A full year before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair told his chief of staff the West should be "gung-ho" on toppling Saddam Hussein, a panel looking into the conflict disclosed Friday.
Blair returned to testify for a second time before a five-member panel scrutinizing Britain's role in the unpopular war — having been recalled after witnesses raised doubts about sections of his testimony at an initial appearance a year ago.
The timing of the decision for military action is an important issue for opponents of the war, who accuse Blair and Bush of being set on invasion regardless of its legality or whether it had backing from the United Nations
Blair's administration has been repeatedly criticized for allegedly overstating the case for war and misrepresenting intelligence to increase public support for the conflict.
Another released document, a note prepared in December 2001 by a second senior adviser, warned Blair that the legal case for military action would be "threadbare." Other documents showed that as late as January 2003, officials were still scrambling for legal grounds to justify the war.
In his testimony, Blair repeated his view that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States meant that nations needed to deal with — not just contain — potential aggressors.