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Key Events

Key events related to DSM (56)

General Topic Areas

Alleged al-Qaeda ties (83)
Politicization of intelligence (80)
Pre-9/11 plans for war (34)
Weapons inspections (122)
Alleged WMDs (99)
The decision to invade (104)
Internal opposition (29)
Motives (53)
Pre-war planning (30)
Predictions (19)
Legal justification (96)
Propaganda (23)
Public opinion on Iraqi threat (13)
Diversion of Resources to Iraq (8)
Pre-war attacks against Iraq

Specific Allegations

Aluminum tubes allegation (59)
Office of Special Plans (24)
Africa-uranium allegation (95)
Prague Connection (24)
Al Zarqawi allegation (10)
Poisons And Gases (5)
Drones (4)
Biological weapons trailers (18)

Specific cases and issues

Spying on the UN (8)
Outing of Jose Bustani (13)
Powells Speech to UN (13)
Chalabi and the INC (63)

Quotes from senior US officials

Chemical and biological weapons allegations (23)
Imminent threat allegations (5)
Iraq ties to terrorist allegations (15)
Nuclear weapons allegations (29)
WMD allegations (9)
Democracy rhetoric (33)
Decision to Invade quotes (16)
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Events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq: US-British attacks against Iraq before March 2003 invasion

 
  

Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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December 2001

       US General Tommy Franks tells Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that US planes patrolling the Iraq “no-fly” zones should begin “spurts of activity followed by periods of inactivity.” “We want the Iraqis to become accustomed to military expansion, and then apparent contraction,” he later recalls telling the secretary. “As Phase I is completed, we could flow steadily for the next sixty days, while continuing spikes of activity to lend credence to our deception. During the sixty days we would increase kinetic strikes in the no-fly zones to weaken Iraq's integrated air defenses.” [Franks, 2004, pp 530; Raw Story, 6/30/2005 Sources: Thomas Franks]
People and organizations involved: Thomas Franks, Donald Rumsfeld
          

March 2002

       A British Foreign Office memo concludes that a proposal to increase the number of US and British aerial attacks on targets in Iraq's “no-fly” zone in order to “put pressure on the regime” would violate international law. The memo is later distributed to several high officials as an appendix to a July 21 Cabinet Office briefing paper (see July 21, 2002) meant to prepare officials ahead of a meeting on July 23 (see July 23, 2002). The memo also disputes the United States' contention that the bombings are meant to enforce compliance with UN resolutions 688 and 687, which ordered Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. “This view is not consistent with resolution 687, which does not deal with the repression of the Iraqi civilian population, or with resolution 688, which was not adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and does not contain any provision for enforcement,” it says. [London Times, 6/19/05]
People and organizations involved: British Foreign Office
          

April 1-30, 2002

       US and British warplanes drop .3 tons of ordnance on targets in Iraq “no-fly” zones. [Statesman, 5/30/2005]
          

May 1-31, 2002

       The US military steps up its attacks on targets in Iraq's “no-fly” zones. [London Times, 5/29/05; London Times, 6/19/05] US and British warplanes drop 7.3 tons of ordnance on targets in Iraq “no-fly” zones during this month, compared with just .3 tons the previous month (see April 1-30, 2002). [Statesman, 5/30/2005] Two months later, British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon will say at a British cabinet meeting (see July 23, 2002) that the US has “begun ‘spikes of activity’ to put pressure on the regime.”
People and organizations involved: United States
          

May 27, 2002

       According to a report published by the website, Truthout, former US Air Force combat veteran Tim Goodrich tells the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) jury in Istanbul, Turkey: “We were dropping bombs then, and I saw bombing intensify. All the documents coming out now, the Downing Street Memo and others, confirm what I had witnessed in Iraq. The war had already begun while our leaders were telling us that they were going to try all diplomatic options first.” [Raw Story, 6/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: Tim Goodrich
          

June 2002-March 2003

       The frequency of US and British aerial attacks against targets in Iraq's “no-fly” zones increases dramatically as part of Operation Southern Focus. [London Times, 5/29/2005; New York Times, 7/20/2003; Washington Post, 1/15/2003; Time, 11/27/2002; Independent, 11/24/2002] According to the London Times, US and British planes drop twice as many bombs on Iraq during the second half of 2002 as they did during the entire year of 2001. [London Times, 5/29/2005] Between June 2002 and March 19, 2003, US and British planes fly 21,736 sorties over southern Iraq, dropping 606 bombs on 391 carefully selected targets. [Washington Post, 1/15/2003; London Times, 6/27/2005; New York Times, 7/20/2003] As Timur Eads, a former US special operations officer, notes in January 2003: “We're bombing practically every day as we patrol the no-fly zones, taking out air defense batteries, and there are all kinds of CIA and Special Forces operations going on. I would call it the beginning of a war.” [Boston Globe, 1/6/2003] The airstrikes, which occur primarily in the southern no-fly zone, are also becoming more strategic, targeting Iraq's surface-to-air missiles, air defense radars, command centers, communications facilities, and fiber-optic cable repeater stations. [Washington Post, 1/15/2003; Time, 11/27/2002; Independent, 11/24/2002] The repeater stations are bombed in order to disrupt the network of fiber-optic cables that transmit military communications between Baghdad and Basra and Baghdad and Nasiriya. “They wanted to neutralize the ability of the Iraqi government to command its forces; to establish control of the airspace over Iraq; to provide air support for Special Operations forces, as well as for the Army and Marine forces that would advance toward Baghdad; and to neutralize Iraq's force of surface-to-surface missiles and suspected caches of biological and chemical weapons,” the New York Times reports in July 2003. [New York Times, 7/20/2003] “We're responding differently,” one Pentagon official explains to Time magazine in November 2002. “[We're] hitting multiple targets when we're fired upon—and they're tending to be more important targets.” [Time, 11/27/2002] Some time after the invasion, a US general reportedly says (see July 17, 2003) at a conference at Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base “that he began taking out assets that could help in resisting an invasion at least six months before war was declared.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/19/2005 Sources: Charlie Clements]
People and organizations involved: United States, Britain
          

