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LONDON – The long awaited British inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq has been published. Led by former senior civil servant John Chilcot, the report took over seven years to prepare and runs over two million words. The report did not analyze the legality of the invasion and instead focused on the British decision-making process in the run up to the war in 2003.
Here are some of Chilcot's findings:
— The UK planning and preparation for the Iraq war were "wholly inadequate."
— Iraq posed no imminent threat to the UK. Chilcot says "the UK chose to engage in the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort."
— The legal basis for war with Iraq was "far from satisfactory."
— The threat from Iraq was "presented with a certainty that was not justified" by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair.
— Blair overestimated his ability to influence U.S. decision-making on Iraq.
— The British government failed to achieve its post-conflict objectives in Iraq. Chilcot says "the scale of UK efforts in post-conflict Iraq never matched the scale of the challenge."
— Blair had been warned that military action would increase the threat from al-Qaida and that Iraq's weapons could be transferred into the hands of terrorists — developments that continue to have consequences today.
— The report underscored the importance of collective ministerial decision-making and frank discussion and debate. Chilcot says "it is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessment. They were not challenged as they should have been."
— The 2003 invasion and subsequent instability in Iraq have resulted in the deaths of 150,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians, with over 1 million people displaced. Chilcot says "the people of Iraq have suffered greatly."