War in Iraq and its aftermath - archives back to Feb 9 2003

Jan 22 ~ "...within the Bush White House lies an ugly beast that never gets acknowledged" Washington Post

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post speaks out after President Bush's State of the Union speech " The administration misled the American people, either purposely or out of incompetence. This is not a minor matter, because war, with all its unforeseen consequences, is not itself a minor matter -- nor is the loss of some 500 American lives." Read in full

Jan 22 ~ Yesterday Jack Straw hinted that elections in Iraq could be brought forward to this summer

Times ..Mr Straw told the World Economic Forum in Davos: "We want elections as soon as it is feasible to hold them. We have to take account of what Ayatollah al-Sistani is proposing. Either a solution is possible or not. The discussion which has been stimulated by Ayatollah al-Sistani is whether there could be an element of elections injected into the earlier part of the process.....A senior UN official said yesterday that it wanted to bridge the differences between the two sides and hoped to have a report ready by the end of next month. He said that the organisation was wary of being caught in the middle.
A spokesman for Ayatollah al-Sistani said that the cleric welcomed the expected arrival of the UN team, the first officials to visit Iraq since UN staff were evacuated from the country last year after two suicide-bomb attacks. ..
... Although there is no electoral register, there is a national list used for rations..." "

Jan 22 ~ Mr Bush's self-serving timeline

Guardian Leader "......Another rethink is required before it is too late. As we have said before, direct, democratic elections must be held as swiftly as is feasible. If the UN concludes that practical problems truly prevent that happening by June (for such problems, while significant, have been exaggerated), then Mr Bush's self-serving timeline must be altered accordingly. He has often pledged, after all, to see the job through, however lengthy, to "do what it takes for what is right". He started it; he must finish it, not cut and run. There is no good reason why, if more time is needed to ensure a legitimate process and to avoid chaotic alternatives, Iraq should not aim for a national poll this autumn. In the US itself, November 2 is thought to be a good day for an election."

Jan 21 ~ "UN the only possible legitimate body in the area. There will not be a transition to a peaceful self determination in Iraq as long as US and UK occupiers are still there."

An emailer writes of BBC Radio 4 "Taking a Stand"
" This was fascinating today, with Keane interviewing Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentgon papers re the reasons for the Vietnam war and how the grounds for conflict were manufactured.
Ellsberg stated towards the end that Bush and Blair had lied outrageously to the people "systematically and outrageously deceived their publics", and implied that he hoped that someone would feel duty bound to leak papers on a big scale as he had done in order to expose the crimes.
He said there would be a mass of incriminating evidence in the UK. No transcript is available unfortunately. The audio will only be available until the next programme in the series, presumably until next Tuesday."

Jan 21 ~ Kurds turn against US after losing control over oil-rich land

Kurdish community claims it had more autonomy under Saddam Independent "Iraqi Kurds, the one Iraqi community that has broadly supported the American occupation, are expressing growing anger at the failure of the United States and its allies to give them full control of their own affairs and allow the Kurds to expel Arabs placed in Kurdistan by Saddam Hussein. Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, told The Independent in an interview that the Kurds had been offered less autonomy "than we had agreed in 1974 with the regime of Saddam Hussein".
..... ..... Before the war, Washington intended to invade Iraq from the north using Turkish bases and accompanied by a Turkish army. The Kurds were told by the US to keep quiet, though they protested furiously. In the event, the Turkish parliament rejected the US demand. The Americans were compelled to rely on the Kurds to create a northern front against Saddam. As the regime in Baghdad collapsed, Kurdish forces swept into the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. The Kurds saw that as a first step towards reversing ethnic cleansing which pre-dates Saddam's regime. ................ There are the seeds here for a savage ethnic conflict. The Arabs and Turkomans in Kirkuk are frightened. Many of the Arab settlers have been there for more than a generation and it is not clear where they would go. The last year has seen a number of small-scale but bloody clashes. ......they fear that their current superiority may not last and their gains over the past year will be chipped away as the face of the country changes. ..."

Jan 21 ~ George Bush stepped up efforts to calm the dispute over transition to self rule in Iraq,

calling in the Iraqi Governing Council president, Adnan Pachachi, and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a Shia member of the council who is close to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, for talks in Washington.
Last night, there were reports that the British and US governments were looking at running direct elections in time for the handover of power to Iraqis by 1 July. The Guardian reported that unnamed British officials said the Government had been swayed by the Shia argument. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said it had been studying using dyes on voters' hands as a means of working without an electoral roll. " Independent as above

Jan 21 ~ Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court are considering a request by an international body of lawyers to try the Prime Minister for alleged war crimes during the invasion of Iraq.

Independent " A report alleging illegal deployment of cluster bombs and weapons using depleted uranium was handed to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the court's chief prosecutor in The Hague, yesterday. He will decide whether to begin a formal investigation which could include questioning of Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, and Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence. If he concludes that a prosecution has a "reasonable prospect of success", the case will go before the pre-trial chamber of the court, which has the power to try individuals and governments for war crimes. No case has been made against the US administration because America has not signed the treaty that established the court. The report was written by eight international lawyers after a "war crimes inquiry" in London last November heard evidence from eye-witnesses and expert witnesses and leading counsel.
The panel concluded there was enough evidence for the prosecutor to investigate members of the Government for alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes during the conflict and occupation. They said that he should investigate the use of cluster bombs in urban areas, and whether attacks had been launched on non-military targets.They also want the prosecutor to look into attacks on media targets and whether weapons were used which caused excessive loss of life or injury to civilians."

Jan 20 ~" About 100,000 protesters marched through Baghdad to al-Mustansiriyah University shouting "Yes to elections" and "No to occupation"..."

Independent "....The Shia, believed to number some 15 to 16 million out of a total Iraqi population of 25 million, fear the US and its local allies will seek to rob them of power by appointing members of a new assembly and government to which the US has pledged to hand over power on 1 July.
The demonstration was clearly aimed at Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the UN, seeking to persuade him not to endorse US plans for indirect elections. Mr Annan met Paul Bremer, the chief US official in Iraq, and a delegation from the US-selected Iraq Governing Council in New York yesterday.....
...Amar Abdul Hassan, a student protester, said: "The Americans want to choose our leaders for us. We want to choose them ourselves through elections."
Giant banners billowed in the wind as the marchers, almost all men, chanted praise to Ali and Hussein, the martyred founders of the Shia faith. US observation helicopters flew overhead.... The demonstration marks another stage in the elevation of Ayatollah Sistani, the 73-year-old leader of the Hawza, or network of religious schools in Najaf, as perhaps the most important Iraqi leader. If he issues a fatwa denouncing the political process organised by the US and the Governing Council then it will have little legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis....It will be embarrassing for the US to hold elections denounced as undemocratic by Ayatollah Sistani and the largest Iraqi community.... "

Jan 20 ~" Mr Annan has expressed a desire for more "clarity" before committing the UN to a renewed mission.."

Telegraph "...America and the US-backed Iraqi Governing Council were pushing for the the UN to send a "technical mission" to Baghdad, but there had been no decision yet as to how to respond, Mr Annan said."

Jan 19 ~The case of Ms Gun, which is likely to go to trial in the autumn, will call into question the legality of the war in Iraq.

Leader Observer "..... At the time of the disclosure Ms Gun had no reason to believe the British Government would go to war without a second resolution. Most experts in international law believed then that intervention would be illegal. Many still do.
The Government has been under pressure to disclose the Attorney General's legal advice, which made the case for war without a second resolution. If it helps Ms Gun get a fair trial, then we believe that advice should be released immediately. "
See also warmwell pages about Iraq and the UK Attorney General, Lord Goldsmithe.g. "...the hapless Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, was rushed forward ... to refute almost all legal opinion and invent an eccentric interplay between resolutions 678, 687 and 1441 to deny the fact that last year's coalition was forged on the explicit understanding that war was for the Security Council to determine..." Simon Jenkins on March 19th 2003

Jan 19 ~ Shells found near Basra were not chemical weapons

Rupert Cornwell in Washington Independent Three dozen mortar shells found buried in southern Iraq did not contain chemical blister agents as initially reported, the Danish army said yesterday.
The conclusion, after a week of tests by British, US and Danish experts, is a further blow to the dwindling hopes of finding the barred chemical, biological or nuclear weapons whose alleged existence was the official reason for the 20 March invasion to topple Saddam Hussein. .... Earlier reported finds of caches of chemical weapons also proved false, while supposed mobile biological weapons laboratories found after the war appear to have been for other purposes. No trace of any biological agent has been discovered on them. With every passing day it seems more likely that Iraq did destroy its WMD stockpiles in the early 1990s after the Gulf War in 1991 - just as Baghdad claimed."

Jan 19 ~ Washington will press the United Nations today to send a veteran troubleshooter to Iraq

The Times "....Washington and London are pushing Mr Annan to send Mr Brahimi to help bring Ayatollah al-Sistani on board. The former Algerian Foreign Minister, who worked closely with the Americans in setting up a new Government in Afghanistan, has acted as an informal go-between for the United States and Iran. His good relations with Teheran could give him leverage with Ayatollah al-Sistani. Mr Brahimi has also just been named a special adviser to the UN chief in New York amid speculation that he will take on new responsibilities in Iraq.
He has made clear that he does not want to replace Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Special Representative who was killed in a suicide bomb attack at the UN headquarters in Baghdad, but he does not rule out playing a role."

Jan 18 ~ commanders are seeking to reach out to tribal leaders by relying on a report devised in 1918 by Britain, the country's then ruler.

"..... Lieutenant-Colonel Alan King, head of the Tribal Affairs Bureau set up by the US-led coalition last month, admitted last week that he had been referring to the pages of the British report to fathom Iraq's network of tribal sheikhs - regardless of the fact that it dates back to the First World War. The revelation is not likely to improve confidence in the ability of the US to sort out the deepening muddle over how it means to relinquish political power to the Iraqi people by this summer. .. His bureau - the Office of Provincial Outreach - was awarded US$900,000 last week to establish "Tribal Democracy Centres", to provide resources to the sheikhs. .."

Jan 18 ~Tomorrow, Paul Bremer will travel to New York on an urgent mission to seek help from the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

(From Independent article above )The US is increasingly anxious to persuade the UN to return to Iraq and assist in selecting the interim government as well as preparing for the first full election in 2005 and the writing of a constitution. "The UN has a lot of expertise in organising elections, electoral commissions, electoral laws, and has a great deal of expertise it can bring to bear," said Mr Bremer, who will be accompanied by the head of the Iraqi Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi.
But it is not clear how far Mr Annan will go to answer the American call. The Secretary General withdraw his staff from Baghdad after a bomb attack on his headquarters there last summer that killed 22 people, including his envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. "The meeting is really for us to listen and see what he has to say, and we'll take it from there," one UN official said. "We're not there to give the seal of approval ... Whatever process is adopted needs to be fair and inclusive, and everybody needs to have a stake in it."

Jan 18 ~ Blair faces new 'war crimes' accusation

Independent "An eminent panel of legal experts is to accuse Tony Blair of committing war crimes in Iraq in a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The panel, which includes law professors from universities in Britain, Ireland, France and Canada, will claim on Tuesday there is compelling evidence that the Prime Minister broke international law and UN treaties by invading Iraq last year.
The eight experts will recommend that the ICC launches a formal investigation into the Government's conduct - the first step towards indicting ministers for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Their dossier will add to the renewed controversy over Mr Blair's stance on Iraq. It will be published a week before Lord Hutton issues his report into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly, which examines the Prime Minister's role in the decision to name him...."

Jan 17 ~ "Under the pretext of the war against terrorism, the United States has violated all international conventions on human rights." Shirin Ebadi

The anti-globalisation forum, World Social Forum at Mumbai, India is taking place this week. It is an "open platform to discuss strategies of resistance to the model for globalisation formulated by multinational corporations, governments, International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the WTO," as the WSF Charter says.
The organizers chose not to accept money for the $1.8 million event from the U.S.-based Ford Foundation, but took donations from Britain's Oxfam and Canada's state-run humanitarian agency.
José Bové said "...we are here to express our solidarity and to show our concern." W.R. Varada Rajan, a trade union leader said "This forum will explode the myth that this model of globalization has universal acceptance."
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP, said "The terror of war has brought about a change: the privatization of an entire country...the United States wants to send a message to the world: "The Americans can do it if they want to do it... ..The Iraq war, however, also has motivated people from around the world to forge stronger alliances against forces of globalization. It has mobilized young people in a way I had not thought before."
Iran's Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, said at the opening ceremony, "Under the pretext of terrorism, the United States has violated all international conventions on human rights. We are here to say that humans who are suffering from war have no dignity."
Among those also attending are Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, economist Samir Amin and former UN Human Rights chief Mary Robinson. (account taken from several news sources - see for example BBC)

Jan 17 ~ Bremer tries to salvage appointed-government plan amid Shia opposition

Independent Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad "..... Ayatollah Sistani insists that "each Iraqi must have the right to vote". It is his refusal to give his blessing that sent Paul Bremer, the chief US civilian official in Iraq, rushing to Washington yesterday to discuss the Shia leader's objections with President George Bush. Mr Bremer and his British deputy in the Coalition Provisional Authority, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, will join a delegation on Monday of the Iraqi Governing Council to see Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, in New York. They will press for the UN to send back its staff to Iraq and play a role in supervising the indirect elections. But the UN fears its participation will give legitimacy to the dubious local caucuses. The grand ayatollah has also said that a new Iraqi government must be able to rule on whether or not US and allied troops can remain in Iraq.
After the fall of Baghdad, the ayatollah did not call for resistance to the occupation. He told his followers they could co-operate with the US but after every discussion with an American official they should ask: "And when are you Americans going to leave?" .....

Jan 17 ~ The Pentagon inspector general's office is said to be investigating possible criminal violations involving fuel imports to Iraq by Halliburton Co

Independent as above the oil services company once headed by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President.
The Democratic politicians Joseph Lieberman, Henry Waxman and John Dingell said they were told by the inspector general's staff on Thursday that an overcharging issue involving Halliburton's Kellogg Brown and Root unit was now being investigated."

Jan 17 ~ Bush forced to rethink plans for transfer of power

The Times Roland Watson in Washington and Richard Lloyd Parry in Tokyo
President Bush was rewriting the terms of America's handover of power in Iraq yesterday after the country's leading Shia cleric threatened to boycott the plans....... As Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, arrived at the White House for crisis talks with Mr Bush, officials said the Administration was ready to "refine and improve" the handover plans. After his talks Mr Bremer said there would be no changes in the handover date. ... he added that the US was prepared to change its proposals of how the caucuses are convened, opening up the process in an effort to meet Ayatollah al-Sistani's demands.
Mr Bremer will appeal to Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, on Monday to give the UN's stamp of approval to the US plan, which is also backed by the American-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC).
The US insists that it would be impossible to organise direct elections by the end of June. There has been no census in Iraq for years and a register of voters does not exist.
..... the US would lose a lot of face if it postponed the handover date to accommodate elections.

...Separately, the commander of US forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, ordered an investigation into reports of abuse of prisoners at coalition centres. The military gave no further details"

Jan 16 ~ Hutton report out on January 28

Matthew Tempest, political correspondent of the Guardian "....Lord Hutton's report was originally expected in November, then December, then the "new year", and now confirmed for January 28. After those lengthy delays, it was announced today that publication would be on the Wednesday - the same day as PMQs. Lord Hutton will also broadcast a live television address from Court 73 of the Royal Courts of Justice summarising his conclusions. The relevant parties to the report - the government, the BBC, Dr Kelly's family, the Speaker's counsel, Andrew Gilligan and Susan Watts - will have 24 hours notice of the report. The complex logistics of publication mean that Lord Hutton's report will actually go to the printers on January 19. BBC sources have already been quick to insist that they will not pass their advance copy on to their news-gathering teams, but keep the report within its legal team and top brass. Parties will be required to sign an undertaking not to reveal the contents of the report before publication. ..."

Jan 16 ~ "Paul Bremer has been recalled from Baghdad

for brainstorming consultations at the White House and the United Nations, in a scramble to salvage a timetable for Iraqi self-rule. " Scotsman

Jan 16 ~ "US baffled by Shia leader who refuses to cut a deal"

The Times "Defiant cleric continues to frustrate coalition efforts to handpick a new government"
"President Bush is desperate to transfer power to an Iraqi government and start withdrawing troops before the presidential election in November. But whether he succeeds depends largely on a venerable, self-deprecating 75-year-old cleric who gives no interviews, never appears on television and has not left his spartan home in the backstreets of Najaf, central Iraq, since Saddam Hussein's agents tried to kill him ten years ago. ......
....there were plenty of signs that this was a man to be reckoned with...... After the fall of Saddam, Ayatollah al-Sistani denounced looting, which rapidly died down in Shia towns and cities.
His representatives helped to organise local councils to enforce law and order and restore basic services. He issued a more controversial edict prohibiting lethal reprisals against former officials of the Baathist regime. "People even respected that, at least for a while," one Shia politician said.
...... his own lifestyle remained rigorously austere. "You get just one glass of tea, and the mattresses you sit on are very thin," said a recent visitor. .... in June he dropped a bombshell, issuing a ruling that declared the American plan to have a new constitution written by an unelected committee unacceptable and demanding that any new constitution be written by an elected assembly.
Eventually persuaded that this edict might be serious, Paul Bremer, Iraq's American administrator, requested a meeting with Ayatollah al-Sistani, which was refused.
Mr Bremer then requested that the Ayatollah nominate representatives to meet his officials to negotiate a compromise. "Mr Bremer, you are American. I am Iranian. I suggest we leave it to the Iraqis to devise their constitution," the Ayatollah replied.
Subsequent US efforts to find a way to hand power to a malleable Iraqi government have elicited unwavering demands from Ayatollah al-Sistani for one man, one vote.
.... It is clear that Ayatollah al-Sistani could seriously derail coalition ambitions for the region by calling on his followers to protest en masse. ..."

Jan 16 ~ Iraq's Shia Muslims march to demand early elections

Independent "Tens of thousands of Shia Muslims marched through the streets of Basra yesterday demanding early elections for an Iraqi national assembly. They shouted: "No to America" and "Yes to Sistani", after their spiritual leader, Ali Sistani, demanded elections.
The march, attended by 20,000 to 30,000 people, shows that Iraq's Shia Muslims, some 60 per cent of the population, who were denied power by Saddam Hussein, are increasingly fearful that they will be denied political power if a new assembly is selected indirectly by caucuses...."

Jan 15 ~ "a spin on the truth to justify a war that could well become one of the worst blunders in more than two centuries of American foreign policy." Senator Edward Kennedy

.... Kennedy said "if Congress and the American people knew the whole truth, America never would have gone to war." ... the administration "has broken faith with the American people, aided and abetted by a congressional majority willing to pursue ideology at any price - even the price of distorting the truth." He also said the Iraq war had made the effort to stop "terrorism" more difficult. See Washington Post

Jan 15 ~ the risk of Iraq splitting up

BBC Middle East pages "With less than six months to go before sovereignty in Iraq is due to be handed to a transitional government, the political path is beginning to look as obstacle-strewn as the security one. .......Ayatollah Sistani has said that "if the transitional assembly is formed by a mechanism which doesn't have the necessary legitimacy, it would not be possible for the government to perform a useful function". Mr Bremer has rejected elections, arguing that they are not practical in such a short timeframe....
The coalition is pinning its hopes on the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. It is meeting him in New York on 19 January. It would like him to use his authority to send a message to Ayatollah Sistani that elections are not possible. If there is no agreement, the prospect opens up of the transitional government failing to command the support of the country's Shias, who make up 60% of Iraq's people. And beyond that, if this is handled badly, there could be the risk of Iraq splitting up. ..."

Jan 15 ~ "At least 21 US military personnel involved in the Iraq war have committed suicide since the conflict began last March

the Pentagon revealed. It is higher than the normal suicide rate in the US military recently." BBC latest on Iraq violence.

Jan 13 ~ war against Iraq "a strategic error"

BBC "A report published by the US Army War College has criticised the war against Iraq as a strategic error. It also suggests that the Bush administration's global war on terror may be unsustainable....
..The author of the report is a visiting professor at the prestigious college in Pennsylvania and his conclusions about the Bush administration's conduct of its war on terrorism appear quite damning.."

Jan 13 ~Michael Howard told Tony Blair he was "very much looking forward" to debating the findings of the forthcoming Hutton Report. The Prime Minister mouthed back: "So am I." It was unconvincing.

The Scotsman yesterday comments that "the Prime Minister has ducked every public question with a stock response: don't be impatient. Let's wait for Lord Hutton's report. "....
"....The tactic Mr Blair was attempting yesterday was "closing down" the Hutton Inquiry issue - knowing that the report may still be a fortnight away. The more questions he answers, he believes, the more he will be asked - keeping the Hutton Inquiry in the news and keeping him in trouble.
His fear is that, by the time Lord Hutton's report is published, he will be boxed into a corner by the Conservatives if he keeps responding to the issues they raise - and fuelling their attempts to push Lord Hutton in the news. It is a long time since Mr Blair took the Tories so seriously..." Read in full

Jan 12/13 ~ mortar shells found on friday "appeared to have been abandoned for at least 10 years" says Danish army

BBC "Coalition experts are currently examining the 120mm mortar rounds to see if the initial tests are borne out. "

Jan 12 ~ Blair: I don't know if we'll find WMD

Independent (new window) ".....The Prime Minister said that on the issue of WMD: "You can't be definitive at the moment about what has happened." His words mark a stark contrast with his assertion before the war that Saddam Hussein was capable of launching a WMD attack within 45 minutes. He later said claims that Iraq had destroyed all its weapons were "palpably absurd".
Mr Blair, who is facing one of his most difficult months as Prime Minister, was also accused of preparing to "run away" from the findings of Lord Hutton's inquiry into the death of the weapons scientist David Kelly. Mr Blair again refused to say whether he would face MPs in a full Commons debate on its conclusions or whether a vote would take place.
The Conservative leader, Michael Howard, said it was "absolutely extraordinary" that the PM had failed to give the commitment. But Mr Blair insisted: "I have no intention of hiding away from this. On the contrary, I am enthusiastic about at long last being able to debate these issues."

Jan 11 ~ Blair comes under pressure for Commons vote on Hutton inquiry

Independent on Sunday

Jan 11 ~ The President saying, ‘Go find me a way to do this.'"

Former Bush aide: US plotted Iraq invasion long before 9/11 Sunday Herald

Jan 11 ~ Powell withdraws al-Qa'ida claim as hunt for Saddam's WMD flags

Independent on Sunday (new window) "...Significantly, the Prime Minister made no mention of WMD during his lightning visit to Iraq last weekend, instead stressing the role of British forces in bringing stability to the country.
The Carnegie Endowment report, compiled over six months, is scathing about the deliberate errors and omissions of the White House - and, by extension, Downing Street - saying the thesis that Iraq or another rogue state would make WMD available to terrorists was "questionable" and "unexamined".
Officials ignored caveats by the intelligence agencies, and consistently adopted "worst case" assumptions. .."

Jan 10 ~ "For the "independence" of Iraq, Washington has plucked a different date from the air: June 30, 2004.

The timing has nothing to do with any sane estimate of the time Iraq needs to prepare. It is dictated by George W. Bush's re-election campaign. Nobody denies this. It is criminal. .." Matthew Parris in the Times

Jan 10 ~ "However sincerely, Mr Blair got it wrong about WMD

as three more events this week have underlined. The first was a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report, which concluded that Saddam could not have destroyed, hidden or exported chemical and biological weapons and related production facilities on the scale that he was alleged to possess, without US surveillance noticing what he was up to. The second was a detailed report from Iraq by the Washington Post (see below) which quoted a previously undisclosed Saddam regime document that suggested Iraq destroyed its biological weapons as long ago as 1991; it also documented an internal culture of deceit over Iraq's special weapons programmes in which weapons designers and project managers who exaggerated their achievements and abilities in order to impress Saddam, thereby simultaneously misled foreign inspectors and intelligence agencies about the scale and modernity of Iraqi programmes. And the third was the quiet withdrawal from Iraq this week (see below) of 400 military inspectors, whose work of searching for chemical and biological weapons caches and launchers was said by Washington to have been "essentially done". ..." Guardian Leader today.

Jan 10 ~ Iraq's Arsenal Was Only on Paper

Since Gulf War, Nonconventional Weapons Never Got Past the Planning Stage Washington Post "...David Kay, who directs the weapons hunt on behalf of the Bush administration, reported no discoveries last year of finished weapons, bulk agents or ready-to-start production lines. Members of his Iraq Survey Group, in unauthorized interviews, said the group holds out little prospect now of such a find. Kay and his spokesman, who report to Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet, declined to be interviewed. ..
... Program managers promised more than they could deliver, or things they could not deliver at all, to advance careers, preserve jobs or conduct intrigues against rivals. Sometimes they did so from ignorance, failing to grasp the challenges they took on. Lying to an absolute ruler was hazardous, Iraqi weaponeers said, but less so in some cases than the alternatives. "No one will tell Saddam Hussein to his face, 'I can't do this,' " said an Iraqi brigadier general who supervised work on some of the technologies used in the rail gun. .... "

Jan 10 ~ Military team seeking WMD pulled out of Iraq

Guardian (Jan 9)"...It was an important element of the CIA-led Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which has spent seven months hunting for the arsenal that was the justification for the invasion.
Over the past few months the ISG has been stripped of translators, special forces troops and other specialists.
....The ISG, according to some weapons experts in Washington, has been reduced to a remnant of a few hundred specialists from its peak strength of 1,400. Its leader, David Kay, is said to be on the point of resignation. A colleague in Washington said: "His family is worried about his safety and he is disenchanted, both by the failure to find weapons he was sure were there and because his team has been cut in half." The withdrawal of JCMEG became known only yesterday, but a defence official said its members had been sent back to their home countries in October, and called its disbanding "old news". ...The CEIP produced a report on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq yesterday, co-authored by Mr Cirincione, comparing prewar claims by US officials and postwar findings that concluded that the administration had "systematically misrepresented" the Iraqi threat. Yesterday, the US secretary of State, Colin Powell, acknowledged that he saw no "smoking gun, concrete evidence" of ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida terror network...."

Jan 10 ~ Howard accuses Blair over Hutton

PM charged with reneging on promise and fighting shy of debate The Guardian Tony Blair was last night engaged in pre-Hutton report skirmishes on two fronts as Michael Howard accused him of reneging on a promise to give the Tories an advance copy - and backbench MPs accused him of running away from the debate on its findings. Quite why Downing Street has refused for the past 48 hours to confirm that the prime minister would open the inevitable debate - as well as make a statement on publication day - has baffled and irritated ministers as well as MPs. One reason why No 10 is hesitating on Mr Blair's role in the debate is its optimistic hope that Lord Hutton's focus will be on weapons of mass destruction, or even the BBC - making Jack Straw, Geoff Hoon or even Tessa Jowell the right minister to debate the report. Yet most observers think it inconceivable that Mr Blair would - or could - avoid such a debate, any more than Margaret Thatcher did in the 1986 Westland affair. None the less, No 10's evasiveness triggered predictable accusations that he is running scared.
....... the growing tension and suspicion between politicians as time for the Hutton report to appear gets closer. No 10 expects it late this month....... Menzies Campbell, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, said: "When the Scott report [on covert arms sales to Iraq] was published, Robin Cook and myself were given just three hours in a basement at the Department of Trade and Industry to wade through it by the government ..."

Jan 9 ~ Bush's America, "... a menace to itself and to mankind".

by John Pilger; January 08, 2004 http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=40&ItemID=4806 This important article may be read in full here.

Jan 9 ~ The domination effect

Guardian "Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, the US has sought not just to influence but to control all information, from both friend and foe ....
......Nor is information dominance something dreamt up by the Bush White House. It is a mainstream US military doctrine that is also embraced in the UK. According to US army intelligence there are already 15 information dominance centres in the US, Kuwait and Baghdad. Both the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in this country have staff assigned to "information operations". In future conflicts, according to the MoD, "maintaining morale as well as information dominance will rank as important as physical protection". " Read in full "

Jan 9 ~ The choices are beginning to look stark for NGOs providing humanitarian relief in "war on terror" conflicts - either act as sub-contractors for the superpower or pull out.

The Pentagon has pulled out a 400-strong military team which was searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, but US officers insisted yesterday that the hunt would go on. The disbanded multinational team was known as the Joint Captured Materiel Exploitation Group (JCMEG) ..... In September, a report was published by the chief institution for defining and prescribing aid policy - the development assistance committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report, entitled A Development Cooperation Lens on Terrorism Prevention, appalled NGOs. Although it speaks of the need to prevent development aid becoming "an instrument of nondevelopment interests", the thrust of the report is that the resources and capacities of development agencies should be "calibrated" to serve the counter-terrorism agenda. .......The concern in the NGO community, particularly in the US, is that the taint of terrorism may be used to discredit the work of politically dissenting international NGOs, or even to stop their funding. .....
..... the "war on terror" has created an acute need for NGOs' international expertise while at the same time providing justification for glossing over or rooting out their progressive political agenda. At a time when it is needed most, "the conscience of the world" looks vulnerable." Guardian

Jan 7 ~ Downing St 'corrects' its evidence to Hutton

Independent (new window) "..... last night Whitehall dismissed speculation that the move was a last-minute panic measure aimed at preventing Mr Blair being criticised by Lord Hutton, who is now finalising his report. ...... Sir Kevin's testimony, which raised the most serious questions at the inquiry about Mr Blair's involvement, came at a special sitting a month after Lord Hutton had finished taking evidence from other witnesses. His cross-examination was delayed because he had an eye operation. After news broke of Dr Kelly's death last July, Mr Blair was asked by journalists on board an official flight in China: "Did you authorise anyone in Downing Street or in the Ministry of Defence to release Dr Kelly's name?" He responded: "I did not authorise the leaking of the name of David Kelly. Nobody was authorised to name Dr Kelly. I believe we have acted properly throughout." But Sir Kevin told the inquiry that a meeting at Downing Street on 8 July, chaired by Mr Blair, decided to issue an MoD press statement giving some details about Dr Kelly. The following day, the scientist's name was revealed in the media.
.......... Greg Dyke, the director-general, told staff in an e-mail: "There will be no scapegoating inside the BBC as a result of the inquiry."
See also Democracy page on warmwell

Jan 4 ~ The truth about WMD lies beyond Hutton

Michael Meacher in the Observer (new window) "..... It is crucial, if Lord Hutton feels unable to tackle these central issues, that a separate judicial inquiry is now set up to establish beyond doubt what the truth really is and what the implications are for Britain's governance. ....... It is quite clear that throughout 2002 both Washington and London were actively seeking, contrary to intelligence assessments, evidence to justify the case for war. Four key items were deployed for this purpose. One was almost immediately exposed as plagiarised from a student thesis more than 10 years old. The other three were documents purporting to show that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium for nuclear bombs from Niger, the claim that Iraq was able to deploy WMDs within 45 minutes, and 'evidence' from a top-level Iraqi defector that Iraq had produced several tons of the deadly nerve agent VX.
Each of these raise worrying questions of credibility which require systematic investigation by an independent inquiry. ..." Read in full

Jan 4 ~ the new Iraqi government will reign but not rule "CIA plans new secret police to fight Iraq terrorism"

Telegraph (new window) " Nine months after the demise of Saddam Hussein's regime and his feared mukhabarat (intelligence) operatives, Iraq is to get a secret police force again - courtesy of Washington.
... The force will cost up to $3 billion (£1.8 billion) over the next three years in money allocated from the same part of the federal budget that finances the Central Intelligence Agency. .........
John Pike, an expert on classified military budgets at the Washington-based Global Security organisation, told The Telegraph: "The money for this has been buried in the 'other procurements' section of the Air Force budget. The CIA is funded out of that category.
"The creation of a well-functioning local secret police, that in effect is a branch of the CIA, is part of the general handover strategy. If you are in control of the secret police in a country then you don't really have to worry too much about who the local council appoints to collect the garbage."....... "The presence of a powerful secret police, loyal to the Americans, will mean that the new Iraqi political regime will not stray outside the parameters that the US wants to set," said Mr Pike. "To begin with, the new Iraqi government will reign but not rule."

Jan 3 ~ Mr Bush has one priority for 2004: Get America out of Iraq. Fast.

Independent " Iraq is breaking up into rebels and collaborators, with a vast heap of innocent bodies turning up each day at the morgues.." writes Robert Fisk. "More desperate attempts by the Americans to escape from Iraq and more talk of turning "New Iraq" into ethnic statelets. More Arab humiliation. More anger. More "war on terror". Flak jackets on for 2004. Read in full

Jan 1 2004 ~ Defence agency takes over oil supply

Reuters (Guardian) "The US forces fuel agency is taking over the supply of oil products to Iraq, bringing to an end the controversial arrangement with Halliburton, the former company of Vice-President Dick Cheney. .... Halliburton has increasingly come under criticism for its behaviour in the arrangements for Iraq. Many Democrats have seized on the issue as an indication of the government's failure to act fairly in awarding contracts, an accusation the White House has denied. DESC will take over the fuel contracting plans within 60 to 90 days, officials said. ..."

Dec 31 ~ Hawks tell Bush how to win war on terror

Telegraph "President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.
The manifesto, presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.
The manifesto is contained in a new book by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and "intellectual guru" of the hardline neo-conservative movement, and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. They give warning of a faltering of the "will to win" in Washington...." ( Read in full)

Dec 29 ~ "The new row about how the Government treats sensitive information

threatened to destroy the political dividend the Prime Minister has enjoyed since the capture this month of Saddam Hussein.
In his Christmas message to troops a fortnight ago, which reached British soldiers in the Gulf, Mr Blair said the Iraq Survey Group searching for evidence of Saddam's weapons had unearthed "massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories". This, he claimed, showed that the former Iraqi dictator had attempted to "conceal weapons".
But Mr Bremer, interviewed on ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby Programme, who was initially unaware that it was the Prime Minister who had made the claim, ridiculed the comment.
"I don't know where those words come from, but that is not what [ISG chief] David Kay has said," he told Dimbleby as the interviewer tried to interrupt to tell him the source...." Telegraph(new window)

Dec 29 ~ " it does seem rather curious that Paul Bremer, who is running Iraq, doesn't know about it."

Guardian (new window) "....Robin Cook, who has become a formidable backbench critic on the war, said: "If there is massive evidence of clandestine laboratories it does seem rather curious that Paul Bremer, who is running Iraq, doesn't know about it. The truth is the Iraq Survey Group found no evidence of weapons, no delivery systems, no chemical or biological weapons and found no laboratories to produce them. "This is unquestionably embarrassing for those who try and claim there is a chemical and biological arsenal and if they can't convince Paul Bremer, who is remarkably on-message, how can they convince anyone outside?"

Dec 28 ~" The government yesterday confirmed that MI6 had organised Operation Mass Appeal, a campaign to plant stories in the media

about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. ..." The Sunday Times (new window)
"Stories ran in the media about secret underground facilities in Iraq and ongoing programmes (to produce weapons of mass destruction)," said Ritter. "They were sourced to western intelligence and all of them were garbage."

Dec 28 ~ " a hollow ring for future historians"

Sunday Herald (new window) ".... in time, the US will be able to withdraw its forces to leave Iraq much as it has been throughout its short existence – prey to factionalism and internal discord. As one disillusioned analyst in the US state department saw the problem, free and fair elections will probably allow radical religious forces to sweep into power, and pluralism will quickly give way to an all too familiar theocracy.......If this is the Pax Americana demanded by the neo-conservatives in the Bush administration, then it will have a hollow ring for future historians. Iraq was invaded and Saddam ousted not because they posed a terrorist threat or that they possessed weapons of mass destruction (both legitimate reasons for intervention) but because the US and its allies wanted to reshape the international order. ..."

Dec 28 ~ Bush's man rejects Blair weapon claim

The Observer (new window)
"Tony Blair was at the centre of an embarrassing row last night after the most senior US official in Baghdad bluntly rejected the Prime Minister's assertion that secret weapons laboratories had been discovered in Iraq. In a Christmas message to British troops, Blair claimed there was 'massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories'. The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) had unearthed compelling evidence that showed Saddam Hussein had attempted to 'conceal weapons', the Prime Minister said. But in an interview yesterday, Paul Bremer, the Bush administration's top official in Baghdad, flatly dismissed the claim as untrue - without realising its source was Blair.
It was, he suggested, a 'red herring', probably put about by someone opposed to military action in Iraq who wanted to undermine the coalition. 'I don't know where those words come from but that is not what [ISG chief] David Kay has said,' he told ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby programme. ....... Menzies Campbell said he would be pressing Ministers when Parliament returned in the New Year on what precisely the Government knew. 'It is high time the Prime Minister cleared this matter up once and for all,' he said.

Dec 28 ~ There were no weapons of mass destruction; there was no 45 minutes.

"...But the decision to invade Iraq led to the deaths of more than 50 British servicemen, hundreds of US troops and thousands of Iraqi civilians.
..... we didn't go to war in Iraq to remove Saddam. Nor did we invade the country for humanitarian reasons. We went to war in Iraq because we were told by Blair that there was a real and present danger to British national security from Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This was manifestly not the case. ..." Iain Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald(new window) ..."

Dec 27 ~ "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them ..."

Robert Fisk in Baghdad on Dec 26 (new window) "(The Independent) Something very unpleasant is being let loose in Iraq. Just this week, a company commander in the US 1st Infantry Division in the north of the country admitted that, in order to elicit information about the guerrillas who are killing American troops, it was necessary to "instill fear" in the local villagers. An Iraqi interpreter working for the Americans had just taken an old lady from her home to frighten her daughters and grand-daughters into believing that she was being arrested..."
"...To point out that the intimidation is largely coming from the American occupation force - to the horror of the British in southern Iraq who fear, understandably, that Iraqi revenge will be visited upon them as it was on the Italians and the Spanish - is useless." Read in full

Dec 24 ~ Rumsfeld backed Saddam even after chemical attacks

Independent (new window) Fresh controversy about Donald Rumsfeld's personal dealings with Saddam Hussein was provoked yesterday by new documents that reveal he went to Iraq to show America's support for the regime despite its use of chemical weapons. The formerly secret documents reveal the Defence Secretary travelled to Baghdad 20 years ago to assure Iraq that America's condemnation of its use of chemical weapons was made "strictly" in principle. The criticism in no way changed Washington's wish to support Iraq in its war against Iran and "to improve bi-lateral relations ... at a pace of Iraq's choosing". Earlier this year, Mr Rumsfeld and other members of the Bush administration regularly cited Saddam's willingness to use chemical weapons against his own people as evidence of the threat presented to the rest of the world. .......
America's relationship with Iraq at a time when Saddam was using chemical weapons is well-documented but rarely reported. During the war with Iran, America provided combat assistance to Iraq that included intelligence on Iranian deployments and bomb-damage assessments. In 1987-88 American warships destroyed Iranian oil platforms in the Gulf and broke the blockade of Iraqi shipping lanes...."

Dec 24 ~ Hans Blix says Libya's disarmament plans showed that Iraq could have been contained without "rushing to war".

"Dr Blix spoke out as Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, said that snap checks of nuclear sites in his country could begin as soon as next week." Independent (new window)

Dec 23 ~" It's simple: the only good Saddam is a dead one"

Much has happened during the break since warmwell last reported - continuing misery and useless death in Iraq, the US decision to employ Israeli consultants for training death squads, the capture of Saddam Hussein, inspections of Libya's nuclear weapons facilities - and the unwelcome news of Lord Hutton's retirement (not that this will delay his report). More wise words from Robert Fisk Saddam's capture will not stop the relentless killings from insurgents
Meanwhile, this article by Simon Jenkins is unmissable.

Dec 4 ~ " the American occupation officials rejected the plan to compile a voter roll rapidly, they also argued to the Governing Council that the lack of a voter roll meant national elections were impractical."

New York Times U.S. Rejects Iraqi Plan to Hold Census by Summer
" ....... One American official acknowledged in an interview that American authorities had been aware of the quick census plan but rejected it.
................. Informed of the proposal this week, several members of the Governing Council who advocated a direct national ballot next June 30 said they were upset that they had not seen it. The Census Bureau said it had delivered the plan to the Governing Council on Nov. 1, but apparently it was lost in the bureaucracy."

Dec 3 ~ the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.

(Newsnight daily email) "... The Americans are said to have decided to form a paramilitary unit composed of militiamen from the country's five largest political parties, as part of the wider strategy to hand over ultimate responsibility to the Iraqi people. But how will this work and to whom will these militias be accountable? "

Dec 3 ~ since realpolitik has overtaken idealism as Washington's ruling ethos, at least an orderly break-up of Iraq should be planned, not denied.

Simon Jenkins in the Times, under the headline, The only hope now is to divide Iraq into three "...Those who try to do the undoable must also think the unthinkable. American strategists in Iraq are contemplating what they have always denied, the search for a "strong man with a moustache" to stop the present rot. If the result is not democracy, so be it. If the result is the dismemberment of Iraq, so be it. Iraq has become a mess. There is only one priority, to "get out with dignity". This strategy is now being rammed down the throat of the Pentagon proconsul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, by George Bush's new "realist" Deputy National Security Adviser, Bob Blackwill. He answers to Condoleezza Rice, not Donald Rumsfeld, and is the new boss of Iraq. The Pentagon, Mr Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, architects of the old "idealist" strategy, are in retreat. The Iraqi Governing Council, which Mr Bremer reluctantly created, will be disbanded. Washington must find someone with whom it can do business, someone who can deliver order in return for power. That search is Mr Blackwill's job. ....
...... "In 20 years of meddling, America and Britain have made a mess of this nation. They owe it the least blood-spattered path they can fashion to whatever the future has in store. " Read in full

Dec 2 ~ No advance warning for Hutton report

"Lord Hutton has alarmed the government by refusing to send drafts of his report into the death of David Kelly to ministers, officials and others - including the BBC - who will be the subject of criticism.....
Ministers and officials at Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence are concerned the judge's approach gives them virtually no opportunity to challenge the verdict before it reaches the public domain.
Lord Hutton has decided to eschew "Maxwellisation" - sending drafts of criticisms to the affected parties - because this summer's inquiry included a second stage of cross-examination. Staff for the inquiry told the FT this second phase "effectively gave parties the chance to refute any criticisms, [so] the plan is not to present the parties with relevant extracts from the report unless something new has come up". There were no examples of such new criticisms, the official added, but "there's nothing to stop people putting in submissions at any time".
But government insiders argue that some of the most damaging criticism only surfaced after the individual concerned had faced cross examination. Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, was accused of lying to the inquiry after his denial of any plot to out Mr Kelly as the BBC source appeared to be contradicted by Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's former head of communications. ..." FT

Dec 2 ~ Bottom of the barrel

The world is running out of oil - so why do politicians refuse to talk about it? George Monbiot "....On Thursday, the government approved the development of the biggest deposit discovered in British territory for at least 10 years. Everywhere we are told that this is a "huge" find, which dispels the idea that North Sea oil is in terminal decline. You begin to recognise how serious the human predicament has become when you discover that this "huge" new field will supply the world with oil for five and a quarter days. Every generation has its taboo, and ours is this: that the resource upon which our lives have been built is running out. We don't talk about it because we cannot imagine it. This is a civilisation in denial. ....
The only rational response to both the impending end of the oil age and the menace of global warming is to redesign our cities, our farming and our lives. But this cannot happen without massive political pressure, and our problem is that no one ever rioted for austerity. People tend to take to the streets because they want to consume more, not less. Given a choice between a new set of matching tableware and the survival of humanity, I suspect that most people would choose the tableware.
In view of all this, the notion that the war with Iraq had nothing to do with oil is simply preposterous. ..."

Dec 1 ~ "we shall be mobilising a further tranche of around 1,100 reservists to support operations in Iraq.

We expect these personnel to deploy from mid-February 2004 onwards.... "

Dec 1 ~Tricky stuff, Evil

Robert Fisk in the Independent on " The lies we tell to appease the enemies who are now our friends"
"....... . As the Americans try ever more desperately to escape from Iraq, the thugs and assassins will become the good guys again and the men of Evil in Iraq will be working for us. The occupation authorities have already admitted re-hiring some of Saddam's evil secret policemen to hunt down the evil Saddam.
Tricky stuff, Evil. "

Dec 1 ~ US kills 46 resisting Iraq attack

BBC " The US military has reported killing 46 militants and wounding 18 in clashes in the central Iraqi city of Samarra. ... Two logistical convoys were moving into Samarra when they came under attack from roadside bombs, small arms, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.......The engagement is the biggest clash involving US troops since the fall of Baghdad in April. ... Frightened witnesses in Samarra told a correspondent for the French news agency AFP who managed to enter the city that US forces had repeatedly come under attack on Sunday. However, they added that, in the aftermath of one attack at about 1255 (0955 GMT), an American tank had opened fire on workers leaving a factory at the end of their shift, killing two and wounding "many"..."

Nov 30 ~ 'Two great weeks' says general.... For who?

US commander's triumphal note jars with deadly toll from guerrilla attacks - which grow ever more brazen Independent on Sunday "....Although a significant number of Iraqis want the US to stay for now - fearing a premature withdrawal would produce a bloodbath - there is little love lost between the occupied and the occupier. Complaints abound among Iraqis in Baghdad about the continuing electricity and petrol shortages, raging unemployment, lack of security, and the abrasive behaviour of some of the American soldiers..."

Nov 30 ~ Inside story of how Washington is losing its bottle

Andrew Neil in Scotland on Sunday "....President Bush's bold Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad gave US troops a much-needed fillip and he said all the right things. But behind the scenes the war on terror is going badly wrong in its two main theatres. "In both places it is worse than you think," I was warned before arriving in the US capital for a series of off-the-record briefings. The warning was accurate. Take Afghanistan first. You don't read or see much about it these days. The reality is grim. ..."

Nov 30 ~ "... incredible than an intelligent commentator can caricature the protesters collectively by referring to the burning of the Stars and Stripes"

letters to the Observer The case of the burning Bush ... Andrew Rawnsley doesn't say if he was at the demonstration against Bush's visit. I took part and find it incredible than an intelligent commentator can caricature the protesters collectively by referring to the burning of the Stars and Stripes (Comment, last week).
Maybe a lunatic fringe indulged in this display of anti-American prejudice, but the overwhelming body of the tens of thousands who participated, which included many Americans, made it clear that the march was against Bush and his coterie. The slogan on one banner, 'God bless America. Dump Bush', summed up our sentiments.
Nor was the central message that the terrorist bombings were the inevitable consequence of the failure to resolve the Israel/Palestine conflict, only that that running sore and the war in Iraq were, qua Mary Riddell and Clare Short, 'recruiting sergeants' for the terrorists.
Benedict Birnberg London SE3
It saddened me to read Andrew Rawnsley imply that the US steel tariffs, which break WTO regulations, was just so much 'piffle' to be set along side the latest tabloid palace revelations, when evaluating the major events of the week of Bush's visit to Britain. The hypocrisy is the US enforcing, in the name of free trade, exploitative trade relations with the developing world, while simultaneously flouting international trade agreements.
Hugh Tynan
London SW17
I regularly admire the acuity of Andrew Rawnsley's analyses but take issue with his comment that 'those protesters who toppled that papier-mache Bush in Trafalgar Square... were made to look naïve'.
It is an entirely consistent position to be passionately against al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist attacks at the same time as being passionately opposed to the war in Iraq.
Conflating Iraq (and thus opposition to the war) with Islamic terror merely falls for the lies of the Bush administration in linking these issues in the first place. The toppling of the Bush 'statue' must be seen as an example of using irony to subvert those who abuse their power in keeping with the best traditions of popular protest.
James Waugh
London E1

Nov 29 ~ Given that British intelligence about the status of Iraq's WMD has been shown to be fundamentally flawed, the genesis of this failure should be addressed.

Scott Ritter the former UN weapons inspector, in a letter today to the Guardian
"Operation Rockingham's role in this is not small.
Morrison speaks of the "independent" nature of the intelligence work conducted by Operation Rockingham. The reality is that it institutionalised a process of "cherry-picking" intelligence produced by the UN inspections in Iraq that skewed UK intelligence about Iraqi WMD towards a preordained outcome that was more in line with British government policy than it was reflective of ground truth.
Many examples can be offered to counter Morrison's assertions that Operation Rockingham was little more than a "tiny intelligence cell", the sole purpose of which was to provide intelligence leads to the UN inspectors. Far from being the "shining example of the effective use of intelligence in support of the international community", Operation Rockingham was, in fact, more reflective of an institutional predisposition towards the politicised massaging of intelligence data that resulted in the massive failure of intelligence that we all have tragically witnessed regarding Iraq and WMD. ..." Read in full

Nov 28 ~ two gender equality public servants will cost £152,000 for six months to teach the Iraqis about feminism

at a time when the locals are concentrating on dodging terrorist attacks and trying to scrape together a living. They are being paid for by the Ministry of Defence, which yesterday admitted that it was so strapped for cash that the first soldier who died in the Iraq war did so because he had been forced to hand over his flak jacket to an infantryman...." Telegraph

Nov 28 ~ Guantanamo treatment is 'monstrous', says law lord

Independent "...Lord Steyn said in a speech to lawyers in London last night that judges "have the duty, in times of crisis, to guard against an unprincipled and exorbitant executive response.
"As a lawyer brought up to admire the ideals of American democracy and justice, I would have to say that I regard this a monstrous failure of justice. The military will act as interrogators, prosecutors and defence counsel, judges, and when death sentences are imposed, as executioners. The trials will be held in private. None of the guarantees of a fair trial need be observed."
He also said the type of justice meted out at Guantanamo "is likely to make martyrs of the prisoners in the moderate Muslim world with whom the West must work to ensure world peace and stability".
Human rights lawyers praised Lord Steyn for his courage. Stephen Solley QC, a former chairman of the Bar's human rights committee, said Lord Steyn's comments would send a strong signal to the US Supreme Court, which is about to rule on American jurisdiction in Guantanamo Bay. He added: "It might help to persuade some of the waverers to rule in favour of the detainees."...." Read in full

Nov 28 ~ How British charity was silenced on Iraq

Guardian Save the Children UK "was ordered to end criticism of military action in Iraq by its powerful US wing to avoid jeopardising financial support from Washington and corporate donors, a Guardian investigation has discovered. ..."

Nov 26 ~ "President Bush, our hero in the "war on terror", won't be attending their funerals.

The man who declined to serve his nation in Vietnam but has sent 146,000 young Americans into the biggest rat's nest in the Middle East doesn't do funerals..." Robert Fisk in the Independent

Nov 25 ~ These people were marching for life, for tolerance, for the dialogue of cultures

not the policy of tanks and air strikes, what Bush had maladroitly termed his "Crusade against terror." ...the bronze painted papier machéstatue of George Bush pulled down - an apt material for a president who was so doubtfully elected. "
An emailer writes, "... spoken to many who were on the march, this article is an excellent report."

Nov 25 ~ "Superpowers act out of self-interest, not morality, and the US in Iraq is no different"

"The Moral Myth" George Monbiot in the Guardian".... I do believe that there was a moral case for deposing Saddam - who was one of the world's most revolting tyrants - by violent means. I also believe that there was a moral case for not doing so, and that this case was the stronger. That Saddam is no longer president of Iraq is, without question, a good thing. But against this we must weigh the killing or mutilation of thousands of people; the possibility of civil war in Iraq; the anger and resentment the invasion has generated throughout the Muslim world and the creation, as a result, of a more hospitable environment in which terrorists can operate; the reassertion of imperial power; and the vitiation of international law. It seems to me that these costs outweigh the undoubted benefit.
But the key point, overlooked by all those who have made the moral case for war, is this: that a moral case is not the same as a moral reason. Whatever the argument for toppling Saddam on humanitarian grounds may have been, this is not why Bush and Blair went to war......... " Read in full

Nov 25 ~ ....Is Mr Hoon suggesting that the dossier implied some African country other than Niger?

In view of the latest Panorama, these Parliamentary questions and replies may be of interest. (Iraq Survey group and phials, uranium, David Kay etc) What is puzzling is the answer from Hoon stating that the governnment had never asserted that Niger had tried to sell uranium to Iraq since the 1980s. Downing Street attempted to underline the threat posed by Saddam Hussein by claiming in last September's dossier that Iraq had attempted to acquire nuclear material from Africa. The dossier said: "Uranium has been sought from Africa that has no civil nuclear application in Iraq." The dossier did not name a country, but, as the Guardian pointed out on June 28th, " the finger of blame was quickly pointed at Niger." Is Mr Hoon suggesting that the dossier had in mind some other African country?
Here too is Tam Dalyell trying to pin Mr Blair down on the 45 minute claim.

Nov 23 ~ Britain on red alert as terrorist threat rises

Scotland on Sunday (Simon Jenkins article on Thursday concluded, "...Western systems and traditions cannot be imposed on Arab peoples. When we realise that, the bombs will cease. Until then, they will remain the white man's burden. ")

Nov 22 ~ "... adoption of Israeli revenge tactics, using F-16 aircraft to drop 500lb bombs on residential areas called "suspect zones". They are also burning crops...."

John Pilger New Statesman (via Zmag.com) "An unprecedented gathering of senior American intelligence officers, diplomats and former Pentagon officials met in Washington the other day to say, in the words of Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and friend of Bush's father: "Now we know that no other president of the United States has ever lied so baldly and so often and so demonstrably . . . The presumption now has to be that he's lying any time that he's saying anything."
And Blair and his foreign secretary dare to suggest that the millions who have rumbled the Bush gang are "fashionably anti-American". ......
.....There are signs that the Shia storm is gathering in southern Iraq, an area for which the British are responsible. A Shia underground army is said to be forming, quietly and patiently, as it did under the shah of Iran. If or when they rise, there will be a great deal more British blood on the Prime Minister's hands.
For 11 November, Remembrance Day, Hywel Williams wrote movingly in the Guardian about the exploitation of "the usable past - something that can be packaged into propaganda . . . [by those] with careers to build and their own causes to advance . . . We are now a country draped in the weeds of war . . . The remembrance we endure now is no longer a seasonal affair. It is a continuous festival of death as individual souls are press-ganged into the justification of all British-American wars. To this sorrow there seems no end."
Yes, but only if we allow it. "

Nov 22 ~ Robert Fisk: We are paying the price of an infantile attempt to reshape the Middle East

By Robert Fisk 21 November 2003 The Independent The Australians paid the price for the alliance with Bush in Bali. The Italians paid the price in Nasiriyah. Now it is our turn...
. ....Bush claimed yet again that we "tolerated" the dictatorships of the Middle East. Rubbish. We created them, Saddam's regime being the most obvious example.... " Read in full

Nov 22 ~ "... an explosion simplifies..... The peacemakers' babble is silenced, and people take sides.

An iron fist is demanded. It will be now, after Istanbul. ...Both sides in this war - the US-led coalition and the al-Qaeda terrorist network - will be quietly reinforced by what has happened: reinforced in their prejudices; reinforced in their own self-belief, and reinforced in the new support this will bring them. Both gain. The world loses. " Matthew Parris in the Times .".....It is bad taste, but true, to say that terrorist atrocities are good for the careers of our Prime Minister and the US President. It is bad taste, but true, to say that Britain would probably not have been the target in Turkey on Thursday, had our country not been a key member of Mr Bush's coalition. It is bad taste, but true, to say that British interests and British lives are paying to sustain in office a prime minister who has joined the Americans in a colossal military and diplomatic blunder and now has no choice but to plough on with it. .......
In international relations, as in spiritual teaching, the mistake Dualists make is to see the world in terms of invisible forces rather than real people. But such forces are an illusion except in the heads of men. A l- Qaeda does not exist. The Free World does not exist. Only people exist. ..."

Nov 22 ~ The only plausible explanation can be that it might be embarrassing to Downing Street and the White House

Lib Dems ask for investigation into Iraqi WMD claim Guardian " A US government ban on the release to parliament of crucial information which could reveal whether two mobile biological laboratories discovered in Iraq are weapons of mass destruction or harmless equipment is to be investigated by Ann Abraham, the parliamentary ombudsman. .."

Nov 21 ~"....Yesterday's bombs were due to a mix of political circumstance to which Britain is an active party."

Simon Jenkins in the Times
"....The bombers of the World Trade Centre two years ago were granted precisely the response they sought, the traumatisation of American society and a retaliation which stirred anti-Americanism across the Muslim world. It was not just an outrage but an invitation to war.
I believed then, and believe now, that the West should have declined that invitation. It should never have glamorised al-Qaeda as evil-empire successor to the Soviet Union. Al-Qaeda was a mafia of murderous fanatics, to be hunted down by spies, bribery and subterfuge. In no way did it constitute a threat to Western values or the stability of Western states, whatever George Bush and Tony Blair might claim. I have more faith in those values and in that stability. All al-Qaeda could do was explosions. Overreact, and the West would merely fuel the support on which all outlaws ultimately depend. .... Iraq was different. Here the intention was "pre-emptive retaliation" against an ill- defined threat. Ironically that threat came not from fundamentalism but from its most ferocious foe.... When Saddam could not realistically be protrayed as a threat to the West, America and Britain abruptly changed the casus belli to his threat to his own people. Yet even after the most powerful force on Earth has been brought to bear on him, he remains at large, a submerged but continuing threat to his people. .....
.Yesterday's bombs.... are the inevitable outcome of Britain's decision over the past year to intervene in the region with armed force.
..... the motives behind the bombs must not be smothered in rhetoric or there will be no clear thinking, merely an upward ratchet of violence. The West has intervened in the Middle East for the best part of a century. As Mr Bush points out, it has not brought peace. Nor does peace beckon now. ..." Read in full

Nov 21 ~ "... ordinary people had sent their own statesmanlike message."

Independent "200,000 marched from Bloomsbury to Trafalgar Square via the Houses of Parliament....... you've also got to look at who is marching. You have middle-class, middle-England people who don't go to protests mixing with all other causes and creeds. Because of Iraq, because of what Bush has done to the environment, because of the erosion of our liberties, they have marched peacefully through the streets....... The nearest thing to violence most marchers saw was the showpiece toppling of an 18ft effigy of Mr Bush in Trafalgar Square.......Mr Michaels, 74, said: "There is a tradition of popular protest in this country that sometimes gets forgotten. We felt we had to come here to show that it's not just anarchists or what the media portrays as extremists who care about what Bush is doing through carbon dioxide emissions or his axis of evil." ..... those who pointed to yesterday's bombings in Istanbul as evidence of the need to demonstrate. "That's going to happen increasingly because of the policies of the Western world," he said. "The attacks in Turkey and Bush's visit to Britain were no mere coincidence. People are playing for very high stakes.".....
For Scot Ferguson, 30, the guilt of being a Texan in London during Mr Bush's visit was too much so he chose to stand on Westminster Bridge with a brown paper bag over his head. Mr Ferguson said: "I'm tired of the guilt by association with Texas. I don't really get any abuse but a lot of raised eyebrows. My message to Mr Bush would be, how dare you spill so much blood for the sake of a $1.7bn [£1bn] Halliburton contract [the conglomerate that had the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, on its board]. It doesn't get more blatant than that."

Nov 21 ~ Caroline Lucas, of the Green Party, told the crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square that the bombing in Istanbul "shows us our world is anything but more secure today".

The Times
She added: "Our Prime Minister is an ally of George Bush but the British people are not. We are not anti the American people. We are against a US Administration which has turned the United States of America into the greatest rogue state in the world." Sally Maxwell, 67, from Bristol, said: "This isn't anti-American. Bush worries a lot of people. He represents a whole right-wing, protectionist and globally narrow minded grab-what-you-can view."
Brother Oswin, who joined the march in the brown robe and sandals of the Roman Catholic Society of St Francis, said: "I doubt we'll achieve much today, but at least I'll have registered my protest." ....A number of Americans took part in the protest, some of them marching under a banner bearing the slogan "Vietnam Veterans Against the War".

Nov 20 ~ "...at least 25 dead, including the British Consul-General, and on figures so far, 400 injured - a deadly riposte to George Bush's appearance here."

From Kirsty Wark's "Newsnight" email which concerns the morning's suicide bomb attacks in Istanbul, following on the weekend's attacks on synagogues in the city
"Most of the casualties were Turkish, with several British among the dead. At the joint press conference with the US President and Tony Blair, both men cited this devastating attack as re-emphasising the importance of the war on terror, but for the tens of thousands starting out on the Stop the War march in London as I write, it was cause and effect - one deadly result of the coalition's war in Iraq. .."

Thursday 20th November ~ UK National Demonstration

Assemble 2pm at Malet Street, Central London (nearest tubes: Goodge Street, Russell Square and Euston/Euston Sq). March to Trafalgar Square where a statue of George Bush will be pulled down. This event will continue until 7pm to allow for people coming from work. Route: Malet St - Russell Square - Southampton Row - Kingsway - Aldwych - Waterloo Bridge - York Road - Westminster Bridge - Parliament Square - Whitehall - Trafalgar Square.
Map from Stop the War org.

Nov 20 ~".. lest he even breathe the same air as the protesters outside, he was ferried by limousine from the back door of the palace round to the front.

It was the shortest political car ride since Pauline Prescott saved her hairdo on the seafront at Bournemouth..."
Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian "...The combination of ceremony and security required for this, the first state visit ever granted to an American president, ensured that George Bush spent yesterday sealed off from any potential intrusions of nastiness. He moved in a bubble that enveloped him wherever he went, allowing him and his hosts to think only pleasant thoughts. ....
Bush delivered a very good speech yesterday, well-constructed, well-written and, yes, well-delivered - ....He made a powerful case for multilateralism, against the go-it-alone muscularity that has characterised so much of his rhetoric and record. ....noble and wise sentiments and, since he was in the bubble, he could make them with no fear of contradiction. No one was going to spoil the mood by mentioning America's ongoing support for non-democracies like Saudi Arabia, or its desire in Iraq to do exactly what he said could not be done - to impose freedom by force....
...Sheltered away, whether at an indoor wreath-laying ceremony for the victims of 9/11 or at last night's state banquet, the spell could hold. But only until the bubble bursts - which may come as soon as today. "

Nov 20 ~" In a largely peaceful and satirical demonstration

about 500 people, marching under banners from CND and the Stop The War Coalition, gathered beneath the London Eye and crossed Waterloo Bridge to congregate in Trafalgar Square. Ley Stone, a children's entertainer, spent several weeks constructing a pink wooden tank to travel the route with her son, Juan, six, and daughter, Hannah, 16, aboard shouting anti-war slogans under the banner of the Daventry Stop The War Coalition. The tank, which is the size of a small car, will feature today when it pulls down a mock statue of President Bush, aping the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. "When I heard that Bush was coming I felt physically sick. I have given up work and put all my effort into this demo," said Ms Stone. Husband and wife David and Rachel Milling, from Birmingham, wore dyed orange boiler suits and plastic chains in protest at the incarceration of terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay. Mr Milling, who works with his wife at a Quaker centre, said: "We chose this form of protest to illustrate the immorality of their detention. But it's only one way in which Bush is getting it wrong." Tony Caccavone, a taxi driver aged 60, ignored rules prohibiting the use of black cabs for political protests and drove the route of the march. Mr Caccavone, who claims to represent the views of thousands of cabbies, said: "I'm against the outrage of the United States labelling countries as terrorist states who don't conform to their economical planning." Independent

Nov 20 ~" international law stood in the way of doing the right thing" Richard Perle

Guardian "International lawyers and anti-war campaigners reacted with astonishment yesterday after the influential Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion of Iraq had been illegal. In a startling break with the official White House and Downing Street lines, Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."
President George Bush has consistently argued that the war was legal either because of existing UN security council resolutions on Iraq - also the British government's publicly stated view - or as an act of self-defence permitted by international law. But Mr Perle, a key member of the defence policy board, which advises the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", and this would have been morally unacceptable. ..."

Nov 19 ~ Explosions, shortages, instability: In Baghdad, it's back to the future

Independent "..US jets pounding Iraqi positions. City-wide power cuts. And long, long petrol queues. Yesterday was flashback time for Iraq's disgruntled, unstable and unsafe capital. As night fell the city was repeatedly rattled by the sounds of heavy explosions, part of what the US military said was its largest air bombardment in central Iraq since President George Bush declared an end to major combat in May. ..."

Nov 19 ~ President strolls into Fortress Britain

Times "...an aerial detour via Tower Bridge and the illuminated landmarks of Central London, and flew directly over hundreds of protesters marching from the Strand to the American Embassy. The visit is of major importance to Tony Blair, Mr Bush's principal ally in the Iraq war, but with many thousands of demonstrators preparing to take to the streets to voice opposition to US and British policy in the Middle East, security chiefs on both sides of the Atlantic wish the trip could have been postponed to a more propitious time. ..."
Independent "...Environmental campaigners offered a taste of what is to come in the three-day visit by Tony Blair's ally in the war on Iraq, several hundred setting off from Holborn, central London, under banners showing the President and the words: "Wanted for crimes against the planet" and "Bush go home"...."

Nov 18 ~ Bush Flies in to Storm of Protest

Scotsman " The feverish atmosphere surrounding George Bush's state visit intensified yesterday, as a peace protester scaled the gates of Buckingham Palace..."
ITV Armed police on the streets are setting up "Fortress London" ahead of US President George W Bush's arrival later.
Guardian One Visit - Two Agendas (details of both the protest marches - e.g. 7.30 pm today "Stop Bush rally with Harold Pinter, Tony Benn, Caroline Lucas, George Galloway, Alice Mahon, Ron Kovic, Kate Hudson and John Rees. 7.30pm, Friends Meeting House, Euston. - and the official agenda)
Guardian Leader "...What matters about the demonstration in London in two days time is that it should take place, that it should be large and that it should be peaceful. It matters much less whether the march is routed through Parliament Square and up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square - the route on which the police and the organisers commendably agreed last night - than that it should speak in a dignified manner for millions of Britons in the centre of our capital city..."
Independent "...One in nine police officers in England and Wales will be protecting George Bush on his state visit to Britain, which begins today. Ten thousand more police officers have been drafted in amid rising concerns about the threat from terrorists and the scale of anti-war demonstrations. That brings to 16,000 the number of policemen and women who will be deployed during the four-day trip. The bill will run to at least £7m, and the British taxpayer will pay for it.."
Telegraph "Protests about the state visit to Britain of US President George W Bush have begun after a woman climbed the front gates of Buckingham Palace..."
Many more

Nov 17 ~ His opinions of President Bush no more make him anti-American than my opinions of Prime Minister Blair make me anti-British.

Independent letter from Earl Russell"Sir: I am delighted that Robin Cook (Opinion, 14 November) has attacked the simplistic identification of opposition to President Bush with anti-Americanism. I was recently having dinner with an American colleague who was filling the air with denunciation of George Bush. After half an hour I asked him whether he knew any American who supported the policies of Bush; I got the instant answer - "No". His opinions of President Bush no more make him anti-American than my opinions of Prime Minister Blair make me anti-British.
House of Lords"

Nov 17 ~ Michael Moore in the Independent

http://news.independent.co.uk/people/profiles/story.jsp?story=464491 The author of the best-selling critique of corporate America, Stupid White Men, says one of the "many lies" told by the US Government about the Iraq war (alongside claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and helped plan 9/11) was the suggestion that "the British are with us on this, the British are our allies and our friends". This claim, Moore believes, will be reinforced if the President's state visit is allowed to proceed as the meticulously stage-managed event he believes is being planned as part of Mr Bush's strategy for winning next year's election. "It is a photo-opportunity. With the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jacks flying in Pall Mall and the whole royal thing he is going to be treated to, this is all about trying to shore him up for next year," he says. The President's London photo-opportunities, he hopes, will be tarnished. "That can happen only in one way, and that's a very large physical presence in the streets of London..." Read in full

Nov 17 ~ Get mad - and get even

"Bush deserves our rage, but Blair should take the brunt of it. We elected him, now we must get rid of him.." writes Gary Younge in the Guardian. ".. carefully crafted, wilful ignorance...... we can only hope that the huge demonstrations that greet him will give him more than a glimpse of where this "perception gap" might have come from. ...... the upcoming demonstrations around Bush's visit are not only necessary but demand our full support.
.... For if the demonstrations show our strength in numbers they also reveal a weakness in application. We have shown that we can get mad; we have yet to show that we can get even. This is a global problem, not a local one. The vast majority of humanity did not want this war to happen, and it happened anyway. Even in those countries that are prosecuting it, including America, opinion polls showed that most were opposed to military action without UN approval.
.... the charges that the demonstrations are anti-American as ridiculous as they are predictable. Americans are not the problem: Bush is. ..... Bush comes to the same country that turned out in droves to welcome Bill Clinton, when he walked through the centre of London with a smile and a wave and not a combat vehicle in sight. Bush is not synonymous with America any more than Blair is synonymous with Britain. We can make Bush uncomfortable; it is only Blair we can make unemployed.

Nov 17 ~ US agrees to international control of its troops in Iraq

Independent "The United States accepts that to avoid humiliating failure in Iraq it needs to bring its forces quickly under international control and speed the handover of power.......The litany of setbacks, growing US casualties and the recent killing of 18 Italian servicemen has brought intense domestic and international pressure on the Bush administration to give the occupying force more legitimacy. .....
... Nato remains the only strong possibility because it would provide international credibility while leaving control with a military organisation which Washington dominates. ... to allow it to deploy in Iraq would mean getting the approval of all 19 Nato allies including France, Germany and Belgium, all staunch opponents of the war. They would need to be satisfied that the UN had been given a sufficient role in the political control of Iraq. Diplomats say that the US and Britain will need to be certain that no one will block an Iraq mission before they make a request.
....Mr Bremer said that work would start on a constitutional settlement. "We'll have a bill of rights. We'll recognise equality for all citizens. We'll recognise an independent judiciary. We'll talk about a federal government," he said.

Nov 17 ~ "We suffered through the economic theories of socialism, Marxism and then cronyism..Now we face the prospect of free-market fundamentalism."

Asia Times Will the real collaborators please stand up? "In the aftermath of the bloodiest period of the Iraqi occupation since the invasion, the US unveiled a new political plan at the weekend that will end the role of the US-handpicked Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). ...
....."We suffered through the economic theories of socialism, Marxism and then cronyism," IGC member Ali Abdul-Amir Allawi said at the exclusive World Economic Forum meeting in Singapore. "Now we face the prospect of free-market fundamentalism." Perhaps unaware of just how close the plan is to the hearts of the administration officials, Allawi dismissed it as being guided by a "flawed logic that ignores history". "These things are not yet being thrust down our throat but I strongly disagree with the call for fast and radical change," he said. Allawi probably did not read Donald Rumsfeld's commentary in the Wall Street Journal last May 27 in which he promised to install a regime composed of people who "favor market systems" and who will "encourage moves to privatize state-owned enterprises". With Allawi's pronouncements, it was clear that he had no room in Rumsfeld's regime.
....Faced with an intensifying resistance outside the headquarters, the US does not intend to tolerate criticism from within. Fending off criticism from all sides, the US will not take kindly to internal dissent. And the US needs scapegoats. So they're kicking the IGC members out sooner rather than later...."

Nov 16 ~ Police reverse ban on march to avert threat of violence

Met to allow marchers into Whitehall after organisers warn that restricting their route would provoke uncontrolled protests Independent on Sunday "...The coalition has guaranteed the police its event will be peaceful. In an attempt to rebut claims by the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, that the protests were just "fashionable anti-Americanism", Thursday's march will be led by US anti-war protesters, including Ron Kovic, the Vietnam veteran profiled in Oliver Stone's anti-war movie, Born on the Fourth of July. Mr Kovic said: "I and other Vietnam vets can't help but see a mirror image of the Vietnam tragedy unfolding in Iraq. I think one of the most patriotic and democratic things a citizen can do, right now, is march against war and in favour of peace." Organisers claim scores of coaches have now been booked for the march from around the UK..."
(Numbers are surely likely to equal the huge demonstration of February 15th this year. Unofficial estimates on that day ranged from two to three million.)

Nov 16 ~ The Prime Minister would like to write them off as extremists

" - but Andrew Johnson (in the Independent on Sunday) talks to those preparing to protest next week and finds the same diversity that made the anti-war movement impossible to ignore....the school pupil (15), the barrister (52), the Muslim (29), the war veteran (76) , the seasoned activist (37), the young mother (23)

Nov 16 ~ "Let's just say it's not a good time to be doing this," said the American diplomat.

Sunday Telegraph ".. the dream visit has turned into a transatlantic nightmare. A trip intended to celebrate the "special relationship" between Tony Blair and Mr Bush has become a frantic exercise in crisis management....c.What ought have been a straightforward celebratory visit has become fraught with tension, as controversy has raged over the failure - thus far - to unearth Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and the horrific guerrilla warfare which has afflicted certain parts of liberated Iraq (most recently last week's suicide bomb attack in Nasiriyah, which killed 27, including 18 Italians....
....Tentative suggestions that the visit might be postponed have been angrily waved away by the Prime Minister. Bush aides are just as full of trepidation and foreboding. "It was a good idea at the time and now we're stuck with it," said one Bush administration official. Black humour has already set in. "Maybe they'll just keep the lights off and pretend they're not home," joked another White House aide. And when one American official was asked where the Bush entourage would be landing, it is said he replied: "Heathrow... if it's big enough."...."

Nov 15/16 ~ The US President was branded a threat to world peace by a clear majority, 60%, of those questioned by YouGov.

One in Three Britons Think Bush Is Stupid - Poll - Scotsman "....The findings are published in The Sunday Times ahead of his state visit to Britain next week, the first by a US leader. A slim majority of those questioned opposed the visit by 26% to 21% although half did not care. There was sympathy with anti-war campaigners who plan a series of protests to mark the visit with a majority of 53% to 41% supporting the demonstrations. The antipathy toward Mr Bush is matched by an increasingly gloomy view of Iraq. "

Nov 15 ~Bush will arrive with "...enough military hardware to invade a small nation"

From Thursday's Scotsman
"... As Air Force One touches down at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday, an entourage of about 900 people, including secret service agents, heavily armed commandos, politicians, secretaries and 200 journalists will join the most powerful man in the world.
Accompanying the presidential aircraft will be two identical Boeing 747-200 jets and three huge military cargo planes carrying fleets of limousines, surveillance vans, a squadron of helicopters and enough military hardware to invade a small nation -- stealth is unlikely to be an option for the secret service agents responsible for White House security. The most conservative estimates suggest that the three-day state visit will cost almost £10 million. .... according to a growing army of UK-based critics of the visit, the logistical exercises serve as nothing more than a political function -- the huge entourage, they claim, is nothing more than a manifestation of US might...."

Nov 15 ~"American expatriates to lead the protests against Bush" (next Thursday)

See also Stop the War Coalition - details of protest
Independent "Americans marching beneath a banner proclaiming "Proud of My Country, Shamed by My President" will lead a demonstration against George Bush during his state visit next week. The Stop the War Coalition, which is organising the rally, expects up to 100,000 people to take to the streets of London and express their hostility to the American President....
... Michael Moore, the American film maker and comedian who is known for his outspoken views on the US leader, is donating $1,000 to transport demonstrators in from Manchester. A spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition said: "We are not anti the American people - in fact many share our reservations about President Bush. This is about the President. There are 500 local Stop the War groups who are bringing people from around the country and the phones are ringing non-stop. ...."
...The march represents the main event in four days of anti-Bush events, for which the President has drafted in an entourage of more than 500 people, including up to 200 secret service and security personnel. On Tuesday activists are organising a public rally in London with high-profile speakers including the acclaimed playwright and actor Harold Pinter, and the Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, whose story inspired the Tom Cruise film Born on the Fourth of July. The former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn and George Galloway MP, who was recently thrown out of the Labour Party for his public comments about the war, will also speak.
There will be a march to the American consulate in Edinburgh on Wednesday and a petition from people throughout Britain will be presented to Downing Street on Monday.

Nov 15 ~ Fear UK soldiers may be flown in for GIS

Scotsman fears were growing today that British troops could be sent to replace American soldiers in Iraq as President George W Bush tries to pull out United States servicemen in a bid to secure re-election next year.

Nov 14 ~ her alleged disclosures exposed serious wrongdoing by the US and could have helped to prevent the deaths of Iraqis and British forces in an "illegal war".

The Guardian A sacked GCHQ employee charged yesterday under the Official Secrets Act said last night that her alleged disclosures exposed serious wrongdoing by the US and could have helped to prevent the deaths of Iraqis and British forces in an "illegal war". ...In a statement last night, Ms Gun said: "Any disclosures that may have been made were justified because they exposed serious illegality and wrongdoing on the part of the US government which attempted to subvert our own security services. Secondly, they could have helped prevent widescale death and casualties amongst ordinary Iraqi people and UK forces in the course of an illegal war."

Nov 14 ~ I'd walk to London to tell Bush my son's blood is on his hands

was the original headline to this story on the icWales website "The father of a Welsh soldier killed in Iraq said last night he would gladly walk to London to meet President George Bush face to face, to be able to tell him he was responsible for his son's death. The US President yesterday revealed he will be meeting relatives of British soldiers killed during the war, to tell them their loved ones died for a "noble cause" and "did not die in vain"....
( Mr Bush's words ) "do not convince Mr Keys,whose 20- year-old son Thomas was one of six British Military Policemen killed on June 24. He says he would love to meet the President and "give him a piece of my mind". "He is the man responsible for my son's death, with his gung-ho tactics of rushing off to war," said Mr Keys, from Bala, Gwynedd. ."Bush thinks he has won the war by storming through Iraq in three weeks and pulling down a statue - it's ridiculous." The talk of praying for the families also rankled with Mr Keys. "This is Bible-bashing Bush who thinks he has some divine power to be doing this - it infuriates me."

Nov 14 ~ Only British troops can sort out America's mess

Simon Jenkins in the Times
" The March invasion .....was illegal, lacking both international and regional support. It failed to capture Saddam who, for all we know, is now orchestrating a devastating guerrilla campaign. The invasion was opposed by almost every Arabist expert in Washington and London, not to mention the Middle East. It was in effect a private war, a latter-day Jameson Raid, by Donald Rumsfeld and his Pentagon Office of Special Plans under Paul Wolfowitz, reckless and ill-conceived.
Iraqis fear that America is about to make yet another mistake: precipitate withdrawal...." Read in full

Nov 14 ~ The Stop the War Coalition is considering taking legal action

against the Metropolitan police if it is banned from marching through Parliament Square and up Whitehall during next week's protests against the visit of President George Bush. Guardian

Nov 14 ~ George Bush is to meet relatives of British soldiers bereaved by the Iraq war

during his state visit next week, telling them that he shares their grief and that their loved ones died for a "noble cause"....Scotsman

Nov 14 ~ Blair 'dishonest, shallow and cheap' in justifying Bush visit, says Cook

Independent "...Writing in The Independent today, the former cabinet minister discloses that a proposed state visit by Bill Clinton was blocked because of the Monica Lewinsky affair. He says: "I was Foreign Secretary at the time the Royal Visits Committee quietly dropped President Clinton from the forward programme of state visits because of his impending impeachment. I am bewildered that the same committee that concluded Bill Clinton did not merit a state visit has decided that George Bush has the stronger claim to be so honoured..... If the state visit takes on the character of the US boss visiting his wholly owned British subsidiary it will do further damage to relations with the Bush administration in the eyes of the British public and further diminish the stature of their Prime Minister." "

Nov 14 ~"... hundreds of armed security officers, instructed to carry guns and use them in defence of the President if need be."

" Hostility to the war has converted this state visit into a furtive occasion, with the President scuttling around here and there and making his arrivals unannounced. "
The Spectator is worth looking at this week for the cover picture alone.
"...Factored into the election plan has been what is known in the White House as the 'British boost'. It is important for US image-makers to foster as best they can, for domestic consumption at least, the notion of a cosmopolitan, well-travelled president. Practically the only international figure known to the insular US electorate - leaving aside the Pope, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein - is the Queen of England. ..
..The idea of an address to MPs has been dropped, presumably because of fears about the kind of disruption that blighted President Bush's visit to Canberra last month..
...The President brings with him a substantial staff, including hundreds of armed security officers, instructed to carry guns and use them in defence of the President if need be. The White House initially pressed for 250 of these Rambo-type figures to be let loose on British streets, while the US secret service is said to be making strong demands that agents who use their guns should be immune from prosecution. "

Nov 13 ~ One Man's World

From an article by Chomsky - the cover story of the New Statesman
".......Arthur Schlesinger, the former adviser to President Kennedy, observed, George W Bush's "policy of 'anticipatory self-defence' [against Iraq] is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor, on a date which, as an earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy . . . today, it is we Americans who live in infamy....
Occasionally the educated classes do depart from the common stance of subordination to power: in Turkey and Colombia today, for example, where US military aid has sustained harsh and repressive regimes. In Turkey, prominent writers, journalists, academics, publishers and others not only protest atrocities and draconian laws but also carry out regular civil disobedience, facing and sometimes enduring severe and prolonged punishment. In Colombia, courageous priests, academics, human rights and union activists and others face the constant threat of assassination in one of the world's most violent states. Their actions should elicit humility and shame among their western counterparts." ".

