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Why isn't Tony Blair in jail for the war crimes committed in Iraq?

“If Wars Can Be Started By Lies, Peace Can Be Started By Truth.” ‎- Julian Assange

Julian Assange is being wrongly punished for revealing war crimes, but to this day, no one has been held accountable for these crimes…

It is time to re-examine this absurdity in light of the Wikileaks publisher's ongoing torment.

In 2003, the UK, under Tony Blair's government, joins the US in the invasion of Iraq - based on lies. 1).

In 2016, after 7 years of inquiry, Sir John Chilcot delivers a scathing report. He recognises that the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was unnecessary, and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of individuals, and the displacement of over 4 million others.

Despite all efforts to prosecute the ones in charge, the UK High Court ruled in 2017 that there is no crime of aggression in British law under which the former prime minister could be charged.

However, in the 1940s, the international crime of a war of aggression was accepted by the then UK attorney general Sir Hartley Shawcross QC during the trials of Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg.

The UK government has been given “de facto domestic immunity” because “as long as it fails to enact legislation which makes the crime of aggression a domestic criminal offense, any leader can act as he/she chooses knowing that whatever action they take, it can be taken with complete impunity“ (Imran Khan, solicitor for plaintiff).

The UK government has received so many complaints from Iraqis who were unlawfully detained and allegedly mistreated by British troops that its defence ministry says it is unable to say how many millions of pounds have been paid to settle the claims.

In late 2020, The International Criminal Court says it will take no action against the UK, despite finding evidence that British troops committed war crimes in Iraq…2)

In April 2021, UK government passed a bill that decriminalises torture and war crimes. Innocuously titled 'The Overseas Operations Bill', the new piece of legislation makes it even harder to prosecute British soldiers for crimes committed more than five years ago. 3) 4)

Will Tony Blair and his co-conspirators ever be held accountable for their wrongdoings, and their consequences on the lives of millions of people ?

“Imagine Tony Blair dragged from his multi-million pound Georgian home in Connaught Square, London, in handcuffs, for onward dispatch to the dock in The Hague. By the standard of Nuremberg, Blair’s “paramount crime” is the deaths of a million Iraqis. Assange’s crime is journalism: holding the rapacious to account, exposing their lies and empowering people all over the world with truth.” –John Pilger

“The Right Honourable” Tony Blair, is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 .

2001

  • A note Blair sent to George Bush one day after the September 11 attacks set the tone for everything to come. He immediately adopted the viewpoint that many neo-conservatives like Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz would also take: that of terrorism as a unique and unprecedented menace — and an excuse for pursuing other geopolitical goals. 5)
  • Blair went on to suggest that the sorrow engendered by September 11 should be leveraged in support of this goal.6)

2003

  • 6th Feb: “The oil conspiracy theory is honestly one of the most absurd when you analyse it.” 7)8)
  • 2nd Mar: Katharine Gun, a young GCHQ translator, leaked a document which was subsequently passed to the British Newspaper The Observer, showing how the US had asked GCHQ to bug the phones of diplomats from the so-called UN “swing states” – countries believed to be open to persuasion to back an invasion of Iraq. 9)
  • 20th Mar: the invasion of Iraq begins (Operation Telic)10).

2005

  • MP Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary under Tony Blair, asserts in front of parliament that only conspiracy theorists would believe that the UK played any role in rendition or torture 11)

2007

  • 15th Jan: The Trial of Tony Blair, a satirical TV drama recounting hypothetical war crimes proceedings brought against Tony, airs for the first time on More4. It repeats on 5 March 2007 and during Blair's last week as Prime Minister on .
  • 23rd Jun: Tony Blair's departure from 10 Downing St.

