NEWLY LEAKED EMAILS show how a key U.K. architect of the Iraq War expressed relief that the Brexit vote to leave the European Union would reduce media coverage of the devastating results of an inquiry into the United Kingdom’s role in the war.
On July 4, former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw emailed former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss the upcoming release of the Chilcot report — a document detailing the British government’s inquiry. The report probed, among other things, the depth of private British commitment and support for the American-led war in Iraq.
In anticipation of coming press coverage, Straw asked Powell to review a statement in a Word document he drafted. He wrote that the “only silver lining of the Brexit vote is that it will reduce medium term attention on Chilcot — though it will not stop the day of publication being uncomfortable.”
Powell told Straw he should also share the statement with Condoleezza Rice and that he would contact Richard Armitage — two other Bush-era officials who were involved in planning and executing the war.
He showed skepticism toward a part of Straw’s statement that claimed that an additional United Nations resolution prior to the conflict would have avoided the invasion. He wrote back to Straw, “I can’t agree or disagree with your judgement that a second resolution would have prevented conflict. I doubt it, but I don’t know.” (In Straw’s final statement released to the press, the claim remained.)
Nearly a month later, on August 3, Powell emailed Straw to tell him that the Chilcot report “didn’t amount to anything over here” and that he assumed the inquiry simply “faded away.”
“Yes, the Chilcot story has faded altogether here too. It was unpleasant on the day but almost all the focus was on Tony [Blair],” Straw wrote back. He noted that “there is some stuff about some relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq trying to get a legal action against Tony on its feet buy [sic] it’s hard to see how that could work.”
He quickly switched topics, asking Powell if he was coming to London anytime soon. “I met someone recently who had heard you speak and thought you were a wow,” Straw boasted.
Powell’s private emails were leaked by DCLeaks.com, a website that has in the past shared hacked emails from U.S. political and military figures. DCLeaks has a relationship with Guccifer 2.0, a hacker that many allege to have ties with Russian intelligence. DCLeaks provided access to Powell’s emails to a number of reporters on Tuesday, including The Intercept.
Top photo: Jack Straw and Colin Powell at Camp David in March 2003.