Nov 13 ~ US expats face a wave not of anti-Americanism but anti-Bushism.

Reuters "It`s tougher being an American in London than it used to be. Our President has made it so," said Newsweek Magazine`s London correspondent Stryker McGuire.
"Even among friendly Britons, there`s a growing scepticism about the gun-toting, electric-chairing land that has let Dubya be Dubya for nigh on three years now."

Nov 13 ~ Primaries approach...."Bush speeds up the exit strategy"

Telegraph "President George W Bush ordered his senior envoy in Iraq last night to speed up the handover of power to local politicians, following warnings from the CIA of impending disaster and a suicide bombing that killed 18 Italian paramilitary police.
..The atmosphere of crisis in Washington was palpable.
Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, was rushed back from Baghdad to plot a new course for American officials who have been forced to use the word "war" for what had been described as mopping-up operations. Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, had to abandon a planned trip. The meeting was also attended by Dick Cheney, the vice-president, Colin Powell, the secretary of state, and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser. ."

Nov 13 ~ Governing council put in frame as US makes no bones about how situation is unravelling

Guardian "The unscheduled summit in Washington over the future of Iraq reflected intense White House unease about the way the situation is unravelling in the country. ... the Iraqis on the council are aware that as American appointees they lack the legitimacy of an elected body. They say they lack authority and that key decisions are taken without reference to the council. "The governing council should not alone bear the responsibility of any inefficiency," Mahmoud Othman, a Sunni Kurd member of the council, told the Associated Press. "This is supposed to be a partnership based on equality, but when the Americans want to find solution for their problems, they do it in any way that suits them....Several council members were furious last month when they found the Americans had agreed to send Iraqi police officers to Jordan for training. Many in Iraq still remember Jordan as an ally of Saddam Hussein. The council was angry again when it learned that the US had invited Turkish troops into Iraq. Weeks of complaints from the council appear to have shelved that plan.
Council members have also pressed to take more control over security in Iraq, and until now their plans have largely met with resistance from the Americans.
Each of the 24 is a likely target for the guerrilla movement because of their perceived support for the Americans. Aqila al-Hashimi, one of only three women on the council, was shot dead outside her home in September. " ."

Nov 12/13 ~" It is not only Bush the Chicken-hawk warmonger and promoter-in-chief of the great illusion about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction who they will be denouncing.

It is also Bush the ignorant, self-righteous Christian warrior, Bush the smirking executioner and Bush the believer in one law for America and another for everyone else. And, of course, Bush the "Toxic Texan", an image made flesh by the "ghost ships" bearing down on Hartlepool, whose US-produced contaminants will find a last resting place on Britain's unpolluted isle...
...today's Washington has a whiff of Soviet ways; suffocating internal discipline, resentment of even reasoned, moderate opposition, and a refusal to admit even the tiniest error. For imperialists, read "evildoers". With their condescending "we know best" attitude, Messrs Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest offer as close an impersonation of the Politburo as you will find. " Independent

Nov 12 ~ Bush visit: " Tens of thousands of demonstrators against the war in Iraq are expected to descend on the city."

Reuters "The expected tight security measures have been seized upon by critics, among them London's left-leaning Mayor, Ken Livingstone, who has taken part in previous demonstrations against the Iraq war. "Any attempt to try and help Bush avoid protesters would be inconceivable. To create a situation in which up to 60,000 people would remain unseen would require a shutdown of central London which is just unacceptable," he said on Tuesday...."

Nov 12 ~ José Bové welcomes the fact that mainstream politicians are taking cues from the anti-globalisation movement.

"Thousands of anti-globalisation activists have converged on Paris for a meeting that seeks to challenge mainstream politicians on everything from genetically modified food to free trade and immigration. ...Campaigners like Susan George, vice-president of Attac, believe the EU must use the constitution to guarantee basic rights for its citizens and stand up to U.S. hegemony. "There's no other political entity to stop the American steamroller from creating more and more imbalances," she said. Mainstream political parties, seeking to stem a haemorrhage of disillusioned voters to more radical groups, have rushed to show solidarity with a movement that seeks alternatives to globalisation. ..." Reuters

Nov 12 ~ So who did invite him?

Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian ".... how did it happen? The Foreign Office suggests a call to the palace, who promptly insist this was not their doing. "This whole visit is being done with advice - with a capital A," says a palace spokeswoman firmly. The royal family did not do this on their own; government was involved. The two sides cannot even agree on when this wizard idea first surfaced. The Foreign Office says it was settled in June 2002; the palace and US embassy say the first they heard of it was early this year.
All of which makes you wonder if even the hosts are getting cold feet. You can hardly blame them. For who does this trip really benefit? Not Blair, who's getting a headache he could do without. Not the Queen, who has an allergy to political controversy and, given recent events, can hardly be eager to see her already beleaguered institution tarred by association with the "toxic Texan". ..." No, there is only one beneficiary of this visit and it is the Bush White House.

Nov 12 ~ We are ordinary people and we do wish to protest

An emailer writes today, "I, like so many others, have been infuriated by Blair preventing investigations into past government wrongdoings/mishandling of events by saying that we have to move on, and that we must not seek to blame, that what the public are really interested in is what the government is doing to help schools, hospitals, etc. It is this culture of unaccountability which he is nourishing that I find dangerous.  The letter puts it rather well I think http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,1083098,00.html

Nov 12 ~ Other interesting letters in today's Guardian

(Read here) include the simple statement "I have never been on a protest march, but after reading Blair's patronising and arrogant comments on the planned anti-war/Bush demonstrations, I feel obliged to attend. " Jim Hatley Brighton

Nov 12 ~ Jessica Lynch herself now says the rescue story was embellished by the US military - false stories

Boston Globe "Private First Class Jessica Lynch said yesterday that she is disturbed that the military seemed to overdramatize her rescue by US troops and spread false stories that she went down shooting ..."

Nov 12 ~ More than half of Baghdad's residents said they did not believe the United States would allow the Iraqi people to fashion their political future without the direct influence of Washington

Gallup poll reported in the Boston Globe

Nov 12 ~ Blair faces Bush security crisis as Livingstone hosts anti-war party

Telegraph"..... Yesterday Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, encouraged the anti-war protests by saying he had arranged a Peace Reception for prominent opponents of the war and subsequent "occupation" of Iraq, next Wednesday midway through the president's stay. ...... It has infuriated Mr Blair who has been busy trying to lure the Left-wing Mayor of London - expelled from the Labour Party three years ago for standing as an independent in the mayoral race - back into the Labour fold in a gesture of conciliation to the Left. An upbeat and unapologetic Mr Livingstone said yesterday that the event would bring prominent peace-minded people together and serve as a powerful anti-war "statement"...."

Nov 12 ~ Iraq refuses to follow the Pentagon game plan

Simon Jenkins in Baghdad yesterday "....The challenge for Mr Bremer is vast. An entire generation of Washington neo-conservatives may live or die with him. Bombs do not help Mr Bremer, who was summoned back to Washington last night for emergency talks. Indeed, as under the Raj, it is hard to ignore the emerging tensions between the different arms of the occupying power. There are moments when the military seem to have remembered nothing about "hearts and minds" since Vietnam. .."

Nov 12 ~ UK cuts rainforest funding to meet Iraq costs


Nov 11 ~ Iraq Tried Last-Minute Deal to Avoid War

Washington Post "...According to Hage, the Iraqis offered to let 2,000 U.S. agents come to Iraq to verify that it didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Iraq said long before the war - and captured officials still maintain - that the country had no such weapons. Though none has been discovered in seven months of searching, finding the weapons and overthrowing Saddam were the main reasons the Bush administration gave for going to war.
The Iraqis also told Hage that Iraq was willing to cooperate in the war on terrorism and said they would surrender Abdul-Rahman Yasin, who had been in Iraqi custody since 1994 and is on the FBI's most wanted list for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. ..."

Nov 11 ~ A series of shocking pictures revealing US soldiers tying up Iraqi women and children in their own home has provoked international outrage.

English Aljazeera.net "The occupying forces have now come under renewed fire for their treatment of ordinary Iraqis as shown in the pictures published today by Aljazeera.net. CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is conducting an investigation and seeking advice before taking further action. "This kind of image increases resentment of American troops in Iraq and can also play a major part in demoralising troops who are having to tie up small children.. ....
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence in London said: "There are a range of options available to the commander on the ground based on the information received. Restraint depends on the situation."
However a senior military source said: "This sort of action would be highly unusual for British troops and would have to be authorised at the highest level.
"We just don't do things like that. We are working very closely with Iraqi people on the ground in Basra and prioritise in winning hearts and minds. "We made a dreadful error earlier on in the campaign and lost some military police as a result. It was a tragedy which we have learned from and do not want to repeat." "

Nov 11 ~ London's Metropolitan police commissioner admits the visit presents an "unprecedented" challenge.

"It's going to be a big test for the Met in terms of what we have to do to prevent an attack on the president, any member of the royal family and any member of the cabinet," said a spokeswoman for Scotland Yard police headquarters. "We have to balance preventative measures with allowing people to demonstrate in a peaceful manner." Reuters

Nov 11 ~ Dreamers and idiots - Britain and the US did everything to avoid a peaceful solution in Iraq and Afghanistan

George Monbiot in the Guardian "...those of us who called for peace before the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan were mocked as effeminate dreamers ... But ..... as we discovered last week, Saddam proposed to give Bush and Blair almost everything they wanted before a shot had been fired. Our governments appear both to have withheld this information from the public and to have lied to us about the possibilities for diplomacy. ....Over the four months before the coalition forces invaded Iraq, Saddam's government made a series of increasingly desperate offers to the United States
....On March 17, Bush claimed that "should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war"....
... Had a peaceful resolution of these disputes been attempted, Bin Laden might now be in custody, Iraq might be a pliant and largely peaceful nation finding its own way to democracy, and the prevailing sentiment within the Muslim world might be sympathy for the United States, rather than anger and resentment.
Now who are the dreamers and the useful idiots, and who the pragmatists? "

Nov 11 ~ Michael Moore is in the UK to continue his one-man crusade against President George W Bush.

BBC "...Anyone walking past the Palladium on Sunday would have been forgiven for thinking a rock star was in town, judging from the commotion this portly American satirist provoked. By one entrance, activists exhorted Americans abroad to vote for Democratic challenger Wesley Clark. By another, the Stop the War coalition outlined their plans to disrupt President Bush's forthcoming visit to the UK. There was no doubting where Moore stood on the election issue, having already promised to spend his Bush-sanctioned tax cut trying to unseat him. His abhorrence of right ring politics extended to the Conservative Party, which he described as a "dying dinosaur".
For news about President Bush visit, please visit the warmwell democracy page.

Nov 10 ~ White House wants West End to be no-go area

The Times The Times goes on to refer to "anarchist groups" which have pledged to disrupt Mr Bush's trip. That there are so many anarchists in the UK now is an interesting fact. Fellow anarchists may share our deep concern at draconian anti-terrorism laws that may well be used against protesters.

Nov 10 ~ Saddam's desperate offers to stave off war were rejected by Washington

We missed this article in the Guardian on Nov 6 which shows how "Washington dismissed Iraq's peace feelers, including elections and weapons pledge, put forward via diplomatic channels and US hawk Perle"

Nov 10 ~ Failed intelligence risked SAS lives

Scotland on Sunday "The lives of British special forces troops were needlessly put at risk during the Iraq war because of poor intelligence-gathering, their commanders have told MPs. A secret briefing for members of the defence committee was told last week that much of the information provided by MI6 and the American military was out of date or "plain wrong". That meant the already perilous undercover work of elite soldiers such as the SAS was made even more dangerous and led directly to them being shot at by locals they had been assured would be friendly...
...one MP told Scotland on Sunday: "It was awful. On the basis of what they told us you get the feeling they'd gladly sack the intelligence services. How we didn't get blokes [from the special forces] wiped out I don't know." "

Nov 9 ~ How we denied democracy to the Middle East

Robert Fisk in the Independent 8 November 2003: We created this place, weaned the grotesque dictators. And we expect the Arabs to trust Bush's promise?.... " It gets weirder and weirder. As his helicopters are falling out of the sky over Iraq, President Bush tells us things are getting even better. The more we succeed, he says, the deadlier the attacks will become. Thank God the Americans now have a few - a very few - brave journalists, like Maureen Dowd, to explain what is happening. The worse things are, the better they get. Iraq's wartime information minister, "Comical Ali", had nothing on this; he claimed the Americans weren't in Baghdad when we could see their tanks. Bush claims he's going to introduce democracy in the Middle East when his soldiers are facing more than resistance in Iraq. They are facing an insurrection. So let's take a look at the latest lies. "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe," he told us on Thursday. "Because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty." Well said, Sir. George Bush Jr sounds almost as convincing as, well, Tony Blair. It's all a lie. "We" - the West, Europe, America - never "excused and accommodated" lack of freedom. We endorsed lack of freedom. We created it in the Middle East and supported it...." Read article

Nov 9 ~ official confirmation of a complete absence of high-level military and political planning to manage the aftermath of victory

Observer "...... An official US army review leaked to the US NGO globalsecurity.org has revealed that the army had no plan for the occupation of Baghdad. Officially titled the Third Infantry Division (Mechanised) After Action Report, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the study provides the first formal internal view of the Iraq war from the point of view of the soldiers who brought down Saddam Hussein. The report provides official confirmation of a complete absence of high-level military and political planning to manage the aftermath of victory and indicates some key problems that continue to hamper US army effectiveness to this day. ..."

Nov 9 ~ Bush visit set to paralyse London

Observer " Itinerary details remain secret in record security operation as thousands plan street protests during first state visit by an American President ...For security reasons the Metropolitan Police will not confirm a route for the cavalcade until the last minute and will be forced to make road closures with minimal notice. After Air Force One touches down a week on Wednesday, the President and his entourage will be flown by helicopter to a central London destination, where a cavalcade will take them to a reception at Buckingham Palace. Bush's arrival is likely to follow the pattern of his visit to Australia last month, when he was spirited away from protesters along empty streets cleared of ordinary people. All police leave has been cancelled and armed units and US special agents will be assigned to the streets of London. .."
Anyone else feeling sick?

Nov 9 ~ Case for war confected, say top US officials

Independent on Sunday "An unprecedented array of US intelligence professionals, diplomats and former Pentagon officials have gone on record to lambast the Bush administration for its distortion of the case for war against Iraq. In their view, the very foundations of intelligence-gathering have been damaged in ways that could take years, even decades, to repair.....
..."There was never a clear and present danger. There was never an imminent threat. Iraq - and we have very good intelligence on this - was never part of the picture of terrorism," says Mel Goodman, a veteran CIA analyst who now teaches at the National War College. The case for accusing Saddam Hussein of concealing weapons of mass destruction was, in the words of the veteran CIA operative Robert Baer, largely achieved through "data mining" - going back over old information and trying to wrest new conclusions from it. The agenda, according to George Bush Senior's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman, was both highly political and profoundly misguided. "The theory that you can bludgeon political grievances out of existence doesn't have much of a track record," he says, "so essentially we have been neo-conned into applying a school of thought about foreign affairs that has failed everywhere it has been tried." The hour-long film - entitled Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War - was put together by Robert Greenwald, a veteran TV producer in the forefront of Hollywood's anti-war movement who never suspected, when he started out, that so many establishment figures would stand up and be counted. olin Powell's powerful presentation to the United Nations Security Council on 5 February. Of that pivotal speech, Mr McGovern says in the film: "It was a masterful performance, but none of it was true." ....

Nov 8 ~ "suspected guerrilla hideouts" "F-16 fighter planes swooped down"

Reuters " US warplanes and armoured vehicles have battered suspected guerrilla hideouts in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit after six soldiers were killed in the shooting down of a Black Hawk helicopter....After dark on Friday, F-16 fighter planes swooped over Tikrit, dropping several 500-pound bombs near the helicopter crash site. Then raids were launched around the town -- a hotbed of anti-U.S. resistance... U.S. Army statement said the raids were part of "Operation Ivy Cyclone", a new drive to root out guerrillas in the hostile territory around Tikrit. It said 16 people had been detained in the past 24 hours as part of the operation, and five killed..... Troops backed by Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles destroyed several abandoned houses which the U.S. military believed had been used by insurgents. "We are targeting those areas where we have had attacks on coalition forces," Russell said. "We want to eliminate those threats...."

Nov 5 ~ Soldier of fortune ... A for-profit army carries out U.S. mission around the world

Cincinnati Post "....By paying civilians to handle military tasks, the Bush administration is freeing up U.S. troops to fight. But the use of contractors also hides the true costs of war. Their dead aren't added to official body counts. Their duties -- and profits -- are hidden by close-mouthed executives who won't give details to Congress....The world of military contracts is a murky one. In Iraq and Afghanistan, important buildings in the capitals bristle with gun-toting Americans in sunglasses. They favor khaki photographers' vests and a few military accoutrements, but lack the name tags and identifying patches of a soldier. Ask who they work for and one often hears "no comment" or "I can't tell you that." Contractors' deaths aren't counted among the tally of more than 350 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. No one is sure how many private workers have been killed, or, indeed, even how many are toiling in Iraq for the U.S. government. Estimates range from under 10,000 to more than 20,000 -- which could make private contractors the largest U.S. coalition partner ahead of Britain's 11,000 troops. ...In the case of Halliburton, the U.S. government hired the company in Iraq without a competitive bid, after the company recommended itself in a study. Halliburton's Iraq oil services contract, worth $1.59 billion so far, will be extended until December or January. The company reported Wednesday that its government work in Iraq and elsewhere helped boost yearly third-quarter earnings by 39 percent, to $4.14 billion. "

Nov 4/5 ~ "The president owes the American people an exit strategy for Iraq, and it is time for him to deliver."

Senator Byrd "I have great respect and affection for my fellow Senators and my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee. But I have even greater respect and affection for the institution of the Senate and the Constitution by which it was established.
Every Senator, upon taking office, swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution. It is the Constitution-not the president, not a political party, but the Constitution-to which Senators swear an oath of loyalty. And I am here to tell you that neither the Constitution nor the American people are well served by a process and a product that are based on blind adherence to the will of the president at the expense of congressional checks and balances. It is as if, in a rush to support the president's policy, this White House is prepared to put blinders on the Congress. .." Senator Byrd's speech

Nov 4 ~ Last week, in a scarcely publicised written answer, the Foreign Office revealed that the UK's involvement in Iraq has cost the British taxpayer more than £1.25bn so far.

Guardian "Military operations, reconstruction and additional security at British embassies across the Middle East and the British Office in Baghdad all received a chunk of the funds, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said. In his statement, Mr Straw confirmed that the biggest slice - an estimated £700m - was spent on military operations. .."

Nov 3 ~ The Bloodiest Day in Iraq for Americans

CounterPunch"....Minutes after the attack, American Black Hawk helicopters swarmed over the scene to rush survivors to hospital while soldiers secured the site, ordering journalists to leave and confiscating film. Villagers and local farmers showed their delight by waving pieces of the smoking wreckage. The bloodiest single incident for American forces since the beginning of the war, and the worst day of casualties since the official end of the combat phase of the war as declared by President George Bush six months ago, eclipsed efforts by the White House to counter the impression that Iraq is becoming a quagmire for America. ..."

Nov 3 ~ .... Washington's failure to plan for the occupation is creating a vacuum into which foreign elements are being drawn:

the very situation the invasion was meant to prevent. One US source told Jane's Intelligence Digest: "If al-Qa'ida wasn't operating in Iraq under Saddam, it surely is now." Independent

Oct 26 ~ White House withholding highly classified intelligence documents about Twin Towers attack

Reuters "The head of the federal commission investigating the September 11, 2001 attacks says the White House is withholding highly classified intelligence documents and he is ready to subpoena them if they are not released within weeks, according to a report.....The commission is the latest body to complain about access to administration documents. In August, the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, said Vice President Dick Cheney stymied its probe into his energy task force by refusing to turn over key documents...."

Oct 25 ~ "They're changing. They have dehumanised the Iraqis. They call them 'hajji' now - that's like 'gook'.

I am old enough to remember the Vietnam war, and I remember," says Adele Kubein, whose daughter is a National Guard mechanic serving in Iraq.
On one occasion, her daughter telephoned her, sobbing. "She said, 'Mom, I have shot people. I am never going to be able to come home and live a normal life again...."
Guardian Troops' relatives speak out as death toll rises and morale falls

Oct 25 ~ Nations pledge additional $13bn to help rebuild Iraq

Independent The sum includes $20bn already promised by the United States. But $13bn takes the form of loans. This will further burden the Iraqi economy, which is already about $120bn in debt. ..." Global pledges mask real cost of recovery "....What Iraq urgently needs is $9.3bn for 2004 in the form of non-returnable grants, according to the UN and the World Bank. It cannot borrow because it is not creditworthy, and is not expected to have oil revenues until then. The urgency of cash now without strings was spelt out by the head of the UN's development programme, Mark Malloch Brown, who saud: "Our needs assessment ... tells the story of a country brought down from a per capita income of $3,600 25 years ago to less than $600 today. "We estimated... that $9bn would ideally be needed for the first year." .........There are concerns about how the cash will be spent, particularly that offered by the US which is not keen on using a specially-established trust fund. Bilateral aid, often tied to specific contractors, was a mistake, an EU official said because it risked "duplication and concentration on priorities of the donors rather than Iraq".

Oct 25 ~ "The US Senate is preparing a damning report on pre-war Iraq intelligence

which will blame the CIA and its director, George Tenet, for the Bush administration's unsupported claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction..." Guardian ".... The report by the senate select committee on intelligence has not been published and is still being fought over by Republican and Democratic committee members. ....the report is expected to allege that the October 2002 national intelligence estimate, which put an official CIA seal of approval on the administration's claims about the Iraqi arsenal, was built on circumstantial evidence and single-sourced and disputed information. The committee chairman, Bush loyalist Pat Roberts, described the intelligence underpinning the war as "sloppy". .....
In the months before the Iraq war, intelligence officials privately complained that they were being put under intense pressure, particularly by the vice president, Dick Cheney, to present "worst case scenarios" for Saddam's arsenal..... Newt Gingrich, a former Republican leader with close links to the Pentagon's top civilian officials, also visited Langley to press for more alarmist reports. ..... Democrats want the scope of the Senate inquiry to be widened to include an examination of the role of the unit and Mr Cheney's staff. "

Oct 23 ~ I believe that we will find the answer only through an independent judicial inquiry.

Michael Ancram in yesterday's Iraq debate "I am mystified by the Government's opposition to an inquiry. If they were confident of their position, they would support the motion tonight. An independent judicial inquiry would end the confusion and the rumours. Their rejection of such an inquiry can suggest only that they are less than confident in their case. The Prime Minister does not seem to understand the very real damage that the continuing allegations are doing to the reputation of this country abroad or to the reputation of our intelligence services at home..... What was the justification for that over-egging? In summary, was the September dossier a genuine intelligence resumé of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, as it was claimed to be, or was it a propaganda device to bring doubting Labour Members onside? These are serious questions, and they are surely best answered in the ordered environment of a judicial inquiry. ........ the conclusion will inevitably and understandably be drawn that at the time of the war there was no concrete evidence of weapons of mass destruction. We would all have a right to feel let down on a matter on which Parliament and the nation as a whole had the right to rely on the word of the Prime Minister on matters of intelligence. More seriously, it would suggest either that the Prime Minister received wrong intelligence from the intelligence services, or that he - if I may put it politely - grossly enlarged upon the information that he had received in order to back up the case that he so passionately made to Parliament...... Once again, the most effective way of clearing this up, setting to rest the suspicions and restoring credibility is for the Prime Minister to submit the evidence and information that he had before the war, and that which he has now, to be assessed once and for all by an independent judicial inquiry.

Oct 23 ~ All but $1 billion of more than $5 billion of Iraqi funds have disappeared into a "financial black hole" says Christian Aid

Reuters " A leading British aid agency accused Iraq's U.S. and British administrators of failing to account for at least $4 billion in oil revenues and other money that is meant to go towards rebuilding the country. As officials from around the world gathered in Madrid to hear U.S. requests for aid for Iraq, Christian Aid said on Thursday the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had not publicly detailed cash flows since ousting Saddam Hussein in April. A spokeswoman for the CPA in Baghdad responded only by saying the authority was committed to full accountability in its handling of Iraqi funds and was complying with a U.N. resolution obliging it to do so.
Public details are scant, however.
Christian Aid said its figures were a conservative estimate of oil revenues collected by the CPA since the war, prewar oil revenues handed over from the U.N. "oil-for-food" account and seized assets of Saddam's government. All but $1 billion of more than $5 billion of Iraqi funds had disappeared into a "financial black hole", it said. The charity said failure to show where the money has gone would fuel suspicion among critics that funds were going to U.S. firms given contracts to rebuild the country. "There is a U.N. mandate obliging the CPA to account for money coming in and money going out ..."

Oct 21 ~ US failure to count civilian deaths 'incredible'

Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad Independent
"The refusal by the US army to count the number of Iraqi civilians killed by US soldiers in Baghdad has been strongly condemned by Human Rights Watch.
Joe Stork, the acting executive director of the group's Middle East and North Africa division, said: "It is a tragedy that US soldiers have killed so many civilians in Baghdad. But it is really incredible that the US military does not even count these deaths." ...... In some cases troops behave with unnecessary rudeness towards civilians such as putting their feet on the heads of captive Iraqis when they are lying on the ground. The report says that "in Iraqi culture, the use of the feet against another person is highly insulting". The tying up and hooding of suspects, often for hours, also creates lasting bitterness. ...... Mr Stork said: "Right now soldiers feel they can pull the trigger without coming under review."

Oct 21 ~ "Washington will give the United Nations and the World Bank a say in the spending of billions of dollars of reconstruction funds in Iraq

it emerged yesterday, in a further concession to international critics. A new agency, to be run by the two multinational bodies, is to be announced on Thursday in Madrid at the international aid conference on Iraq, apparently in an attempt to persuade donors to give generously..." Telegraph

Oct 20 ~ " They saw it, obviously, as a great photo opportunity" but "No palace parade for Bush as Blair gets cold feet"

Telegraph "Plans for the Queen and George W Bush to make a triumphant procession along the Mall during the president's state visit next month have been abandoned because of fears of anti-war protests. ..... Downing Street, anxious about possible anti-war protests from the start, has now decided to pull the plug on it," said the official.
"We are liaising with the White House and they have made no attempt to hide their disappointment. They saw it, obviously, as a great photo opportunity."......He will travel by helicopter to avoid protesters who line road routes. Other proposed events have also been curtailed or cancelled, and he will not address Parliament because of fears of a boycott by MPs. ..... Downing Street has decided to stage photo events that they can control. The President and the Queen are expected to be photographed together during tea at Buckingham Palace and inspecting the guard...."

Oct 20 ~ Rebel Labour MPs will abstain at the end of a Tory-sponsored debate demanding a full judicial inquiry into the war.

Independent "Rebel Labour MPs who opposed the invasion of Iraq plan to defy ministers on Wednesday by abstaining at the end of a Tory-sponsored debate demanding a full judicial inquiry into the war. The Conservative motion will argue that an investigation is justified in the light of conflicting accounts of intelligence received by ministers in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq. It will say that the inquiry should also cover the conduct of the war, and its aftermath, as well as the role of the Attorney-General in advising ministers that the action was legal. The Liberal Democrats, who also support the idea of an independent inquiry, are expected to back the motion...."

Oct 17 ~ Tony Blair must be held to account

"We now know that he was not honest about the outing of Kelly" Richard Norton-Taylor in The Guardian "A few days after David Kelly's suicide, the prime minister was confronted by journalists on his aircraft as it prepared to land in Hong Kong. "Why did you authorise the naming of David Kelly?" he was asked. "That is completely untrue," replied Tony Blair. "Did you authorise anyone in Downing Street or in the Ministry of Defence to release David Kelly's name?" he was asked. "Emphatically not," responded Blair."I did not authorise the leaking of the name of David Kelly". The prime minister added: "Nobody was authorised to name David Kelly. I believe we have acted properly throughout." ......."

Oct 16 ~ "The case for a full judicial inquiry is unanswerable, and all the resources of the parliamentary opposition should be deployed to such an end."

Michael Heseltine in the Spectator "I do not see how the Attorney-General can stay in the government
......... it seemed, and seems, to be stretching the meaning of words to breaking point to argue that the 'serious consequences' mentioned in UN Resolution 1441 meant that Iraq would be invaded if it did not comply. Every observer knew that those words had been chosen precisely because the UN would not stomach any words that implied force. ....... the Americans have produced the most authoritative evidence so far that nothing has been found to justify the assertions which underpinned the decision to invade: that is, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which threatened our security. Furthermore, Robin Cook now asserts that the Prime Minister himself had ceased to believe in the existence of WMD two weeks before the invasion, and Jack Straw is said to have urged delay hours before our troops went into action. I repeat the point I made in the Guardian a month ago. I was present when, in November last year, a senior Democrat with close connections to the Bush administration told a London audience that the UN was irrelevant. The decision to attack Iraq had been taken and would proceed. .... ....The Prime Minister must not be allowed to change the basis of the case he presented as a justification for war. The Hutton inquiry must not be paraded as a proper report on the causes and justification for war. It is not and it was never intended to be. It is a convenient diversion into tragic but essentially irrelevant events that is convenient for a government determined at all costs to prevent the British people from being given the truth.
The case for a full judicial inquiry is unanswerable, and all the resources of the parliamentary opposition should be deployed to such an end. "

Oct 16 ~ "Turkey's problem at the moment is not with the English but the Americans.

Why send troops where they're not welcome? by Adrian Hamilton in the Independent ".. Pressured into making a commitment of troops to Iraq before this week's UN vote on a new resolution, Ankara is struggling to make sense of a decision it knows to be wrong but cannot avoid....
... So a country that doesn't want to do it is set to send troops to a country that doesn't want to have them.. all at the behest of a US administration that insists on overruling their objections. It's madness. It's even more mad when you consider that, on any dispassionate view, the emergence of a viable democratic Iraq needs the wholehearted commitment of its neighbours.
Turkey may be right to suspect that the Iraqi Governing Council's declaration that it doesn't want troops from any of its neighbours is really aimed specifically at it.
But there is an obvious truth in the view that what Iraq needs is the commercial and diplomatic backing of Jordan, Turkey, Syria and Iran, not their military engagement."

Oct 16 ~ Dick Cheney receives deferred payments from Halliburton

The Guardian today Halliburton Allegedly Overcharges in Iraq ".... Reps. Henry Waxman of California and John Dingell of Michigan complained to the Bush administration that Halliburton's KBR subsidiary is billing the Army between $1.62 and $1.70 per gallon, while the average price for Middle East gasoline is 71 cents.
They also complained that Iraqis are charged between 4 cents and 15 cents at the pump for the imported gasoline.
"Although Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, the U.S. taxpayer is, in effect, subsidizing over 90 percent of the cost of gasoline sold in Iraq,'' the lawmakers said in the latest Democratic attacks against the Houston company that received a no-bid contract. ....The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which chose Halliburton, has received bids for a replacement contract that could be awarded this month. Corps spokesman Robert Faletti said he could not confirm the figures that Waxman and Dingell cited in a letter to Joshua Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
He said, however, that the contract is being audited by Congress and the Army.
In a further move against Halliburton, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., announced Wednesday he would propose barring the government from awarding Iraq reconstruction contracts to companies that maintain close financial ties to the president, vice president or members of the president's Cabinet. ....Cheney receives deferred payments from Halliburton and also has stock options. .."

Oct 16 ~ Bush 'ignored evidence which did not suit his call for war'

Roland Watson and Michael Evans in the Times Doubts are raised on both sides of the Atlantic on why combat was waged... "Greg Thielmann, former director of the strategic, proliferation and military affairs office in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, said that President Bush and his aides picked out details from intelligence reports that supported their arguments and dramatised the threat from Saddam Hussein, while ignoring others. ..."

Oct 16 ~ "... opposition parties join forces to demand an independent judicial inquiry into the war."

Independent "...Mr Hoon's speech failed to win over the opposition. Paul Keetch, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: "Had comments like the one Mr Hoon expressed today about weapons of mass destruction been stated more candidly before military action, it is questionable whether the Government would have been able to pursue the same course of action." The shadow Foreign Secretary, Michael Ancram, said: "The Government have previously stressed there is 'absolutely no doubt' weapons of mass destruction will be found. Now they are back-tracking." Mr Hoon would not be pinned down on when British troops could leave Iraq. Asked if they could still be in the country in three years' time, he said he was "cautious about putting any timescale on this because the nature of our involvement might change"...."

Oct 15 ~ Goldsmith 'scraped the legal barrel' over Iraq war

As we also heard on the Today programme (Listen again) the Independent article reports: "Lord Alexander of Weedon QC, chairman of the all-party law reform group, Justice, said it was "risible" for the government to rely on a UN resolution passed in 1990 as the basis for an invasion of Iraq in 2003 - which ministers knew the security council would not authorise. Lord Alexander, a former chairman of the bar and ex-chairman of NatWest, called on the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, to disclose all of his advice to the government that a unilateral strike would be justified under international law so its context could be properly understood. ..
....they fell back on the 12-year-old resolution 678 of 1990 passed for the purpose of authorising the expulsion of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and the restoration of peace in the Middle East. "An old resolution passed for a different and more limited purpose was ingeniously used as a cloak for the very action which the United Nations would not currently countenance." The government was "driven to scrape the bottom of the legal barrel" because other possible justifications for war under international law, such as self-defence or humanitarian intervention, did not apply. The great majority of the public international lawyers who had expressed a view did not agree with the attorney general's advice, he said...."

Oct 15 ~ The Archbishop of Canterbury has publicly called into question the judgement of the Prime Minister and his ministers in taking the country into war with Iraq.

Independent " Dr Rowan Williams warned last night that national leaders had a moral duty to act on criteria that went beyond national interests and to listen to the voices of their people. "Governments know things we don't know but we know things governments don't. Democratic government is about hearing what it does not know," he said. "

Oct 15 ~ "Tony Blair has also played the tin soldier....... I am told by a good source that the generals are furious with him for sending them to war on false pretences"

States of war an article in the Guardian today by George Monbiot on how appeasing the armed forces has become a political necessity for the American president . "....... Tony Blair has also played the tin soldier, but with less success. He was the first western leader to arrive in Iraq after George Bush prematurely announced victory there. But when he addressed the troops, they remained silent. I am told by a good source that the generals are furious with him for sending them to war on false pretences.
But in America, the armed forces, whether they want it or not, are being dragged into the heart of political life. A mature democracy is in danger of turning itself into a military state."

Oct 14 ~ Blair chaired the meeting that led to Kelly naming plan

Independent "....Tony Blair chaired the decisive meeting at which a change of stance took place over David Kelly, leading to the scientist's identity being disclosed, the most senior civil servant in the Ministry of Defence revealed yesterday. Sir Kevin Tebbit also dismissed as untrue a number of entries about the affair made in the diaries of Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's former director of strategy and communications. .......
Michael Ancram, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said in a statement after the hearing: "Kevin Tebbit's evidence is yet another damning indictment of Tony Blair's role in the naming of Dr Kelly. "Sir Kevin has said the key decision on the naming strategy 'was taken at the meeting in Number 10'. "That meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's denials are now shown to be a sham."

Oct 13 ~ Alastair Campbell and Sir Andrew Turnbull, the head of the Civil Service, are to be summoned before the Public Administration Committee

Independent " to answer questions on the treatment of Dr David Kelly. Mr Campbell, who had earlier refused to appear before the Public Administration Committee, will be asked about Downing Street's role in releasing Dr Kelly's name to the press. He is expected to be called next week when MPs return to the House....The cabinet secretary is understood to be cautious about the invitation and his office is negotiating with the committee on the terms of his appearance and the date. "Why wasn't the head of the Civil Service involved in the whole issue of how to treat Dr Kelly?" asked one source close to the committee.

Oct 13 ~ Sir Kevin rejected claim that he had been consulted over a proposal to leak Dr Kelly's name to the press.

Guardian "The chief civil servant at the Ministry of Defence today denied smearing David Kelly as "a bit weird and rather eccentric" in a dinner party chat with a BBC journalist after the weapons expert's name had become public. Sir Kevin Tebbit, giving evidence at the final hearing of the two-month-old Hutton inquiry, also denied ever telling Tony Blair's former communications director, Alastair Campbell, that Dr Kelly was "a bit of a show-off".
....Mr Campbell's diaries - already read out to the court in earlier hearings - mooted a plan to give Dr Kelly's name to the papers ahead of the prime minister's appearance before the parliamentary liaison committee, but that "they [Sir Kevin Tebbit and Sir David Omand] didn't want to do it." Sir Kevin agreed that hypothetically he would not have wanted to do it but said he had never been informed or consulted about it in any case. ..."

Oct 13 ~ Another American dead in Iraq, another day in Iraq, a conference in London stressing the business opportunities in Iraq.

From the always lively Channel 4 news update email "Lots of big US figures present, but is the place secure enough, indeed do the Americans yet have the legal right to start selling off businesses? Shirley Williams from the House of Lords believes not. .."

Oct 13 ~ Russia to price oil in euros in snub to US

article in the Telegraph on friday: " Russia is to start pricing its huge oil and gas exports in euros instead of dollars as part of a stragetic shift to forge closer ties with the European Union. The Russian central bank has been amassing euros since early 2002, increasing the euro share of its $65 billion (£40 billion) foreign reserves from 10pc to more than 25pc, according to the finance ministry.
The move has set off a chain reaction in the private sector, leading to a fourfold increase in euro deposits in Russian banks this year and sending Russian citizens scrambling to change their stashes of greenbacks into euro notes. German officials said Chancellor Gerhard Schroder secured agreement for the change-over on oil pricing from Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, while on a trip to Russia this week. The two leaders have forged a close personal bond and are both keen to check American economic and diplomatic power...."

Oct 13 ~ "Americans accused of brutal 'punishment' tactics against villagers, while British are condemned as too soft"

US soldiers have "uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops" Independent
...."They made a sort of joke against us by playing jazz music while they were cutting down the trees," said one man. .... The children of one woman who owned some fruit trees lay down in front of a bulldozer but were dragged away, according to eyewitnesses who did not want to give their names. They said that one American soldier broke down and cried during the operation...."

Oct 13 ~ "no target on the planet or in space would be immune to American attack. The US could strike without warning whenever and wherever a threat was perceived, and it would be protected by missile defenses."

From an article by Noam Chomsky this week Dominance and its Dilemmas: ".... Hypersonic drones would monitor and disrupt targets. Surveillance systems are to provide the ability "to track, record and analyze the movement of every vehicle in a foreign city." The world is to be left at mercy of US attack at will, without warning or credible pretext. The plans have no remote historical parallel. Even more fanciful ones are under development.
These moves reflect the disdain of the administration for international law and institutions, or arms control measures, dismissed with barely a word in the National Security Strategy; and its commitment to an extremist version of long-standing doctrine.
In accord with these principles, Washington informed the UN that it can be "relevant" by endorsing Washington's plans for invading Iraq, or it can be a debating society. The US has the "sovereign right to take military action," Colin Powell informed the January 2003 Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum, which also strenuously opposed Washington's war plans. "When we feel strongly about something we will lead," Powell informed them, even if no one is following us.
Bush and Blair underscored their contempt for international law and institutions at their Azores Summit on the eve of the invasion. They issued an ultimatum - not to Iraq, but to the Security Council: capitulate, or we will invade without your meaningless seal of approval. ...." Read in full

Oct 13 ~ Sir Kevin Tebbit may face questioning regarding the "coaching" of MoD officials

Independent on Sunday "Sir Kevin Tebbit, the most senior civil servant in the Ministry of Defence, may face questioning regarding the "coaching" of MoD officials who appeared at the Hutton inquiry when he gives further evidence tomorrow. Several MoD staff, recalled in the second phase of the inquiry into the death of the weapons expert Dr David Kelly, are understood to have had preparation sessions beforehand with a team of government information officers at the Civil Service College in Sunningdale, Berkshire. A source said the inquiry was aware of the allegation, although it has been denied by the MoD..."

Oct 12 ~ Why in-fighting is losing Iraq and could cost Rumsfeld his job

Sunday Herald ".... A series of polls has shown recently that more than two-thirds of Americans believe US foreign policy is on the wrong track, and Bush's popularity is now at its lowest point since he was elected.
..... The post-war mess in Iraq has been widely blamed on planning failures and strategic myopia on the part of Bush's foreign policy team. .... While many American newspapers have reported the opening of a bitter rift between Rice and Rumsfeld, Washington sources have suggested to the Sunday Herald that the rift is in fact between Rumsfeld and Bush, and that Condoleezza Rice has exploited it to her own advantage. ..
......Rumsfeld's fall from grace has been spectacular. ..........
But doubts are being voiced as to whether the reshuffle will in fact accomplish anything and whether Rice's appointment was merited. Several of Bush's advisers privately blame her for the debacle over the State of the Union address....her determination to establish her toughness led to errors in judgement, guiding Bush down an aggressively unilateral path on issues from Kyoto to North Korea to the UN. "She is prone to the naive view that 'we are strong and they are weak and we should ruthlessly exploit this'," said J Roy Stapleton, Bush's ambassador to China, of her foreign policy leanings. ..."

Oct 12 ~ Many soldiers, same letter

The Olympian "A Gannett News Service search found identical letters from different soldiers with the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Rock," in 11 newspapers, including Snohomish, Wash. ......... The five-paragraph letter talks about the soldiers' efforts to re-establish police and fire departments, and build water and sewer plants in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where the unit is based. "The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored, and we are a large part of why that has happened," the letter reads. It describes people waving at passing troops and children running up to shake their hands and say thank you. It's not clear who wrote the letter or organized sending it to soldiers' hometown papers"..." Detail from letter

Oct 11 ~ In 1983, the US 'pre-emptively' invaded Grenada. Sound familiar?

Interesting article in the Guardian about regime change in Granada in 1983. Jonathan Steele concludes:"The true impulse - America's obsessive hatred of Cuba's independence and its desire to stop other countries in the region from following suit - was spelt out on the walls of the looted Cuban embassy. "Eat shit, Commie faggot," said newly written graffiti. The vandals had left their calling card, the initials AA for All American, which the 82nd Airborne Division likes to use. (They are the same outfit which recently killed three Iraqis near Falluja while shooting up a farmhouse and calling in airstrikes to destroy the building.) Tawdry, vicious and ignorant, the invasion of Grenada differed from this year's war on Iraq in one important particular. A furious British prime minister did not hesitate to tell the US president he was wrong. ....she knew when the Americans were going wrong and was not scared to tell them. The contrast with Blair is sad."

Oct 11 ~ "an acknowledgement that Mr Bush realises he has a huge problem with the way things are being reported and with how things are going in Iraq"

Guardian story on the rift between Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, President George Bush's national security adviser: ".... little reassurance that important decisions about postwar Iraq were being made. "If Ms Rice's memo signals a real attempt to exercise political control over the violence and instability in Iraq, that would be welcome. But so far, the grandly named Iraq stabilisation group seems more like an attempt to substitute title-building for nation-building."

Oct 11 ~ Britain will pledge 550 million pounds

to the reconstruction of Iraq ahead of an international donors conference in Madrid later this month, the Financial Times has reported. See Reuters

Oct 11 ~ "The people are in removal mode"

Michael Moore writes, "don't be depressed about Arnold. The people are pissed off and they have every right to be. They are in a "removal" mood. That is a good thing. As soon as we do our work to inform our friends and neighbors how Bush has wrecked the country, the economy and our standing in the world, they will be more than ready for "Terminator IV: Hasta La Vista Bush."
Moore's book Hey Dude, where's my Country is now # No 1 bestseller on Amazon.com

Oct 10 ~ Archbishop uses memorial to question morality of Iraq war:

Channel 4 news update email: "..... the deep moral conflicts of war were taken head on by Rowan Williams in his address: There is little, one imagines Tony Blair would disagree with in that, though he might tense at the suggestion later put: Those who attended today must have had conflicting and varied emotions. Some have talked of their support for the war, others talked of their anger. "

Oct 8 ~this war-torn and war-weary country, armed with a new central bank and a brand new currency, will soon be in a loving embrace with global investors and exporters

Times "... Foreign companies will be allowed to buy 100 per cent ownership of state-owned companies. Tariffs are to be slashed and local producers will be given no protection. Taxes will be very low, up to a maximum rate of 15 per cent. Foreign banks will take over the banking system. In short, this war-torn and war-weary country, armed with a new central bank and a brand new currency, will soon be in a loving embrace with global investors and exporters. At least, that is the hope of the coalition provisional authority which has signed the plan into law...
..the lessons from Russia give pause for thought. Key among them is that much-needed new investment will not flow into a country until it has sound foundations. These include a rule of law, effective tax collection and clear, open government that can control corruption. Without them, a market economy can all too soon give way to a frontier-style free-for-all."

Oct 8 ~ I pray that each and every one returns safely and I will also pray the fool who sent them comes to his senses

The Times reports an online petition www.129bringthemhome.com boasts almost 12,500 signatures from across the nation. It has inspired a sister website - www.bringhomethe142.org - in Minnesota and plans for similar petitions in other states.

Oct 8 ~ "The Department of Defence should not be a discount shopping outlet for would-be terrorists"

Extraordinary revelations in today's Times that the US Congress began an investigation yesterday after the Pentagon was exposed for selling biological warfare components to the public over the internet. Pentagon sold off germ warfare parts

Oct 7 ~ "conclusive and incontrovertible" evidence that Saddam had been in breach of UN resolutions. was ten years old

Guardian "The test tube of botulinum presented by Washington and London as evidence that Saddam Hussein had been developing and concealing weapons of mass destruction, was found in an Iraqi scientist's home refrigerator, where it had been sitting for 10 years, it emerged yesterday. David Kay, the expert appointed by the CIA to lead the hunt for weapons, told a congressional committee last week that the vial of botulinum had been "hidden" at the scientist's home, and could be used to "covertly surge production of deadly weapons". Since then, the discovery of the vial has been at the heart of the debate over prewar claims that Iraq had an arsenal of banned weapons. ..."
David Kay

Oct 7 ~ Freedom of the press is beginning to smell a little rotten in the new Iraq.

Robert Fisk in today's Independent "..... Things are no better in the American-run television and radio stations in Baghdad. The 357 journalists working from the Bremer palace grounds have twice gone on strike for more pay and have complained of censorship. According to one of the reporters, they were told by John Sandrock - head of the private American company SAIC which runs the television station - that "either you accept what we offer or you resign - there are plenty of candidates for your jobs". Needless to say, the television "news" is a miserable affair that often fails to make any mention of the growing violence and anti-American attacks in Iraq which every foreign journalist - and most Iraqi newspapers - report. .." (This is a Portfolio article and has to be paid for)

Oct 7 ~ a classic case of Number 10 setting up an Aunt Sally that they can then knock down. It is a classic diversionary tactic. The best thing is to look at what Robin says

Telegraph Cook's backers accuse No 10 of muddying waters on WMD " "The idea that the Prime Minister ever said that Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction is absurd." But a friend of Mr Cook said Downing Street had deliberately inflated the allegation in order to knock it down. Mr Cook, he said, did not conclude from the conversation with Mr Blair that no Iraqi WMD existed. But he did understand that it was nowhere near as potent as claimed by the Prime Minister.
The friend said: "That's a classic case of Number 10 setting up an Aunt Sally that they can then knock down. It is a classic diversionary tactic. The best thing is to look at what Robin says." Mr Cook's allegations are contained in diary extracts taken from his book, Point of Departure, serialised in the Sunday Times. The MP, who resigned as Leader of the House of Commons over the decision to go to war, paints a picture of a Prime Minister at the mercy of the Americans, desperate to influence a belligerent White House...."

Oct 7 ~ Rumsfeld and Bush "adamantly opposed to an expanded UN role"

Independent on the news that the White House is setting up an "Iraq Stabilisation Group" under the national security adviser Condoleezza Rice , centralising control of US operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan "......a warning from President Vladimir Putin of Russia that the US could be facing a 21st-century version of the Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan, when the swift invasion of 1979 was followed by a bloody and decade-long guerrilla conflict, and ultimately humiliating withdrawal in 1989. To avoid this fate, Washington must hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis, Mr Putin told The New York Times, and secure a new Security Council resolution to enlarge the role of the United Nations in Iraq.
But the creation of the new co-ordinating group does not appear to signal much movement on either front.
Mr Rumsfeld is said to be chastened by the criticism to which he has been subjected, and he - and Mr Bush - are adamantly opposed to an expanded UN role."

Oct 7 ~ " improved media communications"

The Times article on the same subject "Bush snubs Rumsfeld over Iraq role" "... Dr Rice's group will oversee four new National Security Council committees on counter-terrorism, the Iraqi economy, the development of political institutions and improved media communications. "

Oct 7 ~ Mr Keys believes Britain fought "an illegal war" in Iraq and blames Mr Blair for his son's death.

In a personal message for the prime minister, he said: "I feel your misguided actions and those of your government have caused the unnecessary deaths of 51 young men. "Fathers, sons, husbands. I hope you can sleep at night Mr Blair. Because I can't, after the loss of our Tom."

Oct 6 ~ "Wishful thinking will not help us. But a hard-headed assessment of what has been achieved can provide the basis for working out what still can be done"

Gary Younge in the Guardian " The anti-war movement failed to stop the attack on Iraq, but it has already had a decisive impact on politics..
...In Britain we have a war-mongering, privatising, race-baiting administration that governs in the name of a party set up to represent the interests of working people. In America, the most rightwing Republican party since Nixon's time controls the presidency and both houses of Congress. Israel is intent on building its own version of the Berlin wall through Palestinian land. Fundamentalism, be it Christian, Islamic or Hindu, is on the rise, with all the intolerance and violence that goes with it.
At home, the largest demonstration, produced by one of the most broad-based political movements in British history, failed in its central objective. We did not stop the war. In short, there seems little to feel optimistic about.
And yet it is in these bleakest of moments that optimism on the left is most crucial. Extinguish the flame and there is no torch to pass on in more hopeful times. Wishful thinking will not help us. But a hard-headed assessment of what has been achieved can provide the basis for working out what still can be done. .." Read in full

Oct 6 ~ Blair's own Smoking Gun

"While Mr Cook's claims are not entirely new and hardly conclusive, they provide further weight to the impression Downing Street was far from straight with the public or Parliament in attempting to secure backing for military action." Daily Post

Oct 6 ~ After Cook's diary. "Mr Blair's Labour critics warned him that they would intensify the spotlight on the Prime Minister when the Commons returns next week"

Guardian "..former culture secretary, Chris Smith, said: "If he keeps insisting, without any sort of qualification, that he was right all along, that we did the right thing, that we haven't learned any lessons from what we now subsequently know, then, I fear, the electoral water is going to be very choppy for him."

Oct 6 ~ "The willingness of journalists to accepts the establishment's view of the events of, and after, 9/11 is truly staggering"

says Paul Donovan in yesterday's Observer. "...For those who inhabit a world outside of the Parliamentary lobby, the views expressed by Meacher (See here) as to the way the whole 9/11 scenario and what followed so easily fitted with the Bush administration's agenda is anything but conspiratorial. In his piece Meacher quoted from sources across the media including the Times, the Daily Telegraph, Newsweek, the BBC and Time magazine. His crime for establishment journalists is in putting together the various pieces of information to come up with a credible rationale for what has happened over the past two years. The fact that the account seems so incredible is reflective of how poorly others in the have done their jobs in terms of informing the public. ...
.... from the tragedy that was 9/11 Bush has been able to deliver for his backers in the arms and oil industries. The President has also been able to portray himself as a wartime leader. This is the real story that journalists should be probing at and uncovering, not decrying the likes of Meacher who has at least had the guts to stand up and say what many have suspected for some time...."

Oct 5 ~ "Tony Blair privately conceded two weeks before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein did not have any usable weapons of mass destruction, Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, reveals today."

Sunday Times "John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee (JIC), also "assented" that Saddam had no such weapons, says Cook. His revelations, taken from a diary that he kept as a senior minister during the months leading up to war, are published today in The Sunday Times. They shatter the case for war put forward by the government that Iraq presented "a real and present danger" to Britain.....His disclosures are likely to lead to renewed calls for a judicial inquiry into the legitimacy of the war. ...He raises "the gravest of political questions. The rules of the Commons explicitly require ministers to correct the record as soon as they are aware that they may have misled parliament. If the government did come to know that the [United States] State Department did not trust the claims in the September dossier and that some of even their top experts did not believe them, should they not have told parliament before asking the Commons to vote for war on a false prospectus?" ...."

Oct 5 ~ "The case for going to war was a political case, not an intelligence case,"

Washington Post "CIA Director George J. Tenet is under fire as never before. With efforts unsuccessful so far to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, some conservative lawmakers and pundits are blaming the agency for inadequate intelligence on Saddam Hussein. Democrats are accusing Tenet of bending the intelligence to support President Bush's policy of preemption in Iraq. ...
..other national security officials say he has been dismayed at what he sees as exaggerations of Iraq's link to al Qaeda and its nuclear weapons program offered by Vice President Cheney's office. Tenet's regular access to the president remains, and he continues to "tell him what he thinks," one senior official said. ..
..Other intelligence experts said going to war is ultimately the president's call. "The case for going to war was a political case, not an intelligence case," said Winston Wiley, former chief of the CIA's counterterrorism center and deputy director of intelligence...
...The feeling inside the agency, summed up by one veteran officer, is that Tenet "became bulletproof [from being fired by the president] after taking the spear for the State of the Union speech this year, and he is not going anywhere until maybe after the election."

Oct 5 ~ "ricin plot" in January appeared to bolster the case for war against Iraq. ..Now the Times reports "The case appears to be crumbling"

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-842694,00.html "...critics are now expected to seize on the admission over the alleged ricin plot as further evidence that the government was engaged in a "spin offensive" in the run-up to the war in Iraq. One source close to the case said: "The government said at the time that chemical weapons had been found in Britain for the first time. Defence lawyers have been told that they can no longer substantiate this statement. The case appears to be crumbling...."
We remember all too well the public fear created by such stories both here and in the US. Simon Jenkins wrote in January this year

Oct 5 ~ No uranium, no munitions, no missiles, no programmes

Independent "As the first progress report from the Iraq Survey Group is released, Cambridge WMD expert Dr Glen Rangwala finds that even the diluted claims made for Saddam Hussein's arsenal don't stand up"

Oct 5 ~ "It is not known if Mr Kay retains financial interests in SAIC."

Independent Survey Group head's link to arms industry

Oct 5 ~ The Bush administration and major US firms are facing fresh charges of "profiteering"

from the Iraq war after allegedly inflating the costs of key contracts. (Independent on Sunday)
"The accusations from Tom Daschle, the Democrat Senate leader, came after his staff uncovered evidence of the "gold plating" of cost estimates for dozens of contracts. The controversy has highlighted the White House's growing problems in persuading a deeply sceptical Congress to release an extra $87bn (£52bn) for Iraq and, in part, Afghanistan - in addition to the $79bn it approved in April.
Meanwhile, the US's main allies, including the EU, Japan and some Arab countries, are balking at President Bush's attempts to raise $35bn in financial support and are thought instead to be offering no more than $1bn...."

Oct 4 ~ A land ruled by chaos

Award-winning writer Suzanne Goldenberg returns to Iraq, from where she reported on Saddam's fall. But in place of the promised peace she finds a country where lawlessness, violence and fear have filled the void Guardian "...Benefits, when they did arrive - a partial restoration of electricity, and a gradual reduction in crime - were seen as miserly and overdue, a betrayal of the promises made by Britain and America to build a new Iraq, prosperous, modern, and free. Saddam's Republic of Fear, the mechanism of iron controls that held the state together, was gone, but its replacement is a violent chaos. "

Oct 4 ~ Michael Moore:"I have written a book that seeks not to defeat the Bush people next year, but to have them removed from Washington right now."

Click here "I know, I'm not asking for much. But I have spent the better part of the past year researching and writing this new book, and when you read it you'll see why the current criminal investigation of the White House for outing a CIA agent in revenge is, in my opinion, just the tip of the iceberg. I can only hope that my book will make a small contribution toward that day when we'll see one long perp walk of administration officials in handcuffs being led out of the White House and into a waiting paddy wagon. Like I said, I'm not asking for much. "Dude, Where's My Country?" is also my humble attempt to violate the Patriot Act on every single page of the book. And, I have learned that many want to get on John Ashcroft's evildoer list with me. There are already a record number of orders from bookstores across the country. The first printing alone is almost one million copies (my last book's first printing was 50,000). Chapters include "Oil's Well That Ends Well," "The United States of BOO!", "How to Talk to Your Conservative Brother-in-law," and more. (Click here to see the cover that will win me a free ticket to Gitmo)..."
(We see that the Guardian has this story today too, plus an extract from the book)

Oct 4 ~ Hans Blix warned the US-led experts hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq yesterday to beware the dangers of "spin" when presenting their findings to their political masters anxious to justify the invasion of Iraq.

"We don't want another epidemic of spin," the former chief UN weapons inspector told The Independent, as President George Bush seized on the interim report to justify his decision to go to war." Independent

Oct 4 ~ 1,200 weapons inspectors spent 90 days in Iraq. The exercise cost $300m. And the number of weapons found? 0

Independent ".. blamed the slow progress on the way Iraq had arranged its WMD activities, the widespread destruction of materials and documents before the war, and looting of suspect sites afterwards. But the meagre results seem bound to reinforce contentions that the US and British governments, wilfully or by error, grossly exaggerated the scale and the imminence of any threat from Saddam..."

Oct 3 ~ In a stark rejection of American proposals, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has made clear that the United Nations cannot play a proper political role in Iraq under terms Washington wants

U.N. officials and diplomats say. Reuters
"While not refusing outright to participate in the political process, Annan told ambassadors at a Security Council lunch that the new U.S.-drafted resolution envisaged a role for the United Nations that could not be implemented. It was one of the few times during his five years as secretary-general Annan had opposed the United States so bluntly on a crucial issue. The United States had tacit support for the resolution from a majority of Security Council members, although many were sceptical. But Annan's comments, diplomats said, might make it impossible for the 15-member body to support the measure. ..."

Sept 30 ~ Yup, things are getting better and better in "New Iraq".

Robert Fisk Don't Mention The Oil. Or Ask About The Victims

Sept 30 ~" Now Mr Blair regularly peddles the line that the battle between Russia's drunken and rapacious soldiers and the brutal warlords of Chechnya must be "seen in the context of the fight against international terrorism".

Back in June he even tried to smarmy up to that grand old KGB spymaster, Vladimir Putin, by saying that some of the toughest fighters against US and UK forces in Iraq "were Chechen". This was a lie. No Chechen fighters have been found in Iraq. Indeed, Iraqis were stunned to hear that such exotic folk had turned up here - Chechens don't even look like Arabs and would not speak Arabic. But Mr Blair got away with it.
No, I don't think we're going to invade Syria. For starters, it hasn't got enough oil to make it worth invading. But we've been fed so much of this tosh about WMD that I don't think anyone - other than the Blairs and Bushes and their idiotic spooks - really believes it. As for the "intelligence community", maybe this is the moment to close it down." Robert Fisk Lies, Mischief And The Myth Of Western Intelligence Services

Sept 30 ~"I don't discount the possibility that the neo-conservatives in Washington are planning another intervention. I think next time they come knocking on our door looking for support, they should get a different answer."

Robin Cook, quoted in the Independent which also reports that "The Government's £3bn "war kitty" for Iraq is almost exhausted and the eventual cost to Britain of the conflict and its aftermath could double to £6bn, the equivalent of 2p on income tax. A study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) estimates the continuing operation in Iraq is costing Britain £100m per month. It puts the bill for the three-week war at about £1.6bn and the pre-conflict costs at £700m - a figure confirmed by the MoD." Independent

Sept 29 ~ The White House denied on Monday that President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was behind a leak of secret information apparently aimed at discrediting a vocal critic of prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Reuters "... The controversy centers on the disclosure that Valerie Plame, the wife of Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador to Gabon, was an undercover CIA operative specializing in weapons of mass destruction. Wilson believes his wife's cover was blown by administration officials looking to discredit him. ......Wilson has accused the Bush administration of exaggerating the weapons of mass destruction threat posed by Saddam Hussein as it made its case for an invasion of Iraq. He wrote in The New York Times in July that he went to Niger in February 2002 at the CIA's request to assess a report that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger. The International Atomic Energy Agency later dismissed the allegation as based on forged documents.
The Niger uranium charge found its way into Bush's State of the Union speech in January as part of the U.S. case against Saddam, and only after Wilson went public did the White House admit Bush should not have included it, blaming the CIA. The CIA recently notified the Justice Department by letter of a leak of classified information regarding Wilson's wife, which leaves it up to Justice whether to investigate. .......The White House, already struggling to deal with the chaotic situation in Iraq and defend an $87 billion post-war spending request, rebuffed Democratic calls that a special counsel be appointed to lead an investigation of the matter. ....
....Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democratic presidential hopeful, said an independent commission needed to look into the allegations. "This administration has played politics with national security for a long time, but this is going too far," Clark told Reuters."

Sept 29 ~ I'm proud of what we have done in Iraq (but comrades, you can't vote on it)

Independent "..Mr Blair refused to accept that intelligence about Iraq's weapons was wrong. He told his critics to "wait and see" what the Iraq Survey Group, which is hunting for weapons in Iraq, says in its interim report due later this week. The Prime Minister admitted he was concerned about security in Iraq but insisted that the situation on the ground was improving. "What we have delivered in that country is freedom and for all the difficulties, let's ... be proud of what we have done," he said. ..."

Sept 29 ~ "... foreign service officers have stood on principle and have quit, some of them before the war ever started,

...and they have issued eloquent statements as to how their conscience would not permit them to have to tell these lies to folks, to try to rally support for an unjust US policy.
There is Andrew Wilke in Australia, an incredible person whom Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity had to this country. We all chipped in and paid for his fare. He spoke in Congress at one of the congressional hearings. Andrew quit the Office of National Assessments in Australia, which is the CIA counterpart, eight days before the war, because he could no longer countenance his country going into a war on the basis of intelligence that he saw to be bogus. And he spoke out immediately, and over the last few weeks, although you won't see it in the US press, he and Prime Minister Howard in Australia have been having a personal argument in the press as to how the intelligence was over-egged as the British say, exaggerated, sexed-up, ...
.. if the mainstream press still has the guts to say 'hey we were taken in, and we don't like to be lied to and on behalf of the American people, we are going to tell the real story here.' And the story is that the ostensible justification for this war was bogus, contrived, it was a lie. ...."
From an interview "The Crazies Are Back": Bush Sr.'s CIA briefer discusses how Wolfowitz & allies falsely led the U.S. to war http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/09/17/1543215 This piece also available in audio and video from www.DemocracyNow.org

Sept 28 ~ The UK is now the second biggest arms supplier in the world.

Sunday Herald "Britain under Tony Blair has overtaken the United States as the biggest supplier of arms to Third World countries, with total weapons sales to developing nations of £2 billion in 2002. The amount Britain earns from arms sales now almost matches the annual average of £3.3bn in UK aid to developing countries. In total, Britain earned £2.8bn from arms sales overseas last year. At times, British arms sales under Labour have been greater than under the last Conservative government. The UK is now the second biggest arms supplier in the world. .."

Sept 28 ~ "It shows how Blair has let himself be bamboozled by Bush."

Independent on Sunday Cook leads posse of authors ready to throw the book at Blair "... Peter Riddell, columnist for the Times, is regarded as one of the Government's more sympathetic observers, but his book Hug Them Close, an analysis of the "special" relationship between Washington and London, may not make comfortable reading in Downing Street. According to one source in the publishing world: "It shows how Blair has let himself be bamboozled by Bush."..."

Sept 28 ~ The conference committee is being accused of using the "old tactics of the left" to combine a resolution on Iraq with other issues to ensure an anodyne composite resolution.

Sunday Herald: Battered Blair blocks Labour damaging debate on Iraq "Tony Blair's conference fixers were embroiled in a late-night fight to prevent Labour's annual conference in Bournemouth holding an emergency vote on Iraq while a clutch of opinion polls show the party has slumped to its lowest rating since 1994. The eve-of-conference atmosphere is described by one member of the party's National Executive Council (NEC) as "disgusting and essentially horrible". The conference committee is being accused of using the "old tactics of the left" to combine a resolution on Iraq with other issues to ensure an anodyne composite resolution.

Sept 28 ~ It is vital that we call Tony Blair to account

The march contained many of the most vocal anti-war activists including George Galloway, the Labour MP suspended by the party for comparing Mr Blair and George Bush to wolves. He said: "It is vital that we call Tony Blair to account, because if a crime and a blunder on this scale goes unpunished, it will happen again and again." But the demonstration also had its share of new faces.." Blair must go, say anti-war marchers by Jonathan Thompson in the Independent on Sunday

Sept 27 ~ "It is often said that, but for the war, Saddam would still be in power.

But if his overthrow was the aim, why was this not baldly stated? Because, in Britain, it would be deemed illegal. That is why it is now doubly important that the attorney-general's legal advice be published. This WMD fiasco has brought into question the judgment, competence and candour of the intelligence services and, indeed, of Mr Blair and senior ministers. As a matter of fact, not opinion, Britain went to war on a false premise. It hardly needs to be said how very serious and very damaging a conclusion that is." Guardian leader yesterday.

Sept 27 ~ press reports on the London demonstration

Marchers demand end to Iraq occupation CBC news
London and World Protests Oppose Iraq Occupation Reuters

Sept 27 ~ "You occupy with a military force but you can't restore law and order with it."

Panorama: The Price of Victory will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 28 September, 2003 at 2215 BST. The UN's special envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, voiced his hopes and fears for the country in his final television interview, before he was killed in a car bomb explosion last month.
He told BBC One's Panorama programme that he wanted the handover of power to the Iraqi people to take place as quickly as possible.
"This is why an occupation cannot last. Since this country is occupied, the occupation should be kept as short as possible, particularly when it comes to the security sector."
Vieira de Mello told Panorama that he felt that some soldiers were "unnecessarily rough", adding: "I have made that point, and again, often not respecting local sensitivities, of culture and religion. "That is unnecessary because I presume we can achieve the same purpose by displaying more respect for local traditions and local culture...Soldiers are bad policemen, they're not trained for that .."

Sept 27 ~ "We are looking forward to a very large and angry demonstration"

says Stop the War Coalition chairman Andrew Murray. Thousands of people are gathering in London for the fifth major demonstration this year. The demonstration will leave Hyde Park and march to Trafalgar Square for a rally to be addressed by Ken Loach, suspended Labour MP George Galloway, Ken Livingstone and other politicians and union leaders.

Sept 27 ~ "Where was the press after 9/11? Apparently too wrapped in its cultural-patriotic story-telling ...

...to find credible sources to challenge the Wolfowitz-Perle vision of a democratic domino theory in the Middle East. Thus, the administration was able to push a weak case for war based on fantastic assertions of an al-Qaeda-Iraq link, and the even stealthier innuendos that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks -- a connection that 71% of the public attributed to the administration as late as June, 2003"
W. Lance Bennett is Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington and the author of News: The Politics of Illusion. His article, Operation Perfect Storm: The Press and the Iraq War is written in what we find an unfortunate style of English - but it nevertheless paints a depressing picture of the media in the US - and is ours (with some very honourable exceptions) so very much better? And where he asks "Where were the Democrats?" one is tempted here to ask "Where was our opposition?"
"... if a trail of smoking deception about the War somehow reaches the Oval Office, the press may well turn on the man they endowed with Texas Swagger, and send him into early retirement like they did his father. But this reversal of political fortune, if it occurs, will not likely be due to much dogged reporting on critical questions (for those questions have been there all along). It will be because the press has found a better story. "

Sept 26 ~ A double blow for Bush as UN pulls out staff

Telegraph "The United Nations is to reduce its staff in Iraq, it announced yesterday, citing safety fears after two recent attacks on its offices in Baghdad. The decision is a double blow to Washington, undercutting its claims that Iraq is stabilising, and reducing its hopes that greater involvement by the UN in Iraq could lead to other nations sending troops to share the security burden....a call-up of "weekend warriors" is seen as risking weakening domestic support for the American presence in Iraq as most are married with families and so are expected to be less tolerant of a prolonged tour of duty than regular soldiers. Meanwhile, Mr Bush's approval ratings dropped yesterday to the lowest since he took office as the apparent failure to find weapons of mass destruction added to the challenge facing his administration.... "

Sept 26 ~ Edward Said has died

Obituary in the Guardian "....Said recognised that Israel's exemption from the normal criteria by which nations are measured owed everything to the Holocaust. But while recognising its unique significance, he did not see why its legacy of trauma and horror should be exploited to deprive the Palestinians, a people who were "absolutely dissociable from what has been an entirely European complicity", of their rights. ..
...A Christian humanist with a healthy respect for Islam, he was a member of the academic elite; yet he inveighed against academic professionalism, venturing into territories well outside his area of speciality, insisting always that the true intellectual's role must be that of the amateur, because it is only the amateur who is moved neither by the rewards nor the requirements of a career, and who is therefore capable of a disinterested engagement with ideas and values. ... "

Sept 26 ~ Alan Milburn and Stephen Byers today warn Tony Blair he has become dangerously close to President George Bush and needs a more traditional Labour agenda.

Independent "...they have advised the Prime Minister his closeness to President Bush on foreign affairs may give the voters the idea he is pursuing a "right-wing Republican" agenda on domestic issues....

Sept 25 ~".. a cynical abuse of power which deserves the strongest possible condemnation" Gompertz

Reuters Campbell's diaries " indicate with clarity...that the secretary of state's denials of the government strategy, put to him in cross-examination, were false," he said. Gompertz later referred to "the hypocrisy of Mr Hoon's public stance". .... Gompertz said the family wanted the "duplicity of the government" to be exposed and he called a claim by Ministry of Defence officials that Kelly was given strong support "risible". "Never again should there be such feeble support for an employee at a time of crisis," he said. "No wonder David Kelly felt betrayed after giving his life to the service of his country. No wonder he was broken-hearted," Gompertz said.

Sept 25 ~ "Whatever the formal outcome of the Hutton inquiry...

...and the displacement activity of the government's row with the BBC over an early-morning radio broadcast, it has unquestionably confirmed that Alastair Campbell and other Downing Street officials did strain every nerve to create the false impression of a chemical and biological weapons threat from Iraq, a threat that it is increasingly obvious did not exist.
Even more damagingly, the inquiry has revealed Blair's reckless dismissal of the February warning by the joint intelligence committee that an attack on Iraq would increase the threat of terrorism.
Combined with the failure to find any weapons, the admission by the former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix that he now believes Iraq long ago destroyed them and the discrediting of a litany of propaganda ploys (links with al-Qaida, the forged Niger uranium documents, the 45-minute weapons launch claim), Hutton has helped to strip the last vestige of possible legal cover from the aggression and shift opinion against the war.
So has the chaos and resistance on the ground in Iraq, where guerrilla attacks on US soldiers are running at a dozen a day and US casualties are now over 300 dead and 1,500 wounded. Latest estimates of Iraqi civilian war deaths are close to 10,000..." Guardian

Sept 25 ~ The Growing Irrelevance of Tony Blair - His intermediation is no longer seen as useful in Washington

Adrian Hamilton in the Independent
"Not many people seem to have noticed, but the one person missing from the UN in New York this week is the head of the country which holds the presidency of the UN Security Council, Britain. Tony Blair has been busy on more pressing domestic matters, visiting hospitals. The international agenda was important, he told reporters on Tuesday, just as George Bush was giving his address to a stony-faced general assembly at the UN, "but it's also important to make sure we are dealing with the problems in our National Health Service." Fair enough, except that is far from the message Tony Blair was giving as he took the country to war earlier in the year or jetted off to address a joint session of Congress in Washington after it. But then a lot's happened since, including Lord Hutton, an occupation of Iraq that has gone sour and a US administration that has begun to lose its popularity in the States. ..... Blair's absence from New York reflects not just his difficulties at home over Iraq but also his growing irrelevance abroad. France, and Germany, have no need of an interlocutor in Washington. They may be demonised in America, but the Administration now needs them and they can manage their own talks with Bush directly. Equally Blair's intermediation is no longer seen as particularly useful in Washington, where the British Prime Minister is increasingly regarded as a lame duck in his own country. The latest Newsweek's cover picturing the British Prime Minister with the headline "The Twilight of Tony Blair" is a fair indication of how he is now perceived around the world. ....."

Sept 25 ~ General Wesley Clark -

Michael Moore's newsletter "...Clark told those gathered that certain people, acting on behalf of the Bush administration, called him immediately after the attacks on September 11th and asked him to go on TV to tell the country that Saddam Hussein was "involved" in the attacks. He asked them for proof, but they couldn't provide any. He refused their request.
Standing in that living room 12 nights ago, Clark continued to share more private conversations. In the months leading up the Iraq War, friends of his at the Pentagon -- high-ranking career military officers -- told him that the military brass did NOT want this war in Iraq, that it violated the Powell Doctrine of "start no war if you don't know what your exit strategy is." They KNEW we would be in this mess, and they asked the General, in his role now as a television commentator, to inform the American people of this folly. And, as best he could, that's what he did...."

Sept 25 ~ US inspectors fail to uncover evidence of Saddam's arsenal

Prime Minister dealt fresh blow as ISG fails to find weapons to support case for war Independent"A leak of a draft interim report by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which has been searching for WMD since the war, says no weapons have been found."
Is there anyone left in the UK surprised by this? The timing is rather awkward for Mr Blair as the Labour Party conference looms next week.

Sept 24/25 ~ "The final day is expected to be one of the most intense days of the six week inquiry, with uncomfortable accusations likely to fly from all quarters."

Guardian "Dr Kelly's family lawyer Jeremy Gompertz will take the stand first, followed by government QC Jonathan Sumption.
Over the past two weeks lawyers from all sides have subjected key witnesses including government communications chief Alastair Campbell and BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan to a fierce grilling about their role in the chain of events that ended with Dr Kelly's apparent suicide in July.
All tomorrow's speeches will be televised, making it the first time anyone other than Lord Hutton or the inquiry's senior counsel, James Dingemans QC, have been filmed at the inquiry...."

Sept 24/25 ~ "It would have been too much, perhaps, to have expected a mea culpa on the part of either Mr Campbell or Mr Hoon ..."

" But even so their answers marked the nadir of a political culture that makes every politician (and that includes Mr Campbell) into a grotesque version of the three monkeys, seeing nothing wrong, speaking nothing wrong and hearing nothing wrong."
From the Independent Editorial, September 23 quoted on the Guardian's round-up of Hutton Inquiry news reviews, 'Blair is in a terrible limbo'

Sept 24 ~ Gavyn Davies:" We were facing absolutely unprecedented pressure from the director of communications at Downing Street"

The chairman of the BBC, Gavyn Davies said today that he still stands by his memo to the BBC Governors in June, which said: "We should not buckle under pressure, whatever emerges about the rights or wrong about the 45 minute claim." He said to the government's QC: "I have to say, Mr Sumption, that I still agree with that paragraph. We were facing absolutely unprecedented pressure from the director of communications at Downing Street (Alastair Campbell). It was a legitimate public duty of the board to say that that pressure was intolerable." When he was asked whether the Governors should have been told who the source was, Mr Davies said that would have been "highly irregular. It was more important to say whether the source was credible and reliable, rather than focus on whether he was a member of the intelligence service."

Sept 24 ~"The fine art of hocus-pocus, turning lies into truth, goes back centuries but has now reached dazzling heights.

To turn repression into patriotism is just one recent example." An intriguing article entitled, "The Immaculate Dictatorship" on Znet "....More and more Americans have detected the odor of dictatorship. It is even possible to imagine a national nervous breakdown taking place, as people see how they have been fooled for so many years and become desperate or cynical--but cannot imagine a new, better kind of society. ..."

Sept 24 ~ Kelly got the message - in just 46 seconds

Ananova "Government weapons expert David Kelly was warned that his name had been confirmed to the press in a telephone call lasting just 46 seconds. Dr Kelly's line manager at the Ministry of Defence, Bryan Wells....... admitted that evidence he gave to the inquiry last month that Dr Kelly had been warned at his first interview with MoD officials that he was likely to be named at some stage was wrong..."

Sept 24 ~ Campbell's f*** letter tirade

Magnus Linklater at the Hutton Inquiry in yesterday's Times "Alastair Campbell took us into the heart of Downing Street yesterday -- and what a dark place it turned out to be. Shorn of courtroom niceties, and legal jousting, this was the Kelly affair as it was seen direct from the corridors of power: nasty, brutish and with no holds barred....
...Perhaps the most interesting revelation of Mr Campbell's "black" diaries is the unflattering light they shine on the cabal within No 10 and the Ministry of Defence, which was orchestrating the whole Kelly affair. In particular, Mr Hoon, who had spent much of yesterday morning presented a robust defence of his position, emerges as a prime mover, a man who is, as Mr Campbell points out, "almost as steamed up as I was". Far from wanting to distance himself from some of the more Machiavellian schemes to get Dr Kelly's name into the public domain, Mr Hoon is constantly pressing for immediate exposure...." Read in full

Sept 24 ~" I think you should redraft the para."

Independent "Intelligence that undermined the case for war against Saddam Hussein was dropped from the Iraq dossier at the last minute after the intervention of Tony Blair's chief of staff.
John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, admitted yesterday that he had made the crucial change on the "prompting" of Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister's most senior aide. The intelligence - that Iraq was more likely to use chemical and biological weapons defensively than offensively - was cut the day before the dossier was sent to the printer, the Hutton inquiry heard. Mr Scarlett said he removed the passage after an e-mail from Mr Powell had called it as "a problem" that could be seized on by anti-war critics.
Mr Powell's message, which was sent after the deadline for final comments from intelligence chiefs on the dossier, objected to the claim that the Iraqi dictator would use his weapons only if invaded.
"I think the statement on pg 19 that 'Saddam is prepared to use chemical and biological weapons if he believes his regime is under threat' is a bit of a problem," the e-mail read.
It pointed out that the claim would, in effect, back up an article by Donald Macintyre, The Independent's chief political commentator, that Saddam was "bad", but not "mad" enough to launch a WMD strike against the West. The e-mail went on: "It backs up the Don McIntyre [sic] argument that there is no CBW [chemical and biological weapons] threat and we will only create one if we attack him. I think you should redraft the para."...."

Sept 23 ~ "Kofi Annan makes a pretty bold speech for a Secretary General, urging no more unilateral, pre-emptive strikes on anyone and calling for collective action

if action has to be taken." Jon Snow's Channel 4 update. "He maps out reforms that might strengthen the UN Security Council. I thought him close to tears in talking about those who died in the attack on the UN Mission in which so many of his colleagues died.
Bush calls for help:
George Bush made an unapologetic speech at the same venue. More of the same - "with us or against us" is the order of his day. You either "bring order or you bring chaos." He places himself on the side of those who bring order, but the international jury must be well out on that one...."

Sept 23 ~ Scarlett dropped a key sentence from the dossier days before publication after prompting from Downing Street

Reuters "....In an email to John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, (Jonathan) Powell noted that the sentence "backs up the argument that there is no CBW (chemical, biological weapons) threat and we will only create one if we attack him. I think you should redraft that para (paragraph)."

Sept 23 ~ the CIA created fake mullahs to counter anti-American sentiment

Reuters The CIA paid Mullahs and created fake Islamic religious leaders to preach a moderate message and counter anti-American sentiment in the Arab world after the September 11 attacks, a new book says. "We are taking over radio stations and supporting clerics," a CIA source was quoted as saying. "It's back to propaganda. We are creating moderate Muslims." In "The CIA at War", Ronald Kessler, an investigative reporter and author of several books about the CIA and the FBI, also detailed espionage activity in Iraq that supported the March invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein.

Sept 23 ~ Kofi Annan has warned Bush that his doctrine of preemptive military intervention posed a fundamental challenge to the United Nations

Reuters "... and could lead to a global free-for-all. In a speech to be delivered shortly before Bush addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Annan declared that Annan declared that the Iraq crisis had brought the United Nations to a "fork in the road" as decisive as 1945 when the world body was founded. Without mentioning the United States by name, Annan spoke as states in the 191-member world body were struggling to heal deep rifts caused by the war on Iraq...Annan questioned U.S. arguments that nations have the "right and obligation to use force preemptively" against unconventional weapons systems even while they were still being developed. "My concern is that, if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification," Annan warned in a text of his speech released in advance. .."
George Bush will stand before the United Nations in New York today and insist that the United States and Britain did the right thing in invading Iraq. He will call upon its members to help to stabilise the country with contributions of cash and soldiers.

Sept 23 ~ John Scarlett - was he being economical with the truth?

