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Profile: Tony Blair

 
  

Positions that Tony Blair has held:

  • British Prime Minister


 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, September 2002

   “We know that Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa, although we do not know whether he has been successful.” [Independent, 6/5/03, British House of Commons, 9/24/03]

Quote, summer 2003

   “We only need to look at the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency showing what has been going on at the former nuclear weapons site to realize” the seriousness of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein [Guardian 9/9/02, MSNBC 9/7/02]

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

No related entities for this entity.


 

Tony Blair actively participated in the following events:

 
  

July 16, 2001: British Spy Agencies Warn al-Qaeda Is in The Final Stages of Attack in the West      Complete 911 Timeline

       British spy agencies send a report to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other top officials warning that al-Qaeda is in “the final stages” of preparing an attack in the West. The prediction is “based on intelligence gleaned not just from [British intelligence] but also from US agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency,” which cooperate with the British. “The contents of the July 16 warning would have been passed to the Americans, Whitehall sources confirmed.” The report states there is “an acute awareness” that the attack is “a very serious threat.” [Times of London, 6/14/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Tony Blair, Central Intelligence Agency
          

September 20, 2001: Bush to Blair: After Afghanistan, ‘We Must Come Back to Iraq’       Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with President George Bush at the White House. During dinner that night, also attended by Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and British ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, Blair tells Bush that he wants to concentrate on ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bush replies, “I agree with you Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.” Blair says nothing to disagree. [Observer, 4/4/04; BBC, 4/3/03; Independent, 4/4/04; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 238 Sources: Christopher Meyer]
People and organizations involved: Christopher Meyer, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Tony Blair
          

October 4, 2001: Blair Presents Case for al-Qaeda 9/11 Involvement      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Tony Blair presenting evidence on October 4, 2001.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly presents a paper containing evidence that al-Qaeda is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. [Los Angeles Times, 10/4/01; Los Angeles Times, 10/5/01] Secretary of State Powell and other US officials had promised on September 23 that the US would present a paper containing such evidence. [Los Angeles Times, 9/24/01] However, the US paper is never released. Apparently, the British paper is meant to serve as a substitute. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] In the speech, Blair claims, “One of bin Laden's closest lieutenants has said clearly that he helped with the planning of the September 11 attacks and admitted the involvement of the al-Qaeda organization” and that “there is other intelligence, we cannot disclose, of an even more direct nature indicating guilt” of al-Qaeda in the attacks. [Time, 10/5/01; CNN, 10/4/01] There has been no confirmation or details since of these claims. Even though most of the evidence in the British paper comes from the US, pre-attack warnings, such as the August 6, 2001 memo (see August 6, 2001) to Bush titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US,” are not included. In fact, Blair's paper states, “incorrectly, that no such information had been available before the attacks: ‘After 11 September we learned that, not long before, bin Laden had indicated he was about to launch a major attack on America.’ ” [New Yorker, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Tony Blair, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden
          

March 14, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Sir David Manning, the British prime minister's foreign policy adviser, meets with President George Bush's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice. In a summary of the meeting written for Tony Blair, Manning says: “We spent a long time at dinner on Iraq. It is clear that Bush is grateful for your support and has registered that you are getting flak. I said that you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a parliament, and a public opinion that was very different than anything in the States. And you would not budge on your insistence that, if we pursued regime change, it must be very carefully done and produce the right result. Failure was not an option.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005; Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05; Guardian, 4/21/05 Sources: Memo from David Manning to Tony Blair, 3/14/2002] Manning reports that the “big questions” have not been thoroughly considered by the US president. Bush, he notes, “has yet to find the answers ... [about] how to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified” and how to deal with “what happens on the morning after.” [Washington Post, 6/12/2005 Sources: Memo from David Manning to Tony Blair, 3/14/2002] With regard to the problem of international opinion, Manning says he suggested to Rice that “[r]enewed refusal by Saddam to accept unfettered inspections would be a powerful argument” in convincing others to support an invasion. [Guardian, 4/21/05; Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05; Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair, David Manning
          

April 6-7, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on a visit to Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas [Independent, 2/27/05] , tells the president that the UK intends to “support military action to bring about regime change.” [Guardian, 5/2/05; Daily Telegraph, 5/4/05] But Blair also says that certain conditions will have to be met. He says that efforts will have to be made to “construct a coalition,” “shape public opinion,” and demonstrate that all options to “eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors” have been exhausted. Additionally, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis should be quiescent, he says. [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05] During a joint press conference with Bush on the first day of their summit at Crawford, Blair is asked by a reporter if Bush has convinced him “on the need for military action against Iraq” and whether or not regime change “is now the policy of the British government.” Blair does not respond with a direct answer to either of the questions. [Downing Street, 4/6/02; White House, 4/6/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Tony Blair
          

