Chris Ames and Richard Norton-Taylor were there, I know, but the only thing that they remember is that they were against it. In The Guardian, they report:
Britain and the US were planning to take action against Saddam Hussein without a second UN resolution six months before the invasion of Iraq, a newly released letter from the-then prime minister Tony Blair’s office shows.
(A sub-editor who might not have been around at the time puts the date of the invasion as May 2003 in the sub-headline, but that is not important.)
One of the most important points about UN resolution 1441 for the Americans was that it did not require a further resolution before military action. That is what the words “final opportunity” mean. The “second” resolution was sought, at Tony Blair’s behest, for political reasons to show unity and to help to persuade British opinion. That was probably a mistake, and the French certainly thought so, believing that 1441 was sufficient authority for the use of military force (until Jacques Chirac changed his mind).
As for Elizabeth Manningham-Buller (right, at the Mile End Group of Queen Mary, University of London, last year) and her same old, she manages to contradict herself, saying:
Intelligence isn’t complete without the full picture and the full picture is all about doubt.
This is three sentences after her categorical statement:
Iraq did not present a threat to the UK.
Well, it is a point of view, if you were opposed to the war all along – she was deputy director of MI5 until she took the top job in October 2002, after the publication of the dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in September 2002. It was never suggested that Iraq posed a direct military threat to the UK, but that Saddam Hussein’s WMD capability might end up in terrorist hands.
MI5, for those who do not know, is the Security Service, responsible for domestic security. The intelligence agency responsible for foreign threats to British security is known as MI6.
Thus it was legitimate for MI5 to make the point that the invasion of Iraq might increase the threat from home-grown terrorists. This was well known at the time, so it is not news eight years later. Especially when it is reported without the rest of the story: namely that this threat had to be balanced against the threat from Saddam.