One of the many perplexing things about the events that unfolded on the day of September 11 last year was the rapid speed at which British Prime Minister Tony Blair drew his own conclusions about the nature of the attacks. His all but his instant offering of completely unqualified support for the Bush administration was remarkable.
For some it seemed that a more reassuring approach would have been to allow a delay of a day or two to receive Foreign Office and intelligence briefings - in order to fully consider what was believed to have happened, who was behind it, and what should be the appropriate response.
One eminent foreign policy expert warned the next day that Britain's immediate pledge to stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with America in the aftermath of the attacks could have far-reaching implications for foreign relations. Professor Bulmer-Thomas, Director of London's Royal Institute of International Affairs, told the BBC 12 September that the consequences of offering such strong support for potential US retaliation could not be accurately gauged at such an early stage: "The danger is they do it far too early, before the facts are in."
By contrast, however, Blair gave the impression of being a man who did not need any briefings. Was this because, unbeknown to the rest of us, Blair already knew in advance exactly what the score was?
As time passes it becomes increasingly clear that the British government knew a great deal about was in the offing by the end of the summer of 2001, and that it was communicating its knowledge to the Bush administration.