John Scarlett insisted he had command and control of the dossier. He will be cross examined today at the Hutton Inquiry on why it was that he agreed to give emphasis to parts of the dossier that would be of political expediency to the government. He is a former high-ranking MI6 official and one of the government's most senior intelligence advisors. He worked for MI6 for 30 years and ended up as one of its five directors.

Sept 23 ~ Campbell's diary entries undermine Geoff Hoon's evidence

"The private diaries of Alastair Campbell revealed yesterday how the he and Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, were desperate to expose Dr David Kelly in its conflict with the BBC, and to try to shore up the crumbling credibility of the Iraq arms dossier. The bitterness of the confrontation was highlighted in one entry in which Mr Campbell spoke of how identifying Dr Kelly as the BBC source would "fuck" Andrew Gilligan, the journalist who made the claim that the dossier was "sexed up" by Downing Street...." Independent
"Geoff Hoon and other witnesses have repeatedly insisted that the Ministry of Defence's question-and-answer material was not part of a strategy to put Dr Kelly's name into the public domain. But the inquiry was shown an entry in Mr Campbell's diaries on 9 July, which stated his view that "the biggest thing needed was the source out". When asked if this meant identifying Dr Kelly, he replied: "That was my view." Mr Campbell also revealed he had been "aware" of the MoD's tactic of confirming the scientist's name to journalists through the Q&A approach. Either Pam Teare, the ministry's director of news, or Kate Wilson, her chief press officer, had told Mr Campbell of the plan at a daily No 10 meeting of press chiefs. "I was aware that that was the policy they had agreed," Mr Campbell said. Independent

Sept 23 ~ "...yesterday Jeremy Gompertz, the QC representing Dr Kelly's family, built a powerful case for a conspiracy

to bring the weapons expert's name into the public domain when he cross- examined Mr Hoon.
Firstly, there was the statement issued by the Ministry of Defence that an anonymous official had come forward to say he had met the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan. Mr Hoon admitted this was bound to excite the media into finding out the official's identity, as indeed it did.
Second, the MoD produced a "question and answer" briefing for its press officers, under which they would confirm Dr Kelly's name if it was put to them by a journalist.
Third, there were the additional clues to Dr Kelly's identity offered by Tom Kelly, the Prime Minister's official spokesman, who will be asked about his briefings when he is recalled to the inquiry today.
Denying a conspiracy, Mr Hoon said there was "not the slightest shred of evidence for that assertion".
But Mr Gompertz won the argument that it seemed more conspiracy than cock-up. Lord Hutton leant forward and, in one of his rare but telling interventions, repeated the "conspiracy" question.
Perhaps we should not read too much into Lord Hutton's words. But I would not be surprised if the senior law lord does not focus very hard on this point when he produces his inquiry report in November...." Independent

Say no to privatisation

Guardian "America's plan to privatise the Iraqi economy is a mistake that needs to be corrected before it is implemented. The huge sell-off programme, tax breaks and virtual elimination of tariffs on imports is designed to attract foreign investment..."

Sept 22 ~ "Hutton hasn't asked Blair to explain why he went to war.

The issues of the deaths of up to 10,000 people in Iraq has not arisen. The inquiry's virtue is that it will reinforce the public view that the government are a pack of liars, they are a pack of warmongers and they deserve only cynicism and they deserve direct action. I have never known in a reasonably long career in journalism for the public to be so aware, for their political consciousness to be so high."
"... In early 2001, visiting Cairo, Colin Powell said, "Saddam Hussein has not developed any capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project even conventional power against his neighbours. So in effect our policies have strengthened the security of the region."
Condoleezza Rice said something very similar at the time.
If you look through all the archive footage, as I've had the dubious pleasure of doing, it confirms that as far as their public position is concerned the Bush gang were in no doubt that Saddam Hussein was no threat. That's true of course. The UN inspectors and everyone else confirmed it. He was no threat and there was no issue of weapons of mass destruction..."
John Pilger - whose documentary can be seen tonight at 10.45pm, ITV.

Sept 22 ~ Hoon back in the witness box:

Channel 4 news update email. " The Hutton inquiry into the death of Britain's top expert on Iraq's weapons is under way again. The Defence Secretary, Mr Hoon, is back in the witness box. A more confident performance but an admission that he left a crucial detail out of his original testimony. He did indeed discuss the public naming of David Kelly when he had said earlier that he had not. Beginning to look to some as if the hapless Hoon was driven largely by Alastair Campbell, the communications chief in 10 Downing street.
Campbell himself is in the dock as I write, and another robust fist he is making. Nevertheless --perish the thought I should be Gilliganised for this -- the questioning is leading to the distinct impression that Alastair Campbell may indeed have 'sexed up' the dossier that preceded the case for war on Iraq. Worse, neither he nor Hoon made any effort to rebut press reports that suggested Saddam's missiles could hit Cyprus. No dossier, no agent, no one, ever suggested such a thing...."

Sept 22 ~"You know that the Americans made many promises before they came here.

They promised freedom and security and democracy. We were dreaming of these promises. Now we are just dreaming of blowing ourselves up among the Americans."
Robert Fisk's article in yesterday's Independent makes wholly distressing reading - and puts in perspective all the distractions of the Hutton Inquiry and the shrugging off of responsibility by its participants.

Sept 22 ~ Geoff Hoon and Alastair Campbell are to face tough cross-examination at the start of the final week of the Hutton inquiry.

Reuters at midday: "Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon says his department had made no errors in its handling of a scientist who killed himself after being thrust into the limelight as the source of a report alleging the government had hyped the threat from Iraq. In combative mood at an inquiry into the suicide of David Kelly, Hoon was adamant that the Ministry of Defence had protected the anonymity of the Iraq weapons expert and denied a suggestion that the government had agreed a strategy to leak Kelly's name. ..."

Sept 22 ~" Iraq was in effect put up for sale yesterday

when the American-appointed administration announced that industry, health services and water are to be auctioned off to foreign investors " Independent and The Guardian See also: Bush will ask for help to govern Iraq in UN address "One year after he told the United Nations he was prepared to go it alone in Iraq if necessary, President George Bush will return to the UN General Assembly tomorrow to appeal for international help to meet the mounting human and financial cost of maintaining a post-war occupation force"
"Mr Bush's cap-in-hand gesture seems unlikely to be accompanied by much humility, however, as the prevailing rhetoric in the United States continues to blast the French for obstructionism and suggests that there is nothing wrong with international co-operation being conducted entirely on American terms...."

Sept 21 ~ John Pilger's documentary, Breaking The Silence: Truth And Lies In The War On Terror, will be shown on ITV1 on Monday at 10.45pm.

"Their declarations of concern were cruel illusions that prepared the way for the conquest of both Afghanistan and Iraq. As the illegal Anglo-American occupation of Iraq now unravels, the forgotten disaster in Afghanistan, the first "victory" in the "war on terror", is perhaps an even more shocking testament to power. " Read John Pilger in yesterday's Guardian

Sept 21 ~ Fear as human shield faces jail

Faith Fippinger, a 62 year old retired teacher of the blind was one of the two hundred or so volunteers from more than 25 countries who chose to live in Baghdad during the US bombing. Read Kelley Benham's article "A soft target" "...America has changed since she learned the Girl Scout salute. She thinks the government is wrong to spend money on weapons instead of schools and health care. She thinks the war was built on hollow propaganda. And she thinks it doesn't make her a traitor to feel that way."
Now the BBC has taken up her story:
For travelling to Iraq Faith Fippinger will now probably lose her house, her pension and go to jail.

Sept 21 ~ The army is planning to end the use of depleted uranium tank rounds, the most controversial weapon in its armoury.

- "within six years"... Sunday Telegraph"The phasing out of depleted uranium rounds, which are used because of their armour piercing qualities, will please critics of the munition, including veterans of both the 1991 Gulf war and the Kosovo campaign. They have long argued that the shells can be directly linked to leukaemia, kidney damage and lung cancer and is also one of the causes of Gulf war syndrome.
...The Government continues to insist that the munition is safe......It is estimated that up to 2,000 tonnes of depleted uranium may have been used during the recent war in Iraq. "

Sept 21 ~ "We said Saddam Hussein was a master of denial and deception. Then when we couldn't find anything, we said that proved it, instead of questioning our own assumptions."

said a senior weapons inspector, quoted in today's Toronto Star.
Many stories today are concerned with the virtual abandoning of the search for "WMD" and the vexed question of Niger. The CIA admitted in July that Bush's claim in his January State of the Union speech that Iraq had sought to import uranium from Niger was based on forged documents. It seems that intelligence officials in the US now fear "key portions of the pre-war intelligence may have been flawed."
As for Hans Blix...he says dismissively: "In the beginning, they talked about weapons concretely, and later on they talked about weapons programmes. Maybe they'll find some documents of interest."
Britain continues to imply that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from Niger even though UN weapons inspectors have flatly contradicted claims by Tony Blair that they were given information from "a number of sources" about Iraq trying to acquire uranium from Africa for nuclear weapons.

Sept 21 ~ Tony Blair's efforts to seek agreement with France and Germany over Iraq suffered an embarrassing setback yesterday

when French President Jacques Chirac bluntly insisted that power should be handed back to Iraqis in a 'few months'. Observer

Sept 21 ~ "A culture of secrecy has descended upon the Anglo-American occupation authorities in Iraq. They will give no tally of the Iraqi civilian lives lost each day."

Read Robert Fisk in the Independent on Sunday today. "....Six days ago, American soldiers killed eight US-trained Iraqi policemen and a Jordanian hospital guard 14 miles away in Fallujah, claiming at first that they had "no information" on the shootings, and then apologizing - but without providing the slightest explanation for the killings. Several Iraqis in Khaldiya suggested that yesterday's ambush may have been a revenge attack for the slaughter of the policemen.
True or false, that is what the guerrillas may well claim. Do they, many Iraqis wonder, follow the political trials of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair? Was the devastating attack timed to coincide with Mr Bush's increasing embarrassment over the false claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction? Unlikely. But yesterday when the former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix condemned the "culture of spin, the culture of hyping" - in reference to the Anglo-American exaggeration of Saddam Hussein's threat to the world - some of his words may have found their mark in Iraq. "In the Middle Ages," Mr Blix said, "when people were convinced there were witches, they certainly found them."
Now Mr Bush is convinced he is fighting a vast international "terrorist" network and that its agents are closing in for a final battle in Iraq. And the Iraqi mujahedin are ready to turn the American President's fantasies into reality.
I couldn't help noticing the graffiti on a wall in Fallujah. It was written in Arabic, in a careful, precise hand, by someone who had taken his time to produce a real threat.
"He who gives the slightest help to the Americans," the graffiti read, "is a traitor and a collaborator." ...."

Sept 19 ~ " the problem is not really a compromise between Blair himself, and Schroeder and Chirac, it seems to me, but rather how to find a compromise with Washington,"

Radio Free Europe " Blair was always in favor of the biggest role for the United Nations and the Security Council, and from this point of view he was European. He wanted very much bigger involvement of Europe even at the moment when the United States was hostile to a bigger presence....Blair, as U.S. President George W. Bush's main ally in the war on Iraq, will of course not adopt a position openly at variance with Washington. The continuing closeness between the two coalition partners is underlined by remarks in Baghdad this week by Britain's special representative for Iraq, Jeremy Greenstock, who pledged British support to the top U.S. official there, L. Paul Bremer.
... The German Foreign Ministry, which is hosting the talks in Berlin, says that despite the differences, Germany hopes an acceptable UN Security Council resolution can be ready when world leaders convene on 22 September for the opening of the UN General Assembly. Although the media focus of tomorrow's Berlin summit is Iraq, the trio is also expected to discuss EU issues, including the coming conference to finalize an EU constitution."

Sept 19 ~ "It was like seeing a man try to open an oyster with a butter knife"

Simon Hoggart on the Hutton Inquiry (Guardian) "There was a splendid face-off at the Hutton inquiry yesterday. Richard Hatfield, the personnel director at the Ministry of Defence (or anti-personnel director, as Dr David Kelly's family no doubt think of him) became the first witness to fight back against one of the majestic briefs who are now doing the cross-examinations. He faced Jeremy Gompertz, the QC who is appearing for the Kelly family. I don't think I have seen two people simultaneously patronise each other, so successfully too.
Mr Hatfield spoke to Mr Gompertz as if he were a clever but hopelessly inattentive schoolboy. Mr Gompertz spoke to Mr Hatfield as if he were a junior clerk who had split an important infinitive. .."

Sept 18 ~ Hatfield says Dr Kelly should have been suspended

''With hindsight I think I should have...initiated formal disciplinary proceedings,'' Hatfield said. ''I think I would probably have been forced to suspend Dr Kelly.'' ''The public identification followed from his own act of talking to (BBC reporter) Mr Gilligan,'' he said. ''I do not think we needed explicit consent to give his name out.''

Sept 18 ~ Bush conceded for the first time yesterday that the United States had no evidence indicating Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

New York Times"....As Mr. Bush has described the Iraq conflict as part of the war on terror, he has drawn a loose connection, saying that after Sept. 11, 2001, the United States could no longer tolerate the kind of threat Mr. Hussein posed or risk that Mr. Hussein's weapons could reach the hands of terrorists."

Sept 18 ~ Hans Blix has attacked the "spin and hype" behind U.S. and British allegations of banned Iraqi weapons

Reuters "...Blix, who said this week he believed Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction 10 years ago, told BBC radio that Washington and London "over-interpreted" intelligence about Baghdad's weapons programmes.
Comparing them to medieval witch-hunters, he said on Thursday the two countries convinced themselves on the basis of evidence which was later discredited, including forged documents about alleged attempts to buy uranium for nuclear weapons. (See warmwell page on Niger)
...... "What in a way stands accused is the culture of spin, the culture of hyping...Advertisers will advertise a refrigerator in terms that we don't quite believe in, but we expect governments to be more serious and have more credibility," he said. ......... "The patience that they require for themselves now was not anything that they wanted to give to us," said Blix, whose inspectors were forced to pull out of Iraq in March after just three and a half months' work.
..... Blix's comments have been echoed by his successor Demetrius Perricos, who told Reuters it was becoming "more and more difficult to believe stocks (of WMD) were there" in Iraq. "

Sept 18 ~ The Baghdad Blogger at the Hutton Inquiry

Guardian "So your government's marketing campaign turned out to be a fraud; I would have thought the "west" would be very sceptical of marketing campaigns in general, and government-funded ones especially, but that doesn't seem to be the case. What I really don't understand is the fixation on the 45 minutes. I mean, what does it matter whether it was 45 or a 100? The real question is whether Saddam had WMDs or not. Because that, in the end, was the main selling-point of the war. ...I also went to the House of Commons a couple of days ago to watch the debate on the role of the UN in Iraq, and I can tell you: that being an Iraqi and seeing that and the bit of the Hutton Inquiry yesterday, is quite strange. It is like listening to your parents discuss how they should bring you up; it is your life, but you are not making the decisions."

Sept 18 ~ Mr Gilligan stood by the thrust of his report and stressed that he had been proved right subsequently by much of the evidence since heard at the Hutton inquiry.

Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor of the Independent "Andrew Gilligan admitted yesterday making mistakes in his original broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 29 May. But Mr Gilligan stood by the thrust of his report and stressed that he had been proved right subsequently by much of the evidence since heard at the Hutton inquiry. Here, The Independent judges Mr Gilligan's original claims against what we now know about the drafting of the Government's Iraq dossier in September last year, which was said to have been "sexed up".......
....the guts of the Gilligan claim, has been vindicated by the inquiry evidence. The inquiry heard this week that a memo was written on behalf of the DIS by Dr Brian Jones, head of its WMD section, objecting to the claim as it appeared in the dossier. Dr Jones and his chemical expert wrote further formal complaints. The DIS did feel the claim was unreliable because it came from a single source. But we have also heard that those intelligence officials were worried because the claim came second-hand, not from an Iraqi military officer. It also failed to make clear the intelligence related only to battlefield weapons and not missiles that could threaten the West. Even Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, agreed this week that the claim received "undue prominence" in the dossier and should have included original raw intelligence...... "

Sept 18 ~ Blix: Saddam destroyed his weapons of mass destruction a decade ago

David Usborne in New York and Nigel Morris in the Independent "....Mr Blix, speaking from his home in Sweden, said that he thought it unlikely that non-UN experts deployed by the coalition forces to search for weapons of mass destruction would find anything beyond "some documents of interest". He added: "The more time that has passed, the more I think it's unlikely that anything will be found." His comments were made as Tony Blair defended his decision to join US-led military action in Iraq and denied ignoring intelligence warnings that the war would increase the risk of terrorism in Britain...."

Sept 17 ~ "Gilligan admitted his original allegation that the Government knew its claims were "probably wrong" might give the impression that the Government knew its claims were probably wrong.

So he corrected his later broadcasts to the idea of the claims being "questionable". He also apologised for e-mailing a Lib Dem MP on the Foreign Affairs Committee and identifying Dr David Kelly as the source of Susan Watt's reports on Newsnight even though he didn't even know that to be true. But he insists - contrary to evidence given yesterday - that he did give due warning to the Ministry of Defence about the story. Richard Sambrook admitted there were several lessons to be learnt - including not doing such complicated and controversial stories as live reports, but scripting them instead. ..." Channel 4's news update email.

Sept 17 ~ Was Alastair Campbell ever properly vetted? If not "...he was seeing intelligence that he was not cleared to see, including the proceedings of the JIC, which is about as high level as you can possibly get.."

On Sept 2 we reported the Telegraph column "London Spy" that quotes Sir John Keegan, The Daily Telegraph's Defence Editor: ".......It is certainly rumoured that Campbell was never properly vetted. If so, he was seeing intelligence that he was not cleared to see, including the proceedings of the JIC, which is about as high level as you can possibly get."
On the 15th of September, Peter Ainsworth asked the Prime Minister a Parliamentary Question http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/cm030915/text/30915w17.htm#30915w17.html_wqn1 Earlier, in an answer to a PQ by Dr Julian Lewis, Geoff Hoon said: This statement, referred to by Mr Hoon, says, "Individuals employed on government work who have long term, frequent and uncontrolled access to TOP SECRET information or assets, will be submitted to the level of vetting clearance known as Developed Vetting (DV)."
If Mr Campbell had been subject to developed vetting, why should Mr Blair not have said so, rather than dodge the question as he did?

Sept 17 ~ Wesley Clark seeks Democratic nomination

Oliver Burkeman in The Guardian "Wesley Clark, the general who led Nato's bombing campaign in Kosovo, shook up the race for the White House yesterday when it was revealed that he would seek the Democratic party's nomination. ....
"All the other candidates want him as vice-president," said John Hlinko of DraftWesleyClark.com, one of two high-profile websites which have raised $1.3m (£800,000) in campaign pledges. "We say cut out the middleman and make him president."
...... Gen Clark, who now works as a private consultant, has attacked the Bush administration for its idea "that the continuing war against terrorism is best waged outside the structures of international institutions ... our success will depend on the willing cooperation and active participation of our allies". That could become a central campaigning message, aimed at quelling voters' fears of American overcommitment - unless, of course, Mr Bush succeeds in his current attempt to draw other countries into the Iraq operation. ..."

Sept 16 ~ the gloves are off

Reuters (external link) "Judge Lord Hutton's investigation into why government scientist David Kelly took his own life has up to now been precise but courteous in its questioning of witnesses. But now the gloves are off as lawyers for the government, BBC and Kelly family are let off the leash to cross-examine key figures who have been recalled to the inquiry. Tuesday's sharp interrogation of Martin Howard, deputy chief of defence intelligence, will serve as a warning to embattled Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon and Prime Minister Tony Blair's communications chief Alastair Campbell, who will appear again next Monday. ....Glenmore Trenear-Harvey, an intelligence expert who watched the proceedings, told Sky Television: "Howard was a most discomfited little bunny." ....."

Sept 16 ~ "General Wesley Clark is going to run for President after all. A decent, clever military man with a compassionate side.

He may be electable here in Europe - he doesn't sound the right man there, but who knows, if the wheels come off the warrior President's wagon for his failures in war then a man who achieved peace in Kosovo and stood against the war in Iraq might just make some headway.." Channel 4's news update email.
General Wesley Clark certainly has the endorsement of Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine etc) who, somewhat aghast at himself for his support of a general, writes, "The other night, when you were on Bill Maher's show, he began by reading to you a quote from Howard Dean where he (Dean) tried to run away from the word "liberal." Maher said to you, so, General, do you want to run away from that word? Without missing a beat, you said "No!" and you reminded everyone that America was founded as a "liberal democracy." The audience went wild with applause." Read Michael Moore's open letter.

Sept 16 ~ Stage two: the 15 issues that Hutton must now consider

Paul Waugh in the Independent "James Dingemans QC, counsel for the Hutton inquiry, said yesterday that stage one of the hearings - set up to examine the circumstances leading to the death of David Kelly - had not fully revealed why certain events happened. In that case, Lord Hutton might consider in stage two some or all of 15 issues. The Independent provides answers to each in the light of what has been established so far...." Read in full

Sept 16 ~ Lawyers ready for their turn

Guardian page of witnesses , when they will appear and by whom to be examined - from today until closing statements by counsel on Thursday 25th September.
"Witnesses being recalled are shown in bold, along with the teams of lawyers who will be cross-examining them. Tuesday, 16 September
  • DC Coe, Thames Valley police
  • Nicholas Hunt, forensic pathologist
  • Martin Howard, deputy chief of defence intelligence, MoD. Examined by own counsel and cross-examined by counsel for the Kelly family, the BBC, and the Hutton inquiry
  • Dr Shuttleworth,Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory
  • Kate Wilson, MoD "

    Sept 15 ~"Hutton has set out 15 key questions he wants to resolve

    and issued a cast list of people who he wants to be cross-examined. Headed by Alastair Campbell and the unfortunate Geoff Hoon, currently Britain's Defence Secretary. Whether Dearlove and his ilk like it or not, Hutton is blowing vast quantities of unwarranted secrecy from the secret services and their doings." (Channel 4 news update email)
    We note with interest that Lord Hutton is to recall John Scarlett, head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, who was responsible for the September 2002 dossier. Reuters notes, "The inquiry has already seen that Campbell and other Blair aides bombarded Scarlett with suggestions to harden up the language in the dossier. Defence intelligence officials voiced serious doubts about its content.... "

    Sept 15 ~ ...panic at the heart of government last night, as senior aides sought to kill off damaging claims that the Foreign Secretary had developed cold feet on the eve of battle.

    The Scotsman "A source close to Mr Straw said his caution to Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, was delivered as a contingency plan and had not been an attempt to undermine Mr Blair's authority or his stark determination to deal with Saddam Hussein by force. The latest crisis concerning Iraq hit the Prime Minister on the eve of the Hutton Inquiry's resumption in London today, amid speculation that the Foreign Secretary will now also be called to give evidence...."

    Sept 15 ~ Did we thus go to war knowing that the chemical and biological weapons capabilities had been rendered useless?

    An e-mailer has alerted us to the recent interview with Professor Hennessy, Atlee Professor of Contemporary History at Queen Mary College, University of London, relating to Iraq's capabilities regarding WMD.
    Prof. Hennessy stated that, during the whole Iraq crisis, fundamental questions relating to the pre-war operations of Special Forces in Iraq have not been asked e.g. what missiles (al Husseini), if any, did they find, was there any evidence of biological/chemical warheads, were these missiles destroyed/incapacitated?
    This leaves open some vitally important questions:
  • was Iraq effectively rid of any chemical and biological threat prior to the war?
  • If this was the case, who in Government knew of this, and would Dr Kelly have been aware of this, either through his work for government, or through the Iraqi contacts he is known to have had?
  • Did this knowledge contribute to his great unease?
  • Did we thus go to war knowing that the chemical and biological weapons capabilities had been rendered useless?

    Sept 15 ~ "the whole process of reason, other reason, yet other reason, humanitarian, morality, regime change, terrorism, finally imminent WMD attack... was merely covering fire."

    John Pilger ".... On 17 September 2001, six days after the attacks in America, Bush signed a document, marked Top Secret, in which he directed the Pentagon to begin planning "military options" for an invasion of Iraq. In July last year, Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, told another Bush official: "That decision has been made. Don't waste your breath" (Washington Post, 12 January 2003; New Yorker, 31 March 2003). On 2 July last, Air Marshal Sir John Walker, the former chief of defence intelligence and deputy chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, wrote a confidential memo to MPs to alert them that the "commitment to war" was made a year ago. "Thereafter," he wrote, "the whole process of reason, other reason, yet other reason, humanitarian, morality, regime change, terrorism, finally imminent WMD attack... was merely covering fire."
    The unfettered disclosure of this would present an uncontrollable crisis to the clique that runs Britain: the secret service, the civil service, Downing Street, the favoured City and the courted media. Few spooks and mandarins have much time for the strange, Messianic Blair, but they will strive to protect him in order to protect themselves and to ensure that their version of Lord Curzon's "great game" (ie, imperialism), continues unopposed...."

    Sept 15 ~ According to a recent study, up to 10,000 civilians were killed.

    ".....Quite low at 10,000. And multiply that many times when the figure includes the killing of mostly teenage conscripts who, as a Marine colonel said, "sure as hell didn't know what hit them". Keep multiplying when the wounded are added: such as 1,000 children maimed, according to Unicef, by the delayed blast of cluster bomblets. What does it take for journalists with a public voice and responsibility to acknowledge the truth of such a crime? Are those who stand in front of cameras in Downing Street and on the White House lawn, incessantly obfuscating the obvious (a technique they call objectivity), that conditioned? The resistance to the illegal Anglo-American occupation of Iraq is now propagated as part of Bush's "war on terror". The deaths of Americans, Britons and UN people are news; Iraqis flit across the screen: otherwise, they do not exist...." In his latest New Statesman column, John Pilger describes viewing videotape of the attack on Iraq that was not shown in the West and is horrific evidence of a great crime. : Pilger :11 Sep 2003

    Sept 14 ~ Mr Kampfner's book also alleges that Mr Blair had agreed to go to war as early as April 2002, when he had a summit with Mr Bush in Texas.

    Sunday Telegraph "And it claims that Mr Blair himself had doubts about the intelligence over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction which formed the basis of his justification for war." (See below. John Kamfner's book "Blair's Wars" is published tomorrow click link )

    Sept 14 ~ Tony Blair was last night facing a deepening crisis following the disclosure of the contents of the letter sent to him by the Foreign Secretary.

    Scotland on Sunday ".. Straw is said to have written a confidential "personal minute" to Blair saying the UK should offer the Americans "political and moral support" in their campaign against Saddam Hussein, but not military backing.
    Straw is said to have argued that the United Nations' refusal to back the invasion would make it damaging for Britain to take part. The Foreign Secretary reportedly urged Blair to tell President George Bush that British troops would help clear up the mess and keep the peace once the war was over, but would play no part in Saddam's overthrow. But the shocked Prime Minister rejected Straw's plea point-blank, telling him there was no going back and making him promise to keep quiet, according to the book by political journalist John Kampfner, entitled Blair's War. ........If true, the allegations in Kampfner's book would suggest that doubts about the wisdom of committing troops to action in Iraq reached to the very innermost circles around Blair. Straw is one of Blair's most loyal Cabinet allies and was one of the staunchest supporters of the war in public, regularly appearing before the cameras to argue that it was right. ..." (about Kampfner's book "Blair's Wars" click link )

    Sept 14 ~ "Britain and America have decided to delay indefinitely the publication of a full report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction after inspectors found no evidence that any such weapons exist."

    Sunday Times (external link) ".. It had been expected that a progress report would be published tomorrow but MPs on Westminster's security and intelligence committee have been told that even this has been delayed and no new date set. .... David Kay, the survey group's leader, to George Tenet, head of the CIA, had been delayed and may not necessarily even be published. ..... But last week British officials said they believed Kay had been "kite-flying" and that no hard evidence had been uncovered. The hunt for weapons is seen in London and Washington as a vital step in convincing an increasingly sceptical public that the war was justified...."

    Sept 12 ~ Hutton inquiry summons Greg Dyke - other witnesses to be announced on Monday

    LONDON (Reuters) " - The inquiry into the suicide of weapons expert David Kelly has said it is summoning BBC Director General Greg Dyke and Ministry of Defence officials for cross-examination on Monday.
    Judge Lord Hutton will also quiz Air Marshal Joe French, Richard Scott of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, and former deputy chief of Defence Intelligence Tony Cragg. It did not list other witnesses who will be summoned later in the week, but said details would be announced on Monday. Cragg and French are both likely to be asked about how concerns among some intelligence analysts over Prime Minister Tony Blair's dossier on Iraqi weapons were dealt with by their superiors.

    Sept 12 ~ Blair's war: PM ignored intelligence advice on Iraq

    Paul Waugh and Kim Sengupta in the Independent
    "Another of Tony Blair's main justifications for war on Iraq was blown apart yesterday by the disclosure that intelligence chiefs had warned that deposing Saddam Hussein would increase the risk of terror attacks on Britain.
    The Prime Minister told Parliament and the public earlier this year that the West had to act against Baghdad to prevent chemical and biological weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.
    But exactly two years after al-Qa'ida's 11 September attack, a committee of MPs revealed that the Mr Blair had been told that the threat from Osama bin Laden "would be heightened by military action against Iraq". The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), chaired by the Labour MP Ann Taylor, also criticised the Government's dossier on the Iraqi threat, concluding that key claims should have been omitted or heavily qualified...."

    Sept 11 ~ The intelligence was not 'sexed up' the MPs say, and they then proceed to detail how almost every part of it was either by 'tightening' or omission, 'sexed up'

    Channel 4 news update on the ISC report:

    Sept 11 ~ There is a dark cabal around Blair

    Richard Norton-Taylor, the Guardian's security affairs editor: "..........What has already emerged - but been largely ignored - from the Hutton inquiry is the existence of a dark, almost Jacobean, cabal at the core of the Blair administration.
    It is a group of powerful, unelected people few would have heard of were it not for the evidence given to Hutton:.... .... Scarlett let the cat out of the bag over perhaps the most contentious claim - the assertion, made most emphatically in Blair's foreword, that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so. That claim, Scarlett conceded, referred to short-range, battlefield weapons systems, not missiles. Thus they posed no threat to western interests, including British bases in Cyprus, as the government had strongly implied.
    ...... MI6 allowed Scarlett to include that "intelligence" despite opposition in an intelligence community concerned - as much now as it was before the war - about how its work was being abused.
    This is the most damaging episode for MI6 since the Falklands. But then it was about complacency. Now its integrity is in question. As long as Scarlett remains in his post, that damage will not be repaired. " Read in full

    Sept 11 ~ Spy chiefs warned war would raise terror threat

    Reuters: "Spy chiefs warned Prime Minister Tony Blair just weeks before the invasion of Iraq that war would increase the risk of militants acquiring weapons of mass destruction, an intelligence committee report says. It said the government's Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) judged in February there was no intelligence that Iraq had provided chemical or biological weapons material to the militant al Qaeda network. But it added that "any collapse of the Iraqi regime would increase the risk of chemical and biological warfare technology or agents finding their way in to the hands of terrorists," parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee said. It said the JIC believed that al Qaeda and associated groups represented "by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq". ...."

    Sept 7-13 ~ Blair has leapt to Hoon's defence in the Commons, praising the splendid war he won over Iraq

    Pressure on Geoff Hoon to resign is growing we hear ....but what about Al Kennedy's view?
    Reuters " London's Evening Standard said on Wednesday parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) will accuse Hoon of falsely denying that intelligence analysts expressed unease over the pre-war dossier on Iraqi banned weapons. Political observers have already singled out Hoon as the most senior of the likely victims ..." However, comment in the Guardian today by Al Kennedy takes a more robust view: "....our central problem - the one involving Mr Blair and all that blood. Obviously, we shouldn't take the phrase "blood on his hands" terribly literally, because that wouldn't be fair - Blair's only our prime minister, sitting at the centre of a complex and sophisticated network of advisers and in possession of global influence and serious investment capital. You wouldn't want to go holding him responsible for things....." Read the article and rejoice that someone is saying this.
    On the same lines is Channel 4's update from Jon Snow, "....the Commons Committee that vets intelligence matters has reportedly found the same Mr Hoon guilty of "misleading" and "unhelpful" responses to their questioning. The report is a leak ahead of publication tomorrow. Mr Blair's spinmeister Alastair Campbell is apparently cleared by the Committee. There is a whiff of a suspicion that those anxious to see him cleared leaked the report and dumped on poor old Hoon into the bargain. Anyway, Blair has leapt to Hoon's defence in the Commons, praising the splendid war he won over Iraq."

    Sept 7-13 ~ a majority of Americans had no problem accepting two fallacious contentions put forward by the Bush administration: that Iraq had a hand in 11 September, and that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with al-Qa'ida

    article by Andrew Gumbel in Tuesday's Independent ".... Many lefty anti-war protesters saw this as evidence of a sinister manipulation by the White House, a glaring instance of the Big Lie theory of propaganda: that if governments - aided and abetted by a pliant, uncritical media - say something often enough and loud enough, people will believe it.
    But I heard an even more pessimistic explanation from Hussein Ibish of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee. Americans, he said, have been so ground down by decades of negative imagery from films and television depicting Middle Easterners as religious extremists and terrorists that they are simply unable to make distinctions. In their eyes, Saddam Hussein is Osama bin Laden. All Palestinians are suicide bombers. The demonization was the same when the Vietnamese were tarred as "gooks" a generation ago; in America, there is nothing difficult about peddling stereotypical distortions of the enemy of the moment. ..... the purpose of education is betrayed because children are simply denied access to reality. And the students don't buy it; they are simply bored to tears. ...."

    Sept 7 - 13 ~ "....Sept. 11, 2003, will arrive with no credible evidence for the alleged link between Saddam and his bitter enemy Osama bin Laden"

    There's Good Reason to Fear US (external link) Noam Chomsky, Toronto Star, September 8, 2003
    ".... From early September, 2002, the Bush administration issued grim warnings about the danger that Saddam Hussein posed to the United States, with broad hints that Saddam was linked to Al Qaeda and involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. The propaganda assault helped enable the administration to gain some support from a frightened population for the planned invasion of a country known to be virtually defenseless-- and a valuable prize, at the heart of the world's major energy system.
    Last May, after the putative end of the war in Iraq, President Bush landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared that he had won a "victory in the war on terror (by having) removed an ally of Al Qaeda.-- But Sept. 11, 2003, will arrive with no credible evidence for the alleged link between Saddam and his bitter enemy Osama bin Laden. And the only known link between the victory and terror is that the invasion of Iraq seems to have increased Al Qaeda recruitment and the threat of terror. ..."

    Sept 7 -13 ~ Letters to the Guardian about Michael Meacher's comments

    See http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/comment/0,12956,1037514,00.html ".... I was walking through the sea of candles and tributes that had transformed Union Square into an oasis of calm and human dignity. I remember reading a neatly penned card: "We know your agenda, Bush. Don't think you can hide behind this". As events unfolded over subsequent months, I keenly followed the news and was intrigued to learn about the existence and activities of the neo-conservatives in Washington.
    No one with an open mind should be outraged or surprised by Michael Meacher's comments. I am amazed that more have not considered these ideas as a feasible and logical explanation for "the global war on terrorism" and the coincident air of paranoia and insecurity that hangs over the US and UK at present.
    Dr Tobias Zundel
    And an important letter on Tuesday: "...The tragedy of the twin towers will be rightly recalled on Thursday. I doubt if the media will mention September 11 1906, when Mahatma Gandhi initiated non-violent, passive resistance as a means of social reform. The sufferings of the US were followed by calls for revenge and a hatred which contributed to the many deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq. The message of Gandhi was about forgiveness, self-sacrifice and peace. 1906 has more to teach us than 2001.
    Bob Holman
    Easterhouse, Glasgow "

    Sept 7-13 ~ The fate of the UN resolution, "depends partly on the Europeans, but also on the neo-conservatives in America.."

    "..occupying important posts in the Pentagon and the White House, says Georges LeGuelte, head of research at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations in Paris. "So long as they defend the idea that the US is all-powerful and can impose its will by all means, including military, so long as they are not ready to give up the idea that Iraq is their terrain, we will get nowhere," he argues..." Christian Science Monitor

    Sept 7- 13 ~ Day by day, the noose tightens round No 10

    The Observer article by Henry Porter : "Henry Porter, bestselling author of espionage novels, examines the role of intelligence chief John Scarlett and shows how the Hutton inquiry is uncovering a dangerous mix of spies and secrets....
    ...as each day goes by without serious evidence of WMD being found in Iraq, the authorship of the dossier, its contributors, editors and promoters come into focus. Did the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), the body that makes intelligence assessments for the Government, own the document, or was it ultimately the product of the policy-makers and staff at Number 10?"

    Sept 7 - 13 ~ "We have, perhaps, a chance to mend fences and garner more support from the United Nations if the administration can swallow its pride.."

    says Senator Byrd ".. and come up with a new resolution that cedes a meaningful role in the reconstruction of Iraq to the international community. Perhaps we also have a chance to attract serious monetary contributions from the international community, but I doubt that we will begin to approach the level of support that we received from other nations during the first Gulf War. Nevertheless, we must keep trying, and returning to the United Nations is an important, if long overdue, first step. The American taxpayer should not have to shoulder the entire burden of restoring order and rebuilding Iraq..."

    Sept 7 - 13 ~ "it's worth noting who is in charge of reconstructing Iraq's agriculture industry.."

    " It's not USAID, and it's not the Department of Defense, or the US Treasury, or any of the other usual suspects. It is, in fact, the USDA. The USDA's strategic plan for FY 2002-2007 lists as its top strategic goal the expansion of international markets for American agricultural producers....
    ...goal of opening and "democratizing" Iraq's agricultural market takes on a more sinister aspect, what with the potential for the entire sector in the country to get undermined entirely by foreign competition. The choice of Dan Amstutz as the head of Iraq's agricultural rebuilding efforts simply underscores the fairly transparent agenda of the USDA.
    An article based on a Reuters report quotes Kevin Watkins, Oxfam's policy director, describing Amstutz as "singularly ill-equipped to lead a reconstruction effort in a developing country," and that "Putting Dan Amstutz in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq is like putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights commission..." " interesting article at Iraq Democracy Watch

    Sept 7-13 ~ Thanks to Hutton we now know that John Scarlett never believed this claim applied to real weapons of mass destruction, but to battlefield shells and "small-calibre weaponry''.

    wrote Robin Cook last week. "That was not the impression created by the dossier, which was crafted by people who knew only too well that Parliament would not vote for war because Saddam had small-calibre weapons ready for use in 45 minutes.
    Even ministers have given up pretending that they now expect to find actual weapons. Instead they have spent the past two months lowering expectations by encouraging the public to settle for evidence of programmes of weapons of mass destruction as proof that the dossier was right all along. Yet Hutton has now blocked even this bolthole.
    Of all the embarrassing evidence released by the Hutton inquiry, I found most damning the discovery that until a week before publication the title of the dossier was Iraq's Programmes of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The decision to drop "Programmes'' from the title was deliberately calculated to encourage the belief that Iraq already had weapons and the threat therefore was urgent. Ministers cannot now ask Parliament to accept a justification for war based on evidence of programmes, when they themselves have been caught out rejecting that as the basis on which they asked Parliament to vote for war...."

    Sept 7 ~ "beneath the smiling demeanor, a ruthlessness that is accompanied by a lack of respect for proper procedure, and a willingness to be "economical with the actuality..." Clare Short

    CNN today quotes the YouGov poll, taken the day after the adjournment of Lord Hutton's inquiry, which were the first to show that more voters are now against Blair than for him. Under the headline Poll: Blair should quit over Kelly, CNN looks at the mounting pressure, the inconsistencies in evidence and Clare Short's latest comments.

    Sept 7 ~ Britain and US will back down over WMDs

    Andy McSmith, Raymond Whitaker and Geoffrey Lean in today's Independent on Sunday

    Sept 7 ~ This call for help is about re-election, not Iraq

    Anne Applebaum, a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post, in today's Sunday Telegraph(external link):

    Sept 7 ~ "Let the fireworks now begin, as they say."

    The Sunday Herald Two articles in the independent Sunday Herald newspaper. The Hutton Inquiry has proved the government's case for war was exaggerated. What will it take to get Tony Blair to finally tell the truth? and
    The Awkward Questions (about the chances of recall o the Hutton Inquiryfor Geoff Hoon, Alastair Campbell, Andrew Gilligan and John Scarlett and the questions that need to be asked now)

    Sept 7 ~ Even in Bush's Bible belt, the Iraq doubts are rising

    John Humphrys in today's Sunday Times. "..... Every conversation I had about Iraq or terrorism was instigated by me. Only once was Blair's name volunteered and then it was with a puzzled question. This being a respectable newspaper I shall not go into details, except to say that the words Bush, arse and lick appeared in the same sentence. This would not have surprised me in the cities of the East Coast or California. New York liberals have never liked Bush or his war on terror. But I was in the Deep South, as deep as you can get: southern Alabama. The county where I spent most of my time is the heart of the Bible belt...."

    Sept 6 ~ Kelly family wants Hutton to recall Blair over role in naming scientist

    Independent. "The family of Dr David Kelly wants the PM to be recalled for cross-examination at the next phase of Lord Hutton's inquiry.
    In a request likely to be granted, the Kellys plan to ask for TB to be questioned agin over his role in the "naming strategy" for the the weapons scientist..........
    ...On an official flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong on 22 July, the PM "categorically" denied he had "uauthorised the leaking of the name of Dr Kelly". But at the inquiry, Mr Blair was forcd to admit his central role in the process tht led to Dr Kelly's name being confirmed to the media. He held four meetings over two days in his Downing Street study at which the "naming strategy" was agreed. The PM might also be asked about his previous denial of reports that intelligence staff were worried abou the "45-minute" claim. He told the Commons in June: "The allegation that the 45-minute claim provoked disquiet among the intelligence community is...completely and totally untrue."..."

    Sept 6 ~ This war on terrorism is bogus

    Michael Meacher speaks out in today's Guardian.
    "....there was such slow reaction on September 11 itself. ....... Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: "The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence."
    Nor is the US response after 9/11 any better. No serious attempt has ever been made to catch Bin Laden....... None of this assembled evidence, all of which comes from sources already in the public domain, is compatible with the idea of a real, determined war on terrorism. ....The catalogue of evidence does, however, fall into place when set against the PNAC blueprint. From this it seems that the so-called "war on terrorism" is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives. Indeed Tony Blair himself hinted at this when he said to the Commons liaison committee: "To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11" (Times, July 17 2002). Similarly Rumsfeld was so determined to obtain a rationale for an attack on Iraq that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to 9/11; the CIA repeatedly came back empty-handed (Time Magazine, May 13 2002). In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action...." (See extract from Time magazine)

    Sept 6 ~ Don't Say We Were Not Warned About This Chaos

    By Robert Fisk "How arrogant was the path to war. As President Bush now desperately tries to cajole the old UN donkey to rescue him from Iraq - he who warned us that the UN was in danger of turning into a League of Nations "talking shop" if it declined him legitimacy for his invasion - we are supposed to believe that no one in Washington could have guessed the future. Messrs Bush and Blair fantasised their way to war with all those mythical weapons of mass destruction and "imminent threats" from Iraq - whether of the 45-minute variety or not - and of the post-war "liberation", "democracy" and map-changing they were going to bestow upon the region. But the record shows just how many warnings the Bush administration received from sane and decent men in the days before we plunged into this terrible adventure...." http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4614.htm

    Sept 5 ~ Hoon looks set to be recalled to Hutton Inquiry:

    Another fascinating (if slightly irritatingly worded) Channel 4 news update last night:

    Sept 5 ~"Lord Hutton has done more in six weeks to advance the cause of freedom of information than this Labour government has done in six years."

    Robin Cook in the Independent yesterday. " In the process he has demolished the case which the Government made for war. Some commentators have deplored the restriction of Hutton's remit to the death of Dr Kelly, but I welcome the consequence that the rest of us are free to draw our own conclusions from the other evidence he has unearthed. Number 10 cannot tell Parliament next week to sit quietly and wait on the findings of the inquiry when we all know that it has ordered Lord Hutton not to come to any findings on the case for war. But the Hutton inquiry has given Parliament plenty of leads to pursue. Why did the Prime Minister try to persuade MPs that Saddam was "a current and serious threat'' when we now know that Tony Blair could not convince his own chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, that Saddam was an imminent threat. Even Alastair Campbell, Tony's alter ego, appears to have had his doubts. In his diary, the month the dossier is published, he asks, "Why was this such an important issue to the British government now? Why Iraq? Why only Iraq?"...."

    Sept 4 ~ Mr Blair is expected to be questioned about yesterday's revelation

    that intelligence analysts expressed resentment at "political interference" in their work by "spin merchants" (see extracts from yesterday's Hutton Inquiry, below) "....Mr Blair may also be asked about reports which have said Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told him to send more troops to Iraq or risk "strategic failure" of the coalition's efforts to keep the peace. Mr Straw is said to have spelt out to the Prime Minister his concerns about the "deteriorating" situation in Iraq. The warning was revealed in notes drawn up for a meeting between the two men which were leaked to a broadsheet. In the notes marked "confidential", Mr Straw suggested sending an extra 5,000 UK troops to Iraq to increase security amid the growing threat from terrorist bombings and attacks on coalition troops, reports have said. Mr Straw urged "visible improvements" by the beginning of the Muslim festival of Ramadan on October 27. The Foreign Secretary said that Iraqis' expectations for reconstruction are not being met. "Electricity generation still around 25% below war levels, and transmission undermined by looting and sabotage," Mr Straw reportedly said. Mr Straw's warning follows ongoing attacks on British and US interests in the post-war country as well as the the devastating car bombing of the UN's headquarters in Baghdad and Najaf mosque attack which killed scores of people last week...." (ITV news)

    Sept 4 ~ Q. You make the comment about the involvement of the spin merchants of this administration. Who were you referring to?

    From the transcript
    "Mr A", the chemical warfare expert at yesterday afternoon's evidence at the Hutton Inquiry, gave this reply : " Well, it is really a general comment from the working level within the DIS about perceived interference and really that --
    Q. Sorry to interrupt. What was the perception?
    A. The perception was that the dossier had been round the houses several times in order to try to find a form of words which would strengthen certain political objectives...

    Sept 4 ~ Dr Brian Francis Gill Jones: "...I think "weapons of mass destruction" has become a convenient catch-all which, in my opinion, can at times confuse discussion of the subject..

    Q. And what was your CW expert's particular concern?
    A. Well, at its simplest he was concerned that some of the statements that were in the dossier did not accurately represent his assessment of the intelligence available to him....
    Q... concerns had not been accepted?
    A. Some had, but there were significant ones that had not been accepted.
    Q. And how did your CW expert feel about that?
    A. He was very concerned....they were really about a tendency in certain areas, from his point of view, to shall we say over-egg certain assessments in relation particularly to the production of CW agents and weapons since 1998.
    .....Were you aware of any concerns about the 45 minutes?
    A. Yes, I had some concerns about the 45 minute point myself; yes.
    (more detail)

    Sept 3 ~ "..The neocons wanted to marginalize the wimpy U.N. by barreling past it into Iraq. Now the Bush administration is crawling back to the U.N., but other nations are suspicious of U.S. security and politics in Iraq. "

    Opinion column in the New York Times by Maureen Dowd: " When your aim is remaking the Middle East, you don't want to get stuck making it up as you go along. Even officials with a combined century of international experience can behave with jejeunosity -- if they start believing their own spin. The group that started out presuming it could shape the world is now getting shoved by the world. Our unseen tormentors are the ones who seem canny and organized, not us. As they move from killing individual U.S. soldiers and Iraqis to sabotaging power plants, burning oil pipelines, blowing up mosques, demolishing the U.N. headquarters and now hitting the Baghdad police headquarters, our enemies seem better prepared and more committed to creating chaos in Iraq -- and Afghanistan -- than we are to creating order. They've also proved more adept at putting together an effective coalition than the Bush team: a terrifying blend of terrorists from other countries, Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam fighters, radical Shiites and Saddam remnants, all pouring into Iraq and united by their hatred of America. If we review the Bush war council's motives for conquering Iraq, the scorecard looks grim......" Read in full

    Sept 3 ~ "Government accused of 'over-egging' dossier" reports Channel 4 News

    Channel 4 news email update (written in the style it seems to favour at present): "A huge day at Hutton -- forget all the BBC stuff -- today we got to the people who really matter - the MOD scientific/intelligence people. And boy -- are they unhappy at the Government exaggerating the "case" for invading Iraq. Extraordinary stuff. Accusing the Government of 'over egging' the dossier; shutting out the boffins who knew the reality of the 'threat and not the spin; slagging off Alastair Campbell in emails -- directly accusing Tony Blair of having no real evidence of any threat although he talked about the deployment of WMD in 45 minutes.
    Indeed they say there was no evidence of Iraq even having - definitely - chemical or biological weapons. Even if they did have them -- it's not really accurate to describe them as weapons of mass destruction.
    All in all, devastating witness evidence against the Government's spinning of the case for war. Curiously, all this just on the day when the great overhaul of the No 10 publicity department is announced in detail. Dave Hill will not be allowed to order around senior civil servants like Alistair Campbell did. Will it make politicians tell the truth? Let's wait..."

    Sept 3 ~ "Army chiefs were forced to issue a humiliating apology after SAS soldiers beat 11 innocent Iraqi civilians in a bungled raid."

    Mirror co.uk "The troopers - who waded in with stun grenades, kicking and hitting with boots and rifle butts - wrongly thought they were netting suspects involved in the execution in June of six Royal Military policemen. They could be thrown out of the army...."

    Sept 3 ~ Anger, fear and grief as Shi ite cleric buried

    HUNDREDS of thousands of mourners converged on the Iraqi holy city of Najaf yesterday for the funeral of a popular Shiite cleric and to hear his brother issue an angry demand that the United States armed forces leave the country. The Scotsman

    Sept 2 ~ How Tony Blair climbed the foothills of the big lie

    The Hutton inquiry is a brilliant distraction from the real issues of war says Hugo Young in today's Guardian "...in reality, Hutton is little more than a brilliant, beguiling distraction from the questions on which the future of this government ought to rest.
    "....I can think of several issues that damage Blair's reputation as badly as, or worse than, the little matter of who advanced the claim that Saddam Hussein could launch a weapon of mass destruction in 45 minutes. Every inch of coverage of Hutton serves the purpose of obscuring them.
    ....We are told to be patient. It's said evidence of WMD will be discovered, though I notice that the timescale now inches forward into years, not months. But the more time passes, the more incredible looks the official assertion that the threat to Britain from Iraq was "imminent". We must take care not to let amnesia, a useful supporter of big lies, enter the frame.
    Second, we must not allow the rationale for war to change. How would this have sounded last March? That statement represents roughly the true assessment most politicians and intelligence people were making before war began. If Blair had put it in those terms to parliament and the country, does anyone think he would have secured national assent for what he wanted to do? ...."

    Sept 2 ~ Brutal Diplomacy "The wealthiest 5% of the world's people now earn 114 times as much as the poorest 5%..."

    George Monbiot in today's Guardian "The Worst of Times"
    In the first of a three-part series on trade, George Monbiot argues that the rich world's brutal diplomacy is worsening the plight of poor nations "The 500 richest people on earth now own $1.54 trillion - more than the entire gross domestic product of Africa, or the combined annual incomes of the poorest half of humanity.
    ....on farm subsidies. In 1994, the rich countries agreed that they would phase them out, if the poor countries promised to open their markets to western corporations. The poor nations kept their promise, the rich countries broke theirs. The new round of talks is supposed to lead to the "phasing out [of] all forms of export subsidies", and a negotiating text to this effect was meant to have been produced by March 31. Again, the promise has been broken, and again the poor have been told that only if they grant the rich world's corporations even greater access to their economies, farm subsidies will come to an end. But the powerful nations, while refusing to address the demands of the poor, press their own claims with brutal diplomacy. ..
    ...But eventually, as in France, there must be a revolution. It is likely to happen only when there is a globalised crisis of survival: a worldwide shortage of grain, for example (like the deficit which followed the bad harvest of 1788) or - and this is currently more likely and more imminent - a shortage of fossil fuel...."

    Sept 2 ~ Union leaders have agreed a motion condemning the Iraq war.

    Independent "Unions are expected overwhelmingly to endorse the resolution at the TUC conference next week, which is likely to be a dress rehearsal for Labour's conference a fortnight later. The union statement also expresses opposition to any future attempt by America to "target independent states such as Iran, Syria, North Korea and Cuba for regime change"...
    ....this year, party activists are expected to agree a composite anti-war statement that is likely to attract a massive majority of Labour delegates.
    The TUC's general council opened up another front against the Prime Minister yesterday, reaffirming its opposition to increasing private-sector involvement in the delivery of public services. A statement passed by the general council attacked the Government's commitment to private finance initiatives, public-private partnerships and foundation hospitals.... "

    Sept 2 ~" It was the most personal and emotive testimony heard so far, and, for Downing Street, devastating."

    Independent ".. At the time of Dr Kelly's death, Tony Blair is said to have acknowledged privately that if the scientist's family blamed his Government over what happened, his position would be called into question. That damning accusation was made six weeks later. Mrs Kelly told the inquiry that when her husband had come forward to tell his superiors at the MoD that he had met the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, he was assured that his identification would not be made public. Extraordinarily, while the honours section in Downing Street was considering whether Dr Kelly should be offered a knighthood, Mr Blair's official spokesman was claiming that the MoD rated his contribution as no more than that of a "middle-ranking technical expert". Mrs Kelly said: "He was deeply, deeply hurt. He was being treated like a fly, that's the phrase he used."....

    Sept 2 ~ "David Kelly's widow raised serious questions yesterday about the truthfulness of crucial evidence given to the Hutton inquiry by the prime minister's closest advisers.."

    ".. over the Whitehall strategy which led to his exposure in the media. In devastating testimony to the inquiry, Janice Kelly said her husband had felt "totally let down and betrayed" when he learned that a press statement had been issued which quickly brought about his unmasking. Mrs Kelly said her husband had been given assurances by his bosses that a press statement would not be released. Dr Kelly did not know until after the event, she said.
    Her evidence contradicts testimony to the inquiry by Tony Blair and his top officials.
    Asked by Lord Hutton from whom Dr Kelly had received the assurances, she replied: "From his line manager, from all their seniors and from the people he had been interviewed by." The inquiry has heard that the decision to issue a press statement - describing an unnamed individual who had volunteered the fact he had met the BBC reporter, Andrew Gilligan - was taken at a meeting in Mr Blair's study on the morning of July 8. Among those present were the prime minister, Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's communications chief, Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, and John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee. ..." Guardian

    Sept 2 ~ "If we are ever going to try something like this again," he wrote with great prescience, "we must be absolutely sure that (the) people and army want what we want."

    Another Fine Mess
    It began as a quiet plot to protect UK and US interests in Iran. Fifty years on, the fall-out of Operation Boot can still be felt through the Middle East. Robert Fisk, who knew the British classical scholar who helped mastermind it, reflects on a saga of unintended consequences and unlearnt lessons. More ambitious ideological projects, vast armies - and bigger egos - are involved in regime change today. Maybe that's why they fail so quickly and, in the case of Iraq, so bloodily. The coup against Mossadeq was the first such operation carried out by the Americans in the Cold War - and the last by the British. At least we never claimed that Mossadeq had weapons of mass destruction. But the final word must go to Kermit Roosevelt. "If we are ever going to try something like this again," he wrote with great prescience, "we must be absolutely sure that (the) people and army want what we want."

    Sept 1 ~ Mrs Janice Kelly has told the Hutton inquiry that her late husband had felt totally let down and betrayed.

    When asked for more detail by Lord Hutton, she added: "I believed he meant the Ministry of Defence because they were the ones who had effectively let his name be known in the public domain." She said Dr Kelly had received assurances from his line manager and senior ministry officials that his name would not be made public. When it was made public and he knew he was to be made to appear before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee - and that this would even be televised- "I'd never known him to be as unhappy as he was then"

    Aug 31 2003 ~ Protesters hold Iraq war 'inquiry'

    BBC news ".....High profile anti-war campaigners such as Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn MP and John Pilger said Tony Blair's government had "manipulated opinion" to gain support for the attack on Iraq. ..... Hans von Sponeck.... resigned, after 36 years of UN service, in protest at alleged British and American violations of Security Council resolutions that made it impossible to properly distribute humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people. He called on the international community to come to the aid of the Iraqis, but to refuse to support the "US-UK occupation". ..."

    Aug 31 ~"... we are realizing that the 9/11 treason and murder probably will remain unsolved for all time, just like the Kennedy assassination."

    John Kaminski "When we discovered that the highest officials in the United States not only knew 9/11 was going to happen (and that is a certainty with thousands of footnotes), but profited mightily from that knowledge, this revelation could have offered a tremendous window into the political behavior of the American nation. ......A legitimate probe of 9/11 - not like the sham that was just perpetrated that didn't address any of the really major questions -would have shed light on the corporate powers that control the media and the White House, and maybe - just maybe - would have taken that large step to show the deluded American populace that we are neither a democracy nor a republic, that we are a corporate-controlled police state whose leaders are savaging their own citizens simply to make more money for themselves and the rich friends who put them in office in the first place. ...."

    Aug 31 ~ "a civil war in Iraq that will consume the entire nation if its new rulers do not abandon their neo-conservative fantasies"

    Robert Fisk in the Independent "......what is happening, in the Sunni heartland around Baghdad and now in the burgeoning Shia nation to the south, is not just the back-draft of an invasion or even a growing guerrilla war against occupation. It is the start of a civil war in Iraq that will consume the entire nation if its new rulers do not abandon their neo-conservative fantasies and implore the world to share the future of the country with them."

    Aug 31 ~ "the first shot in an Iraqi civil war that Middle East experts warned would ensue if Saddam were removed without careful planning."

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4574.htm "The bombing of one of Islam's holiest shrines not only killed an important Shi'a leader, it also signals the first shot in an Iraqi civil war that Middle East experts warned would ensue if Saddam were removed without careful planning. The assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim in Najaf on August 28 is the opening volley in the coming Iraqi Civil War. The United States will reap the whirlwind. One of the most consistent and ominous prewar warnings to the Bush administration by Middle East experts was that removal of Saddam Hussein without the most careful political and social engineering would result in the breaking apart of Iraq into warring factions that would battle each other for decades. The hawks in the White House would not listen. They were so wedded to the fantasy scenario that the removal of Saddam in an act of "creative destruction" would result in the automatic emergence of democracy. They brushed aside all warnings...."

    Aug 30 ~ Heseltine calls for judicial inquiry into the reasons for war

    The Guardian reports today: "... Lord Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister, yesterday led a group of Tory and Labour politicians in calling for a full-scale judicial inquiry into why Britain went to war against Iraq. In a rare intervention after Tony Blair's appearance before the Hutton inquiry, Lord Heseltine said the narrow focus of the Hutton inquiry showed the need for a full judicial inquiry into the "flimsy" evidence used as a basis for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. ..."

    Aug 30 ~".. Campbell was there from the very beginning, an ally and co-conspirator

    in those long-ago days when Blair was a young shadow energy secretary in a hurry. Once officially installed, he gave advice on everything: from when to smile on TV, to what to say and how to say it. Campbell was not just a co-founder of New Labour; he was a co-creator of Tony Blair. "
    Read Jonathan Freedland on Blair all alone at the end of an era
    "They complemented each other perfectly. Campbell gave Blair, nicknamed "Emily" at school and "Bambi" in opposition, some macho cover. Campbell is not just the tabloid bruiser of modern myth. He is one of those men whose bullying charisma makes other men crave his approval. You would see it whenever he was surrounded by a pack of hacks, which was often. He had locker room magnetism, which he deployed to great effect. Blair has none of it. ....."
    See also the Scotsman "...A tall man, Campbell's 6ft 2in frame would appear even bigger as he towered over former colleagues to scream obscenities at them and threaten to leave them out in the cold politically. His temper was legendary. Michael White, the Guardian's mischievous political editor, had his glasses broken by a punch from Campbell who objected to Mr White's continual joking about Robert Maxwell, Mr Campbell's former boss. But his job was not just to bully journalists. He gradually took over more and more of the presentational side of the Blair government, controlling every release from his 8:15am meetings with the heads of Whitehall press departments. ..."

    Aug 30 ~" He had more power, I would guess, than anybody else in Downing Street.

    But it's a vacuum that has to be filled, and I hope that it is going to be filled in a way that the government gets out of this spiral of distrust it's in." Martin Bell. See today's Guardian on the departure of Alasdair Campbell. "...the Tory MP Ann Widdecombe called for a "new honesty" in politics. "I hope there will be a new breed of political adviser. In fact, I'd like a new breed of politician. I'd like Tony Blair to follow him. This government has turned spin into an art form, and a very unpleasant and dark art it has proved to be."
    Sir Bernard Ingham, Lady Thatcher's Downing Street press secretary, told the ITV News Channel: "Blair is responsible ultimately for the loss of trust, because he allowed the methods Campbell employed to operate.
    "I think we have seen it from the beginning, this absolute obsession with the media. We have seen it repeatedly, the way in which these methods have been employed - it is the ultimate in cynicism."
    The former Labour MP Tony Benn said Mr Campbell's role was really that of a deputy prime minister and that this was unacceptable. ..."

    Aug 30 ~ "What is emerging is a pattern of protecting Blair...."

    John Pilger last week. The Scott inquiry produced a mountainous report and opaque conclusions. No politician was prosecuted; a few reputations were ruffled. The English establishment is expert at this. Tim Laxton, an auditor who examined the books of two British arms companies, believes that if there had been a full and open inquiry, "hundreds" would have faced criminal prosecution. "They would include," he said, "top political figures, very senior civil servants throughout Whitehall: the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Trade and Industry... the top echelon of government."
    The Hutton inquiry into the circumstances of Dr David Kelly's death has its memorable moments, too. The warning of Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, not to "claim that we have evidence that [Saddam] is a threat", points directly to Blair's lying. However, that was exceptional. What is emerging is a pattern of protecting Blair, who is being subtly spun as a restraining influence, a peacemaker, even a guardian of Dr Kelly. ..David Kelly's tragedy deserved public investigation; but so does the epic, unneccessary. tragedy of the thousands of Iraqis whose lives Blair helped to end or scar. ."

    Aug 29 ~ "He must be the only person in Britain who thinks that the September dossier wasn't sexed up."

    From the icWales website "...TORY leader Iain Duncan Smith last night accused Prime Minister Tony Blair and Downing Street of presiding over "underhand" and "shameful" treatment of weapons expert David Kelly - both before and after his apparent suicide. Mr Duncan Smith, commenting after Mr Blair gave his evidence to the Hutton Inquiry, said, "The Prime Minister knew about, and was satisfied with, the underhand treatment of Dr Kelly and the systematic attempt to destroy his reputation both before and after his death. "This is the most shameful act of this sorry saga....
    .....Nothing was done by the book - it broke all the rules and it was done to protect the reputation of Downing Street and the Prime Minister." Tory MP Richard Ottaway, a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said after Mr Blair's evidence, "He must be the only person in Britain who thinks that the September dossier wasn't sexed up."

    Aug 29 ~ The essential message: I was responsible for everything and guilty of nothing.

    Channel 4's News update last night: "... The PM told Lord Hutton he was ultimately responsible for the strategy of confirming David Kelly's name to any journalist who asked, but didn't seem to recall being very involved in many of the decisions along the way. His argument ran that because David Kelly's name would have come out anyway they had to have a way of avoiding the finger of blame pointing at innocent parties within defence and intelligence communities. They had no idea David Kelly was anything but a robust individual well capable of dealing with the media.
    On the dossier Blair said he was well aware that Alastair Campbell had discussions with the Joint Intelligence Committee Chairman John Scarlett about the presentational wording, but that the intelligence itself came from the JIC and was owned by John Scarlett. He said he had to be able to say "hand on heart" that the dossier came from the JIC and not Downing Street.
    If the BBC's allegations had been true, he said, he would have had to have resigned. He even telephoned the BBC Chairman to suggest a compromise whereby the BBC said they defended their right to report the story but accepted it was wrong. The BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies rejected the suggestion saying Newsnight's Susan Watts had largely corroborated the Today programme's Andrew Gilligan - but the PM hadn't watched Newsnight so gave up on the attempt to settle the dispute.
    So not much in terms of revelations - but a clear statement that if Lord Hutton finds fault with the government then the buck stops with the PM...."

    Aug 28 ~ Tony Blair said today that he took responsibility for weapons expert David Kelly being named

    But, as the Independent said yesterday, "....on a flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong, Mr Blair uttered the words he may live to regret to a scrum of journalists.
    Asked whether he had authorised the leaking of Dr Kelly's name, he replied: "Emphatically not. I did not authorise the leaking of the name of David Kelly."
    The long trail of e-mails, memos and letters emerging at the inquiry now suggest otherwise. One telling note by Sir David Omand, the Government's Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator, is headed: "Meetings in the Prime Minister's study, 7 and 8 July 2003." These took the fateful decisions that Dr Kelly would appear before the Foreign Affairs Committee and to issue a statement that an official had come forward to say he had met the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan. Downing Street's strategy of saying that the Ministry of Defence was the "lead department" has been undermined by the weight of evidence submitted to the inquiry. It suffered further damage yesterday, when Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, proved reluctant to take on the role of fall guy and sacrificial lamb. He added to the trail of clues leading back to Number 10. "

    Aug 28 ~ "Mr Hoon... failed to follow the script.."

    says today's Scotsman "..after days of speculation that he had acquiesced to demands from Downing Street that he deliver himself up as a "sacrificial lamb". Instead of falling on his sword, he turned it on Downing Street as he fought for his political life. Mr Hoon made it clear he does not intend to carry the can for the row over BBC claims the government had exaggerated the threat from Iraq and the subsequent chain of events that led to Dr Kelly's apparently committing suicide. His game plan will leave Mr Blair with the prospect of facing awkward questions when he gives evidence today, undoing much of the rescue plan so carefully put together by Sir John Scarlett, the chairman of the joint intelligence committee, earlier in the week..."

    Aug 28 ~ "Unless you can justify the war with Iraq I say that you should take responsibility for your wrongful and ill-judged decision and stand down "

    On the day that our Prime Minister told the Hutton Inquiry that if the BBC report accusing his government of "sexing up" intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons capability had been true, he would have resigned, we read of yet another Kelly. This time it is the youngest British serviceman to die in the war with Iraq, Andrew Kelly, who was 18. He was serving with the Third Battalion Parachute Regiment near Basra when he died in a shooting accident. The article on the Cornwall BBC page tells us that his father is still waiting for a reply from Mr Blair in answer to the letter he wrote him on July 20th: - "Surely, to declare war on another nation should only be a last resort when all efforts to avoid war have been exhausted. This was clearly not the case with you. Your decision to go to war, unnecessarily so, put my son in the firing line unnecessarily. Therefore I hold you personally responsible for my son's death, as well as the deaths of the other servicemen killed as a result of your decision to go to war with Iraq. Unless you can justify the war with Iraq I say that you should take responsibility for your wrongful and ill-judged decision and stand down from your position as prime minister of our great country to enable a person with integrity and our country's interests at heart to lead with sincerity and dignity. . .."

    Aug 28 ~ " Lord Hutton will also want to know about Blair's role in Kelly's "outing."...."

    Christian Science Monitor "....."He will be asked how much pressure to reveal Kelly came from his office or from the prime minister himself," says Iain McLean, professor in politics at Oxford University. "A more important question would be, 'Who hardened up the dossier, when, and why?' The inquiry has found out a surprising amount about that." Indeed, although not strictly tasked with examining whether the dossier was hyped up, the three-week-old hearings have teased out some fascinating snippets. A snowstorm of e-mails from intelligence officers and Blair's aides betray an effort to get hard and fast WMD intelligence for inclusion in the fall dossier. A picture is emerging of government officials appealing to the intelligence community for any scraps that could be pulled together to make the dossier more convincing. "The prime minister's office has been doing what prime minister's offices always do, and that is spin," says Professor McLean. "Mr. Blair may be able to make a clean breast of 'outing' Dr. Kelly by saying it was important for national security, and that he didn't know he would go on to kill himself," but it will be harder for him to wiggle free from the charges that his aides "hardened up the dossier," he says...."

    Aug 27 ~ "one day, when the costs of occupation become unsustainable, it (the US) will be forced to retreat in a manner and at a time not of its choosing.."

    "..Iraq may swallow George Bush and his imperial project, just as the Afghan morass digested the Soviet empire. It is time his opponents stopped seeking to rescue him from his self-destruction. " Read George Monbiot on Beware the bluewash "The UN must not let itself be used as a dustbin for failed American adventures "

    Aug 27 ~ "Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has, basically, been explaining how far out of the loop he was when it came to naming Dr David Kelly."

    (Channel 4 news update) " Not quite 'oh it was all something Downing Street cooked up,' but not far off. Grim testimony this afternoon though about the toll it was all taking on Dr Kelly's wife and himself - he told a close colleague who was shepherding him through the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, that it was the most pressurised experience of his life - worse than his PHD interview, hitherto his most stressful period. Link to Hutton Inquiry Home Page. Main points of Mr Hoon's evidence on Sky News website

    Aug 26 ~"... over the weekend, as 900 new documents were posted on the Hutton inquiry website, fresh pieces of the jigsaw puzzle suggested that not only Mr Campbell but also Mr Blair requested substantive changes to the now infamous dossier."

    A central issue for Mr Blair is why he insisted on stating that Saddam Hussein posed a "current and serious threat" just weeks after Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, said the dossier should not be used to allege that there was an "imminent threat". Critics will also claim that the sheer volume and noise of e-mail traffic within No 10 in the run-up to the publication of the dossier shows that Mr Campbell and his army of Downing Street officials overstepped the mark from "presentation" to interference...." Independent

    Aug 26 ~ "John Scarlett, who will appear before the inquiry today, insisted that changes be made

    to the Prime Minister's foreword to the dossier to make clear that the JIC was not responsible for everything that was in it. The move, which appears to have come in response to requests from other members of the JIC, casts further doubt on the testimony of Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's director of communications. Mr Campbell told both the inquiry and the Commons foreign affairs select committee that the dossier was entirely the work of the JIC...." Telegraph today

    Aug 26 ~ "To continue to talk of an "underlying improvement" in the situation is to whistle in a very murky dark..."

    " ... We and many others urged the British government to cash in its credit with the Bush administration and press hard for a greatly enhanced UN role in Iraq. If ever secretary-general Kofi Annan needed unequivocal support, it is now. Instead, our foreign secretary, Jack Straw, still appears determined not to ruffle a single buttoned-down collar in Washington. To continue to talk of an "underlying improvement" in the situation is to whistle in a very murky dark. As the Washington Post argued editorially on Sunday: "It seems at least equally plausible that time is working against the coalition." The paper deplored the failure of secretary of state Colin Powell to share responsibility in Iraq with the UN. As a report issued yesterday by the International Crisis Group spells out, that is the only way forward with a chance." Guardian Leader

    Aug 26 ~ "When [Mr Blair] wrote the foreword suggesting the threat was current and serious, was he aware of Jonathan Powell's reservations the information did not justify the conclusion? "

    Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday Mr Blair and Mr Hoon had serious questions to answer.... "How much did they know about the strategy to put Dr Kelly's name before the public?"

    Aug 25 ~ "With each passing day of the Hutton inquiry, the case for war, already questionable, has looked flimsier.

    Mr Blair's standing as a leader to trust could hardly be lower. On Thursday he will face perhaps his biggest challenge: to convince an increasingly sceptical public that there was no cover-up to protect a woefully exaggerated case for war." Herald Editorial, Glasgow, August 25

    Aug 25 ~ 400 Iraqi women kidnapped raped or sold in Iraq since fall of Saddam Hussein

    Arabic Daily News "Yanar Muhammad.. explained that professional gangs are selling, raping or kidnapping women in order to get financial ransom. She stressed that women in the streets are exposed to insulting sexual harassment and threats of kidnapping "and that a state of real fear exists among women...many of them avoid getting out of their houses." The women's organization accused the American forces of turning a blind eye to what is taking place and stressed that, uselessly, it talked to the transitional governing council and the American administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer and asked for enhancing security and imposing penalty of sexual harassment."

    Aug 25 ~ "..there's nothing new in smearing the dead, is there?"

    Thank God for Robert Fisk. Read this important article.
    "....Rachel Corrie who stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer that was about to demolish a Palestinian home and who was killed - wearing a clearly marked jacket and shouting through a loudspeaker - when the Israeli driver crushed her beneath his bulldozer and then drove backwards over her body again. All this was filmed. As a Jewish writer, Naomi Klein, bravely pointed out in The Guardian, "Unlike Lynch, Corrie did not go to Gaza to engage in combat; she went to try to thwart it." Yet not a single American government official has praised Rachel Corrie's courage or condemned her killing by the Israeli driver. President Bush has been gutlessly silent. For their part, the Israeli government tried to smear the activist group to which Rachel Corrie belonged by claiming that two Britons later involved in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv had attended a memorial service to her - as if the organisers could have known of the wicked deed the two men had not yet committed.
    But there's nothing new in smearing the dead, is there? Back in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, I remember well how the British Army's press office at Lisburn in Co Antrim would respond to the mysterious death of British ex-soldiers or Englishmen who were inconveniently killed by British soldiers. The dead were always described as - and here, reader, draw in your breath - "Walter Mitty characters". I used to get sick of reading this smear in Belfast Telegraph headlines. Anonymous army officers would pass it along to the press. The guy was a Walter Mitty, a fantasist whose claims could not be believed. This was said of at least three dead men in Northern Ireland.
    And I have a suspicion, of course, that this is where Tony Blair's adviser Tom Kelly first heard of Walter Mitty and the ease with which authority could libel the dead. ..."

    Aug 25 ~ Scarlett urged coaching for the weapons expert ahead of his appearance before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

    The Observer today reported that the chief of the Joint Intelligence Committee, John Scarlett, who supervised the dossier - he is described as its "owner'' - asked Mr Blair to change his foreword, apparently in a bid to tone it down. The newspaper said the foreword was originally drafted by Mr Campbell but it was known what the changes were. "Scarlett, who is also giving evidence to Hutton this week, will be questioned about it,'' it said.
    Utv's website tells us ; "Dr David Kelly's widow officially protested to Tony Blair about spin doctors smearing him, secret documents reveal."

    Aug 25 ~".. those nations that do not choose to take Washington's whip are going to need to coordinate their positions and keep in touch..."

    wrote Matthew Parris in the Times last April, " The balance of power needs rebalancing. For want of a better term, I shall call the grouping of which Russia, Germany and France now form a putative core, the Rest of the World. " The whole article can be read again here. "...Finding himself halfway across a swaying transatlantic bridge, our Prime Minister scuttled in panic to the American side - an act which we are now being urged to see as brave. But it happened more through miscalculation than valour. Tony Blair thought the bridge could be repaired and that he might be the bridgemaker. Now he is marooned on the other side and will have to take his chances there. Fellow Conservatives who, super-sensitive to the most trivial European encroachment on British sovereignty, used to bawl themselves hoarse in defence of the fat content of the British sausage, have over the past month witnessed the most spectacular ceding of our independence in foreign and military policy since Suez - and all without a peep..."

    Aug 24 ~ " A Baha'i would take his or her own life only if he or she had been overwhelmed by pressure of some kind."

    The Scotsman article The leader of Dr Kelly's religion, Barney Leith, explains its attraction ".....Baha'is do not condemn those who commit suicide. We believe God to be merciful to those who have suffered great stress in life. A Baha'i would take his or her own life only if he or she had been overwhelmed by pressure of some kind. Baha'is pray for the progress of the souls of those who die, whatever the mode of their death. The fundamental message is summarised in a letter which Abdu'l-Baha sent to Mrs Jayne Whyte - then his host in Edinburgh in 1913 and now regarded as the first Scottish Baha'i. "... the world of man should become the world of God - and unity, fellowship and love be won for the whole human race." .... I don't know enough about Dr Kelly to say how he came to identify himself as a Baha'i - which he did in the United States in 1999. ...."

    Aug 24 ~ Campbell did redraft Iraq dossier, says the Sunday Herald

    Sunday Herald today: "Hutton releases 6000 pages of documents which show Blair's spin chief actively involved in rewriting case for war....In a speed-read of the documents published yesterday, the Sunday Herald has also found:
  • Downing Street was sent into panic over what Dr David Kelly might tell the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) when he appeared before MPs to answer questions about his con versations with BBC reporters.
  • Kelly was "briefed" and "prepared" by government officials and told not to give the FAC his views on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme.
  • A summary of Kelly's evidence, given in private to the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, showed that Kelly believed there was only a "30% probability" that the Iraqis had usable weapons.
    Kelly said the claim in the Prime Minister's September dossier that Saddam could deploy WMD in just 45 minutes was "unwise" and was included for "impact". The documents also reveal Campbell urged Tony Blair to be "more combative" in dealing with criticism of the plans for war.
    In a lengthy briefing note from Campbell to Blair telling the Prime Minister how to handle critics, Campbell accuses the BBC of trying to "contaminate" Blair's success as a war leader. ..."

    Aug 24 ~ We opened our doors to the British because they got rid of Saddam, but now they have killed my boy, and for what?"

    The Washington Post today on "what, with minor exceptions, has been an incident-free coexistence with British forces." An interesting article which compares the low key experienced approach of the UK soldiers with the "considerable mistrust and tension have plagued U.S. military relations with Iraqis" explained away by reference to "more hostile communities in the north, including some Sunni Muslim areas that supported Hussein and have been the targets of U.S. raids, as well as some impoverished Shiite districts whose religious leaders have been agitating against foreign occupation." But the killing of the distraught man's nephew, Azhar Fawzi, 25, happened when a wedding procession through the Basra streets was punctuated by traditional celebratory gunfire and the British, not understanding that the gunfire was a traditional celebration, opened fire.
    Three British soldiers were killed yesterday "Extremists from outside"? Read John Pilger below.

    Aug 24 ~ 'extremists from outside'?

    Writing in the Daily Mirror, John Pilger identifies the root cause of the bloody bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad, which Washington and London have blamed this on 'extremists from outside'. "..Who can forget the BBC's exultant Chief Political Correspondent Andrew Marr, at the moment of "coalition" triumph. Tony Blair, he declared, "said that they would take Baghdad without a blood bath, and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both those points he has been conclusively proved right."
    If you replace "right" with "wrong", you have the truth. To the BBC's man in Downing Street, up to 40,000 deaths apparently does not constitute a "blood bath"...."

    Aug 24 ~ More than two-thirds of Britain's voters believe that they were deceived

    More than two-thirds of Britain's voters believe, from what they have heard so far in the inquiry into the death of weapons expert David Kelly, that they were deceived by the government about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Sunday Telegraph ".... Documents released last night by the inquiry reveal that Dr Kelly faced arrest earlier this year. One series of e-mails show Ministry of Defence officials discussing a request from the Metropolitan Police to interview Dr Kelly about a leaked document to Andrew Gilligan, a BBC defence correspondent, in March about the lack of known al-Qaeda links to Iraq. MoD officials ask for a "damage assessment/impact statement if Kelly was to be arrested". The police investigation was separate to the MoD's later inquiry into the source of Gilligan's report about the intelligence being exaggerated. The new documents increased the pressure on Mr Blair and Mr Hoon as it emerged that another senior civil servant - in addition to Sir Kevin Tebbit, the permanent secretary at the MoD - expressed reservations about forcing Dr Kelly to give evidence to two Commons committees. Sir Michael Jay, the Foreign Office permanent secretary, agreed with his opposite number at the MoD that the request was "pushing it"...."

    Aug 20 ~" it was a shattering assault on the UN as an institution. But in reality, yesterday's attack was against the United States."

    "...The reaction to yesterday's tragedy could have been written in advance. The Americans will tell us that this proves how "desperate" Saddam's "dead-enders" have become - as if the attackers are more likely to give up as they become more successful in destroying US rule in Iraq. The truth - however many of Saddam's old regime hands are involved - is that the Iraqi resistance organisation now involves hundreds, if not thousands, of Sunni Muslims, many of them with no loyalty to the old regime. Increasingly, the Shias are becoming involved in anti-American actions. Future reaction is equally predictable. Unable to blame their daily cup of bitterness upon Saddam's former retinue, the Americans will have to conjure up foreign intervention. Saudi "terrorists", al-Qa'ida "terrorists", pro-Syrian "terrorists", pro-Iranian "terrorists" - any mysterious "terrorists" will do if their supposed existence covers up the painful reality: that our occupation has spawned a real home-grown Iraqi guerrilla army capable of humbling the greatest power on Earth..." An important article by Robert Fisk in the Independent that is worth reading in full.

    Aug 20 ~"the top civil servant at the MoD Kevin Tebbit knew perfectly well that Kelly's views on the forty-five minute claim could be damaging for the Government."

