Colonel Jorge Mendonca, exonerated at a court martial over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, today launches a devastating attack on Tony Blair and his government.
The decorated officer – who quit the Army in disgust at his treatment – accuses Mr Blair of sending UK troops to occupy Basra after the Iraq invasion “with exactly the sort of half-baked plan that gets soldiers killed”.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, he pours scorn on the former prime minister’s naivety in “sweeping in on America’s coat-tails” with no clear strategy or adequate funding for British forces to rebuild the war-torn south of Iraq.
In his ten years as Prime Minister, Tony Blair has introduced a new law every three-and- a-quarter hours, new research reveals.
Since 1997, an average of 2,685 laws have been passed every year – a 22 per cent rise on the previous decade.
They have covered subjects ranging from the importing of bed linen to the evaluation of statistics on labour costs.
Tony Blair yesterday claimed the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture.
His remarks angered community leaders, who accused him of ignorance and failing to provide support for black-led efforts to tackle the problem.
One accused him of misunderstanding the advice he had been given on the issue at a Downing Street summit.
Black community leaders reacted after Mr Blair said the recent violence should not be treated as part of a general crime wave, but as specific to black youth.
He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped “by pretending it is not young black kids doing it”
Mr Blair’s remarks are at odds with those of the Home Office minister Lady Scotland, who told the home affairs select committee last month that the disproportionate number of black youths in the criminal justice system was a function of their disproportionate poverty, and not to do with a distinctive black culture.
Tony Blair and his government “exercised spin” in exaggerating the case for the war in Iraq, the former United Nations chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said in an interview broadcast today.
Describing the conflict as “clearly illegal”, Mr Blix, who led the UN search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq until June 2003, refused to specifically accuse the prime minister of open deceit.
However, he said pre-war intelligence such as the UK government dossier which claimed Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and could deploy some within 45 minutes, appeared to have deliberately overstated the case for war.
“I would never dare to accuse any statesman of bad faith unless I had absolute evidence of it. I do think they exercised spin,” Mr Blix told Sky News.
Police have questioned Prime Minister Tony Blair for a second time in an investigation into political party funding that has cast a shadow over his final months in office.Blair was questioned as a witness at his Downing Street office last Friday, Blair’s spokesman said.
The expanding police investigation alarmed politicians in Labour and risks further tainting the legacy of the party’s most successful leader who is due to step down later this year after a decade in office.
In December, he became the first serving prime minister to be questioned by police in a criminal investigation.
Tony Blair has publicly agreed with the opinion that the violence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion has been a disaster.
The UK prime minister was responding to a question by Sir David Frost in an interview on the new al-Jazeera English-language Arabic TV channel.
The Liberal Democrats said Mr Blair had finally accepted the enormity of his decision to go to war in Iraq.
Senior army officers have condemned pledges by Tony Blair that British commanders in Afghanistan will get “whatever they need” to defeat the Taliban.
In an interview on British Armed Forces Radio yesterday, the Prime Minister said: “If commanders on the ground want more equipment — armoured vehicles for example, more helicopters — that will be provided. Whatever package they want, we will do.” And in an article for The Sun, Mr Blair went further, stating: “[British forces] will get, I promise, whatever front-line commanders tell us they need to complete their job.”
But defence sources said that what commanders needed most desperately was more troops on the ground — something Mr Blair notably failed to mention.
Another source said it was scandalous for the Prime Minister to suggest that commanders could have as many helicopters as they liked when it was a “well-known fact” within the military that virtually all helicopters were committed to training or operations.
Tony Blair has been urged to change UK foreign policy by a group of senior British Muslims.
In an open letter, they argue that current government policy encourages extremism and may put British citizens at risk of attack, both in the UK and abroad.
The letter also encourages Mr Blair to step up efforts to bring an end to the violence in the Middle East.
The letter appears as a full-page advert in some of Saturday’s national newspapers.
The 38 Muslim groups which signed the letter include the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain, the British Muslim Forum, the British Muslim Forum and the Muslim Solidarity Committee.