2009

2016

2017

2018

  • New reports by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC): British intelligence officers were present at, or knew about, hundreds of incidents, working alongside the CIA and other American partners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo. 18)

2020

  • A total of 61 British companies are identified as having benefited from at least £1.1bn of contracts and investment in the new Iraq. But that figure is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Declassified documents from the lead-up to war show oil, gas and other corporations scrambling to capitalize on Iraq.
  • Facing pressure from an anxious business community keen to take advantage of the potential spoils of war, the Blair government successfully pushed to make sure British companies had a seat at the table. 22)
  • Declassified communications from the U.K. to the U.S. show the depth of Blair’s commitment to toppling Saddam Hussein. 23)

AMEC

construction

  • $154m contract to restore electrical power systems (2004)
  • 'construction, rehabilitation, operation, and maintenance of power generation facilities’- $500m from U.S. Agency for International Development (2004)
  • design-build construction services for water resource projects in the northern and southern regions of Iraq’ - $500m and $600m from USAID

Aegis

private security

  • $430m Pentagon contract to coordinate military/security companies in Iraq (2004-2005)
  • the largest corporate military ever assembled

Erinys

private security

  • $50m from US Army Corps of Engineers.
  • $100m to protect oil fields

Petrel Resources (Anglo-Irish)

petroleum

  • awarded $197.4m (£113.17m) contract to develop Subba and Luhais oil fields by Ministry of Oil (2005)
  • joint venture with Makman oil and gas, in which each will take 50%

HSBC

financial

  • purchased 70% of the Dar es Salaam Investment Bank, (with assets of $91.1m)
  • HSBC profit from Middle East business rose by 25% in 2004

Cummins UK

power

  • $45m from sales of power stations

PB Power

power

  • $43.4 to ‘Provide program management office support for the electrical services sector’ (2004)

Control Risks

Private security

  • unknown proportion of $500m; subcontractor for Parsons USAID buildings contract (2004)
  • £23.5m from UK government for protection squads (2004)
  • one of the largest British private security companies in Iraq (2005)

Merchant Bridge

financial

  • ‘lead advisor’ to Iraq Ministry of Industry and Minerals for factory lease programme (2004)
  • launched Mansour Bank (Sep 2005), capitalised at $38.5m; 90% from Iraqi investors

Global Risk Strategies

private security

  • had 2,000 staff in Iraq
  • received $27m contract to distribute the new Iraqi Dinar (2004)
  • guarded part of Baghdad airport (2004)

Although he denies it, Blair is estimated to have earned between £50-100 million since stepping down as UK prime minister 25)26)27).

Since he left office at 10 Downing Street, he has been operating as a shadow 28) government 29) 30); using a variety of consulting companies to broker business deals between heads of state he had met during his mandate.

2007

  • criticism came after Mr Blair reportedly earned £300,000 in his first week of a North American speaking tour last month, during which he apparently recycled the same jokes on a number of occasions.
  • Tony Blair is panned by the Chinese media after he was allegedly paid $500,000 (£237,000) for a speech that revealed “nothing new”. 31)
  • sponsor of Mr Blair's China trip, the Guangda real estate group, offered him a house worth 38m yuan (£2.4m), according to the Guangzhou Daily.
  • He took up numerous roles after stepping down as prime minister in 2007, including Middle East envoy for the UN for eight years.
  • He also set up Tony Blair Associates to give “strategic advice” to a range of clients, which included oil companies as well as governments in Kuwait, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

2008

  • Blair takes a position with JP Morgan 32)

2013

  • Tony acquires a £30m private jet 'Blair Force One' 33)
  • 2nd Sept: Mr Blair gives a speech in Bangkok at a one-day conference on reconciliation, and gets paid £400,000 by the Thai government.

2015

  • his extensive business activities in the Middle East have led to repeated accusations of conflicts of interest.
  • TB was being paid millions by the United Arab Emirates while also working as Middle East envoy.34)
  • TB was also being paid by a Korean oil company seeking to do business with the UAE-owned International Petroleum Investment Company.
  • TB is being paid to advise the Colombian government on how it spends £2 billion earned from mining deals. 35)
  • He is also paid £2 million a year acting as a senior adviser to JP Morgan

