by William Lowther in Washington
and Glen Owen for The Mail on Sunday
17 October 2015
Smoking gun emails reveal 'deal
George Bush and Tony Blair
made as they secretly plotted
the Iraq War
behind closed doors
a YEAR before the invasion.
Damning White House
memo, from secretary of state Colin Powell to
president George Bush, was written on March 28,
2002, a week before Bush's famous summit with Blair
at his Crawford ranch in Texas
In the bombshell
document, headed 'Secret... Memorandum for the
president', Powell tells Bush that Blair 'will be
with us' on military action
It adds that Blair was
preparing to act as spin doctor for Bush, who was
told 'the UK will follow our lead'
New light was shed on
Bush-Blair relations by material disclosed by
Hillary Clinton at the order of the U.S. courts
A bombshell White House memo has
revealed for the first time details of the 'deal in blood' forged by
George Bush and Tony Blair
the Iraq War.
The damning memo, from secretary of state Colin Powell to
president George Bush, was written on March 28, 2002, a week before
Bush's famous summit with Blair at his Crawford ranch in Texas.
The Powell document, headed 'Secret... Memorandum for the
President', lifts the lid on how Blair and Bush secretly plotted the
war behind closed doors at Crawford.
In it, Powell tells Bush that Blair 'will be with us' on military
Powell assures the president:
'The UK will follow our lead'.
The classified document also discloses
that Blair agreed to act as a glorified spin doctor for the
president by presenting 'public affairs lines' to convince a
skeptical public that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction
- when none existed.
In return, the president would flatter Blair's ego and give the
impression that Britain was not America's poodle but an equal
partner in the 'special relationship'.
Scroll down to read the documents in full:
All sewn up:
President George Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair
at the infamous 2002
summit at Bush's ranch house in Crawford, Texas,
where the two men
spoke about invading Iraq
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, left of Bush,
wrote to the
president to say the UK 'will be with us'
The sensational leak shows that Blair had given an unqualified
pledge to sign up to the conflict a year before the invasion
It flies in the face of the UK Prime Minister's public claims at the
time that he was seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
He told voters:
'We're not proposing military
action' - in direct contrast to what the secret email now
Blair's ego was
flattered by the President during his visit to his ranch home.
He is pictured above
embracing First Lady Laura Bush
The disclosure is certain to lead for calls for Sir John Chilcot
to reopen his inquiry into the Iraq War if, as is believed, he has
not seen the Powell memo.
A second explosive memo from the same cache also reveals how Bush
used 'spies' in the Labour Party to help him to manipulate British
public opinion in favor of the war.
The documents, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, are part of a
batch of secret emails held on the private server of Democratic
Hillary Clinton which U.S.
courts have forced her to reveal.
Former UK Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis
'The memos prove in explicit terms
what many of us have believed all along: Tony Blair effectively
agreed to act as a frontman for American foreign policy in
advance of any decision by the House of Commons or the British
'He was happy to launder George Bush's policy on Iraq and
sub-contract British foreign policy to another country without
having the remotest ability to have any real influence over it.
And in return for what?
'For George Bush pretending Blair was a player on the world
stage to impress voters in the UK when the Americans didn't even
believe it themselves'.
Davis was backed by a senior diplomat
with close knowledge of Blair-Bush relations who said:
'This memo shows beyond doubt for
the first time Blair was committed to the Iraq War before he
even set foot in Crawford.
'And it shows how the Americans planned to make Blair look an
equal partner in the special relationship to bolster his
position in the UK.'
Blair's spokesman insisted last night
that Powell's memo was,
'consistent with what he was saying
publicly at the time'.
The former Prime Minister has always
hotly denied the claim that the two men signed a deal 'in blood' at
Crawford to embark on the war, which started on March 20, 2003.
Powell says to Bush:
'He will present to you the
strategic, tactical and public affairs lines that he believes
will strengthen global support for our common cause,' adding
that Blair has the presentational skills to, 'make a credible
public case on current Iraqi threats to international peace'.
Five months after the summit, Downing
Street produced the notorious '45 minutes from doom' dossier on
Saddam Hussein's supposed
Weapons of Mass Destruction. After Saddam was toppled, the dossier's
claims were exposed as bogus.
Nowhere in the memo is a diplomatic route suggested as the preferred
Instead, Powell says that Blair will also advise on how to,
'handle calls' for the 'blessing' of
the United Nations Security Council, and to 'demonstrate that we
have thought through "the day after" ' - in other words, made
adequate provision for a post-Saddam Iraq.
