Blistering report slams Tony Blair for U.K. invasion of Iraq

Tony Blair Gets Heat For Iraq War

Like the U.S., Britain has done a lot of soul-searching over its role in the Iraq war.

On Wednesday, a British government report running 2.6 million words heaped a lot of blame on Tony Blair, the former prime minister. He was once labeled by some as "Washington's poodle" for following the U.S. into war.

It's been seven years since the British ended operations in Iraq, and since that time an inquiry has been trying to determine whether the war was necessary, reports CBS News' Mark Phillips.

U.K. inquiry blasts Blair for following Bush into Iraq War

The answer -- delivered by the inquiry's chairman Sir John Chilcot -- is no, it wasn't.

"There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein," Chilcot said.

At the center of the inquiry was the relationship, or the "bromance" as it was called, between then president George W. Bush and the British prime minister at the time, Tony Blair.

Both men were convinced Saddam had stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction and needed to be disarmed.

The Bush policy was regime-change and ultimately war. Blair's public position was to push the U.S. to seek a UN mandate before attacking.

But a note from Blair to Bush sent before the war, and revealed by the inquiry, seems to promise unconditional support. "I will be with you whatever," it says.

And he was. When UN weapons inspectors went into Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction and couldn't find any, the U.S. attacked anyway. The British, true to Blair's private promise, did too.

Fight against ISIS escalates in Iraq

Blair has been vilified since, and was again on Wednesday. But Blair was defiant.

"What I cannot do and will not do, is say I believe we took the wrong decision. I believe I made the right decision and that the world is better and safer as a result of it," Blair said.

But the world isn't safer in Baghdad, as last weekend's devastating bombing again showed, and it's not better for the families of the British soldiers who died in Iraq.

"My son didn't die for this, surely he didn't," said Reg Keys, who lost his son in the war, "but I'm afraid he did, he died in vain."

Both George Bush and Tony Blair are long gone from public life, but the families' grief and anger endures. And Iraq, which was not a base for terror under Saddam, now is.