June 1-30, 2002

       US and British warplanes drop 10.4 tons of ordnance on targets in Iraq “no-fly” zones. [Statesman, 5/30/2005]
          

(Mid-August 2002)

       During a National Security Meeting at the White House, Condoleezza Rice suggests ending the attacks on Iraq's “no-fly” zones. But Gen. Tommy Franks disagrees. In his autobiography, “American Soldier,” he says he told Rice he wanted to continue the bombing in order to make Iraq's defenses “as weak as possible.” In his book, Franks uses the term “spikes of activity” to refer to the increase in bombing raids. [London Times, 6/19/05]
People and organizations involved: Thomas Franks, Condoleezza Rice
          

July 1-31, 2002

       US and British warplanes drop 9.5 tons of ordnance on targets in Iraq “no-fly” zones. [Statesman, 5/30/2005]
          

August 1-31, 2002

       US and British warplanes drop 14.1 tons of ordnance on targets in Iraq “no-fly” zones. [Statesman, 5/30/2005]
          

August 5, 2002

       US military planners decide that the operation to depose Saddam Hussein will begin with an air offensive—under the guise of enforcing the so-called “no-fly” zone —and Special Forces operations aimed at weakening Iraqi air defenses. This will begin without any formal declaration or authorization from the UN. Meanwhile the US and British will build up forces in Kuwait in preparation for a full-scale ground invasion. [London Times, 5/29/2005] The tonnage of ordnance dropped on targets in Iraq's “no-fly” zones will increase dramatically over the next few months (see August 1-31, 2002) (see September 1-30, 2002) (see October 1-31, 2002).
          

September 1-30, 2002

       US and British warplanes drop 54.6 tons of ordnance on targets in Iraq “no-fly” zones—nearly a four-fold increase over what was dropped in August (see August 1-31, 2002). [Statesman, 5/30/2005]
          

October 1-31, 2002

       US and British warplanes drop 17.7 tons of ordnance on targets in Iraq “no-fly” zones. [Statesman, 5/30/2005]
          

November 1-30, 2002

       US and British warplanes drop 33.6 tons of ordnance on targets in Iraq “no-fly” zones. [Statesman, 5/30/2005]
          

December 1-31, 2002

       US and British warplanes drop 53.2 tons of ordnance on targets in Iraq “no-fly” zones. [Statesman, 5/30/2005]
          

(March 19, 2003-July 16, 2003)

       US air war planners, who are required to get pre-approval for air strikes they believe may kill more than 30 civilians, send more than 50 such requests to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld approves all of the strikes. [New York Times, 7/20/2003]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

July 17, 2003

       Lieutenant-General Michael Moseley gives a briefing assessing the lessons of the war with Iraq to US and allied military officers at Nellis airbase in Nevada. He says that as part of Operation Southern Focus, US and British aerial attacks on Iraq southern and northern no-fly zones laid the foundations for the invasion of Iraq. He explains that during the nine-month period spanning mid-2002 to early 2003 (see June 2002-March 2003), US and British planes flew 21,736 sorties, dropping 606 bombs on 391 carefully selected targets. The pre-invasion bombing campaign made it possible for the official invasion (see March 19, 2003) to begin without a protracted bombardment of Iraqi positions. “It provided a set of opportunities and options for General Franks,” Mosely says. [Raw Story, 6/27/2005; London Times, 6/27/2005; New York Times, 7/20/2003]
People and organizations involved: Michael Moseley
          

June 18, 2005

       Lord William Goodhart, vice-president of the International Commission of Jurists and a world authority on international law, says that the United States' and Britain's intensified bombing of Iraq's “no-fly” zones before the invasion was illegal if it was meant to put pressure on Iraq's government. The two countries have cited UN Resolution 688 to justify the patrolling of the “no-fly” zones, but Goodhart explains that the resolution was not adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter dealing with all matters authorizing military force, and therefore does not provide any legal basis for the use of military force. “Putting pressure on Iraq is not something that would be a lawful activity,” he says. [London Times, 6/19/05]
People and organizations involved: William Goodhart
          


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