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Profile: Alastair Campbell

 
  

Positions that Alastair Campbell has held:

  • Aide to the British Prime Minister


 

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Alastair Campbell actively participated in the following events:

 
  

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 
          

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