Via AfterDowningStreet (not blockquoted due to length):
Later today RawStory.com will be posting an article that they have been researching for several days. Six new secret British documents have been leaked and made widely available on the internet, including via the links below. These were retyped from the originals to protect the source, but RawStory.com has verified the authenticity and will be reporting on that research, on the significance of the documents, and on the timeline of the events illuminated by this information, known to the British media but new on this side of the pond.
Last week we were made aware of additional leaked documents regarding the Iraq war. While some of these documents were posted online at various Web sites, we wanted to be certain on the chain of custody. The documents in question are transcribed from the originals and then copied. We wanted to be sure that what we would be posting and distributing to the coalition members was authenticated fully. As we are an advocacy group, we asked Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story to take the information and investigate it. We agreed that the coalition would act responsibly in this matter and wait on the facts to drive the advocacy, not the advocacy to push the facts.
The Raw Story article is scheduled to run later today at which point we would have released the documents along with the article. This morning, several prominent Web sites posted the documents, thereby creating some confusion. Raw Story also posted the documents in order to help keep the focus on the context that is forthcoming. We ask that you act responsibly in distributing the documents. When the Raw Story article goes out today, the documents that are now posted will have context. The documents on Raw Story and here at ADS are the ones that the chain of custody was established for. We cannot speak to other documents circulating on the Web. Please be ready to distribute the article and documents when we post the article later today. We apologize for the confusion.
• "Iraq Options Paper," UK Overseas and Defense Secretariat, March 8, 2002
The greater investment of Western forces, the greater our control over Iraq's future, but the greater the cost and the longer we would need to stay. The only certain means to remove Saddam and his elite is to invade and impose a new government, but this could involve nation building over many years. Even a representative government could seek to acquire WMD and build-up its conventional forces, so long as Iran and Israel retain their WMD and conventional armouries and there was no acceptable solution to the Palestinian grievances.
SIGNIFICANCE: UK government anticipated "nation building over many years," in contradiction to public case by Bush administration. British also believed Iraq might acquire WMD without Saddam Hussein in power.
We have looked at three options for regime change...
OPTION 3: A GROUND CAMPAIGN
The aim would be to launch a full-scale ground offensive... A pro-Western regime would be installed... The optimal times to start action are early spring.
SIGNIFICANCE: Timing of invasion already set in March 2002. Aim is not an Iraq which can democratically choose its policies, but a "pro-Western regime."
Most Iraqis see the INC/INA as Western stooges.
SIGNIFICANCE: The head of the INC (Iraqi National Congress) was Ahmed Chalabi; Chalabi is now acting Oil Minister of Iraq. The head of the INA (Iraqi National Accord) was Ayad Allawi; Allawi was Prime Minister of the Iraqi Interim government from June 1, 2004-April 7, 2005.
• "Iraq: Legal Background," UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, March 8, 2002
The US... maintain that the assessment of breach [of UN resolutions] is for individual member States. We are not aware of any other State which supports this view.
SIGNIFICANCE: Bush administration's interpretation of international law, which eventually invoked for the invasion, was so bizarre it was not shared by any other nation on earth (including UK).
• Memo from David Manning (Foreign Policy Advisor to Blair) to Blair on Manning's Dinner with Condoleezza Rice, March 14, 2002
I said you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a Parliament and a public opinion... Condi's enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed.... Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions:... what happens on the morning after?
SIGNIFICANCE: Aim was always regime change. Bush had no plan for future of Iraq.
• Memo from Christopher Meyer (UK Ambassador to US) to David Manning on Meyer's lunch with Wolfowitz, March 18, 2002
"On Iraq I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice last week. We backed regime change, but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option. It would be a tough sell for us domestically, and probably tougher elsewhere in Europe. The US could go it alone if it wanted to. But if it wanted to act with partners, there had to be a strategy for building support for military action against Saddam. I then went through the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors and the UN SCRs and the critical importance of the MEPP as an integral part of the anti-Saddam strategy. If all this could be accomplished skillfully, we were fairly confident that a number of countries would come on board."
SIGNIFICANCE: UN process was a sham for Blair's sake; aim was not disarmament but regime change, which had already been decided on.
• Memo from Peter Ricketts (Political Director, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to Jack Straw (UK Foreign Secretary), March 22, 2002
For Iraq, "regime change" does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam. Much better, as you have suggested, to make the objective ending the threat to the international community from Iraqi WMD...
SIGNIFICANCE: Aim was regime change, but that wouldn't sell; WMD issue was useful for PR reasons.
US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al [Q]aida is so far frankly unconvincing.
SIGNIFICANCE: Even UK government at the highest levels believed the Bush administration claims of an Iraq-Al Qaida links were false.
• Memo from Jack Straw to Blair, March 25, 2002
We have also to answer the big question—what will this action achieve?... [no US assessment] has satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured, and how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better.
SIGNIFICANCE: UK government at its highest levels did not believe the US had any plan to be certain a new Iraqi government would be an improvement on Saddam and would not develop WMD.