Sir John Chilcot has released his report into the Iraq war today, seven years after the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry was launched. The report has also been published on-line.
In a statement held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London to introduce the report, Chilcot said:
“It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. They were not challenged, and they should have been”.
He also criticised the lack of forward planning, saying that:
“The British military contribution was not settled until mid-January 2003, when Mr Blair and Mr Hoon agreed the military’s proposals for an increase in the number of brigades to be deployed; and that they would operate in southern, not northern, Iraq.
There was little time to prepare three brigades and the risks were neither properly identified nor fully exposed to Ministers”.
He also added in his statement:
“Mr Blair told the Inquiry that the difficulties encountered in Iraq after the invasion could not have been known in advance. We do not agree that hindsight is required. The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests, regional instability, and Al Qaida activity in Iraq, were each explicitly identified before the invasion.
Ministers were aware of the inadequacy of US plans, and concerned about the inability to exert significant influence on US planning. Mr Blair eventually succeeded only in the narrow goal of securing President Bush’s agreement that there should be UN authorisation of the post-conflict role.
Furthermore, he did not establish clear Ministerial oversight of UK planning and preparation. He did not ensure that there was a flexible, realistic and fully resourced plan that integrated UK military and civilian contributions, and addressed the known risks.
The failures in the planning and preparations continued to have an effect after the invasion”.
Tony Blair, who was the Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, said in a statement:
“The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit. Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country”.