Chris Hannas, Voice of America
The head of an inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq War said Wednesday the conflict was "an intervention that went badly wrong with consequences to this day."
Former civil servant John Chilcot spoke as his panel released a long-awaited report that drew on several years of public hearings and analysis of 150,000 documents. They were trying to answer whether the U.S.-led invasion was necessary and whether the unrest that followed should have been anticipated.
"Military action in Iraq might have been necessary at some point, but in March 2003 there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein," Chilcot said.
He said the decision to go to war was made before the international community had exhausted opportunities to contain and disarm Iraq and that judgments about the extent of the threat from weapons of mass destruction were presented "with a certainty that was not justified."
No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.
Chilcot said the risks of internal strife and al-Qaida activity in Iraq, as well as regional instability, were explicitly noted before the invasion began. He also said former Prime Minister Tony Blair had been warned that military action would increase the threat Britain faced from al-Qaida.
Blair has rejected accusations that he acted dishonestly in making the case for a war that killed 179 British troops.
"Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein, I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country," he said Wednesday.
Scathing Report Slams Blair Over Botched Iraq War by Associated Press
UK Report Criticizes Tony Blair, Legal Basis for Iraq War by Wall Street Journal
Long-awaited British Inquiry into Iraq War Finds Failure at Multiple Levels by Washington Post
UK: Chilcot Report on Iraq War Offers Devastating Critique of Tony Blair by New York Times