FLASHBACK: Powell and Rice in February 2001: Iraq Was No Threat
Both Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, and Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's closest adviser, made clear before September 11 2001 that Saddam Hussein was no threat - to America, Europe or the Middle East.
In Cairo, on February 24 2001, Powell said: "He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."
This is the very opposite of what Bush and Blair said in public.
Powell even boasted that it was the US policy of "containment" that had effectively disarmed the Iraqi dictator - again the very opposite of what Blair said time and again. On May 15 2001, Powell went further and said that Saddam Hussein had not been able to "build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction" for "the last 10 years". America, he said, had been successful in keeping him "in a box".
Two months later, Condoleezza Rice also described a weak, divided and militarily defenceless Iraq. "Saddam does not control the northern part of the country," she said. "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."