Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ex-MI5 boss says war in Iraq raised terror threat

The BBC has the story here. An excerpt:

"[. . .] Giving evidence to the Iraq inquiry, Baroness Manningham-Buller said the action "radicalised" a generation of young people, including UK citizens. As a result, she said she was not "surprised" that UK nationals were involved in the 7/7 bombings in London. She said she believed the intelligence on Iraq's threat was not "substantial enough" to justify the action.

Baroness Manningham-Buller said she had advised officials a year before the war that the threat posed by Iraq to the UK was "very limited", and she believed that assessment had "turned out to be the right judgement". [. . .] [S]he said the UK's participation in the March 2003 military action "undoubtedly increased" the level of terrorist threat. [. . .] A year after the invasion, she said MI5 was "swamped" by leads about terrorist threats to the UK. [. . .]

[. . .] The ex-MI5 chief said she shared her concerns that the Iraq invasion would increase the UK's exposure to terrorism with the then home secretary David Blunkett but did not "recall" discussing the matter with prime minister Tony Blair. [. . .] A year before the war, the former MI5 chief advised Home Office officials that the direct threat posed by Iraq to the UK was "very limited and containable". In a newly declassified document, published by the inquiry, Baroness Manningham-Buller told the senior civil servant at the Home Office in March 2002 that there was no evidence that Iraq had any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. [. . .]."

What to make of all of this? I think there are a few highlights:

1. The then MI5 chief disagreed with Tony Blair that Iraq posed a real threat . . . and so Blair never met with her before going to war.

2. The pressure to go to war came, not from the 'ground up' via intelligence, but from the 'top down' from Government.

3. The UK is a less safe place because of its involvement in the Iraq War (contra Blair here).

The fallout continues . . .

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