The Iraq War Files

A number of people have been linking to the Guardian and now the AP story on the British Iraq War files that show that preparation of British forces was “appalling,” largely because Tony Blair kept the decision to go into Iraq–which he made as early as February 2002–on such a close hold.

But I wanted to point to the Telegraph version of this story for two reasons.

On the eve of the Chilcot inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the 2003 invasion and its aftermath, The Sunday Telegraph has obtained hundreds of pages of secret Government reports on “lessons learnt” which shed new light on “significant shortcomings” at all levels.


The reports disclose that:

Tony Blair, the former prime minister, misled MPs and the public throughout 2002 when he claimed that Britain’s objective was “disarmament, not regime change” and that there had been no planning for military action. In fact, British military planning for a full invasion and regime change began in February 2002.

The need to conceal this from Parliament and all but “very small numbers” of officials “constrained” the planning process. The result was a “rushed”operation “lacking in coherence and resources” which caused “significant risk” to troops and “critical failure” in the post-war period.

Operations were so under-resourced that some troops went into action with only five bullets each. Others had to deploy to war on civilian airlines, taking their equipment as hand luggage. Some troops had weapons confiscated by airport security.

Commanders reported that the Army’s main radio system “tended to drop out at around noon each day because of the heat”. One described the supply chain as “absolutely appalling”, saying: “I know for a fact that there was one container full of skis in the desert.”

First, note the reporter: Andrew Gilligan. He’s the guy who reported that the case for war against Iraq had been “sexed up” to justify war when no real cause existed. In other words, there is some continuity between that story and this one.

Also, the Telegraph posted many of these documents on its website, including the full report.

Gilligan seems poised to get some well-earned vindication as the Iraq War inquiry begins this week. So it probably pays to keep an eye on the Telegraph’s coverage.

17 replies
  1. klynn says:

    EW, thanks for the heads-up on the Telegraph article. Following the “continuity” makes a great deal of sense.

    I tend to read the Guardian and the Globe & Mail daily. I often overlook the Telegraph. Thanks for directing your readers there.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, it’s also a matter of courtesy. No matter what one thinks of the Telegraph, they paid Gilligan to do this work, so they should get the link.

      (Besides, I think ANY newspaper that puts up PDFs deserves a link.)

      • klynn says:

        You know, I’ve been wondering. Since Blair got the thumbs down for the EU and the UK justices made their outstanding decision regarding Binyam Mohamed and the suppressing of evidence by Davis Miliband…there seems to be a timeline evolving in the UK with contributions from a number of fronts.

        And Simon’s comment just made me realize a timeline sounds good. The UK is going somewhere with all of this coming out from a number of angles. My guess is that there is a knowledge of the time frame for Iran and the UK will move quickly to deteremine it’s position irt it’s neighbor across the pond.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    Wonder how ObamaCo is trying to “direct” this inquiry…

    Boxturtle (Notice I said “how”, not “If’)

  3. Simon says:


    You are right to point out that “it probably pays to keep an eye on the Telegraph’s coverage”. Almost certainly they will use the ‘drip-drip’ effect, as they did to great effect with their coverage (here in the UK) of the scandal over the expenses claimed by Members of Parliament.

    Much of what has been released already points to the fact that the UK was seen to be very much a junior partner in the Coalition effort to depose Saddam Hussein. The official Iraq Inquiry will no doubt steer away from being overtly critical of your last presidential administration for the sake of the much-hallowed “Anglo-American ‘special’ relationship”. The Telegraph will not be so delicate, and has also posted another article – ‘Hostility between British and American military leaders revealed‘. A particularly telling statement included in this report, from Colonel J.K.Tanner, who was at one point the British chief of staff in Iraq, is quoted as having been:

    “The whole system was appalling. We experienced real difficulty in dealing with American military and civilian organisations who, partly through arrogance and partly through bureaucracy, dictate that there is only one way: the American way.”

    “I now realise that I am a European, not an American. We managed to get on better…with our European partners and at times with the Arabs than with the Americans. Europeans chat to each other, whereas dialogue is alien to the US military… dealing with them corporately is akin to dealing with a group of Martians.”

    Simon (ex-poster at Wotisitgood4)

    • fatster says:

      The hostility aspect is starting to get covered here, too. Should be an interesting week.

      British military leader called Bush team ‘arrogant’ ‘group of Martians’ over Iraq


      • Waccamaw says:

        When I read those various articles earlier today, I wondered if any information generated in England would see the light of day here in the states……would feel a lot better if that link was from a major news source vs. Raw Story. Nice to see the Brits actually going after a much belated story. Bloody well about time!

    • emptywheel says:

      And of course, that is against the background of people at State being systemically excluded from discussions in favor of a bunch of 22-year old Heritage Foundation flacks.

  4. chetnolian says:

    This is fun.

    The Telegraph, which ought on past form to be defending all things American, not least to support their ongoing hatred of Europe, (but let us not go there)finds itself getting information to support its current war in the Government over the supply chain into Afghanistan, which is seen as a mess here in the UK.

    It is largely a mess of US making which the British Army with boundless enthusiasm got itself into, heading out at the behest of US Generals to “beat” the Taliban, which is a bit like beating fog.

    They did not have the equipment to do the task they took on so naively and immediately blamed that problem on the people behind in the UK running to catch up. And the information the Telegraph are getting from insiders is going to be extremely harmful to the USA, as a by-blow to beating up Tony Blair and getting Labour out at the next election. Meanwhile most of the Labour support would love to join in beating up Blair but dare not because it might help them lose the election.

    And of course we can rely on Andrew Gilligan to continue to try and get his revenge, and quite right too.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It also pays to keep an eye on the Daily Telegraph’s (often described as the Torygraph) general sentiment, which is very conservative and anti-Labour. The allegations against Blair may be accurate; they will increase the Tories’ chances of victory in upcoming national elections. Which would suggest that criticism of Tory involvement in such activities in the past – or should it become the majority party in future – might be more restrained, or spiked.

  6. perris says:

    I’m pretty surprised the government minutes from downing street aren’t mentioned anywhere in this story, nor the blogs

    • cinnamonape says:

      It seems that this leaked report is commensurate with Downing Street…although later. I’m not sure if the report dealt with “intelligence” issues (i.e. the sexing up or “fixing the intelligence to the political goals” aspect of things. Hopefully more will come out.

      But the meeting dates and the lack of strategic planning seems perfectly congruent with Downing Street.

      If you couldn’t let on that you were planning an invasion (i.e. regime change) then you certainly couldn’t do any planning for the political aftermath of that regime change.

    • chetnolian says:

      Except possibly and may be even unfairly as failing to supply equipment in time and to spec., it is unlikely. These look like Army sourced papers. The people who know about what BAE did in the Middle East were in the Air Force. By the way that is the extra fun about this. It is an Army against everyone else including the Navy spat.

  7. 1boringoldman says:

    First, note the reporter: Andrew Gilligan. He’s the guy who reported that the case for war against Iraq had been “sexed up” to justify war when no real cause existed. In other words, there is some continuity between that story and this one.

    Recall that Andrew Gilligan’s original reports of a “sexed up” casus belli came from his interview with Dr. David Kelly whose identity was leaked. Shortly thereafter, Kelly was called to a Hearing of Parliament where he felt shamed. The next day, he was found dead. While his death was ruled a suicide, many experts contest that ruling, claiming that he was murdered. There are people still actively investigating that possibility [13 doctors demand inquest into Dr. David Kelly’s death]. Recall also that Dr. Kelly’s last email before his death was to our own Judith Miller when she was still at the NY Times. It said, “– many dark actors playing games.”

Comments are closed.