    Channel 4's daily update says (Wednesday 20 Aug): "It now seems clear that as Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell and some of the other most important people in the country should perhaps of been concentrating on how to rebuild and bring stability to post-war Iraq, they were actually concentrating on getting Dr David Kelly to help them win their battle with the BBC.
    Evidence today paints a picture of Downing Street coming to a view that Kelly was Andrew Gilligan's source but that Gilligan had embellished his story. So they thought Kelly being named and giving evidence to MP's would win their battle for them.
    However, it also emerges that the top civil servant at the MoD Kevin Tebbit knew perfectly well that Kelly's views on the forty-five minute claim could be damaging for the Government. Put that together with the revelation last week that Kelly was briefed the day before he gave evidence and told not to give his personal view on the dossier and it is starting to look as though he was in a pretty impossible position.
    And the accusation that he effectively misled the Foreign Affairs Committee starts to seem pretty unfair. "

    Aug 20 ~Successive versions of the dossier released last week showed that the 45-minute claim was indeed a late addition.

    Daily News (South Africa) "...Yesterday an email from Blair's chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, to senior colleagues in the Prime Minister's office showed that Powell considered the arguments for war still too weak. Damning the dossier with faint praise, Powell - an experienced ex-diplomat - said in its current form it would convince only "those who are prepared to be convinced". .... Yesterday's emails showed that it was none other than Campbell who informed Powell that the dossier was being rewritten, and none other than Campbell to whom Powell sent his withering assessment. This may have been simply because Campbell was acting in his capacity as Communications Director.
    The late Kelly, according to those reporters who spoke to him, veered between identifying Campbell as personally involved or responsible by virtue of his position. The distinction hardly matters. Kelly's accusations - and the BBC's reporting of them - are vindicated..."

    Aug 19 ~"The document does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam ....

    An e-mail fromJonathan Powell to Mr John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, dated September 17, acknowledged that there was no evidence in the dossier of any "imminent threat" from Iraq. "The dossier is good and convincing for those who are prepared to be convinced," he noted. "The document does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam .... We will need to to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim that we have evidence that he is an imminent threat." Lord Hutton also heard how Mr Blair himself chaired crisis talks after it emerged that Dr Kelly could be the source of the BBC reports. See The e-mails, the rewritten dossier and how No 10 made its case for war (Independent)

    Aug 17 ~ The 'washing of hands' by Number 10 will leave serious questions for MoD staff.

    Observer "...Hutton constantly pressed witnesses who appeared before him last week as to why they thought it necessary to name Kelly. If he makes any criticism of the policy, it will be the MoD who will be expected to carry the can. Pam Tear, the MoD Director of Communications, will give evidence tomorrow as to why she agreed to confirm the Government scientist's name if it was put to her by journalists. ...Campbell will also categorically deny that he deliberately inserted the intelligence claim that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so. Hutton will focus on two key meetings, both believed to have taken place on 9 September, two weeks before publication of the dossier. One was of the Joint Intelligence Committee, chaired by John Scarlett. It was this committee that first agreed that the 45-minute assessment was credible. On the same day Campbell chaired a meeting of the Iraqi Communications Group, which had a close role in drawing up the dossier. It was only after the two meetings that the 45-minute claim appeared in a subsequent draft of the dossier. .."

    Aug 17 ~ "Lord Hutton's forensic approach to the inquiry into Dr David Kelly's death is cutting through the political spin to reveal far more than the Government ever intended."

    Independent on Sunday "The inquiry's remit - carefully circumscribed by the Government - was to focus purely and simply on those events which led up to Dr Kelly's death. After only a week of hearing evidence, many questions about his death remain to be answered...." "Last night, David Davis, the shadow Deputy Prime Minister, said: "There's something seriously wrong when even the most senior civil servants have to twist their actions to fit with government spin. If this is correct, it is a stark demonstration [of] the demise of the British system of government."....A briefing for MoD press officers also appears on the website. It shows that journalists were misled in one key area. The "Q & A" states that the scientist was not a member of the Iraq Survey Group, but repeated testimony this week showed that he was.

    Aug 16 ~ 45-minute claim on Iraq was hearsay

    Guardian "...The revelation that the 45 minute claim is second hand is contained in an internal Foreign Office document released by the Hutton inquiry. It had been thought the basis for the claim came from an Iraqi officer high in Saddam Hussein's command structure. In fact it came through an informant, who passed it on to MI6. ...The irony is that the government launched a furious attack on the BBC for broadcasting allegations that the dossier was "sexed up" based on a single, anonymous, uncorroborated source. That source was Dr Kelly. Mr Campbell told the foreign affairs select committee: "I find it incredible ... that people can report based on one single anonymous uncorroborated source." In fact, the foundation for the government's claim was even shakier, according to the document: a single anonymous uncorroborated source quoting another single anonymous uncorroborated source. ..."

    Aug 14~Mr Blair may yet meet his Watergate

    Scotsman Lord Hutton is "....breaking all the traditions of the political whitewash. They are moving at breakneck speed, ploughing through witnesses to leave a harvest of hard evidence. " "In the space of three days, we know more about the doubts behind the Iraq dossier than the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee was able to establish in three months. The Hutton inquiry is so far surpassing all expectation. ..
    ...The pace and quality of Lord Hutton's inquiry so far suggests it may reach a quick conclusion - and produce a devastating piece of contemporary history. Lord Hutton is collecting a candid snapshot of British politics in 2003. The first surprise hit of his inquiry is the website. Perhaps because TV cameras are banned, the internet transcripts of the day's proceedings are proving a surprise Festival-time smash for lovers of good courtroom drama. ...
    .....Already, a plausible answer to Lord Hutton's main question is emerging. Intelligence agents were relaxed about providing the raw data (little wonder: they handed over nothing that a 12-year-old with access to the internet could have found). But they were furious to see the rather tawdry finished product presented as intelligence work. Dr Kelly knew about this discontent, and informed his journalist contacts. " ."

    Aug 6 ~ "The Government has abandoned its intention to attack the credibility of David Kelly after the furore...

    ... caused by The Independent's revelation that Tom Kelly, Tony Blair's official spokesman, denigrated him as a "Walter Mitty". As Downing Street apologised to Dr Kelly's family, Whitehall sources acknowledged its plans were in disarray. A source said: "This policy of demeaning a dead man was never going to work. In a way, Downing Street should be thankful that this has been lanced, and personalised with Tom Kelly. The alternative of this strategy being carried into Hutton would have been pretty disastrous." Independent

    Aug 6 ~ "So, it's perfectly possible that, from time to time, the Nobel-prize nominee Dr Kelly was a Walter Mitty character;

    but then, so, hopefully, is his namesake who tried to undermine the scientist's reputation with such a cheap shot. Unless, that is, he is content to spend his time smearing the name of a dead man on behalf of the Government." Independent

    Aug 6 ~ "Tony Blair was under intense pressure last night to clear out the culture of spin

    rife through the government by sacking the Downing Street official at the centre of an attempt to smear Dr David Kelly." Scotsman "...Professor Alastair Hay, a close friend of Dr Kelly, said that the remarks were "heartless in the extreme" and "deeply shaming". Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: "It is time to abandon the whole culture of spin and off-the-record briefings. "We need a new atmosphere of openness and transparency if the political system is to regain public trust." Mr Prescotts unprecedented public apology followed a day of chaos at Downing Street, which at first tried to distance itself from the slur by originally claiming nobody in No 10 could have said such a thing.
    ...Mr Kellys actions are a huge embarrassment for Mr Blair ahead of the Hutton inquiry, which resumes next week and will raise further questions about the extent of the politicisation of the civil service under New Labour. Although Mr Blair and Alastair Campbell, his director of communications, were on holiday when Mr Kelly spoke to the journalist, it is still not clear whether the attempt to smear the weapons expert was authorised by No 10. ...."

    Aug 5 ~ Tuesday, 8pm, R4: Pipeline Politics

    How badly does America need oil, and did the demand influence the decision to go to war in Iraq?

    Aug 1-4 ~".. the question is whether the US and Britain can prove their claims that he still had them in sufficient quantities to pose an imminent threat to the world."

    Independent on Sunday : Blair and Bush join forces to spin away weapons issue "....Officials say that WMD information is being collected and collated to create a "big impact". Both Downing Street and the White House are said to have learnt tough lessons from the experience of February's "dodgy dossier" on Iraq and the false claims about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium from Africa."

    Aug 1-4 ~ America has warned the Niger government to keep out of the row over claims that Saddam Hussein sought to buy uranium for his nuclear weapons programme

    Sunday Telegraph: ...."Let's say Mr Cohen put a friendly arm around the president to say sorry about the forged documents, but then squeezed his shoulder hard enough to convey the message, 'Let's hear no more about this affair from your government'. Basically he was telling Niger to shut up."
    The dramatic American intervention reflects growing concern about the continuing row over claims that America and Britain distorted evidence to justify the war against Iraq.
    It follows The Telegraph's exclusive interview with Hama Hamadou, Niger's prime minister, last week. Mr Hamadou said that the Niger government had never had discussions with Iraq about uranium and called on Tony Blair to produce the "evidence" he claims to have to confirm that Iraq sought uranium from Niger in the 1990s.
    American officials denied that there had been any attempt to "gag" the Niger government. The Niamey official, however, said that there was "a clear attempt to stop any more embarrassing stories coming out of Niger".
    He said that Washington's warning was likely to be heeded. "Mr Cohen did not spell it out but everybody in Niger knows what the consequences of upsetting America or Britain would be. ..."

    Aug 1 -4 ~ Hutton orders Blair to testify.

    Tony Blair faces the humiliation of having to cut short his summer holiday and endure a public cross-examination by BBC lawyers at the inquiry into the death of government scientist Dr David Kelly. The Scotsman

    Aug 1-4 ~ "The Prime Minister, Alastair Campbell, BBC journalists and Dr David Kelly's widow

    -- all we now know will testify to Lord Hutton's inquiry -- which got underway on friday. Lord Hutton promises to hear evidence "as to how and why this came about" -- this being the apparent suicide, which still hasn't been officially confirmed by the police. Is this really the right way to be conducting this inquiry? You can read what Lord Hutton revealed about the pathologist's report and Dr Kelly's letter to his line manager about Andrew Gilligan here: http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/08/week_1/01_hutton.html "

    Aug 1 ~ Foreign Affairs Select Committee says military action in Iraq may have increased the threat posed by international terrorism.

    The Scotsman today:" Tony Blair came under renewed criticism over the Iraq war yesterday when an influential group of MPs claimed the military action may have increased the threat posed by international terrorism. In a hard-hitting report which questioned the whole rationale behind the invasion of Iraq, the foreign affairs select committee concluded the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein had not reduced the risk posed by al-Qaeda and may even have enhanced its appeal to disaffected Muslims. ..."

    Aug 1 ~ "...more Americans watch the BBC in America than watch BBC1 in Britain;

    and what Murdoch and the other ascendant TV conglomerates have long wanted is the BBC "checked, broken up, even privatised . . . All this money and power will likely become the target for Blair government regulators and the merry men of Ofcom, who want to contain public enterprises.... As if on cue, Tessa Jowell, the British Culture Secretary, questioned the renewal of the BBC's charter.
    ......... a comprehensive study by Media Tenor, the non-partisan institute that he founded, which analysed the war coverage of some of the world's leading broadcasters and found that the BBC allowed less dissent than all of them, including the US networks. A study by Cardiff University found much the same. More often than not, the BBC amplified the inventions of the lie machine in Washington, such as Iraq's non-existent attack on Kuwait with scuds. And there was Andrew Marr's memorable victory speech outside 10 Downing Street: "[Tony Blair] said that they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both those points he has been proved conclusively right." Almost every word of that was misleading or nonsense. Studies now put the death toll at as many as 10,000 civilians and 20,000 Iraqi troops. If this does not constitute a "bloodbath", what was the massacre of 3,000 people at the twin towers?
    In contrast, I was moved and almost relieved by the description of the heroic Dr David Kelly by his family. "David's professional life," they wrote, "was characterised by his integrity, honour and dedication to finding the truth, often in the most difficult circumstances. It is hard to comprehend the enormity of this tragedy." There is little doubt that a majority of the British people understand that David Kelly was the antithesis of those who have shown themselves to be the agents of a dangerous, rampant foreign power. Stopping this menace is now more urgent than ever, for Iraqis and us." John Pilger in the New Statesman

    July 31 ~ the CIA's objections went far beyond the well-aired dispute over whether Iraq was seeking uranium from the west African state of Niger.

    Guardian article "Do not use 45-minute claim, CIA told No 10" The Foreign Office, which was responding to a series of questions from the Commons foreign affairs committee, also spells out the key role played personally by John Scarlett, chairman of Whitehall's joint intelligence committee (JIC), in drawing up the dossier. ...Evidence shows that Mr Campbell asked Mr Scarlett whether the passage about the uranium claim in the draft dossier could be hardened up. Mr Campbell fiercely denies suggestions that he "sexed up" the dossier against the wishes of the intelligence services. The FO goes out of its way to emphasise the role played by Mr Scarlett. Mr Campbell described Mr Scarlett in evidence to the committee as a friend who he saw regularly. The government prevented Mr Scarlett from appearing before the MPs' committee. Mr Scarlett has let it be known that he had what he described as a "debate" with Mr Campbell about the contents of the September dossier. He denies having a "bust up". ..."

    July 31 ~ Baghdad Al-Jazeera bureau chief has written a scathing reply to Paul Wolfowitz

    Robert Fisk in Baghdad "...complaining that in the past month his offices and staff in Iraq "have been subject to strafing by gunfire, death threats, confiscation of news material, and multiple detentions and arrests, all carried out by US soldiers"....... the US administration appears ready to close down Al-Jazeera's operations in Iraq - along with Al-Arabiya channel - for alleged "incitement to violence". The US proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said he would shut newspapers or television stations guilty of "incitement to violence" - without explaining what this phrase means. Mr Wolfowitz, a right-wing ideologue, is one of the cabal that pushed the US into war on the grounds that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that destroying the regime would open the way to a new, democratic Middle East. He used the Murdoch-owned Fox channel to make his allegations against Al-Jazeera, many of which are palpably false. For example, he accused Al-Jazeera of "slanting the news incredibly ... the minute they get something that they can use to spread hatred and violence in Iraq, they're broadcasting it around."

    July 31 ~ The verboten truth is that the unprovoked attack on Iraq and the looting of its resources is America's 73rd colonial intervention.

    ".... As for the great human catastrophe in Iraq, the bereft hospitals, the children dying from thirst and gastroenteritis at a rate greater than before the invasion, with almost 8 per cent of infants suffering extreme malnutrition, says Unicef; as for a crisis in agriculture which, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation, is on the verge of collapse: these do not exist. Like the American-driven, medieval-type siege that destroyed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives over 12 years, there is no knowledge of this in America: therefore it did not happen. The Iraqis are, at best, unpeople; at worst, tainted, to be hunted. "For every GI killed," said a letter given prominence in the New York Daily News late last month, "20 Iraqis must be executed." In the past week, Task Force 20, an "elite" American unit charged with hunting evildoers, murdered at least five people as they drove down a street in Baghdad, and that was typical.
    The august New York Times and Washington Post are not, of course, as crude as the News and Murdoch. However, on 23 July, both papers gave front-page prominence to the government's carefully manipulated "homecoming" of 20-year-old Private Jessica Lynch, who was injured in a traffic accident during the invasion and captured. She was cared for by Iraqi doctors, who probably saved her life and who risked their own lives in trying to return her to American forces. The official version, that she bravely fought off Iraqi attackers, is a pack of lies, like her "rescue" (from an almost deserted hospital), which was filmed with night-vision cameras by a Hollywood director. All this is known in Washington, and much of it has been reported. ..." John Pilger in the New Statesman

    July 29 ~ "those who question George Bush's foreign policy are no longer merely critics; they are blasphemers, or "anti-Americans".

    George Monbiot America is a religion in today's Guardian "....Those foreign states which seek to change this policy are wasting their time: you can negotiate with politicians; you cannot negotiate with priests. The US has a divine mission, as Bush suggested in January: "to defend ... the hopes of all mankind", and woe betide those who hope for something other than the American way of life.
    The dangers of national divinity scarcely require explanation. Japan went to war in the 1930s convinced, like George Bush, that it possessed a heaven-sent mission to "liberate" Asia and extend the realm of its divine imperium. It would, the fascist theoretician Kita Ikki predicted: "light the darkness of the entire world". Those who seek to drag heaven down to earth are destined only to engineer a hell. "

    July 29 ~ "Hutton has difficult questions to ask, not least because of the increasing evidence that Kelly himself had not been telling the whole truth about his role in the events leading up to his suicide."

    See article "... The BBC is adamant that Kelly is on tape talking about the role of Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's director of communications. .... When Downing Street suggested it may have found Gilligan's source, it described him as a middle-ranking civil servant. Kelly was said to have only been involved in writing historical accounts of UN weapons inspections for the government dossier on the threat from Iraq; and Tony Blair's official spokesman claimed Kelly was merely "a technical expert on machinery and equipment. Blair's spokesman added: "He was not someone who had access to the intelligence which had been included in the dossier. The MoD also denied that Kelly was "one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier. None of these claims stands up to scrutiny. Kelly, in fact, had access to vital intelligence on Iraq and its WMD programmes. He also had access to all the drafts of last September's controversial dossier and was closely involved in compiling the information contained in the document by using the most up-to-date intelligence available to MI6. Kelly was a senior adviser to an MoD taskforce chaired by the ministry's policy director Simon Webb - one of the MoD's most senior officials. The job of this taskforce was to sift through every piece of intelligence relating to Saddam and WMD. ....Kelly, in other words, was MI6's brain when it came to Saddams WMD.
    It must remain a matter of conjecture why such a man killed himself after a grilling by the foreign affairs committee. One BBC insider suggested: "Kelly was in grave difficulties. You can only have sympathy for him. He wanted to keep faith with people like Andrew Gilligan, but he was also facing serious threats from his employers, including the withdrawal of his security clearance. If they had done that to him, it would have ended his career. The spooks were all over the MoD looking for who the BBC source was, and he was under serious pressure and in a terrible bind. Kelly was caught between two stools. The MoD was telling him to come out to the FAC and screw Gilligan into the ground, but he didnt want to do that. He was being loyal to the reporters he'd spoken to. ..."

    July 28 ~ Top lawyers from Greece are travelling to the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Monday to file a lawsuit against senior UK officials.

    link to BBC "The UK Government insists the invasion was legal They will accuse the prime minister and other senior members of the government and military of breaching international law by attacking Iraq. The Athens Bar Association (ABA) believes it has strong evidence and is seeking the indictment of Mr Blair. "
    It will be most interesting to see what the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, will have to say now. Perhaps we might even see his evidence for ruling that the war was legal.

    July 28 ~ " I look at the insanity of the Congress voting for war, for the Patriot Act, and fighting quite literally like unruly children last week, and I think, this is not my country.

    I stand in line to be searched in airports, museums, and concerts, and I think, this is not America. I listen to George Bush lie about everything from intelligence on Iraq, to the deficit and what it will do to my child and my grandchildren, and to empty promises about Medicare, Medicaid, and education. Surely this cannot be my President. I listen to the airwaves filled with hate-filled, duplicitous, and slandering right-wing talk show hosts and wonder at the ignorance of the American people. Am I in the wrong country? I read the decisions of the federal appeals court as it rips up the Constitution, article by article (save for the provisions relating to an omnipotent Executive branch), and shreds the Bill of Rights, amendment by amendment, and I marvel at how the judiciary could have vanished in a mere two years...." link to CounterPunch article

    July 28 ~ Galloway Memoirs Stolen

    Sky News link "A first draft of memoirs by anti-war MP George Galloway have been stolen from his Portuguese cottage. Mr Galloway arrived at his Iberian retreat on Friday evening to discover his computer, desk and chair all missing. The Glasgow Kelvin MP, who was suspended from Labour after an outspoken interview on an Arab TV station at the end of March in which he denounced war in Iraq, said the burglary appeared to be no "ordinary crime"...But the raiders, he said, were "doomed to disappointment", since there was nothing "remotely of interest" apart from his first draft.... He said the thieves had worn gloves and would have needed a four-wheel drive vehicle to reach the remote farmhouse. ."

    July 28 ~ Sack Gilligan and it's peace - government offer deal to BBC......."Greg has told everyone this is about the very heart of the BBC and the heat from the government is fierce. And he will go if any compromise is forced on him."

    James Cusick, Westminster Editor of the Sunday Herald writes

    July 28 ~ Has everyone forgotten that Alastair Milne was forced to resign by Mrs Thatcher's behind-the-scenes fury as long ago as 1986?

    See too the BBC Charter ..and its chilling paragraph 8.3

    July 28 ~ Campbell's war against the BBC, may be over the very soul and future of the public service broadcaster.

    Sunday Herald "The Blame Game"
    "... According to the former head of the BBC World Service, John Tusa, the size of the hole the government now finds itself in can be equated with the "vehemence of their onslaught on the BBC". Tusa believes the war against the BBC is a "displacement activity, a diversion from finding weapons of mass destruction". But, diversion or not, the weaponry at the disposal of the government - everything from threats over the BBC's charter renewal, the licence fee, and plans to replace senior executives and governors - means real damage can be inflicted. And those inside the BBC at the very highest levels realise the current blame game is being played for very high stakes. The war, Campbell's war against the BBC, may be over the very soul and future of the public service broadcaster.

    July 28 ~" I think they actually believe that if they can muzzle the BBC they can muzzle all dissent, all suspicion."

    Sunday Herald Why Will This Man Not Stop?
    It seems the government is determined to cover up its lies at any cost -- even if that means destroying the BBC in the process, writes Ian Bell
    "..... Questions breed questions. At the beginning of this affair I was content to believe that Blair, Campbell, Hoon and the rest were delighted to pick a fight with the BBC simply to take our minds off the bigger story. It seemed to me, and to many other people, that they were very much happier talking about standards in the media than about the way a war was engineered. I no longer think so.
    There is more than a whiff of paranoia about the government. Its frenzy over the BBC has the smell of panic. It is as though ministers are trying to support a house of cards. I believe they are deeply worried, from Blair down, that the truth about the war will begin to seep out. I think they actually believe that if they can muzzle the BBC they can muzzle all dissent, all suspicion.
    Consider: the government is in a hole and should, by normal practice, stop digging forthwith, yet for some reason it can't. Its standing has been badly damaged, as the polls prove, yet it has turned a fight with the BBC into a demented battle over public trust, a battle it will surely lose. Ask yourself: why? " Full article

    July 28 ~" It has become clear that Dr Kelly was not quite the narrowly focused specialist, with little connection to the world of spying, that he seemed

    when he gave evidence to the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) during its investigation of the decision to go to war in Iraq. He himself sought to create that impression before the committee, and his reasons for doing so may be significant.
    It was public knowledge that Dr Kelly had a distinguished career as a leading UN weapons inspector in Iraq and had been nominated to lead the British contingent in the Iraq Survey Group, formed to take the UN inspectors' place. But we now know that not only was he probably the Government's most knowledgeable adviser on the history of Iraq's weapons programmes, but he also had a high security clearance, sat in on MI6 interrogations of Iraqi defectors and was a member of a high-level committee reviewing all the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. His value was such that he had been appointed a "special deputy chief scientific officer", a rarely used civil service grade that allowed him to move in senior circles without having administrative responsibilities.
    When it came to the contents of the dossier, in short, David Kelly was certainly in a position to know what he was talking about. And it emerged that he had talked, not only to Mr Gilligan, not only to two other BBC journalists whose names were put to him by the FAC (one of whom, it turned out, had recorded the interview), but to several more reporters. The picture is of a man who had suppressed his doubts last September, only to feel growing disquiet in the aftermath of war as it became clear how wrong the Government's claims on Iraqi WMD had been..." Independent on Sunday Bit by bit, the real Dr Kelly emerges from the shadows

    July 28 ~ Had he reneged on a deal?

    "The tape of his interview with the Newsnight journalist Susan Watts is now under lock and key, pending its submission to Lord Hutton's judicial inquiry, but the words read by an actor on the programme are a virtual transcript. "It is beginning to look as if the Government's committed a monumental blunder," Dr Kelly says of the most controversial claims in the September dossier - that Iraq had links to al-Qa'ida, and that it could deploy WMD within 45 minutes of the order being given. Of the latter, he says: "It was a statement that was made, and it just got out of all proportion. They were desperate for information ... that could be released. That was one that popped up and was seized on, and it's unfortunate that it was.
    "That's why there is the argument between the intelligence services and the Cabinet Office/No 10 - because they picked up on it, and once they've picked up on it, you can't pull it back from them." He goes on to say that in the week before the dossier was put out, many people were expressing unease about questions of accuracy and emphasis. At no point, however, was Mr Campbell named by Newsnight, as he was by Mr Gilligan in The Mail on Sunday, precipitating the row which resulted in Dr Kelly's death.
    ..........Tom Mangold, a family friend, wrote: "David never liked the MoD, he used to complain bitterly about them." ....... On Friday the ministry denied that it had threatened Dr Kelly's pension, or told him action could be taken under the Official Secrets Act. The Independent on Sunday asked whether his security clearance had been discussed, but the MoD refused to comment.
    When ......Dr Kelly said he did not think he could have been the source, and the MPs swung on to his side. Had he reneged on a deal? It is impossible to say, but it is becoming increasingly clear that he was less than truthful with the committee - denying, for example, that he had met Gavin Hewitt, the third BBC journalist, which he had done. ......
    "It wasn't as if the MoD were saying, 'You're our man, we're supporting you to the hilt'," said Professor Hay. "He was being fed to everyone as being the person probably responsible for the Government's difficulty ... If he felt he had been less than truthful before the committee ... [and] had been caught dissembling and not being absolutely truthful, I would have thought this would create huge conflicts for him."
    But did this lead David Kelly to kill himself? That is a question for Lord Hutton and the coroner, but it goes to the heart of the Government's case for going to war. How far the law lord will want to travel down that path remains to be seen." Independent on Sunday

    July 28 ~ Noose tightens on Blair

    Yesterday's Scotland on Sunday "... A spokesman for the inquiry said it was vital that any relevant Downing Street records be passed to Lord Hutton in order to establish the role of ministers and officials in the events that led up to Kelly's suicide shortly after his identity was leaked.
    The Downing Street meetings would have been attended by Blair's communications director Alastair Campbell, chief of staff Jonathan Powell and political adviser Sally Morgan. Insiders also claim Kelly may have been alluded to in e-mails and telephone calls which are routinely logged.
    Yesterday Lord Hutton met Kelly's grieving family privately to discuss how his forthcoming inquiry into the death would proceed. There were reports last night that Kelly's wife Jan may have kept a record of the days running up to his suicide that could tell the full story of his treatment by the government. Hutton's intervention was backed by one of Kelly's closest friends, Professor Alastair Hay, who believes Blair was intimately involved in the affair. He said the handover of such materials was essential and a spokesman for the Hutton inquiry said Hutton would expect nothing less. ..."

    July 28 ~ "the zeal with which the Prime Minister and his aides seized on every piece of intelligence, however insubstantial, ultimately did their cause - which was noble - a disservice.

    The campaign to persuade the public of the case for war became conflated with the long-running saga of "spin". As we have noted in this column before, the trouble with the allegation against Mr Campbell was not that it was true - it was not - but that it rang true.
    Nobody, we can suspect, grasped all of this more fully than Dr Kelly himself before his death. What precisely drove him to a lonely end may or may not become clearer in the course of Lord Hutton's inquiry. But it is easy to imagine a man of great eminence in his field, annoyed at what he saw as a distortion of the subject he knew most about, taking matters into his own hands with the media (perhaps wishing he had done so more "honourably" at the time the dossier was published).
    Perhaps his intention was to set the record straight, and - to those who knew him in the curious demi-monde he inhabited - clear his own name of what he perceived to be a violation of the truth. Perhaps, too, the pride that led him to do that - the pride of a distinguished public servant - had as its flipside a sense of shame which led him to self-destruction. ..." Sunday Telegraph Opinion

    July 28 ~ Pilger on the lying of governments - and Mr Blair

    "..The conscious nature of Tony Blair's lies and distortions over Iraq is now clear. Collectors will have their favourites. Mine is his statement in parliament on 29 January that "we do know of links between al-Qaeda and Iraq". As the intelligence agencies have repeatedly confirmed, there were no links, and Blair would have known this. Looking back, this lie sought to justify his statement, in October 2001, that there would be "a wider war" against Iraq only if there was "absolute evidence" of its complicity in 11 September. Of course, there was no evidence, and Blair must have known that, too.
    On 12 March, he told parliament that France "is saying, whatever the circumstances, it will veto a resolution" to invade Iraq. Two days earlier, President Jacques Chirac had said the very opposite: that if Iraq failed to co-operate with the UN inspectors, "it will be for the Security Council and it alone to decide the right thing [and] war would become inevitable". It was this deception that disillusioned even Clare Short.
    Blair's festival of lies has shocked some people: those who still believe that their elected representatives tell the truth. Perhaps they are prepared to tolerate some "fudge", but not deliberate lies, especially those, such as Blair's, that lead to the criminal killing of thousands of people."

    July 27 ~".. something far more important was happening. Mr Blair was on a delicate mission to rearm Japan"

    The Scotsman "...His goal: to persuade the world's second-richest nation to break from its post-war pacifism and take its place as a signed-up member of the war against terrorism. In Japan, this issue has touched every sensitive nerve in the country. Two atomic bombs and the bitter memory of its imperial past has left it with a "never again" attitude deeply ingrained in all generations. As a matter of pride, the economic giant has remained a military pigmy: a policy known as the Yoshida Doctrine. Instead of joining the arms race, it diverted its money to stoking its post-war economic "miracle" and rose from its agrarian knees. Japan is the only country in the world to have formally renounced war. Its constitution is founded on pacifism and it has repeatedly refused America's requests to reinstate its army. But world events are now sucking the Japanese back into the martial orbit, reluctantly and agonisingly. It is at this juncture that Mr Blair entered, to give Tokyo direction. ..." Tony Blair's aim: to give Japan back its military teeth Link to the Scotsman article

    July 26 ~ Soldiers who want to go home are needed to work for Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton Corp.

    "...Soldiers say most of their work involves civilian contractor Kellogg Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton Corp. The company has contracts to haul fuel, and 319th members are riding along as armed escorts. "The main reason we're still here is to support Brown and Root," said Sgt. 1st Class David Uthe, 45, of Augusta." Reserves wanting to leave Mideast Augusta Chronicle.

    July 24 ~".. Those who bash Gilligan, in the mistaken belief that he is merely the emanation of the anti-war BBC, are doing the Government's work for them.

    Alastair Campbell and his poodles on The Times want to give the impression to the public that this is all a war between various puffed-up members of the media/political class, their monstrous egos clashing like thunderheads. That wholly obscures the truth. What really happened was that Andrew Gilligan, and two other journalists, found that the leading expert in Iraq's WMD programmes was alarmed at the spin being put on intelligence data. The Government's response was ruthlessly to publish his name, in the hope that he would knock the story down. That enterprise failed, in tragic circumstances. ..." Boris Johnson in the Telegraph

    July 23 ~ BBC says it has a tape of Dr Kelly criticising Number 10

    "..... Susan Watts, the science editor of Newsnight, recorded her conversations with Dr Kelly, parts of which were later broadcast anonymously as a "source", using the voice of an actor. The report, which was broadcast on 2 June, suggested Downing Street had been "desperate" to find information to justify its stance on a war against Iraq. Referring to the claim Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, the source said: "It was a statement that was made and it just got out of all proportion, They were desperate for information, they were pushing hard for information which could be released. That was one that popped up and it was seized on and it's unfortunate that it was. "That's why there's an argument between intelligence services and the Cabinet Office and Number 10, because they picked up on it and ... you can't pull it back." Independent

    July 23 ~ "Tony Blair vehemently denies any involvement in the decision by the Ministry of Defence to name Dr David Kelly

    as the source of the BBC's claim that the threat from Iraq was exaggerated. So if his communications man Alastair Campbell did it, Blair claims he didn't know. In any case he has also said that the Ministry of defence was the 'lead agency' in the affair.
    Effectively then, he has potentially thrown his Secretary of Defence Geoff Hoon to the wolves. An intriguing way to spend the period of 'reflection' that Mr Blair urged us all to observe; his is spent crying 'not me gov!' So already, even before the Judicial inquiry has sat for one minute, the house cleaning has begun. " Jon Snow's Channel 4 news update last night andsee also Today's Telegraph

    July 23 ~ Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, have apparently been killed

    in a fierce gun battle after they were cornered in a house in the northern city of Mosul. Scotsman

    July 22/23 ~ There were no rules for the American jailers.

    Robert Fisk in the Independent on THE UGLY TRUTH OF AMERICA'S CAMP CROPPER, A STORY TO SHAME US ALL It's about America's shameful prison camps in Iraq. It's about the beating of prisoners during interrogation.
    "Sources" may be a dubious word in journalism right now, but the sources for the beatings in Iraq are impeccable. This story is also about the gunning down of three prisoners in Baghdad, two of them "while trying to escape". But most of all, it's about Qais Mohamed al-Salman. Qais al-Salman is just the sort of guy the US ambassador Paul Bremer and his dead-end assistants need now. He hated Saddam, fled Iraq in 1976, then returned after the "liberation" with a briefcase literally full of plans to help in the restoration of his country's infrastructure and water purification system.
    He's an engineer who has worked in Africa, Asia and Europe. He is a Danish citizen. He speaks good English. He even likes America. Or did until 6 June this year. ... (Read Robert Fisk's article)

    July 22/23 ~ One problem faced by the BBC is the government's effort to undermine its case before the Hutton inquiry.

    Guardian "....While Tony Blair has been keeping a dignified silence on his tour of the Far East, others at home have been doing his dirty work.
    As part of the concerted attempt to exploit what Downing Street believes to be growing nervousness within the BBC over its handling of the Iraq dossier crisis, Mr Mandelson appeared on the Today programme yesterday and accused the BBC's governors of making a "crass error" by backing the corporation's managers. .....branded Gilligan "rather shifty" and a "loose cannon" on Today, the programme which carried the initial allegations.
    The irony of Mr Mandelson's intervention in support of Downing Street's director of communications, Alastair Campbell - whom he still blames for his own second departure from the cabinet - was not lost on Clare Short. The former international development secretary said on the same programme: "Dr Kelly, and we don't know what the pressures that were mounted on him, has recently died and then we're getting someone like Peter Mandelson, who can only be briefed by No 10... widening the assault on the BBC.
    ....Insiders believe the corporation must be sure these were Dr Kelly's exact words, to justify its robust defence. One source close to the director general Greg Dyke said: "There is total unity among the top people that we are doing the right thing."...." (full article)

    July 22 ~ Questions for Hutton

    Guardian Letter "As Lord Hutton ponders the remit of his inquiry into the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death (Judge to outline scope of inquiry, July 21), he might consider this written reply by Mr Blair to a question by one of his fiercest Labour critics, Glenda Jackson MP. She asked him which government official and which minister took the decision to insert the assertion that weapons of mass destruction could be deployed in 45 minutes in the foreword, the executive summary and the draft of his Commons speech of September 24 2002, on the September 2002 dossier.
    Mr Blair replied: "The dossier, including the executive summary, was drafted by the chairman of the joint intelligence committee and his staff, and they were responsible for including the 45 minutes intelligence. The foreword was prepared by my staff in Downing Street in the normal way. It was signed off by me, but members of the JIC had the opportunity to comment on it. My speech to the House of Commons was written in the normal way and reflected what was in the September 2002 dossier which was being debated in the House on September 24 2002." (Hansard, July 11)
    Lord Hutton needs to know which specific staff in Downing Street were involved; and to ask Mr Blair when he gives the evidence he has now promised to give, who proposed giving the prominence to the 45 minute claim, and why he agreed with it when he signed off the dossier. This goes to the very heart of who told whom to do what in respect of that fateful dossier.
    Dr David Lowry Stoneleigh, Surrey

    July 22 ~"No 10 overruled defence chiefs in leaking Kelly's name to Press

    Downing Street overruled senior Ministry of Defence officials who wanted to protect the identity of David Kelly and prevent him appearing before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, according to Whitehall sources. Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, is expected to be questioned by the judicial inquiry into Dr Kelly's death over whether he sided with Downing Street on the unmasking of the government scientist. Dr Kelly is understood to have been given guarantees from the MoD that his identity would remain secret. The revelation calls into question Downing Street's assertion that the MoD took the lead in dealing with Dr Kelly after he admitted he had met Andrew Gilligan, the BBC journalist who claimed No 10 had "sexed up" a dossier on Iraqi weapons. " Independent

    July 21/22 ~ "the heat has now been turned upon the BBC". Why has it?

    Guardian article by Rod Liddle "Pummelled and buffeted by New Labour pundits, compliant backbenchers and select committee chairmen, the director-general will have felt it a concession which could now be granted without further damage being done to poor David Kelly. But that may not be correct. For a start, it leaves Andrew Gilligan in public disagreement with a man who is now dead and cannot, therefore, defend himself. And paradoxically, for that very reason, it is an argument which Gilligan and the BBC will find difficult to win. But in every other respect, the corporation has got it right throughout this appalling imbroglio. It stood by its journalism and its journalists - not out of arrogance, as some have alleged, but because it knew that what they had reported was accurate and important..."

    July 21/22 ~".... the War of the Jacksons: in one corner, Robert Jackson, Dr Kelly's Tory MP, who calls down imprecations on the BBC; and in the other, Glenda Jackson, who, being a Labour MP, naturally wants the prime minister to go.

    Jackie Ashley's article in the Guardian "....There is nothing wrong with resignations, in general. But there is when they avoid the need for harder questions being confronted, as should happen now. Who is this aggressive, attack-dog media and political culture supposed to be helping? Not the politicians, who can no longer rely on reasonable electoral turnouts; not the BBC, which should now be worried about government vengeance; not the press, judging by newspaper sales. Normal people hate what has happened to the nasty, nutty Westminster world. And here's something else to reflect on: while Dr Kelly's death is tragic, several thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed by the war on Iraq which, we were told, was to disarm Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons, and the "imminent threat" they were said to pose, remain as elusive as ever. "

    July 21 ~ " I am aware, of course, that people are going to have to take elements of this on the good faith of our intelligence services."

    We should not be distracted from Mr Blair's statement on Iraq in the House of Commons Tuesday 24 September 2002, nor will we forget that he knew then what we all know now...that the 45 minute detail was uncorroborated, thought unwise and yet emphasised deliberately by Number 10 Andrew Gilligan's Today report said "a senior official" had told him the claim that Saddam Hussein's "military planning allows for some of the weapons of mass destruction to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them" had been "included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn't reliable". (BBC)

    June 21 ~ "as the weeks pass, it seems undeniable that the Bush administration grievously miscalculated the human and financial costs of the American occupation."

    New York Times "That failure, which is starting to register with Americans of all political persuasions and promises to become an election issue, cannot be easily dismissed with glib assurances of better days to come or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's favorite refrain that the war ended just weeks ago. This exercise in American power is going to be a lot longer and bloodier than President Bush ever said...."

    June 21 ~ "We are lawyers and legal workers opposed to the war in Iraq because we believe it was unlawful.

    We call for the publication of the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith's advice in its entirety, which was used by the Government to justify going to war.
    No inquiry into the government's interpretation of intelligence will be seen as credible without the publication of this advice, as the advice must have been based in part on the intelligence asessment at that time.
    Michael Mansfield QC and 75 other barrister, solicitors and legal workers. London SW1"
    From a letter in Independent yesterday.
    See also the letter in the Guardian before the war.

    July 21 ~John Humphrys was scathing about Robert Jackson's charge that the BBC should take responsibility for Dr Kelly's death

    "That seems to me to be nonsense," he said. "After all, it wasn't we who named Dr Kelly; it wasn't we who called him before an inquiry, a committee; it wasn't we who thrust him into the spotlight. To suggest that somehow it's all our fault is bizarre."
    Asked about the mood at the BBC, Mr Humphrys replied: "Obviously, a man is dead and people have responded as you would expect. They [the BBC] feel very strongly that, whatever happens now, Dr Kelly's family has to come first. It's moved beyond the day-to-day political nonsense." Independent
    On Monday's Today Programme, http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/ Boris Johnson said "I'd like to know why Alastair Campbell had such a fantastically dominant role ....I'd like to know why Dr Kelly was assured that his name would remain confidential and told that he would not have to appear before the Committee.. The Committee's behaviour was odd. ....Gilligan's story has been validated....it would not have been brought before the public without Andrew Gilligan."

    July 21 ~ Dr Kelly's evidence to FASC on July 15

    Transcript of Dr Kelly's evidence Although there are several references to the 45 mins issue - Dr Kelly is never specifically asked for his professional opinion on the matter. "I cannot recall" and "I cannot remember" and "I find it very difficult to think back" are phrases that can give an impression without categorically confirming or denying.

    July 21 ~ David was treated in the most despicable way by the Government

    Independent "The BBC's admission may give Mr Blair a much-needed breathing space before the inquiry, to be led by Lord Hutton, a senior law lord, reports in six to eight weeks. But the investigation will also have some searching questions for the Government - notably whether Downing Street tipped off the press about Dr Kelly's identity, thereby setting in train the events that led to his death. Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's director of communications, is expected to leave his post after the inquiry reports. Friends say he has lost his appetite for the job because of the tragedy but is determined to clear his name before he quits. Richard Sambrook, the BBC's director of news, confirmed Dr Kelly was the principal source for Mr Gilligan's report. "The BBC believes we accurately interpreted and reported the factual information obtained by us during interviews with Dr Kelly." He added: "We continue to believe we were right to place Dr Kelly's views in the public domain. However, the BBC is profoundly sorry that his involvement as our source has ended so tragically.".....Dr Kelly's brother-in-law, Derek Vawdrey, accused the BBC of using a dead man to defend itself. He said: "It's all very well for the BBC to come out with this now, when David cannot answer back. So much for protecting sources. "David was treated in the most despicable way by the Government, he was treated in a bullying way by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and it is my opinion that is what directly led to his suicide."

    July 21 ~ "The BBC have said that Dr David Kelly was the source of Andrew Gilligan's report

    that the government had "sexed up" the dossier on weapons of mass destruction last September. He was then, it follows from that, the alleged source of Gilligan's claim in the Mail on Sunday (and later repeated on other BBC outlets) that it was Alastair Campbell who had inserted the claim that Iraq could deploy WMD within 45 minutes. The BBC changed their line on refusing to name their source after permission from Dr Kelly's family.
    So we are left with a dilemma. Do we believe Dr Kelly's or Andrew Gilligan's account of their conversation?...David Kelly's friend - the investigative reporter Tom Mangold - has told us that Dr Kelly used to laugh about the 45 minute claim privately. So it is likely he (Dr Kelly) didn't believe it. ..... "
    From Channel 4's newsletter. Read more
    From C4 News itself it appears that Andrew Gilligan had also had confirmation of the 'sexing up' from a souce at No 10 - 60% of the source was Dr Kelly - the other 40% from other sources - including the No 10 connection.

    July 21 ~ ".. the point is, surely, is the weapons of mass destruction issue has all along been a matter of life and death.

    More civilians died in allied bombing and the liberation of Baghdad than were killed in New York on September 11, 2001. Many British servicemen have died and American soldiers are being killed almost every day in what is now turning into a vicious guerrilla war. And of course, perhaps tens of thousands of poorly-equipped Iraqi conscripts died as they were crushed by the greatest military machine in the history of human conflict.
    Dr David Kelly is by no means the first casualty of this war, and he will certainly not be the last. But his death was the moment when the Westminster village, at war with itself, suddenly woke up and realised the extent to which it has been obsessed only with itself and its petty vanities and squabbles. It is now seeing the war for what it is: a deadly game where innocent people die. ..." The Sunday Herald has four articles each of which is worth reading.

    July 20 ~ the Ministry of Defence admitted that it had privately given Dr Kelly's name to three newspapers on July 9.

    This contradicted earlier claims by Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, that there had been no such breach of confidentiality. Telegraph".... In an interview with The Sunday Times on July 9, the day before his name appeared in several papers, Dr Kelly said that he had been assured by the MoD that "the whole thing would be confidential". But he had just received a phone call warning him that his identity would be in the following day's papers. He added: "I feel as though I have been through the wringer." Last night, Pam Teare, the MoD's director of news, admitted that far from protecting Dr Kelly's identity, she had confirmed his name to reporters who rang her on July 9. "As we have said all along we didn't release the name but we made it clear to media callers and to Dr Kelly that if someone put the right name to us we would be obliged to confirm it - end of story."

    July 20 ~" a man who knew much about nuclear and chemical weapons, but too little about the brutal, self-serving warfare of modern British politics"

    Quentin Letts adds: "Say a prayer, if you go to church today, for a man who knew much about nuclear and chemical weapons, but too little about the brutal, self-serving warfare of modern British politics. Say a prayer for David Kelly because he was a frightened man, but a brave one. The rest can go hang themselves."

    July 20 ~ "He had dealt with the duplicity of the Iraq government...what did he see within his own government that made him.. take a knife to his own wrist?

    An emailer echoes the thoughts of many of us, " I don't often weep over the death of someone I do not know , but today on hearing that David Kelly had been driven to suicide I wept. Reading his obituary you hear of a dedicated scientist with a sense of humour and great integrity. He had dealt with the duplicity of the Iraq government during his time as weapons inspector without problems, and was looking forward to returning to Baghdad. What did he see within his own government that made him decide that "This was really not the kind of world he wanted to live in.", and take a knife to his own wrist?
    I am greatly saddened. We can only hope that the whole dirty business of "sexed-up" dossiers, and other New Labour lies, are at last exposed by the death of this good man."

    July 19/20 ~ Andrew Mackinlay has apologised to Dr Kelly's family

    But Geoff Hoon, on Radio 4's PM programmeon Saturday afternoon, maintains that offering his own resignation would be inappropriate.

    July 19/20 ~ Police have confirmed that Dr David Kelly, the Ministry of Defence adviser at the heart of a vitriolic battle over the Government's Iraq dossier, died after slashing his wrists.

    Telegraph "Dr David Kelly's body was found with a knife and painkillers Acting Supt Dave Purnell said Dr Kelly, whose body was formally identified this morning, bled to death from a cut to his left wrist. A knife and a packet of Co-Proxymol painkilling tablets were found where Dr Kelly's body was discovered yesterday morning at Harrowdown Hill, around five miles from his home in the village of Southmoor. Mr Purnell said that detectives do not believe that anyone else was involved with Dr Kelly's death..."
    "Although Downing Street urged people not to rush to judgment, attention was increasingly turning to Mr Campbell's role in the affair. The inquiry is certain to centre on how he and Mr Hoon thrust Dr Kelly, a civil servant, into the spotlight...Friends said he was angry and deeply unhappy about the way he was questioned by the MPs. Dr Kelly said he was not the source and the committee concluded that he probably was not. The MPs criticised the Ministry of Defence for using him as a "fall guy". Richard Ottaway, a Conservative member of the committee, said that spin doctors had used Dr Kelly as a distraction from the row over weapons of mass destruction. He said that political machinations could have resulted in Dr Kelly's death. "

    July 19/20 ~This attempt at moral blackmail will not do.

    "....The prime minister, in his address to Congress, declared that history would forgive him and President Bush, even if WMD were never found in Iraq, because of the undoubted bestiality of Saddam Hussein and his regime. We are challenged to admit that without the war Saddam would still be in power, able to terrorise both his own people and his neighbours.
    This attempt at moral blackmail will not do. The issue is not whether the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. Of course it is. It would also be a better place without Robert Mugabe, Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro and a host of other tyrants and despots, but there is no intention of the British government to support wars in order to get rid of them.
    Nor did Tony Blair call for an invasion of Iraq during the first five years of his prime ministership, when Saddam was as evil as he was last year. During that period the prime minister supported the strict enforcement of sanctions and the no-fly zone that had been the policy of the Clinton administration in Washington and the Major government in London.
    What changed was George Bush's arrival in the White House and 9/11. Thereafter Blair recognised that in order to retain the confidence of the new president, and to ensure British influence in Washington, he would have to support regime change in Iraq and the new doctrine of pre-emptive wars...." Malcolm Rifkind in the Guardian

    July 19/20 ~ "The tone was not aggressive at all." Donald Anderson, Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman (Labour )

    "....Another member said: "We did what we had to do..."......
    Eric Illsley, another member, was implicitly critical of aggressive questioning of Dr Kelly by Andrew Mackinlay...." Guardian Chastened MPs prepare for fallout

    July 18 ~ MoD "mole" missing - body found: Channel Four News email

    "Did he take his own life? Was he killed, did he die of a heart attack? Dr David Kelly was a government scientist who specialised in chemical and biological weapons and who had served as a UN weapons inspector. He went missing from his Oxfordshire home yesterday at 3pm. At 9.20am this morning a body fitting his description was found in woodland that he was wont to walk to from his home. By any test for his wife and two daughters an utterly tragic turn of events.
    But this is a death with ramifications whose limits it is almost impossible at this stage to divine. For he was the crucial witness in this week's House of Commons Select Committee investigation in to the causes of war with Iraq. He was identified by the MoD, for whom he worked, as the man who told a BBC correspondent that Tony Blair's communications chief Alastair Campbell had 'sexed up' the September dossier of intelligence against Iraq. The ferocious battle between Number 10 and the BBC located Dr Kelly in the very epicentre of the 'who said what to whom' saga. It's a measure of how much pressure the government was already under to call a full judicial inquiry, that just such an inquiry has now been triggered by Dr Kelly's presumed death, when official identification is made on Saturday. " More details on this story here: http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/07/week_3/18_kelly.html

    July 18 ~ Military proceedings against two Britons held in Guantanamo Bay has been suspended

    pending talks between legal authorities on both sides of the Atlantic, Downing Street has confirmed. Attorney General Lord Goldsmith will begin negotiations with American authorities over the fate of Feroz Abbasi, 23, from London, and Moazzam Begg, 35, from Birmingham. (Channel Four News)

    July 18 ~The Associated Press on the disappearance of Dr Kelly and the finding of a body this morning

    "Dr David Kelly left his home at around 3 p.m. (1400 GMT) Thursday after telling his wife he was going for a walk, officers said, and family called police when he failed to return by 11:45 p.m. (2245 GMT) that night. The body was found at 9:20 a.m. (0820 GMT) Friday, police said.
    Officers said Kelly's family had described the disappearance and failure to make contact with anyone as "out of character.''
    Kelly appeared before a Parliamentary committee earlier this week to face questions over the BBC report, which said government aides gave undue prominence, in an intelligence dossier published last September, to a claim that Iraq could launch chemical or biological weapons on 45 minutes' notice." http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2003/7/18/latest/13084Policesea&sec=latest
    Richard Ottoway, an opposition Conservative politician told Sky television. "At the end we concluded he had been given rather bad treatment by the government. So let us hope nothing sinister has happened here. But it does bring into question exactly what the government thought it was doing by putting him up as a witness on its behalf".

    July 18 ~ "We witnessed today the baring of teeth, and an unpleasant personal attack on an individual who dared to publicise material that was not favourable to government."

    Anne Lambourn who, like many of us, has followed the Campbell/BBC row most carefully and with grave concern, has written an open letter to the Chairman of the foreign affairs select committee (FASC) Donald Anderson, Labour MP for Swansea. Extract: (Read letter in full)

    July 18 2003 ~ Durbin would not name the person, whose name emerged in the secret hearing, but a U.S. official said National Security Council weapons of mass destruction expert Robert Joseph was involved in discussions with the CIA about the speech.

    Reuters "...It wasn't Tenet who named anyone, but in response to questioning, other agency officials said that the conversations were with Robert Joseph of the National Security Council staff," a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
    Meanwhile, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was sent to Africa in February 2002 to investigate allegations that Iraq had sought uranium there, took issue with the Bush administration's version of events. Wilson disputed White House contentions that he reported that officials in the African nation of Niger said Iraq wanted to contact Niger officials to buy nuclear weapons materials. In an interview posted on Thursday on the TIME.com Web site, Wilson said the Niger official he mentioned in his report was contacted by an Algerian-Nigerian intermediary who asked if the official would discuss "commercial" sales with Iraq. The Niger official declined to do this, Wilson said.
    Wilson dismissed Tenet's suggestion that this meeting supported Bush's claim in the January speech: "That then translates into an Iraqi effort to import a significant quantity of uranium as the president alleged? These guys really need to get serious...."

    July 18 ~"The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information

    and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, ... much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war. ..
    ...In the days after September 11, Mr Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, mounted an attempt to include Iraq in the war against terror. When the established agencies came up with nothing concrete to link Iraq and al-Qaida, the OSP was given the task of looking more carefully....
    The OSP was an open and largely unfiltered conduit to the White House not only for the Iraqi opposition. It also forged close ties to a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon's office in Israel specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam's Iraq than Mossad was prepared to authorise. ....
    ..In 1996, he and Richard Perle - now an influential Pentagon figure - served as advisers to the then Likud leader, Binyamin Netanyahu. In a policy paper they wrote, entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, the two advisers said that Saddam would have to be destroyed, and Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran would have to be overthrown or destabilised, for Israel to be truly safe. The Israeli influence was revealed most clearly by a story floated by unnamed senior US officials in the American press, suggesting the reason that no banned weapons had been found in Iraq was that they had been smuggled into Syria. Intelligence sources say that the story came from the office of the Israeli prime minister.
    The OSP absorbed this heady brew of raw intelligence, rumour and plain disinformation and made it a "product", a prodigious stream of reports with a guaranteed readership in the White House. The primary customers were Mr Cheney, Mr Libby and their closest ideological ally on the national security council, Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice's deputy....it will inevitably be harder to re-establish confidence in the intelligence on which the White House is basing its decisions, and the world's sole superpower risks stumbling onwards half-blind, unable to distinguish real threats from phantoms. " Guardian story

    July 18 ~ A senior military source who foresaw British forces in Iraq for a long time told the Guardian: "Conflict is much cheaper than post-conflict."

    Cost of occupation: £5m a day - human cost extra
    "Up to £150m a month to keep troops in Iraq adds to strains on government"
    "The cost to British taxpayers of invading and occupying Iraq will be far in excess of £5bn, with £1bn being spent even before the first shot was fired, defence sources said yesterday. This far exceeds the size of the special "war chest" which the Treasury has offered. .... the latest figures from the MoD suggest that a prolonged commitment in Iraq could be a drain on scarce resources at a time when the government is under mounting pressure to prove that public services are improving. Defence sources said the cost of the six-week war, including ammunition, lost equipment, accidents and fuel, had yet to be calculated. About £1bn was spent deploying weapons systems and troops to Kuwait and aircraft to the Gulf, and "desertifying" Challenger battle tanks before operations had even started, a defence official said. The Treasury puts the cost of keeping Britain's forces in postwar Iraq at a slightly more conservative £120m a month ..."

    July 18 ~ John Maples MP, opposition member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, disassociates himself in disgust from the report from a private meeting with Andrew Gilligan which called Gilligan an unsatisfactory witness.

    Mr Maples told Jon Snow in this evening's Channel Four News that he and other opposition members of the Committee had not been present and that he regarded the meeting today as a hijack with the intention of making out that Andrew Gilligan had changed his story. Mr Gilligan says he was treated in a most personal and hostile manner by those government members of the Committee - and most certainly has not changed his version of events.
    The Guardian says: "The BBC journalist insisted that he had not changed his story, and said that Mr Anderson had "deliberately misinterpreted" his evidence.
    "This was an ambush by a hanging jury with only one opposition member present for the relevant section of the meeting," he said.
    "Donald Anderson has deliberately misinterpreted my evidence, and I have asked for the transcript to be published to make this clear. "The Labour members of the committee were determined to find fault with my story, but did not do so. I defended my journalism with vigour, pointing out, among other things, that many of my source's allegations have been corroborated by other evidence." A statement issued by the BBC tonight defended Mr Gilligan, and accused the committee of launching "personal attacks" on him...."

    July 17 ~ We are now a client state

    Guardian article today by David Leigh and Richard Norton-Taylor Britain has lost its sovereignty to the United States (external link)
    ".....The row over scraps of British material used for public propaganda purposes - alleged uranium from Niger, alleged 45-minute Iraqi missile firing times - shows, if nothing else, that MI6 does still run independent spying operations. But it obscures the big truth: the policy-determining, war-fighting intelligence on which Britain depends is all American. .......Britain has just invested a wildly over-budget £1.25bn in rebuilding Cheltenham. Yet it brings us no independence. Braithwaite again: "The US could get on perfectly well without GCHQ's input. GCHQ, on the other hand, is heavily reliant on US input and would be of little value without it."
    Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, recently - and somewhat drily - let it slip to the foreign affairs committee how the US wears the trousers in the intelligence marriage. America receives all the intelligence that Britain gathers, he said. "On our side, we have full transparency." Britain, on the other hand, merely "strives to secure" transparency from its supposed partners.
    .... Britain can no longer fight a war without US permission. Geoff Hoon, Britain's defence secretary, said humbly last month that "the US is likely to remain the pre-eminent political, economic and military power". Britain would concentrate, therefore, on being able to cooperate with it. "It is highly unlikely that the UK would be engaged in large-scale combat operations without the US," he said. As Rumsfeld brutally pointed out, however, the US could easily have fought the Iraq war without Britain.
    ....Britain cannot protect its citizens from US power. Blair faces an outcry as he flies into America because the US refuses to return two British prisoners for a fair trial; rather, they have to face a Kafkaesque court martial at Guantanamo Bay. ..."

    July 17 ~ Britain did not go to war to overthrow an evil regime, or even to control WMD. It went to war to keep on the right side of Washington.

    The Guardian story by Martin Kettle (external link): "....The crucial passage occurs on page 87 of Stothard's diary-style narrative of the war. It comes as the author reflects on the political thought processes that had gone into the crafting of Tony Blair's widely admired speech at the start of the vital eve-of-war Commons debate on March 18. Stothard's reflections are contained in a relatively long passage, but it deserves to be quoted in full:
    "Has Tony Blair become some sort of reckless crusader over Iraq? He (i.e.Peter Stothard in his book "30 Days" ) thinks not. In September 2002 his analysis of relations between Washington, London and Baghdad was clear and cold. It rested on six essential points to which he and his aides would regularly return: "These six points - when scribbled on the back of an envelope or set out on a printed page - are not exceptional. What is exceptional is the certainty required to follow their logic. It is Tony Blair's certainty that has been the surprise for many Labour MPs."
    Stothard sells himself short here. The six points are exceptionally important. First, because of the date. Second, because of the clear implication that Blair is the source of them (if he is not, then Stothard is sexing up his own dossier). And third, because it shows how passive British policy really was. Britain did not go to war to overthrow an evil regime, or even to control WMD. It went to war to keep on the right side of Washington."

    July 17 ~"The architect of New Labour's prominent tabloid support, Alistair Campbell, is under heavy fire. His 'dodgy dossier' is being seen by many in the media world of New Labour's final descent into apparent arrogance and patronising complacency."

    From an article on Wednesday in American Daily: "Labour Resume"

    July 16/17 ~ On a day which has seen the 147th US soldier killed in Iraq (equalling the total for the 1991 war) just what do Iraqis make of their invaders and occupiers?

    Channel Four have carried out a poll in Baghdad. " The findings are startling and in many respects very surprising." You can find the survey results website at: http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/07/week_3/16_poll.html Three in four of Baghdad's residents say the city is now more dangerous than when Saddam Hussein was in power. Two in three fear being attacked in the street. Most think we went to war to grab Iraq's oil. Yet despite these deep concerns, only a minority oppose the Americans and British invasion, and as few as one in eight want the invaders to leave the country straight away.

    July 16 ~ US "... the very point of massive tax cuts: breaking the bank so as to kill social programs."

    It was a point made very well by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer when pressed on the issue. Congress, Fleischer said, would have to reform programs accordingly. He didn't say "kill," which would have been more appropriate.
    Corporate America has spent billions lobbying for deregulation of its activities and for privatization of everything from the health system to education to national parks and forests to Social Security -- a situation that would lead to ownership and control by the corporate sector and a tiny handful of the super rich of virtually every aspect of society....
    ...With country and culture in the hands of a very few, democracy perishes. The great American Experiment would end not through internal weakness, but via carefully crafted "neoconservative" strategy from without, to be replaced by something resembling, more than anything else, medieval feudalism, only set in a high tech world. According to the plan now in place, "we the people" are to be the new serfs. As Thom Hartmann noted: "We're entering a new and unknown but hauntingly familiar era.".... "
    This article from Bill Withers at informationclearinghouse.info makes depressing sense.

    July 16 ~ A group of former intelligence officers in the United States is calling on Vice President Dick Cheney to resign.

    They are accusing him of misleading President George W Bush and the American public, by overstating the case for going to war with ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. ....the Bush administration continues to maintain that by sourcing British intelligence, the president's claim was "technically correct".
    But the assertion has failed to impress critics.
    "I find statements like that from the senior leadership of the two countries as incredibly arrogant," said Andrew Wilkie, a former Australian intelligence officer. Now, a group of former US intelligence officers are pointing the finger firmly at Vice President Cheney. They say the President's number two should carry the can for aggressively overstating the case for war.
    "If you look at Cheney's speeches, he's way out ahead of all the other American statesmen and officials in saying Saddam Hussein has a nuclear capability, he's reconstituting it, he said in August and by and guess what, on the 16th of March, he has already reconstituted it. No evidence to support that," said Ray McGovern, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
    So far, Mr Cheney has avoided comment on the scandal. But it was his office that dispatched a former US diplomat to the country of Niger in February 2002, and that diplomat concluded that Saddam Hussein had not been trying to buy uranium from the authorities there. ...." http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/americas/view/44618/1/.html

    July 16 ~ Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter has released a new book, accusing President George Bush of illegally attacking Iraq and calling for "regime change" in the United States at the next election.

    Ritter said Bush lied to the American people and Congress about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction; .... Ritter, a former U.S. Marine, was a weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. He has been a vocal critical of the Bush administration's policy on Iraq.
    Ritter said he wrote Frontier Justice, Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwacking of America " (external link to Amazon) to educate people. ...Ritter argues that "the United States carried out an illegal war of aggression." ....... At the news conference, Ritter accused France and Germany of failing to get a Security Council or General Assembly resolution calling the war illegal and demanding a U.S. withdrawal. Ritter had kind words for Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said ElBaradei was "much more honest" than Blix about appraising Iraq's nuclear weapons and the threat they posed. (Wire reports)" http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=8&id=266537

    July 16 ~ "... the administration has a problem with the truth"

    Washington Post (external link) ".... CIA Director George J. Tenet will be pressed hard for greater clarity when he testifies before the intelligence committee in a closed session. "This is a very serious issue that should be dealt with in a very serious way," Edwards said. In "some ways the administration has a problem with the truth." ...
    ....on Thursday, ... British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush's closest ally in the war, addresses a joint session of Congress. ...
    ....the public is growing increasingly concerned about the mounting casualties among U.S. troops in Iraq. Americans are split over whether Bush exaggerated intelligence reports to justify going to war, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll..."

    July 16 ~ " If my son had died fighting a war because someone threatened our country I would still feel proud of him and my PM.''

    Reported in the Indian Express "Andrew Kelly, of the British Army's Crack Parachute Regiment, died in a shooting accident at an army base in southern Iraq on May 6, just weeks after his 18th birthday. His father Robert Kelly wrote to Blair on Monday in the most personal criticism yet at his decision to take Britain to war.
    ''My son died because the wrong decision was made,'' he said. ''If we hadn't declared war, my son would be alive today. If my son had died fighting a war because someone threatened our country I would still feel proud of him and my PM.'' ..."(Reuters)

    July 16 ~ "Scott Ritter and Hans Blix, meanwhile, continued to dispute Bush's version of events In Washington"

    No light in Iraq tunnel: Troops to stay put (external link) ".....Bush defended the quality of CIA intelligence as he tried to calm the growing storm. "I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence. And the speeches I have given were backed by good intelligence," he said.
    Former UN arms inspectors Scott Ritter and Hans Blix, meanwhile, continued to dispute Bush's version of events. "The entire case the Bush administration made against Iraqis a lie," Ritter told reporters at UN headquarters, while Blix told Denmark's Politiken daily that Washington, London and their allies had ignored his advice on Iraq's banned weapons..."

    July 16 ~ "I am not the source" Dr David Kelly

    Dr David Kelly, who works in the MoD's counter-proliferation and arms control secretariat, told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee he did not believe that he could be the source of comments made by the BBC's Andrew Gilligan. ... "From the conversation I had I don't see how he could make the authoritative statements he was making from the comments that I made ...I do realise that in the conversation I had there was reinforcement of some of the ideas that he has put forward ""
    MPs on the committee claimed he had been "set up" by the Ministry of Defence.
    When Dr Kelly was asked by the committee if the dossier had been transformed by Downing Street communications chief Alistair Campbell, he said: "I don't believe that at all".
    According to the Guardian report (external link) "The BBC has always said that Gilligan had known the "senior intelligence source" whom he relied on in his report for several years. When Dr Kelly first came forward and admitted he had briefed Gilligan, the MoD initially stated that he had known Gilligan for a few months, later changing this to years. Today, Dr Kelly told MPs that he met Gilligan for the first time less than a year ago in September 2002, and then on two subsequent occasions....The BBC has refused to confirm or deny whether Dr Kelly was the main source of Gilligan's story. When he gave evidence to the committee, Gilligan said he had met with a number of contacts to discuss Iraq's weapons. Dr Kelly, the former head of microbiology at MoD research centre Porton Down, has advised the ministry on Iraq, WMDs and weapons inspections for the last decade. ."
    Channel 4 comments: "The government has tried to produce the source for the BBC report that claimed that the September Iraq war dossier had been 'sexed up'. The only problem is that when the man appeared before a committee of MPs today he was unable to establish that he was the source, indeed he may have done exactly the opposite. And once again, as we report tonight, it's a sideshow compared with the continuing embarrassment that the government is suffering over the disproved claim of Niger's attempt to sell uranium to Iraq."

    July 15 ~On Saturday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told the press corps that Bush had "moved on" from this controversy. Not so fast, said the New York Times editorial board.

    "... The paper of record for the Western world published an editorial on Saturday entitled "The Uranium Fiction." The last time the Times editors used language this strong was when Bush, in a moment of seemingly deranged hubris, tried to nominate master secret-keeper Henry Kissinger to chair the 9/11 investigation..." See The Dubious Suicide of George Tenet from Truth Out org

    July 15 ~".. a willful effort by the war camp in the administration to pump up an accusation that seemed shaky from the outset"

    Read The Uranium Fiction, published in the NYT extract:"the American people need to know how the accusation got into the speech in the first place, and whether it was put there with an intent to deceive the nation. The White House has a lot of explaining to do. ...... A good deal of information already points to a willful effort by the war camp in the administration to pump up an accusation that seemed shaky from the outset and that was pretty well discredited long before Mr. Bush stepped into the well of the House of Representatives last January. Doubts about the accusation were raised in March 2002 by Joseph Wilson 4th, a former American diplomat, after he was dispatched to Niger by the C.I.A. to look into the issue. Mr. Wilson has said he is confident that his concerns were circulated not only within the agency but also at the State Department and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Tenet, in his statement yesterday, confirmed that the Wilson findings had been given wide distribution, although he reported that Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and other high officials had not been directly informed about them by the C.I.A. The uranium charge should never have found its way into Mr. Bush's speech. Determining how it got there is essential to understanding whether the administration engaged in a deliberate effort to mislead the nation about the Iraqi threat.

    July 15 ~ Elements of the draft, known as Operations Plan 5030, are so aggressive that they could provoke a war

    Upping the ante for Kim Jong Il from informationclearinghouse about the Pentagon Plan 5030, a new blueprint for facing down North Korea
    "...Within the past two months, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has ordered U.S. military commanders to devise a new war plan for a possible conflict with North Korea. Elements of the draft, known as Operations Plan 5030, are so aggressive that they could provoke a war, some senior Bush administration officials tell U.S. News. Adm. Thomas Fargo, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, and senior Pentagon planners are developing the highly classified plan. The administration insiders, who are critical of the plan, say it blurs the line between war and peace. The plan would give commanders in the region authority to conduct maneuvers--before a war has started--to drain North Korea's limited resources, strain its military, and perhaps sow enough confusion that North Korean generals might turn against the country's leader, Kim Jong Il. "Some of the things [Fargo] is being asked to do," says a senior U.S. official, "are, shall we say, provocative."

    July 15 ~ World leaders reject Blair's move over military action

    By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent of the Independent (external link) " Tony Blair was rebuffed yesterday over attempts to give international backing to military action to topple the brutal leaders of failed states like Iraq.
    A summit of 14 world leaders refused to endorse a joint statement which proposed waiving the legal ban on intervening in foreign states if governments failed to protect their citizens from repression or "state failure". The original draft, revealed by The Independent on Sunday, said: "Where a population is suffering serious harm as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect." But the passage was cut from the final communiqui amid fears that it could have provided justification for the war in Iraq and give carte blanche to Western powers to intervene in countries around the world. The final document instead stressed "the crucial importance of international co-operation in responding to humanitarian crises". It said: "We are clear that the UN Security Council remains the sole body to authorise global action in dealing with humanitarian crises of this kind."
    .... Speaking at the end of a three-day Progressive Governance Summit in Surrey, Mr Blair refused yesterday to link proposals for reforming international law with the war in Iraq, but called for new international "rules" to govern intervention in failing states. ....
    .....The leaders, including the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schrvder, New Zealand's Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and the Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chritien, said that "the global challenges of poverty, protecting the environment and human rights, promoting development and peace and combating terrorism require a step change in the confidence and capacities of our global institutions. These must be based on respect for international law and founded on multilateralism."

    July 15 ~"we were aware that, on Iraq, every word we said was going to be taken down and, if possible, used against us. "

    James Naughtie in the Today Programme newsletter:
    "....One question above all became important.
    The committee said it couldn't establish how it was the the famous 45-minute claim had been given "undue prominence" in the September dossier (a prominence which Jack Straw told the committee in evidence he regretted). So was it the Joint Intelligence Committee itself which had given it that emphasis? The committee hadn't answered the question. Could Mr Hoon? He couldn't. When a minister starts answering a question that hasn't been asked, or starts an answer with the word "Clearly....". You know what's coming. We went round the question about five times, and answer came there none. Was it worth it? Of course it was. We could have talked about a dozen other things and skimmed across the surface. Sometimes it's better to pause and dig down a little.
    For producers and presenters alike this is a tricky time, though we're helped by the BBC taking the unshakeable line that we were right to broadcast Andrew Gilligan's original report. Nothing in the last few days has made that decision seem less justified than it did at the time."

    July 15 ~ Private Lynch, symbol of a fictitious war

    Article from the Sydney Morning Herald " The rescue of Jessica Lynch defined the Iraq war - and now defines what it was not, writes Malcolm Knox.
    Private Jessica Lynch has amnesia. The soldier, now reportedly in hospital, can bear witness neither to what happened nor what didn't. Lynch remains the governing metaphor for the war, which, like her, is less a substance than an absence, a portrait drawn in silhouette. Just as Lynch is coloured around by what did not happen to her on April Fool's Day, what is not happening in Iraq is growing clearer by the day....
    ...When the telemovie is screened, Lynch's amnesia will be relieved and she can become, at last, what Michael Moore might have predicted as her destiny: a fictitious character rescued fictitiously from a fictitious war to which she had been sent by a fictitious president, as seen by an audience who can't remember. " (Read in full)

    July 15 ~ Last year, the Israelis produced a "dossier" culled from captured Palestinian documents, "proving" that Arafat was directing "terrorism" against Israel. The papers, mistranslated and doctored, proved nothing of the kind. But after Tony Blair's mendacious "dodgy dossier" before the Iraq war, who are we to criticise Israel for its lies?

    Robert Fisk's disturbing article in today's Independent: "What Israel does to Palestine, we are doing to Iraq"

    July 14 ~ "George Tenet, making him the fall guy, does not resolve the question or make go away the questions about the overall intelligence .."

    Seattle Post Intelligencer (external link) Democrats pressed yesterday for an investigation of how the Bush administration used intelligence in the months before the war with Iraq, brushing aside CIA Director George Tenet's claim that it was his fault a disputed report about Baghdad trying to buy uranium from Niger made it into the State of the Union address. "George Tenet, making him the fall guy, does not resolve the question or make go away the questions about the overall intelligence and why the administration clearly had this political tug of war over the kind of information they were presenting America," Sen. John Kerry D-Mass., said on CNN's "Late Edition." "That is only going to be answered by the White House...."

    July 14 ~ "..we have yet to see any credible evidence in support of either claim"

    Chicago Sun-Times "... A key part of the president's sales job on the weapons of mass destruction was to convince us that Saddam Hussein was trying to reconstitute Iraq's nuclear weapons program, a particularly frightening threat when coupled with the assertion that his government was linked to the terrorist threat of al-Qaida. Four months after the start of the war, however, we have yet to see any credible evidence in support of either claim...
    What we have said is it should not have risen to the level of a presidential speech," Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer said. "People cannot conclude that the information was necessarily false."
    I guess that means that unless we can prove that it's false, it still might be true, even though the people we pay to assess these matters don't believe it is.... ."

    July 14 ~"The former chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, renewed his attack on Mr Blair, saying the prime minister had made a fundamental mistake in claiming Iraq had weapons capable of being fired in 45 minutes..."

    ( Guardian today - extrernal link) "...He said Mr Blair had over interpreted the intelligence made available to him.
    But the leader of the Commons, Peter Hain, also insisted that weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq, and rejected calls for an independent judicial inquiry.
    Speaking on GMTV, he said: "I do not think that there is any greater justification for an independent inquiry... we are going to find, I believe, the weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to the world and were used against other parts of the world. I think in the end history will judge that this was the right thing to do." Mr Hain did not repeat Downing Street's carefully crafted formula that ministers are confident weapons of mass destruction programmes and their products will be found. He conceded that Mr Blair was facing a particular problem of trust with the electorate, but said it reflected a wider disengagement between politics and the electorate. .. Mr Hain robustly defended the British claim that it had not shared all its intelligence, including the uranium claim, with the US, insisting that British evidence on Saddam's search for uranium came from a third intelligence agency. Mr Blair defended the attack on Iraq on moral grounds at a progressive governance conference in London. ...... "

    July 14 ~ Ruling council in symbolic first step

    13 Shia, five Sunnis, five Kurds, a Christian and a Turkoman line up to steer path to democracy Michael Howard writes, " Iraq's new governing council, a 25-member body appointed by US and British officials, held its inaugural meeting yesterday in a move seen as the country's first tentative step towards democracy since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The council, formed after two months of often tense negotiations with the occupying coalition, will have the power to name ministers and direct policy, and it is expected to help draw up a new constitution for postwar Iraq. ..."

    July 13/14 ~ "So entangled are they in their own spin that they can't see what is obvious to everyone in the land".

    (Sunday Herald) ".... Alastair Campbell should already have resigned, as should a few others, the better to clear their names of any complicity in what Clare Short called this 'honourable deception'. Books with that title are already being written and they will likely conclude that the second Iraq war was Britain's greatest military and diplomatic disaster since Suez.
    Blair and his director of communications, Campbell, put in the performances of their lives before their respective select committees, ducking and diving and mangling meaning as if their political lives depended on it. Which they do. But they are holed below the water line. Their case for going to war against Saddam Hussein -- that his WMD posed an imminent danger -- is simply no longer tenable. So entangled are they in their own spin that they can't see what is obvious to everyone in the land.... "

    July 13/14 ~ "No more fudges A WMD inquiry is imperative now " - Leader in Sunday's Observer

    ".... We must be convinced that the information on which our governments go to war is impartially gathered and impartially presented before the lives of combatants and civilians are put at risk.
    Were those standards of proof met before war was launched against Iraq? Or were we simply fed misinformation, exaggeration and half-truth over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? A worrying picture is emerging. ....
    We have seen no evidence of Saddam's alleged capacity to deploy WMD within 45 minutes. Now, there are serious questions over claims that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium in Niger, a claim central to the Government's original case that his weapons of mass destruction represented a threat to world security. (See warmwell's Niger page)
    Following the admission by the CIA's director that he did not believe this claim, we must be told how it became so central to arguments deployed by Britain and the US.....
    Only a full public inquiry can answer these questions and the broader issues of the case for war. " http://observer.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12239,997370,00.html

    July 13/14 ~".. a war which seemed to be driven by a handful of Republican neo-conservatives. "

    an article from the Sunday Herald "The government's entire case for the war was effectively scuttled last week by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who admitted that there had been no major new evidence of WMD before the invasion of Iraq. So, why then the rush to war? Why wasn't the UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, allowed to continue his inspections? Where was the real and present danger to British and American national security? It was all to do, Rummy said, with seeing old evidence through the 'prism' of September 11. He may know what he means but I'm damned if I do. ...
    This is why the situation is so dangerous for Blair and why some of his own MPs, like Brian Donohoe, are saying he may have to resign. This remains unthinkable to the Westminster village. But if it comes to a choice between the integrity of the Labour Party and the integrity of Tony Blair, who is to say which way most Labour MPs would jump? "

    July 12/13 ~ "Meanwhile in Australia the Prime Minister John Howard has apologised for using the claim as part of his justification for invading Iraq

    -- the latest in a growing list of public apologies political leaders around the world have had to make for over-selling the case for war...this as Clare Short for one, now says Tony Blair should resign..." (Channel 4's news update email)

    July 12/13 ~ Bush "considers Iraq Uranium matter closed"??

    Bush said. "I've got confidence in George Tenet. I've got confidence in the men and women who work at the CIA and I look forward to working with them as we win this war on terror." Tenet shouldered the blame. Where it really lies is another matter. Tenet's words were a "carefully scripted mea culpa" according to John Solomon of the Associated Press . Bush says the CIA had reviewed his address and did not raise any alarms. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has said, "The president has moved on."
    Words fail us.
    The CIA tried for months to substantiate the British allegation on which the claim that Iraq had sought nuclear materials from Africa was based. They were unsuccessful. The State Department intelligence analysts believed the intelligence was "highly dubious." Yet neither the CIA nor the State Department stopped Bush from making the claim in a single sentence of his annual address to the nation.
    That Mr Blair is now claiming that the story was substantiated by a different source is extraordinary.

    July 12/13 ~ "..the dossier's statement was based on reliable intelligence which we had not shared with the US (for good reasons, which I have given your committee in private session)," Jack Straw's letter to the foreign affairs select committee

    "A judgment was therefore made to retain it."

    July 12/13 ~ Blair told to refuse his US honour

    Alison Hardie in the Scotsman on Saturday: " Tony Blair was last night under intense pressure from the Labour benches to turn down a prestigious Congressional Gold Medal from George Bush, the United States president, as the political fall-out from the Iraq conflict continued to bedevil the Prime Minister.
    ..... The decision to award the Prime Minister the highest accolade the US can confer on a foreigner has been approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, but no formal ceremony will take place when Mr Blair visits Washington on Thursday.
    As rumours swirled around Westminster, President Bush continued to face post-Iraq troubles of his own. Last night, the CIA director, George Tenet, accepted responsibility for the false claim that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium from Africa. Mr Tenet said his agency should have removed the accusations - originally passed to the US by British intelligence - from the president's State of the Union address. He added: "The president had every reason to believe that the text presented to him was sound. These 16 words should never have been included." ...(i.e."The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." )
    (See http://www.news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=758722003 and also the NIGER page, on warmwell since March 20, about the fact that the document linking Niger with Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium had been forged )
    Mr Bush said in his January speech: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

    July 8 ~ The committee concluded that the shoddy way in which this "dodgy" dossier was put together "undermined the credibility of their (the Government's) case for war and of the other documents which were part of it".

    Telegraph today No 10's hype merchants hit the fast spin programme " There was no direct criticism of the BBC anywhere in the report. The BBC's refusal to be cowed by the unprecedented barrage of attacks from the Government has surprised those inside and outside the corporation. Reading between the lines of the report, it is clear the committee came to the conclusion that the Government had exaggerated the case for war." Read in full

    July 8 ~ The newspapers report the House of Commons' foreign affairs select committee conclusions

    Blair criticised on Iraq dossiers George Jones, Political Editor of the Telegraph writes," Tony Blair suffered a setback yesterday in his efforts to show that he did not overstate the case for war in Iraq when a committee of MPs said the "jury is still out" on his claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction...."
    Blair told: it's time to answer vital questions is the Guardianheadline "... a Labour dominated Commons committee posed a series of unexpectedly sceptical questions about Whitehall's prewar intelligence assessment. Far from giving Tony Blair's defence of his government's conduct an easy run, the Commons foreign affairs select committee listed four unanswered questions over claims made in the September dossier about Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes and his missing missiles. As expected, the committee formally acquitted Mr Blair's communications director, Alastair Campbell, of "improper influence" or "sexing up" the dossier by knowingly inserting false claims that Saddam's weapons could be deployed within 45 minutes of an order, and doing so against the advice of intelligence officials. But they still want ministers to say if they continue to believe that claim is accurate. ..."
    "45-minute attack claim blown apart And he DID misrepresent case to MPs PM to face fresh quiz on 'dodgy' dossier
    TONY Blair waged war on Iraq with no "clear intelligence" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was ready to use them, a damning report said yesterday. The Defence Ministry document blew apart repeated claims by Mr Blair that Saddam could deploy chemical and biological warheads within 45 minutes."
    The BBC report quotes from other papers' reports. In the Times Peter Riddell and Philip Webster write:" Trust in Prime Minister slides as dossier row with BBC rages.. PUBLIC support for the war in Iraq and trust in Tony Blair have fallen sharply over the past month with the killing of British and American troops and the row over the Government's dossier on Saddam Hussein's weapons, an opinion poll for The Times finds today. ..."

