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Jack Straw-David Manning-Jonathan Sinclair 031113-D-9880W-020

Sir David Manning (centre) and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw (right) meet with Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz on 13 November 2003, 8 months into the war and 11 months after the invasion of Iraq was decided.

The Bush–Blair 2003 Iraq memo or Manning memo was a secret memo of a meeting between American President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair that took place on January 31, 2003 in the White House. It purportedly showed that the Bush administration had already decided on the US invasion of Iraq at that point. The memo was written by Blair's chief foreign adviser at the time, David Manning, who participated at the meeting.

It has become controversial for its content, which shows Bush floating the idea of painting a U-2 spyplane in UN colors and letting it fly low over Iraq to provoke the then-leader Saddam Hussein to shoot it down, providing a pretext for America and Britain's subsequent invasion. It also shows George Bush and Tony Blair making a secret deal to carry out said invasion regardless of whether weapons of mass destruction were discovered by UN weapons inspectors, in direct contradiction with statements Blair made to Parliament afterwards that Saddam would be given a final chance to disarm.

In the memo, Bush is paraphrased as saying:

The start date for the military campaign was now pencilled in for 10 March. This was when the bombing would begin.[1]

Bush said to Blair that he "thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups" in Iraq after the war.

Five pages long and classified as extremely sensitive, the existence of the memo was first alleged by Philippe Sands in his book Lawless World. It was then obtained by American newspaper The New York Times, which confirmed its authenticity.[2]

UK Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said, on the memo: "If these allegations are accurate, the Prime Minister and President Bush were determined to go to war with or without a second UN resolution, and Britain was signed up to do so by the end of January 2003."

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