[JURIST] The UK's former senior law lord Thomas Bingham [Times profile] on Monday criticized [press release] official UK legal justifications given for the 2003 US and UK invasion of Iraq, saying it was "a serious violation of international law and of the rule of law." Bingham focused [BBC report] on legal advice [original, PDF; published text] that then-Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith [BBC profile] gave to the British government in March 2003, in which Goldsmith argued that Iraq's failure to comply with weapons limitations imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 1441 [text] allowed the use of force against the country under a preexisting resolution [UN Res. 678 text]. Bingham said Goldsmith's analysis was flawed [Telegraph report] because it was not clear that Iraq had violated the terms of the resolution, and said the reasoning was merely a cover used to circumvent UN authority. Bingham ventured that this, along with US decisions on the detention and treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], were part of a trend by powerful countries to avoid international conventions while continuing to impose them upon others. Goldsmith has defended his earlier reasoning, saying that Bingham had not considered the full context in which the resolutions were drafted.
The memorandum containing Goldsmith's advice on the invasion has long been a subject of debate. In March 2005, the UK Bar Council began an investigation [JURIST report] into the legality of Goldsmith's advice. The British government had originally refused to release the document, but later agreed to release it after earlier releasing a redacted form [JURIST reports] of Goldsmith's reasoning.