26 November 2005. Add Times report of November 20, 2005:
The Sunday Times November 20, 2005
Researcher on secrets charge
A FORMER MPs researcher charged with breaking the Official Secrets Act behaved perfectly correctly and is incredibly unlucky to have been caught up in the scandal, according to his one-time employer, writes Robert Winnett.
Leo OConnor, 42, is alleged to have been passed a top secret document about the Iraq war by David Keogh, a 49-year-old Cabinet Office civil servant.
OConnor gave the document to his boss, Tony Clarke, then a Labour MP and an opponent of the Iraq war, who called the police. OConnor was charged with passing on official secrets. He was arrested in August 2004 [?] and charged last week, along with Keogh, who previously worked for the Foreign Office.
Clarke, who lost his seat in the last election, said last week OConnor had acted properly and had remained in his employment until his electoral defeat. He added: I remain 100% supportive of him and he is incredibly unlucky.
The document is said to be the transcript of a conversation between Tony Blair and President George Bush in spring 2004. It is believed to show Blair disagreed with Bush over their strategy on Iraq.
The men also revealed sensitive information on the situation in Iraq, including intelligence sources and details of future military movements.
Last week several media organisations claimed the information had also been leaked to The Sunday Times. However, the Metropolitan police, Crown Prosecution Service and Clarke said this was not the case.
25 November 2005. This May 2004 Sunday Times report and an associated confidential memo are claimed to be related to the recent UK Official Secrets Act ban on publication of a Blair-Bush memo in which Bush suggests bombing Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar. The two memos appear to be different, the one below is said to be 6-pages, the Blair-Bush memo said to be 5-pages. The one below does not mention Al Jazeera.
Cryptome invites a copy of the Blair-Bush memo. Send to information.
The Times link requires subscription but the article is available elsewhere on the Web, search on its title.
The Sunday Times, May 23, 2004
By David Cracknell, Political Editor
A LEAKED Foreign Office memorandum has exposed deep misgivings within the British government over Americas heavy-handed behaviour and tactics in Iraq.
The document discloses for the first time the extent of private reservations within Tony Blairs government about Washingtons approach.
It blows apart Blairs public insistence that there are no differences between Britain and America over military tactics in Iraq.
Under the heading Problems, the memo says: We should not underestimate the present difficulties . . . Heavy-handed US military tactics in Falluja and Najaf some weeks ago have fuelled both Sunni and Shiite opposition to the coalition, and lost us much public support inside Iraq.
It adds: The scandal of the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib (prison) has sapped the moral authority of the coalition, inside Iraq and internationally.
The detailed memo, intended for senior ministers and top officials, talks of the need to redouble our efforts to ensure a sensible and sensitive US approach to military operations.
The memo acknowledges that Britain is struggling to get the Americans to adopt the more tactful approach that it wants and that there is a need to stop the United States doing anything which would jeopardise our objectives.
It also discloses that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering two options for troop deployments to reinforce southern Iraq, both of which would involve extending the area patrolled by British soldiers.
Since the abuses of prisoners at the American-run Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad came to light, Blair has been scrupulously careful not to criticise the Bush administration although Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, has been less restrained.
The document, entitled Iraq: The Medium Term and dated May 19, was drawn up by the Iraq directorate in the Foreign Office. It was circulated to senior ministers and officials last week in the run-up to the June 30 deadline for handing over power to an Iraqi government.
While the six-page paper reveals candidly the governments private misgivings about American tactics, it is accompanied by a one-page supplement with public lines to take by ministers. The official script instructs ministers to go no further than admit that the security situation in Iraq is difficult.
The disclosure will add to the pressure on Blair to voice the criticisms made in the document to President Bush both publicly and privately.
Last week Michael Howard, the Tory leader, criticised Blairs new doctrine of not making public the private advice that he is giving the United States over Iraq.
Blair is preparing a push to get a United Nations resolution endorsing the new Iraqi government. His close colleagues expect him to make a surprise trip to America to hold one last summit with Bush ahead of the handover and before the presidential elections in November.
The memo also says: Heavy-handed US military tactics in Falluja and Najaf . . . has spread fighting to MND(SE) (multi-national defence force southeast, which is responsible for the southern provinces including Basra).
Turning to British strategy to overcome the difficulties, the document states: We shall want to minimise the profile of coalition forces after July 1, and get the Iraqis out in front as much as possible, particularly in patrolling and policing.
We need to redouble our efforts to ensure a sensible and sensitive US approach to military operations. The message seems to be accepted at the highest levels but not always implemented lower down the command chain.
It reveals that the MoD has two options for reinforcing the trouble parts of southern Iraq.One is to extend Britains responsibilities beyond the south to the central section of Iraq. A British-led three-star military headquarters, the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, now based in Germany, would be brought in to take over the areas patrolled by several European and international forces under Polish leadership.
The other option is to send in more troops to take over control from the Americans of the troubled areas of Najaf and Quadisiyah, which were previously under Spanish command until Madrid withdrew its troops.
Turning to political strategy, the memo emphasises the need to keep this a UN and Iraqi-led process and for a UN resolution to endorse the new Iraqi government and multinational force, but envisages potential resistance from the French.
In an intriguing twist, it suggests that the forthcoming celebrations on June 6 of the D-Day landings in Normandy will serve as some leverage on the French.
Further diplomatic embarrassment will be caused because the memo admits that some members of the Iraq Governing Council will be difficult to bring on board in view of the American tactics.
It also reveals that Britain is pushing for an international conference, requested by the Russians, French and Germans, later this year.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, is desperate for prisoners being guarded by British troops to be handed over to the Iraqi police to quell the storm of protest over the treatment of prisoners by coalition troops.