2016

  • Tony Blair Associates (TBA) billed an oil-rich Arab state $35 million for providing advice 36)
  • Tony Blair closes TBA, the advisory firm that has muddied his post-government career by making millions of pounds from an array of controversial clients 37)
  • The Tony Blair Institute (TBI) is set up in late 2016 after Mr Blair announced that he was wrapping up his controversial business empire in order to focus on philanthropy.
  • a £9m Saudi payment was mentioned in TBI’s first set of accounts published, alongside contributions from the US State Department, the Canadian government, some African governments and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation — a charity set up by a Ukrainian billionaire. 38)
  • TBI said it was “committed to working for modernisation and reform” and that none of the money goes personally to the former British prime minister, who works for free.
  • TBI said “its aim continued to be to help make globalisation work for the many, not the few.”
  • TB also retains several lucrative business roles including chairing the JP Morgan International Council and the advisory panel to the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline. He also receives an irregular income from highly paid speaking engagements.
  • Blair has been opaque about his personal wealth. Asked by the FT in 2014 about his lack of disclosure, he said: “I read I’m supposed to be worth £100m . . . Cherie is asking where it is,” he said, referring to his wife. “I’m not worth half of that, a third, a quarter, a fifth of that, I could go on.”

Document publications by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks shed important light on the foreign policies of the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Labour governments. They particularly reveal the closeness of the US-UK special relationship and the willingness of the UK to act in support of the US and to protect the latter’s interests, in addition to examples of the UK’s own duplicitous foreign policy decision-making.

For shining a light on the UK governments’ wrongdoings, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is paying a heavy price. That’s why WikiLeaks and Assange deserve our full solidarity. Thanks to their bravery, we care better equipped to consign New Labour’s terrible foreign policy to history.

The Brown government undermined the Chilcot Inquiry it launched in 2009 by immediately making promises to the US. As the enquiry was just beginning, Jon Day, MOD Director for security policy, promised a senior US official that his government had “put measures in place to protect your interests” during the inquiry.39) According to the US cable:

“He [Day] noted that Iraq seems no longer to be a major issue in the U.S., but he said it would become a big issue – a “feeding frenzy” – in the UK “when the inquiry takes off.”40)

It is not known what this protection amounted to, but it appears to have been substantial. No US officials were called to give evidence to Chilcot in public. Evidence from some US officials was only heard in private during visits by inquiry members to the US. The inquiry was also refused permission to publish letters between George Bush and Tony Blair written in 2002 in the run-up to the war, even though they were referred to in evidence.41)

WikiLeaks’ files highlight the legacy of Tony Blair in Iraq. In October 2010, WikiLeaks published the largest classified military leak in history – the “The Iraq War Logs”, which consist of 391,832 reports documenting the war and occupation in Iraq from 2004-09 as told by soldiers in the US Army on the ground in Iraq.

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of

  • 66,081 “civilians”
  • 23,984 “enemy” (those labelled as insurgents)
  • 15,196 “host nation” (Iraqi government forces)
  • and 3,771 “friendly” (coalition forces)

The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.42)

A UK military report of 2006 on the war in Iraq published by WikiLeaks damns UK and US war planning, which, it says, “ran counter to potential Geneva Convention obligations” – and lead directly to the post invasion collapse of Iraqi society. It noted: “Leaders should not start an operation without thinking…it is not enough just to identify the desired end-state”.

The report also reveals that Whitehall had been secretly planning the war during 2002 and that the Blair government kept the pending invasion (“Telic”) secret from all but an inner circle of officers and officials until three months before the start of hostilities. It stated:

“In Whitehall, the internal OPSEC (operational security) regime, in which only very small numbers of officers and officials were allowed to become involved in TELIC business, constrained broader planning for combat operations and subsequent phases effectively until 23 December 2002.”

Although the UK wanted UN Security Council approval, the UK found itself tied to a US ideological agenda and timetable. The report states:

“The UK had to work to a timetable and strong ideological views set in the United States. As one Senior Officer put it: ‘the train was in Grand Central Station, and was leaving at a time which we did not control'”.

The combined secrecy and ideology was a planning disaster that directly lead to the collapse of the Iraqi society.