    July 6 ~ Blair speaks out for Campbell in WMD row:

    (Channel 4 news email update) "Tomorrow we finally hear the report of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee into the way the Government handled intelligence in the run up to the war with Iraq.
    Although not intended, it has also become judge and jury in the hysterical spat between the BBC and the Government over allegations made on the Today programme. The row centres on the allegation that the Government inserted a claim that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes into the September dossier on Iraq's WMD programme despite "probably" knowing it wasn't true.
    The Prime Minister gave Alastair Campbell his full backing today in a newspaper interview for the Observer (external link to Observer) explaining that he felt the allegations made on the BBC were a personal attack on his (Tony Blair's) integrity.
    The pressure on Auntie is building, as the Select Committee is likely largely to side with Campbell in the row (whilst also criticising him over the second "dodgy" dossier and proving the BBC right on certain other aspects). " ( The Observer article)

    July 6 ~ Iraq is a world problem. It needs a world solution

    Matthew Parris in the Sunday Times
    "Saddam or no Saddam, it seems the occupying powers have a fight on their hands in Iraq. If a slow-motion disaster is to be avoided, then beyond Iraq's frontiers climbdowns are needed on all sides. The United States and Britain will have to relinquish sole ownership of the occupation. The rest of the international community will have to stop grumbling and join the occupying forces. Whatever the past, whatever mistakes may have been made, regime change must now be accepted as an honourable endeavour in whose success the whole world has a stake.
    I was utterly opposed to the war beforehand. I still think we should never have started down the road of intervention. But we're on that road now, and a good way down it. What is to be gained by moaning? The unwilling should now join the willing in trying to make the occupation - and ultimately the handover - work.
    There is no point in crowing

    July 6 ~ "We are not going to let him misrepresent our argument..."

    BBC news executives plan to publish a history of the dispute. An executive said: "Alastair will come out with some version of events to say: 'I was right all along'. He will construct the most aggressive soundbite he can. We are not going to let him misrepresent our argument." Intelligence chief accuses Blair of 'credibility gap' over WMD Independent "The remarks by Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, former head of the joint intelligence committee, suggest that even if Downing Street wins its row with the BBC, questions about the origins of the Iraq war will remain unanswered."

    July 4 ~ Study deals a blow to claims of anti-war bias in BBC news

    Guardian (external link) "Downing Street's complaints about anti-war bias within the BBC appear to be disproved by an academic analysis that shows the corporation displayed the most "pro-war" agenda of any broadcaster. A detailed study of peak-time television news bulletins during the course of the Iraq war shows that the BBC was more reliant than any of its rivals on government and military sources. The findings, by academics at Cardiff University, give little support to the deep-rooted suspicions in government circles that lie at the heart of the row with the BBC. Instead, ahead of the report by the foreign affairs select committee into the government's use of intelligence, they give comfort to the corporation. ..
    .....Richard Sambrook, the director of news, said in a letter to Alastair Campbell, the director of communications at Downing Street, at the height of the row: "It is our firm view that No 10 tried to intimidate the BBC in its reporting of events leading up to the war and during the course of the war itself." "

    July 4 ~ The committee ... will complain it was given insufficient access to the full drafts of assessments by the joint intelligence committee.

    Guardian (external link) "Alastair Campbell, the government's communications director, has been provisionally cleared of the BBC's charge of "sexing up" British intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, the foreign affairs select committee agreed yesterday. The committee came to its view, however, on the basis of the evidence presented to the committee, and will complain it was given insufficient access to the full drafts of assessments by the joint intelligence committee. It was unclear last night whether the decision to exonerate Mr Campbell was made unanimously or by the Labour majority on the committee acting alone. ...
    ...The committee will complain that they were given insufficient access to papers, prompting the Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, to renew his call for a judicial inquiry.
    In the Commons yesterday the shadow foreign secretary, Michael Ancram, said the prime minister had misled the Commons about the "dodgy dossier" on Iraq published under Mr Campbell's guidance in February. Mr Ancram said: "Whether deliberately, knowing that the document was a Downing Street concoction, or unwittingly because Mr Campbell had not seen fit to tell him, doesn't really matter.
    "On this the House had been ... comprehensibly duped".
    The home secretary, David Blunkett, immediately attacked the comments as "scurrilous, unsubstantiated and disgraceful".

    July 2 ~ "We also believe that psychopathic killers who take over nation states, brutalise their populations and threaten the peace of the world pose a serious threat to humanity"

    Not our own comment on the situation in Iraq but an extract from an open letter from 16 Labour backbenchers who supported the government on the war. They say they did not give their support to the crucial Commons vote on military action on the single issue of weapons of mass destruction. This is from the Guardian's article yesterday: Iraq BBC row blows up again which tells us that Ben Bradshaw himself draws on unattributed sources to claim that "many journalists in the BBC" agree with his criticisms.

    July 1/ 2 ~ Donald Rumsfeld is now seeking to internationalise the force in Iraq

    From the San Francisco Chronicle: (external link) "....Up to 20,000 international soldiers, to be led by Poland and Britain, will begin flowing into Iraq this month -- arriving through September -- said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a Tuesday press conference with Rumsfeld.
    More international troops are being sought. "The more there are, the fewer of U.S. troops we have to have," Rumsfeld said, adding that he didn't know yet whether commanders will say they need more or fewer people in the total coalition in coming months. "But whatever it is, we will fill in with as many international forces as we can, and we will then be able to rotate some of our forces out and give them a rest."

    July 1/2 ~" While the Westminster village remains riveted by the Campbell-BBC pillow fight, it is the real war on the ground in Iraq that should be commanding our attention."

    Guardian "The six British soldiers killed last week, like the US servicemen under daily attack, are victims of an overbearing and inept occupation policy that is alienating ordinary Iraqis of all persuasions.
    Civilian deaths, particularly of demonstrators, are mounting. Basic services and basic rights are in scant supply, with neither democracy nor a reliable water supply on offer to Iraqis. The only advanced programme is for the privatisation of state industry. This occupation, which has no modern precedent, should be at the centre of political attention. Ending it needs to be at the heart of public activity. ..."

    July 1 ~" The Pentagon is planning a new generation of weapons, including huge hypersonic drones and bombs dropped from space

    that will allow the US to strike its enemies at lightning speed from its own territory. Over the next 25 years, the new technology would free the US from dependence on forward bases and the cooperation of regional allies, part of the drive towards self-sufficiency spurred by the difficulties of gaining international cooperation for the invasion of Iraq. .." Guardian (external link)

    July 1 ~ "The BBC yesterday ignored Alastair Campbell's declaration of a temporary truce in the row over the Government's Iraqi dossiers

    by giving fresh details to a Commons inquiry as to why it was justified in running a story that accused Downing Street of "sexing up" the documents. ....... In its evidence to the Commons foreign affairs select committee, which is investigating the dispute, the BBC said that its source was "well-placed" and had a proven track record, having provided correct information that formed the basis of two previous stories. Although the source's identity was not disclosed to the committee, the BBC said it was also known to Richard Sambrook, the BBC's head of news, and Kevin Marsh, the editor of Today. It has also since been made known to Greg Dyke, the director-general...." Telegraph (external link)
    The Independent says, "The job of press secretary becomes extremely difficult if the press secretary, and not the department he serves, becomes the story and the subject of excessive attention..."
    Norman Tebbit says (also in the Independent) "To Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell, for the BBC to attack New Labour is an act of treachery. The corporation has been staffed with Tony's cronies and assumed patsies. It has been protected, cossetted and privileged. So one element of the row is Blair's indignation that, after all his favours, the BBC should turn and bite the hand that feeds it..."

    June 30 ~ Greg Dyke, the BBC's director-general, has staked his reputation and that of the corporation on an "all or nothing" confrontation with the Government and Tony Blair's director of communications Alastair Campbell.

    Telegraph "....MPs on the Commons foreign affairs select committee predicted yesterday that their inquiry would clear Mr Campbell of the BBC's central charge - that he forced the intelligence services to "sex up" the Government's first dossier on Iraq.
    If the Labour-dominated committee finds in Mr Campbell's favour, there could be dire consequences for Mr Dyke and Gavyn Davies, the BBC's chairman, who has added his weight to the fight with No 10.
    ...... As the battle between the Government and the BBC escalated, with a fresh exchange of letters and accusations, it emerged that Mr Dyke played a central role in drafting the BBC's official response to Mr Campbell. A detailed note issued last Friday by Richard Sambrook, the BBC's head of news, was prepared in the director-general's presence, with Mr Dyke taking turns at the keyboard as it was being written. ......... Gilligan's case inside the BBC is understood to have been bolstered by his decision to tell Mr Sambrook the identity of the single intelligence source behind his story. The dossier he is preparing for the committee will include details of other claims made by his source which have not so far been reported by the BBC...."

    June 29/30 ~ BBC warns Alastair Campbell: repeat allegations and we'll sue

    Extract from the Scotland's Sunday Herald "....If we could sue Campbell we would too, but he has been careful to make his statements under privilege while giving evidence to the foreign affairs committee....the BBC has also authorised its defence correspondent to threaten legal action against a Labour MP who claims that he misled a Commons inquiry.
    In a separate development, a senior intelligence officer, who previously briefed the Sunday Herald that the government had misled the public and parliament, last night strongly rebutted Campbell's denial that he spun the case for war.
    "I previously said that there was absolute scepticism among British intelligence over the case for the invasion of Iraq. That is still the case. Campbell's claims that the dossier wasn't sexed up are utter rubbish...."

    June 29/30 ~ "US official who identified documents incriminating Iraq as fakes says Britain must have been aware of findings"

    Independent on Sunday Ministers knew war papers were forged, says diplomat "...The retired US ambassador said it was all but impossible that British intelligence had not received his report - drawn up by the CIA - which revealed that documents, purporting to show a deal between Iraq and the west African state of Niger, were forgeries. When he saw similar claims in Britain's dossier on Iraq last September, he even went as far as telling CIA officials that they needed to alert their British counterparts to his investigation.
    The allegation will add to the suspicions of opponents to the war that last week's row between the BBC and Tony Blair's director of communications Alastair Campbell was a sideshow to draw attention away from more serious questions about the justification for the war..."
    ( See also warmwell's page on the Niger forgeries) June 29/30 ~ "..Mr Campbell's battle with the BBC, which is damaging the government, will be seen for the smokescreen that it is." Times Leader: "... Whatever people think of the BBC, they don't like to see the government attacking it. They are also getting a glimpse of what really goes on. Mr Campbell is publicly doing what he has been doing in private for many years: bullying and blustering to get his way. No doubt he believes he is diverting attention away from the government's real problem on Iraq: the failure to find Saddam's weapons.
    The public does not care whether a particular piece of evidence was inserted by No 10 or by the head of the joint intelligence committee. What people care about is whether the government went to war on false grounds. As long as the search for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction remains fruitless, that fundamental question will persist. And Mr Campbell's battle with the BBC, which is damaging the government, will be seen for the smokescreen that it is..."

    June 28 ~ "I think the public are probably bored rigid with this already." Alastair Campbell.

    From the Channel 4 transcript of last night's extraordinary interview. On the contrary, Mr Campbell. The public is aghast.

    June 28 ~ Jon Snow: The answer to that question is - we do not know. And the reason we do not know is that there is obfuscation and diversion, part of which we are seeing played out right here before us.

    The fact is that MPs want to question the chiefs of the intelligence services, and should be allowed to do so. Instead you are preferring, you the government, are preferring a 'hole in the corner' operation with an intelligence committee which is not held in public, and which is answerable to the Prime Minister. ..." Read the full transcript of the Channel 4 interview with Alastair Campbell

    June 28 ~ Has Downing Street's assault on the BBC served to divert attention from the serious parliamentary inquiry currently under way over the war with Iraq?

    Nyta Mann, BBC News Online political correspondent writes "Has Downing Street's assault on the BBC served to divert attention from the serious parliamentary inquiry currently under way over the war with Iraq? Daft question: of course it has. Labour MPs are far from happy about the distraction, and not just those who opposed the war. ..." This point was also made by John Humphrys during his exasperated exchange with Ben Bradshaw on the Today programme this morning. Mr Bradshaw declined to answer any of the specific points made and returned again and again to the asserttion that the BBC should always check with the Press Office of Number Ten. John Humphrys pointed out that he had checked with a Minister. Listen again

    June 27/28 ~ Mr Sambrook's letter escalates the war of words between the government and the BBC.

    "In it, he gives a point-by-point rebuttal of the spin doctor's attack on the BBC. He says: "You will see that I do not accept the validity of your attacks on our journalism and on Andrew Gilligan in particular. ..." See BBC report BBC rebuts Downing Street attack Mr Sambrook's letter in full can be seen here.

    June 27 ~ Straw at the Select Committee:

    Channel 4 email tonight: "It's hard to recall any time in British history when the country has gone to war on the basis of intelligence information about the other side. Unlike 1991 Iraq had not invaded anybody, had not displaced anybody and was not in all conscience about to attack us. Hence what the security services had to tell us about Iraq was absolutely critical. And one core question is did they believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ready to fire in 45 minutes....."

    June 27 ~ The biggest problem for Mr Blair remains: if weapons could be deployed within 45 minutes, why were they not used and why have they not been found?

    The Independent today "'There is not a single fact in either dossier that is actually disputed' So said Tony Blair yesterday. Well then, what about ..." " The Niger connection
    Questions on the Government's claims that Saddam Hussein attempted to acquire uranium from the African state of Niger for his nuclear weapons programme were still unanswered last night. MPs asked Mr Campbell why the claim was said by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to be based on "blatant forgeries". The claim formed an important part of the Government's dossier on Saddam's arsenal, providing evidence that the Iraqi dictator was attempting to build nuclear weapons that could pose a threat to the West. The Government has stood by reports that Iraq "sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa". British officials say the intelligence was based on multiple sources, despite the IAEA's verdict. Mr Campbell said yesterday that the questions could only be answered by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)..."
    Warmwell's page on the "Niger Connection".

    June 27 ~ " the bone of contention this week is not the invasion of Iraq or the validity of Mr Campbell's frantic search for a casus belli to bamboozle the Attorney-General and the Parliamentary Labour Party..."

    Simon Jenkinsin the Times today wants the BBC "commended for making such powerful enemies" :

    June 26/27 ~" The only thing worse than a world with the wrong international trade rules is a world with no trade rules at all.."

    "..George Bush seems to be preparing to destroy the WTO at the next world trade talks in September not because its rules are unjust, but because they are not unjust enough. He is seeking to negotiate individually with weaker countries so that he can force even harsher terms of trade upon them. He wants to replace a multilateral trading system with an imperial one. And this puts the global justice movement in a difficult position....let us campaign not to scrap the World Trade Organisation, but to transform it into a Fair Trade Organisation, whose purpose is to restrain the rich while emancipating the poor. And let us ensure that when George Bush tries to sabotage themultilateral system in September, we know precisely which side we are on. " George Monbiot in the Guardian on Monday

    June 26 ~ a major fracture in the chain of command

    "General Peter Wall down in Basra, Southern Iraq, says the perception amongst many Iraqis is that things are getting worse. A salutary recognition of a deepening truth, which emerges as the ghastly details of the killings and woundings of British troops last Tuesday begin to emerge. There seems to have been a major fracture in the chain of command and the men seem simply to have been left to hang out to die. .." From Channel 4 news update email

    June 26 ~ The chairman of the Commons public administration committee, Tony Wright, said Mr Campbell's answers had failed to resolve key issues.

    Mr Wright said he accepted Mr Campbell had not "messed about" with vital evidence. But he told BBC Two's Newsnight: "The question is did the intelligence sustain the case for war, even if that war did not have the backing of the United Nations? That is a pretty big test to set yourself." (see below)

    June 26 ~" if his critics are not lying, then certainly he and probably the prime minister are. It's as simple and as serious as that..."

    An emailer writes," Doesn't Alastair C just make one squirm. He has such effrontery - he needs to be cross examined by a lawyer, not just MPs. It will be interesting to see how the BBC stand up for themselves."
    It seems that the BBC are standing very firm. Here are three articles from the BBC today. Extract: (see in full)

    June 25 ~ Campbell's dossier denials:

    From Jon Snow's Channel 4 News update email: Read the expose that brought Alastair to heel here: http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/02/week_1/06_dossier.html

    June 21/24 ~ Anarchy engulfs the new Iraq

    Powerless Iraqis rail against ignorant, air-conditioned US occupation force writes Patrick Cockburn in the Independent on Sunday "..... The failure to get the electrical system working has become a symbol for Iraqis in the capital of the general failure of the American occupation to provide living conditions even at the miserable level they enjoyed under Saddam Hussein.
    ....... The main reason why Washington does not want to give up any power is the fear that this would ultimately open the way for a takeover by Iraq's Shia Muslims, who account for at least 55 per cent of the population and would probably win any free elections. Just outside the Mansour Melia hotel on the Tigris in Baghdad yesterday, a Shia religious leader in turban and dark clerical clothes called Sheikh Ahmad al-Zirzawi al-Baghdadi was leading several hundred demonstrators to Mr Bremer's headquarters. "We are not asking for American troops to withdraw, just free elections and the release of our leaders whom they have arrested," he said. But for President George Bush it would be deeply damaging if, in an election year, the successors to Saddam Hussein in Iraq turned out to be Islamic religious parties with possible links to Iran. .."

    June 20/24 ~We stayed to rule. They want to conquer and go

    Max Hastings in the Sunday Telegraph: ".... One of the gravest mistakes of American foreign policy is to suppose that intervening in places without a lasting commitment somehow makes it all okay. Unfortunately, it does not - as we saw in Somalia, as we see in Afghanistan, and as we are likely to see in Iraq. Everybody knows Kipling's first line about taking up the White's Man Burden. Some people are less familiar with the second: "In patience to abide."
    ......The US in Iraq today needs not more soldiers, but Sanders of The River and some boring old agriculturalists, tax experts and health professionals. Their role is not glamorous, but it is critical. The message is simple: either behave like proper imperialists, or stay out of the kitchen. If the US continues to believe that the role of superpower can be fulfilled solely through the exercise of military might, then it will rouse even greater global animosity than it faces today...."

    June 21/24 ~ The war ended 10 weeks ago, but neither peace nor freedom prevail as the US struggles to keep control

    says James McGowan in the Sunday Herald. "Although the war might have been won with relative ease, the peace is looking more fragile each day. Any goodwill felt by the Iraqis towards the allied forces has quickly evaporated and turned into anger and resistance.
    The Americans are becoming frustrated as the growing movements are now killing an average of one soldier a day. According to US Commander Lieutenant General David McKiernan, it has turned into 'a cycle of action, reaction and counter-action'.
    This equates to more than 50 US troops killed since President George Bush declared the war over on May 1 -- nearly half of the total number of US troops killed in the war itself. How long before the bodybag-adverse American public questions this strategy ? ..."

    June 21/24 ~ A "liberated" Michael Meacher speaks out against the US

    "....Everyone knows that George Bush is a Texas oil man, his family have long-term connections, nearly all his senior advisers and closest aides have connections to a very, very powerful oil industry,"he said. "“I think that is a relevant consideration. They believe in the oil business and the traditional way of generating power and if they gain personally that is a bonus." The Times on friday (external link)

    June 19/20 ~ ".. there is emerging evidence of the true scale of the Anglo-American killing, pointing to the bloodbath Bush and Blair have always denied. "

    Bush's Vietnam John Pilger in the New Statesman: "...The Americans call the guerrillas "Saddam loyalists" and "Ba'athist fighters", in the same way they used to dismiss the Vietnamese as "communists". Recently, in Falluja, in the Sunni heartland of Iraq, it was clearly not the presence of Ba'athists or Saddamists, but the brutal behaviour of the occupiers, who fired point-blank at a crowd, that inspired the resistance. The American tanks gunning down a family of shepherds is reminiscent of the gunning down of a shepherd, his family and sheep by "coalition" aircraft in a "no-fly zone" four years ago, whose aftermath I filmed and which evoked, for me, the murderous games American aircraft used to play in Vietnam, gunning down farmers in their fields, children on their buffaloes. .."

    June 19/20 ~"... Now the Americans are coming under fire from a force of 20,000 and say this is "a force still loyal to Saddam". ..

    Mark Steele in Thursday's Independent (external link) "..So - when the war was on, Saddam had a force of 20,000 and weapons of mass destruction, but decided to use none of them. Had he lost them? Or maybe these forces are like footballers and can be transferred from one tyranny to another, and he's only just bought this one in the close season after a disappointing end to last season.
    The other possibility is that growing numbers in Iraq don't want to be ruled by an occupying army. Just like Amritsar, or Derry, or Vietnam, the daily annoyance of foreign troops stalking arrogantly through their neighbourhood has provoked a response. But if you believe the war was to liberate these people, any opposition must be written off as "forces loyal to Saddam".
    So no matter what truth emerges, some commentators persist in supporting the American project for apparently liberal reasons. They have to go on believing it, so they can continue to imagine they share a liberal agenda of concern for human rights while cheering on the most overwhelming superpower the world has ever seen. Then, most importantly of all, they still get to sit only three seats away from Jack Straw at the summer drinks party at Chequers.

    June 19/20 ~For the first time, a British court will have to make a ruling as to whether the war against Iraq was legal or illegal.

    Charges about "criminal damage" at USAF Fairford. From http://bristol.indymedia. "All the defendants in the cases below will invoke 'lawful excuse' for doing, or attempting, criminal damage at USAF Fairford on the grounds that the war on Iraq was illegal. Before any of these cases can proceed, therefore, the judge at Gloucester Crown Court will pronounce on the legality or illegality of the war. This is the first time a British court will have to make a ruling as to whether the war was legal or illegal. The judge at Gloucester Crown Court has ordered all Fairford defendants to come to Gloucester on June 20th, so that he can sort out the order in which the cases are to be heard. It all promises to get ever more interesting...."

    June 19 ~" They create a wasteland and they call it peace."

    Seumas Milne has written in the Guardian (external link) today: "It would have been hard to predict in advance that the US and British occupation of Iraq could go so spectacularly wrong so quickly. The words of the historian Tacitus about the Roman invasion of Scotland in the first century AD might just as well have been written about our latter-day Rome's latest imperial adventure: "They create a wasteland and they call it peace." More than two months after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraq is sinking deeper into chaos and insecurity...
    ... the Bush administration, fresh from handing out contracts to White House corporate cronies, has let it be known it aims to reverse the historic nationalisation of Iraqi oil before it's finished with "reconstruction".
    What freedoms have been allowed are now being reined in, with censorship of press and television. Bremer has even issued a decree outlawing any "gatherings, pronouncements or publications" that call for opposition to the US occupation. All of which is a clear sign that the US administration is far from confident it can control the direction of Iraqi politics. .."

    June 18 ~ "Now, more than a month after Lloyd's death, neither the Ministry of Defence nor the Pentagon has told ITN what the investigation into his death has revealed."

    The Guardian last Saturday: Terry Lloyd was reporting independently. He was not an "embedded" journalist. Will we ever know exactly how and why he died? If his death was not "an unfortunate accident, another 'friendly fire' incident" then what was it?

    June 18 ~ "Bremer has announced that all protests voicing opposition to the American occupation are now forbidden.

    The idea that Iraq has won its freedom is also made risible by the reality that four permanent US military bases are being established to defend the US "liberation". ('US to keep bases in Iraq', David Teather and Ian Traynor, The Guardian, April 21, 2003)..." http://www.medialens.org/alerts/index.html "...Beyond the media's filtered version of reality, the US-led coalition plans to privatise the first of Iraq's 100 or so state-owned firms within a year as it begins overhauling the centralised economy without waiting for a new government. On June 12, Tim Carney, senior adviser to the Iraqi ministry of industry and minerals, was reported as saying: "Privatisation is the right direction for 21st century Iraq." (http://sify.com/news/international/fullstory.php?id=13169992) Carney recognised the change could raise suspicions among Iraqis that their national wealth was about to be sold off for the benefit of foreigners. Also on June 12, UPI reported that American banks are competing for a lucrative role in rebuilding Iraq's financial system. The Wall Street Journal reported (June 12) that J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. - three of the United States' top five banks - and several others had recently conferred with Treasury Department officials on the issue. They were said to be interested in helping the Iraqis build a modern retail banking system as well as trade finance, payments and foreign-currency exchange systems. No need to wait for elections when American big business has decided that this is obviously best for Iraq.
    Ambassador Paul Bremer, American administrator in Iraq, said of the Iraqi people:
    "If they choose socialism, that will be their business. My guess is that's not going to happen."(http://story.news.yahoo.com/news)..."

    June 17 ~ "despite the predictions, the US-led invasion has not created massive humanitarian, refugee, health or food crises. What it has created is a chance. Iraq never had any chance under Saddam. "

    ignoring all suggestions to the contrary, writes William Shawcross in the Guardian. But Care International has been operating in Iraq since 1991 and, says Will Day, chief executive, "we are both baffled and disturbed by the current situation.... there is a dangerous vacuum where there is no security, no law and order, no visible way out of this chaos. Nobody seems to be in charge." William Shawcross, however, says of Mr Blair's "enemies" (his word): " ... they have used the missing weapons to turn on Mr Blair with self-righteous fury. They declare that the war was "a monumental blunder" (Robin Cook) and that we have been "duped" (Clare Short). This is opportunistic, irresponsible and self-serving rubbish. " It is always interesting to see the sort of words that seem to come naturally to such a writer, his use of exaggeration, rhetorical questions, phrases such as "it is obvious" and "Of course not" Above all, his righteous tone is wholly inappropriate in such a sad situation.

    June 16/17 ~ "Despite the death of an American virtually every day in Iraq and the killing of 100 Iraqis over the weekend..

    ..the British Home Office has taken it into its head that it is perfectly safe to start sending Iraqi asylum seekers back to their country of origin...." Channel 4's daily email update for Monday

    June 16 ~ "the "dodgy dossier", which Mr Campbell admitted "had not met the required standard of accuracy", is still posted on the Downing Street website.

    Independent yesterday " Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's director of communications, has apologised to the intelligence services for claiming that a dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, mostly plagiarised from specialist magazines and a 12-year-old student thesis, was compiled from intelligence sources. Yet the "dodgy dossier", which Mr Campbell admitted "had not met the required standard of accuracy", is still posted on the Downing Street website. Nearly five months after its publication, there is no indication that its contents have been copied - inaccurately in a number of cases - from published sources or that numbers were rounded up and the language hardened.....Sean Boyne, whose Jane's article was plagiarised, said: "I wouldn't like to think that anything I wrote justified the war. If they were using materials from other sources, they should have acknowledged them."

    June 16 ~ Things are getting worse in Iraq, so give the UN a chance

    Very readable Telegraph article by Will Day, chief executive of Care International UK (external link) "Something in Iraq is going fundamentally wrong. At a time when we might expect to see things getting better, they're getting worse. Care International has been operating there since 1991 and we are both baffled and disturbed by the current situation. ...These days in Baghdad, it is common to see bodies in the road and to hear the crackle of gunfire as street fights break out. Many families are too afraid to leave their homes, parents are too frightened to let their children go to school. Classrooms remain practically empty. Children should be taking exams now, but virtually all secondary schools are shut.
    Nobody is safe. Aid organisations are targets, too. .... The supply of electricity is erratic and unreliable, clean water is fast becoming scarce and rubbish is piling high in streets flooded by sewage - an estimated 500,000 tonnes of raw sewage, at least, is being poured into the river daily. In the soaring summer temperatures, this is a recipe for disaster. "

    June 16 ~ " Iraq was not a failed country. It had a monstrous regime, but it had an effective civil administration.

    Children went to school and got an education, the sick went to hospital and were treated, and, at home, people turned on the taps and there was water. And now? Significant layers of the administration have gone. Many of Iraq's institutions are starting from scratch, with inexperienced staff who know nothing of the decision-making process or how to manage requests. The coalition's apparent inability to restore and maintain law and order, which one would have thought to be a core competence and which is clearly an international responsibility, suggests that it is stretched beyond its capacity. A different approach is needed for the reconstruction of Iraq, based on a UN-led civilian administration supporting the return of sovereignty to Iraq's people." (Read in full)

    June 16 ~ Labour website hacked

    The BBC reports. "On Monday morning the site's usual content of Labour Party news was replaced by ..
    The hacked material was removed from the site by 0945. .."

    June 15 ~ "Down, down Tony Blair! Down, down USA!!" That's the chant today on the streets of Basra (where our political leaders told us the invading Brits would be welcomed with open arms).

    From the Channel 4 news update :" Shit-ite (sic) southern Iraqis want to run their own affairs just as much as Sunni northerners and they're running out of patience with the British occupying forces.
    Our government's talking of about 25,000 soldiers in southern Iraq -- making it a bigger commitment than Northern Ireland by far -- with no exit strategy. In Basra today the message on some placards was get out, stay out, or you'll regret it.
    Would the government put up any minister from the Foreign Office or Defence Ministry to be interviewed about this ( widely predicted) problem? No chance...."

    June 15 ~ "Specialist search teams in Iraq have run out of places to look for weapons of mass destruction, say informed sources."

    Sunday Times "They are reduced to revisiting sites already checked by United Nations weapons inspectors earlier this year and sitting around in bombed-out palaces watching films. A senior British official in the new Iraq administration has told Alastair Campbell, the prime minister's director of communications, that a "backlash" is likely as it becomes increasingly clear that if Saddam Hussein did have chemical or biological weapons, nobody can find them.

    June 13 - 16 ~ US forces in Iraq killed 97 people

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces have killed 27 Iraqis who attacked a tank patrol north of Baghdad, the U.S. military says...In a separate incident, a U.S. military spokesman said U.S. troops had killed at least 70 people in a raid on a "terrorist" training camp in northwest Iraq." (The inverted commas are in the article)

    June 13 - 16 ~ "Gulf War Syndrome" veterans win legal battle

    LONDON (Reuters) - "War veterans who claim to be suffering from Gulf War Syndrome have won a landmark legal victory at the High Court. One of the country`s top judges on Friday backed a war pensions tribunal ruling which had for the first time given official recognition to the syndrome...."

    June 13-16 ~ "We must go on unmasking lies and presenting factual truth. It will make some difference...

    But it won't make enough difference unless, at the same time, we try to rescue the very idea of truth itself, before it disappears forever into that kaleidoscope of digitized images. " An article by Ira Chernus, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Outrage At Administration Lying Misses A Crucial Point Extract: "The government knew all along there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And they used that as an excuse to take us to war anyway. My generation, raised on the film Casablanca, would say A younger generation would say,

    June 13 -16 ~ "Bechtel profited from the Saddam Hussein regime, and would have made a great deal more if they had had their way..."

    A long and interesting article from Corpwatch.org "... From 1983 to 1988, Iraqi warplanes dropped between 13,000 and 19,500 chemical bombs on the people of Iraq and Iran. During this same time period, Bechtel and its allies in the Reagan Administration aggressively lobbied the Iraqi government to sign a contract with Bechtel to build an oil pipeline from Iraq to the Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan. Bechtel not only ignored the monumental humanitarian atrocities perpetrated by their Iraqi business associates, they took steps to ensure that their business deal would not be harmed by an official U.S. government condemnation of the Iraqi crimes. Bechtel also consulted in the construction of a petrochemical plant for Hussein that many fear was used by Iraq to build chemical weapons. There are even charges that Bechtel helped Iraq produce conventional arms. ....
    Bechtel board members and employees will not only profit from the war with Iraq, but through a variety of government advisory positions, they seem to have played significant roles in ensuring that the war took place.
    The most blatant example is George Shultz, former Secretary of State and Bechtel's current senior counsel and director. As described by Bob Herbert in the New York Times, Shultz "is also the chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a fiercely pro-war group with close ties to the White House. The committee, formed last year, made it clear from the beginning that it sought more than the ouster of Saddam's regime. It was committed, among other things, 'to work beyond the liberation of Iraq to the reconstruction of its economy...."

    June 12 ~ "Peninsula Strike" - an estimated 4,000 troops or more are directly or indirectly involved. A similar number of troops has been deployed to Fallujah.

    American forces on Wednesday engaged in their largest combat operation in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad, with more than 3,000 soldiers backed by fighter jets, armored vehicles and patrol boats surrounding a 30-square-mile peninsula north of Baghdad that is said to harbor gunmen attacking American soldiers. . Two brief gun battles erupted when American forces entered this farming town early Monday, American commanders said. Four Iraqis died, four Americans were wounded and 375 Iraqi men were detained. Iraqi civilians said American soldiers handcuffed women and children, beat one man to death and allowed another to die of a heart attack, charges American officials called "absolutely false." (New York Times) .

    June 11 ~ US warns Europe it faces fight over war crimes court

    Telegraph "The Bush administration has formally warned European Union nations of a new rift between them and America, telling them that they face a "very damaging" fight if they continue opposing immunity for US citizens at the International Criminal Court. European officials, in return, accuse the United States of bullying impoverished and vulnerable states into signing pacts that grant American citizens blanket immunity for war crimes, fatally undermining the fledgling world war crimes court....US envoys have secured immunity pacts from 37, mostly poor, nations.
    Western allies of the United States have watched the mounting row with dismay. One diplomat said: "It's a very emotional issue, not a practical one. The poor EU accession states are getting pulled from both sides."

    June 11~ Downing Street backs down on its request for Blair Force One

    Downing St backs down from plans for 'Blair Force One' (external link to the Independent) "...... The Commons Intelligence and Security Committee backed the expenditure of about£80m for "Blair Force One" after the case was made by Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence. The committee said in its annual report yesterday (with asterisks hiding supposedly security-sensitive matters) "The matter of an aircraft fitted with secure communications equipment for the use of the Prime Minister and other key ministers was raised by the Defence Secretary. ***. During crisis periods, decisions are sometimes required with great urgency***. We are persuaded this expense can be justified." ..... A Downing Street spokesman said last night: "There are no current plans for a dedicated plane for the Prime Minister." ........ He also refused to comment on suggestions that the decision to reject the aircraft had been taken to avoid the Prime Minister appearing "presidential"...."

    June10/ 11 ~ Mr Blair and senior ministers "not sufficiently engaged" in the process of setting long-term priorities for the intelligence agencies

    Press Association "The ISC - which is about to conduct an inquiry into the use of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war - said that ministers were too preoccupied with the short-term crisis management. The key committee on the intelligence services (CSI) - which is chaired by Mr Blair and includes the deputy prime minister, the chancellor, and the home, foreign and defence secretaries, still had not met, the ISC said in its annual report. ..."

    June 10/ 11 ~ "Blair Force One" : "We are persuaded that this expense can be justified."

    says the annual report of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee. The matter of an aircraft fitted with secure communications equipment for the use of the prime minister and other key ministers was raised by the defence secretary. Much of the section dealing with the issue was classified, and therefore removed from the report, but it stated: "We are persuaded that this expense can be justified." See Press Association report

    June 10 ~" Petroleum, the final reserves. These are the voyages of the starship Enron'sprize

    Don't miss Bush's Star Trek Voyage "Petroleum, the final reserves. These are the voyages of the starship Enron's prize, its four-year mission to explore pristine worlds, to lay pipe amid old civilizations, to boldly drill where no man has drilled before...." A cartoon that loads quickly from a site calling itself "toostupidtobepresident.com"

    June 10 ~ US military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush

    Associated Press BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush to explain why no banned arms have been found. After nearly three months of fruitless searches, weapons hunters say they are now waiting for a large team of Pentagon intelligence experts to take over the effort, relying more on leads from interviews and documents. "It doesn't appear there are any more targets at this time," said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington, whose team has been cut by more than 30 percent. "We're hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future."

    June 10 ~ Senior intelligence officers kept secret records of meetings after pressure from No 10

    Intelligence officers are holding a "smoking gun" which proves that they were subjected to a series of demands by Tony Blair's staff in the run-up to the Iraq war. The officers are furious about the accusation levelled by the Leader of the Commons, John Reid, that "rogue elements" are at work in the security services. They fear they are being lined up to take the blame for faulty intelligence used to justify the Iraq war. The intelligence services were so concerned about demands made by Downing Street for evidence to use against Iraq that extensive files have been built up detailing communications with Mr Blair's staff.
    Stung by Dr Reid's accusations about misinformation over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, intelligence officials have given veiled warnings about what may emerge in the two official inquiries into the affair.
    "A smoking gun may well exist over WMDs, but it may not be to the Government's liking," said one senior source. "Minuted details will show exactly what went on. Because of the frequency and, at times, unusual nature of the demands from Downing Street, people have made sure records were kept. There is a certain amount of self-preservation in this, of course." (Independent on June 8)

    June 9 ~ " MPs said yesterday the Prime Minister and Alastair Campbell should be forced to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain why the intelligence dossier produced in March last year was shelved. "

    Independent "..The six-page report, from the Joint Intelligence Committee staff, said there was no evidence Saddam posed a significantly greater threat than in 1991. It was written in the same month Mr Campbell, the Prime Minister's communications and strategy chief, told journalists in America the Government would produce evidence within two weeks proving Saddam was building weapons of mass destruction. The report was delayed, but six months later Tony Blair said Saddam was continuing to produce chemical and biological weapons.
    Mr Campbell has written a personal apology to Sir Richard Dearlove, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, for discrediting the service. .... The apology will fuel claims that Downing Street quoted selectively from intelligence reports and missed out crucial qualifying facts, such as the number and reliability of sources, to make the case for war against Iraq...."

    June 9 ~ ""We are not responsible for this bastard offspring."

    The Telegraph has learnt that Mr Campbell put his apology in writing... "...Senior intelligence officers were furious that randomly assembled material had been combined with MI6 intelligence reports by the coalition information centre, a special unit set up by Mr Campbell inside the Foreign Office. The information was not put through the normal checks in Whitehall, including the approval of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), chaired by John Scarlett, before it was published. One highly placed intelligence officer disowned the document at the time, saying: "We are not responsible for this bastard offspring.... A senior Whitehall official said: "It devalued the currency, there is no question about that. There is a dispute about who saw what. But it is clear that the Joint Intelligence Committee was not involved. It was a monumental cock-up.""

    June 9 ~ Revealed: the secret cabal which spun for Blair

    Investigation: By Neil Mackay of Scotland's Sunday Herald Extraordinary information about the controversy over the non-discovery of WMD

    June 9~ No 10 ordered Reid to go on the offensive against media

    by Andy McSmith, Political Editor of the Independent "Cabinet bruiser John Reid was instructed by Downing Street to make his now famous attack last week on "rogue elements" within the security services. His comments have angered seniors figures in the intelligence community, who see them as an attack on their profession. They are hoping that the Prime Minister will disown his minister, compelling Dr Reid to apologise..."
    See also Sunday Telegraph (external link) - "....The disclosure that Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's director of strategy and communications, apologised to the head of MI6 for the dossier, Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation, will fuel claims that Downing Street was involved in "doctoring" intelligence reports before the war."

    June 9 ~ Blow to Blair over 'mobile labs'

    Saddam's trucks were for balloons, not germs ... it is increasingly likely that the units were designed to be used for hydrogen production to fill artillery balloons, part of a system originally sold to Saddam by Britain in 1987. The Observer has discovered that not only did the Iraq military have such a system at one time, but that it was actually sold to them by the British. In 1987 Marconi, now known as AMS, sold the Iraqi army an Artillery Meteorological System or Amets for short.

    June 8 ~ "America expects space to be "weaponised" in the medium-term future, and is determined to take an unassailable technological lead."

    Telegraph "...the Pentagon believes that the struggle to control space will form the next stage of a global arms race. Its plans confirm that America expects space to be "weaponised" in the medium-term future, and is determined to take an unassailable technological lead. Two years ago, a report commissioned by Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, warned of the danger of a "Space Pearl Harbor" if America did not take action to protect itself.

    June 7 ~ "A political storm is brewing in Britain also against Prime Minister Tony Blair about the authenticity of pre-war intelligence reports."

    The Hindustan Times (external link) today "...US And Britain have been searching furiously for evidence of such weapons but have not found any so far. However, Bush keeps insisting that they will be found or at least some Iraqis in the programme will confess...."
    Melbourne Herald Sun "...Despite Mr Blair's repeated pledges that weapons would be found, Mr Blix told the council his team had not found "evidence of the continuation or resumption of programs of weapons of mass destruction or significant quantities of proscribed items". He conceded this did not mean chemical and biological weapons did not exist, but that it was not justified to jump to the conclusion something existed just because it was unaccounted for. Mr Blix's comments will make uncomfortable reading... "

    June 6 ~ "I thought: My God, if this is the best intelligence they have and we find nothing, what about the rest? " Hans Blix

    From the Bloomberg report today ".... Hans Blix, the UN's chief arms inspector, criticized the quality of intelligence about alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction given to him by the U.S. and the U.K.
    Inspectors found nothing when they followed up U.S. and U.K. leads at suspected Iraqi weapons sites, Blix said in an interview aired today by British Broadcasting Corp. radio. He yesterday presented his final report on Iraq to the UN Security Council.
    "Only in three of those cases did we find anything at all, and in none were there any weapons of mass destruction, and that shook me a bit, I must say,'' Blix told the BBC. "I thought: My God, if this is the best intelligence they have and we find nothing, what about the rest?"
    Scott Ritter, an American who headed UN arms inspection teams from 1991 to 1998, said in an interview today with Switzerland's daily Le Temps that the U.S. and the U.K. should admit they lied about Iraqi weapons. Ritter said allied haven't found evidence of biological, chemical or nuclear arms programs "because it's impossible to find something that doesn't exist.''

    June 6 ~ In Fallujah, one of the US MPs turned to me as his search was called off. "The Third Infantry Division are coming in here to go through this place tomorrow," he said. It will be interesting to see what "going through" means. But remember the name Fallujah.

    Robert Fisk today Bloodshed, Fear And a Deadly Ambush Killings At Fallujah by Robert Fisk; The Independent; June 06, 2003 (external link)

    June 6 ~ Iraq's WMD Intelligence: Where is the Outrage?

    by US Senator Robert Byrd Senate Floor Remarks - June 5, 2003 (external) "With each passing day, the questions surrounding Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction take on added urgency. Where are the massive stockpiles of VX, mustard, and other nerve agents that we were told Iraq was hoarding? Where are the thousands of liters of botulinim toxin? Wasn't it the looming threat to America posed by these weapons that propelled the United States into war with Iraq? Isn't this the reason American military personnel were called upon to risk their lives in combat?
    On March 17, in his final speech to the American people before ordering the invasion of Iraq, President Bush took one last opportunity to bolster his case for war. The centerpiece of his argument was the same message he brought to the United Nations months before, and the same message he hammered home at every opportunity in the intervening months, namely that Saddam Hussein had failed to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and thus presented an imminent danger to the American people. "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," the President said. ..."

    June 6 ~ "We think Bechtel should be held accountable for war profiteering and devastating many communities around the world,"

    said Kristi Laughlin, a campaign coordinator at Global Exchange. "We're taking money from the Iraqi people and U.S. taxpayers to line the corporate pockets of Bechtel." About 30 protesters, denouncing Bechtel's role in Iraq, were arrested Thursday morning during demonstrations in front of the company's headquarters in downtown San Francisco. " San Francisco's Examiner

    June 6~"In its report last September, the Defense Intelligence Agency said it could find no reliable information to indicate that Iraq had any chemical weapons available for use on the battlefield.

    (AP report)".... But the agency also said Iraq probably had stockpiles of banned chemical warfare agents.
    The existence of the DIA report was disclosed by U.S. News & World Report, and a classified summary was reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday. Two Pentagon officials who had read the summary confirmed Friday that it said DIA had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons.
    The DIA's analysis is just one piece of an intelligence mosaic that Rumsfeld and other senior administrations could consider in making their own assessment of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons capability. Congress is reviewing the prewar intelligence to determine whether the administration overplayed the weapons threat in order to justify toppling the Iraqi regime. On Friday, the Senate Armed Services convened a closed-door hearing focusing on the mission of the 75th Exploitation Task Force, which made the initial effort to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction at the conclusion of the war, and the follow-on search team, called the Iraq Survey Group.
    The committee was hearing from Stephen A. Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence; Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the DIA; and an unidentified CIA representative." (This report from AP military writer, ROBERT BURNS, has been duplicated in many newspapers, including the Guardian, in the past two hours)

    June 6 ~ "..another whopper in Mr Tony Blair's splendid WMD dossier comes to light"

    Guardian Diary today (external) " God forbid we should risk adding to his embarrassment, but another whopper in Mr Tony Blair's splendid WMD dossier comes to light.
    On page 34, the document reveals that Unscom inspectors were refused access to eight of Saddam's presidential sites - "large compounds which are an integral part of Iraqi counter-measures designed to hide weapons material".
    Oh dear. All eight were in fact inspected early in 1998.
    Let's not be too harsh, though. How Mr T and the gang could have known is hard to imagine. They might, I suppose, have checked the Unscom website, where document S/1998/326 reports:And although this was confirmed in a ministerial answer on February 4 this year, you'd have needed Bletchley Park's Enigma machine to penetrate Hansard's account.Warmwell checked the UN website. The report is here, towards the bottom of the page under appendix 3.

    June 6 ~Wolfowitz treated the analysts' work with contempt

    Washington Post (external link) ".... Government sources said CIA analysts were not the only ones who felt pressure from their superiors to support public statements by Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and others about the threat posed by Hussein.
    Former and current intelligence officials said they felt a continual drumbeat, not only from Cheney and Libby, but also from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Feith, and less so from CIA Director George J. Tenet, to find information or write reports in a way that would help the administration make the case that going into Iraq was urgent.
    "They were the browbeaters," said a former defense intelligence official who attended some of the meetings in which Wolfowitz and others pressed for a different approach to the assessments they were receiving. "In interagency meetings," he said, "Wolfowitz treated the analysts' work with contempt."
    ....A major focus for Wolfowitz and others in the Pentagon was finding intelligence to prove a connection between Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.
    On the day of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center,Wolfowitz told senior officials at the Pentagon that he believed Iraq might have been responsible. "I was scratching my head because everyone else thought of al Qaeda," said a former senior defense official who was in one such meeting. Over the following year, "we got taskers to review the link between al Qaeda and Iraq. There was a very aggressive search."

    June 6 ~ CIA officals now claim that the OPS exaggerated or manipulated intelligence to justify the war.

    Times (external link) "The claims come at a time of growing scrutiny of the role played in pre-war intelligence by the Office of Special Plans, a Pentagon unit set up by Donald Rumsfeld., the Defence Secretary. It became a rival to the CIA, which the hawkish elements of the Administration believed had become too averse to risk. Some CIA officals now claim that the OPS exaggerated or manipulated intelligence to justify the war..... Greg Thielmann, a State Department intelligence official covering Iraq until the end of last year, said yesterday that all dissenting views had been omitted from a key CIA report presented to the President in October. ..."

    June 6 ~ "This is going to go on and on and build up and build up it would have been sensible in my view to have had an independent inquiry..." Peter Kilfoyle, the former defence minister

    Anne Penketh in the Independent "Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, said yesterday that it was "not justified to jump to the conclusion" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction simply because Saddam Hussein's regime had failed to account for missing arms. ..... Mr Blix's public remarks were as carefully worded and neutral as his previous statements before the Iraq war. His comments were interpreted in London as an implicit criticism of the spin by politicians who, amid the furore over Iraqi weapons in recent days, have pointed to his reports to as the original justification for the war. .......
    Peter Kilfoyle, the former defence minister, said that Mr Blix's intervention would further weaken the Government's case over weapons of mass destruction and add to uncertainty as to whether they existed. "This is going to go on and on and build up and build up it would have been sensible in my view to have had an independent inquiry," he said. ...."
    See also http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,971577,00.html

    June 5/6 ~ "Anyone who heard the BBC's John Humphrys on yesterday's Today programme facing up to the wildly spinning chairman of the Labour party, John Reid (here), on the subject of the intelligence reports..

    .. knows that the BBC generally stands up for the facts too. Against Newspeak and Newscorp, we still have Newsnight. Across the world, there are quality papers - including, one hopes, the Guardian and its much-visited website - and individual journalists that hold out. Yet the trend, in journalism as in politics, and probably now in the political use of intelligence, is away from the facts and towards a neo-Orwellian world of manufactured reality. This is something slightly different from (though close to) straight lies. ..."
    Fight the Matrix Distorted intelligence on Iraq is part of an Orwellian world of fabricated reality by Timothy Garton Ash in Thursday's Guardian

    June 5 ~ Tear up the UN's constitution, override the US veto and try to build a new global security system

    George Monbiot in the New Statesman
    " .... By going to war without the council's authorisation, and against the wishes of three of its permanent members and most of its temporary members, Bush's administration has ceased even to pretend to play by the rules.
    ....... The second option is to tear up the UN's constitution, override the US veto and try to build a new global security system, against the wishes of the hegemon. This approach was unthinkable just four months ago. It may be irresistible today. ..
    ....In approving the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and the International Criminal Court, other nations, weighing the costs of a world crudely governed by the US against the costs of insubordination, have defied the superpower to establish a global system in which it plays no part. Building a new global security system without the involvement of the US is a far more dangerous project, but there may be no real alternative. None of us should be surprised if we were to discover that Russia, France and China have already begun quietly to discuss it.
    But if there is to be a new system, we should try to ensure that this time it does not reflect solely the interests of its founders. There has never been a better time to consider what a system based upon justice and democracy might look like, and then to press the rebellious governments for its implementation.
    There is no question that the existing arrangement stinks.." (Read full article)

    June 5 ~ The United States has limited the UN inspectors' mission to counting missing containers of radioactive material and repackaging spilled material.

    They will not measure environmental contamination or look into reports of radiation sickness among nearby residents. The team is also barred from entering the main Tuwaitha complex and will have no access to six other nuclear sites in Iraq that were allegedly looted in the post-war chaos. See Reuters report U.N. nuclear inspectors head to Iraq International Atomic Energy Agency's spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said it was unclear if the IAEA would ever return to Iraq as arms inspectors.

    June 5 ~"... We went to war to prevent the dissemination of these dreadful toxins and aflatoxins, these warheads of which Blair spoke so movingly in the Commons.

    Boris Johnson "And what do we do, when we seize power from Saddam? We preside over six weeks of sheer anarchy, in which we allow the Iraqis to shoot each other (and our forces) and snaffle just about everything they can.
    And we don't even begin to look for the weapons. Does nobody think it odd that we should, by our apathy, have potentially let these things fall into the hands of nutters even more demented than Saddam? Has nobody noticed this stunning flaw? Surely they must worry about it in the Pentagon? ..." (more)

    June 5 ~ Meanwhile in Afghanistan.... "The truth is that the US and British strategy for stabilising and reconstructing that country will fail without major changes and soon," said a European ambassador in Kabul.

    "...Experts believe America's refusal or inability to take the lead in providing Afghans with greater security is pushing the country back to the anarchy and lawlessness that gave rise to the Taliban and allowed al-Qa'eda to base itself there." Telegraph (external link) Regrouped Taliban are rocketing, bombing or ambushing United States and Afghan government forces in the south and east where humanitarian aid and reconstruction, which has barely started, are grinding to a halt..."

    June 5 ~ Labour MPs who voted for an independent inquiry

    Harry Barnes (Derbyshire North East) Harry Cohen (Leyton & Wanstead) Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead & Highgate) Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway) Brian Sedgemore (Hackney South & Shoreditch) Alan Simpson (Nottingham South) Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent) Robert Wareing (Liverpool West Derby).

    June 5 ~ As Rumsfeld might express it, we have been suckered.

    Robin Cook's article in the International Herald Tribune:

    June 5 ~ "With the argument suddenly cast in partisan terms, Labor backbenchers gave the prime minister shouted support of a kind he has not had in many months from his own restive party members."

    New York Times

    June 4 ~ John Reid and John Humphrys - transcript of their verbal punch-up on today's Today Programme

    Extract of transcript

    June 4 ~" Both the legislature and the people may have been misled into war. That would surely be a graver charge than anything involved in Watergate, serious as that was." Malcolm Savidge, Labour MP, Aberdeen North

    A transcript of INSIGHT, a US television programme broadcast yesterday, containing interview material with Tony Blair, Colin Powell, President Bush, Robin Cook and many other key players. See also warmwell page on the forgeries etc

    June 4 ~ A group of former intelligence officials, most of them from the CIA, has written to President Bush that the intelligence that lead to the war with Iraq was, to use their words, "cooked and warped" in a systematic way.

    With that accusation hanging in the air, the head of the CIA, George Tenet, issued a very unusual statement of his own, defending his agency. Spy chiefs in the United States don't normally debate in the daily news. (Transcript of Insight - as above)

    June 4 ~ "When even his mentor, Donald Rumsfeld has given up on the weapons and withdrawn his search teams, Mr Blair keeps the faith. He cannot have been wrong."

    Simon Jenkins in the Times. "....Desperation breeds misjudgment. The September and March dossiers on Iraq were barely plausible. Yet Mr Blair presented them with such conviction that even I half-believed them.
    Downing Street is now refusing independent scrutiny. It wants the job to go to Parliament's implicitly "dependent" Intelligence and Security Committee, under the trusty Ann Taylor. Scarcely more ruthless is likely to be the Labour-led Foreign Affairs Committee, also now holding an inquiry. Both are pale shadows of the independent scrutineer set up by Mrs Thatcher in 1982.
    Parliament is about to be taught its job by the US Congress. That body may be unworried over the legality of war, but it is fastidious about executive deception. Unlike Britain's hopeless MPs, it regards such deception as wrong. It demands that Colin Powell and Mr Rumsfeld come and explain themselves. It may reveal No 10's mishandling of intelligence, since this was shared with Washington. Congress could yet reach parts of Whitehall where MPs dare not tread. ..."

    June 3 ~ The US Congress has ordered an investigation into possible abuse of intelligence information about alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    The inquiries, launched by both Republican and Democratic politicians, will include public hearings that will be televised live. The CIA is reported to be prepared to co-operate fully.

    June 3/4 ~ "Last month, HMS Turbulent, a nuclear-power submarine, slipped back to Plymouth, flying the Jolly Roger, the pirates' emblem. How appropriate" John Pilger

    "...For months, the charade of weapons of mass destruction overshadowed real issues we had a right to know about and debate - that the United States intended to take control of the Middle East by turning an entire country, Iraq, into its oil-rich base. History is our evidence. Since the 19th century, British governments have done the same, and the Blair government is no different. What is different now is that the truth is winning through. This week, publication of an extraordinary map left little doubt that the British military had plastered much of Iraq with cluster bombs, many of which almost certainly have failed to detonate on impact. They usually wait for children to pick them up, then they explode, as in Kosovo and Afghanistan. They are cowardly weapons; but of course this was one of the most craven of all wars, "fought" against a country with no navy, no air force and rag-tag army.
    Last month, HMS Turbulent, a nuclear-power submarine, slipped back to Plymouth, flying the Jolly Roger, the pirates' emblem. How appropriate This British warship fired 30 American Tomahawk missiles at Iraq. Each missile cost £700,000 , a total of 21 million pounds in taxpayers' money. That alone would have provided the basic services that the British government has yet to restore to Basra, as it is obliged to do under international law.
    What did HMS Turbulent's 30 missiles hit? How many people did they kill and maim? And why have we heard nothing about this? Perhaps the missiles had sensory devices that could distinguish Bush's "evil-doers" and Blair's "wicked men" from toddlers? What is certain is they were not aimed at the Ministry of Oil.
    This cynical and shaming chapter in Britain's modern story was written in our name, your name. Blair and his collaborators ought not to be allowed to get away with it. "

    June 3/4 ~ WMD or not, Blair had already made up his mind

    Guardian article by Hugo Young
    The PM was incapable of detaching himself from Bush's march to war ...."The infamous weapons of mass destruction were a crucial pretext for Britain going to war against Iraq, but they were not the prime cause. They didn't drive the strategy. The originating, compulsive, inescapable reason was .... a twin commitment. First, the American decision that, short of Saddam Hussein being assassinated or going into exile, war was going to happen: a decision, it is now clear, that had been made by last August at the latest. And second, the visceral inability of Mr Blair to contemplate detaching this country from whatever Washington decided. He did this in solidarity with George Bush on September 11. But arguably it began to happen earlier, when he journeyed to Camp David immediately after Bush's election, returning to pronounce him, contrary to most popular impressions, a wise and balanced statesman. ...Rumsfeld admits that he doesn't expect to find any WMD, and blithely claims this doesn't matter. The entire US performance through autumn and winter at the UN can now be starkly seen as a sham, conducted to keep Blair and a few others sweet.....I don't doubt Blair's sincerity in wanting to persuade himself and the voters, as well as the soldiers he sent to war, that the threat posed by Saddam's WMD was the total reason for the conflict. He does sincerity very well, as we saw again yesterday in his raging dismissal of Clare Short's painful charges. He does it well because he cannot believe otherwise. ... But when thinly veiled MI6 rebuttals of Downing Street assertions appear on the BBC - a practice seldom, if ever, seen before - one understands the price that is being paid to defend Tony Blair's sincerity. ...(More)

    June 3 ~"And we all know what the American President would like to do when he arrives: to be filmed inspecting Saddam's weapons of mass destruction

    , the purported reason for the Anglo-American invasion illegally launched against Iraq. The problem, of course, is that there don't appear to be any. So how will the Bush public relations boys manage this particular piece of theatre? Here's an idea of what they are preparing, the stage-managed "victory" tour of George W Bush. But first, this is what the President should be doing if he really wants to understand the epic crisis that now confronts the nation he was so keen to "liberate"......"
    Robert Fisk on the truth the victors refuse to see

    June 3 ~ "Dissident voices do exist. While you will rarely hear them on television, most big newspapers have at least one columnist who was opposed to the war, and several magazines have published articles that are critical or revelatory.

    (Guardian yesterday - external link to Common Dreams) "The problem is not so much that such views are unavailable as that they have been effectively marginalized. Only those sympathetic to them might seek them out, while others looking to form opinions are unlikely to stumble across them. Presumably Sean Penn would not have paid around $125,000 (£76,000) to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times on Friday to write an essay against Bush if he thought he could read it elsewhere. ..."

    June 2 ~ Transcripts raise alarm across Nato

    The Guardian (external link) "Transcripts of a private conversation between Jack Straw and Colin Powell expressing serious doubts about the reliability of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons programme are being circulated in western government circles where there is a growing feeling that officials were deceived into supporting the Iraq war...The "Waldorf transcripts" document being distributed among Nato capitals raises new questions about Mr Straw's denials. It is being circulated amid a flurry of leaks in Washington about Mr Powell's concerns about how intelligence was being used to try to persuade reluctant Nato allies - notably France and Germany - to sanction an attack on Iraq. .... " (more)

    June 1 ~ British intelligence sources have told the Sunday Herald that they were 'absolutely sceptical' about plans to invade Iraq over WMD.

    The same sources accept that France and Russia had the best intelligence on what was going on inside Saddam's regime and were telling both the UK and USA that 'there was effectively no real evidence of a WMD programme' in Iraq. LibDem foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell told the Sunday Herald: 'It has been one of Whitehall's least well-kept secrets that, throughout the Iraq crisis, the intelligence services have been uneasy about the use being made of the product of their labours.'.....(More)

    June 1 ~ The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great-power rival and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'.

    (Sunday Herald: No weapons in Iraq? We'll find them in Iran) "...It also calls for America to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' and describes US armed forces as 'the calvary on the new American frontier'. The UN is sidelined as well, with the PNAC saying that peace-keeping missions demand 'American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations'. That was the policy blueprint, but to deliver it Rumsfeld turned to the Office of Special Plans. Put simply, the OSP was told to come up with the evidence of WMD to give credence to US military intervention..." More

    June 1 ~ "..Believe me, it's not for lack of trying."

    Lt. Gen. James Conway, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Press Interview May 30, 2003
    See various quotations about WMD from last August up to yesterday

    June 1 ~ "Already Iran is turning out to be backing terrorists and producing weapons of mass destruction. You'd think the Americans could at least be original and say they're breeding dinosaurs or have made contact with Voldemort or something..."

    Extract from Truth, Lies and Weapons Of Mass Destruction by Mark Steel; The Independent; May 29, 2003
    ".... The amazing part is the Americans aren't even trying to lie properly. Surely they could find something if they really wanted to, but they almost take enjoyment from implying, "So what if we made it up, what's anyone going to do about it?" They're like someone having an affair with a married woman in the office, having to keep things officially secret but desperately wishing they could stand in the middle of the room yelling: "Guess what I've been doing".
    In some ways you can almost respect them. They made no secret, before the twin towers were bombed, of their "Project for the New American Century" with its military aiming for "full-spectrum dominance". The really annoying people are the politicians and commentators who still think the war was fought to make the world a safer place. Ironically it seems that the anti-war movement in this country did more than anything to stem the growth of militant Islam. Several imams and Muslim leaders have stated how the scale of the movement made it hard for militant groups to argue that all Westerners were the enemy.
    Even more infuriating is the certainty that the same people who fell for the lies will fall for them all over again. Already Iran is turning out to be backing terrorists and producing weapons of mass destruction. You'd think the Americans could at least be original and say they're breeding dinosaurs or have made contact with Voldemort or something. ..."
    John Pilger on PNAC

    May 30 ~ To date, no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) have been found.

    See More myths, misconceptions and unanswered questions about the war in Iraq Extract: ".....During and after the war, there were a number of highly publicized reports of WMD finds.... All have proven false or inconclusive, however (and usually receive far less attention when disproved).
    On April 24, President Bush suggested for the first time that Saddam Hussein may have destroyed the WMDs Bush alleges he possessed before the war. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offered the same suggestion yesterday for the first time during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations.
    The administration has claimed that two trailers it has found in Iraq were mobile laboratories used to produce biological weapons, but, as the New York Times reported, experts reached this conclusion by ruling out other possible uses of the trucks rather than finding direct evidence of biological weapons or the production of them.
    Nonetheless, the White House has seized on these findings to support its claims about Iraq's WMD programs before the war. Last week, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan cited the labs in response to criticism from Senator Robert Byrd, D-WV, and Reuters reported yesterday that Rumsfeld echoed these allegations at the Council for Foreign Relations..." (more)

    May 30 ~ On Capitol Hill, in particular, scepticism is growing

    ".... despite a reluctance by Democrats to challenge Mr Bush on a national security issue that plays to a popular President's strengths. "This could conceivably be the greatest intelligence hoax of all time," said Jane Harman of California, the senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee. The quality of the intelligence is to be looked at by a CIA-led team. This was suggested as long ago as October, with the aim of monitoring the process leading up to a war in Iraq, which even then seemed likely. Intriguingly, the prime instigator of the investigation was Mr Rumsfeld who, disappointed by the lukewarm findings of the CIA, set up an intelligence unit inside his office to assess the Iraq threat. This body is known to have relied heavily on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress exile group, led by Ahmed Chalabi, long the preferred choice of the Pentagon and the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, to lead post-Saddam Iraq...." yesterday's Independent

    May 30 "The Americans are not taking control of the situation and stopping it. There is no way they could wash their hands clean of it," he says. "Two months like this is too much, three months is a disaster."

    Salam's story - today's Guardian
    "....Electricity is still intermittent at best, government is a long way from restored. Most ministries are gutted, some of them are still smoking. What message does it send to frustrated Iraqis that only the oil ministry has been protected by US troops? Already some are talking of Saddam's era as the good days, Salam says.
    The former dictator and his two loathed sons are still on the run. The weapons of mass destruction, the fragile premise on which the war was based, have been not been found. Now some hardline Shia clerics are becoming increasingly fractious, taking advantage of the power vacuum and threatening to ban alcohol, cinema and prostitution on pain of execution. The Baghdad blogger may still have the most important chapters of his diary left to write. ..."

    May 30 ~The time has come when the British government needs to concede that we did not go to war because Saddam was a threat to our national interests," Robin Cook

    (Reuters) "Blair, facing a domestic storm over the issue, did not specifically address the allegation that his office hyped up intelligence reports to strengthen its case for war....newspaper headlines like "Sex it Up!" and "Lies, Lies, Lies" piled the pressure on the government to prove that it did not mislead parliament or the public.
    More than 70 disgruntled members of parliament (MPs) have signed up to a motion urging the government to give evidence to parliament on Saddam's weapons and its motives for going to war.
    "The time has come when the British government needs to concede that we did not go to war because Saddam was a threat to our national interests," Robin Cook, a former foreign secretary who resigned from the government in protest at the Iraq war, wrote in The Independent.

    May 28 ~ Afghanistan...."This is now an unending conflict, with echoes of Vietnam, fought in the untracked wasteland of the southern mountains and around the Pakistan border. But its aim is emphatically not the protection of the population at large. .."

    The Observer on Sunday published this article by Peter Oborne On the roads of ruin "Tony Blair vowed that the West would not walk away from Afghanistan. But in a remarkable journey, meeting militia leaders and the heavily guarded President, Peter Oborne found a nation left to fend for itself - and Taliban thugs undeterred. "
    ".....So far donor countries have committed just $300m to road-building in all Afghanistan, by coincidence exactly the same amount of money as is being spent on reconstructing the US embassy in Kabul. Much of that $300m is being spent on building an 80km stab of road south from Kabul towards Kandahar. The contractor is Bechtel....."
    "..Out in the provinces the US army continues to arm and to pay the warlords who help them in their battle against al-Qaeda. Even as Hamid Karzai battles to establish his national army, he is being undermined by his allies. Hopelessly under-funded, without the security he pleads for, crippled even by his American backers, the Afghan President is perilously isolated. He, and Afghanistan, are being daily betrayed by Britain, America and the West. "
    · Peter Oborne's documentary Afghanistan: Here's One We Invaded Earlier will be shown on Channel 4 on Saturday 31 May.

    May 28 ~ A dustup between two New York Times reporters over a story on an Iraqi exile leader raises some intriguing questions about the paper's coverage of the search for dangerous weapons thought to be hidden by Saddam Hussein.

    Washington Post (external link) on May 26. Extract: "... An internal e-mail by Judith Miller, the paper's top reporter on bioterrorism, acknowledges that her main source for such articles has been Ahmad Chalabi, a controversial exile leader who is close to top Pentagon officials. Could Chalabi have been using the Times to build a drumbeat that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction?..."

    May 28 ~ Washington's "war on terror" has made the world more dangerous by curbing human rights, undermining international law and shielding governments from scrutiny, Amnesty International says.

    Reuters report (external link) "...."There is a very real risk that Iraq will go the way of Afghanistan if no genuine effort is made to heed the call of the Iraqi people for law and order and full respect of human rights," Khan said. "Afghanistan does not present a record of which the international community can be proud." Amnesty's 311-page report was not concerned solely with the crises triggered by the attacks of September 11. It said the intense media focus on Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 meant human rights abuses in Ivory Coast, Colombia, Burundi, Chechnya and Nepal had gone largely unnoticed. Amnesty said the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo remained "bleak, with continuing fighting and attacks on civilians".

    May 28 ~".. A chill wind is blowing in this nation"

    The transcript of the speech given by actor Tim Robbins to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2003.

    May 27 ~ "The American people may have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of long-standing international law, under false premises."

    Guardian today Last week, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Robert C Byrd, again got up and delivered a passionate denunciation of Bush's adventure: "The run-up to our invasion of Iraq featured the president and members of his cabinet invoking every frightening image they could conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to drones poised to deliver germ-laden death in our major cities. We were treated to a heavy dose of overstatement concerning Saddam Hussein's direct threat to our freedoms. The tactic was guaranteed to provoke a sure reaction from a nation still suffering from a combination of post-traumatic stress and justifiable anger after the attacks of 9/11. It was the exploitation of fear. It was a placebo for the anger." ......
    .... Last week, Byrd said: "The American people may have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of long-standing international law, under false premises." You would have thought a few more politicians under the age of 85 might acquire the courage to say that, but they haven't. Maybe he'll be the West Virginian of the 21st century too.

    May 27 ~ "Violating international law," writes Curtis, "has become as British as afternoon tea."

    In his latest New Statesman column, John Pilger reviews a "brilliant, exciting and deeply disturbing" book by the historian Mark Curtis. This is Web of Deceit (Amazon), which draws back the screen in front of British foreign policy and imperial power.

    May 26 ~ New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Chris Hedges ... warned of the dangers of U.S. empire.

    "As we revel in our military prowess - the sophistication of our military hardware and technology, for this is what most of the press coverage consisted of in Iraq - we lose sight of the fact that just because we have the capacity to wage war it does not give us the right to wage war," Hedges said. "This capacity has doomed empires in the past....War, we have come to believe, is a spectator sport. The military and the press - remember in wartime the press is always part of the problem - have turned war into a vast video arcade came. Its very essence - death - is hidden from public view.....We no longer understand that war begins by calling for the annihilation of others but ends if we do not know when to make or maintain peace with self-annihilation. We flirt, given the potency of modern weapons, with our own destruction."
    From a long but readable article by Jackson Thoreau Some mainstream journalists still stand up to censorship ".. unlike the characters in Orwell's classic novel, Big Brother Bush-Cheney have yet to totally break our spirits. They can cut us with their doublespeak, jolt us with electricity. But they'll never take the better part of us, the spirit that makes us freer than they will ever know.

    May 24/25 ~There is a power which can serve as a check against abuses by a government or by government officials and that power is the power of the informed citizen

    "There is a power which can serve as a check against abuses by a government or by government officials and that power is the power of the informed citizen -- one who has read enough, who understands enough, who has developed a base of knowledge against which to judge truth or falsehood. Participation in the great debates of our time must not be relegated to the power elites in Washington. An informed citizenry has to participate, ask questions, and demand answers and accountability to make a country like ours work." Senator Byrd

    May 20 ~ the grand mistake Tony Blair is making.

    "... China, Israel, Libya, Qatar, Yemen and the US. This is the company the American government keeps when it comes to international law.
    To ensure that there was not the slightest possibility that his servicemen need fear the rule of law, George W Bush signed a new piece of extra-territorial legislation last year, which permits the US "to use all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release" of US citizens being tried in the court. This appears to include the invasion of the capital of the Netherlands.
    All this serves to illustrate the grand mistake Tony Blair is making. The empire he claims to influence entertains no interest in his moral posturing. Its vision of justice between nations is the judicial oubliette of Guantanamo Bay. The idea that it might be subject to the international rule of law, and therefore belong to a world order in which other nations can participate, is as unthinkable in Washington as a six-month public holiday. If Blair does not understand this, he has missed the entire point of US foreign policy. If he does understand it, he has misled us as to the purpose of his own diplomacy. The US government does not respect the law between nations. It is the law. " George Monbiot on the news that an attempt to try Tommy Franks for war crimes in a Belgian court has outraged the US.

    May 20 ~ U.S. plans to keep control of Iraq oil

    A Reuters article by Evelyn Leopold says: "In hopes of getting strong U.N. support, the United States has made concessions in its quest to lift 13-year-old trade sanctions against Iraq, opening the door for the return of U.N. arms inspectors. But the resolution, expected to be adopted by Friday, still gives the United States and Britain wide-ranging powers to run Iraq and control its oil industry until a permanent government is established, which could take years...."

    May 19 ~ An entire country is living on the brink.

    Alice Thompson in the Telegraph After war, the terrible peace "..... it is the aftermath - the unexploded ordnance, the lack of water and electricity, the sewage spewing out around the cities - that is terrifying people in the south. Looters have ransacked the water and sewage plants, often taking even the bricks.
    This comes on top of three wars, 24 years of dictatorship and 12 years of sanctions. More than 80 per cent of the population were dependent on hand-outs from the oil for food programme, and most were employed by the government.
    For two months these people have received no food or salaries. Now the only currency is the corrugated iron torn from the roofs of government buildings, the light bulbs pilfered from schools and the sinks from orphanages - all sold for knock-down prices on the looters' market.
    The aid agencies say we are witnessing a humanitarian disaster, and Unicef has launched its largest appeal, asking for £167 million.
    An entire country is living on the brink....."

    May 19 ~ To donate to Unicef's Children of Iraq Emergency Appeal

    "......Two of the Unicef workers, from Somalia and Sudan, tell us: "It is even worse than Somalia and Sudan. But this country has the chance of a future, if we can get it right. It is like a rich man who has trashed his palace - at least the plot of land on which we have to build is rich with oil."
    To donate to Unicef's Children of Iraq Emergency Appeal call the 24-hour credit card hotline on 08457 312312, log on at www.unicef.org.uk or send a cheque payable to Unicef to: Telb, Unicef, FREEPOST CL885, Chelmsford, CM2 8BR.

    May 18/19 ~ "... the absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), in particular nuclear weapons..

    ..combined with the ease with which the United States rolled over the Iraqi army, strengthens the claims of administration critics that Hussein's regime could have been contained without going to war.
    It also looks increasingly implausible that the Bush administration simply made an error of judgment in pressing its case against Iraq. Prior to the war, the United States failed to produce compelling evidence of Iraqi WMD or ties to al-Qaeda. According to United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix, the evidence that the United States gave him of Iraq's WMD was "pretty pathetic." The Pentagon was also prepared for a short and easy war. That suggests that by the time of the invasion, the Bush administration was primarily concerned with advancing a geopolitical strategy in the region rather than defending Americans against future attack. In all likelihood, George W. Bush lied to the public about the dangers posed by Iraq. ..." From an article Kant and Mill in Baghdad By John B. Judis (external link)

    May 18/19 ~ Plan for Iraq handover government scrapped - US and British diplomats announced they would remain in charge for an undisclosed period

    Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor of The Observer writes: "US and British plans for rebuilding Iraq were descending into chaos this weekend as officials admitted they had indefinitely scrapped plans for a transitional government and Spain revealed a gaping hole in funding for reconstruction. Allied officials told leaders of the Iraqi exile community, who have flooded back to Baghdad that they had abandoned plans to allow Iraqi opposition forces to form a national assembly and transitional government by the end of the month.
    Instead, say opposition sources who attended a Friday meeting with Paul Bremer, the Pentagon-appointed civilian administrator in Iraq, US and British diplomats announced they would remain in charge for an undisclosed period. ..."

    May 18 ~ "Of all the reasons for invading Iraq, securing water rights was never mentioned

    because it implicates too many countries with volatile connections to Iraq, like Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Israel. Protest signs read, "No Blood For Oil," as American corporations salivated in line for the opportunity to win contracts to rebuild the ravaged infrastructure. Why did no antiwar protesters carry signs saying, "No War for Water"? They should have...
    ....The assumptions about pan-Arab unity seem to dissolve when talking about the scarce commodity of water, especially when the two of the countries commanding control over the resources are also recipients of large amounts of financial and military aid from the United States: Turkey and Israel. This cosmetic overture to feign regional fairness and non-partiality toward Israel in returning the Golan Heights to Syria does not mask the fact that the United States has strategic goals to control water and oil supplies in the Middle East. ..."
    Along with many others, we have become aware that the little-mentioned agenda of water rights is vitally important in any discussion of the Middle East - and further afield. This article: In Iraq, Water and Oil Do Mix is an important one.

    May 18 ~ "American liberals feel their country is being taken from them - and rage in impotent fury.

    It is impossible to underestimate, they say, how 9/11 has changed the rules of the political game. Security has become the Republicans trump card, and under its cloak the country is being driven unassailably to the Right. This generation of Republicans respect neither the letter of the constitution nor its custom or practice. What they want is an entrenchment of their power and their own idiosyncratic world view - whether prioritising tax cuts to enrich the 'investor class' and so boost Wall Street, or insisting that pre-emptive unilateralism must rule in the name of homeland security. The troika deemed to be in their way - the United Nations, France and the New York Times - are mocked and savaged. .
    ...America, in allowing the dollar to fall freely and the euro to rise, is knowingly and carelessly exporting deflation to Europe - so EU recession and falling prices are becoming a racing certainty. The two sides are squaring up to each other over trade, with the EU insisting that the US remove its export tax rebates and US insisting that Europe lifts restrictions on the import of GM crops - and neither are giving ground. The differences over the role of the UN in Iraq remain profound. Never before have trends in the two continents diverged so fundamentally. It is all incredibly dangerous - an undermining of how the globe is governed with nothing to put in its place. ."
    Will Hutton in the Observer

    May 16 ~ Asked on BBC radio whether the failure to unearth significant evidence of Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons arsenal was vital, Straw replied: "It's not crucially important."

    The foreign secretary, had back-bench Labour MPs incandescent with anger when he suggested that the US and Britain might never find weapons of mass destruction. "Not crucially important?" For most of the world, the credibility of the action taken in Iraq rests on the finding of the so-called weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, human rights groups are furious at U.S. commanders for failing to secure mass grave sites in Iraq so that forensic evidence can be methodically collected. Iraqis are insisting on locating and reburying their loved ones, but the scarcity of U.S. troops means that, as in other critical areas, security is not available.

    May 15 ~ Two days before the snatch squad arrived, Al-Houssona had arranged to deliver Jessica (Lynch) to the Americans in an ambulance.

    "I told her I will try and help you escape to the American Army but I will do this very secretly because I could lose my life." He put her in an ambulance and instructed the driver to go to the American checkpoint. When he was approaching it, the Americans opened fire. They fled just in time back to the hospital. The Americans had almost killed their prize catch. .."
    " American media tactics, culminating in the Lynch episode, infuriated the British, who were supposed to be working alongside them in Doha, Qatar. This Sunday, the BBC's Correspondent programme reveals the inside story of the rescue that may not have been as heroic as portrayed, and of divisions at the heart of the allies' media operation...The Pentagon has none of the British misgivings about its media operation. It is convinced that what worked with Jessica Lynch and with other episodes of this war will work even better in the future. " 7 War Spin, presented by John Kampfner and produced by Sandy Smith, is on BBC2 on Sunday at 7.15pm. ." Guardian

    May 14 ~ The capacity of the West to generate hatred and revenge in the Middle East is at present extraordinary.

    Simon Jenkins in the Times today : "...As Afghanistan was followed by Bali, so Iraq is followed by Riyadh. After waiting out the razzmatazz of war, reality terrorism is back in business. These killers cannot be eradicated. Though they pose a threat to human lives they do not threaten Western values. They may stir dictatorial tendencies in paranoid politicians. But to imply that such incidents undermine freedom is to lose all faith in democracy. Whatever the motives, these are criminal acts. They should be met by the art of intelligence and the science of security, not by the crass hand of "regime change".

    May 14 ~".... the US nurtures the idea that a peaceful, pliable, Islamic Iran could take up the Shah's old role of policeman of the Middle East, controlling the wayward Shia Muslim majority of Iraq..."

    Robert Fisk in the Independent But President Khatami - perhaps the only truly democratically elected leader in the Muslim Middle East - seems in no mood for such a place in history. His lecture to Lebanese academics and preachers yesterday morning was one of peace and compromise. Politicians - he did not identify them though we could guess - "exploit science, morality, literature and art for their individual interests, at their own will, under their talons of power", he said. He wanted a new, spiritual life - capable "of establishing the foundation for the most profound of all dialogues between cultures and civilisations and religions" - that recognised no geographical boundaries. Human rights "in all aspects of man's material and spiritual life" were what he wanted.

    May 13 ~ "Saddam lasted as long as he did only because of years of support from the Reagan administration, including Donald Rumsfeld.."

    A very outspoken article from the US published on Monday, May 12, 2003 by The Charleston Gazette (West Virginia) Bush Should Be Impeached and Tried for War Crimes by Denise Giardina
    Extract: "......Weapons of mass destruction? Saddam no longer had them. If he had, he would have used them. And if any are found now, the cabal that has hijacked our country will have planted them there. That is why the Bush administration has made clear it will not allow the U.N. back in the country to provide neutral inspections. "

    May 13 ~ Senior officials in the Bush administration have admitted that they would be 'amazed' if weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were found in Iraq.

    (Sunday Herald) "...According to administration sources, Saddam shut down and destroyed large parts of his WMD programmes before the invasion of Iraq. Ironically, the claims came as US President George Bush yesterday repeatedly justified the war as necessary to remove Iraq's chemical and biological arms which posed a direct threat to America. ..."

