The leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, July 21, 2002: "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action"

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The leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, July 21, 2002: "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action" exposed in the June 12, 2005, Sunday Times (UK) Online says that [1][2][3]

  • The "Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal."
  • Prime Minister Tony Blair had "already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W. Bush three months earlier."
  • "The briefing paper, [prepared in advance] for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was 'necessary to create the conditions' which would make it legal," which was "required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action."

The paper, dubbed the "'Smoking Cannon' paper" by BuzzFlash, comes only weeks after The secret Downing Street memo, July 23, 2002 -- also known as the "'Smoking Gun' memo" -- which the Times revealed May 1, 2005.

The Briefing Papers

According to the Times, as the paper "produced by the Cabinet Office on July 21, 2002, is incomplete because the last page is missing," it has produced only a transcript of the document instead of providing a copy.


The Times' Michael Smith reported June 12, 2005, that [4]

  1. "The suggestions that the allies use the UN to justify war contradicts claims by Blair and Bush, repeated during their Washington summit last week, that they turned to the UN in order to avoid having to go to war."
  2. The "briefing paper is certain to add to the pressure, particularly on the American president, because of the damaging revelation that Bush and Blair agreed on regime change in April 2002 and then looked for a way to justify it."

Cause for Impeachment?

"What if President Bush lied to Congress and the American people, used those lies to gain congressional approval for military action against Iraq and launched a war that killed 1,700 Americans and tens of thousands of others?

"That might have been a hypothetical question a month ago," according to Dave Richardson in the June 13, 2005, Times Herald-Record (Middletown, NY), but "it might not be hypothetical anymore.

"In fact," Richardson wrote, "Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, says the answer to the question could lead to the impeachment of President Bush." [5]

SourceWatch Resources

External links


General Resources

Full British Briefing Papers: Think Progress website

Briefing Papers: Times (UK)

Analysis of the Papers



Downing Street Memo, July 23, 2002