Not only was the military at large kept in the dark until the end of 2002, but contractors vital to the reconstruction and stabilisation of the country were not contacted until the end of the invasion in late April 2003:

“The requirements to plan, find resources for, and undertake interim government and reconstruction in Iraq, the non-military tasks, were discussed in outline across Whitehall, but approaches to potential contractors were not made until combat operations were coming to an end. Planning was not done in sufficient depth, and, at the outset of Phase IV [post combat operations] little finance was requested (and approved) for reconstruction purposes…. [T]he UK Government, which spent millions of pounds on resourcing the Security Line of Operations, spent virtually none on the Economic one, on which security depended”.

The report argues the result was a breach of Geneva Convention obligations, for which coalition governments are legally responsible.43)

The invasion of Iraq has long been criticised for being a war for oil and for years many commentators sought information on whether Britain would encourage its oil companies to profit from this widely-condemned war.

A US cable from April 2009 - six years after the invasion of Iraq - shows Peter Mandelson, a chief architect of Tony Blair’s election victory and then Trade Secretary in the Brown government, pushing British oil and other corporate interests in Iraq. Mandelson attended the Basrah Investment Conference which brought together 23 UK-based companies such as Shell, BP, Rolls Royce and HSBC. The region was significant to the UK since this was the principal area occupied by UK military forces after the 2003 invasion.

The US cable notes: “According to Basrah HMG officials, UK delegates were able to establish or strengthen relationships with key business figures in Basrah”. Attendees also included the directors of oil investment in Basrah and the commander of Iraqi security forces in the region alongside “UK Force Commander Tom Beckett and several Basrah-based UK military officials”. The cable added:

“Lord Mandelson opened the conference by looking back at the UK’s long relationship with Basrah, and looked forward to closer economic cooperation ahead… The conference also demonstrated to local players that there are serious and respected UK multinational companies ready to do business in Basrah”.44)

Another WikiLeaks file shows how the US and Britain rigged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to stop it being able to hold Blair and Bush accountable for the crime of aggression over Iraq.

During the 1998 negotiations on the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, many of the 160 states attending argued for the Court to be given jurisdiction over the crime of aggression but the US and the UK, amongst other states, were to opposed it. A compromise was struck in which the crime of aggression was included in the Rome Statute but the Court would not exercise jurisdiction over this crime until a definition, along with the conditions under which the court could exercise jurisdiction, had been agreed. Discussion of these matters was put off until a conference in Kampala, Uganda, in 2010, ahead of which the US, France and the UK sought to influence the outcome of discussions. 45)

According to a February 2010 cable from the US Embassy to the UN in New York, the Obama administration wanted decisions on the crime of aggression to be deferred yet again after discussions in Kampala. Failing that, the US wanted to ensure that the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime would be subject to a “Security Council trigger”, that is, the Court would only be able to act after the Security Council had determined that an act of aggression had taken place.46) The governments of France and the UK agreed, along with Russia and China. By keeping the power to determine aggression within the Security Council where they have veto power, the five permanent members can prevent cases of aggression being brought at the ICC against themselves or their allies.47)

US files published by WikiLeaks show Tony Blair seeking Hillary Clinton’s help to become President of the European Council.

An October 2009 file reveals “a message from Tony” from Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff. Powell wrote to Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal, stating:

  “If Hillary had a chance to say something about TB being a good President of the European Council if asked about it during her remaining time in Europe that would be v helpful, The Austrian Chancellor has said today he doesn’t want TB because he was for Bush rather than the new Democratic Administration”.