He is sorting out a deal with his American counterparts and officials in Iraq that will see the majority of inmates in British-controlled prisons come under Iraqi control when power is officially transferred on June 30.
The Sunday Times May 23, 2004
l. This paper summarises our strategic objective in Iraq, the difficulties we face and the strategy necessary to overcome them, up to and beyond the assumption of authority by a fully sovereign Interim Iraqi Government on 30 June.
2. Our strategic objective is a democratic, stable and prosperous Iraq, that poses no threat to its neighbours. This involves rebuilding and rehabilitating a country damaged and traumatised by years of brutality and mismanagement. The process is difficult, and setbacks are to be expected. But we have a strategy to push progress forward.
3. We should not underestimate the present difficulties:
4. But we are taking forward a strategy to overcome them. Security will be key.
5. We need to ensure the right security architecture after 30 June, with (i) an Iraqi-led National Security Council, involving senior MNF representation, as the forum for strategic decision making and; (ii) Iraqi forces under Iraqi command, except when involved with the MNF in specific operations.
6. We have identified ways to underpin Iraqiisation of the security forces, including more monitoring and mentoring, better leadership and specialist training, more effective police command from the Ministry of the Interior and faster procurement of equipment. An MOD-led team is visiting Iraq to take work forward.
7. We need a more flexible approach towards cooperation with existing militias. This seems to have worked on local initiative in Fallujah and the US are now considering something similar in Kirbala. But we must acknowledge that this approach has risks as well as opportunities and needs to be considered carefully on a case-by-case basis.
8. More generally, we shall want to minimise the profile of coalition forces after 1 July, and get the Iraqis out in front as much as possible, particularly in patrolling and policing.
9. We need to double our efforts to ensure a sensible and sensitive US approach to military operations. The message seeems to be accepted at the highest levels but not always implemented lower down the command chain.
10. The MOD are considering options for the reinforcement of Southern Iraq. Either:
(i) deploying a 3-star headquarters (the ARRC HQ) with a battlegroup to provide manoeuvre capacity, to take on responsibility for MND(CS) and MND(SE), or
(II) deployment of ground forces to take over Najaf and Quadissiyah provinces, thus extending MND(SE) with the UK succeeding the US who have or the moment taken over from Spain in those duties.
If we go down either route we should ensure that we use it to maximise our influence over American military decisions, and that we can prevent US action, either at the strategic or operational levels, which would jeopardise our objectives.
11. We need to maintain pressure on the neighbours, particularly Syria, over border security. We have made some progress with Iranon establishing border checkpoints - progress which may be jeopardised if the US proceed with expulsions of Iranian diplomats prior to transition (we are taking preemptive action). A cross-government team led by our future Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Chaplin, has made some progress with the Syrians.
12. We have kept in close consultation with coalition partners, with regular conferences on the military and political sides for MND(SE) troop contributors. The US have now recognised the wider need, and are organising a high-level meeting in Washington for all coalition partners on 20 May .
13. Establishing democracy in Iraq is a huge task, given the background. We must continue to support Brahimi's efforts to establish a fully sovereign Iraqi Interim Government from 30 June. His key tasks are to nominate the members of the Interim Government; help convene a National Conference, via a Preparatory Committee, that might serve to legitimise the IG (ideally before transition); and determine the means whereby the National Conference might also select a Consultative Council. We need to keep this a UN and Iraqi-led process, but Brahimi has been keeping the UK and US closely involved as his thinking has developed. Some members of the Iraq Governing Council will be difficult. We can help with them. We have senior contact with the US in hand.
14.We must ensure successful negotiation of a UNSCR, ideally before the D-Day celebrations on 6 June (which will serve as some leverage on the French). The prospects for this look reasonably positive. The key will be satisfactory language on the post-transition security architecture and particularly the relationship between the Multinational Force and the Iraqi Interim Government. We are clear that the MNF will only be able to operate with the full consent of the Iraqi Interim Government; that Iraqi forces would not be part of the MNF but only under MNF command and control for operational purposes, if the Iraqis agree (while remaining under overall Iraqi command); and that the Interim Government will have an effective veto over major operations. We still need to tie the US down to language that reflects these principles. But if we do so, and then give the French, Germans and Russians a genuine opportunity to offer views on the draft, the prospects look reasonable. This will require detailed senior level intervention with the US.
15. We will also need to ensure a constructive international conference in July or the autumn, which the French, Germans and Russians want. It could serve as useful further underpinning for the new arrangements and might encourage them to contribute to reconstruction.
16. Looking further ahead, we shall need to support the UN, including in security terms, in their preparations for elections in January.
17. Meanwhile we need to demonstrate that we are gripping the detainee issue, and show that we respond to abuse allegations. The Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary are considering ideas for greater international involvement.
Reconstruction and Economy
18. With $32bn pledged at Madrid and oil prices high money is not a problem. But spending it effectively and in line with Iraqi priorities is. The big impact should come from the $18bn US Supplemental. DFID have a well-targeted Country Assistance Plan including building Iraqi government capacity and helping the US to spend Supplemental money in the south. Restoring security will be key to effective deployment of the funds.
19. On the Iraqi economy more generally, we need to:
DFID will help the Iraqis with this agenda.
20. If the UK AOR is extended, it will be important to have a supporting development (and political) strategy.
21. This is an intense agenda across a series of complex inter-related problems, with security at their heart. It will require consistent and high-level cross-government commitment over coming weeks and months.
22. The transition and the summer months are bound to be difficult. By October we need to be well underway, with election preparations, with Iraqis exercising control over their own government and over much of security, with supplemental money being turned into jobs and early results on the ground, particularly in Sunni areas, and the insurgents undercut by progress on all of those fronts.
23. The task is considerable; the stakes are high; but it is imperative that we succeed.