July 2002-March 19, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Numerous US and British, current and former, intelligence, military, and other government officials who have inside knowledge refute claims made by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein's regime has or is seeking ties with international militant Islamic groups. [CBC News, 11/1/02; Washington Post 9/10/02; Sunday Herald, 10/13/02; Telegraph, 2/4/03; Wall Street Journal, 8/15/02; Baltimore Sun, 9/26/02; Radio Free Europe, 10/29/02; International Herald Tribune, 11/1/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/4/02; Knight Ridder, 10/7/02; New York Times, 2/3/03; Independent, 2/9/03]
People and organizations involved: Vincent Cannistraro, Rohan Gunaratna, Tony Blair, Igor Ivanov, Saddam Hussein, Youssef M. Ibrahim, Jack Straw, Brent Scowcroft, Michael Chandler, George W. Bush, Vincent Cannistraro, Daniel Benjamin, Jean-Louis Brugui←re, MIchael O'Hanlon, Baltasar Garzon, US Department of State, 4/30/2001, Anna Eshoo, Richard Durbin, Jean Chretien  Additional Info 
          

July 16, 2002: Blair Claims Attack on Afghanistan Only Possible After 9/11      Complete 911 Timeline

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair states, “We knew about al-Qaeda for a long time. They were committing terrorist acts, they were planning, they were organizing. Everybody knew, we all knew, that Afghanistan was a failed state living on drugs and terror. We did not act. ... To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11.” [London Times, 7/17/02] In a book released one month later, Clinton's former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger will similarly state, “You show me one reporter, one commentator, one member of Congress who thought we should invade Afghanistan before September 11 and I'll buy you dinner in the best restaurant in New York City.” [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 219]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, al-Qaeda, Sandy Berger
          

July 23, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Top British officials attend a meeting to discuss the UK's potential role in the Bush administration's confrontation with Iraq. According to the minutes of the meeting, transcribed by Matthew Rycroft, Sir Richard Dearlove, head of the British intelligence service, MI6, says that during his last visit to Washington he noticed a “perceptible shift in attitude. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.” Furthermore, he states, Bush's National Security Council indicated it “had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record.” He also noted that there “was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.” [Salon (op-ed), 5/6/05; Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05 Sources: Downing Street Memo, 7/23/2002] Foreign Minister Jack Straw appears to agree with Dearlove's assessment, saying that it seems clear that President Bush has already decided on using military force to depose Saddam Hussein. But Straw notes that the Bush administration's case against Saddam was “thin.” The Iraqi leader “was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea, or Iran,” the minutes say, summarizing his remarks. [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05; Guardian, 5/2/05] There is no indication in the minutes that anyone present at the meeting disputed Dearlove's or Straw's observations. [Sources: Downing Street Memo, 7/23/2002] Furthermore, the account provided by the intelligence official and Straw are corroborated by a former senior US official who is later interviewed by Knight Ridder. It is “an absolutely accurate description of what transpired,” the official will say. [Knight Ridder, 5/2/05] Straw proposes that the next step would be to “work up an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors,” which “would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05; Guardian, 5/2/05] Britain's attorney general, Lord Peter Goldsmith, warns that “the desire for regime change [is] not a legal base for military action,” the minutes say. But Blair says that “it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05] Finally, the officials agree that the British government “should continue to work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action” but “not ignore the legal issues.” [Guardian, 5/2/05] The minutes do not provide any indication that officials discussed how war might be avoided. [Salon, 6/10/2005] The minutes of this meetings will be revealed by the British Sunday Times three years later (see May 1, 2005). Commonly referred to as the “Downing Street Memo,” the minutes will re-spark the controversy over politicized intelligence.
People and organizations involved: Michael Boyce, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, Alastair Campbell, Peter Goldsmith, Richard Dearlove, Geoff Hoon, Jack Straw, Tony Blair  Additional Info 
          

(Early August 2002)      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush discuss over the phone their intention to topple Saddam Hussein's government. An unnamed White House official who later reads the transcripts of the 15-minute phone call will explain to Vanity Fair that it was clear from their conversation that the decision to invade Iraq had already been made. The magazine reports in April 2004: “Before the call, the official says, he had the impression that the probability of invasion was high, but still below 100 percent, Afterward, he says, ‘it was a done deal.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 284 Sources: Unnamed White House official]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Tony Blair
          