Blumenthal then recommended to Clinton that she say some “nice words… without an explicit endorsement” since “the rap against him is that he’s ‘Bush’s poodle’, and your positive comments would help erase that taint”.48)


5)
“We need to construct an agenda that puts onto a new footing action against this new evil,” he wrote to Bush on September 12, 2001. He would reiterate this in a note to Bush two years later. ​“The more I reflect on it, the more [terrorism], together with WMD, constitutes an entirely new phenomenon of threat.” Iraq War Inquiry
6)
“It is now that the world is in a state of shock; now that it feels maximum sympathy for the US; now that it can be co-opted most easily,” he wrote. ​“Locking in the international community sooner rather than later is therefore critical.” In Theses Times
11)
“Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we have not been, and so what on earth a judicial inquiry would start to do I have no idea.” https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmfaff/uc768-i/uc76802.htm
12)
“I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you can ever believe”
13)
“I did it because I thought it was right,” Blair said.
14)
“My first concern was the way Tony Blair ran Cabinet. We were given too little paper documentation to make decisions.”John Prescott reveals his guilt at the 'illegal' Iraq War will haunt him for the rest of his life Sunday Mirror
15)
High court rules that there is no crime of aggression in English law under which former PM could be charged
16)
[…] extremely disappointed with the judgment of the high court in London which brings to an end the hope of prosecuting Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Peter Goldsmith for the crime of aggression in invading Iraq in 2003
17)
the government had been given “de facto domestic immunity” because “as long as it fails to enact legislation which makes the crime of aggression a domestic criminal offence, any leader can act as he/she chooses knowing that whatever action they take, it can be taken with complete impunity.”
19)
The UK government has received so many complaints from Iraqis who were unlawfully detained and allegedly mistreated by British troops that its defence ministry says it is unable to say how many millions of pounds have been paid to settle the claims.
20)
The International Criminal Court says it will not take action against the UK, despite finding evidence British troops committed (hundreds of) war crimes in Iraq
23)
“We need to construct an agenda that puts onto a new footing action against this new evil” he wrote to Bush on September 12, 2001 https://inthesetimes.com/article/chilcot-report-uk-tony-blair-regime-change-iraq-war
24)
Chilcot takes at face value the Blair government’s claim that the motive was to address Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and limits its criticism to mistakes in the intelligence on WMD, and on insufficient administrative and military planning. He shows a remarkable lack of curiosity about the political factors behind the move to war, especially given the weakness (even at the time) of the WMD case. […] Most important of these is oil. Buried in deep in volume 9 of the 2.6 million-word report, Chilcot refers to government documents that explicitly state the oil objective, and outlining how Britain pursued that objective throughout the occupation. But he does not consider this evidence in his analysis or conclusions. Oil considerations do not even appear in the report’s 150-page summary.
25)
Tony Blair: “I'm worth less than £20m, and I'm not interested in making money” Revealed: how Tony Blair makes his millions Telegraph
26)
He may own six or more homes, have an income of around £20 million a year and spend his time travelling the world by private jet. Just don’t call Tony Blair super rich.I'm not one of the super-rich, says Tony Blair despite being worth £20m a year and owning six homes Telegraph
27)
Delving into what drives the politician, this programme investigates how successful his various business activities have really been. The Blair Rich Project Channel 5 youtube
28)
Mr Blair insists on strict secrecy in his business dealings with no fewer than 10 clauses dealing with confidentiality. Revealed: how Tony Blair makes his millions Telegraph
29)
Mr Blair used his status as former prime minister to secure the deal, boasting that “improved delivery was one of the great achievements of the Blair administration”
30)
Robert Harris on Tony Blair: “He was a one-man government” BBC Newsnight 2016
32)
“Blair knew notoriously little about economics. He was always a big picture man, not a policy-focused prime minister.” Blair’s new role is break with tradition FT
33)
estimated cost of £7,000 for every hour it is in the air Former prime minister Tony gets a £30m Blair Force One Telegraph
35)
Mr Blair is close friends with Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos, a multi-millionaire media tycoon, with whom Mr Blair co-wrote a political book in 1999 Revealed: how Tony Blair makes his millions Telegraph
36)
TBA asked for “professional fees” of $6,210,000 a year and an additional $688,000 to cover the company’s annual expenses. The expenses cover a “contribution towards the transportation costs” for visits by Mr Blair and his team. In exchange, Mr Blair promised to fly to Abu Dhabi at least 12 times a year.Tony Blair wanted $35m to build UAE’s brand and influence Telegraph
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