    May 12 ~ Panorama next Sunday will investigate the Neo-Conservatives

    Sun 18 May, 10:15 pm - 11:05 pm 50mins The War Party
    They brought us war against Iraq - what do the hawks in Washington have in store for us now? Panorama investigates the "neo-conservatives", the small and unelected group of right-winger who critics claim have hi-jacked the White House. Throughout the war with Iraq, Steve Bradshaw was with the "neocons" in Washington - discovering whether they're really trying to run the world the American way. Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/panorama

    May 12 ~ Conscience overboard - or was she pushed? Clare Short is sad and sorry.

    Poor Clare Short has finally resigned from the Cabinet. Her decision today solves the question of how her inevitable departure would be handled. She sent Mr Blair a letter accusing him of breaching assurances he had given her on the role of the United Nations in governing post-conflict Iraq and accused both him and Jack Straw of "secretly" negotiating a UN Security Council resolution which contradicted assurances she had given in the Commons to MPs. "I am sad and sorry that it has ended like this," she wrote.

    May 12 ~ Last night the BBC pulled, without notice or explanation, a scheduled programme on al-jazeera

    Was this in order to update it with news from yet another discovered document in Baghdad? On May 10th Channel Four News (external link) reported, "Documents have come to light which suggest three Al Jazeera employees in Baghdad were also working for Saddam Husseins regime. Al Jazeera deny any wrong doing.." The allegations may or may not be true - However, we are somehow forcefully reminded of the "discovered documents" produced by George Orwell's Squealer in Animal Farm. Not even the Sunday Times' treatment of the story has quite managed to dispel this memory.

    May 12 ~ Dalyell to quiz Blair over documents

    Press Association "The Prime Minister has been challenged to explain why sensitive documents were left unprotected to be "exploited by journalists and others" in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry after the occupation of Baghdad by coalition forces. ...... Mr Dalyell, MP for Linlithgow, was referring to documents including those discovered by Daily Telegraph reporter David Blair, which showed, it is claimed, that MP George Galloway was in the pay of Saddam Hussein. .... "... if the coalition was serious about establishing the existence or otherwise of weapons of mass destruction, wouldn't the custody of such documents have been a priority as it certainly was with the advancing units of allied armies in Frankfurt and Berlin in April 1945?"

    May 12 ~ "plans to rebuild the Iraqi economy with oil wealth could lead to greater poverty for the population, increased corruption and civil strife."

    The charity Christian Aid is calling for an international commission to be established "to review the overwhelming evidence that oil wealth is driving countries into poverty and to draw up new global regulations to reverse this injustice". Christian Aid makes five recommendations for its "global oil deal", seeking to ensure oil revenues benefit development rather than corruption. Greater transparency is one of the main targets. (See Guardian external link)

    May 11/12 ~ US rivals turn on each other as weapons search draws a blank

    One key argument for war was the peril from weapons of mass destruction. Now top officials are worried by repeated failures to find the proof - and US intelligence agencies are engaged in a struggle to avoid the blame Sunday's Observer "... The Observer has learnt that Taji has drawn a blank. US sources say no such weapons were found when a search party scoured the base in late April. By then it had already been looted by local villagers. If Taji ever had any secrets, they are long gone. That is bad news for Britain and the United States. The pressure is building to find Saddam's hidden arsenal and time is running out.......
    ...Citing 'intelligence' sources, Tony Blair produced an official dossier that concluded Iraq could fire its chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so. It was a terrifying prospect and ramped up the pro-war argument when the dossier was produced last September. But cold analysis after the war tells a different story. Iraq was abandoned by the UN weapons inspectors, then bombed, invaded and finally brought under US and British military control. During that entire time the 'button' was never pressed on its weapons of mass destruction. Now both the pro-war party and the anti-war lobby want to know why. Can this mysterious lapse be explained or did the weapons never exist? "

    May 10 ~ Iraq Inc: A joint venture built on broken promises

    The Independent today pulls no punches about the latest American-British draft resolution . The Leader in the same paper begins: " Mr Blair has betrayed promises he made about post-war Iraq It is an abuse of the English language to describe the role assigned to the United Nations in Iraq by the American-British draft resolution as "vital". Tony Blair and George Bush both promised, at their joint news conference in Belfast on 8 April, that the UN would have a vital role in post-war Iraq...."

    May 10 ~ Jim Howard has died. In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger pays tribute to a man of whom he says: "I have never seen the course of human suffering turned back by one person as I did with Jim".

    http://pilger.carlton.com/print/132962 ".....He was gentle and unstoppable, charming and often wickedly ironic, and he had granite-like principles. I would say he was the very antithesis of those current craven individuals "on the left", as they falsely claim, who supported Bush's and Blair's warmongering. ......
    As one of Oxfam's first field directors, he returned to India in 1965 and pioneered a form of direct action in aid-giving. Gone was paternalism; Jim involved himself and his colleagues directly with local people. His technical skills were amazing. Following the Bihar famine in 1967, the priority Jim gave to the widespread pumping of clean water saved countless lives.
    In 1979, the Americans and sections of the British media tried to bully Oxfam out of Cambodia. When the American ambassador in Thailand referred to "those communists at Oxfam", Jim replied: "Now I know we are succeeding."
    Cambodia had a profound effect on the way many people at Oxfam saw their responsibilities. They believed it was no longer enough to dispense "Band-Aid charity" and that the organisation should take more literally its stated obligation "to educate the public concerning the nature, causes and effects of poverty, distress and suffering". ...."

    May 9/10 ~ Ken Livingstone compares Bush to Saddam

    In comments broadcast on BBC television news on Thursday night, Ken Livingstone said Bush was "not the legitimate president" of the United States. "This really is a completely unsupportable government and I look forward to it being overthrown as much as I looked forward to Saddam Hussein being overthrown," he told a meeting at his City Hall headquarters. (Reuters external)

    May 9/10 ~ "...the debate will certainly be about the oil money."

    Reuters:U.S. wants power to spend Iraq oil money "The United States intends to introduce a resolution today that will end 12 years of U.N. sanctions against Iraq and give Washington and its allies the power to spend Baghdad's future oil revenues for aid and reconstruction. The eight-page draft resolution would remove all sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 except for an arms embargo. But the document omits any reference to U.N. inspectors returning to Iraq to check on weapons of mass destruction, as 12 years of Security Council resolutions demanded."

    May 9 ~" I don't think the war would have happened if Iraq didn't have the second-largest oil reserves in the world"

    Sir Jonathan Porritt, head of the Sustainable Development Commission, which advises Blair's government on ecological issues, said the prospect of winning access to Iraqi oil was "a very large factor'' in the allies' decision to attack Iraq in March. See http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000085&sid=ahJS35XsmXGg&refer=europe

    May 8 ~".. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever."

    Margaret Drabble quotes Orwell in this hard-hitting and passionate article from today's Telegraph
    "..We have seen enough boots in the past few months to last us a lifetime. Iraqi boots, American boots, British boots. Enough of boots. I hate feeling this hatred. I have to keep reminding myself that if Bush hadn't been (so narrowly) elected, we wouldn't be here, and none of this would have happened. There is another America. Long live the other America, and may this one pass away soon."

    May 7 ~ John Pilger has been awarded the Norwegian award, the Sophie Prize 2003 for his work

    "Australian journalist John Pilger was today awarded the 2003 Sophie Prize, a Norwegian award honouring environmental or development efforts, for his work which helped the public examine the real causes of the war in Iraq.
    "Pilger has over the last 30 years contributed to uncovering the lies and propaganda of the powerful, especially as they relate to wars, conflict of interests and economic exploitation of people and natural resources," the jury said in its citation.
    The panel highlighted Pilger's coverage of the Vietnam War and a recent documentary on the Palestinian situation which "shocked and provoked debate". In addition, "during the US and British invasion of Iraq he assisted the public in critically assessing the true motives for the war. Thus the public was capable of asking crucial questions as to the legitimacy of war," the jury said. ".... He stresses that war is terrorism and that war does not contribute to fighting terrorism," the panel added. ..." article

    May 6 ~"The swaggering over Syria implicitly asks: who's next? The UN seems even more of a back number than it did in March..."

    The world won't forgive or forget Guardian today (external link) :A vast global majority opposed the war - and nothing has changed by Peter Preston
    ".... sullen acquiescence at the top does not mean parallel acceptance down below. On the contrary, those missing weapons of mass destruction open fresh wounds of mistrust. Did Washington and London just make it all up? Did they play the UN for suckers?......
    We still assume that leaders lead and people follow. We forget that sometimes it's the other way round, that maybe Schröder and Chirac did what they had to do; that publics have their fixed opinion, too. There was no war bounce for Labour when local Britain voted last week. And why should there be, you ask? What's Baghdad got to do with holes in the road in Brum? But it is not fanciful to discern a rather more subtle connection. Scotland said it best. Labour, SNP, Lib Dem? None of the above if at all possible. Bring on the Greens and the red Sheridans. Bring on the single issue mavericks. There was absolutely no smack of higher authority here. Voters, when they turned out, brusquely declined to conform. Adjectives slid off them as from duck feathers. And that may be the final, wider lesson of this war. We groundlings, down below, we Zambians and Azerbaijanis, didn't see the case to begin with. We scornfully reject it now. Whatever those guys in the presidential palaces or state houses have to say, we know the truth - and it both alarms and disgusts us. ....."

    May 6 ~ "Rebuilding has to be a reparation, not an investment." Jo Wilding.

    Local human rights activist, Jo Wilding, was in Baghdad for at the start of the US/British invasion, & throughout the bombing campaign. She has first hand information about conditions there.
    Free Entry : Friends' Meeting House. 300 Gloucester Rd DATE & TIME: Tue 13th May @7.30-9:15pm.
    "The US/UK military victory was inevitable as soon as the attack began. The real struggle for Iraqi people starts now. Now is when they have to fight for their freedom, their peace, their democracy. Now is the time they need the attention of the world, need to be heard. If the occupiers' & multinationals' machinations in Iraq are allowed to happen out of sight the way they did in Afghanistan & the Balkans then we will have failed the Iraqis. The legitimisation of existing power brokers, the importation of favoured new leaders, the use of Iraq's debts, the privatisation of oil & public services, the awarding of lucrative contracts to rebuild &, for example, for building the mobile phone network, all need to be constantly scrutinised & opposed. We need to be taking direct action against the companies engaging in the grab for the spoils. Rebuilding has to be a reparation, not an investment." Jo Wilding.
    Jo Wilding's Website: http://www.bristolfoe.org.uk/wildfire/

    May 2 ~" Welcome to the new digital and satellite age McCarthyism."

    Phony documents are "dropped" into the hands of a right-wing London newspaper owned by Conrad Black. They are amplified by Black's other holdings, including the Jerusalem Post and Chicago Sun-Times. The story is then picked up by the worldwide television outlets of News Corporation, Time Warner, Disney, and General Electric and echoed on the right-wing radio talk shows of Clear Channel and Viacom. Political careers are damaged or destroyed. There is no right of rebuttal for the accused. They are guilty as charged by a whipped up public that gets its information from the Orwellian telescreens of the corporate media." Online Journal (external link)

    May 1 ~ Powell says Iraq journalist deaths accident of war

    MADRID, May 1 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Thursday that U.S. troops appeared to have acted in self-defence when they fired on a hotel in Baghdad, killing two journalists working for Spanish television and Reuters. Some of the television crews at Powell's news conference in Madrid wore white T-shirts printed with the name and face of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso and the word "murdered". The back of their shirts read "We want answers". Powell said the incident was still under investigation..."
    See entry for April 9

    May 1 ~" U.N.agencies say the biggest problem facing Iraq is not a serious shortage of relief supplies but rather a breakdown in order and a crisis of governance. "

    "Another 650 international U.N. staff, who withdrew ahead of the war, are on standby to redeploy. They are to join 3,400 Iraqis still employed by the world body once security allows. A growing number of aid convoys, from the United Nations and other agencies, are crossing into Iraq, carrying hundreds of tonnes of food and medical equipment. The war disrupted food supply in Iraq, where 60 percent of the population were dependent on the U.N.'s oil-for-food programme which allowed proceeds from Iraq's oil to be used to buy food to meet their needs while the country was under international economic sanctions. The U.N. aid coordinator for Iraq would continue to administer the programme until any changes are introduced by the U.N. Security Council, Friji said. ...." Reuters today (external link)

    May 1 ~ "eight million people are not a focus group... "

    From Janeane Garofalo Won't Back Down (Progressive.org - external link)
    "Military parents would have a legitimate case, especially against Fox and the New York Post for cheerleading this thing the whole way, for waving the flag, and using knee-jerk, sycophantic, pseudo-patriotism as a tool to galvanize public opinion. ...There's been such an assault on democracy here, and the mainstream media is complicit in it. We are living in neo-McCarthy, post-democratic times. Democracy is being criminalized. Democracy is being ignored.
    Millions of people around the world were marching for peace before the war actually happened. This was historically unprecedented. And it has been basically ignored and marginalized by the mainstream media. The President has openly said that he doesn't make policy by focus group. First of all, eight million people are not a focus group. And he sure does make policy by focus group, and it's called the Christian right...."

    April 30 ~ The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has criticised U.S. plans to take over the task of weapons inspections in Iraq

    Reuters (external link)
    "The mandate of the (International Atomic Energy Agency) is still in force," Mohamed ElBaradei was quoted as saying ... ElBaradei said that it made no sense for the U.S. military to carry out weapons inspections when the U.N. was ready, willing and capable of handling them.
    "We have years of experience and know every scientist worth interviewing," ElBaradei said.
    He also said that the lack of an Iraqi government was no obstacle to the return of U.N. inspectors to Baghdad. Last month, the United States announced After a month of war in Iraq, U.S. and British forces have found no conclusive evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed or sought banned chemical, biological or nuclear weapons as Washington and London had long alleged. They also refuse to let the U.N. inspectors return....."

    April 30 ~ The gaping hole in Iraq

    "Occupation has brought social collapse, Bloody Sunday shootings and the waking of a Shi'ite giant ...
    the nagging doubt will remain that both Bush and Blair talked up a threat to justify an unnecessary conflict...
    .... this war is far from over. Indeed, when you consider the combustible elements now in play - a blundering, tactless foreign occupier confronting a nation surging with Islamic fervour - this battle may be just beginning."
    "...Every day, life in Iraq improves," a sunny Bush told a cheering Arab-American crowd in Michigan on Monday. But the reality on the ground is not quite so rosy. ... there is the irritating matter of the war's official cause: Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Until they turn up, the nagging doubt will remain that both Bush and Blair talked up a threat to justify an unnecessary conflict...... France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg announced a new European security and defence union, separate from Nato and pointedly excluding pro-war countries such as Britain.
    ...........No wonder Geoff Hoon was squirming last week, when asked if Iraq's future elections would be of the one-person, one-vote variety. The system would be "representative," was all Hoon would promise. In other words, Iraqis are to have a Henry Ford election: they can have whatever colour they want so long as it's black. .." Jonathan Freedland writes in today's Guardian

    April 30 ~ "...The campaign against petrodollars was launched by Saddam Hussein himself.

    In September 2000, his regime announced it would no longer accept dollars for oil being sold under the United Nation's "oil for food" program. A government statement said that to confront the "daily American-Zionist aggression", oil would have to be paid for in euros. While that move had a negligible impact on the US economy, it gave Iraq a boost when the euro appreciated by 30 per cent against the US dollar in recent months.
    Now that US military forces control Iraq, that nation is expected to once again accept greenbacks for its oil...." From the Sydney Morning Herald on April 22

    April 29 ~ "Putting Dan Amstutz in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq is like putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights commission." Kevin Watkins, Oxfam's policy director

    "This guy is uniquely well-placed to advance the commercial interests of American grain companies and bust open the Iraqi market - but singularly ill-equipped to lead a reconstruction effort in a developing country." With President Bush on record as saying he wants American farmers to feed the world, Oxfam is worried that the Iraqi agricultural sector will be left unprotected from cut-price US competition at the crucial early stages of its reconstruction. ..." The Guardian on Monday

    April 29 ~ 13 civilians dead in Falluja. "..a very nasty incident with many conflicting versions of precisely what seems to have happened.."

    writes Jon Snow in the Channel Four briefing note "The top line is that 13 Iraqi civilians are dead, shot by American soldiers. The bottom line is that they were protesting at the American's occupation of a school and the American charge that they were armed with AK47s and that they shot at them first. The Iraqis say they were unarmed.
    Either way, this goes to the very core of the problems of policing a very different cultural entity to that in which most American troops have grown up amongst. There has not yet been much evidence that Americans understand the complex weft and weave of Iraq's dense Shia majority. Lindsey Hilsum, when she was in Baghdad, illustrated how easy it was for innocent civilians to get caught up in the crossfire of misunderstanding..." See also http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/04/week_4/29_war.html(external link and new window)

    April 29 ~ The Evening Standard and the doctored photo of "Jubilation on the streets of Baghdad"

    From The MemoryHole.org site (external link) comes this evidence of what they call "a blatant lie--drastically altering a news image in order to present as reality something that never occurred"
    "On 9 April 2003, the front page of the London Evening Standard (circulation: 400,000) contained a blurry image supposedly showing a throng of Iraqis in Baghdad celebrating the toppling of Saddam Hussein. What we are really looking at is an incredibly ham-fisted attempt at photo manipulation. " The blowing up of the imager shows how it was done.
    On this website, we noted how sparse the crowds actually were on the day Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled. See entry for April 12 "...A wide angle shot in which you can see the whole of Fardus Square (conveniently located just opposite the Palestine Hotel where the international media are based), and the presence of at most around 200 people - most of them US troops (note the tanks and armored vehicles) and assembled journalists."

    April 28 ~ "I think as a result of the action we have taken we are going to find it easier to deal with those states that still have weapons of mass destruction and are promoting terrorism." Tony Blair

    The Financial Times interview with the Prime Minister.. "....Europe needs to recognise that America, particularly post-11 September, has a fixed determination to deal with its security threat, which I happen also to believe is a threat to the rest of the world too... I have never had a problem with intervention...."

    April 28 ~ "In the near future, America can be expected to embark on a more radical search to define who is not part of the natural order:

    "... exclusion, deportation, and eventually extermination, might again become the order of things. Of course, we can notice obvious differences from the German nationalist tradition: but that is precisely the task of scholars to delineate, rather than pretend that fascism occurred only in Italy and Germany and satellite states in the first half of the century, and occurs today only in Europe in minor movements that have no chance of gaining political supremacy.
    It is wrong to pretend that fascism takes hold only in the midst of extreme economic depression or political chaos. (A perception of crisis or instability is indispensable to realizing fascism, however.) Fascism can emerge when things are not all that bad economically, politically, and culturally. ..." From an essay that dares to ask: "Is America Becoming Fascist?" The similarities between American fascism and particularly the National Socialist precedent, both historical and theoretical, are remarkable. The article is by Anis Shivani who studied economics at Harvard, and is the author of two novels, The Age of Critics and Memoirs of a Terrorist. He welcomes comments at: Anis_Shivani_ab92@post.harvard.edu

    April 28 ~ Carving Up The New Iraq " in the US government political theory goes hand-in-hand with big business..."

    "..The end result of the lofty musings of Republican hawks fashioning the concepts behind the new world order is money-grubbing for the yankee dollar. The world isn't just watching the spread of a political philosophy in Iraq, it is watching a conquest by and for US big business as well. The term "military-industrial" complex brings to mind crazy conspiracy theories , but let's consider the term again. Each and every one of the companies in the running or in posession of contracts to reconstruct Iraq are either major Republican donors or have government staff working for them. The donations to the Republican party - and also to George W Bush himself - run into millions . .."
    An interesting and informative article by Neil Mackay which is worth reading in full particularly for its comment on the major players among the neo-conservatives.

    April 27 ~ "... I actually thought Mr. Blair was worrying about the rights and wrongs of killing Iraqi children and women, in order to further American military interests in the Middle East."

    Terry Jones in the Observer on "Mr Blair's Dark Days": ".. I have to confess, all that time, during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, when Tony was walking around looking so ill and worried, I foolishly imagined it was because he was wrestling with his conscience. I know it's laughable to think of it now, but I actually thought Mr. Blair was worrying about the rights and wrongs of killing Iraqi children and women, in order to further American military interests in the Middle East. You can imagine how relieved I am to discover that nothing of the sort was going through his head. No...our Tony never took his eye off the real issues of the day: the survival of the Labour government and his continued residence in No. 10. It's reassuring to know we never need to worry about our Prime Minister placing our country in danger because he wishes to pursue a moral line. His only interests, and those of his government, are manifestly those of the right-wing extremists who now inhabit the White House, and that must be good for someone - if only we knew who..."

    April 27 ~ "How the road to war was paved with lies"

    Intelligence agencies accuse Bush and Blair of distorting and fabricating evidence in rush to war Raymond Whitaker in The Independent on Sunday "The case for invading Iraq to remove its weapons of mass destruction was based on selective use of intelligence, exaggeration, use of sources known to be discredited and outright fabrication...."

    April 26/27 ~ The Iraq/Niger uranium forgery ~ the phoney war's great hoax:

    (article from TheAge.com Australian external link) ".... the dossier that Colin Powell finally presented to the UN in early March as "proof" that Iraq had imported illicit uranium ore from Niger. For months before that, the Bush Administration kept the file close to its chest, citing it constantly, but seldom letting anyone take a closer look.
    Now, quietly, quite a few people are paying it a good deal more attention, including a handful of congressional investigators. Far from clearing up the mystery, however, the digging has only deepened it....
    "Who falsified this?" chief weapons inspector Hans Blix demanded last week, arguing that his team should be readmitted to occupied Iraq. "Is it not disturbing that the intelligence agencies that should have all the technical means at their disposal did not discover that this was falsified?"
    Disturbing indeed. Initially attributed only to vague "intelligence sources", the documents appeared to represent hard proof that Saddam Hussein was in flagrant breach of UN sanctions. As Powell explained, they constituted "an irrefutable smoking gun". Within hours of being made available to the UN, however, they were exposed as fictions - and not very good ones at that. First, there was the quantity of uranium ore said to be involved - 500 tonnes - which would have represented 20 per cent of Niger's total annual output, a quantity so large it stretches credulity to imagine it being siphoned off unnoticed.
    Then there were the documents themselves. One bore the signature of Niger's foreign minister - except that the man in question hadn't held that job for 11 years. Same thing with the letter alleged to have originated in the president's office. A simple internet check by UN officials revealed that the letterhead dated back to an earlier regime.
    So who concocted them and why?

    April 26/27 ~ Depleted uranium casts shadow over peace in Iraq

    New Scientist article" "Wrecked tanks and vehicles litter the Iraqi countryside. Ruined buildings dominate towns and cities. Many were blown to pieces by shells tipped with depleted uranium, a material that the US and Britain say poses no long-term health or environmental risks. But many Iraqis, and a growing band of scientists, are not so sure...."
    See also The Royal Society reports on Depleted Uranium, 2002 - Recommendations ( external pdf file opens in new window)
  • Long-term epidemiological studies of soldiers exposed to DU, and environmental sampling, particularly of water and milk, should be undertaken. Information about DU levels should be given to local populations, and contaminated areas cleaned up.
    British veterans exposed to high levels of DU should be identified and independently evaluated. An independent study of anecdotal reports of death and illness in US veterans linked to DU is required.
  • In any future conflict using DU munitions, tests of kidney function should be completed on soldiers as soon after exposure as practical.
  • Better estimates of DU levels in the air around tanks, and models of DU oxide behaviour during impact, are required. More information is needed on the bioavailability of DU and titanium products from munitions, and whether these concentrate in plants and animals.

    April 26/27 ~ Credibility gap widens on Iraq's weapons

    Yesterday's Guardian leader "...For Mr Hoon now to try to disown last autumn's official early warning of a 45-minute countdown to Armageddon, as he did in a Radio 4 interview yesterday, simply will not do. The dossier was produced by a government of which he is reportedly a prized ornament. To assert, as he did, that Saddam did not resort to such weapons because allied action prevented him from issuing the orders is frankly incredible, teetering on absurd. For Mr Hoon to say that WMD cannot now be found because they were hidden at the last moment contradicts the previous claim that Iraq was positively, obstreperously bristling with them. It is also an unintended, deserved vindication of the UN's Hans Blix. Rather than launch into a war, all Mr Blix wanted was more time to complete his inspections. This he was flatly denied by, among others, the same Mr Hoon who, despite almost total US-British physical control of Iraq, now says - wait for it - that more time is needed to find the weapons...." More

    April 26 ~ out of tragedy into farce

    "...Mr Galloway said the latest allegations lifted the campaign against him "out of tragedy into farce". He said: "I am the subject of a deliberate campaign of forgery and deception." Mr Galloway said the allegations purportedly referred to the authorisation of payments as far back as July 1992. He said he first visited Iraq in the latter part of 1993 and had never visited Iraq at that time." Telegraph today

    April 25 ~ "...Under the pretext of a search for banned weapons

    foreign troops are continuing the destruction of Iraq's civil administration and attempting to install a new apparatus answerable to them
    ......The attacks on Iraq's culture and institutions are perceived by many Iraqis as part of this effort to undermine the country's national integrity and identity.
    The thrust of occupation policies and propaganda is to create conditions of dependency
    . ....Iraq's oil revenues must be placed under professional Iraqi management with UN supervision until a constitutional government is established. It is important that France, Russia and Germany do not compromise on this fundamental issue. The oil-for-food programme must remain under UN care until all foreign military forces leave.
    The Saddam regime is gone, and a new Iraq is in the making in which the popular will is likely to be stronger."
    From the Guardian article today by Kamil Mahdi , an Iraqi and lecturer in Middle East economics, University of Exeter

    April 25 ~" he is constrained by being the farthing in the penny-farthing bicycle of the alliance"

    Peter Riddell in yesterday's Guardian on the " trap in which Tony Blair has placed himself. He believes that the only way to influence Washington is to express doubts in private, behind a public face of unity. But this risks swallowing doubts in the hope that the overall balance is favourable. That claim is now looking increasingly strained. ..."

    April 23 ~ The UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, yesterday condemned the prewar efforts of British and American intelligence to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction

    and insisted that, without UN verification, their postwar inspections lacked credibility.
    "We may not be the only ones in the world who have credibility, but I do think we have credibility for being objective and independent," he said. Mr Blix, who is due to retire from his post in June, briefed the UN security council on his readiness to send inspection teams back to Iraq. Earlier, in a BBC radio interview, he said the coalition had appeared to use "shaky" evidence, including forged documents, as a pretext for making war on Iraq. ..." Guardian

    April 15 ~ Major General Tim Cross says (on the Today Programme) " we will work increasingly with the international community..."

    Jay Garner's Number Two, Major General Tim Cross is the most senior Briton on the team aiming to form an Iraqi-led administration in the talks that are taking place near Nasiriyah today. John Humphrys said: "There will be a big meeting in Iraq today to decide how the country should be run now that the war is over - well not really to decide - it has already been decided. It will be run by America in the near future at least. There will be an "Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance" headed by a retired American General Jay Garner, and that will be the effective interim government. (Listen to the interview)
    Tim Cross said: " the issue is who do the Iraqi people want to be their future leadership...anybody and everybody who believes they want to be involved in the future of Iraq is welcome to be part of this process...the team was only established in January...we will work increasingly with the international community...we are not trying to model (the future administration of Iraq) on any preconceived plan...."
    Major General Cross said that he had been involved with Iraq "since September" last year.

    April 15 ~ Nothing is over.

    Comment from the Telegraph today. "There is no logical route from September 11 to the invasion of Iraq, but there is a powerful political connection: those attacks made sure that America is now intent on showing the world that it is the only hyperpower in town. This new, gritty, Rumsfeld-shaped empire cannot conceivably stop its career now. It will inevitably move on to new wars, with new victims, new triumphs, new horrors. Nothing is over. America has only just begun to act its part as the new Rome: luxury, delight, sophistication at home; an almost unbroken series of wars on its frontiers and the crushing of the non-American on the edges of imperium."

    April 15 ~ Coalition in the dock

    (Guardian - external link) "There is a strong war crimes case against US and British leaders, but big powers have immunity .....It is not difficult to imagine how the case for the prosecution against the coalition might be constructed. An indictment would have three main elements. In the first place, Britain and the US have waged an illegal war, without the sanction of a UN resolution (in itself of dubious legality when it comes to a war launched in violation of the UN charter and fought on this scale). Any argument that Saddam's failure to disarm fast enough justified the invasion of his state, the destruction of Iraq's major cities and the killing of thousands of Iraqis fails on the legal concept of proportionality. In British law, a householder may not cut an intruder to shreds with an axe on suspicion of burglary; if he does so, he becomes the object of prosecution. The suspected - but as yet unproven - violations of disarmament resolutions should not justify in international law the massive destruction and dislocation of the entire Iraqi state... .
    ....No one seriously believes that Bush and Blair will be indicted. International law works only against weaker states. Big powers have an unmerited, but unassailable, immunity. Even if anyone were brave or rash enough to try to indict coalition leaders, the US has refused to ratify the statute establishing the international criminal court, which came into force on July 2 2002. The court has been set up to deal with gross violations of international law and human rights. Technically it can prosecute state nationals from states that have not subscribed to the statute. But the view has been widely held that the US refused to join because it wanted to be able to dish out its own justice. ...The operation of double standards has been evident throughout the campaign. What the coalition does with impunity is hailed as a war crime when it is committed by Iraqis. .....
    The last three weeks of coalition violence have destroyed 60 years of patient international collaboration to build a sound framework for the conduct of affairs between states. Justice Jackson must be turning in his grave. " "

    April 15 ~ Syria "... a bit of a good cop, bad cop routine"

    Guardian (external link) "....President George Bush, who faces re-election next year with two perilous nation-building projects, in Afghanistan and Iraq, on his hands, is said to have cut off discussion among his advisers about the possibility of taking the "war on terror" to Syria.
    "The talk about Syria didn't go anywhere. Basically, the White House shut down the discussion," an intelligence source in Washington told the Guardian.
    Faced with rising apprehension over the prospect of a new conflict, Tony Blair also offered categorical assurances to anx ious MPs yesterday that Britain and the US had "no plans whatsoever" to invade Iraq's neighbour. ..."

    April 14 ~ Politicians from Britain and EU try to calm growing tensions over Syria

    Guardian (external link) ".... the EU policy chief, Javier Solana, today urged Washington to tone down its harsh words about Syria, saying it was time to "cool down" the Middle East's already tense situation.
    Over the weekend, President George Bush repeated allegations that Syria might be harbouring Iraqi officials or chemical weapons. Damascus has denied both charges. Syria said it had closed its border with Iraq after US-led forces captured one of Saddam Hussein's half brothers in northern Iraq and said he was planning to flee to Syria.
    The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, made matters worse by saying: "The Syrian government is making a lot of bad mistakes, a lot of bad judgements in my view."...."

    April 14 ~ which ministries proved to be so important for the Americans? Why, the Ministry of Interior, of course - with its vast wealth of intelligence information on Iraq - and the Ministry of Oil.

    Robert Fisk in the Independent
    "... After days of arson and pillage, here's a short but revealing scorecard. US troops have sat back and allowed mobs to wreck and then burn the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Irrigation, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information. They did nothing to prevent looters from destroying priceless treasures of Iraq's history in the Baghdad Archaeological Museum and in the museum in the northern city of Mosul, or from looting three hospitals.
    The Americans have, though, put hundreds of troops inside two Iraqi ministries that remain untouched - and untouchable - because tanks and armoured personnel carriers and Humvees have been placed inside and outside both institutions. And which ministries proved to be so important for the Americans? Why, the Ministry of Interior, of course - with its vast wealth of intelligence information on Iraq - and the Ministry of Oil...."

    April 14 ~ Bomb before you buy

    What is being planned in Iraq is not reconstruction but robbery says Naomi Klein in today's Guardian
    "On April 6, deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz spelled it out: there will be no role for the UN in setting up an interim government in Iraq. The US-run regime will last at least six months, "probably longer than that". And by the time the Iraqi people have a say in choosing a government, the key economic decisions about their country's future will have been made by their occupiers...."

    April 14 ~ No government or official agency has yet committed itself to providing an account of the cost of this conflict in civilian lives.

    " A Swiss Government initiative launched in the middle of the war was abandoned under political pressure. Iraq Body Count will continue to document this starkest statistic of the cost of war for as long as it is needed. The research work for this project is carried out entirely by volunteers scanning and collating reports from the world's media. A cautious methodology ensures consistent standards of reporting. To be published in the database, a report must be carried by at least two reputable media sources, and provide an unambiguous report of the number of civilians killed." See IRAQ page

    April 13 ~ a whole company of Marines, along with at least a half-dozen amphibious assault vehicles, has been assigned to guard the Ministry of Oil....

    Story from Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post (external link) "....Some Iraqis, however, question the allocation of U.S. forces around the capital. They note a whole company of Marines, along with at least a half-dozen amphibious assault vehicles, has been assigned to guard the Ministry of Oil, while many other ministries -- including trade, information, planning, health and education -- remain unprotected.
    "Why just the oil ministry?" Jaf asked. "Is it because they just want our oil?"
    U.S. military officials said the Marines have been guarding other sensitive installations, but during a lengthy drive though the capital Saturday, patrols could be seen in only two wealthy neighborhoods. Many Iraqis and some of the few Western aid workers in the capital expressed wonder that the U.S. military was not more prepared to handle civil disturbances stemming from Saddam's downfall and evaporation of his once-pervasive security forces." http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/5622812.htm

    April 13 ~ Today programme presenter John Humphrys : 'We are not part of that propaganda war'

    'We are meant to do what, in my view, Andrew Gilligan has done brilliantly over the past few weeks, at enormous personal risk, I might add, which is telling us what he sees and hears. He is not meant to say to himself, "I wonder whether they will approve of that in No 10".'
    articles from the Sunday Herald and Observer on the subject of Downing Street criticism of Andrew Gilligan

    April 13 ~ "..the U.S.' oil supremacy stood threatened, and with it the dollar's supremacy, and the ability of the U.S. to contract limitless debt.."

    An article in the Hindu, From over-capacity to war (external link) clearly explains US fear of the emergence of the euro: "... ... In the last five or six years, an important change has taken place in the international oil scene. In the late 1990s, several large oil producers such as Iraq, Iran and Venezuela opened up development of their oil resources to foreign investment. Even Saudi Arabia invited bids for development of its natural gas. The contracts that Iraq signed with the French, Russian, Chinese and Italian firms were stalled, thanks to the sanctions regime.
    Iran, however, concluded deals with the French, Russian and Malaysian firms even as American firms - barred by U.S. sanctions against that country - gnashed their teeth.
    Venezuela's increasing assertiveness and consequent alienation from the U.S. did not bode well for the future of American firms there. The sanctions kept the American firms out of Libya and Sudan as well, and Chinese firms have been negotiating huge deals for Indonesian oil.
    So before September 11, 2001, the U.S.' oil supremacy stood threatened, and with it the dollar's supremacy, and the ability of the U.S. to contract limitless debt. The invasion of Iraq, it is now widely acknowledged, is merely the first chapter in a wider adventure by the U.S. Not only are regimes unfriendly to the U.S. - such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela and Libya - being targeted. Amazingly, scenarios are being discussed at the top level for invasion of even client states such as Saudi Arabia.Only the physical possession of the bulk of the world's dwindling oil resources and their denial to other powers would allow the U.S. to maintain its oil supremacy as well as dictate terms on a variety of issues - economic and strategic - to countries such as France and Germany, which are entirely dependent on oil imports, as well as to China, the import dependence of which is rapidly increasing. ..."

    April 12 ~"Thousands of demonstrators marched through London today

    to commemorate those killed during the war in Iraq and warn that the suffering is far from over. Tens of thousands of protesters, many holding placards demanding "No occupation of Iraq", converged on Parliament Square, where they held two minutes' silence for the victims of war before marching on towards Hyde Park. In bright spring sunshine, marchers tossed bunches of yellow daffodils at the gates of Downing Street..." Guardian (external link)

    April 12 ~ " In a move that further undermines the United Nations' role in Iraq, the US has secretly and unilaterally resumed weapons inspections"

    In an extraordinary performance reminiscent of the Iraqi information minister who assured the world that all was well even as battles raged visibly around him, Mr Rumsfeld quipped: "The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over, and over, and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times, and you think, 'My goodness, were there that many vases? Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?' "
    In what appeared to be a concerted effort to damp down media coverage of the chaos, the British government simultaneously laid into the BBC and its defence correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, accusing them of "trying to make the news" rather than reporting it.. Mr Gilligan hit back: "The reality is half the shopping district [in Baghdad] is now being looted. Downing Street may be saying it's only regime targets that are being attacked. I'm afraid it isn't." ...." Guardian today (external link)

    April 12 ~If in the last moment of [the Iraqi regime's] existence it did not use them, it means they do not exist,"

    BBC (external link) Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the fall of Saddam Hussein but questioned the validity of the coalition's war aim of rooting out weapons of mass destruction. "If in the last moment of [the Iraqi regime's] existence it did not use them, it means they do not exist" he said after a trilateral meeting in the Russian city of St Petersburg with fellow anti-war leaders of Germany and France. All three stressed the importance of a primary role for the UN in the reconstruction of Iraq when war ends. .."

    April 12 ~ Israeli soldier shoots British ISM activist Tom Hundall in Gaza

    Electronic Intifada - 11 Apr 2003 (external link)
    "Between 4:30 and 5:00 PM today Israeli snipers shot another ISM activist in the head. Tom Hundall from Manchester Britain is currently in critical condition in a helicopter on his way from Europa Hospital in Khan Younis to a hospital in Bir Sheva. He is 22 years old. According to Laura, the activists were being shot at while protecting some children from Israeli gunfire. Tom was in plain view of the sniper towers and was wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket with reflective stripes. The nine ISM activists and many children were in the process of leaving the area. Sniper fire from the tower was hitting the wall close beside the children, who were afraid to move. Tom was attempting to bring them to safety when he was shot. There was no shooting or resistance coming from the Palestinian side at all...Tom saw a little boy in an open space, clearly visible to the tower. Tom went to get him out of the way. He looked back and saw two more girls whom he also went to retrieve. As he went to get them, he was shot in the back of the head. He fell to the ground in a pool of blood. The ambulance arrived quickly, after about two minutes. For years the Israeli army has killed Palestinian civilians with impunity. Now they are targeting unarmed international peace activists and human rights workers. On March 16, Rachel Corrie was run over and killed by a bulldozer operator in Rafah while trying to prevent home demolitions. On April 5, in Jenin, Brian Avery was shot in the face by an APC in an unprovoked attack on a clearly unarmed group of internationals. Six months ago in Jenin, Caoimhe Butterly was shot in the leg and UN official Ian Hook was murdered. "

    April 12 ~ Mr Bush cannot find a few symbolic "weapons of mass destruction", put his friend, Ahmad Chalabi, in an office block and vanish

    Simon Jenkins in the Times today: "....George Bush and Tony Blair were speaking as much to their own people as to Iraqis yesterday when they promised on Arab television that their forces would withdraw "as soon as possible". The promise must have sent a shudder down every pro-Western spine. It sounds like 1991 all over again.
    This war is different from Kuwait or Kosovo. It has involved the elimination of a country's entire leadership, public administration and system of justice. Those who so traumatise a nation state cannot cut and run "as soon as possible". Mr Bush cannot find a few symbolic "weapons of mass destruction", put his friend, Ahmad Chalabi, in an office block and vanish.
    British troops in Basra yesterday protested that they could not ensure civil order as they "were not sent here to be policemen". That is exactly why they were sent. They were to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. They were to topple an evil regime. By force of arms they have asserted their authority in the streets of Basra. Surely they owe it to those they claim to "liberate" not to hand them over to the mobsters, looters and killers who ran Iraq before the Baath party established ruthless order two decades ago. .." ...

    April 12 ~ If there is one thing this war has taught us all, it's that we can't believe what we're told.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2838.htm "You have probably seen the photos of the statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled, and TV footage of jubilant Iraqis rolling the bronze head around, bringing back memories of so many previous popular uprisings - 1989, 1956, 1953...
    For Donald Rumsfeld these were "breathtaking". For the British Army they were "historic". For BBC Radio they were "amazing".
    A wide angle shot in which you can see the whole of Fardus Square (conveniently located just opposite the Palestine Hotel where the international media are based), and the presence of at most around 200 people - most of them US troops (note the tanks and armored vehicles) and assembled journalists.
    The BBC website had the honesty to say that "dozens" of Iraqis were involved, but this grain of truth was swamped by the overwhelming impression of mass joy. The radio and TV were even worse.
    The masses are no doubt glad to see the back of Saddam Hussein, but this was a US Army propaganda coup, staged for the benefit of the same journalists it had bombed the day previously, and which the British media have swallowed hook line and sinker. Shame on them."

    April 12 ~ It is a sign of the desperation in London and Washington to find a "smoking gun" to justify the war

    that the Anglo-American team has already conducted three inspections in the past two weeks. No banned weapons have so far been found. Guardian today (external link)

    April 11 ~"Britain's Sun newspaper - a Murdoch-owned tabloid - puts the photograph of a dissenting British Member of Parliament on its front cover with the word 'Traitor' emblazoned on the page.

    It even went so far as to publish his e-mail address and telephone number, inciting its ignorant readers to tell the MP their thoughts. The result was a barrage of insults and death threats forcing the paper's victim to surround himself with bodyguards...."( article below)

    April 11 ~ tears of frustration and humiliation ...

    "Like Hamid Karzai before him, the normally well turned-out Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress , has donned a uniform and headed off to northern Iraq to make his victorious entry into Baghdad like Hannibal without the elephant.
    ..In Najaf, American soldiers headed toward the golden-domed Imam Ali Mosque, one of the most sacred Shiite sites, and were kept back by sheer people power. Hundreds of unarmed men steadfastly marched toward those armored servants of the US military machine, shaking their fists in a rare display of courage. The confused soldiers were ordered to step back and smile. We were not told by our media of the bravery of those men defending an icon of their religion, only of the diplomacy of the American troops in retreating. In Nassiriyah, an enraged middle-aged resident shouted his objection to women being subjected to body searches at checkpoints, and called Bush, Hussein and others "liars."
    He then sobbed tears of frustration and humiliation.... "

    April 11 ~ other opinion

    article from Jihadspun
    "..American oil companies wait for this war to receive a stamp of legality from the United Nations before they can draw up lucrative contracts. US companies look forward to being recipients of bounty from Iraq's reconstruction and the Israelis hope for a long-awaited oil pipeline from northern Iraq to Haifa. Evangelical Messianic Christians circle like soul-scalping vultures in Jordan until they can make their vainglorious entry into Baghdad bearing bread and Bibles. In the meantime, the Iraqis cry rivers of tears, comfort their children and bury their dead while the gagged and compliant media bury theirs." Another angry article - this time from Jihad Unspun(external link) which calls itself "a clear view of the US war on terrorism" As Natasha Walter says today in the Independent, "if you are flipping through internet sites, you can run through a whole gamut of other opinion......."

    April 11 ~ "The hospitals in Basra have wards overflowing with children with cancers of a variety not seen before 1991. They have no painkillers; they are fortunate if they have aspirin."

    John Pilger (external link), very angry "... Iraq was the only Arab country with a 90 per cent clean water supply and with free education. All this was smashed by the Anglo-American embargo. When the embargo was imposed in 1990, the Iraqi civil service organised a food distribution system that the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation described as "a model of efficiency . . . undoubtedly saving Iraq from famine". That, too, was smashed when the invasion was launched.
    Why are the British yet to explain why their troops have to put on protective suits to recover dead and wounded in vehicles hit by American "friendly fire"? The reason is that the Americans are using solid uranium coated on missiles and tank shells. When I was in southern Iraq, doctors estimated a sevenfold increase in cancers in areas where depleted uranium was used by the Americans and British in the 1991 war. Under the subsequent embargo, Iraq, unlike Kuwait, has been denied equipment with which to clean up its contaminated battlefields. The hospitals in Basra have wards overflowing with children with cancers of a variety not seen before 1991. They have no painkillers; they are fortunate if they have aspirin.
    With honourable exceptions (Robert Fisk; al-Jazeera), little of this has been reported. Instead, the media have performed their preordained role as imperial America's "soft power": rarely identifying "our" crime, or misrepresenting it as a struggle between good intentions and evil incarnate. This abject professional and moral failure now beckons the unseen dangers of such an epic, false victory, inviting its repetition in Iran, Korea, Syria, Cuba, China. George Bush has said: "It will be no defence to say: 'I was just following orders.'" He is correct...."

    April 11 ~ The victor of the news war has been the internet

    By Natasha Walter in the Independent "............. Certainly, if you've been using the internet during this war, you will know that there have been a couple of places where you could feel almost close to the hearts and minds of civilians in the country that we are invading. The famous Baghdad blogger, who wrote under the name Salam Pax ( here external link), gave readers a better insight into what the bombs falling on Baghdad looked like to Baghdadis than any Western reporter. "As one of the buildings I really love went up in a huge explosion," he wrote early on in the war, "I was close to tears."
    .....Despite some heroically dissenting voices, such as that of Robert Fisk, mainstream media outlets in Britain and the US agreed that simple errors sent missiles flying into the Palestine Hotel, killing Taras Protsyuk of Reuters and the Spanish correspondent Jose Couso; and into the headquarters of al-Jazeera, killing their chief correspondent Tariq Ayoub. But if you are flipping through internet sites, you can run through a whole gamut of other opinion........
    The assumption that the Americans are deliberately targeting journalists jumps out at you from Arab websites. You can visit the United Arab Emirates-based site for Gulf News, and read Arab journalists saying, "The Anglo-American forces are dealing brutally with the press so they will not show the true picture of what is happening in Iraq".
    That is not to say that the internet is just about the free flow of unbiased information. .... ........ But at their best, parts of the internet remind us of the ideal expressed by the Israeli man who hosted a copy of the Baghdad blogger's diary: "I'm Israeli, but I don't think it's weird that I'm mirroring an Iraqi guy's blog. We're all people, you know, we're not robots programmed with the official policies of our countries."

    April 11 ~ Robert Fisk: Baghdad: the day after Arson, anarchy, fear, hatred, hysteria, looting, revenge, savagery, suspicion and a suicide bombing

    Independent (external link)
    "It was the day of the looter. .... At the headquarters of Unicef, which has been trying to save and improve the lives of millions of Iraqi children since the 1980s, an army of thieves stormed the building, throwing brand new photocopiers on top of each other and sending cascades of UN files on child diseases, pregnancy death rates and nutrition across the floors. The Americans may think they have "liberated" Baghdad but the tens of thousands of thieves - they came in families and cruised the city in trucks and cars searching for booty - seem to have a different idea what liberation means. .......... As the occupying power, America is responsible for protecting embassies and UN offices in their area of control but, yesterday, its troops were driving past the German embassy even as looters carted desks and chairs out of the front gate. It is a scandal, a kind of disease, a mass form of kleptomania that American troops are blithely ignoring. ........ ......
    ..... an American Marine sniper sitting atop the palace gate wounded three civilians, including a little girl, in a car that failed to halt - then shot and killed a man who had walked on to his balcony to discover the source of the firing. Within minutes, the sniper also shot dead the driver of another car and wounded two more passengers in that vehicle, including a young woman. A crew from Channel 4 Television was present when the killings took place...."

    April 10 ~ an old man in an old car, was shot in the head in front of two French journalists

    Robert Fisk in today's Independent "....even as the marine tanks thrashed and ground down the highway, there were men and women who saw them and stood, the women scarved, the men observing the soldiers with the most acute attention, who spoke of their fear for the future, who talked of how Iraq could never be ruled by foreigners. "You'll see the celebrations and we will be happy Saddam has gone," one of them said to me. "But we will then want to rid ourselves of the Americans and we will want to keep our oil and there will be resistance and then they will call us "terrorists".
    Nor did the Americans look happy "liberators". They pointed their rifles at the pavements and screamed at motorists to stop - one who did not, an old man in an old car, was shot in the head in front of two French journalists.

    April 10 ~ "..they must be brave because their father had to work night and day at the hospital and they mustn't cry because I have to work for humanity"

    Robert Fisk in Baghdad
    "Dr Baeri speaks like a sleepwalker, trying to describe how difficult it is to stop a wounded man or woman from suffocating when they have been wounded in the thorax, explaining that after four operations to extract metal from the brains of his patients, he is almost too tired to think, let alone in English. As I leave him, he tells me that he does not know where his family is.
    "Our house was hit and my neighbours sent a message to tell me they sent them away somewhere. I do not know where. I have two little girls, they are twins, and I told them they must be brave because their father had to work night and day at the hospital and they mustn't cry because I have to work for humanity. And now I have no idea where they are." Then Dr Baeri choked on his words and began to cry and could not say goodbye.

    April 10 ~ "All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism..."

    "Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country." - Hermann Goering, Hitler's Reich-Marshall

    April 10 ~ the war has shown that the politics of spin can come out of the barrel of a gun.

    Mick Hume writing in spiked-online.co.uk "..Meanwhile, in Baghdad and Basra, the streets are filled with looters rather than Iraqi freedom fighters. The promised popular uprising proved as illusory as the 'elite' Republican Guard. History shows that when people rise up and liberate themselves from tyranny, it creates a new sense of social solidarity and empowerment. But when they are 'liberated' by foreign powers, as if they were helpless children being snatched from an abuser, it leaves little more than a vacuum and a deep sense of powerlessness.
    The vacuum at the centre of Iraqi society, like the bomb craters in Baghdad, reveals the hole at the heart of the Bush-Blair war."

    April 10 ~"Chalabi has been in exile for four decades and, in 1992, he was convicted on multiple counts of embezzlement

    of hundreds of millions of dollars in Jordan after the failure of his bank there. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. He escaped from Jordan, reportedly in the trunk of a car, and wound up in London. Dick Cheney is also a Chalabi fan. The Iraqi National Congress has received millions in American aid money, but the accounting has been very poor (a familiar story) and quite a bit of the money is unaccounted for. Chalabi favors Savile Row suits..." ( From Bush Offers Crooks and Warmongers to Lead Iraq by Molly Ivins in the Boulder Daily Camera yesterday)

    April 10 ~ Reporters in Madrid walked out of a news conference with Jack Straw

    Reuters (external link) " The Pentagon said on Tuesday it regretted the deaths but noted it had repeatedly warned journalists of the dangers. ....Journalists walked off the job and politicians demanded answers on Wednesday in a new broadside against the United States over the deaths of three journalists in Baghdad. .... A U.S. tank fired on a Baghdad hotel packed with foreign journalists, killing two cameramen, and prompting an outcry from media watchdog groups demanding an investigation. Cameramen from Reuters and Spanish television died and three other Reuters staff were wounded in the shelling on Tuesday, soon after a journalist from al-Jazeera was killed in what the Arab television channel called a U.S. air strike on its office.
    In Spain, journalists piled cameras, tape recorders and notepads at the front of a room where Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was meeting his party. Reporters in Madrid also walked out of a news conference with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. ..
    ....A Spanish Defense Ministry spokesman said the United States had said it warned journalists that the Baghdad hotel attacked "could become a military target."

    April 9 ~ Al-Jazeera leaves Iraq as Americans accused over deaths in Baghdad

    The Guardian (external link)
    "The Arab satellite television channel al-Jazeera is to pull its reporters out of Iraq after one of them was killed during a US air raid on Baghdad. .... three journalists were killed by US fire in separate attacks in Baghdad, leading to accusations that US forces were targeting the news media.
    Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk, 35, was killed when an American tank fired a shell directly at the Reuters suite on the 15th floor at the Palestine hotel, where many journalists are staying. Jose Couso, 37, a cameraman for the Spanish television channel Tele 5, was wounded in the same attack and died later in hospital. Samia Nakhoul, the Gulf bureau chief of Reuters, was also injured, along with a British technician, Paul Pasquale, and an Iraqi photographer, Faleh Kheiber. Earlier, al-Jazeera cameraman Tarek Ayyoub, a 35-year-old Palestinian who lived in Jordan, was killed when two bombs dropped during a US air raid hit the satellite station's office in the Iraqi capital.
    American forces also opened fire on the offices of Abu Dhabi television, whose identity is spelled out in large blue letters on the roof. All the journalists were killed and injured in daylight at locations known to the Pentagon as media sites......
    Central command in Qatar said its troops had been responding in self-defence to enemy fire but witnesses dismissed that claim as false. ... The statement added: "Sadly a Reuters and Tele 5 journalist were killed in this exchange. These tragic incidents appear to be the latest example of the Iraqi regime's continued strategy of using civilian facilities for military purposes."
    But journalists in the hotel insisted there had been no Iraqi fire.
    Sky's correspondent, David Chater, said: "I never heard a single shot coming from the area around here, certainly not from the hotel," he said. BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar added that none of the other journalists in the hotel had heard any sniper fire. Chater said "....This wasn't an accident. It seems to be a very accurate shot." ..."

    April 8 ~ Forty injured as police fire rubber bullets at peace protesters

    Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles Guardian (external link) "Police opened fire with rubber bullets yesterday on anti-war demonstrators in Oakland, California, in what was the first such action during the current round of anti-war protests. Organisers said that around 40 protesters were injured, one seriously. More than 700 protesters had gathered yesterday morning to picket the local shipping company, APL, which transports munitions and ammunition worldwide. Organisers said police opened fire after ordering them to disperse. "It was a peaceful, legal picket, not a blockade," said David Solnit, of Direct Action to Stop the War, a network of direct action groups. "We have a tradition of pickets here. We did it with apartheid ships. The police gave an order to disperse, which is unusual, and then they didn't give people enough time to disperse. They fired rubber bullets, wooden bullets and beanbags right into the crowd." ...."

    April 8 ~ Chemical hypocrites As it struggles to justify its invasion, the US is getting ready to use banned weapons in Iraq

    George Monbiot in today's Guardian "When Saddam Hussein so pig-headedly failed to shower US troops with chemical weapons as they entered Iraq, thus depriving them of a retrospective justification for this war, the American generals explained that he would do so as soon as they crossed the "red line" around Baghdad. Beyond that point, the desperate dictator would lash out with every weapon he possessed. Well, the line has been crossed and recrossed, and not a whiff of mustard gas or VX has so far been detected. This could mean one of three things: Saddam's command system may have broken down (he may be dead, or his troops might have failed to receive or respond to his orders); he is refraining, so far, from using chemical weapons; or he does not possess them. ...."

    April 8 ~ For the time being, military successes are obscuring this awkward fact. If no weapons can be found, however, it will undermine the whole rationale for sending this country's troops into battle.

    Independent (external link) ".... How much is at stake is apparent from the over-eager claims made by US and British officials as soon as some chemical weapons-related equipment or unidentified substance is uncovered. Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, had to retract his charge that the discovery of chemical protection suits in the south of Iraq proved that Iraq had chemical weapons. All it did prove was that Iraq was prepared to protect its troops from chemical attack.
    Since then, more chemical protection suits, have been found; a white powder was identified as common-or- garden explosive; and phials of liquid were later found to contain a chemical weapons antidote. Early in the war, we were told that a suspected chemical weapons plant had been discovered, only to learn that it was, in fact, a disused cement works.
    After kitting out the troops in protection suits, gas masks, antidotes and special ointments, Allied commanders are allowing their forces to fight in normal battle-gear. The inference is that if Saddam had these weapons, he would have used them by now. ..."

    April 8 ~ Peace protesters march on Belfast summit

    "Thousands of protesters marched on George Bush and Tony Blair's war summit near Belfast. Heavy security kept demonstrators away from Hillsborough Castle where the US President and the Prime Minister met for talks, but a procession made its way up to the County Down village to show opposition to the conflict. Amid the beat of drums and chants the crowds told the two leaders to leave Northern Ireland. Trade union leaders, politicians and relatives of those caught up in the war all joined the rally...." Ananova

    April 8 ~ "The mail has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive (the hate mail has been hilarious!) "

    "Now, more than ever, the voices of peace and truth must be heard." writes Michael Moore "I have received a lot of mail from people who are feeling a profound sense of despair and believe that their voices have been drowned out by the drums and bombs of false patriotism. Some are afraid of retaliation at work or at school or in their neighborhoods because they have been vocal proponents of peace. They have been told over and over that it is not "appropriate" to protest once the country is at war, and that your only duty now is to "support the troops."......
    "...-- the right-wing pundits and radio shock jocks have been calling for my head. So, has all this ruckus hurt me? Have they succeeded in "silencing" me?
    Well, take a look at my Oscar "backlash":
    ....... -- In the week after the Oscars, my website was getting 10-20 million hits A DAY (one day we even got more hits than the White House!). The mail has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive (and the hate mail has been hilarious!). ..(more) and see also Michael Moore's website ."

    April 7 ~ Is the euro the missing link between the 'axis of evil' and the 'axis of weasel'?

    Yesterday's Observer (external link) "Last year the former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia told a committee of the US Congress: 'One of the major things the Saudis have historically done, in part out of friendship with the United States, is to insist that oil continues to be priced in dollars. Therefore, the US Treasury can print money and buy oil, which is an advantage no other country has. With the emergence of other currencies and with strains in the relationship, I wonder whether there will not again be, as there have been in the past, people in Saudi Arabia who raise the question of why they should be so kind to the United States.'
    Historically, empires have been exporters of capital, rather than importers like the US. The dollar has been vital to this revolution. At the euro's launch Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist, pointed to the possibility that the single currency could weaken the status of the dollar to the extent that it 'could complicate international military relationships'. Feldstein is an outside contender to replace Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve.
    Oil pricing is just the background to a wider issue. The Bank of China and the Russian Central Bank are both rumoured to be waiting for the best moment to increase the holdings of euros. Only 5 per cent of Chinese reserves are held in euros, but more than 20 per cent of its trade is with Europe. Middle Eastern states hold $700bn of US assets, but comparatively little in Europe. So is the euro the missing link between the 'axis of evil' and the 'axis of weasel'? ...." (more)

    April 7 ~" Like much of Europe, Barcelona is filled with people protesting the war..."

    write Michael Blanding and Alexandra Hall of Boston Magazine. (external link)"..What sets the city apart from other European countries - and certainly most of the U.S. - is that alongside anger and frustration is an almost jubilant sense of freedom in personal expression that fuses the political with the personal and the artistic. These are people who know they have the right to take to the streets every weekend, camp out in the squares and loudly declaim the war without fear of government reprisals or lines of riot cops.
    As we immersed ourselves in the exuberant spirit of Barcelona, we slowly began to let go of the baggage of fear that we had brought with us from the United States. The feeling was one of overwhelming relief. We felt released not only from the fear of speaking out, but also from the more overarching fear that fuels it: the fear of terrorism. That fear of loss - reaffirmed repeatedly by our government and our media since 9/11 - has seeped into our consciousness as Americans, filling us with a constant sense of foreboding. But in Spain, people sing, dance, and bang their pans. They smile.
    Our bubble of exuberance is punctured almost immediately after we get off our plane back to Boston. As we file through the second set of in-depth security checks, an American employee of the airline points at our red, white, and black anti-war pins and asks us sternly what it means. We answer and sense his disapproval, delivered in a long look and renewed questions about our business abroad. Within minutes, the pins we couldn't put on fast enough in Barcelona had become statements that made us feel uneasy and out-of-place. We now live at a time in this country when we are made to feel ashamed and not empowered when we defy authority. ..."

    April 7 ~ "My views are those of millions I am not a traitor and I will not be gagged over this war "

    George Galloway MP writing in today's Guardian
    "Last week the government enlisted the Murdoch press to launch an assault on me with the journalistic equivalent of a cluster bomb. The central thrust of their attacks, that I am a traitor not fit to sit in parliament, was scattered over the Sun, News of the World, Times and Sunday Times. ...That Tony Blair has taken New Labour into the outer limits of social democratic politics, a kind of twilight zone where, in the dimness, an axis of Bush, Blair, Berlusconi, Aznar and Sharon can just be glimpsed, is pretty much a given. But his alliance with the cheap jingo press, which is spreading racist hatred in this conflict, is a key development in the war for Labour's future. This latest attack on me, for example, was fed to a willing press by Labour sources. I know this because the national newspaper editor who was first offered the "story" (a transcript of a translated interview I gave to Abu Dhabi TV) turned it down and alerted me. It was then given to the Sun. The transcribed words were mine; the spin was all New Labour's. ...."

    April 7 ~ Iraqi antiquities to be dispersed to the US?

    From yesterday's Sunday Herald (external link) "Fears that Iraq's heritage will face widespread looting at the end of the Gulf war have been heightened after a group of wealthy art dealers secured a high-level meeting with the US administration. It has emerged that a coalition of antiquities collectors and arts lawyers, calling itself the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), met with US defence and state department officials prior to the start of military action to offer its assistance in preserving the country's invaluable archaeological collections. The group is known to consist of a number of influential dealers who favour a relaxation of Iraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities. Its treasurer, William Pearlstein, has described Iraq's laws as 'retentionist' and has said he would support a post-war government that would make it easier to have antiquities dispersed to the US...."

    April 6 ~The US garrison in Iraq will dwarf that in Afghanistan.

    Cronies set to make a killing (Observer external link) "..... When George Bush went to Congress to ask for $65.6 billion for the war, he earmarked $2.4bn for aid and reconstruction, with $17bn for other post-war costs. According to Pratap Chatterjee, of California-based CorpWatch, the Halliburton subsidiary still stands to make a killing. 'The main money is not in reconstruction; the main money is in supporting the troops. Whoever gets that money will be running all the bases for an army that is not going to leave. Around 80 per cent of the budget goes to the military, and the rest on reconstruction.' The US garrison in Iraq will dwarf that in Afghanistan. ..."

    April 6 ~ In 2003, is it still true that only our lives are of value?

    John Pilger in the Independent on Sunday (external link) ".....These Anglo-American invasions of weak and largely defenceless nations are meant to demonstrate the kind of world the US is planning to dominate by force....There is a list now. If Israel has its way, Iran will be next; and Cuba, Libya, Syria and even China had better watch out. North Korea may not be an immediate American target, because its threat of nuclear war has been effective. Ironically, had Iraq kept its nuclear weapons, this invasion probably would not have taken place. That is the lesson for all governments at odds with Bush and Blair: nuclear-arm yourself quickly.
    .... In the plethora of opinion polls, the most illuminating was conducted by American Time magazine among a quarter of a million people across Europe. The question was: "Which country poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003?'' Readers were asked to tick off one of three possibilities: Iraq, North Korea and the United States. Eight per cent viewed Iraq as the most dangerous; North Korea was chosen by 9 per cent. No fewer than 83 per cent voted for the United States, of which, in the eyes of most of humanity, Britain is now but a lethal appendage. .....
    .. The threats are now not even subtle, such as this from our Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon. "One of the reasons for having journalists [embedded],'' he said, "is to prevent precisely the kind of tragedy that occurred to an ITN crew ... because [Terry Lloyd] was not part of a military organisation. And in those circumstances, we can't look after all those journalists ... So having journalists have the protection of our armed forces is both good for journalism. It's also good for people watching.''....Hoon is saying: do as you are told or face the consequences."

    April 6 ~ Patrick Tyler wrote wisely in the New York Times the other day that America faced a "tenacious new adversary'' - the public.

    He says we are entering a new bi-polar world with two new superpowers: the Bush/Blair gang on one side, and world opinion on the other, a truly popular force stirring at last and whose consciousness soars by the day. Wasn't it the poet Shelley who, at a time like this, exhorted us to: "Rise like lions after slumber''? (John Pilger in the same article)

    April 6 ~ Public Relations genius

    John Pilger in the Sunday Mirror (external link) "... they, too, are not keeping to the script; and their extraordinary resistance against such overwhelming odds has required intensified propaganda in Washington and London: aimed not at them, but at us.
    Unlike in Vietnam, this propaganda, lying that is both crude and subtle, is now dispensed globally and marketed and controlled like a new niche product. Richard Gaisford, an "embedded" BBC reporter, said recently: "We have to check each story we have with (the military). And the captain, who's our media liaison officer, will check with the colonel, and they will check with Brigade headquarters as well."
    David Miller, a media analyst at Stirling University, calls it "public relations genius". It works like this. Once the official "line" is agreed and manufactured at the Coalition Press Information Centre in Kuwait and the $1million press centre in Qatar, it is submitted to the White House, to what is known as the Office of Global Communications. It is then polished for British consumption by Blair's staff of propagandists in Downing Street.
    Truth, above all, is redundant. .....If we cannot imagine that, then we have fallen victim to a big lie that reverses right and wrong. If we cannot put ourselves in Iraqis' shoes, in the shoes of the grieving family of the woman who was gunned down by Sgt Schrumpf, "the chick who got in the way", then we have cause indeed to worry."

    April 6 ~"... Geoff Hoon, when asked on Radio 4 to consider Iraqi mothers mourning their dead children, demonstrated the compassion of a haddock. "

    Mary Riddell in The Observer (external link) "A Morally Hollow Victory" "How unsurprising that, from Basingstoke to Basra, the Whitehall psy-ops department has failed to win its PR battle.
    This, politicians say, is partly the fault of a feral media. Making 'snap judgments' on the basis of television footage is dangerous, according to the Foreign Secretary of a government that invited us to judge Saddam's mindset on the basis of a plagiarised PhD thesis. The First and Second World Wars might never have been won, Jack Straw mused, if they had been covered by 24-hour news channels. .......
    ....reporters have been embedded since Crimea and before. The Dunkirk spirit would almost certainly have withstood those images of conflict fit to be shown on Sky. In fairness, Mr Straw acknowledged the merits of front-line news and deplored delay and censorship that once 'helped governments to suppress the truth'. ...." They still do. Only obfuscation is harder now, in an age of scrutiny. Politicians dislike ceaseless coverage not because it masks the truth but because it exposes it. You can no longer dismiss a marketplace bombing causing many civilian deaths and tell everyone, as Mr Straw did, that it seems 'increasingly probable' that Iraq did it. Two British journalists claim to have found fragments of a US missile, and most people prefer their word to the Minister's. Wartime PR is a slippery game. It always was. ..."

    April 6 ~ What is one to say of such frantic, impersonal - and, yes, courageous - chaos?

    Robert Fisk in the Independent on the chaos and reality in Baghdad
    "....A truck crammed with more than a hundred Iraqi troops, many in blue uniforms, all of them carrying rifles which gleamed in the morning sunlight, sped past me towards the airport......one had to ask what their hearts were telling them. "Up the line to death" was the phrase that came to mind. Two miles away, at the Yarmouk hospital, the surgeons stood in the car park in blood-stained overalls; they had already handled their first intake of military casualties.....then there was the white-painted Japanese pick-up truck that pulled out in front of my car. At first, I thought the soldiers on the back were sleeping, covered in blankets to keep them warm. Yet I had opened my car window to keep cool this early summer morning and I realised that all the soldiers - there must have been 15 of them in the little truck - were lying on top of each other, all with their heavy black military boots dangling over the tailboard. The two soldiers on the vehicles sat with their feet wedged between the corpses. So did America's first victims of the day go to their eternal rest."

    April 6 ~ "What matters more is how a war is remembered. Iraqis will remember it with shame."

    "If American and Britain are lucky - luckier than they deserve - Iraqis will recall this war as the final disaster brought on his country by Saddam Hussein. More probably, while delighted to be rid of his regime, they will think of the invasion as an act of aggression so completely unprovoked that only greed - 'they want our oil' - can explain it. ........ The Palestinians will remember Saddam's fall as the beginning of their own solitary confinement. They were aware of the frightfulness of Saddam's rule, but they know that they have lost their only effective foreign ally. Now they stand alone against Israel and the US. Ariel Sharon's government in Israel hopes that isolation will cow the Palestinians. But the record suggests the opposite. Palestinians are already denouncing the Bush/Blair 'roadmap to peace' before they have read it. They assume it will show only one-way streets leading to the desert, and they are probably right.
    .....And how will Britain remember this war? With a flinch, like all the flinches with which our Government has followed President Bush down the road to Baghdad. Nobody will trust Tony Blair's judgment again. He gambled on being able to restrain Bush, and he failed. Nobody, even now, understands why this good man made such a mistake, still less why he became so emotionally committed to it. The damage he has done is spectacular. The public is horrified, the Labour Party split and demoralised, the prospects for the euro referendum devastated. Britain's historic pose as the grand intermediary between Europe and the United States is - for the moment - utterly discredited. ..." Neal Ascherson writing in today's Observer (external link)

    April 4 ~ "...the police, acting we suspect under instructions from the Home Office who are in turn under pressure from the US authorities, are attempting to hassle the peace campers (Fairford) into giving up and getting out."

    See G10 Peace Camp under arbitary police sanctions on the "Gloucestershire Weapons Inspections" website
    "....However we continue to attract media attention from around the world and this keeps attention focussed on the B-52's as they load up to carpet bomb Iraq. And lets not pretend these planes are loading with precision guided bombs - they're not - they're being loaded day after day with tons of plain old free fall bombs. These bombs are moved every couple of days on a convoy of trucks from Welford munitions store near Newbury through the lanes of Gloucestershire to Fairford...." See also Reporter is refused entry at RAF Fairford (external link) (from Swindon Evening Advertiser - 4/4/03)

    April 4 ~ This is proclaimed as a just war. So why are cluster bombs being used?

    Independent (external link) "Persons taking no active part in the hostilities ... shall in all circumstances be treated humanely." Those are the opening words of the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949.
    The principle is clear, even if the arguments are endless about what they mean in practice. And there is general agreement around the world that the use of land mines is inconsistent with the principle, because they are a threat to civilians and remain so for years. They were banned explicitly by the Ottawa Convention of 1997, of which the UK was a founder-signatory. Even though the United States did not sign, its policy is not to use them. Why, then, are the British and Americans using cluster bombs in Iraq?..."

    April 4 ~ U.S. approves $80 billion war chest

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - "The U.S. House of Representatives has, by an overwhelming vote, approved nearly $80 billion (60 billion pounds) to finance the war in Iraq, reward key allies, bolster anti-terrorism efforts and help struggling airlines...."

    April 4 ~ "I feel obligated morally and professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement them."

    a copy of Mary (Ann) Wright's letter of resignation (external link) to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wright was most recently the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She helped open the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2002.
    "....This is the only time in my many years serving America that I have felt I cannot represent the policies of an Administration of the United States. I disagree with the Administration's policies on Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea and curtailment of civil liberties in the U.S. itself. I believe the Administration's policies are making the world a more dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement them. I hope you will bear with my explanation of why I must resign. ...I disagree with the Administration's policies on Iraq...I disagree with the Administration's lack of effort in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict .....I disagree with the Administration's lack of policy on North Korea...I disagree with the Administration's policies on Unnecessary Curtailment of Rights in America..." (Read the letter in full) ..... ...

    April 3 ~ Britain is up to its neck in this mire - Jackie Ashley

    We should not pretend that we can come out of the war unsullied The Guardian ".... Day after day now, we are reading stories about how the British are better. We are better at not killing our own side: most of the "blue on blue" deaths are caused by Americans. We are better at not killing innocent Iraqi civilians:.... We are better at winning over hearts and minds: the Americans wear intimidating sunglasses and stay inside their armoured vehicles, while the British take off their helmets at the first opportunity, don picturesque regimental tam o'shanters and stride boldly into the middle of Iraqi crowds, handing out their own chocolate rations. ....
    ....... There is a dangerous Pontius Pilate-like washing of our hands...... Let's not kid ourselves: we are in this up to our elbows. Our troops may be behaving professionally and well, but it is British missiles and British pilots too, who rain down death on Iraqi cities. It is British tanks and British soldiers too, who are fighting, street by street, through impoverished districts of bewildered and innocent people. It is a British war, as well as an American one, which is bringing still greater hunger, thirst, fear and death to people who had little enough to start with. And if things get even worse when we reach Baghdad, that is Britain's responsibility - our democracy, our politicians, and us as voters. The anger of the Arab world doesn't distinguish between us and the Americans. And we fool ourselves if we do, too. " (article in full)

    April 3 ~ children can still confuse the ration and unexploded ordinance, because of their identical colouring

    Reuters ( external link) "....A UNICEF statement said food packets known as "humanitarian daily rations" that were being handed out by the U.S. and British forces in Iraq were wrapped in bright yellow plastic. The colour of the wrapping was identical to that of an air-dropped bomblet that UNICEF identified as a BLU 97.
    A similar problem had arisen during the war in Afghanistan, where the U.S. military eventually changed the wrapping on food packets to blue, the U.N. agency said. In Afghanistan, both the food packets and the bomblets were dropped from U.S. aircraft, while in Iraq only the bomblets were being air-dropped. But children can still confuse the ration and unexploded ordinance, because of their identical colouring, UNICEF said."

    April 2 ~ "....events can be reported before we're in a position to contextualise and give comments upon them." Alistair Campbell

    Guardian "..... In his highly unusual interview, arranged with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation six months ago, Mr Campbell also revealed that the government is so concerned to win the propaganda battle that it has set up a dedicated Arabic media unit at the Foreign Office to rebut allegations appearing on Arabic news channels. "We have a Foreign Office official who virtually full-time appears, speaking Arabic, on Arabic stations," he added. In addition, one minister designates an hour each day to appearing on the Arabic media and revealing "what we're genuinely saying".

    April 2 ~ Private AJ said. "I wanna take revenge for 9/11."

    " To be fair to the correspondent, even though he was "embedded" he did sort of weakly suggest that so far there was no real evidence that linked the Iraqi government to the September 11 attacks. Private AJ stuck his teenage tongue out all the way down to the end of his chin. "Yeah, well that stuff's way over my head," he said.
    Guardian today (external link)

    April 2 ~ If the war on American TV has been a splendid fireworks display and tank parade punctuated by press conferences, on al-Jazeera et al., war is hell.

    Time magazine (external link)
    "Another man said he sometimes watches CNN. "It's very boring," he said. "They never seem to talk to real people, only experts. The Arab channels show you real people and how the war is affecting them." .......
    In fact, Western and Arab media are driven by the same imperative-to feed the hunger for human interest. Their interests are simply in different humans. On U.S. TV it means press conferences with soldiers who have hand and foot injuries and interviews with POWs' families, but little blood. On Arab and Muslim TV it means dead bodies and mourning. History will have to sort out many points on which Western and Middle Eastern TV differ: how effective the allied war effort is, how warmly Iraqis will receive its results and which media are most accurate and neutral. What we do know is that war is a horrible thing in which people die horribly. So far, there is no question which networks own that story.

    April 1 ~ US draws up secret plan to impose regime on Iraq

    Guardian (external link) "A disagreement has broken out at a senior level within the Bush administration over a new government that the US is secretly planning in Kuwait to rule Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Under the plan, the government will consist of 23 ministries, each headed by an American. .......

    April 1 ~ It appears that the Iraqi National Congress (INC) was the "third party" which forged the documents that purported to support the Iraq-Niger link with nuclear weapons

    "Earlier in March, the CIA admitted that an invaluable document linking Niger with Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium had been forged - a claim initially made by IAEA head Mohammed Al Baradei. The CIA said that the document had been forged by a third party." Article from Scoop.com New Zealand

    April 1 ~ the INC "met with members of the neo-conservative lobby (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, etc) and gave them exactly the type of information everyone was waiting to hear."

    Extract from the article on Scoop.com New Zealand Many members of the INC have personal vendettas against Saddam himself; former aides or accomplices who would"..... believe they should be in his place. The INC has long believed that they can never wrestle control from Saddam (because no one in Iraq much cares for them and considers them charlatans) and must rely on outside help - the U.S. Consequently, the INC launched a massive public relations gambit to convince the U.S. that it should intervene in Iraq. .... "Enter Iraq with a formidable army, and the people will greet you with open arms and cheers."
    No one stopped to question whether the INC was really telling the truth or whether 13 years of sanctions, which have crippled Iraqi society, may have played a role in slightly altering this view...."

    April 1 ~ Robert Fisk: The monster of Baghdad is now the hero of Arabia

    This is now a nationalist war against the most obvious kind of imperial power.
    article in full
    "So it's a "truly remarkable achievement'', is it? .........
    Strange, isn't it, how all that fuss about chemical and biological warfare has been forgotten. The "secret" weapons, the gas masks, the anti-anthrax injections, the pills and chemical suits have been erased from the story - because bullets and rocket-propelled grenades are now the real danger to British and American forces in Iraq. Even the "siege of Baghdad" - a city that is 30 miles wide and might need a quarter of a million men to surround it - is fading from the diary.
    ..... I rather think that this war's foundations were based not on military planning but on ideology. .... Fantasies and illusions were given credibility by a kind of superpower moral overdrive. Any kind of mendacity could be used to fuel this ideological project - 11 September (oddly unmentioned now), links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden (unproven), weapons of mass destruction (hitherto unfound), human rights abuses (at which we originally connived when Saddam was our friend) and, finally, the most heroic project of all - the "liberation" of the people of Iraq. Oil was not mentioned, although it is the dominating factor in this illegitimate conflict - no wonder General Franks admitted that his first concern, prior to the war, was the "protection'' of the southern Iraqi oil fields. So it was to be "liberation" and "democracy". How boldly we crossed the border. With what lordly aims we invaded Iraq. ...... " full article

    April 1 ~ It will end in disaster ....The US and British governments have dragged us into a mess that will last for years

    George Monbiot in The Guardian "So far, the liberators have succeeded only in freeing the souls of the Iraqis from their bodies. Saddam Hussein's troops have proved less inclined to surrender than they had anticipated, and the civilians less prepared to revolt. But while no one can now ignore the immediate problems this illegal war has met, we are beginning, too, to understand what should have been obvious all along: that, however this conflict is resolved, the outcome will be a disaster. ........It is almost as if Bush and his advisers are determined to meet the nemesis which their hubris invites. ......
    I hope I've missed something here, and will be proved spectacularly wrong, but it seems to me that the American and British governments have dragged us into a mess from which we might not emerge for many years. They have unlocked the spirit of war, and it could be unwilling to return to its casket until it has traversed the world. article in full

    April 1 ~ Peter Arnett, the experienced 68 year old reporter, has been fired from NBC News - and immediately employed by the Daily Mirror

    Mr Arnett gave Iraqi state television a 15-minute impromptu interview on March 31 in which he said Washington's initial war plan had failed. "I said in that interview essentially what we all know about the war. There have been delays in implementing policy; there's been surprises. But clearly by giving that interview to Iraqi television, I created a firestorm in the United States, and for that I am truly sorry," he said.
    Republican Congress member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has said that Mr. Arnett's comments were "Kafkaesque" and "nauseating," adding: "It's incredible he would be kowtowing to what clearly is the enemy in this way" . This apparently refers to Peter Arnett's thanking the television station for Baghdad's "unfailing courtesy and co-operation" during his trips to Iraq over the past 12 years.

    April 1 ~ "Unlike the Americans, we took our helmets and sunglasses off and looked at the Iraqis eye to eye," said a British officer.

    Guardian (external link) While British soldiers "get out on their feet", Americans, he said, were reluctant to leave their armoured vehicles. When they did do so - and this was the experience even in Uum Qasr - US marines were ordered to wear their full combat kit.
    ....... "The Americans put on more and more armour and firepower. The British go light and go on the ground." He made it plain what approach should be adopted towards what he called "frightened Iraqis". British defence sources contrast the patient tactics deployed by their troops around Basra and what they call the more brutal tactics used by American forces around Nassiriya. US marines in the southern Iraqi town appeared to have fired indiscriminately, with orders to shoot at civilian vehicles. One was reported to have knowingly killed an Iraqi civilian woman. ...........
    What is striking is the emphasis senior British military figures are placing on the differences between their approach and that of the Americans on the ground. They have gone out of their way to draw attention to nervous, "trigger-happy" US soldiers. .........

    April 1 ~ "British military sources are now concerned that the experience in peacekeeping and unconventional warfare of British troops will mean they will be in Iraq long after the Americans have left..

    ..even for years, in policing and humanitarian operations. Shortly after George Bush was elected president, the former chief of defence staff, Lord Guthrie, told the Guardian that the new administration was moving towards light, flexible forces which can "get there quicker but not stay around for ever". He added: "The Americans talk about the warrior ethic and ... that peacekeeping is for wimps."
    .... The concern here among military chiefs is that the experience will mean the US will want to get out of places even quicker, leaving the British and others to continue fighting the battle for hearts and minds. " Guardian (external link)

    April 1 ~ U.S. troops have killed seven women and children

    and wounded two after opening fire on a car packed with civilians near Najaf, Central Command war headquarters says. It is the first known incident since the war began last month in which Iraqi civilians have died by U.S. gunfire and is likely to spark more anger in the Arab world over the U.S.-led invasion. Thirteen women and children were inside the vehicle, four of whom were unhurt, the military said. Reuters (external link)

    March 31 ~ "Are we witnessing the madness of Tony Blair?"

