The head of Britain’s Iraq War inquiry released a damning report Wednesday on a conflict he says was mounted on flawed intelligence and executed with “wholly inadequate” planning.

Retired civil servant John Chilcot, who oversaw the seven-year inquiry, said “the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”

He said then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government presented an assessment of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons with “certainty that was not justified.” Military planning for the war and its aftermath were not up to the task, Chilcot said.

He said “the people of Iraq have suffered greatly” because of a military intervention “which went badly wrong.”

But he refrained from saying whether the 2003 invasion was legal, and did not find that Blair and his government knowingly misled Parliament or the British public.

Chilcot heard from 150 witnesses and analyzed 150,000 documents. His conclusions are a blow to Blair, who told President George W. Bush eight months before the March 2003 invasion – without consulting government colleagues – “I will be with you whatever.”

The report says that Blair went to war to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Britain’s main ally, only to find the UK excluded from most important decision-making about the military campaign and its aftermath.

Relatives of some of the 179 British troops who died will gather in London for the publication of the Chilcot report, which runs to 2.6 million words — more than four times the length of “War and Peace.”

The inquiry, launched in 2009 as the bulk of British troops withdrew from Iraq, was tasked with investigating the run-up to the 2003 US-led invasion and the subsequent occupation… see more