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Blair aware of Islamist threat from Iraq war: ex official

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LONDON — Former prime minister Tony Blair knew that invading Iraq in 2003 could increase the threat from Islamic extremism but pressed ahead nonetheless, a former top civil servant said Wednesday.

Speaking at a public inquiry into Britain’s role in the controversial war, David Omand added that a claim Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in 45 minutes aimed to add “local colour” to a 2002 dossier.

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Omand, who was the government’s security and intelligence coordinator, spoke days before Blair himself makes a hotly anticipated appearance at the probe on January 29.

A key intelligence committee warned in reports in 2002 and 2003 that taking military action in Iraq would increase the risk of Al-Qaeda attacks on Western targets and fuel radicalisation, Omand said.

Blair, though, was still keen to press ahead with the invasion which saw Britain standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the US, he added.

“We knew it was going to be an additional risk but that didn’t outweigh the policy objective in his mind,” he said.

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“I know exactly what he would say which was: ‘Yes, that was a risk which we have to take on the chin'”.

In the worst attack by Islamist militants in Britain since the Iraq war, 52 innocent civilians died in London in July 2005 when four men carried out suicide bombings on the city’s public transport system.

On the 45 minute claim in an official dossier in September 2002 which was widely reported by media at the time although WMDs were not found in Iraq, Omand said he had failed to spot the problems it would cause.

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“With hindsight, one can see that adding a bit of local colour like that was asking for trouble but we didn’t really spot that at the time,” he said.

Omand’s evidence at the public inquiry in London came amid appearances by a string of current and former cabinet ministers in the coming days.

Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time of the invasion and is still in government as justice secretary, takes the stand Thursday.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump has been ‘insulated’ by his wealth to never have to learn from his mistakes: biographer

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President Donald Trump's inherited wealth has meant he's never had to learn from his mistakes, Trump biographer Tim O'Brien told MSNBC's Brian Williams on Thursday.

"Bloomberg Opinion writer and our next guest Tim O’Brien writes today, 'Yes, of course, you need a certain kind of appalling narcissism to be comfy promoting yourself as heaven-sent in a televised press briefing and as a deity on Twitter. It’s doubly unhinged when you’re doing this as president,'" Williams said. "He goes on 'The Trump of the past few weeks is the same disordered figure of the past several decades with, I suspect, a big dollop of something new blended in: unbridled and unmanageable panic.'"

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‘Both Putin and Xi will be voting Trump in 2020’: NYT columnist says Russia and China want ‘turmoil and chaos’

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The Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China are both rooting for President Donald Trump to win re-election in 2020, a New York Times columnist argued on MSNBC on Thursday.

Thomas Friedman was interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on "The Last Word."

"What do we know about how the leaders of other countries see Donald Trump at this stage in their dealings with him?" O'Donnell asked. "Especially this weekend, when it comes at the end of a week in which they’ve heard him call himself the King of Israel, they have heard him say he is The Chosen One. They have heard all the crazy things that everyone here has heard the president say."

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Trump is ‘not a stable genius’: GOP strategist says the president ‘doesn’t remember who and where he is’

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President Donald Trump's mental fitness is lacking, a top Republican strategist explained on "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Rick Wilson, the author of the 2018 bestselling book Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever, blasted the commander-in-chief.

"Rick Wilson, your assessment of where the president stands as he heads off to the G7 summit?" O'Donnell asked.

"I think Donald Trump has had a week in which he is proving that this isn’t 87-dimensional chess game, this isn't some masterful strategy of communications or persuasion," Wilson replied. "This is an old man who is sick and who has problems and who has mental disconnects and who has aphasias and who has moments where he doesn’t remember who and where he is."

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