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Speak ill of the dead: UK’s Iraq-war-era spymaster claims French President Chirac opposed invasion because Saddam bribed him

Speak ill of the dead: UK’s Iraq-war-era spymaster claims French President Chirac opposed invasion because Saddam bribed him
Jacques Chirac’s opposition to the Iraq invasion was bought with Saddam Hussein’s money, Tony Blair’s spymaster has claimed in a verbal attack perfectly timed between the former French president’s death and his funeral.

“His recent obituaries are saying that Chirac got it right [on Iraq] and the rest of us got it wrong. But I am saying that Chirac’s motive for getting it right may not appear to be what it is,” Sir Richard Dearlove, who headed MI6 at a time when the UK government was assessing US intelligence before committing to the 2003 invasion, told the Mail on Sunday.

Chirac, who famously opposed the war drive by George W. Bush, leading to a diplomatic rift between the US and France, died on Tuesday aged 86. His funeral is scheduled for Monday.

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Dearlove said that Chirac’s stance on the planned military aggression was motivated by his acceptance of “substantial amounts” of cash from Saddam. US and UK intelligence indicates that Chirac got some £5 million ($6.15 million) from the Iraqi leader, the spymaster claimed, without elaborating on the nature of that intelligence.

“It was a dimension which at the time was politically worrying – Chirac had a longstanding relationship with Saddam, which was not state-to-state, it was personal,” he said.

The chemistry between Chirac and Saddam is no secret and dated back to the 1970s, when the former was prime minister of France and the latter was vice president of Iraq. At that time, France supplied Iraq with technology for the Osirak nuclear plant, which the Iraqis dubbed O-Chirac after the Frenchman, and which was obliterated by a presumed Israeli air raid in 1981.

People have long been talking about dark money allegedly flowing from Saddam’s personal pockets to Chirac’s campaign coffers, but they were always unsubstantiated rumors. Now Dearlove has promoted the allegation to the level of US and UK intelligence services – which doesn’t do much for its credibility, considering that the faulty basis for the 2003 Iraq war came from the same source.

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Neither does the fact that Dearlove is taking a swing at Chirac’s reputation when the late statesman is no longer capable of responding.

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