September 7, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       During a joint press conference with US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the two leaders make 2 false and misleading statements, which are quickly contested by experts.
Tony Blair states, “We only need to look at the report from the International Atomic Agency [IAEA] this morning showing what has been going on at the former nuclear weapons sites to realize that” Saddam is a real threat. [White House, 9/7/02] But no such report exists. [Washington Times, 9/27/02] What Blair is actually referring to is a set of commercial satellite photographs showing signs of new construction at a site the US had bombed in 1998. [Associated Press, 9/10/02; MSNBC 9/7/02; Guardian 9/9/02] That same day, Mark Gwozdecky, a spokesman for the UN agency, says the agency had drawn no conclusion from those photographs. [MSNBC 9/7/02] On September 9, the Guardian of London will report that according to “a well-placed source” the photographs do not support Blair's statement. “You cannot draw any conclusions,” the source explains. “The satellites were only looking at the top of a roof. You cannot tell without inspectors on the ground.” [Guardian, 9/9/02] [Guardian, 9/9/02] The following day, Hans Blix, head of UNMOVIC, will similarly tell reporters: “... satellites don't see through roofs. So we are not drawing conclusions from them. But it would be an important element in where, maybe, we want to go to inspect and monitor.” [Associated Press, 9/10/02; The Globe and Mail, 9/11/02]
Bush asserts, “I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied—finally denied access [in 1998], a report came out of the Atomic—the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon,” adding, “I don't know what more evidence we need.” [Washington Times, 9/27/02; White House, 9/7/02] But Bush's statement is quickly refuted by an MSNBC news report published later that day, which includes an excerpt from the summary of the 1998 IAEA report Bush cited. The summary reads, “[B]ased on all credible information available to date ... the IAEA has found no indication of Iraq having achieved its program goal of producing nuclear weapons or of Iraq having retained a physical capability for the production of weapon-useable nuclear material or having clandestinely obtained such material.” [MSNBC 9/7/02] The text of the actual report, authored by IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, reads: “There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance.” [Washington Times, 9/27/02] When confronted by MSNBC reporters on this point, an unnamed senior White House official states, “What happened was, we formed our own conclusions based on the report.” [MSNBC 9/7/02] Later, when The Washington Times presses Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan for an explanation, he says, “[Bush is] referring to 1991 there. In '91, there was a report saying that after the war they found out they were about six months away.” But this too is challenged by Mr. Gwozdecky, spokesman for the UN agency, who says that no such report was ever published by the IAEA in 1991. Apparently the President's accusations are based on two news articles that were published more than a decade ago— “a July 16 [2001] story in the London Times by Michael Evans and a July 18 [2001] story in the New York Times by Paul Lewis.” But as The Washington Times notes, “Neither article cites an IAEA report on Iraq's nuclear-weapons program or states that Saddam was only six months away from ‘developing a weapon’ —as claimed by Mr. Bush.” Instead the two news articles reported that at that time, UN inspectors had concluded that Iraq was only six months away from the large-scale production of enriched uranium. But as the 1998 report shows, both 1991 news stories are outdated. [Washington Times, 9/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, Mark Gwozdecky, Mohamed ElBaradei, Scott McClellan, George W. Bush
          

October 7, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       British Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith, Solicitor-General Harriet Harman and the Financial Times warn British Prime Minister Tony Blair that if his government pursues “a war against Iraq, Britain could be hauled before the International Court of Justice.” [IC Coventry, 10/7/2002]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, Peter Goldsmith, Harriet Harman
          

January 8, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Britain urges the Bush administration to hold off its planned invasion of Iraq. A senior Whitehall source tells the Telegraph of London, “The Prime Minister has made it clear that, unless there is a smoking gun, the inspectors have to be given time to keep searching.” Britain's softening on its position towards Iraq is attributed to the acknowledgement among its ministers and senior officials that there is no legal case for using military action against Iraq. [Telegraph, 1/9/03 Sources: Unnamed senior Whitehall source]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair
          

January 31, 2003: Bush and Blair Acknowledge No Direct Link Between Saddam and 9/11      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       During a joint press conference with President George Bush and British Prime Minister Blair at the White House, the two leaders are asked by a reporter, “One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?” Bush answers succinctly, “I can't make that claim.” [US President, 1/31/03]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Tony Blair
          

March 5, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Robin Cook meets with Tony Blair and has the “most revealing” discussion about Saddam's alleged weapons arsenal. During the exchange Blair essentially acknowledges that Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction that could be used against his enemies like the US or Britain. [Times, 10/5/03] Cook says to Blair: “It's clear from the private briefing I have had that Saddam has no weapons of mass destruction in a sense of weapons that could strike at strategic cities. But he probably does have several thousand battlefield chemical munitions. Do you never worry that he might use them against British troops?” Blair responds, “Yes, but all the effort he has had to put into concealment makes it difficult for him to assemble them quickly for use.” [Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, Robin Cook, John Scarlett
          