    Matthew Parris in the Times
    " Most of us have experienced the discomfort of watching a friend go off the rails. At first his oddities are dismissed as eccentricities. An absurd assertion, a lunatic conviction, a sudden enthusiasm or unreasonable fear, are explained as perhaps due to tiredness, or stress, or natural volatility. We do not want to face the truth that our friend has cracked up. Finally we can deny it no longer - and then it seems so obvious: the explanation, in retrospect, of so much we struggled to reconcile. ....Sometimes it is a friend about whom we worry. Sometimes it is a prime minister.
    I will accept the charge of discourtesy, but not of flippancy, when I ask whether Tony Blair may now have become, in a serious sense of that word, unhinged. ..."

    March 31 ~ No one here believes this is a humanitarian war

    Jonathan Steele in Damascus The Guardian (external link) "In this highly politicised city where anger over the invasion of Iraq alternates with pride in the resistance, there is one sure way to lighten the mood. Suggest that George Bush and Tony Blair launched their war because of Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction. Hoots of derision all round. Whether they are Syrians or members of the huge Iraqi exile community, everyone here believes this is a war for oil. In nearby Jordan and across the Arab world the view is the same. ....
    .... Leaks from the state department's "future of Iraq" office show Washington plans to privatise the Iraqi economy and particularly the state-owned national oil company. Experts on its energy panel want to start with "downstream" assets like retail petrol stations. This would be a quick way to gouge money from Iraqi consumers. Later they would privatise exploration and development. Even if majority ownership were restricted to Iraqis, Russia's grim experience of energy privatisation shows how a new class of oil magnates quickly send their profits to offshore banks. If the interests of all Iraqis are to be protected, it would be better to keep state control and modify the UN oil-for-food programme, which has been a relatively efficient and internationally supervised way of channelling revenues to the country's poor. ..."

    March 31 ~ "illegal combatants" will be shipped to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay

    From the Washington Post (external link)"...The British troops found no sign of chemical or biological weapons, although they discovered crates of gas masks and chemical protection suits and containers of packets of atropine, the antidote to the deadly nerve agent VX.
    ... American forces have started rounding up Iraqi men in civilian clothes suspected of being involved with paramilitary squads. Marines patrolling in Nasiriyah and other areas of heavy fighting have detained more than 300 men in civilian clothes.
    Military lawyers are drafting new criteria to guide troops on when they should take into custody Iraqis who appear to be civilians. Those detained are being locked up in facilities separate from prisoners of war, until a hearing is held under the Geneva Convention . Any deemed to be POWs will be held until the end of the war and then released. Those prisoners found to have used civilians as human shields or otherwise violated international laws of war will be deemed "illegal combatants" and shipped to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or other facilities.

    March 31 - Denial from Washington

    (Washington Post) "....The Pentagon's top military and civilian officials took to the Sunday television talk shows to insist that a major attack on Baghdad remains part of the U.S. war plan, although they said it will not take place until conditions are more favorable to U.S. forces. They rejected arguments from some current and retired military officers that the war had been started with an inadequate number of ground forces.
    Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denied reports that a pause in the rush to the Iraqi capital had been ordered while the southern part of the country is pacified, supply lines are secured and troop reinforcements arrive. But they stressed that the battle for Baghdad would be tougher than any military engagement thus far. "There are difficult days ahead. Baghdad is not going to be easy," Rumsfeld said. ..."

    March 31 ~ Denial from Robin Cook

    Today's Mirror "....Mr Cook appeared to water down his comments, claiming in a Radio 4 interview that he wanted Britain to "see the job through". He added: "I am not in favour of abandoning the battlefield and that is not my position. "There can be no question at this stage of letting Saddam off the hook." But he added Mr Blair should recognise what the consequences of a siege of Baghdad would be. He warned of a "very serious risk of humanitarian tragedy".
    Mr Cook's outspoken remarks, particularly those in the Sunday Mirror, stunned Downing Street and triggered a brutal response....
    .anti-war Labour MPs rallied round Mr Cook. Ex-Armed Forces Minister Doug Henderson echoed his call for troops to be brought home. He said the Government must remove itself from the "hellish" situation in Iraq to avoid another potential Vietnam. Earlier, Mr Cook expressed his "serious concern" over US threats to Iran and Syria - and criticised American Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He said: "I can't think of anything worse for the present situation than convincing the neighbours of Iraq that they are next on the list."....(more)

    March 31 ~ !00,000 tonnes of wheat from Australia - no date yet for Um Qasr in spite of safe docking of Sir Galahad (carrying estimated 650 tonnes of aid)

    Reuters (external link) "Two giant ships carrying 100,000 tonnes of Australian wheat are awaiting the all-clear to dock at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr and it is unclear when they will be able to unload, officials said on Monday.
    Despite the safe arrival of British supply ship Sir Galahad last Friday, carrying food, medicine, blankets and fresh water, the Australian government's aid agency said no date had been set for sending in the two wheat ships waiting off the coast of Oman. "(Security) has been the issue," said an AusAID spokeswoman. "We still don't have any advice as to when it will be safe. These ships are huge." Australia's national wheat exporter AWB Ltd had expected the docking of the Sir Galahad to pave the way for the wheat deliveries, possibly over the weekend...."

    March 31 ~ Jay Garner, the retired US general who will oversee humanitarian relief and reconstruction in postwar Iraq, is president of an arms company...

    Observer (external link) ".. that provides crucial technical support to missile systems vital to the US invasion of the country. Garner's business background is causing serious concerns at the United Nations and among aid agencies, who are already opposed to US administration of Iraq if it comes outside UN authority, and who say appointment of an American linked to the arms trade is the 'worst case scenario' for running the country after the war. Garner is president of Virginia-based SY Coleman, a subsidiary of defence electronics group L-3 Communications, which provides technical services and advice on the Patriot missile system being used in Iraq. ....... Phil Bloomer of Oxfam said 'The worst case scenario would be to put in charge of the reconstruction someone from the US or UK linked to the arms or oil industries.' .... The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it was a Patriot missile that was involved when a British Tornado was hit last week. Jack Tyler, an SY Coleman senior vice-president, confirmed that Garner still held his position at the company. "

    March 31 ~ "Three soldiers have been sent home for complaining about the way the war is being fought and the growing danger to civilians.

    The fact that they are seeking legal advice makes it clear they have been sent home for refusing to obey orders rather than because of any medical or related problems such as shell shock. MoD lawyers were understood last night to be anxiously trying to discover the circumstances surrounding the order to send the soldiers home. Any refusal of soldiers to obey orders is highly embarrassing to the government, with ministers becoming increasingly worried about the way the war is developing. It is also causing concern to British military chiefs who are worried about growing evidence of civilians being killed in fighting involving American soldiers around urban areas in southern Iraq. " See report in the Guardian (external linnk)

    March 30 ~"the situation in which we currently find ourselves: a protracted war...."

    ".. with no second UN Resolution, no commitment to UN governance of post-war Iraq, no commitment to a mid-East peace settlement. But Blair misread the character of American conservatism, its grip on the American body politic and its scope for rationality. He continues to do so, the miscalculation of his life."
    Will Hutton, writing in the Observer today.
    " ....Rumsfeld's exploded strategy is ideological in its roots. This conservatism is a witches brew - a menace to the USA and the world alike....
    ...There are only two possible rival power centres that champion a more rational approach to world order - in the US a revived and self-confident Democratic party, and abroad an unified European Union. Britain's national interest requires that we ally ourselves as powerfully as we can with these forces - both of whom are only too ready to make common cause. Blair has done neither. Either he is now a convinced conservative or the author of a historic political misjudgment. Neither the Labour party nor the country can indulge this ineptitude much longer." (More)

    March 30 ~ "I got it wrong - very wrong." John Simpson, world affairs editor of the BBC.

    TheAge.com (Australia)
    "True, I wasn't the only one and if the American tactics had been different I might not have been so wrong after all. But Saddam Hussein's forces have not crumbled quickly, and ordinary Iraqis have not greeted the coalition as their liberators. Instead, there is a growing danger they will see the allies as enemies - as bad, indeed, as Saddam himself.
    This, you will remember, was the war which was fought because (as US Vice-President Dick Cheney told the Saudi Foreign Minister) it was "do-able"....... But it is clear hubris played a greater part in the initial planning of this campaign than it should have. And the hubris came not from the American military, who like most senior soldiers are a cautious lot, but from the politicians.
    "An explosion of joy will greet our soldiers," said the US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. There has been nothing joyful about the explosions that have greeted the allied forces in Iraq. Why? All my experience in Saddam's Iraq assured me that people longed to be free of him. The analogy, I felt, was with Nicolae Ceaucescu's Romania - when people saw his power was collapsing, they came out to claim their freedom.
    .... If, Iraqis reason, the father decided that he wanted, on balance, to keep Saddam in power 12 years ago, maybe the son will want the same thing, whatever he may say now. So they watch the bombs falling and they keep their own counsel. ... Whoever drops the bombs, they're only falling because there is a war; and they don't blame Saddam for that war, they blame the Americans and the British."

    March 30 ~ Protest in Edinburgh "The best way to support the troops is to bring them home immediately, that's the way to support them"

    Thousands join anti-war march (BBC external link) " Thousands of anti-war protesters have taken to the streets of Edinburgh to register their opposition to military action in Iraq. Police estimated that about 5,000 people took part in the protest in the Scottish capital on Saturday afternoon. However, organisers put the figure at more than 10,000. Protesters marched along Princes Street before heading for a mass rally in the city's Meadows area. They were led by Labour MSP John McAllion and Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan, marching behind a banner reading Stop the Invasion. ..... "I don't want any Armed Service personnel killed or maimed in the same way that I don't want any innocent Iraqis killed or maimed," he said. "The best way to support the troops is to bring them home immediately, that's the way to support them."
    Iraqi citizen Susan Karim reminded the crowd that women throughout Britain would be receiving flowers and presents on Sunday for Mother's Day. "But the Iraqi mothers are burying their sons and daughters, the Iraqi children are burying their mothers and some Scottish women are burying their sons as well, needlessly," she said.
    ... Lothian and Borders Police said the demonstration had been peaceful and no arrests were made. "The vast majority of the crowd were good natured and followed police instructions which ensured that the march went well," said Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Dickson.

    March 30 ~ "Leaders of Amnesty International deliver a petition to Downing Street

    calling on the prime minister to abide by international law during the conflict in Iraq. Neil Durkin, a spokesman for Amnesty, said: "Eleven to 12 days into the conflict and some of the fears that we were raising are worryingly enough coming true. We are seeing civilians being killed or injured and we have worries about the nature of the strikes and the bombs. Have they been properly targeted, were they discriminate or indiscriminate?"

    March 30 ~...fundamental questions about the role of the media to provide an objective and accurate view of war.

    Extract from article by Warren Gamble (New Zealand Herald) Bigger picture the first loss of real-time war (external link)
    "One of the central debates is whether the media, in particular television, and specifically the "embeds", are serving the Pentagon's propaganda war, their own ratings, or the greater public good. Or perhaps a mixture of all three. New York media columnist Michael Wolff laments that the media have switched into 24-hour war mode, leaving behind the real and continuing debate about whether it is justified. ....It's all spectacle. War is a media thing. N..... Most cable channels have brief segments on antiwar protest marches, and little coverage of the ongoing political opposition.
    On the war coverage itself there are questions over bias, problems caused by the round-the-clock immediacy including running with unproven stories, and the pros and cons of the restricted reporting from the field. Some have claimed the television networks are in the Pentagon's propaganda pocket. But after the initial hype surrounding the forces' smooth advance in the first days, there has been a distinct change in the tone and content of the coverage. ....
    ...impression America and Britain want to convey to a world deeply divided about their campaign, stressing the precision of their strikes aimed at ousting Saddam Hussein while not harming civilians. On the other side, the state-run Iraqi television has used graphic pictures of dead American and British soldiers and Iraqi civilians to convey its own message to its people. The Western media have a continuing dilemma about the sensibility of their audiences to showing such pictures, particularly if an audience includes relatives of a dead soldier. Al-Jazeera has no such restraint and has caused Western outrage by showing the Iraqi footage of dead American and British soldiers and dead civilians, including a boy in Basra with his head blown off. The channel says it is simply showing the reality of war. ...."
    Wall-to-wall instant coverage has flushed out another significant problem for television - running with unproven rumours which later turn out to be false. " "

    March 30 ~ Another sign of things to come.

    Robert Fisk today ".... At least 20 international "human shields" - hitherto "guarding" power stations, oil refineries and food production plants - decided to leave Iraq yesterday. So did all Chinese journalists, on instructions from their government. Not all the optimistic claims from the Iraqi government, a victory against US Marines outside Nasiriyah was among them, could change their minds.
    The nightly attacks long ago spread into the daylight hours, so the sound of aircraft and rockets - I have several times actually heard the missiles passing over the central streets - have acquired a kind of normality. A few stores have reopened. There are fresh vegetables again. And like every blitzed people, Baghdadis are growing used to what has become a dull, familiar danger.
    Is this "shock and awe", I sometimes ask myself? "

    March 30 ~ Cook: Bring troops home

    BBC report (and Sunday Mirror article too - both external links)
    "Former cabinet minister Robin Cook has called on Tony Blair to bring UK units home from the war in Iraq. Mr Cook - who resigned as Leader of the House of Commons in protest at the decision to launch hostilities without international agreement - denounced the campaign in Iraq as "bloody and unjust". The ex-foreign secretary also warned that Britain and America risked stoking up a "long-term legacy of hatred" for the West across the Arab and Muslim world.
    In an outspoken article for the Sunday Mirror, Mr Cook said that US President George W Bush and his Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not appear to know what to do now that their hopes that Iraq would swiftly capitulate had proved unfounded. They appeared to be contemplating laying siege to Baghdad, which would result in massive civilian suffering and many unnecessary deaths, he said.
    Mr Cook wrote: "I have already had my fill of this bloody and unjust war. "I want our troops home and I want them home before more of them are killed."

    March 29 ~"The harassment, arrest, detention and frustration of those who are against the war is becoming routine."

    Democracy is under threat in the United States; anyone who objects to the conflict in Iraq is not allowed to say so Thursday's Guardian (external link)
    "Relatives of victims who died on September 11, who are opposed to the war, have been prevented from speaking in schools. Last month Stephen Downs was handcuffed and arrested after refusing to take off a Give Peace a Chance T-shirt in a mall in Albany. He was told he would have been found guilty of trespass if the mall had not dropped the case because of the bad publicity. As Iraqi civilians and American, British and Iraqi soldiers perish in the Gulf, this war is fast claiming another casualty - democracy in the US. This process is not exclusive to America. Civil liberties have suffered in Britain...."

    March 29 ~ Planned UK anti-war protests -

    With hostilities under way, anti-war groups are planning their next wave of demonstrations. Andrew Ellson lists the major protests scheduled across the UK ....Guardian page (external link)

    March 29 ~If anyone is the "appeaser" it is Blair, in his support for the US government's pre-emptive attack on Saddam. ....

    From Tam Dalyell's article in Tuesday's Guardian (external link) " I don't think that Blair really understands the horrors of modern-day warfare. In 1994 I visited Baghdad (all expenses paid by me) and saw the carbonated limbs of women and children who had been impregnated against a wall by the heat of just one cruise missile. In the current war, hundreds of cruise missiles have been launched just to soften up the enemy. We are told that the US intends to use incapacitating bio-chemical and depleted-uranium weapons. We are receiving information that the it intends to use war in Iraq as an opportunity to test out a range of weapons: cluster aviation bombs with self-guided munitions and pulse bombs being examples. ..."

    March 29 ~ "I hope I'm wrong, for the sake of the American lives that are going to be lost..."

    Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector and ballistic missile technology expert who worked in military intelligence in the U.S. armed forces. In 1998, Ritter resigned from the U.N. Special Commissions team to protest Clinton Administration policies that he said subverted the weapons inspection process. (From GuluFuture.com)
    "Remember I'm a 12 year veteran of the Marine Corps. I fought in the first Gulf War. I know what war is about. I know what defending my country is about.
    This is a bad war, because it has nothing to do with the defense of the United States of America. Iraq doesn't have weapons of mass destruction. The Bush Administration has pulled an enormous lie to the international community; to the American people.
    And now we're in Iraq --carrying out the right-wing neo-conservative motives of a handful of people; the Richard Perle's, Paul Wolfowitz's; the Dick Cheney's. And we've allowed them to hijack our foreign policy. And they've been cheered on by these Iraqi expatriots, who have zero credibility in my eyes. They're so brave and they want Iraq liberated... Then my goodness man, go to Iraq... fight and die for your country... But don't ask Americans to do it..."

    March 28 ~"The burst of gunfire from across the road finally stopped all attempts to supply the aid.

    As soldiers leapt into the jeeps, a Warrior turned round and took out the position the gunfire had come from. And with daylight fast fading, the humanitarian taskforce decided to speed back to its base at Shaibah airfield.
    Tomorrow, they will undoubtedly try again to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi civilians. And presumably tomorrow, they will encounter yet more resentment. .." Guardian (external link)

    March 28 ~ ... let me whisper this truth in your ear: we don't have an answer.

    "..We're flummoxed and floundering, as so often when faced with the issue of self-determination. " Guardian yesterday Which peoples should govern themselves? Our answers are as confused as ever (external link) "The Kurdish question raises a cardinal dilemma for the Anglo-Saxon liberal imperialism on which we have so curiously re-embarked at the beginning of the 21st century. When London and Washington were briefly making the case for the Iraq war as a "humanitarian intervention", it was the gassing of the Kurds at Halabja that they always cited, and the killing of an estimated 100,000 Kurds by Saddam's men. Though such comparisons are always odious, the Kurds have suffered even more terribly than the Kosovans. The moral case is also strong for two other reasons. The Bush (senior) administration encouraged the Kurds to rise against Saddam in 1991, and then let him massacre them with the helicopter gunships that Washington let him keep. Britain has its own special responsibility, since the first people to bomb the Kurds were us, when they revolted against the Iraq we created after the first world war. (Since Tony Blair has apologised for the potato famine in Ireland, will he be apologising for this?) "

    March 28 ~ Iraq: chemical suits are 'standard'

    (Guardian) (external link) " Iraq's information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, insisted today that chemical protection suits found by coalition forces, and cited as evidence that Iraq has chemical weapons, were just "standard equipment" for Iraqi soldiers. He said that they were in no way proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and added that they were normal kit for soldiers around the world."

    March 28 ~ "This is the real shock and awe."

    Two articles in the Guardian today about Al-Jazeera: "...people are turning to us simply because the western media coverage has been so poor. For although Doha is just a 15-minute drive from central command, the view of events from here could not be more different. Of all the major global networks, al-Jazeera has been alone in proceeding from the premise that this war should be viewed as an illegal enterprise. It has broadcast the horror of the bombing campaign, the blown-out brains, the blood-spattered pavements, the screaming infants and the corpses. Its team of on-the-ground, unembedded correspondents has provided a corrective to the official line that the campaign is, barring occasional resistance, going to plan. "
    "...I think if these photos were shown on the general media the anti-war movement would double."
    "...She feels frustrated by the one-sided nature of TV coverage " .... these are the real brutalities of liberation. I don't believe the mother of these children will feel any happier if she's liberated, because she's already lost everything. As a mother it makes me so angry. This is what should be shown. This is the real shock and awe."

    March 28 ~ Jeremy Paxman

    It was a relief last night to find Jeremy Paxman taking John Reid to task for Tony Blair's use of the word "executed" (he had said that Iraq had "executed" the two British soldiers.) Then we heard the truly Freudian slip from Mr Paxman; he referred to "Tony Bush"...

    March 28 ~ Robert Fisk: Raw, devastating realities that expose the truth about Basra

    ...... The unedited al-Jazeera videotape - filmed over the past 36 hours and newly arrived in Baghdad - is raw, painful, devastating.
    ......The short sequence of the dead British soldiers - over which Tony Blair voiced such horror yesterday - is little different from dozens of similar clips of dead Iraqi soldiers shown on British television over the past 12 years, pictures which never drew any condemnation from the Prime Minister.
    ......... Far more terrible than the pictures of dead British soldiers, however, is the tape from Basra's largest hospital that shows victims of the Anglo-American bombardment being brought to the operating rooms shrieking in pain. A middle-aged man is carried into the hospital in pyjamas, soaked head to foot in blood. A little girl of perhaps four is brought into the operating room on a trolley, staring at a heap of her own intestines protruding from the left side of her stomach. A blue-uniformed doctor pours water over the little girl's guts and then gently applies a bandage before beginning surgery. A woman in black with what appears to be a stomach wound cries out as doctors try to strip her for surgery. In another sequence, a trail of blood leads from the impact of an incoming - presumably British - shell. Next to the crater is a pair of plastic slippers.
    The al-Jazeera tapes, most of which have never been seen, are the first vivid proof that Basra remains totally outside British control. .....
    ..... optimistic reports from "embedded'' reporters - especially on the BBC - who gave the impression that Basra was "secured'' or otherwise in effect under British control. This the tape conclusively proves to be untrue. ....seeing the tapes, it is hard to imagine that it amounted, if it existed at all, to anything more than a brief gun battle. (Robert Fisk's article)

    March 28 ~ Perle of doubtful price?

    The resignation of Richard Perle is widely reported. We choose this article from RepubliCons.org (external link)
    Perle Resigns: Was it Conflict of Interest or Poor War Planning "The unexpected resignation Richard Perle, one of the chief architects of the US led invasion of Iraq, was largely believed to have stemmed from recent allegations of conflict of interest between his governmental role and his business relationships. Of course, if this were the Bush administration's modus operandi Dick Cheney would have been already shown the door for Halliburton's (see here) immediate profiteering in Iraq. So, what else could bring the "Prince of Darkness" to his knees? Could it be his decade in the making war plan for Iraq is not working?
    Consider this: The possibility exists that as the US inserts itself further into an increasingly more intractable war in Iraq that the prognostications by Perle and others were wrong. The fiction advanced in the Perle manifesto was based on the assumption that the Iraqi populace rising in full support of the invading troops and ushering Saddam and his minions out of power. It assumed that the Iraqi military would surrender en masse and even the Republican Guard would wither in response the "shock and awe" propagandizing; that the Saddam regime would implode rapidly and the US would be hailed internationally as the liberator of the enslaved Iraqis. All these predictions and unreasonably Pollyannaish expectations of a brief and decisive conflict that would demonstrate American supremacy and moral rectitude have proven false. ...."

    March 28 ~ U.S. ambassador walks out of U.N. debate

    Toronto Star (external link) "...The walkout was a dramatic finale to the first open meeting of the bitterly divided council since U.S. and British forces launched their attack last week. Iraq's U.N. envoy Mohammed Al-Douri claimed the United States had arranged contracts to rebuild Iraq in 1997, six years before the U.S.-led war began last week. Negroponte got up and walked out as Al-Douri continued speaking, .... Al-Douri (Iraq's U.N. envoy Mohammed Al-Douri ) said the United States had even planned the carving up of Iraq before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Almost spluttering, he said the United States now was using the issue of humanitarian aid to hide its "criminal aggression.'' The Iraqi envoy urged the Security Council to halt the war in Iraq, saying ending the conflict was even more important than getting humanitarian assistance into the region. ...... "If the humanitarian issue is very important, it is more important" to halt the war, he said.
    "The warning I would like to make to the members of the august council is that the United States and the British were hoodwinked when they were told that the Iraqi people would receive them with flowers and hugs and ululations, and the children and the mothers will rejoice at the coming of the U.S. forces," he said.
    It was at that point that Negroponte got up from his seat around the horseshoe-shaped table in the Security Council chamber and walked out.

    March 28 ~ "loyal" supporters can expect to be "rewarded"

    The Telegraph this morning speculates about Tony Blair's "Post-War" reshuffle: Telegraph "....The fashionable opinion inside government is that Mr Blair will oust Clare Short the International Development Secretary, because of her criticism of his conduct of the Iraq crisis. The counter view is that, with Mr Cook already positioning himself as a future leader of discontented MPs on the centre-Left, Mr Blair will keep her in the Cabinet to limit the problems from the back benches. The burning question is whether Mr Blair would dare to remove Gordon Brown as Chancellor following tensions between the two men over the euro and a range of domestic policy issues. A direct swap between Mr Brown and Jack Straw, the ultra-loyal Foreign Secretary, to whom Mr Blair feels indebted, has been rumoured."

    March 27/28 ~ how do we know this is the real George Bush?

    A little light relief from the Guardian yesterday (external link) "Yesterday President George Bush made his first public appearance since the start of the war, speaking to service personnel at the MacDill airforce base in Tampa in an obvious bid to reassure Americans and boost the morale of the armed forces. But how do we know this is the real George Bush? Later in the day a man who looked and sounded like Mr Bush appeared alongside Tony Blair at Camp David, leaving intelligence experts to ponder whether a lookalike had been used, and whether the same lookalike had been deployed on both occasions.
    It has long been suspected that Mr Bush employs a string of lookalikes for difficult or dangerous speaking engagements, some of whom may have had their ears specially enlarged for the task.
    Most of those who regularly monitor Mr Bush's speech patterns believe that it was the genuine article who spoke at Central Command HQ in Florida yesterday, pointing to a characteristic tendency toward quasi-biblical phrasing ....."

    March 27 ~ Antics of the President -

    See this article by Kevin Lowe is a Canadian expatriate living in Amsterdam.
    "If you stayed up late enough to watch the announcement of the start of the war in Iraq, you might have caught a glimpse of something very unsettling. In an apparent error, the BBC aired coverage of pre-speech preparations, live from the satellite feed coming from the Oval Office.......... Bush, the so-called leader of the free world, was sitting behind his desk going over his speech, as we would expect. But then it got weird. I felt like I was looking behind the curtain, and it was uglier than I ever imagined.
    Like some class clown trying to get attention from the back of the room, he started mugging for his handlers. His eyes darted back and forth impishly as he cracked faces at others around him. He pumped a fist and self-consciously muttered, "feel good," which was interestingly sanitised into the more mature and assertive, "I'm feeling good" by the same Washington Post.
    He was goofing around, and there's only one way to interpret that kind of behaviour just seconds before announcing war on Iraq: the man is an idiot.
    Most Europeans and many others around the world have assumed this for some time. To have it actually confirmed - beyond a reasonable doubt - on live television, is perhaps a little too harsh to reconcile with our wish to believe we live in a fair, democratic world of which benevolent forces are mostly in charge. I felt sick."

    March 27 ~ The Web sites of Arab news agency Al-Jazeera have been taken offline, with a denial of service attack one possible cause.

    "The Qatar-based agency, which operates an Arab-language site among its many media properaties, launched an English-language Web site on Monday, providing a starkly different view on the war with Iraq than that offered by many Western media outlets. According to a report on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) online, the English site was hit almost immediately by what they have termed "hacker attacks" and technical glitches. The report quoted Al-Jazeera managing editor Joanne Tucker. "We've had a lot of obstacles thrown in our way," she told the ABC. ...."

    March 27 ~ . "How dare you refer to our friends as 'collateral damage? And who is Mr. Bush kidding when he expects us to believe that the US wants to secure Iraq's oil fields for the benefit of Iraqi people?"

    "God save all the people," said his father, quietly, "And God save all countries from this destruction." ......... "Most of the casualties are children, elderly people and civilians, What do they have to do with fighting and war?"
    From an article at Common Dreams.org
    ".....We felt some relief in being able to tell patients and their families that people in countries around the world are turning out for massive demonstrations against the war.
    Each of these victims whose bedsides we visited today will lie still, hopefully recovering, with many hours to reflect on what has happened to them. Peace activists who continue to fill jails in the US will likewise spend hours of confinement, pained by the cruel stupidity of warfare. Most of us are angry, very angry, - few of us can manage the genuine sweetness of little Ruba Salem whose gaze radiated easy affection in spite of her trauma,-- and yet I believe that we can channel our anger, our disappointment, our frustration and our rage into the kind of energy that will champion nonviolent resistance to the works of war, and an ever deepening desire for the works of mercy."

    March 27 ~"As each survivor talked, the dead regained their identities..."

    Robert Fisk today in the Independent (external link) ".. There was the electrical shop-owner killed behind his counter by the same missile that cut down Ta'ar and Sermed and the doorman, and the young girl standing on the central reservation, trying to cross the road, and the truck driver who was only feet from the point of impact and the beggar who regularly called to see Mr Danoon for bread and who was just leaving when the missiles came screaming through the sandstorm to destroy him.
    In Qatar, the Anglo-American forces - let's forget this nonsense about "coalition" - announced an inquiry. The Iraqi government, who are the only ones to benefit from the propaganda value of such a bloodbath, naturally denounced the slaughter, which they initially put at 14 dead. So what was the real target? Some Iraqis said there was a military encampment less than a mile from the street, though I couldn't find it. Others talked about a local fire brigade headquarters, but the fire brigade can hardly be described as a military target.
    Certainly, there had been an attack less than an hour earlier on a military camp further north. I was driving past the base when two rockets exploded and I saw Iraqi soldiers running for their lives out of the gates and along the side of the highway. Then I heard two more explosions; these were the missiles that hit Abu Taleb Street.
    Of course, the pilot who killed the innocent yesterday could not see his victims. Pilots fire through computer-aligned co-ordinates, and the sandstorm would have hidden the street from his vision. But when one of Malek Hammoud's friends asked me how the Americans could so blithely kill those they claimed to want to liberate, he didn't want to learn about the science of avionics or weapons delivery systems.
    And why should he? For this is happening almost every day in Baghdad..."

    March 27 ~ "The United States will not cede control of Iraq to the United Nations

    if and when it overthrows President Saddam Hussein, Secretary of State Colin Powell says. "We didn't take on this huge burden with our coalition partners not to be able to have a significant dominating control over how it unfolds in the future," Powell told a House of Representatives subcommittee....
    Powell said the United Nations should, however, have a role in a post-Saddam Iraq, if only because it makes it easier for other countries to contribute to reconstruction costs. ......
    The question of the U.N. role has come to the fore in the last few days because of debates in New York on the terms for releasing Iraqi oil money to pay for humanitarian relief. The problem is expected to loom even larger if the United States takes control in Baghdad and then starts managing the Iraqi oil industry or seeking funds for reconstruction. Washington will argue that as the victor it has the right to manage the transition to an Iraqi civilian government. Its opponents will say that the invasion was illegal and that the United Nations cannot endorse it retroactively." See the Swissinfo website (external link)

    March 27 ~ Mankind is experiencing "a difficult moment in history, with the world taking up arms once again".

    Pope John Paul made a fresh appeal for peace in Iraq and said his heart was "oppressed" by the news of battles. Speaking to thousands of pilgrims and tourists in St Peter's Square, he asked Catholics around the world to continue praying for peace. The 82-year-old Pope, who headed the Vatican's diplomatic campaign to avert war, said that when he prayed he did so "with a heart that is oppressed by news that reaches us from an Iraq in war." ... See more (external link)

    March 26/27 ~ Kofi Annan appeals to Security Council to unite and bring relief to Iraqi people

    Invoking "the terrifying impact" of war on Iraq, grief for the dead and anguish for the living, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed today to the divided Security Council to unite on a common purpose and to the international community to respond swiftly and generously to a new "flash appeal" for humanitarian aid for the Iraqi people. (More) (external link)

    March 26/27 ~ what the Prime Minister calls "our simple patriotism"

    It's the kind of patriotism, wrote Tolstoy, "that is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason and conscience." (John Pilger)

    March 26 ~ "Blair is on the move over the Atlantic to see Bush, amid mounting evidence that there is indeed fierce disagreement with America on the aftermath of war."

    (Channel Four "Snowmail") "A key role for the UN at odds with Washington's determination to have an American military/civilian administration run post-Saddam Iraq, and award American companies the contracts to rebuild the place. ..."

    March 26 ~ Annan 'increasingly concerned' by civilian casualties in Iraq

    ....Mr. Annan said he was confident the UN Security Council would find a solution on adjustments to the now-suspended Oil-for-Food programme, which allows Baghdad to use part of its petroleum sales to buy relief supplies and is responsible for feeding 60 per cent of the Iraqi population. .."UN News Centre external link

    March 26 ~ "Yesterday, Tony Blair said that 400,000 Iraqi children had died in the past five years from malnutrition and related causes.."

    "..He said "huge stockpiles of humanitarian aid" and clean water awaited them in Kuwait, if only the Iraqi regime would allow safe passage.
    In fact, voluminous evidence, including that published by the United Nations Children's Fund, makes clear that the main reason these children have died is an enduring siege, a 12-year embargo driven by America and Britain.
    As of last July, $5.4billion worth of humanitarian supplies, approved by the UN and paid for by the Iraqi government, were blocked by Washington, with the Blair government's approval. The former assistant secretary general of the UN, Denis Halliday, who was sent to Iraq to set up the "oil for food programme", described the effects of the embargo as "nothing less than genocide". Similar words have been used by his successor, Hans Von Sponeck. Both men resigned in protest, (external link) saying the embargo merely reinforced the power of Saddam..." John Pilger in the Daily Mirror(external link)

    March 26 ~ It is not those who oppose this war who need to justify themselves, regardless of Blair's calls to "support our troops". There is only one way to support them - bring them home without delay.

    In 1932, Iraqis threw out their British colonial rulers. In 1958, they got rid of the Hashemite monarchy. Iraqis have shown they can overthrow dictators against the odds. So why have they not been able to throw out Saddam? Because the US and Britain armed him and propped him up while it suited them, making sure that when they tired of him, they would be the only alternative to his rule and the profiteers of his nation's resources. Imperialism has always functioned like that. The "new Iraq", as Blair calls it, will have many models, such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, all of them American conquests and American ruled until Washington allowed a vicious dictatorship to take over. Saddam only came to power after the Americans helped install his Ba'ath Party in 1979. "That was my favourite coup," said the CIA officer in charge." The tireless John Pilger in today's Mirror

    March 26 ~ ".. the U.S. miscalculated the response of Iraqis to any invasion. It forgot that people don't take kindly to foreigners telling them what to do, no matter how noble the intentions..."

    Today's Toronto Star (external link)
    "Relying on the fact that Saddam is a cruel dictator, U.S. war planners assumed that most ordinary Iraqis would welcome anyone who entered their country to depose him.
    But as reports from journalists entering southern Iraq demonstrate, this is far from true. The BBC describes Iraqis in the so-called liberated towns as sullen and bitter. Others write of lawlessness and of Iraqi civilians berating the American-led coalition for shelling their towns.
    Throughout the south, the U.S. and British have run into far fiercer resistance than they anticipated. Yet the south was supposed to be the easy part, the section of Iraq populated by Shiite Muslims opposed to Saddam.
    By contrast, Saddam has described U.S. intentions in language that his countrymen can comprehend. He says Bush wants Iraq's oil...."

    March 26 ~".. Independent Strategy believes that the US shows many symptoms of an empire that is cresting. "

    Guardian today
    "First, it sees deepening mistrust of the US and predicts a rise in terrorism in reaction to US unilateralism. That is certainly the case with the Bush administration, which has made a habit of tearing up international treaties from Kyoto to the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Iraq is the culmination of the Bush administration's unilateralist streak, as the White House plunges into an unpopular war in disregard of the UN security council.
    Second, Independent Strategy sees trouble ahead for US economic policy. It notes that Mr Bush has boosted discretionary government spending more than at any time since the Vietnam war. Inheriting big budgetary surpluses from the Clinton administration, the Bush White House is heading for record deficits. ......
    Third, what was known as the Washington consensus - free market economics and deregulation - has broken down. ..... "Empires work best when they project power through the successful export of a social model or ideology," argues Independent Strategy. "....Japan and Europe have long rejected both, at least implicitly, as inimical to their culture and alien to their social contract."
    Independent Strategy sees the weakening dollar as the fourth strand in the decline of empire. ...(More)

    March 26 ~ " Already, reconstruction contracts are being earmarked for politically well-connected American corporations .."

    ".. like Halliburton (Vice President Dick Cheney's former company) and Bechteland oilmen from Texas have begun making their first forays into Iraq's Rumaila oil field." India today
    "Apart from the strategic pay-off in getting to decide how much Iraqi oil is produced and to whom it is sold, there's serious money to be made for American companies. The Iraqi oil industry will need some capital investment but given the high quality of the oil and the relatively low extraction costs, profits will be enormous. Nationalisation of the oil industry in most Arab countries over the years has led to US oil companies being restricted to downstream, i.e. refining and marketing, activities. But the real profits are in upstream, i.e. extraction, operations. If Saddam Hussein is overthrown, US oil companies would be well placed to gain control of Iraqi reserves from the extraction to marketing stage. The US could also block Russian, French and Chinese oil majors from benefiting. Finally, control over the international oil trade will help to protect the dollar's dominant position vis-a-vis long-term rivals like the euro.
    But this war is about more than just oil: It is about cementing the domination of the US in a world that is likely to undergo fundamental economic and strategic changes in the next few decades. " More

    March 26 ~ "We know that the Americans are again using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq, just as they did in 1991.

    But yesterday, the BBC told us that US Marines had called up an A-10 strike aircraft to deal with "pockets of resistance" - a bit more military-speak from the BBC - but failed to mention that the A-10 uses depleted uranium rounds. So for the first time since 1991, we - the West - are spraying these uranium aerosols in battlefield explosions in southern Iraq, and we're not being told. Why not?"
    from today's New Zealand Herald.

    March 26 ~ The first casualty of battle is often the plan.

    "There will be those who say that, "No it's been meticulously planned," but it doesn't feel like it to be here" Robert Fisk "I think the Bush administration has shown as a characteristic, is that it dreams up moral ideas and then believes that they're all true, and characterizes this policy by assuming that everyone else will then play their roles. In their attempt to dream up an excuse to invade Iraq, they've started out, remember, by saying first of all that there are weapons of mass destruction. We were then told that al Qaeda had links to Iraq, which, there certainly isn't an al Qaeda link. Then we were told that there were links to September 11th, which was rubbish. And in the end, the best the Bush administration could do was to say, "Well, we're going to liberate the people of Iraq". And because it provided this excuse, it obviously then had to believe that these people wanted to be liberated by the Americans."

    March 26 ~ "Well, poor old UN. Very soon, the Americans are going to need the United Nations as desperately as they wanted to get rid of them..."

    ".. Because if this turns into the tragedy that it is turning into at the moment, if the Americans end up, by besieging Baghdad day after day after day, they'll be looking for a way out, and the only way out is going to be the United Nations at which point, believe me, the French and the Russians are going to make sure that George Bush passes through some element of humiliation to do that. But that's some way away. Remember what I said early on to you. The Americans can do it- they have the firepower. They may need more than 250,000 troops, but if they're willing to sacrifice lives of their own men, as well as lives of the Iraqis, they can take Baghdad; they can come in. But, you know, I look down from my balcony here next to the Tigris River- does that mean we're going to have an American tank on every intersection in Baghdad? What are they there for- to occupy? To repress? To run an occupation force against the wishes of Iraqis? Or are they liberators? It's very interesting how the reporting has swung from one side to another. Are these liberating forces or occupying forces? Every time I hear a journalist say 'liberation', I know he means 'occupation'. " Robert Fisk

    March 26 ~ "They may dislike Saddam but they hate the Americans"

    commented a reporter for the Today programme. It was chilling to hear senior doctors in Amman (Jordan) on the World Service, explaining calmly that those responsible for the death of the ten year old boy in Basra, whose head had been shown on television, were "evil...devils..." and how "that British Prime Minister..what's his name...Blair?..." had made such a misguided and terrible mistake to think that the Iraqis would accept an interfering power from thousands of miles away. The expected uprising of the civilian population may or may not come - but it would surely be naïve to think that those brave enough to face down the Ba-ath tyrants, armed to the teeth, are likely then to hand over their country to foreign invaders."

    March 26 ~ In relation to reconstruction, of course we want it to be authorised by the United Nations

    Tony Blair on March 24 (external link to Hansard) "Let me emphasise again that when we talk of reconstruction we mean the reconstruction of the country following Saddam, not reconstruction to do with allied war campaigns. That reconstruction - that rebuilding of Iraq - will be a lot easier if it has proper United Nations authority. I hope very much that people can come together and make the system work. That will be an important part of bringing the international community back together at the end of this."

    March 26 ~ "A Citizen's Declaration

    As a US-led invasion of Iraq begins, we, the undersigned citizens of many countries, reaffirm our commitment to addressing international conflicts through the rule of law and the United Nations.
    By joining together across countries and continents, we have emerged as a new force for peace. As we grieve for the victims of this war, we pledge to redouble our efforts to put an end to the Bush Administration's doctrine of pre-emptive attack and the reckless use of military power."
    This is the text of the declaration that people are being invited to sign at http://www.moveon.org/declaration/

    March 25 ~"Madness is the rule in warfare.."

    "..When we send our young men and women off to combat we send them into a zone of madness, and they are never the same when they return, whether they are physically injured or not..."
    I think the extraordinary televised coverage of the war with Iraq is a good thing. It looks less like a video game these days, and more like the real hell of combat. I don't see how any sane person could watch the astonishing bombardment of Baghdad, and follow the reports on the ground of one human tragedy after another, and remain cavalier about sending troops into harm's way... Wars are planned and championed by the folks who stroll the corridors of power. But they are fought by ordinary men and women and their families, who have to watch their budgets closely, and tend to all their daily duties, while hoping against hope that no one really close to them gets lost in the madness. ..." New York Times Editorial (external link) yesterday.

    March 25 ~ Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, is to transfer frozen Iraqi-held assets in the United States to US authorities.

    See http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=41&sid=1715890 "The bank said it would honour a request for the funds, blocked since 1990 under United Nations sanctions, to be handed over. UBS did not specify the exact amount of money involved. Last week, the US authorities ordered 17 banks in the US to release a total of about $1.7 billion (SFr2.4 billion) to the Treasury Department. The money comes from transactions between US oil firms and the Iraqi state oil company."

    March 25 ~ "The sovereignty of Britain is now irrevocably compromised ..."

    "....Using discredited evidence, lies and criminal thoughtlessness we have been made the second most-hated nation in the world.
    ....... That quivering sincerity Blair brings out every time he has to sell us another repulsive US directive is just another bit of fakery; it is make-up he slaps on to look good while he covers up the truth. And he doesn't fool Muslims by patting us on the head as he did last week in the Commons: "I know the vast majority of Muslims are good and law-abiding people who are contributing an immense amount to our country." Time to throw up. Again.
    This war is immoral, illegal, dangerous and wrong. And even if we get our devastation in fast and Iraqis are dancing in the street, this remains my assessment.
    Real patriots should reject the devious calls to "support our boys" now that action has begun. This is abominable blackmail, as vile as the accusation that anti-war people support Saddam. My husband has young male relatives actively engaged in our army. Yet he and his sister are stridently anti-war. ...Our leadership has stamped over our democracy, and our relationships with the European Union and the rest of the world. The hate-mongering against France should make Britons ashamed. ....... Britain was once trusted by Arabs, with whom we shared a long history. ...old post-colonial suspicion had faded and mutual respect was emerging. A new report, Public Diplomacy and the Middle East, by the Foreign Policy Center and the British Council, shows how this trust has collapsed. ...Ponder this as cluster bombs and depleted uranium cause more deaths, as more Iraqi flags are replaced with the stars and stripes (we have witnessed this already), and we join the coalition of the lowly." The Independent today ."

    March 25 ~ "So the message from Iraq is clear: go home and leave us alone..."

    "... You will never be welcome in Iraq as colonisers. Stop destroying Iraq. Do not bury our nation. Stop the war and give peace and the UN inspectors a chance in the name of humanity. ..."
    Dr Burhan M al-Chalabi, chairman of the British Iraqi Foundation and a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs has written in the Guardian today

    March 25 ~ One rule for them

    "Suddenly, the government of the United States has discovered the virtues of international law. It may be waging an illegal war against a sovereign state; it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which impedes its attempts to run the world, but when five of its captured soldiers were paraded in front of the Iraqi television cameras on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, immediately complained that "it is against the Geneva convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them".... George Monbiot today (Guardian)

    March 25 ~ thought /speech control

    "Even the Western Morning News is now staunchly supporting war in Iraq.."writes an emailer from the West Country " ..- on the grounds that we MUST support our soldiers who are only doing their job (and I do support them in my own way - although like Glenda Jackson ( the MP Glenda Jackson described as "needless deaths" those in the the helicopter crash ) I shall never believe that they should be there in the first place) You're quite right of course to be "sad not mad" on the website - it just seems to be another aspect of this thought /speech control that is so prevalent today.... My father must be revolving at speed in his grave - he was Old Labour and firmly believed in freedom of speech and the right to object. Why should anybody be forced to change how they express their views on war solely because their opinions (and those of millions of others) have been disregarded and soldiers been sent out to wage a war despite them?"

    March 25 ~ The International Committee of the Red Cross accused coalition forces yesterday of failing to follow the Geneva Conventions in their treatment of prisoners of war.

    Telegraph today (external link)"....In a letter to The Telegraph today, Louise Christian, solicitor for three British detainees in Guantanamo Bay, said the US was breaching international law there. "On their original arrest Guantanamo detainees too were humiliated and paraded on TV manacled, shackled and hooded," she said...."

    March 25 ~ This is the reality of war. We bomb. They suffer

    The Independent on Sunday. Veteran war reporter Robert Fisk tours the Baghdad hospital to see the wounded after a devastating night of air strikes ".... let's forget, for a moment, the cheap propaganda of the regime and the equally cheap moralising of Messrs Rumsfeld and Bush, and take a trip around the Al-Mustansaniya College Hospital. ......Donald Rumsfeld says the American attack on Baghdad is "as targeted an air campaign as has ever existed" but he should not try telling that to five-year-old Doha Suheil. She looked at me yesterday morning, drip feed attached to her nose, a deep frown over her small face as she tried vainly to move the left side of her body. The cruise missile that exploded close to her home in the Radwaniyeh suburb of Baghdad blasted shrapnel into her tiny legs ­ they were bound up with gauze ­ and, far more seriously, into her spine. Now she has lost all movement in her left leg..."

    March 24 ~ Iraq is the first instance in which the Bush doctrine is being applied, and it is provoking an allergic reaction...." George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute and of Soros Fund Management

    See article "...The doctrine is built on two pillars: First, the United States will do everything in its power to maintain unquestioned military supremacy; second, it arrogates the right to preemptive action. These pillars support two classes of sovereignty: American sovereignty, which takes precedence over international treaties; and the sovereignty of all other states, which is subject to the Bush doctrine. This is reminiscent of George Orwell's Animal Farm: All animals are equal but some are more equal than others. ..." (more)

    March 24 ~"those who want less filtered information . .."

    Read the article 'Embedded' in spin from Daily Camera.com
    "..Now control is even tighter. Reporters have been "embedded" with troops in Iraq, but they are on military leashes and their stories subject to censorship; don't count on hearing much about Iraqi casualties. That's not so different from what reporters went through in Saddam Hussein's Iraq: minders, tightly controlled access and censorship.
    The military insists that all this is necessary for "security." But Sharkey disagrees, noting, for example, that reporters knew the date and time of the World War II D-Day invasion and nobody spilled the beans.
    I believe the journalists would like to give us the fullest story possible, but under constant government control, they can't. So Americans who want a more balanced picture of how the war is going might want to supplement their usual media diet with other, more independent sources. In this day of the Internet, that's not hard to do. I'd advise scanning "progressive" Web sites such as www.commondreams.org, balanced, English-language Israeli media such as The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com) and English newspapers, such as The Independent (www.independent.co.uk). Find out what the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera has been reporting.
    I'm not saying alternative sources are 100 percent reliable, either. I disagree with much that I have read from those listed above. But with mainstream American media coverage "embedded" in government spin, those who want less filtered information should take advantage of the freedom George Bush touts and seek out news and views elsewhere. ..."

    March 24 ~Chirac is sending humanitarian personnel to Qatar, to be ready to help when needed

    "... Chirac is now working on preventing the US from taking all the spoils when the war is finished and on reestablishing the UN's authority on the situation. He is also sending humanitarian personnel to Qatar, to be ready to help when needed. France did the same thing in former Yougoslavia: the Americans paraded with their shiny weapons and tanks and the French buried thousands of dead (my cousin spent 6 months there burying people and vomiting, and digging, and burying, and vomiting again, and could not utter a single word for several months afterwards)." From an email received today

    March 24 ~ Three coaches did not make it to Fairford on Saturday...

    See report "....They confiscated people's hats and scarves, some cardboard shields, and tore off the hoods of the white paper weapons inspector suits that had been passed around the coaches earlier. They detained two people from the coaches, One for possession of a cardboard shield and the other for suspected incitement to criminal damage. Both of were released later that evening. When a few people, who'd been processed, tried to board a local bus to Fairford, they got pulled off by the police."

    March 24 ~ "the doubters seem to ignore the most compelling evidence that Salam is who he says he is.."

    - the detail of his day-to-day life. Those who know Baghdad well, and who have read the diary closely, say there is no doubt in their mind that whoever is writing it is currently resident in the Iraqi capital. The author may display evidence of spending time in the west (possibly Britain, though he does use Americanisms) with his cynical sense of humour and love of David Bowie lyrics, but the reams and reams of fascinating detail about domestic and street life in Baghdad are highly convincing." See today's Guardian (external link) and then see if you can log on to Salam's website without getting the 502 bad gateway message

    March 24 ~ We live in fictitious times," he thundered, "when a fictitious president sends us to war for fictitious reasons

    - shame on you Mr Bush. Shame on you." - Michael Moore, upon receiving the award for the best documentary at the Oscars, 23 March 2003. Guardian (external link)

    March 24 ~"Not one single refugeee has arrived in Jordon; the traffic is all going the other way"

    said Dominic Arkwright on the Today Programme. Far from capitulating or greeting troops with photographable scenes of joy, the Iraqis appear to be demonstrating increasing resistance. Ordinary Iraqi people in Jordan long to return to "die with their children" and "defend their homeland". We hear too that the British newspapers are full of outrage at the appearance on Iraqi television of pictures of dead Americans and the "parading" of the five captured servicemen and one woman. Words such as "barbarism" abound on the front pages. Amazement that Baghdad is defiant and news that there seem few cracks in the dictator's regime show that we are seeing dawning realisation among some that the "Coalition" has underestimated the task they have set themselves. It is all horribly reminiscent of Vietnam - an adventure that should have been a short sharp campaign but that dragged bloodily on and on. Memories are very short. So short that we have not yet heard anyone draw a comparison with the treatment by the invaded Iraqis of captured prisoners with what the Americans are doing in the US military base of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. See again The Bush Administration Through the Looking Glass

    March 24 ~ There is a humanitarian emergency developing in Basra.

    In the first days of this war one is reminded too of the words of the poet Wilfred Owen. Writing ninety years ago without rancour but just deep sadness, he knew from first hand the nature of war and was killed just before the end of the First World War - that war to end wars...:

    March 24 ~ "ITN has called a halt to all independent reporting in southern Iraq"

    "amid fears that the veteran ITV reporter Terry Lloyd may have been killed by "friendly fire" in an incident on the road to Basra yesterday. He said they had taken the decision to suspend reporting from anyone other than those who are "embedded" with the troops..." This report in the Guardian (external link) is likely to lead many - in addition to their concern and sympathy for the family and friends of Mr Lloyd - to wonder about that "friendly fire" and to ask questions about the definition of the word "embedded" in this context.

    March 24 ~ Rumsfeld and Bush - a change in tone

    Visibly shocked and angry at way things have not gone according to plan - the parading on Iraq television of captured soldiers from Fort Bliss in Texas yesterday and the strong resistance from the Iraqis - the US administration now seem to be preparing public opinion for a much longer war. The lack of the finding of any "weapons of mass destruction" is also causing great embarrassment.

    March 23 ~ "Adviser quits Foreign Office over legality of war"

    (Guardian) There seems to have been no mention of this on radio or television. ".... Ms Wilmhurst has been a legal adviser at the Foreign Office for 30 years, and deputy legal officer since 1997. Her resignation will be an embarrassment to Tony Blair as well as to Mr Straw and raises new doubts about the legal basis for the war. It will encourage anti-war MPs to renew pressure on the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, to publish in full his legal advice to the government. The Foreign Office was reluctant to discuss Ms Wilmhurst's departure. ..."

    March 23 ~ The lesson for today's serial regime changers is a simple one.

    The Guardian's story by Neil Clark of how you "can try to subjugate a people by sanctions, subversion and bombs. You can, if you wish, overthrow governments you dislike and seek to impose your will by installing a Hamid Karzai, General Tommy Franks or a Zoran Djindjic to act as imperial consul. But do not imagine that you can then force a humiliated people to pay homage to them. ..." Extract:Read the full article.

    March 22 ~ Demonstration at Fairford

    A beautiful Cotswold town in blazing Spring sunshine. Except for the fact that helicopters passed overhead and media people with cameras (perhaps hoping for some violence) were in evidence, it was almost impossible to tie up in one's mind the bleak reason for being there with the idyllic pastoral scenes past which we walked - cows grazing peacefully with their calves, ducks in the sparkling river. The route was lined with daffodils. A group from the Gower Women for Peace sang in harmony that kept all around them in contemplative and peaceful step. What a total contrast to the misery in Baghdad. Policemen and women (particularly the local ones) were friendly - perhaps aware of the absurdity of the overwhelming police presence when almost all participants were so evidently peace-loving and respectable.
    Most of the several thousand walkers carried flowers.

    March 22 ~ today I weep for my country.

    said Senator Byrd of West Virginia on Thursday " I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.
    Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves. We proclaim a new doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and feared by many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place...." (Read the Senator's speech)

    March 22 ~ "We are worried that the US believes and acts like it can replace the UN in delivery of humanitarian aid and reconstruction,"

    said Justin Forsyth, head of policy at Oxfam. "We don't believe they have the skills or the legitimacy." The disagreements between Britain and the US extend even to who should be in charge of the immediate humanitarian work as the battle rages. Washington is boasting that its soldiers will double as mobile aid workers, bringing rations to the vulnerable population, 60% of whom depend on food handed out by the UN's oil for food programme. "We don't want our aid equipment to be offloaded off the back of a US military lorry, because if we were to do that we would be seen as part of a belligerent force," said Mr Forsyth. ..See Guardian report (external link)

    March 22 ~ Your Excellency

    I am writing to request that you support invoking General Assembly resolution 377A, Uniting for Peace, to end the war on Iraq.
    We are in precisely the situation that this resolution was designed to address. The Security Council is deadlocked: there is a "lack of unanimity of the permanent members" of the Security Council. An illegal breach of the peace and an act of aggression have now occurred, which will claim the lives of untold thousands of innocent victims.
    I ask you to live up to the mandate upon which the United Nations was founded. I ask you to join the voices calling for an emergency session of the General Assembly to be convened to condemn this act of aggression and recommend collective measures to "maintain and restore international peace and security" by halting this war.
    The future of our world, and of the United Nations, hang in the balance. Please take action now.
    You can send this letter or something similar from http://act.greenpeace.org/aas/e?a=ufp&s=amb_s (external link)

    March 21 ~ The world has been cancelled. There is a war on.

    Simon Jenkins in the Times today "I normally consume news by the hour, almost the minute. Yesterday I had to turn it off. For much of the day, there was no news, merely the fallout of a bungled assassination attempt on President Saddam Hussein. There was just hours of waiting for news. Yet nothing else had a look-in. Only the ultimate anaesthetic, football, was permitted to supplant bombs as fit subject for public interest. ....... Yesterday Britain suddenly had no worries over Europe's constitution, the NHS, London's transport, the Olympics or the Budget. Instead the nation waited breathless for tales of bombing and heroism..... ......the most notoriously wasteful department in Whitehall a golden key to the Exchequer. Drugs clinics, the elderly, Aids in Africa, the war on poverty could all eat their budgetary hearts out. War excused everything. Politics was in abeyance.
    I have tried over the past month to argue my way through this wretched war. Debate is now overtaken by action. .......Despite Tony Blair's crude efforts to scare the public into becoming pro-war, there is no threat to British territory. We have sent professional soldiers to aid an American "disarmament" expedition in the Gulf. This should not require emergency powers. ..... " Read the article

    March 21 ~ America mounts a relentless propaganda campaign to justify the invasion of Iraq.

    From today's Independent (external link) ".....That message is that President Saddam, not Mr Bush, is responsible for the war; that it is a war to disarm a country which is "a grave danger to the world", as Mr Bush declared on Wednesday; that President Saddam is armed to the teeth with chemical and biological weapons (and soon, according to Vice-President Dick Cheney, nuclear weapons as well); and that the "liberation" of Iraq will shine as a beacon of hope throughout the Middle East.
    The mantra is repeated daily by Ari Fleischer, Mr Bush's notably uncommunicative spokesman. But Washington has been caught bending the truth already, most notably over Saddam Hussein's links with al-Qa'ida, and the forged document purporting to show that Iraq had bought uranium from Niger. Similar doubts surround American claims yesterday that oil fields near Basra had been set on fire, an allegation disputed by eyewitnesses. Above all though, the return to the colours of Ms Hughes, a veteran of the Bush campaigns of 1994, 1998 and 2000, is evidence of how thoughts are already beginning to turn to 2004 - though no Bush aide would admit as much. President Bush's chances of a second term hinge on the war - not so much on its ultimate outcome, but on how quickly and with how few casualties, both Iraqi and American, that objective is achieved."

    March 21 ~ US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war

    Let us hope that the news (see Observer report from March 2nd) about the 28 year old unsung heroine of Cheltenham's GCHQ will not be allowed to fade away. Her action revealed that US govt. is spying on its UN 'allies' - and reminds us again of the story about phone tapping discovered in Brussels on March 19
    ".....The NSA main switchboard put The Observer through to extension 6727 at the agency which was answered by an assistant, who confirmed it was Koza's office. However, when The Observer asked to talk to Koza about the surveillance of diplomatic missions at the United Nations, it was then told 'You have reached the wrong number'. On protesting that the assistant had just said this was Koza's extension, the assistant repeated that it was an erroneous extension, and hung up. ..."Observer article.

    March 21 ~ Southampton University's willingness to assist this form of protest.

    At Southampton university counter-strikers are requesting the deduction one hour per week of their pay in protest against the war (as beginning of March) and in favour of Asylum Aid, 28 Commercial st, London E1 6LS, charity no.328729. Mark Levene writes, ".., it is denying money which would have gone into the exchequer's war chest and it is a positive action in favour of a cause doing something for the victims of war and violence as demonstrably linked to anti-war protest."

    March 21 ~ The Bush Administration Through the Looking Glass

    By Peter Fruendlich, National Public Radio.
    "All right, let me see if I understand the logic of this correctly. We are going to ignore the United Nations in order to make clear to Saddam Hussein that the United Nations cannot be ignored. We're going to wage war to preserve the UN's ability to avert war. The paramount principle is that the UN's word must be taken seriously, and if we have to subvert its word to guarantee that it is, then by gun, we will. Peace is too important not to take up arms to defend it...." (more)

    March 20/21 ~ the Vatican condemned the U.S. attack as a "defeat for reason."

    Cardinal Roberto Tucci, speaking on Vatican Radio, said the war is "beyond all legality and all international legitimacy." He said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein bore what he said was an "enormous responsibility" for the war, but he also criticized the United States.
    Pakistan's information minister, Sheikh Rashid, expressed regret over the start of the war. He said Pakistan sympathizes with the Iraqi people, and emphasized the United Nations did not approve the war.
    Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi described the U.S. attack as "a black mark on history." He said the world is now witnessing that "might (power) is right." "The world is now at a critical juncture following the action of the United States and its allies, which will go down as a black mark in history," he said. The United States, as "a large and powerful nation, along with its allies, has acted with disregard for international law, humanity and universal justice. It has launched an attack against a sovereign state that has diminished capacity to defend itself."
    The president of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim state, Megawati Sukarnoputri, urged the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting and also called on the United States to halt the war.
    New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark reiterated her government's opposition to the war...." See Radio Free Europe

    March 20 ~ "Donald Rumsfeld tells us the scope and scale of what is to come is beyond anything that has ever been seen before. "

    Channel Four. Whatever the strategy for the war against Iraq, it has started. Forty Tomahawk cruise missiles hit Baghdad in the night hours. Iraq fired three scud-like missiles in return penetrating the Kuwaiti desert. The war is not unfolding yet as advertised... Saddam was targetted, but appears to have survived. His speech is slurred, he appears nervous and tired. Un-confirmed reports of fires in the southern oil fields. Quiet currently in Baghdad...."

    March 20 ~Big military assault on Afghanistan on the same day as the attacks on Iraq.... a "coincidence"

    "The United States has launched one of its biggest military assaults on Afghanistan since Operation Anaconda a year ago but insisted it was a "coincidence" that the offensive began on the same day as the attacks on Iraq. Up to 1,000 troops and attack helicopters converged on villages in southern Afghanistan early this morning to flush out al-Qaida terrorists and their allies, a US army spokesman said. The operation, code-named "Valiant Strike", began with an air and ground assault in the remote mountains of southern Kandahar province, Colonel Roger King said. He said the military had launched the assault after receiving "a mosaic of different intelligence inputs" of activity in the area. Washington military officials said that radio transmissions had been detected from caves near the villages. However, Col King told Reuters that, as far as he was aware, the operation had been planned for two months.... " Guardian (external link)

    March 20 ~ "None of the nuclear-related intelligence trumpeted by the administration has held up to scrutiny..

    .., inspectors say. From suspect aluminum tubes to aerial photographs to documents -- revealed to be forgeries -- that claimed to link Iraq to uranium from Niger, inspectors say they chased U.S. leads that went nowhere and wasted valuable time in their efforts to determine the extent of Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons banned after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. ..... In the case of the Niger documents, they appeared genuine at first glance -- accurate nomenclature, proper stamps -- but further study turned up crude errors, such as words misspelled in French and dates that did not match the day of the week. Who created the counterfeit documents remains a mystery." See Mercury News on Znet (external link)
    Germany's Der Spiegel accused the United States and the U.K. as the forgery perpetrators in a March 17 Web story titled, "Grounds for War Urgently Required: Forgeries and Half-Truths Intended To Heighten Fears of Saddam's Weapons Arsenal"

    March 20 ~"... In its past wars, the millions of Lilliputians sat glued to their TV sets and watched the propaganda broadcasts, identical on all channels."

    They watched and believed that the war is for sublime values of peace and justice. Now as well, obedient spokesmen explain that Saddam is Hitler and the Iraqi children must be saved from him. But who is listening? Now the truth is exposed - the U.S. is perceived as a gangster that does whatever he feels like. In the past, the U.S. committed its crimes to the sounds of cheers of the majority of the Western society. It has lost this majority. The change that has occurred in the world can no longer be reversed."
    Some optimism, again from Znet (external link)

    March 19 ~ Yours in despair

    An emailer writes: "On Radio 4 PM programme I have just heard German, Russian and French condemnation of USA and UK - very strong.
    Also Hans Blix saying that he wished the Inspectors had been given more time. Why in Heaven's name did they not say this yesterday before the Commons debate? Perhaps that's why Blair timed the Debate for yesterday and not today. These recent statements would have not helped him at all. Everything is stage managed, and so full of deception. I think some MPs may already be having second thoughts. Yours in despair"

    March 19 ~"If nothing else, Mr Cook's resignation swept away the notion that the Prime Minister has further devastating evidence

    that the rest of us don't about the threat posed by Iraq. If there really were further evidence of a "clear and present threat" from Iraq it would surely have been shared with Mr Cook." Western Morning News external link

    March 19 ~ "Plans for the future of Iraq following the downfall of Saddam Hussein have been drawn up by a secret Whitehall unit

    , it emerged yesterday. The existence of the Iraq Planning Unit, which includes representatives from the military as well as the Foreign Office and Department for International Development, was kept under wraps in order to avoid giving the impression that Britain believed war was inevitable, British sources said. Officials from the unit have been liaising closely with the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) set up by US President George Bush under director Jay Garner in January, and British officials have joined ORHA's forward base in Kuwait..." Western Morning News - external link

    March 19 ~ How your MP voted

    MPs last night were asked to vote on a motion which (1)"supports the decision of the Government that the UK should use all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction". Secondly, to vote on a cross-party amendment which said that (2) "the case for war against Iraq has not yet been established, especially given the absence of specific UN authorisation" but also expressed "total support" for the British forces in the Gulf. From Hansard, here is how the MPs voted:

    March 19 ~ The Pentagon has threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of independent journalists in Iraq,

    according to veteran BBC war correspondent, Kate Adie. In an interview with Irish radio, Ms. Adie said that questioned about the consequences of such potentially fatal actions, a senior Pentagon officer had said: "Who cares.. ..They've been warned."
    According to Ms. Adie, who twelve years ago covered the last Gulf War, the Pentagon attitude is: "entirely hostile to the the free spread of information."
    "I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot reporting, as the war occurs," she told Irish national broadcaster, Tom McGurk on the RTE1 Radio "Sunday Show." (See report) Ms. Adie made the startling revelations during a discussion of media freedom issues in the likely upcoming war in Iraq. She also warned that the Pentagon is vetting journalists according to their stance on the war, and intends to take control of US journalists' satellite equipment --in order to control access to the airwaves. "

    March 19 ~ Fostering Terror

    The population is now being told to prepare for the worst....breathtaking.
    'Stay indoors' terror advice http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2863003.stm
    Simple preventative steps http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/terrorism/athome.htm

    March 19 ~ Uranium Warfare: A Crime Against Humanity

    Fintan Dunne GuluFuture.com " What if they announced the inevitable deaths from depleted uranium weapons at the actual time of war? Nightly News might go like this:
    "Coalition forces today captured a key enemy stronghold. In a statement, Mr. Bush said that only 75,000 more deformed babies could secure the capital for the US. Ed Carnage reports from Washington..."
    "...The Uranium Babies will be with us for a very long time. For countless millions of years to come, Iraq, Kosovo and indeed the uranium test firing ranges in the USA, will be lands of poison harvest. So will all war theaters of this slow, hidden nuclear holocaust. Uranium nuclear war is a crime against humanity."

    March 19 ~ "Now Pandora's box creaks open once again and out will jump the miseries, distempers and demons of war...."

    writes Simon Jenkins in the Times in another very readable article. "We should remember what the ingenious Greeks left at the bottom of that box, a mistress called Hope. She did not escape. She remained "to assuage the lot of man".
    Hope now pleads for a quick victory. Hope pleads for no gratuitous bombing. Hope craves a swift rebuilding of Iraq. Hope prays for the Palestine "road map" to be sincere. Hope longs for the UN to pick itself up and play a full role in a reconstructed Middle East. Hope wants this war to purge once and for all America's September 11 trauma and rejoin the world community. Hope believes in America as a force for good in the world. Hope wants this war turned to good account.
    Hope hates the sound of bin Laden laughing."

    March 18/19 ~ The rebel amendment -

    217 voted for the amendment (139 Labour) while 396 voted with the government. The House of Commons shows itself to be very much more pro-war than the rest of us. The Tory leadership too lost four good people. John Randall, Tory Whip last week, shadow environment minister Jonathan Sayeed, shadow home affairs minister Humfrey Malins and shadow health minister John Baron all left their posts on March 18th.

    March 18 ~ "What is uncertain is the aftermath."

    "This is the variable that is never factored into the thinking of our native political lumpen-bourgeoisie; their deeds plant the seeds of future and furious resistance.....This invasion will also ignite the fires of Arab and Muslim humiliation and anger throughout the region. Most importantly, in my view, there are the Kurds. Anyone who has followed the news has heard about "Saddam's" gassing of the Kurds. That's how it is portrayed. Nonetheless, few people have bothered to find out what the truth is, or even to investigate this claim..."
    A fascinating and sobering article by retired U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff , which re-examines what we can expect on the battlefield when the United States begins its invasion

    March 18 ~ Blair and Bush must have been told the truth... it is likely that Iraq has been substantially disarmed for at least eight years

    John Pilger (external link) last Friday. ".......In his dramatic presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the truth about Iraq's nerve gas weapons "only came out after inspectors collected documentation as a result of the defection of Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's late son in law". What Powell neglected to mention was that his star witness had told them all the weapons had been destroyed."

    March 18 ~ "Don't the politicians realise that people's lives depend on what they say?" Iraqi man in a petrol queue

    "Most shops are shut now, and Iraqis are as ready as they ever will be for war. The drivers we work with say everyone's always asking them, "When will it start?" because they think anyone who knows journalists must have inside information. Alas, we're just waiting too. I met a man in a petrol queue who said he'd been glued to Radio Monte Carlo and Al Jazeera TV (his brother has an illegal satellite dish). "Sounds like it'll happen Wednesday or Thursday," he said. "We know 95% that it's going to happen - we've just got 5% hope that it won't. Don't the politicians realise that people's lives depend on what they say?" He had sent his children to the village, so that if he had to flee he could move more quickly." From Channel Four's news update this afternoon

    March 18 ~ George Monbiot ~ We may believe that George Bush and Tony Blair have the interests of foreigners at heart only when they spend more on feeding them than they spend on killing them

    Today's article in the Guardian ".....There is surely no more obvious symptom of the corruption of western politics than the disproportion between the money available for sustaining life and the money available for terminating it. We could, I think, expect that, if they were asked to vote on the matter, most of the citizens of the rich world would demand that their governments spend as much on humanitarian aid as they spend on developing new means of killing people. But the military-industrial complex is a beast which becomes both fiercer and hungrier the more it is fed. ...the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, flew to Washington to beg George Bush for more money. He was given $50m, $35m of which the US insists is spent on the construction of a five-star hotel in Kabul. Karzai, in other words, has discovered what the people of Iraq will soon find out: generosity dries up when you are yesterday's news. "

    March 18 ~ Home Office minister John Denham has resigned from government


    March 18 ~ Clare Short has decided to stay in the Cabinet

    See Reuters report. Having already written to Ms Short to congratulate her on putting conscience before career, we now can only assume that the pressure put on her by those who have begged her to stay must have been very persuasive indeed. It would be presumptuous of us to comment further but we are again reminded of Simon Jenkins' article of March 5 Clare Short, ally of the 'post-heroic strategists'
    Read her interview with Andrew Marr BBC external link.

    March 18 ~ BP and Shell - (but it isn't about oil)

    See article from wsws.org ".... The Financial Times reported last week that the two companies had held talks with Downing Street and Whitehall officials "about the commercial benefits from developing the country's huge oilfields once Saddam Hussein is toppled". Shell is reported to have raised the issue during a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair's senior policy adviser, whilst BP has been pressing Whitehall to ensure that the UK do not lose out on potential contracts to the United States. The newspaper's claims brought an angry rebuttal from the two companies, denying they had actively sought talks with the government on the issue. But their denials only confirmed that talks on oil exploration in Iraq post-Saddam Hussein had indeed taken place...."
    Friends of the Earth (external link) say: "Baghdad Bazaar Big Oil in Iraq was published last October but only came to light last week. It indicates that a regime change in Iraq would benefit US and UK oil companies while a peaceful resolution would benefit oil companies based in Russia, France and China:.." See Baghdad Bazaar Big Oil (external pdf link) Extract:

    March 18 ~ Lord Hunt said he had agonised over the Iraq policy for weeks and had now decided to resign.

    He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I don't support the pre-emptive action which is going to be taken without broad international support or indeed the clear support of the British people."

    March 18 ~ "He dismissed Mr Blair's claim that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to British people, insisting the Iraqi dictator had no weapons of mass destruction capable of being deployed against his enemies."

    Channel Four News "MPs have given former Cabinet minister Robin Cook a standing ovation after he told the House of Commons he would vote against the Government's plans to go to war in Iraq. ... He dismissed Mr Blair's claim that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to British people, insisting the Iraqi dictator had no weapons of mass destruction capable of being deployed against his enemies. And he said that the regime of weapons inspections and sanctions imposed on Iraq since the Gulf War had contained Saddam more effectively than military action had in 1991. Mr Cook said the Prime Minister was wrong to argue that France alone was to blame for the failure to achieve consensus in the United Nations Security Council. War was opposed by many countries around the globe - and by the British public he said, adding: "I cannot support a war without international agreement or domestic support." He also claimed that that history would be "astonished at the diplomatic miscalculation" that saw the international coalition fall apart. Mr Cook warned that Britain was in danger of isolating itself internationally by going to war without the support of any of the international institutions of which it is a member - Nato, the European Union and the Security Council. ..... Mr Cook said that after working so hard to try to achieve a second resolution we could not now "pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance." Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said parliament would hold a vote on military action in Iraq after a debate in the House of Commons tomorrow."
    The Prime Minister (and the Prime Minister's wife) has been seeing Labour MPs in batches to try to reduce the number of rebels in tomorrow's vote.

    March 18 ~ Astounded by the BBC news that said "40% of the population is still against war"....

    ... we looked at the Local London Ballot. This allows only one vote per computer address.

    March 18 ~ "The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has warned the United States that the legitimacy of military action will be questioned.."

    (See report from The Hindu - external link) and the "..support for it diminished" in the absence of any authorisation of the Security Council on the use of force. Mr. Annan told the media after a meeting of the Security Council. Mr. Annan maintained that should military conflict break out, the Council and the U.N. as a whole would have a role to play. ..."

    March 17 ~ Both the UK and US governments have booked airtime for 8am EST on Wednesday.

    Our informant asks himself : " I wonder what they will have to talk about." Other information suggests that hostilities will begin in the early hours of Wednesday.

    March 17 ~ "Good afternoon, Jon Snow here with a briefing on a turbulent news day..."

    For those who have not signed up for the Channel 4 news update: UN route fails:
    Diplomacy has died, officially buried at 3.00pm our time (10.00am Eastern) by UK UN Ambo, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. The French are being blamed, but of course the coalition of the unwilling is far wider than that. Don't mention the Russians who first used the dreaded V word (VETO) Don't mention the 36 times the US has deployed the veto to prevent resolutions passing on the Israeli-Arab issue. No need to mention much beyond the reality that this is war: Tonight, tomorrow night, sometime extremely soon. And if previous patterns are to be deployed, all this talk of 3,200 smart weapons in the first 48-hours may be a deception. Expect, perhaps, a land invasion to cut-off Baghdad from the rest of the country...."

    March 17 ~ "Of the 535 members of Congress, only ONE (Sen. Johnson of South Dakota) has an enlisted son or daughter in the armed forces.."

    "..If you really want to stand up for America, please send your twin daughters over to Kuwait right now and let them don their chemical warfare suits. And let's see every member of Congress with a child of military age also sacrifice their kids for this war effort. What's that you say? You don't THINK so? Well, hey, guess what -- we don't think so either! " Read today's letter to President Bush from the wonderful Michael Moore "There is virtually NO ONE in America (talk radio nutters and Fox News aside) who is gung-ho to go to war. Trust me on this one. Walk out of the White House and on to any street in America and try to find five people who are PASSIONATE about wanting to kill Iraqis. YOU WON'T FIND THEM! Why? 'Cause NO Iraqis have ever come here and killed any of us! No Iraqi has even threatened to do that. You see, this is how we average Americans think: If a certain so-and-so is not perceived as a threat to our lives, then, believe it or not, we don't want to kill him! Funny how that works!...." More

    March 17 ~ Robin Cook has resigned

    The scenes in the House of Commons were very unusual - not least because of the applause that greeted the end of his moving resignation speech and the fact that many were seen to rise to their feet to acknowledge him. His speech was described by Andrew Marr as the best he had given.

    March 17 ~ Does the British army share the conviction of two thirds of Americans - i.e. that Saddam Hussein blew up the twin towers on September 11 2001?

    "Now it appears that there are two sides squaring up and people at home seem to think we are just slavishly following the Americans. The events of 9/11 obviously didn't have the same effect on British people as they did the Americans. "But you can bet that if anything like that had happened in the UK, people at home would be baying for us to get in there and flatten Saddam."
    This was the comment from a British soldier, reported in the Western Morning News under the headline: FRONT-LINE FRUSTRATION OVER LACK OF SUPPORT . (external link)

    March 17 ~ An early draft of Resolution 1441 included the phrase "all necessary means" but after pressure from France and Russia that was watered down only to "serious consequences".

    (Channel 4 News - external link) At the time, America's ambassador to the UN John Negroponte made it clear that 1441 wasn't enough to send the boys in. Now, however, government lawyers point to Resolution number 678 which does use the magic phrase "all necessary means" in relation to Iraq. That, however, was passed in 1990 before the last Gulf War and before the UN ceasefire arrangements. There's another problem too. Resolution 1441 ends by saying that the UN security council "decides to remain seized of the matter". "Seized" has a very specific legal meaning of possession or ownership. In plain language the council was saying that nothing could happen until it met again. And there is a formal process to go through before military action can be taken in the name of the UN. .."

    March 17 ~ We are told ..by someone who would seem to know.. that war will begin at 2.30am on Wednesday morning.

    And an emailer writes: "I remember as a child my mum, who was a child herself during the war, had an autograph book she had kept. Her friends had all signed it. One had written the well known quote- "Man's inhumanity to Man makes many countless mourn". It had a profound affect on me at that young age. 40 years later nothing has changed. Tonight 12 of us in Almeley Church joined countless thousands around the world praying that it would." She sends this article When Democracy Failed: The Warnings of History :"....instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as "The Homeland," a phrase publicly promoted in the introduction to a 1934 speech recorded in Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie "Triumph Of The Will." As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was "the" homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands. We are the "true people," he suggested, the only ones worthy of our nation's concern; if bombs fall on others, or human rights are violated in other nations and it makes our lives better, it's of little concern to us. Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful. He thus withdrew his country from the League Of Nations in October, 1933, and then negotiated a separate naval armaments agreement with Anthony Eden of The United Kingdom to create a worldwide military ruling elite. ..." The parallels are terrifying.

    March 17 ~" I'll hazard a guess right now, we shall see many of the British and American journalists back to their old trick of playing toy soldiers, dressing themselves up in military costumes for their nightly theatrical performances on television."

    Robert Fisk in yesterday's Independent on The War of Misinformation has Begun "Here's a few guesses about our coverage of the war to come. American and British forces use thousands of depleted uranium (DU) shells - widely regarded by 1991 veterans as the cause of Gulf War syndrome as well as thousands of child cancers in present day Iraq - to batter their way across the Kuwaiti-Iraqi frontier. Within hours, they will enter the city of Basra, to be greeted by its Shia Muslim inhabitants as liberators. US and British troops will be given roses and pelted with rice - a traditional Arab greeting - as they drive "victoriously" through the streets. The first news pictures of the war will warm the hearts of Messrs Bush and Blair. There will be virtually no mention by reporters of the use of DU munitions.
    But in Baghdad, reporters will be covering the bombing raids that are killing civilians by the score and then by the hundred. These journalists, as usual, will be accused of giving "comfort to the enemy while British troops are fighting for their lives". By now, in Basra and other "liberated" cities south of the capital, Iraqis are taking their fearful revenge on Saddam Hussein's Baath party officials. Men are hanged from lamp-posts. Much television footage of these scenes will have to be cut to sanitize the extent of the violence.
    Far better for the US and British governments will be the macabre discovery of torture chambers and "rape-rooms" and prisoners with personal accounts of the most terrible suffering at the hands of Saddam's secret police. This will "prove" how right "we" are to liberate these poor people. Then the US will have to find the "weapons of mass destruction" that supposedly provoked this bloody war. In the journalistic hunt for these weapons, any old rocket will do for the moment...."

    March 17 ~ Tony Blair is trying to convince us that the existing resolution, 1441, always offered sufficient scope for war.From today's

    Letters in the Telegraph

    Where's the opposition?

    Date: 17 March 2003
    Sir - It now seems that a second UN resolution will not be tabled, as it will not be passed. Consequently, Tony Blair is trying to convince us that the existing resolution, 1441, always offered sufficient scope for war. Such a massive policy U-turn by the Government hands the Opposition fantastic ammunition, yet Iain Duncan Smith has offered Mr Blair his support. Only the Liberal Democrats question the international legality of military aggression without UN support. The saddest fact is not that Britain is effectively sidelining the UN, but that we have no effective opposition. Any opposition will be soon deemed "unpatriotic" and be stifled, because our troops will be in battle.
    Now is the time for opposition to be vociferous, before the fighting starts.
    Garry Honey, Esher, Surrey
    Sir - Following the revelation (report, Mar 13) that Iraq has developed an unmanned drone aircraft that can fly for 90 miles, I can reveal that plans for this machine were given away free to readers of Aeromodeller magazine in the April issue of 1988. No doubt our security services will be able to search that magazine's archives to determine if Saddam was a subscriber.
    Alex Pincus, Buxted, E. Sussex

    March 17 ~ "London would not push a vote if it did not think it would get the necessary nine out of 15 Security Council votes..."

    Reuters (external link) "..Despite massive domestic opposition to British involvement in a war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein without U.N. support, Blair tried to put a brave face on events. Asked if he was confident he and his ruling Labour Party would survive the Iraq crisis, he replied: "Yes, actually." He declined to tell reporters when he would call a cabinet or a parliamentary debate on the issue. Both are expected this week, although some analysts are saying bombs may be falling before legislators have a chance to debate again the legitimacy of military action in Iraq.....(he) was expected to work the phone from his plane and then during the night in a last-ditch effort to bring other nations on board the U.S.-British position on Iraq."

