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 Blair used spin to justify Iraq war, says Blix

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The Sameer
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PostSubject: Blair used spin to justify Iraq war, says Blix   Tue Mar 13, 2007 3:33 am

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2032009,00.html

Tony Blair and his government "exercised spin" in exaggerating the case for the war in Iraq, the former United Nations chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said in an interview broadcast today.
Describing the conflict as "clearly illegal", Mr Blix, who led the UN search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq until June 2003, refused to specifically accuse the prime minister of open deceit.

However, he said pre-war intelligence such as the UK government dossier which claimed Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and could deploy some within 45 minutes, appeared to have deliberately overstated the case for war.

"I would never dare to accuse any statesman of bad faith unless I had absolute evidence of it. I do think they exercised spin," Mr Blix told Sky News.

"They put exclamation marks instead of question marks. There were question marks but they changed them to exclamation marks."

The subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction after Saddam was deposed saw both Mr Blair and President George Bush face "political punishment", Mr Blix said, adding: "They lost a lot of confidence. Both Bush and Blair lost a lot of confidence."

Mr Blix said the US used UN security council resolutions as cover for a "clearly illegal" war.

He said his inspectors could have confirmed the lack of weapons of mass destruction if they had been given more time.

"I think if they'd allowed us to carry on the inspections a couple of months more, then we would have been able to go to all the sites suspected of by intelligence - British, American or other," he said.

"And since there weren't any weapons we'd have come with that answer: there are no weapons at all the sites that you have given us."

This message, he said, would have run counter to what both the US and some of their sources, such as Iraqi defectors, wanted: "They wanted invasion."

"And the US, after all, were witch-hunters. They wanted to see anything as evidence that the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"We were simply looking for the truth. We didn't assume that they had them. We didn't assume that they did not have them."

Asked whether a similar situation could ensue with Iran, Mr Blix noted "similarities which are strong" but argued that a chastened US government would be more wary of heeding calls for another war.

"I wouldn't be surprised if [there were] people in Washington who reason that way," he said. "But the atmosphere in Washington has changed a good deal. The American people are tired of military adventures."

Mr Blix said he believed that the occupation of Iraq, overall, had been a complete failure.

"I think everything in Iraq after the invasion has been a tragedy. The only positive thing, I think, is the disappearance of Saddam Hussein."
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