Mid-January 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The British Defense Intelligence Staff Agency (DIS) completes a classified study which concludes that Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden's earlier attempts to collaborate had “foundered” due to ideological differences. The report says: “While there have been contacts between al-Qaeda and the regime in the past, it is assessed that any fledgling relationship foundered due to mistrust and incompatible ideology.” Osama bin Laden's objectives, notes the report, are “in ideological conflict with present day Iraq.” The top secret report is sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior members of his government. [BBC, 2/5/03; Independent, 2/6/03 Sources: Unnamed British Intelligence Staff document]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein  Additional Info 
          

July 18, 2003      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in speech before the US Congress, pleads for the UN to become “an instrument of action as well as debate,” saying the Security Council needs to be reformed to reflect the “21st Century reality.” [The Guardian, 7/18/2003]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Tony Blair
          

October 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Robin Cook publishes portions of a diary he had kept when he was Blair's foreign minister. The published memoirs reveal—among other things—that Tony Blair had intentionally misled the British population. [Guardian, 10/6/03; Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] The diary reveals how before the war intelligence provided to Cook by John Scarlett indicated that Saddam Hussein probably did not have weapons of mass destruction that could be used to attack the US or Britain. [Guardian, 10/6/03; Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] Cook's entries also show that before the war, Blair did not believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could be used to attack the US or Britain. [Sunday Times, 10/5/03; Guardian, 10/6/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] Additionally, the diary shows that Tony Blair ignored the “large number of ministers who spoke up against the war.” He says that the officials in the foreign ministry were consistently opposed to the invasion of Iraq. [Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: John Scarlett, Tony Blair  Additional Info 
          

March 25, 2005      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       In a memo to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw advises the prime minister on his upcoming visit to Crawford, Texas (see April 6-7, 2002), where he is to discuss Britain's role in the US confrontation with Iraq. Straw says that they “have a long way to go to convince” their colleagues in the Labor Party that military action against Iraq is necessary. He notes that “in the documents so far presented, it has been hard to glean whether the threat from Iraq is so significantly different from that of Iran and North Korea as to justify military action.” He points out that “there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with [Osama bin Laden] and al-Qaeda” and that “the threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of September 11.” Another issue that needs to be resolved, according to Straw, concerns establishing a legal basis for military action. “I believe that a demand for the unfettered readmission of weapons inspectors is essential, in terms of public explanation, and in terms of legal sanction for any subsequent military action.” The “big question,” Straw notes, which seems “to be a larger hole in this than anything,” is that the Bush administration has not “satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured, and how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better. Iraq has had no history of democracy so no one has this habit or experience.” [Washington Post, 6/12/2005 Sources: Memo Jack Straw to Tony Blair, 3/25/2002]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, Jack Straw
          

May 4, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       In an interview with Britain's Channel 4 television, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, insists his country has no intention of invading Iran. “I've got no intention of bombing their nuclear installations or anything else,” Blair says. [Channel 4 TV, 5/4/2005]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair
          

June 7, 2005      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       During a joint press conference with President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a Reuters reporter asks both leaders whether comments made by Sir Richard Dearlove, recorded in the minutes of a July 23 British cabinet meeting (see July 23, 2002), were accurate. According to the minutes, Dearlove said that the “intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy [of regime change].” Responding to the question, Blair insists that the facts were not fixed “in any shape or form at all.” Bush's response, however, does not answer the question. Instead, he addresses another issue that was raised by the Downing Street minutes. The minutes, along with several other recently published Downing Street documents, called into question the Bush administration's claim that the decision to use military force against Iraq did not take place until shortly before the invasion began. In his response to the reporter's question, Bush chooses to discuss this issue instead. “And somebody said, ‘Well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam.’ There's nothing farther from the truth ... [Saddam Hussein] made the decision.” Significantly, neither Bush nor Blair, in their responses, attempt to challenge the authenticity of the memo. [White House, 6/7/2005; New York Times, 6/8/2005]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Tony Blair
          

October 16, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       A confidential leaked two page letter written by the private secretary and foreign policy advisor of British Prime Minister Tony Blair discloses the conversations between President Bush and Tony Blair on 30th of January, 2003. In the letter details of a phone call from President Bush to Blair reveal Bush "wanted to go beyond Iraq". Bush indicated that after Iraq that Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea may also need to be dealt with over weapons of mass destruction. [The Independent UK, 10/16/2005]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair
          

October 28, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair calls Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad call for wiping Israel off the map revolting and unacceptable. "Imagine a state like that, with that attitude, with a nuclear weapon," Blair said. He added that "If they carry on like this, the question people will be asking us is, 'When are you going to do something about this?'" Reports in the British Press claim Blair is in discussions with the US about possible future military action against Iran. [The Times, 10/28/2005; Mirror, 10/28/2005]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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