Critics of the war say that the lack of
post-conflict planning has contributed to the loss of more than
100,000 lives since the invasion - and a power vacuum
which has contributed to the rise of Islamic State terrorism.
Significantly, Powell warns Bush that Blair has hit 'domestic
turbulence' for being 'too pro-U.S. in foreign and security policy,
too arrogant and "presidential" ', which Powell points out is 'not a
compliment in the British context'.
Powell also reveals that the splits in Blair's Cabinet were deeper
than was realized: he says that apart from Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon,
'Blair's Cabinet shows signs of
division, and the British public are unconvinced that military
action is warranted now'.
Powell says that although Blair will
'stick with us on the big issues', he wants to minimize the
'political price' he would have to pay:
'His voters will look for signs that
Britain and America are truly equity partners in the special
The president certainly did his best to
flatter Blair's ego during the Crawford summit, where he was the
first world leader to be invited into Bush's sanctuary for two
Tony and Cherie Blair stayed in the guesthouse close to the main
residence with their daughter Kathryn and Cherie's mother, Gale
Booth. Bush took the highly unusual step of inviting Blair to sit in
on his daily CIA briefing, and drove the prime minister around in a
Mystery has long surrounded what was discussed at Crawford as
advisers were kept out of a key meeting between the two men.
Sir Christopher Meyer, who was present in Crawford as
Britain's ambassador to the U.S., told Chilcot that his exclusion
meant he was,
'not entirely clear to this day...
what degree of convergence was, if you like, signed in blood at
the Crawford ranch'.
But in public comments during his time
at Crawford, Blair denied that Britain was on an unstoppable path to
'This is a matter for considering
all the options', he said. 'We're not proposing military action
at this point in time'.
and Blair are pictured above
shaking hands at a
meeting near Camp Davis in February 2001
During his appearance before
the Chilcot Inquiry in January
2010, Blair denied that he had struck a secret deal with Bush at
Crawford to overthrow Saddam.
Blair said the two men had agreed on the
need to confront the Iraqi dictator, but insisted they did not get
'The one thing I was not doing was
dissembling in that position,' he told Chilcot.
'The position was not a covert position, it was an open
position. This isn't about a lie or a conspiracy or a deceit or
a deception. It's a decision. What I was saying... was "We are
going to be with you in confronting and dealing with this
Pressed on what he thought Bush took
from their meeting, he said the president had realized Britain would
support military action if the diplomatic route had been exhausted.
In his memoirs, Blair again said it was 'a myth' he had signed a
promise 'in blood' to go to war, insisting:
'I made no such commitment'.
Critics who claimed that Blair acted as
the 'poodle' of the US will point to a reference in Mr Powell's memo
to the fact Mr Blair,
'readily committed to deploy 1,700
commandos' to Afghanistan 'even though his experts warn that
British forces are overstretched'.
The decision made the previous October
in the wake of
the September 11 attacks led to
widespread concern that the UK was entering an open-ended commitment
to a bloody conflict in Afghanistan - a concern many critics now say
Mr Powell's memo goes on to say that a recent move by the U.S. to
protect its steel industry with tariffs, which had damaged UK
exports, was a 'bitter blow' for Blair, but he was prepared to,
'insulate our broader relationship
from this and other trade disputes'.
The memo was included in a batch of
30,000 emails which were received by Mrs Clinton on her private
server when she was US Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013.
Another document included in the email batch is a confidential
briefing for Powell prepared by the U.S. Embassy in London, shortly
before the Crawford summit.
The memo, dated 'April 02', includes a detailed assessment of the
effect on Blair's domestic position if he backs US military action.
The document says:
'A sizeable number of his [Blair's]
MPs remain at present opposed to military action against Iraq...
some would favor shifting from a policy of containment of Iraq
if they had recent (and publicly usable) proof that Iraq is
developing WMD/missiles... most seem to want some sort of UN
endorsement for military action.
'Blair's challenge now is to judge the timing and evolution of
America's Iraq policy and to bring his party and the British
people on board.
'There have been a few speculative pieces in the more feverish
press about Labor [sic] unease re Iraq policy… which have gone
on to identify the beginnings of a challenge to Blair's
leadership of the party.
'Former Cabinet member Peter Mandelson, still an insider, called
it all "froth". Nonetheless, this is the first time since the
1997 election that such a story is even being printed'.
The paper draws on information given to
it by Labour 'spies', whose identities have been hidden.
'[name redacted] told us the
intention of those feeding the story is not to bring down Blair
but to influence him on the Iraq issue'.
