Ignatieff denies he helped plan Iraq invasion
OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff denies he helped prepare the United States military for the 2003 Iraq invasion, despite eight-year-old praise from American military officials he worked with.
In Saint John, N.B., Wednesday, Ignatieff laughed off a question from QMI Agency tying him to the U.S.-led invasion.
“Every single premise in your question is materially and factually false,” Ignatieff said. “I was working on a project to reduce civilian casualties in armed combat operations. I’m extremely proud of the work we did there.
“At no time, in no way, was I ever involved in the planning of any offensive combat operations by any military forces,” he added.
As reported by QMI Agency on Wednesday, Ignatieff — who led Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy — was part of an academic advisory team that worked with U.S. State Department and American military officials to conduct strategy sessions before the invasion.
Ignatieff said the centre’s program — which also included members from the Canadian Forces, and the British and Israeli militaries as well — ran for years and was not Iraqi-specific. Humanitarian groups and journalists attended some of the conferences organized by the centre, too.
“Remember Kosovo? We went in to protect a population and civilians were unfortunately killed. Every military that we talked to was … trying to reduce those casualties. They wanted a public place to discuss those issues,” Ignatieff said Wednesday. “I’m extremely proud of my record doing that, because I think that’s the kind of thing Canadians should be doing — finding ways in which we improve and increase respect for the laws of war and human rights.”
Just a day before the Iraq invasion in 2003, a top official with the U.S, air force praised Ignatieff — considered a liberal hawk at the time for supporting the invasion — for helping the military prepare comprehensive plans to mitigate civilian deaths in the invasion.