fighting was to wreck the reconstruction. Deliberately!" shock horror. "Nobody, but NOBODY, thought that Iran would end up supporting Al Qaeda because they both wanted to destabilise Iraq."
Blair's ingenue schtick continues to appall. It's like when he said he hadn't understood that the 45 minute mobilisation only applied to battlefield armaments and not long-range weapons, and simpered, "I wasn't watching closely". Even though the whole country was being whipped up into a pro-war mood by the threat of imminent attacks at the time?
You would have thought that would have been a good case for negligence and manslaughter at least. Chilcot broke for a tea-break with the blasé, "It might have been an expensive lesson, but one very necessary to learn." Blimey. I could have told you all that at the time. In fact I do believe many of us did.
The voice is huskier this afternoon. Repetition of BS will do that. Blair keeps insisting that "It's pretty clear" that the "spirit" of UN Resolution 1441 gave them the right to go to war. Au contraire, as the Dutch found the other week, 1441 pertains only to disarming, demanded proportionality, and never included the key phrase, "by all means necessary" allowing military force.
The afternoon session focuses on the legality of war and yet the only lawyer present is Blair. That's one reason the panel doesn't challenge him on whether UN resolution 1441 was about removing Saddam, which is what he's slipping in, or the actual subject which was disarmament.
But it doesn't matter what Blair believed in his head, or the "spirit" of lawyerly document, it's about the letter of the law and whether the government contravened or followed it.
There are still so many more issues. However much they bang on about Saddam's atrocities — torture chambers, killing his own people and the like — no-one raises the fact that most of them were committed while he was our boy. Who supplied the chemicals and arms? That's right, we still have the receipts. The papers exchanged between Bush and Blair at Crawford have still not been released despite promises that they would be. Blair had to concede he's "used the wrong words" to Parliament when he said preparations for war weren't yet in place. They were.
There were a few sparks from the panel. One member asked if with such a cavalier attitude to planning wasn't this a heavy price to pay? But Blair insists that Iraqis today have never had it so good, especially since 2002, although one of his questioners said that from Iraqis he's spoken to, that's doubtful. Chilcot concluded with asking what he's learnt. Blair claims if they hadn't got him then they would have had to have dealt with him when he was stronger. If democracy takes hold then we'll look back with pride.
The one audible expression of disgust from the audience (and on exit in the room, boos and a cry of "murderer" and "liar") came when Blair insisted je ne regrette rien despite it being one big FAIL. He says he'd do it all again and I reckon he'd do it all over you.
UPDATE: Protester tried to perform a citizen's arrest of Blair as he left the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London this evening. More here. Arrest Blair. Canadian lawyers give thumbs up to Arrest Blair campaign.
What was it all about? Guardian journalists find fiasco and incompetence.
Harpymarx was at the demo in the freezing rain and has some great pix.
Minority Report: Tony Blair at the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry, Part 1.
"The voices in my head told me to do it"
Thanks to The Lavatory Reader for the Blair pic.
UPDATE: 1st Feb 2010 Iraq inquiry may recall Tony Blair over conflicting evidence