'Some MPs would endorse action if they had proof that Iraq has
continued to develop WMD since UN inspectors left.
'More would follow if convinced that Iraq has succeeded in
developing significant WMD capability and the missiles to
'Many more would follow if they see compelling evidence that
Iraq intends and plans to use such weapons. A clear majority
would support military action if Saddam is implicated in the
9/11 attacks or other egregious acts of terrorism'.
'Blair has proved an excellent judge of political timing, and he
will need to be especially careful about when to launch a
ramped-up campaign to build support for action against Iraq.
'He will want neither to be too far in front or behind US
policy... if he waits too long, then the keystone of any
coalition we wish to build may not be firmly in place. No doubt
these are the calculations that Blair hopes to firm up when he
meets the President'.
A spokesperson for Blair said:
'This is consistent with what Blair
was saying publicly at the time and with Blair's evidence given
to the Chilcot Inquiry'.
Neither Mrs Clinton nor Mr Powell
replied to requests for comment.
BLAIR EXPOSÉ - YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Why have these memos come out now?
The U.S. courts have ruled that 30,000 emails received by
Hillary Clinton when she was U.S. Secretary of State from 2009
to 2013 should be released.
She may have asked for these documents to grasp the background
to the Iraq War.
What was the Crawford summit?
The meeting between Blair and Bush at the President's Texan
ranch in April 2002, 11 months before the outbreak of war. The
pair spent long periods discussing Iraq without their advisers,
leading to suspicion that they privately cut a deal for the
UK Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer said it was impossible to
know whether a deal was 'signed in blood'.
What did Blair say at Crawford?
At the start of the summit, Mr Blair said:
'We're not proposing military
action at this point in time.'
For the whole of 2002, Blair claimed
no decision had been taken and in the run-up to war. He said
that Saddam Hussein could avoid conflict by co-operating with UN
What happened after Crawford?
In September 2002, in an attempt to prove Saddam was a threat,
No 10 falsely claimed Saddam could deploy biological weapons
'within 45 minutes', and Mr Blair went around the world trying
to drum up UN backing for action against Iraq.
Despite mass anti-war protests, Britain and America invaded Iraq
in March 2003 without the backing of the UN.
Had the allies prepared for 'the
The invasion was declared complete on April 15, 2003. But the
reason for war proved spurious, and Saddam's removal left a
power vacuum filled by warring factions which some say helped
Islamic State rise.
Have the memos been seen by the
It is not thought the £10million, six-year inquiry has asked to
see American Government material.
proves Blair signed up for Iraq even before Americans
Comment by former shadow home secretary David
This is one of the most astonishing
documents I have ever read.
It proves in explicit terms what many of us have believed all
Tony Blair effectively agreed to
act as a front man for American foreign policy in advance of
any decision by the House of Commons or the British Cabinet.
He was happy to launder George
Bush's policy on Iraq and sub-contract British foreign policy to
another country without having the remotest ability to have any
real influence over it.
And in return for what? For George Bush pretending Blair was a
player on the world stage to impress voters in the UK when the
Americans didn't even believe it themselves.
Blair was content to cynically use Britain's international
reputation for honest dealing in diplomacy, built up over
many years, as a shield against worldwide opprobrium for Bush's
Judging from this memorandum, Blair signed up for the Iraq War
even before the Americans themselves did. It beggars belief.
Blair was telling MPs and voters back home that he was still
pursuing a diplomatic solution while Colin Powell was telling
President Bush: 'Don't worry, George, Tony is signed up for the
war come what may - he'll handle the PR for you, just make him
look big in return.'
It should never be forgotten that a minimum of 120,000 people
died as a direct result of the Iraq War.
What is truly shocking is the casualness of it all, such as the
reference in the memo to 'the day after' - meaning the day after
Saddam would be toppled.
The offhand tone gives the game away: it is patently obvious
nobody thought about 'the day after' when Bush and Blair met in
And they gave it no more thought right through to the moment
'the day after' came about a year later when Saddam's statue
fell to the ground.
We saw the catastrophic so-called 'de-Baathification' of Iraq,
with the country's entire civil and military structure
dismantled, leading to years of bloodshed and chaos. It has
infected surrounding countries to this day and created the
vacuum into which Islamic State has stepped.
This may well be the Iraq 'smoking gun' we have all been looking
In full - The
Blair/Bush White House documents
Pictured below is the memo from Secretary of State Colin Powell
to George W Bush:
Click above image for
This second, explosive memo, drafted by
the U.S. Embassy in London, reveals how Bush used Labour 'spies' to
manipulate British public opinion:
Click above image for