Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tony Blair at British Iraq Inquiry


For a second time former British Prime Minister Tony Blair testified before the Committee of Inquiry on the Iraq War. January 2010, Mr. Blair testified before the five-member group on his role during the lead up to the war, military preparedness, and his relationship with President George W. Bush.

Chilcot Inquiry: Tony Blair heckled as he expresses regret for this loss of life in the Iraq war

By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
2:31PM GMT 21 Jan 2011
Relatives of those killed in the conflict shouted out “It’s too late,” as an emotional Mr Blair told of his sorrow at the bloodshed, while two female witnesses walked out and another turned her face away.

Following his first evidence session a year ago, he had refused to speak of any regrets, saying only that he accepted responsibility for what happened following the 2003 invasion.

But, his voice shaking with emotion, Mr Blair announced that he would like to say some words about the matter after being asked to outline the lessons to be learned from the course of the conflict as he came to the end of his four-hour testimony.

He told Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry chairman: "At the conclusion of the last hearing, you asked me whether I had any regrets.

"I took that as a question about the decision to go to war, and I answered that I took responsibility.

"I wanted to make it clear that, of course, I regret deeply and profoundly the loss of life, whether from our own armed forces, those of other nations, the civilians who helped people in Iraq or the Iraqis themselves."

A number of relatives became angry at the former prime minister’s words, shouting out: “You’ve had a year to think about that,” and “It’s too late.

Rose Gentle, whose 19-year-old son Gordon was killed in Iraq in 2004 told Mr Blair: “You lied, your lies killed our son. I hope you can live with it.

For most of the evidence session, the audience, a third of which was made up of relatives while the rest were selected via a public ballot, had listened in respectful silence.

As his testimony drew to an end, however Mr Blair began a passionate entreaty to the West to tackle the threat from Iran – to the dismay of many in the room.

One weeping woman interrupted remarks from Mr Blair in which he praised the British military, saying: “Stop trying to kill them then.”

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