11 July 2004

agressively not apologising

British PM Blair 'Considered Resigning
Blair, who has seen his ratings tumble in opinion polls since last year's war in Iraq, had been 'seriously considering his position' following a series of attacks on his leadership, the broadcaster said in an unsourced report.

Three cabinet colleagues, Health Secretary John Reid, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and Education Secretary Charles Clarke met Blair, urged him not to quit and sought to assure him he had wide government support, it said.

'I'm not going to speculate on what I see as Westminster gossip,' Jowell told BBC radio Saturday. 'Tony Blair is our prime minister -- the most successful prime minister of modern times. He will continue to lead our government.'

US findings turn up heat on Blair as he awaits the Butler report
The United States Senate committee�s damning findings last night piled more pressure on Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, as he and his ministers braced themselves for criticism from Lord Butler�s inquiry into intelligence on Iraq next week.

Lord Butler, a former Cabinet secretary, will report on Wednesday and will cast serious doubt on the quality of British intelligence reports that the Prime Minister said made military action in Iraq a matter of urgent national interest.

While Mr Blair is likely to avoid a direct rebuke, his September 2002 dossier on Iraq may be targeted by Lord Butler, as may Sir Richard Dearlove and John Scarlett, the current and future heads of MI6.

In the face of controversy over the MI6 role, Mr Blair decided earlier this year to promote Mr Scarlett to replace Sir Richard at the end of this month. Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, a former head of the joint intelligence committee, last night told the BBC that the Butler report could make it impossible for Mr Scarlett to take over as head of the Secret Intelligence Service.

"You do have to ask the question whether somebody who�s been deeply involved and possibly criticised in the findings of the Butler report is regarded as a suitable person to head [MI6]," Dame Pauline said.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, yesterday emerged as another possible target for Lord Butler, who is expected to reveal that he over-ruled Foreign Office lawyers who said military action could not be justified in international law.

Meanwhile, back at the fort:
Now say sorry for war, PM told
The Labor Party yesterday called on the Prime Minister to apologise for taking Australians to war under false pretences, after an American inquiry's damning findings about US intelligence failures over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said John Howard talked a lot about character these days.

But, he said: "A core part of character is telling the truth. It's time John Howard at last told the Australian people the truth - that the reasons he gave them for going to war were wrong."

The US Senate committee has said most key judgements in the intelligence community's major October 2002 report on Iraq's WMD programs were overstated or not supported by the underlying intelligence reporting. The intelligence community suffered from a "collective presumption" that Iraq had an active and growing WMD program. "Group think" led to ambiguities being put aside or ignored, and usual mechanisms for challenging assumptions not being used.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat member of the committee, said the lapses "rank among the most devastating... intelligence failures" in American history. "We in Congress would not have authorised that war... if we knew what we know now," he said.

Really, it's weird how the party of personal responsibility seems to think a war for WMD's that don't exist is not even a case for an apology.

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