The fallout from the Brexit vote obscured the publication of the Chilcot report and reduced scrutiny of its findings, a key figure in Britain’s decision to invade Iraq admitted in leaked personal emails.
Jack Straw, foreign secretary in Tony Blair’s government at the time of the invasion in 2003, said in an email to Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State, that the “only silver lining of Brexit is that it will reduce medium-term attention on Chilcot — though it will not stop the day of publication being uncomfortable”.
Mr Straw’s remarks were disclosed after a cache of stolen emails from Mr Powell’s personal account were leaked by a website alleged to have links to Russian hackers and Moscow’s black propaganda operation.
Two years of emails from Mr Powell’s account, which include messages in which Donald Trump is described as an “international pariah”, were released by the DC Leaks website.
The leaks show that on July 4 this year, two days before the publication of the long-delayed report by the Iraq inquiry, Mr Straw emailed Mr Powell asking him to read a draft statement that he intended to release.
The former foreign secretary said: “As my draft mentions you, I thought you should see it. If you’ve any comments on it I’d be very pleased to see those.” He said he was also thinking of sending the draft to Condoleezza Rice, another key figure in the Bush administration.
Mr Straw then made his comments about the likelihood that Brexit and the “extraordinary phase” in British politics it had created would quickly overwhelm the publication of the report.
The following month, Mr Powell responded with a birthday message in which he greeted Mr Straw as “old man”.
The former US general added: “You have been quiet since Brexit. I assume the report has faded away in the avalanche of other news. Didn’t amount to anything over here. Tony [was] mentioned a lot for a short period of time.”
Mr Straw replied: “Yes, the Chilcot story has faded altogether here too. It was unpleasant on the day but almost all the focus was on Tony.
“But even for him it seems to have gone. There is some stuff about some relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq trying to get a legal action against Tony on its feet but it’s hard to see how that could work.”
Sir John Chilcot’s report was critical of Mr Straw and showed that he was one of the few people in the government aware of Mr Blair’s pledge to President Bush that “we will be with you whatever”.
The report said Mr Straw raised concerns about what would happen if the UK was dragged into a lengthy conflict in Iraq, but then dismissed them. “Mr Straw’s question was not put to officials and there is no indication that it was considered further,” it stated.
The report also rebuked Mr Straw for failing to fully consider Britain’s options if the US pressed ahead with an invasion without securing clear UN cover.
It said: “It was Mr Straw’s responsibility as foreign secretary to give due consideration to the range of options available to the UK should that effort fail. Those included making UK participation in military action conditional on a satisfactory post-conflict plan.”
Mr Straw said after publication that the decision to invade Iraq would “live with me for the rest of my life”. He has not responded to requests for comment on the leaked emails.
A crowdfunding campaign has raised more than £160,000 to finance a legal opinion on the Chilcot report on behalf of the families of service personnel killed in Iraq, with a view to pursuing High Court action against former ministers and officials.
Source: The Times, Sept 14, 2016
Update on CHILCOT INQUIRY and leaked emails
We thought you may be interested in the recent report http://r.mail.crowdjustice.co.uk/19be6hgva7ale3d.html that former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw emailed the former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss the, at that time, upcoming release of the Chilcot Report:
(1) Expressing relief that the Brexit vote to leave the European Union would reduce media coverage of the devastating results of the inquiry into the United Kingdom’s role in the war. Straw wrote: the “only silver lining of the Brexit vote is that it will reduce medium term attention on Chilcot – though it will not stop the day of publication being uncomfortable".
(2) Stating that the Chilcot report “didn’t amount to anything over here” and that he assumed the inquiry simply “faded away”. Straw wrote: “Yes, the Chilcot story has faded altogether here too. It was unpleasant on the day but almost all the focus was on Tony [Blair]…there is some stuff about some relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq trying to get a legal action against Tony on its feet buy [sic] it’s hard to see how that could work.”
Straw’s emails to Powell confirms what we and many others thought, which was that those due to be criticised by the Report were quite happy to see it delayed indefinitely.
As to Straw’s comment that he finds it hard to see how our ‘legal action’ could work, all we can say is that history has demonstrated his judgement as not being the most reliable.
Our lawyers remain hard at work on behalf of the families. Thanks to your incredible support and generosity, we are grateful that it is their judgement and conclusions that we will be able to rely on and not Mr Straw’s.