As noted previously on ThinkProgress, the American media had failed to report on the British Briefing Papers — covered by the British media last September — that showed that the British felt the pre-war evidence for attacking Iraq was weak and that the U.S. lacked a plan to address the post-war situation. Using the Downing Street Minutes to bring light to these Briefing Papers, the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus wrote a front-page story this weekend calling attention to the charges in those documents.
In a headline entitled, “Memo: U.S. Lacked Full Postwar Iraq Plan,” Pincus uncovered a British memo warning of post-war instability that would arise because the Bush administration was unrealistic about the post-war phase. A number of the Papers in the Pincus article are attached below. As one of the Papers warns, the U.S. had no plans for “what happens on the morning after [attacking Iraq].”
The main thrust of the British Briefing Papers certainly focused on the Bush administration’s failure to plan, but there’s another key point in the Papers which Pincus chose not to highlight, a point which meshes well with the revelations in the Downing Street Minutes. As you know, the Downing Street Minutes said the Bush administration “fixed” the intelligence around its policy of attacking Iraq. The British Briefing Papers lend further credence to this point.
British Knew Iraqi WMD Were Not a Threat: “There is no greater threat now that [Saddam] will use WMD than there has been in recent years, so continuing containment is an option.” [Iraq: Options Paper]
Evidence Did Not Show Much Advance In Iraq’s Weapons Programs: “Even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years on [the] nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts: the programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.” [Ricketts Paper, 3/22/02]
Evidence Was Thin on Iraq/Al Qaeda Ties: “US is scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al [Qaida] is so far frankly unconvincing.” [Ricketts Paper, 3/22/02]
“No Credible Evidence” On Iraq/Al Qaeda Link: “There has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL and Al Qaida.” [Straw Paper, 3/25/02]
Wolfowitz Knew Supposed Iraq/Al Qaeda Link Was Weak: Wolfowitz said that “there might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11, and Iraqi intelligence (did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting?).” [Meyer Paper, 3/18/02]
The full British Briefing Papers have been attached below. When reading them, keep in mind that these Papers were written approximately a full year before the invasion of Iraq. The Papers present a shockingly accurate forecast of what has transpired in the years since, and suggest the Bush administration chose to ignore the advice of our key ally when it came to dealing with Iraq.