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Reporter’s Podcast: Britain Launches Iraq War Inquiry

BY Anna Shoup  November 26, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

Former British Ambassador to the United States Sir Christopher Meyer; Getty Images

Former British ambassador to the U.S., Sir Christopher Meyer testified Thursday that he spoke with then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about Saddam Hussein and Iraq hours after planescrashed inNew York and the Pentagon.

“She said ‘Well, there is no doubt this has been an Al Qaeda operation.’ But at the end of the conversation ‘We’re just looking to see if there could possibly be any connection with Saddam Hussein’, and that was the very first time, on the day itself, that I heard the name of the Iraqi leader mentioned in the context of 9/11,” Meyer told the five-member inquiry panel.

Speaking from London where his is covering the investigation, Paul Davies of Independent Television News said top officials in the British government will be called to testify.

“This is, they say, the most wide-reaching inquiry yet. It has access to people right to the very top, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown will both be called. And the very first evidence has been from some of the closest advisers to Tony Blair who was of course the prime minister that took Britain to war,” Davies said.

Hear Davies’ full interview here:

 

Meyer also told the commission about the evolving relationship between Former George W. Bush and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“In those early stages, Tony Blair was actually advising George Bush that this wasn’t the right route, that he should concentrate on al-Qaida and looking for those responsible for 9/11 there and not going down the Iraq road because the Iraq road wasn’t going to lead anywhere,” said Davies.

“However, we were told that there seemed to be over the months a change in Blair’s position and that crucially he paid a visit in 2003 to Bush’s Crawford farm in Texas and while he was there he seemed to change his view about going to war. The very next day we were told he made a speech in which he actually talked about the need for regime change.”

The panel will reach its conclusion at the end of 2010. It does not hold the power to press charges, but has indicated it will criticize people at the very top if necessary, Davies said.