    March 17 ~ Because of the level of opposition to war in Britain, the failure to achieve a second United Nations resolution will have serious consequences for Tony Blair.

    Independent (external link) "Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, is reported by friends to be very depressed by the prospect of war without proper UN authority. Insiders now regard Mr Cook's resignation from the Cabinet as even more likely than the departure of the International Development Secretary, Clare Short. Other members of the Government such as the Environment minister, Michael Meacher, the Agriculture minister Lord Whitty, and parliamentary aides Ken Purchase and Tony Wright, would not say whether they expect to be in office at the end of the week. Tony Blair has promised MPs another vote on the war in the coming week. He is likely to face a rebellion from Labour MPs even bigger than the 121 who voted against the Government last time. Many Labour MPs who backed the Government then made it clear they were doing so on condition that the UN Security Council passed a second resolution authorising war, as Mr Blair confidently predicted they would."

    March 16 ~ Letters Guardian March 15 "Counsels against war"

    We must not let ourselves be decieved by Downing Street's false argument that UN resolution 1441 justifies an Anglo-American attack on Iraq without the need for a further resolution (War Analysis, March 14).
    Last October, Washington originally put forward a resolution specifying that failure by Saddam Hussein to fulfil UN demands for his disarmament should be dealt with "by all possible means" - code for automatic use of armed force. This was totally rejected by France, Russian and China. In November, after six weeks of haggling, the present resolution 1441 was passed , stating that a material breach by Iraq would entail "serious consequences" - not code for automatic war. Moreover, France, Russia and China, in accepting resolution 1441, formally stated that they did so only on the clear understanding that it did not carry with it any automatic recourse to war without a further security council decision.
    Therefore, Bush and Blair's war will be contrary to resolution 1441. It will also breach the UN Charter itself, which reserves decisions over peace and war to the security council except in cases of self-defence against attack. But neither America nor britain has been attacked, or even threatened with attack, by Iraq.
    Of course, the cold-eyed warmongers of Bush's Washington don't give a damn about any of this. But we might have hoped that Tony Blair would have felt some scruples about embarking on a war which will be illegal, as well as opposed by a majority of the British nation.
    Correlli Barnett
    East Carleton, Norwich

    March 16 ~ "...apart from new types of cluster bombs and cruise missiles, the Americans will use their untested pulse bomb, known also as a microwave bomb..."

    writes John Pilger in his article.."Vladimir Slipchenko, one of the world's leading military analysts, says the testing of new weapons is a "main purpose" of the attack on Iraq. .... Each discharges two megawatts of radiation which instantly puts out of action all communications, computers, radios, even hearing aids and heart pacemakers. "Imagine, your heart explodes!" he said.
    In the future, this Pax Americana will be policed with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons used "pre-emptively", even in conflicts that do not directly engage US interests. In August, the Bush administration will convene a secret meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, to discuss the construction of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including "mini nukes", "bunker busters" and neutron bombs. Generals, government officials and nuclear scientists will also discuss the appropriate propaganda to convince the American public that the new weapons are necessary.....It is vitally important that we understand their goals and the degree of their ruthlessness...... With an attack on Iraq almost a certainty, the millions who filled London and other capitals on the weekend of 15-16 February, and the millions who cheered them on, now have these transcendent duties..... There is only one form of opposition now: it is civil disobedience leading to what the police call civil unrest. The latter is feared by undemocratic governments of all stripes. ..... My own view" (writes John Pilger) "is that if the protest movement sees itself as a world power, as an expression of true internationalism, then success need not be a dream. That depends on how far people are prepared to go.

    March 16 ~ elements within the British security services were unhappy with the Government's use of intelligence information.

    See last Sunday's Observer (external link): "An employee at the top-secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been arrested following revelations in The Observer last weekend about an American 'dirty tricks' surveillance operation to win votes at the United Nations in favour of a tough new resolution on Iraq. ...Officials at GCHQ, the electronic surveillance arm of the British intelligence service, were asked by the Americans to provide valuable information from 'product lines', intelligence jargon for phone taps and e-mail interception. The document was circulated among British intelligence services before being leaked. A GCHQ spokesman confirmed last night that the woman was an employee. "
    See also: UN launches inquiry into American spying (external link) "... Sources in the office of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan confirmed last night that the spying operation had already been discussed at the UN's counter-terrorism committee and will be further investigated. The news comes as British police confirmed the arrest of a 28-year-old woman working at the top secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) on suspicion of contravening the Official Secrets Act. Last week The Observer published details of a memo sent by Frank Koza, Defence Chief of Staff (Regional Targets) at the US National Security Agency, which monitors international communications. The memo ordered an intelligence 'surge' directed against Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea with 'extra focus on Pakistan UN matters'. The 'dirty tricks' operation was designed to win votes in favour of intervention in Iraq."

    March 16 ~ "Through the internet, the nonviolent movement is linked by billions of e-mails and forwarded articles meant to surround and circumvent the corporate media."

    says Harvey Wasserman, senior editor of Free Press and author of The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press). "Amidst the agonizing crisis over Iraq, the violent contortions of the world's only military superpower have given birth to a transcendental force: the global Superpower of Peace. .....They warn
  • the blood shed in this proposed war would be unconscionable.
  • That its ecological costs would be unsustainable.
  • That civil rights and liberties are being trashed.
  • And that the multiplier effects of such devastating chaos cannot be predicted.
    A war between unelected macho madmen, launched by a military superpower against its own puppet gone astray, is the ultimate yin to the new movement's yang. If, as you read this, war has broken out, know this: the global Superpower of Peace can bend, but it won't break. If Bush still hasn't attacked, and Saddam continues to be disarmed, count another day the Superpower of Peace has extended its pre-emptive influence, its maturity, its scope. The new millennium will be neither American nor Chinese nor European nor military nor corporate nor dictatorial. It belongs to the Superpower of Peace, being born before our electronic eyes. " See articles from this weekend's Counterpunch

    March 16 ~ "Supporters of war with Iraq attribute international hostility to either pacifism or visceral anti-Americanism..."

    writes Max Hastings in the Sunday Telegraph today (How to lose friends and offend people.) " It seems more just, however, to blame the stunning diplomatic failure by the Bush Administration. For once, there is a valid historical comparison. Never since Suez has a great nation blundered so disastrously in attempting to justify the use of force before the world. A British diplomat observed to me that following American representatives around the world requires an enormous dustpan and brush to clear up the mess.
    The last straw was Mr Bush's belated promise on Friday to unveil a new Middle-East peace plan. For months, the British Government has been beseeching Washington to make some gesture about Israel and the Palestinians. Bush's failure to offer even token linkage between war on Iraq and firmness towards Israel has represented a gaping hole in the American case. Yet who can take seriously a bone now thrown so carelessly to a sceptical world, on the eve of war?..."

    March 16 ~ And today's Sunday Scare story is...

    in the Sunday Times. Police go on high alert for suicide attack (external link) Masterly use of language here to frighten the population with imaginary "potential" bugbears:One emailer writes in disgust:"Now why might they want to make us feel insecure? Oh yes something about wanting to go to war this week .... Absolutely pi**ed off with conniving politicians.."

    March 15 ~ With a new UN resolution now unlikely, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw admitted war was now "much more probable" than before - a point reinforced by cabinet colleagues.

    From Calling time on Diplomacy by Julian Rush, Channel 4 news (external link) "....A decision hammered out at Number 10 - where senior ministers met Tony Blair ahead of his summit meeting with George Bush and the Spanish Prime Minister tomorrow. But behind the scenes, anti war MPs say they're coming under intense pressure to back the government line. That'll increase if - as expected - there's a Commons debate on Iraq next week. ..."

    March 15 ~ ".... the idea is to recreate using conventional weapons the "shock and awe" produced by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

    From Channel 4's Baghdad Diary (external link)
    "People we meet often ask us what we think will happen. "Will there be war? When? Should I send my family to the village?"
    Some wonder if America will use a nuclear weapon.
    Such fears are not far beneath the surface of normality and denial. There are more than 200 journalists in Baghdad now, and most of us hope the Iraqi government will let us stay here. Our families (and editors!) worry, but most of us want to witness what happens. I feel it's important to be here and chronicle what happens to the Iraqi people in the first American colonial war of the 21st century. And I want to find out what happens to the people I've met - the giggling girls at the university who think it's not going to happen, the shopkeeper, even the staff at the Ministry of Information.
    The story is much bigger than Iraq. It's about American power, and splits between Europe and America which I believe have already changed forever the diplomatic order established after World War ll. By accident of history, or fate, Iraq is where this story will play out. I think we need to be here."

    March 14 ~ War on Iraq would be seen as an attack on Islam, says former Cabinet minister

    Former Culture Secretary Chris Smith, has warned the Prime Minister that war on Iraq by the US and UK "would be seen as an attack not on Saddam Hussein but on Islam", reports The Muslim News (external link)

    March 14 ~ Germany says peace is the answer

    BERLIN (Reuters) - "Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says Germany, France, Russia, China and the majority of the U.N. Security Council still believe Iraq could be disarmed peacefully and said weapons inspections should go on. ....... Schroeder, whose vocal anti-war stance has infuriated the United States, said recent reports by U.N. weapons inspectors showed that the Baghdad government was cooperating more actively in disarmament. He also noted Iraq`s destruction of al-Samoud missiles. "With an extended inspection regime, we can achieve a lasting and verifiable disarmament and that is why it was and remains right that we have insisted on the logic of peace rather than entering into a logic of war," he said. ...."

    March 14 ~"The customary defence of the Dresden raid is that Britain cannot be to blame because German civilians deserved it. They deserved it for allowing Hitler to be their leader.

    The identical argument is now being deployed to defend the forthcoming rain of terror on Baghdad. .." Simon Jenkins today "A war for civilisation conducted by philistines" in the Times: "..None of those who demand war to protect civilisation will lift a finger to safeguard it in Iraq. Most are now so embarrassed as just to want the war "over quickly", and to hell with the damage. ...To some this is all sob stuff. War is always about killing and destruction, they say, so stop being fastidious. I am sure that is what the Condor Legion said before bombing Guernica and Harris said before Dresden. They did not see things that way later.....This is not a conflict that Britain is in danger of losing. The case for treating civilian areas and historic sites with extreme care seems overwhelming. At very least, if Britain is not a pawn in Washington's pocket, it should apply a "civilisation test" to the target lists. The planned aerial onslaught on Iraq seems out of all proportion to any threat, or to the necessities of war. " Read this article

    March 14 ~"And now we are told by George Bush Junior that the Security Council will become irrelevant if France, Germany and Russia use their veto?

    I often wonder how much further the sanctimoniousness of the Bush administration can go. Much further, I fear." Robert Fisk today in the Independent
    "...So here's a little idea that might just make the American administration even angrier and even more aware of its obligations to the rest of the world. It's a forgotten UN General Assembly resolution that could stop an invasion of Iraq, a relic of the Cold War. It was, ironically, pushed through by the US to prevent a Soviet veto at the time of the Korean conflict, and actually used at the time of Suez. For UN resolution 377 allows the General Assembly to recommend collective action "if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security". This arcane but intriguing piece of UN legislation - passed in 1950 and originally known as the "Uniting for Peace" resolution - might just be used to prevent Messrs Bush and Blair going to war if their plans are vetoed in the Security Council by France or Russia. Fundamentally, it makes clear that the UN General Assembly can step in - as it has 10 times in the past - if the Security Council is not unanimous....The White House – and readers of The Independent, and perhaps a few UN officials – can look up the 377 resolution on http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/landmark/pdf/ares377e.pdf. If Mr Bush takes a look, he probably wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry. But today the General Assembly – dead dog as we have all come to regard it – might just be the place for the world to cry: Stop. Enough. "

    March 13 ~ Paxman and Zbigniew Brzezinski on last night's Newsnight

    How interesting it was to watch Mr Paxman's eyebrows shoot upwards at the former US Defence advisor's measured words dismissing the six key tests for Iraqi disarmament. He called them "frivolous" and singled out the first* as being merely an attempt to humiliate Saddam and the Iraqis while there was no evidence to support the ** fifth
    *1 A public statement in Arabic by Saddam Hussein, to be broadcast on television and radio in Iraq, admitting to the possession and concealment of weapons of mass destruction and declaring his regime's intention to give them up without delay.
    **5 A commitment that the so-called 'mobile laboratories' will be surrendered for destruction.

    March 13 ~ "..catastrophic for everything that Labour was elected to do"

    Guardian(external link) "... Either the attorney has advised that to wage war in defiance of a vetoed UN resolution is acceptable under international law, or he has advised that it is not. The difference is very important, and the public has a right to know what has been advised. To say nothing is merely to sow suspicion. In the Commons yesterday, Mr Blair said that Britain was determined to act "on a proper legal basis". That has all the sound of a weasel formulation.
    ..... Of all the realities that Mr Blair must face, however, this remains the greatest: British participation in an Iraq war lacking rock-hard legal authority, lacking proper UN backing and lacking the authority of parliament could be catastrophic for everything that Labour was elected to do.

    March 13 ~ Below is link to the BBC website where votes can be cast on "Who do you agree with on Iraq? UK and US or France and Russia?"

    68460 votes cast when first looked at. The division was:
  • 41.67% for UK and US,
  • 58.33% for France and Russia
    Later, at 5.13 p.m. we noticed that this had changed...Who do you agree with on Iraq?
  • 50.67% for US and UK
  • 49.33% for France and Russia with 3363 Votes Cast
    It is puzzling that 68460 could have become 3363 in a matter of a couple of hours. This would also appear to be one of those "polls" where you may vote as many times as you like.

    It saddens us that so much about the conflict is reduced in the media to the level of the European Song Contest. You might prefer to contact the French Foreign Ministry directly with your opinion of the French stand.

    March 13 ~ France dismisses British proposals on Iraq

    PARIS (Reuters) - France says that new ideas proposed by Britain on disarming Iraq do not address the key issue of seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis and that Paris rejects the "logic of ultimatums". A statement issued in the name of Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin on Britain's proposals said: "It's not a question of giving Iraq a few more days before committing to the use of force. It's about making resolute progress towards peaceful disarmament, as mapped out by (U.N. weapons) inspections that offer a credible alternative to war".
    As a second resolution becomes more unlikely we find Iain Duncan Smith has said war was now "more likely" and that Tony Blair had told him "the French have become completely intransigent" with their veto threat.
    "Intransigent" apparently = having the affrontery to say,"It's not a question of giving Iraq a few more days before committing to the use of force. It's about making resolute progress towards peaceful disarmament, as mapped out by (U.N. weapons) inspections that offer a credible alternative to war."

    March 13 ~ Today's war headlines

    (all external links):

    March 13 ~ "I think America has become drunk with power"

    said Nelson Mandela quietly towards the end of the two-part documentary on his life shown on BBC 1 last night. Coming from the world leader whose Truth and Reconciliation meetings drew weeping confessions and mutual forgiveness from both sides in South Africa's sad past, who inspires love and loyalty in the most unlikely people (he has his friend, former President Clinton, enthusiastically raising millions for African charitable causes) and who, as promised, resigned from high office when at the height of his popularity and power, this was a statement chilling in its conviction.

    March 13 ~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Robert Edgar, and other religious leaders call for candlelight vigils around the world on march 16th

    See http://www.moveon.org/vigil/ "...say yes to peace -- and no to war with Iraq. So far, 1252 vigils have been scheduled in 58 countries..."

    March 13 ~"... Because the Bush administration is fueled by oil dollars, and if the oil-producing nations switch from dollars to Euros, it's going to be left high and dry

    Which all makes a crazy kind of sense, as these theories go. After all, as I said earlier..the Bush family is in the oil business, but it's also in the war business. So a war on Iraq is a win-win proposition. It intimidates all those oil producing dumps so they know better than to fool around with the Euro--any one of them could be next--and at the same time, it fills the war coffers of the people who really matter.."
    We seem to be hearing more and more of this "euro" theory. As the writer says there are plenty of "plausible enough explanations for what appears at first glance to be an insane crusade to precipitate World War Three, crush all resistance to American global hegemony, and found a Christian empire that feeds on the desperation and poverty of resource-rich wog subject states... Yet we are left feeling vaguely unsatisfied..the Euro is the currency of the future. The dollar has had its day... ." http://www.counterpunch.org/tripp03082003.html

    March 12 ~ "What better example than yesterday's announcement that every single contract to reconstruct Iraq will go to US companies?"

    Polly Toynbee in today's Guardian (external link) " It shocks Europe and the world to the core that Iraqi oil will pay US companies to repair the damage done by US bombs. With Halliburton's snout deep in the trough, vice-president Cheney holding millions of its shares in his blind trust, Britain was not even considered. Downing Street was left yesterday explaining lamely that when the bidding notices went out a month ago, only US companies had US defence department security clearances to qualify. Yet again, Blair is left alone to explain to the rest of the world the gross deformities of the Bush brand of capitalism. ...."

    March 12 ~ Bush gives 712 reasons to bomb Iraq

    a cartoon that has been winging its way around the Inboxes...

    March 12 ~ Cometh the hour, cometh the... no, not you, Gordon

    Simon Jenkins today "There is no spectacle in politics so terrible as a Chancellor of the Exchequer pledging loyalty to a prime minister. Grown men weep. Women and children run for cover. Churches fill with prayers. Shops run out of milk powder. Yet on Monday at Church House in Westminster, Gordon Brown did just that. "The whole nation should support Tony Blair," he cried. A mirror shattered in an Islington restaurant. .....A Labour prime minister is sending almost the entire British Army east of Suez on a venture that most of those round him regard as both folly and illegal. .....While Mr Bush is quietly determined, Mr Blair is messianic, almost above the fray. He consumes that dangerous morning brew of threat assessments, to the point where he seems convinced that Britain is under some immediate and demonic threat he cannot reveal. Each week a new Horseman of the Apocalypse arrives at the Pas de Calais or Waterloo Station. Britain must build bunkers, order gas-proof Jaguars, put machineguns in Parliament and ring Heathrow with tanks. Go into any Whitehall building these days and you sense a government in the grip of institutional panic. ....Labour cannot rely on the Tories forever offering no fight. The party may have need of the old magician. I would be amazed if the membership ever replaced him with that gloomy control freak, the killjoy of Number 11.
    Besides, does the party really want a man so ambitious that, now of all times, he can threaten his leader with unstinting praise? "

    March 11 ~ The American government is on the verge of awarding construction contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild Iraq once Saddam Hussein is deposed.

    Words fail us....
    See Guardian report (external link) "...."It's a sensitive topic because we still haven't gone to war," said one industry executive. "But these companies are really in a position to win something out of this geopolitical situation."
    It remains unclear whether Iraqis, Americans or an international consortium will manage the oil industry during an early post-conflict period.
    Steven Schooner, a George Washington University law professor, said many billions of dollars are at stake. He estimated that $900m would barely last six months given the scope of the projects the administration has sketched out.
    "The most sophisticated firms that come in first, and establish good will with the locals obviously will reap huge benefits down the road," said Mr Schooner.
    "These are going to become brand names in Iraq. That's huge."

    March 11 ~"No matter what the circumstances, France will vote no to war,"

    French President Jacques Chirac said. "There is no cause for war to achieve the objective that we fixed - the disarmament of Iraq. See Britain losing the diplomatic war Evening Chronicle (external link)

    March 11~ John Randall, Conservative party Whip, has resigned

    because he does not consider a case has been made out for war on Iraq. He is the first opposition MP to have taken such a step. ICWales (external link)

    March 11 ~ UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said an attack on Iraq would be a violation of the UN Charter if it does not have the support of the Security Council

    CNN "... In his strongest statement yet regarding any possible U.S.-led military strike on Iraq, Annan was openly critical of any potential strike without U.N. approval. Asked at a news conference in The Hague whether an attack would violate the charter, which sets out the rights and obligations of U.N. member states, Annan said, "If the U.S. and others were to go outside the council and take military action, it would not be in conformity with the charter." The charter only allows the use of force for self-defense and actions taken "to maintain or restore international peace and security" through the Security Council. "

    March 11 ~ "Why do the supporters of this war find it so hard to see what is happening?"

    George Monbiot in today's Guardian "....Those of us who oppose the impending conquest of Iraq must recognise that there's a possibility that, if it goes according to plan, it could improve the lives of many Iraqi people. But to pretend that this battle begins and ends in Iraq requires a wilful denial of the context in which it occurs. That context is a blunt attempt by the superpower to reshape the world to suit itself.
    In this week's Observer, David Aaronovitch suggested that, before September 11, the Bush administration was "relatively indifferent to the nature of the regimes in the Middle East". Only after America was attacked was it forced to start taking an interest in the rest of the world. If Aaronovitch believes this, he would be well-advised to examine the website of the Project for the New American Century (external link), the pressure group established by, among others, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Elliott Abrams and Zalmay Khalilzad, all of whom (except the president's brother) are now senior officials in the US government. ....Among other policies, it has called for the development of a new generation of biological agents, which will attack people with particular genetic characteristics.
    Why do the supporters of this war find it so hard to see what is happening? Why do the conservatives who go berserk when the European Union tries to change the content of our chocolate bars look the other way when the US seeks to reduce us to a vassal state? Why do the liberal interventionists who fear that Saddam Hussein might one day deploy a weapon of mass destruction refuse to see that George Bush is threatening to do just this against an ever-growing number of states? Is it because they cannot face the scale of the threat, and the scale of the resistance necessary to confront it? Is it because these brave troopers cannot look the real terror in the eye? "

    March 11 ~ The price of saying NO

    The US has a 28.5 billion dollar overseas aid budget. Colin Powell "... told the senators simply that the huge budget "will allow the United States to target security and economic assistance to sustain key countries supporting us in the war on terrorists, terrorism and helping us to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction". Of that overall 28.5 billion figure, 18.8 billions go directly to State Department and US Aid programmes, said Secretary of State Powell.
    "Today our number one priority is to fight and win the global war on terrorism. The budget furthers this goal by providing economic, military and democracy assistance (sic) to key foreign partners and allies, including 4.7 billion to those countries who have joined us in the war on terrorism", he told the senators.
    No need for complicated conspiracy theories here. That's what all those bucks are going to be spent on, and if you mess with the US you can whistle for your money.
    In the world of just one superpower, any nation which opposes Uncle Sam's latest war will pay the price, one way or the other."
    The independent voice of the Western Morning News (external link) on Monday.

    March 10 ~ the Prime Minister was focussing his energy on achieving a second Resolution....

    Press Briefing from 10 Downing Street.(external link)
    "Questioned as to whether it was tenable for a Cabinet Minister to suggest effectively that the Prime Minister was 'a bit of a nutter' and yet remain in the Cabinet, the PMOS (ie the Prime Minster's Official Spokesman) noted the interesting characterisation of Ms Short's comments but repeated that the Prime Minister was focussing his energy on achieving a second Resolution and would continue in that vein until he got it.
    Asked if, given he had not sacked her, the Prime Minister agreed with Ms Short's assessment that his behaviour had been 'reckless' and that launching military action against Iraq without a second Resolution would be a breach of international law undermining the UN, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had been surprised by Ms Short's comments last night, particularly since she had not taken the opportunity to express them previously in a bilateral meeting the two had had last Friday. That said, the Prime Minister was continuing to focus his energy on building a consensus for a second Resolution. He had not heard the interview last night because, coincidentally, he had was (sic) in conversation with other world leaders."
    "the interesting characterisation"? "coincidentally"? "bilateral meeting"? ...and, above all, "PMOS"?... what sort of English is this?

    March 10 ~ ".. there is a dispute over what was said during that meeting..."

    BBC News (external link) "....it later emerged that the prime minister had met Ms Short on Thursday, before her remarks, and there is a dispute over what was said during that meeting.
    It has been suggested she told Mr Blair that this was a resigning issue - and even that he accepted that and was only furious when she launched her attack on his recklessness.
    The prime minister's spokesman, however, insisted: "the issue of resignation did not come up."

    March 10 ~ "The members of the Security Council are now faced with a grave choice. If they fail to agree on a common position and action is taken without the authority of the Security Council, the legitimacy and support for any such action would be seriously impaired." Kofi Annan

    He added,"There are concerns about the long term consequences of war in Iraq. One must have no illusions about what war means."

    March 10 ~ "You can't stay and defend the indefensible in order to do some other things that you think need doing."

    Clare Short's words are impressive. So many other politicians have convinced themselves that they must hold their tongues because they need to stay in office in order to "do other things that need doing"
    What is the point if their consciences no longer function?
    Read the interview with Clare Short on last night's BBC Westminster Hour

    March 10 ~ Mr Bush Sr said that he would have been able to achieve nothing if he had jeopardised future relations by ignoring the UN.

    Roland Watson in today's Times "The first President Bush has told his son that hopes of peace in the Middle East would be ruined if a war with Iraq were not backed by international unity. Drawing on his own experiences before and after the 1991 Gulf War, Mr Bush Sr said that the brief flowering of hope for Arab-Israeli relations a decade ago would never have happened if America had ignored the will of the United Nations. He also urged the President to resist his tendency to bear grudges...... The former President's comments reflect unease among the Bush family and its entourage at the way that George W. Bush is ignoring international opinion and overriding the institutions that his father sought to uphold...... Mr Bush Sr even came close to conceding that opponents of his son's case against President Saddam Hussein, who he himself is on record as loathing, have legitimate cause for concern.
    He said that the key question of how many weapons of mass destruction Iraq held "could be debated". The case against Saddam was "less clear"than in 1991, when Mr Bush Sr led an international coalition to expel invading Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Objectives were "a little fuzzier today", he added. .... ...... Mr Bush Jr, who is said never to forget even relatively minor slights, has alarmed analysts with the way in which he has allowed senior Administration figures such as Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, aggressively to criticise France and Germany.
    Father and son talk regularly and it was, in part, pressure from Mr Bush Sr's foreign policy coterie, that helped to persuade the President to go to the UN last September. "

    March 10 ~ Clare Short

    Clare Short, International Development Secretary, also says she will resign if there isn't a second resolution. ...See Simon Jenkins' article of March 5 Clare Short, ally of the 'post-heroic strategists'
    On Sunday night Channel 4 news (external link) says, " ..an increasingly beleaguered Downing Street warned that resignations could encourage Saddam Hussein to think British resolve was weakening...."
    Moral blackmail but not very convincing.
    The Channel 4 report by Eloinor Goodman continues,"....Not that parliamentary private secretaries are house-hold names, but they are members of the government and have to give up their jobs if they vote against it . Andrew Reed could be joined by at least ten other parliamentary private secretaries, including Anne Cambell, parliamentary private secretaries to Patricia Hewitt. Ken Purchase, PPS to Robin Cook said he wouldn't stay in the government without a second resolution either. Far more worrying for Mr Blair would be if Robin Cook shared his views. According to one of his close colleagues, he too would resign if Britain ignored a veto and backed the Americans. ....But the real nightmare scenario for Mr Blair is not being able to get a majority at all the UN. Under those circumstances, three junior ministers have told Channel Four News they would consider their positions, and many more backbenchers would rebel. .."

    March 10 ~ "....There is a feeling that there is something reckless about some of the people around Tony Blair - that they are dangerous. ..

    ...."There is a feeling among many in the intelligence community that they are being forced to sacrifice their integrity for short-term political gain......." Sunday Observer (External link)
    "On 31 January a memo was sent from the National Security Agency in Maryland from one Frank Koza at GCHQ's American sister listening operation. The memo was blunt. It asked the recipients at GCHQ to help with an American mission: to analyse US intercepts of the homes and offices of certain UN delegations to the Security Council. It singled out key members of the UNSC (Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Bulgaria, Chile and Pakistan) for special attention, but said the operation should stretch to all delegations (except Britain and America, of course) if that proved necessary to give the US an edge. The United States was looking for any information that could help Koza's government put pressure on these countries to vote for a US and UK-sponsored resolution that would authorise a war against Iraq.....What Koza never suspected was that someone outside the NSA would be so shocked by his request to help with a dirty tricks campaign that they would leak his memo, or that it would end up in the hands of The Observer. But by last week that memo had led to the biggest spy-hunt since the David Shayler affair. ..... The leak, however, raises as many questions as the number of secrets it reveals. The most pressing of these remains: why would a career intelligence officer risk discovery, ignominy and imprisonment to leak it in the first place? ."

    March 10 ~ Tony Blair is to get a new armour-plated Jaguar

    custom-built to protect him from ambush by Al-Qaeda terrorists using poison gas, rockets or high explosives. says the Sunday Times..
    (an emailer comments: "Or is it to protect him from those terrorists among us who send bags of rice and light candles? Words fail me!! So much time and money that would be better spent elsewhere...")
    Three of these cars are being produced, each costing £200,000

    March 10 ~ "Looks as if the slaughter of innocent Iraqis may begin on the second anniversary of Blair's minister authorising the slaughter of all animals within 3 km of an infected farm, 15 March 2001."

    email received "That led to the break up of MAFF and the alienation of a large portion of the population. This time it is likely to lead to the break up of NATO and the UN, and the alienation of most of the rest of the world. Blair managed to re-name MAFF, but it won't be so easy to replace NATO and the UN. Is that what Bush and Blair want?"

    March 9 ~ Chalabi did not after all know what he was talking about.

    "... the Iraqi Army and totalitarian civilian regime shows no sign of cracking and coming apart. Not even close. There has been so far a handful of defectors to the United States or to other countries, especially Jordan and Turkey. But they have been numbered in their dozens, not their hundreds and thousands as the Office of the Secretary of Defense civilian war hawks had confidently predicted and expected.
    Yet, as noted military analyst William Lind of Washington's conservative Free Congress Foundation has tellingly observed, "The entire U.S. war plan against Iraq was designed and based on the assumption that the Iraqis would not fight and that the Iraqi Army would fall apart." And this assumption itself was entirely based on the flood of supposedly priceless inside information that Chalabi had provided to his eager audience in OSD.
    Only within the last month, the Pentagon insiders say, has the penny finally dropped for Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and their supporters that Chalabi did not after all know what he was talking about. The man his admirers regularly called "The George Washington of Iraq" led the civilian masters of the largest, most powerful and expensive military organization in the world -- the U.S. Armed Forces -- up the garden path. No wonder, therefore that they have now dropped him like a hot potato and factored him out of their plans for a post- war Iraq in which he was previously groomed to take center stage..."

    March 9 ~ Today's Independent on Sunday: Not in our name, Mr Blair You do not have the evidence. You do not have UN approval. You do not have your country's support...

    .. You do not have your party's support. You do not have the legal right. You do not have the moral right..... ...The die is cast. President Bush says he will go to war with or without the backing of the UN. Tony Blair indicates he will support him. The senior UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, asks to be given more time - a few more months at most. His request is brushed aside by the US and the UK governments.
    There is only one way out of this nightmare: Tony Blair could be genuinely bold. This is his last chance to use his unique position close to the shoulder of President Bush to urge restraint, calm and reason - a cautionary voice that will be even more necessary if there is no second UN resolution authorising military action.
    It is a sad reflection on Mr Blair's position, locked in an alliance with President Bush, that we hold out no hope that he will use his influence to avert a rush to war. Yet before he leads this country into a conflict it does not want, with consequences too ghastly to contemplate, we urge Mr Blair to reflect again on the motives and justification for a pre-emptive strike unparalleled in modern times. None of the shifting causes for war have been convincing, and are even weaker now, on the eve of a military campaign:..." read article

    March 9 ~ Why I am going to the Gulf with a heavy heart - by a serving officer

    Sunday Telegraph I have grown increasingly uneasy with the British Government's policy towards Iraq and the seemingly inevitable war. In my service career, I have never felt compelled to speak to a journalist or contact a newspaper. Until now. ..."

    March 8 ~ They are allowed to shoot you dead

    A friend writes, "I am told by a usually reliable source that RAF Fairford (in Gloucestershire) is now American soil and if you break in, they are allowed to shoot you dead. I was on my way to verify this when my radiator sprang a leak."
    Reading this, another emailer (from America) wrote, "...that part about the RAF base being handed over to the "Yanks" - if you haven't read Daphne DuMaurier's 1974 novel Rule Britannia, then get a copy as soon as possible. She was amazingly prophetic."

    March 8 ~ "The cause of this mess can be traced back to the decision of the leaders of the sole global superpower

    .... stung by the events of September 11, to abandon the doctrines of deterrence and containment upon which the stability of international security had successfully been based since the end of the Second World War. There has been substituted for it, without either international discussion or any apparent rigorous intellectual debate, a doctrine of pre-emption. Given the serious questions now being asked in relation to the nuclear-armed North Korea, the international security community has a lot of thinking to do. ..." From a letter to the Times from Admiral Sir James Eberle, Director, The Royal Institute of International Affairs,1984-90

    March 8 ~ UK nuclear evidence a fake

    Guardian (external link) " British intelligence claims that Saddam Hussein has been trying to import uranium for a nuclear bomb are unfounded and based on deliberately fabricated evidence, according to an investigation by the UN nuclear inspectors in Iraq.
    The chief nuclear inspector for Iraq, Mohammed El Baradei, yesterday flatly contradicted Downing Street's and British intelligence's claims of attempted uranium smuggling by Iraq and said that the documents used to substantitate the British claim were "not authentic".
    In a 55-page report last September detailing British intelligence evidence of Baghdad's ongoing attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the government said that since 1998 "Iraq has sought the supply of significant supplies of uranium from Africa". British officials named the state of Niger as the source of the uranium and passed their evidence to the UN nuclear watchdog, the international atomic energy agency, in Vienna. "Close scrutiny and cross-checking of the documents, the letterheads on them, the signatures on them, led us to conclude with quite absolute certainty that the documents were false," an IAEA official said. "They were fabricated," said another IAEA official.
    The fabrication was transparently obvious and quickly established, the sources added, suggesting that British intelligence was either easily hoodwinked or a knowing party to the deceit.
    There was no suggestion that the British were involved in falsifying the evidence which is believed to have been manufactured in Africa, probably in Niger, and then passed to western intelligence agencies."

    March 8 ~ Campbell revives roving press unit to 'spin the war'

    By Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor of the Independent A dedicated "war unit" is being set up by Downing Street to organise press and PR coverage during the forthcoming conflict in Iraq. The unit will be staffed by senior press officers from across Whitehall, many of whom have already volunteered for the project. It will be modelled on the Coalition Information Centre (CIC) .... The centre was criticised by some as a pure "propaganda machine" and its reputation was questioned after some members were tied to the notorious "dodgy dossier" on Iraq published by Downing Street last month. Tam Dalyell, a Labour backbencher, said: "It's quite wrong to have a spin unit. The dodgy dossier was the work of what Nigel Lawson would call teenage scribblers. It proves, once again, that Tony Blair is a disgrace to the Labour Party's traditions." ....... Mr Campbell is in daily contact with his counterparts in the White House communications team, and a joint strategy for "spinning the war", as well as winning it, is seen as a main priority.
    ....... Winning the propaganda war will be essential for Mr Blair and President George Bush, and the Americans have decided to allow a new strategy of "embedding" journalists with specific military units to follow their progress...."

    March 7 ~ The bigger picture is Iran

    Stephen Pollard in the Telegraph today: "....Despite the coverage of the Bush-Blair relationship, President George W Bush has been concerned all along to preserve Mr Blair's political capital. Indeed, just before the anti-war march, the Prime Minister took a call from Condoleezza Rice, Mr Bush's National Security Adviser..... he was far too important an ally to lose. ... If, Miss Rice continued, the Prime Minister judged that he needed to soften his tone and, in particular, distance himself from Mr Bush, the President was relaxed. The reason, as Miss Rice put it, was that the bigger picture required that the Prime Minister preserve as much political capital as possible. Both Mr Blair and Miss Rice knew what the "bigger picture" was without it having to be spelt out. The bigger picture is Iran.
    ...... The war on terror is not simply about destroying the Taliban and taking down Saddam; it is a far more complex operation. The President has carefully set about action in ascending order of difficulty. First the Taliban. Then Saddam. Then the next step, Iran - the world's leading financier of terror. North Korea will be left to China to deal with, with Mr Bush making clear to China that, if it does not take its responsibilities seriously, Japan will be given nuclear weapons.
    This is not speculation; talk, as I have, to those within the Bush circle - to those who share, and influence, the views of figures such as Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, who were pointing out the threat posed by terror long before September 11 - and they will take you through the plan step by step...
    .....After 20 years spent trying to isolate Iran, however, American intelligence is lamentable. MI6, on the other hand, has spent that time rebuilding its links and recruiting highly placed agents. America needs Britain if it is to deal with Iran. And that means it needs Mr Blair to remain in office. ."

    March 7 ~ "..what I dislike even more than Saddam's nasty regime are government lies and propaganda."

    "Since 9/11, North Americans have been subjected to the most intense propaganda campaign from their government since World War II. Much of the mainstream US media has been intimidated by the Administration into unquestioningly amplifying its party line, or, in the worst tradition of yellow, jingoist journalism, it acts as cheerleaders for war. ....A shocking two-thirds of Americans mistakenly believe Iraq staged the 9/11 attacks. ..." http://www.bigeye.com/foreignc.htm

    March 7 ~ "Bush's domestic consensus around the war showed signs of fraying

    in the face of an international anti-war movement that has mobilised millions of people to oppose the war.
    Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said on Thursday an invasion of Iraq now would be premature, and accused the administration of failing to build international support for war to oust Saddam...." See Reuters (external link)

    March 7 ~ "BBC executives are steeling themselves for accusations of bias."

    A report in the Times tells us that "...The BBC has ordered staff to reflect "significant opposition to the conflict" in coverage of a war in Iraq. Guidelines sent to journalists by Stephen Whittle, the corporation's controller of editorial policy, say that views challenging the whole basis of military action must be heard even when British troops are in action. .."
    An emailer comments: "My question to the government is who pays the licence fee?..Joe Public. If the country is against war then reporting should be more balanced - not another arm of government spin even if parliament is pro war. How else do you have a non propaganda argument?"

    March 7 ~we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe ... There is no secret and there is no defence; there is no possibility of control except through the aroused understanding and insistence of the people of the world.

    "And a child will lead us to peace." But if we contaminate the environment, where will the child come from? .... When you reach a point in war when the contamination and the health effects of war can't be cleaned up because of the weapons you use, and medical care can't be given to the soldiers who participated in the war on either side or to the civilians affected, then it's time for peace...." (The interview with Major Doug Rokke PhD in health physics who was originally trained as a forensic scientist. When the Gulf War started, he was assigned to prepare soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare, and sent to the Gulf. What he experienced has made him a passionate voice for peace, travelling the country to speak out.) The interview finishes with this quotation from Albert Einstein, as quoted in 'Let There be a World' by Felix Greene, 1964:
    " The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe ... There is no secret and there is no defence; there is no possibility of control except through the aroused understanding and insistence of the people of the world."

    March 6 ~ Less than two days after the petition was launched

    over 550,000 people have signed, from over 200 countries. It's a strong message from the peoples of the world that the Security Council should support tough inspections in Iraq, not war. It's also the fastest-growing online petition we've ever seen -- and already one of the largest in history. ( From the Moveon.org website)

    March 6 ~ Troops told war to start March 17, says paper

    LONDON (Reuters) - British troops based in the Gulf had been told to prepare for an invasion of Iraq on March 17, the Daily Express has reported.
    The newspaper, quoting unnamed Westminster sources, said British officers based in Kuwait had been told to expect an invasion on that date, preceded by a massive "short and sharp" air blitz on Iraq from March 13.

    March 5/6 ~"It cannot be right to use a weapon of mass destruction - 800 cruise missiles on Baghdad in 48 hours - because that is what Saddam "might do" if we do not get him first"

    Simon Jenkins in the Times "...... Tony Blair needs Clare Short as much as George Bush needs Tony Blair. If she were to defect from the war party, Mr Blair would be in deep trouble. If Mr Blair is in deep trouble, then Mr Bush is as well. So this Ms Short is one powerful lady. Each morning the world gathers round her conscience like physicians round the bed of George III? How does it fare? ..........
    ......Even in the theatre of war, moral considerations are entitled to a cameo role. It cannot be right to tear up every rulebook in fighting terrorism, just because bin Laden did. It cannot be right to cluster-bomb Iraqis just because Saddam did likewise. It cannot be right to use a weapon of mass destruction - 800 cruise missiles on Baghdad in 48 hours - because that is what Saddam "might do" if we do not get him first. ...Some things in politics are beyond irony. This month the erstwhile conscience of the Left, Clare Short, finds herself a crucial moral prop to those she once despised as the militarist-imperialist American Right. Now in their hour of need, she is suddenly by their side.
    I repeat, how long can she stand it? This war is a moral issue, as Mr Blair keeps saying, but so too is the manner of its waging. Eight hundred cruise missiles and delayed action cluster bombs have moral import. So does the blitz of Baghdad. It is not often in history that a politician can claim her conscience has the power to move men and mountains. For a brief moment, Ms Short can."

    March 5 ~ Anti war activist put on suspected terror list for sending food to Jack Straw

    Read report Someone described as a "peace activist" ".. has allegedly been placed on a suspected terrorist list after sending a letter to Jack Straw, containing rice as part of a letter writing campaign to evoke compassion in the Foreign Office for the ordinary people in Iraq facing a massive humanitarian crisis in the event of war. The letter unexpectedly closed down Jack Straw's office for 3 hours on Friday January 24th after an x ray of the mail sparked a bio terror alert. The activist was visited by police that night who told him of the result of his innocent mailing and advised him he was now on a suspected terrorist list and it was only his postcode and his "respectable" family that saved him from being raided by anti terror police. The campaign, "deluge the decision makers" was initiated by anti war group Voices in the Wilderness UK, who are now concerned that they and the many other supporters who took part in the action are now on a list of suspected terrorists..
    .......Voices in the Wilderness UK spokesperson Richard Byrne said, "Our action was never intended to cause any fear or alarm at the foreign office and we regret that it did. Our intention was simply to evoke feelings of compassion for the 22 million people in Iraq who right now have real reason for fear and alarm from the terror of a US/ UK attack. We are greatly concerned at the heavy handed police response to this incident. We have written to the police and the Home Office seeking reassurance without response. It is ridiculous that someone could be told by a police officer they are on list of suspected terrorists for sending foodstuffs to the foreign office." ."(more)

    March 5 ~ Manure protest

    received by email.. "9am, This morning Undercurrents recorded Mark Thomas dumping a truckload of manure at labour party offices in London in protest at the UK/US resolution 2 about the Iraq War.
    Broadcast video images are available from Underurrents on 07973 298359" See also Ananova report

    March 5 ~ Independent Iraqis oppose Bush's war

    Not every group takes US cash. Some worry about their people Jonathan Steele in today's Guardian (external link)
    "A new myth has emerged in the pro-war camp's propaganda arsenal. Iraqi exiles support the war, they claim, and none took part in last month's march through central London. So if the peaceniks and leftwingers who joined the protest had the honesty to listen to the true voice of the Iraqi people they would never denounce Bush's plans for war again.
    Wrong, and wrong. A large number of Iraqis were among the million-member throng, including two key independent political groups. They carried banners denouncing Saddam Hussein (thereby echoing the sentiments of many non-Iraqis since this was not a protest by pro-Saddam patsies, as the pro-war people also falsely claim). They represented important currents in the Iraqi opposition, and ones whom the Americans have repeatedly tried to persuade to join the exiles' liaison committee. ...."

    March 5 ~ In rejecting Washington's demands, the recession-hit country is turning its back on US aid worth more than $20 billion (£13 billion).

    'Serves Rude America Right' by Suna Erdem Published on Monday, March 3, 2003 in the Times.
    "NESRIN ALOGLU, a bank clerk, is delighted that Turkey's parliament has thrown Washington's plans for an attack on Iraq into disarray by blocking the deployment of US troops. "Serves them right. Now they can apologise."
    Apologise, she said, for the way in which the United States so rudely took Turkey for granted and issued threats, insults and ultimatums when it did not get what it wanted.
    In rejecting Washington's demands, the recession-hit country is turning its back on US aid worth more than $20 billion (£13 billion).
    But Turks still support the parliament's decision. "At least it's cleared Turkey's name and dispelled the image abroad that Turkey can be bought," Zafer Dorttas, a 27-year-old customs official, said. .....Read article

    March 4 ~ "....Patrick Tyler, a perceptive writer in the New York Times, says that Bush and Blair now face a "tenacious new adversary" - the public.

    He says we are heading into a new bipolar world with two new superpowers: the regime in Washington on one side, and world public opinion on the other. In a poll of half a million Europeans, Time magazine asked which country was the greatest threat to peace: 5.8 per cent said North Korea, 6.8 per cent said Iraq and 87 per cent said the United States. In other words, the game is up..." John Pilger's article here is essential reading

    March 4 ~ "Russia would not support any decision that would directly or indirectly lead to a war with Iraq"

    ".....The foreign minister, who was meeting his British counterpart Jack Straw for talks later on Tuesday, said it would be a "serious mistake with serious consequences" if the United States went to war against Iraq without a second U.N. resolution." Reuters (external link)

    March 4 ~ Americans think that violence is the price of paradise. Europeans know it isn't.

    Telegraph Opinion (external link)..."The French, Germans and Russians have proposed to the UN Security Council that another four months should be set aside for the inspectors to do their job comprehensively. If those four months will avert a war, then only a lunatic would not consider taking those four months - a lunatic, or someone who considers delay and moderation a sign of weakness, who believes in the moral world of The Lion King, or a politician who is anxious to have a good unequivocal victory behind him in time for the green shoots to start appearing before the 2004 presidential election campaign gets under way...."

    March 4 ~ Polls show more than 80 per cent of Spaniards oppose war even with United Nations backing

    Associated Press - "MADRID A shy former tax inspector has led Spain kicking and screaming into ground zero of the Iraq crisis, gambling that his avid support for the United States will help his country gain global clout...."

    March 4 ~ our opinion is that: The Draft Resolution would not authorise the US and the UK to use force against Iraq if it were adopted.

    ...... would not provide the US and the UK with an authorisation to use force against Iraq, either alone or in conjunction with Resolution 1441. Nor does Resolution 1441 authorise force in the event that it is breached by Iraq.
    40. Any attack by US and the UK on Iraq in reliance on the Draft Resolution either alone or in conjunction with Resolution 1441 would be in breach of international law.
    CHARLOTTE KILROY Matrix Chambers Griffin Building Gray's Inn
    3 March 2003 See http://www.greenhealth.org.uk/IraqLegal.htm

    Mar 3 ~ "They respond to the threats they encounter..."

    Interesting Newspeak from Mr Blair's "spokesman" MoD denies change in 'no-fly zone' bombings (external link) This afternoon's update from the Guardian "Britain has denied Pentagon reports that allied planes were increasing their strikes on Iraqi targets in a bid to soften up the country for war, as the first of a wave of US B52 bombers touched down at an RAF base in Gloucestershire today. Both Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence refuted reports that allied aircraft patrolling the "no-fly zones" above northern and southern Iraq have switched to a more aggressive strategy.
    Pentagon sources were reported to have disclosed that British and US aircraft were now targeting surface-to-surface missiles, which could threaten allied forces during a ground war.
    But Mr Blair's spokesman insisted: "The policy in the no-fly zone continues as it was. They patrol the no-fly zones as they did before. They respond to the threats they encounter." ......."

    Mar 2/3 ~ Revealed: US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war

    - The Observer Secret document details American plan to bug phones and emails of key Security Council members "The United States is conducting a secret 'dirty tricks' campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq...."

    March 2/3 ~ US prepares to use toxic gases in Iraq

    The US is preparing to use the toxic riot-control agents CS gas and pepper spray in Iraq in contravention of the Chemical Weapons Convention, provoking the first split in the Anglo-US alliance. "Calmative" gases, similar to the one that killed 120 hostages in the Moscow theatre siege last year, could also be employed. The convention bans the use of these toxic agents in battle, not least because they risk causing an escalation to full chemical warfare. This applies even though they can be used in civil disturbances at home: both CS gas and pepper spray are available for use by UK police forces. The US Marine Corps confirmed last week that both had already been shipped to the Gulf. It is British policy not to allow troops to take part in operations where riot control agents are employed. .... Read article

    March 2/3 ~ "Tony Blair is a brave man who prides himself on being another Churchill. He must be wary of being another Ramsay MacDonald.

    This is said to be a listening government; one that listens to the people. They should listen - not to transatlantic ideologues but to the wisdom, humanity and decency of the British people. ..." See the article in the Guardian based on Lord Morgan's speech in the debate on Iraq in the House of Lords on Wednesday. He is a fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, and his many books include biographies of Keir Hardie, Lloyd George and James Callaghan, and a history of the Attlee government.

    March 1 ~ A career diplomat who has served in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan resigned this week in protest against the country's policies on Iraq.

    The diplomat, John Brady Kiesling, the political counselor at the United States Embassy in Athens, said in his resignation letter, "Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson."...see report in the New York Times

    March 1 ~" I am vigorously pro-American, which is one reason why I am anti-Bush. They deserve better."

    Richard Dawkins in today's Independent: Why should we in Britain help Bush to get re-elected? (external link) I am vigorously pro-American, which is one reason why I am anti-Bush. They deserve better 01 March 2003
    "Tony Blair's restless shifting of his justification for war undermines conviction, for standard "lady doth protest too much" reasons. More important is the dangerous paradox that his opportunism must arouse in the mind of Saddam Hussein. When the stated aim was to disarm him, Saddam had only to comply and war would be averted. But if the aim is to save the poor helpless Iraqis from their wicked tyrant, everything changes. Why would anyone disarm on the eve of an inevitable attack? Mr Blair's sudden shift to the moral high ground is presumably a desperate (and it now seems unsuccessful) bid to win over his own party. But has he thought through how it will be viewed in Iraq?..."

    Feb 28 ~ Simon Jenkins - "...Next week the local election campaign begins in earnest"

    See article in the Times today on the local elections "..It could be a wartime poll. Only Mr Kennedy will view it with relish. With the Tories stumbling and Labour crippled by its leader's war dance, a Liberal Democrat breakthrough could be on the cards."

    Feb 28 ~ Hell Bent for War

    See CounterPunch article "For the past six years, PNAC (Project for the New American Century ) has lobbied former President Clinton and Bush heavily to initiate a war in Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power, claiming the country poses a serious threat to the U.S. and its allies because of its ability to develop weapons of mass destruction. Clinton rebuffed the advice by PNAC members during the last four years of his presidency, but Bush has virtually used, word for word, the written statements by PNAC members when he speaks publicly about Iraq crisis.....Dozens of letters and reports by PNAC members concerning Iraq are posted on its website, www.newamericancentury.org, and lays out in startling detail how war is the only way to deal with the so-called threat that Iraq poses to the U.S. Bush has drawn upon many of these letters to publicly make a case for war. Reading through the letters, the impression it leaves is not that the U.S. is in imminent danger but that the people that run PNAC have been hell-bent for war for six years and they finally got a president who will listen to them...."

    Feb 27/28 ~ "Forty-three Australian experts in international law and human rights legislation have issued a declaration that an invasion of Iraq will be an open breach of international law and a crime against humanity

    (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/feb2003/law-f27.shtml) even if it takes place with the authorisation of the UN Security Council. ....... Submitted as an open letter to Australian newspapers and published yesterday by the Sydney Morning Herald, the signatories include Professor Chris Sidoti of the Human Rights Council of Australia; Sir Ronald Wilson, a former High Court judge and the President of the Human Rights Commission; Simon Rice, the president of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights; the directors of several university centres for human rights law; prominent barristers; and lecturers at Australia's most prestigious law schools...."

    Feb 27/28 ~ Did your own MP vote against?

    The Telegraph report. A total of 199 MPs - including 121 Labour members, 13 Tories, 52 Liberal Democrats and 13 from other parties - backed a cross-party amendment to the Government motion stating that the case for military action is "as yet unproven". Here are the 199.

    Feb 27 ~ Western Morning News asks - Did your MP represent your views?

    An article from this excellent and independent newspaper which reveals the way West Country MPs voted last night, together with their reasons. This is fascinating....and in some cases very alarming. We find it interesting that those West Country MPs who have been supportive over FMD are also voicing humane and serious views over Iraq (while there is also some muddled / obsequious thinking.) An emailer writes "...interestingly, out of the miserable score of 13 Tories that did (i.e. vote against), another of our old allies during FMD stepped forth. Namely, Peter Ainsworth". Thank you yet again, Mr Ainsworth.

    Feb 27 ~ Back-bench rebellion rocks Blair

    The Scotsman, a paper that has appeared unaccountably pro-war, reports today (external link) : "TONY Blair suffered the biggest rebellion of his premiership last night, when 121 Labour MPs - almost half of the party's back-benchers - voted against the government's policy on Iraq.
    In a damaging split in the Labour ranks, a string of former cabinet ministers led scores of back-bench rebels to defy a three-line whip by supporting a motion stating the case for war remained unproven, despite a personal appeal by Mr Blair. The amendment was defeated by 393 to 199 votes, with 52 Liberal Democrats, ten nationalists and independents and 13 Conservatives joining the Labour rebels. A second vote on the government motion expressing support for the United Nations' route was won by 434 votes to 124. The size of the Labour revolt was much higher than the 100 originally predicted and will raise questions about Mr Blair's ability to persuade the country and his party that Britain and the United States should proceed with military action...a string of prominent former ministers, led by Chris Smith, the former culture secretary, and Frank Dobson, the former health secretary, lined up to attack. Other rebels included Gavin Strang, George Galloway and Tam Dalyell. The revolt was reported to be the biggest ever inflicted on a government party. ."

    Feb 27 ~ "An outfit exists on 17th Street in Washington, DC, called the Project for the New American Century...

    .... explicitly committed to US mastery of the globe for the coming age. Its acolytes speak of "full spectrum dominance", meaning American invincibility in every field of warfare - land, sea, air and space - and a world in which no two nations' relationship with each other will be more important than their relationship with the US. There will be no place on earth, or the heavens for that matter, where Washington's writ does not run supreme. To that end, a ring of US military bases should surround China, with liberation of the People's Republic considered the ultimate prize. As one enthusiast puts it concisely: "After Baghdad, Beijing."
    If this sounds like the harmless delusions of an eccentric fringe, think again. The founder members of the project, launched in 1997 as a Republican assault on the Clinton presidency, form a rollcall of today's Bush inner circle. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, Richard Perle - they're all there. So too is Zalmay Khalilzad, now the White House's "special envoy and ambassador-at-large for free Iraqis". ....." Jonathan Freedland in today's Guardian (external link)

    Feb 27 ~ 'Any fool can make war. Peace requires greater vision and courage'

    Ronan Bennett in today's Guardian (external link): "...that I and the dozens who signed the petitions against war in Iraq, along with the millions around the world who marched on February 15, stand accused of more or less the same things: playing into Saddam's hands, lack of moral judgment, stubborn failure to understand that bombing is the only answer. And we are pressed to answer the question: well, what would you do? It seems to me the question is itself dubious: first, it assumes that Iraq currently poses a threat of major proportions, that we take at his word the prime minister when he says that Saddam is capable of hitting British targets, and Bush when he says that Iraq poses a danger to the US, and that a greatly militarily enervated Iraq would repeat its strikes against its now much more powerful neighbours.
    Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei, in their report to the UN Security Council on February 14, said that they had uncovered "no evidence" that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. I support military sanctions against Saddam and a strengthening of the UN weapons inspection teams. But until evidence of his weapons capability is forthcoming, I reserve the right to question the accuracy of what the British and American governments tell me. ..."

    Feb 26 ~"..Millions of concerned souls gave the media and politicians a taste of their own Ceausescu moment on February 15.

    ..... Blair has ceaselessly claimed that the military build up is inspired by Vegetius' maxim: "Let him who desires peace, prepare for war." But his claim has been ceaselessly undermined by the amassing of sufficient military force to present the world with a fait accompli, making withdrawal politically suicidal. It has also been undermined by Bush's insistence on the need for "regime change". When Bush's advisers noticed the absurdity of the contradiction they had Bush explain that "regime change" could mean either actually changing the regime, or effectively changing the regime by forcing it to change its behaviour. No one was fooled.
    Despite Blair's 'impassioned sincerity' - carefully orchestrated by his press secretary Alastair Campbell - everyone could see that the world's strongest nation was proceeding, as Mark Twain wrote, "with its banner of the Prince of Peace in one hand and its loot-basket and its butcher-knife in the other".
    "..Tony Blair's affectation of sincerity is his one trick and he plays it brilliantly. But Bush is the mirror in which we see Blair reflected for what he is... The much-discussed conundrum regarding Blair's sincerity is resolved by a simple observation - no reasonable person would ally themselves and their country with the likes of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Powell and Perle to fight a war of this kind. And no honest person would try to fool the public that these men were acting honourably..
    " A long but readable article from the excellent MediaLens.com on peaceful civil disobedience and the extraordinary way the press in general are reporting the build up to war.

    Feb 26 ~ one dead end after another

    UN Inspectors say US intelligence is garbage after garbage (external link) "...the U.S. claim that Iraq is developing missiles that could hit its neighbors - or U.S. troops in the region, or even Israel - is just one of the claims coming from Washington that inspectors here are finding increasingly unbelievable. The inspectors have become so frustrated trying to chase down unspecific or ambiguous U.S. leads that they've begun to express that anger privately in no uncertain terms. U.N. sources have told CBS News that American tips have lead to one dead end after another...So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they've been getting as "garbage after garbage after garbage." In fact, Phillips says the source used another cruder word. The inspectors find themselves caught between the Iraqis, who are masters at the weapons-hiding shell game, and the United States, whose intelligence they've found to be circumstantial, outdated or just plain wrong. "

    Feb 26 ~ the UN, flawed as it is, is all we have.

    Today's Independent (external link) ".... many Labour MPs act as though they would accept the slaughter of the first-born if it had been ordered by the UN and if the soldiers carrying out the policy wore blue helmets. But there is a respectable case to be made against a war on Iraq, even a war sanctioned by the UN. Even so, when it comes to international law and trying to impose some sort of constraints on America's unilateralist instincts, the UN, flawed as it is, is all we have. When Mr Blair spoke yesterday about the current crisis being a test of the UN's credibility, he was right, if for the wrong reasons. What Mr Blair means by "credibility" is that the UN must agree with him. Hence his remarks in the past about being willing to ignore an "unreasonable" veto by, say, France or Russia, as if Mr Blair were the sole arbiter of what is or is not "reasonable" about another nation's diplomacy...."
    "...War is always an admission of failure. Saddam Hussein has been a threat to peace and security in the region, and to his own people; the question is whether today, with a strong UN presence in the country and with a formidable deterrent in the shape of Western forces in the region, Saddam poses a clear and present danger to his neighbours. With an even stronger UN force in Iraq, as Jacques Chirac, the French President, suggests, he would be even weaker. Set that against the destabilisation of the whole region from Palestine to Pakistan and the upsurge of terrorism that would ensue if we went to war. An effectively neutralised Saddam is what we have now. It is what Mr Blair and Mr Bush want. The world does not want a clash of civilisations. There is no need for war. "

    Feb 25 ~ Conflict and catchphrases

    Brian Whitaker explains in today's Guardian what 'creative destruction' and 'total war' mean in the context of current US foreign policy
    "..... Many of the total war and creative destruction crowd get their ideas across to the public through an agency called Benador Associates, which arranges their TV appearances and speaking engagements, and helps to place their articles in newspapers. The agency, which has offices in New York, London and Paris, is run by Eleana Benador, a Peruvian-born linguist. Since I last wrote about Ms Benador (US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy World dispatch, August 19 2002), her business seems to have expanded remarkably. ....The Benador website lists more than 220 published articles, including 50 in the National Review, 42 in the Washington Times, 37 in the Washington Post, 18 in the National Post, 17 in the Wall Street Journal, 15 in the Los Angeles Times, eight each in the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post, and six in the New York Times.
    Two others appeared in Britain: one in the Financial Times, and the other in the Daily Telegraph.
    Readers who like to keep an eye on such things should watch out for media appearances by any of the following Benador "experts": AM Rosenthal, Alexander M Haig Jr, Amir Taheri, Arnaud de Borchgrave, Azar Nafisi, Barry Rubin, Charles Jacobs, Charles Krauthammer, Fereydoun Hoveyda, Frank J Gaffney Jr, George Jonas, Hillel Fradkin, Ismail Cem, John Eibner, Kanan Makiya, Khalid Duran, Khidhir Hamza, Laurie Mylroie, Mansoor Ijaz, Martin Kramer, Max Boot, Meyrav Wurmser, Michael A Ledeen, Michael Rubin, Michel Gurfinkiel, Paul Marshall, R James Woolsey, Richard O Spertzel, Richard Perle, Richard Pipes, Ruth Wedgwood, Shaykh Kabbani, Stanley H Kaplan, Tashbih Sayyed, Tom Rose and Walid Phares.

    Feb 25 ~ We keep being told that Afghanistan was liberated; in fact the reverse is true. But the US objective was achieved; the pipeline is now being built.

    See today's Independent Living in poverty and fear of abandonment, the barely functioning state that trusted its saviours (external link)

    Feb 25 ~ ".. it is simply not true or realistic to believe that there is nothing that one individual can do"

    Dr. Priscilla Elworthy, head of the Oxford Research Group (ORG) of U.K. is to receive 20th Niwano Peace Prize
    .. The Niwano Peace Foundation reports In Dr. Elworthy's own words, "When faced with a large system composed of many individuals, which is producing results you may want to change or influence, it is simply not true or realistic to believe that there is nothing that one individual can do. With a small number of allies, the effects of the decision of one individual can spread dramatically throughout the whole system, and thereby change the decisions it produces."
    When we think of the practice of nuclear inspection and the fundamental contradiction immanent in nuclear power, Dr. Elworthy's words about working toward the elimination of nuclear weapons resound strongly in the innermost hearts of modern people like ourselves. How strong a force nonviolence has proved to be at times. The activities of Dr. Elworthy and the Oxford Research Group can be seen as an attempt to bring about a major shift in the values of modern people who even now cling to the concept of "power." In awarding the 20th Niwano Peace Prize to Dr. Elworthy, the Niwano Peace Foundation wishes to express its deepest respect for her dedication to the goal of peace. We commend Dr. Elworthy's significant achievements and pray that many others will be inspired to follow in her footsteps.

    Feb 25 ~ Robert Fisk: How the news will be censored in this war

    A new CNN system of 'script approval' suggests the Pentagon will have nothing to worry about "Already, the American press is expressing its approval of the coverage of American forces which the US military intends to allow its reporters in the next Gulf war. The boys from CNN, CBS, ABC and The New York Times will be "embedded" among the US marines and infantry. The degree of censorship hasn't quite been worked out. But it doesn't matter how much the Pentagon cuts from the reporters' dispatches. A new CNN system of "script approval" - the iniquitous instruction to reporters that they have to send all their copy to anonymous officials in Atlanta to ensure it is suitably sanitised - suggests that the Pentagon and the Department of State have nothing to worry about. Nor do the Israelis.
    Indeed, reading a new CNN document, "Reminder of Script Approval Policy", fairly takes the breath away. "All reporters preparing package scripts must submit the scripts for approval," it says. "Packages may not be edited until the scripts are approved... All packages originating outside Washington, LA (Los Angeles) or NY (New York), including all international bureaus, must come to the ROW in Atlanta for approval."
    The date of this extraordinary message is 27 January.... "

    Feb 25 ~" the US is, paradoxically, threatening its own tyrannical control of other nations... "

    (George Monbiot today with a grain of hope from the wreckage) "The US,... seems to be ripping up the global rulebook. As it does so, those of us who have campaigned against the grotesque injustices of the existing world order will quickly discover that a world with no institutions is even nastier than a world run by the wrong ones. Multilateralism, however inequitable it may be, requires certain concessions to other nations. Unilateralism means piracy: the armed robbery of the poor by the rich. The difference between today's world order and the one for which the US may be preparing is the difference between mediated and unmediated force.
    But the possible collapse of the current world order, dangerous as it will be, also provides us with the best opportunities we have ever encountered for replacing the world's unjust and coercive institutions with a fairer and more democratic means of global governance.
    By wrecking the multilateral system for the sake of a few short-term, corporate interests, the US is, paradoxically, threatening its own tyrannical control of other nations. The existing international agencies, fashioned by means of brutal power politics at the end of the second world war, have permitted the US to develop its international commercial and political interests more effectively than it could have done alone. ..."

    Feb 25 ~ Blair faces revolt over Iraq

    By Katherine Baldwin LONDON (Reuters) -"Prime Minister Tony Blair could suffer a major revolt from within the Labour Party when he lays out his hardline stance on disarming Iraq before a divided parliament today.
    As Britain and the United States table a second United Nations resolution which could set the stage for war against Iraq, Blair is set for a rough ride when he addresses parliament on Tuesday and at a full debate and vote on Wednesday.
    With Labour split over a possible war and the public hostile to an attack, the vote in the House of Commons could deal a further blow to Blair's precarious position at home over Iraq.
    In a bid to skirt opposition to war, the government will carefully word the debate's motion to focus on Britain's approach to dealing with Iraq through the U.N., rather than asking parliament to support military action...." (more)

    Feb 25 ~ Text of U.S.-British draft resolution

    click here

    Feb 25 ~ "Washington is at least five votes short with support guaranteed only from Britain, Spain and Bulgaria"

    " Senior U.S. officials have been quietly dispatched in recent days to the capitals of key Security Council countries where they are warning leaders to vote with the United States on Iraq or risk "paying a heavy price."...." ".....Since both Germany and Syria have said they would not support the resolution, and Pakistan is almost certain to abstain, the United States must convince the African trio as well as Chile and Mexico to cast 'yes' votes. Otherwise, the resolution will fail. Much to the frustration of the Bush administration, Mexico, which has been vocal in its opposition to war, is turning out to be the most difficult vote to get. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar also paid a visit to Mexico last week but he failed to secure their support. Diplomats said there was little the Bush administration could use to scare or entice Mexico now since it does not receive U.S. aid and the one thing it had wanted most - legalizing the status of undocumented Mexicans in the United States - was taken off the table more than one year ago...." See Associated Press article

    Feb 25 ~ A Regime That Hates Democracy Can't Wage War for Democracy

    This headline is from an article on common dreams.org "Though the trappings of free speech remain on the surface of American society, the Homeland Security Act, Patriot I, Patriot II and other massively repressive legislation, plus Republican control of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, plus GOP dominance of the mass media, have laid the legal and political framework for a totalitarian infrastructure which, when combined with the capabilities of modern computer technology, may be unsurpassed.
    The Administration has used the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, as pretext for this centralization of power. But most of it was in the works long before September 11 as part of the war on drugs and Bush's modus operandi as the most secretive and authoritarian president in US history. ..."

    Feb 25 ~".. there is deep disquiet in Britain's military establishment about the confused objectives of a war and a pre-emptive strike against a country that poses no threat to the attackers."

    Guardian article yesterday"Blair says "now" because George Bush says so. Put it another way, had Washington decided to continue with a policy of containment, Blair would have followed suit. This, too, is the common view in Whitehall. It helps explain the government's problem in justifying a war.
    Claims that the Iraqi regime is linked with al-Qaida were dropped when ministers failed to provide the evidence. Blair and his ministers follow the wind from Washington and then counter public opinion at home. First, the objective was to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. When the UN inspectors reported progress and "intelligence" dossiers were seen to be bogus, the emphasis shifted to regime change. When this was met with objections, notably of legality, Blair went for the moral high ground.
    The objectives were muddied further when Blair defended the "moral case" for war as follows: "It is not the reason we act. That must be according to the UN mandate on weapons of mass destruction. But it is the reason, frankly, why if we do have to act, we should do so with a clear conscience."

    Feb 24 ~ Inside Iraq - The Tragedy of a People Betrayed

    John Pilger in the Independent
    "The mushrooms grow huge, and the fish in what was once a beautiful river are inedible. Even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can't be eaten."
    "What do you say to those in the West who deny the connection between depleted uranium and the deformities of these children?" "That is not true. How much proof do they want? There is every relation between congenital malformation and depleted uranium. Before 1991, we saw nothing like this at all. If there is no connection, why have these things not happened before? Most of these children have no family history of cancer. "I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. It is almost exactly the same here; we have an increased percentage of congenital malformation, an increase of malignancy, leukaemia, brain tumours: the same." Under the economic embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council, now in its 14th year, Iraq is denied equipment and expertise to decontaminate its battlefields from the 1991 Gulf War. Professor Doug Rokke, the US Army physicist responsible for cleaning up Kuwait, told me: "I am like many people in southern Iraq. I have 5,000 times the recommended level of radiation in my body. Most of my team are now dead....

    Feb 24 ~ "...All of us have to break the silence: to make those responsible, in Washington and London, aware that history will slaughter them."

    ....""The suffering in our country is too great. But why has it not been stopped?"
    It was a question I put to Denis Halliday one evening in New York. We were standing, just the two of us, in the great modernist theatre that is the General Assembly at the UN. "This is where the real world is represented," he said. "One state, one vote. By contrast, the Security Council has five permanent members which have veto rights. There is no democracy there. Had the issue of sanctions on Iraq gone to the General Assembly, it would have been overturned by a very large majority. "We have to change the United Nations, to reclaim what is ours. The genocide in Iraq is the test of our will. All of us have to break the silence: to make those responsible, in Washington and London, aware that history will slaughter them." (Independent)

    Feb 24 ~ "British soldiers, as in the Gulf, are to be sent into action with the useless SA80 rifle,

    the worst in the world, green camouflage which will stand out like a sore thumb in the desert, tanks which break down in the presence of sand and boots that fall to pieces. In danger of being killed by panicky or drugged US airmen. Our service men and women joined the Forces to defend their country, not no be used as cannon fodder for US billionaires dreaming of world domination. " (Eric Clements)

    Feb 24 ~ Fairford, Gloucestershire, UK, is one of the three forward bases for B-52 bombers. There are concerns that they may be carrying nuclear weapons.

    Report on Fairford Citizen's Weapons Inspection, Sunday 23 Feb 2003 from Dr Richard Lawson
    "Arrive at the demo already charged up with enthusiasm from listening to "Seize the Day". A crowd of the usual suspects, Gloucestershire Citizen's Weapons Inspectors (GWI) clambering into their white overalls, people in rainbow hats trying to figure out which way up the banner should go, dogs, drummers testing out their drums and country cops with ruddy faces standing around at ease, radiating peaceful vibes to all. ..." (more)

    Feb 23 ~ This week's Sunday Scare story is...Every home to get terror attack guide by Adam Nathan.

    ".HOUSEHOLDERS are to be given guidance on how to survive in the face of a catastrophic terrorist attack....." See Sunday Times (external link) ..... The guidance, which ministers intend to reach all 24m homes in Britain, will include a shopping list of items that should be bought before a possible biological, chemical or nuclear strike. Senior civil servants will this week meet emergency planning officers to discuss methods of disseminating the information without causing panic. ..." And this nonsense will cost....?

    Feb 23 ~ "This is a war we won't even know has started," says Gen. Lewis McKenzie, the Canadian former chief of U.N. forces in Yugoslavia..."

    Toronto Star "It won't begin with CNN reporters and rockets bursting over Baghdad, he says, "but with throats being cut outside Iraqi oil fields, with the no-fly zones being expanded." And, yes, it probably has already started: "I'd be a damn poor commander if I didn't have people on the ground right now." Special Operations forces are indeed already in Iraq, say American military analysts. They're identifying targets, jamming communications and trying to secure the oil fields before Iraqi troops are ordered to torch them as they did in Kuwait in 1991. ........the United States is risking the world's condemnation if Gulf War II isn't the swift, surgical, six-weeks-at-most operation it's speculated to be. As Rudd (David Rudd, executive director of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies) says, echoing many others: "The number of variables is bewildering, just bewildering. I'm fearful of the whole venture."

    Feb 23 ~ "special teams to kill off the party's huge anti-war lobby..."

    ...A Labour source, hostile to the war but unwilling to be named, said: "If they were confident they were right, they wouldn't have to do this." See Independent on Sunday (external link)

    Feb 21 ~ "He said this time when the bombing starts he and his family will stay"

    The Baghdad Diaries of Dr. Scilla Elworthy of the Oxford Research Group, available on the internet at - http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0302/S00034.htm "..... Denis was greeted warmly by a man selling 1950s parker fountain pens who remembered him from 4 years ago, and a delighted carpet seller, who hailed him as Iraq's bravest friend and of course produced tea in little sherry schooners with masses of sugar. He said this time when the bombing starts he and his family will stay. In 1991 they left. They fear that this time chaos will come, and that if they are not there, their houses will be looted. They fear terrible blood-letting as people settle scores with members of the Ba-ath party.
    Over lunch we began our first strategy session. We agreed that all other rationales for military action (WMD, war on terror, regime change) are superfluous, the real reason is control of oil supplies, not only to the West, but also to the East. We discussed in depth a number of possibilities of tension reduction moves that could be made now by both sides.

    Feb 21 ~ "Blair was justifying war by referring to suffering in Iraq which his own government had denied for years." George Galloway

    "It's the unkindest cut of all for those of us who, for more than a decade, have been beating our heads against a brick wall of British government denial of the scale and nature of the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, to hear it now being used in aid of killing even more Iraqis from land, sea and air," he said. Reuters report (external link)

    Feb 21 ~ "Iraqis for War" have finally cottoned on to the US post-war plans - which will not include an independently run country.

    See today's Guardian: "The Bush administration is on a collision course with its closest allies in the Iraqi opposition over how the country should be run after the fall of Saddam Hussein, compounding the confusion now surrounding Washington's preparations for war. Guardian interviews with four of the seven leading opposition figures have revealed the depth of the rift between Washington and several of the main parties claiming to represent the Iraqi people. The split has overshadowed a much-delayed meeting in Irbil, northern Iraq, now slated for this weekend, which will bring together opposition leaders who have spent much of the past decade at loggerheads. It is hoped that the meeting will forge unity between the disparate groups. But their temporary reconciliation has come too late for the United States, which has given up hope of unifying the Iraqi exiles, and opted to run the country itself in the aftermath of the war. ..."

    Feb 21 ~ Tony Blair is now invoking the suffering of the Iraqi people to justify bombing them.

    See also from today's Guardian Iraqis will not be pawns in Bush and Blair's war game (external link) "..Having failed to convince the British people that war is justified, Tony Blair is now invoking the suffering of the Iraqi people to justify bombing them. He tells us there will be innocent civilian casualties, but that more will die if he and Bush do not go to war. Which dossier is he reading from? The present Iraqi regime's repressive practices have long been known, and its worst excesses took place 12 years ago, under the gaze of General Colin Powell's troops; 15 years ago, when Saddam was an Anglo-American ally; and almost 30 years ago, when Henry Kissinger cynically used Kurdish nationalism to further US power in the region at the expense of both Kurdish and Iraqi democratic aspirations. Killing and torture in Iraq is not random, but has long been directly linked to politics - and international politics at that. As from yesterday we stopped buying the Telegraph after one too many suggestions that Saturday's marchers were supporting Saddam

    Feb 21 ~ Weapons Error

    This page has been doing the rounds.(Do not adjust your set...)

    Feb 20 ~ Ministers must learn to respect their own human rights laws

    says today's Independent (external link) "The European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated into British law not for the benefit of government ministers but for the sake of those whose fundamental rights are being threatened by the actions of ministers. The ruling of the High Court yesterday in favour of six asylum-seekers who had had their claims for state benefits refused under Home Office rules was, predictably enough, immediately condemned by David Blunkett, and the Government will take the case to appeal.
    They are entitled to do that, but it bears repeating that a Human Rights Act is of no use at all if every time it runs foul of government policy it is ignored or reversed. In its short life the Human Rights Act has suffered one derogation under the Anti Terrorism Act, so that foreigners can be detained without trial. Recently the Prime Minister suggested that Britain might try to find a way of evading our international obligations to refugees. We can be sure that Mr Blunkett will do all that he can to overturn the perfectly correct decision made by the High Court yesterday. In the meantime, the Home Secretary will be making sure we all know how unhappy he is. Mr Blunkett's rhetoric deserves closer attention......" (more)

    Feb 19 ~ Sanctions of Mass Destruction

    5 We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral". - Denis Halliday, former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, October 1998
    "If people could hear and see what is being done in their names in Iraq, they would be outraged. But they don't, so it continues". - John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor, April 2000
    From Media Lens ".... Both Halliday and his successor Hans von Sponeck resigned from long careers with the UN insisting that Western sanctions policy was "genocidal" - resignations that were unprecedented in the UN at such a senior level - but the media almost completely ignored them. Last time we checked, Halliday, for example, had never been mentioned in the Observer.
    The Catholic Relief Agency, CAFOD, has described the sanctions as "humanly catastrophic, morally indefensible and politically ineffective. They are a failed policy and must be changed". (Milan Rai, War On Iraq, Verso, 2002, p.175)
    Human Rights Watch has said: "the continued imposition of comprehensive economic sanctions is undermining the basic rights of children and the civilian population generally" and "the [Security] Council must recognise that the sanctions have contributed in a major way to persistent life-threatening conditions in the country". (August 2000, www.viwuk.freeserve.co.uk)
    Seventy members of the US Congress signed a letter to President Clinton, appealing to him to lift the embargo and end what they called "infanticide masquerading as policy". (Quoted, Philadelphia Enquirer, April 1, 1999)

    Feb 19 ~ Suggested Action - write to the Media

    Mr Blair can make his outrageous case for a 'moral war' now because journalists have long ignored reports from groups like Save the Children Fund UK, which has described the economic sanctions against Iraq as "a silent war against Iraq's children". (Quoted, Voices in the Wilderness UK, March 2002: www.viwuk.freeserve.co.uk) As they explain "The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. In writing letters to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone." and they follow this advice with a sample letter and a list of recipients to whom we might write.

    Feb 19 ~ a UN resolution demanding, among other things, the right for opposition parties to open offices inside Iraq. If the same pressure that is currently being applied to Baghdad on arms were transferred to freedom and democracy, it could bring results.

    says Jonathan Freedland in today's Guardian. And as someone who was far from impressed with the Hyde Park demogogues, I find that this article is full of sense. ".... Tariq Ali spoke of "strengthening the people" on Saturday, but we will have to do better than that. We need to start coming up with detailed, fleshed-out ideas that might work.
    One approach would be to use this moment of pressure - admittedly brought about by the threat of war - to demand Saddam not only give up his armoury but also open up his society. The UN could demand that Hans Blix's team be joined by a squad of "human rights inspectors", keeping tabs on, say, the fate of political prisoners. That finds favour with Mary Kaldor, a leading light in the 1980s anti-nuclear movement, who has published a long list of ideas on the open Democracy website - openDemocracy . Her objective: to open a few cracks in the Iraqi frost that might lead to the home-grown, peaceful regime change that eventually came to eastern Europe. She imagines a UN resolution demanding, among other things, the right for opposition parties to open offices inside Iraq. If the same pressure that is currently being applied to Baghdad on arms were transferred to freedom and democracy, it could bring results. ...."

    Feb 19 ~ level headed, non-paranoid review of the evidence that control of Iraq's oil is indeed central to Bush's policy.

    Dr Richard Lawson of the Green Party says, " This link http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp?articleid=5529 gives a level headed, non-paranoid review of the evidence that control of Iraq's oil is indeed central to Bush's policy. It deserves to be widely circulated, especially among MPs and journalists.

    Feb 19 ~ Tony Blair criticised yesterday for selectively quoting from those Iraqis who share his views while ignoring other exiles who have written to No 10 opposing war.

    "....Iraqi exiles anti-war letter said that although many of the exiles had personally experienced persecution by President Saddam's regime, "the remedy must not cause greater damage to the innocent and to society at large". Haifa Zangana, an Iraqi novelist who signed the letter and joined Saturday's anti-war march, said: "The range of Iraqi views is so wide, so different."
    She said that it was not just the Iraqi left who opposed a US-led war. "If you read the list of names in our statement - some are Muslims, some are atheists, some are Arab nationalists." See Guardian article

    Feb 18 ~ blood is a renewable resource; oil is not.

    George Monbiot's latest article concludes:"Strategic thinkers in the US have been planning this next stage of expansion for years. Paul Wolfowitz, now deputy secretary for defence, was writing about the need to invade Iraq in the mid-1990s. The impending war will not be fought over terrorism, anthrax, VX gas, Saddam Hussein, democracy or the treatment of the Iraqi people. It is, like almost all such enterprises, about the control of territory, resources and other nations' economies. Those who are planning it have recognised that their future dominance can be sustained by means of a simple economic formula: blood is a renewable resource; oil is not."

    Feb 18 ~ " The FMD tragedy changed this townsperson's perception of Blair and the cabinet forever."

    "No mendacity surprises me now- nor arrogance either. How could i respect- or barely tolerate- a Prime Minister who allowed Margaret Beckett to say that the handling of the tragedy had been a minor triumph? How could I possibly trust people who allowed millions of animals to be slaughtered in their incompetent, arrogant panic and rush for the election? How could you possibly trust anyone with such little regard for life?" Judith's email reflects what many have been saying now for a long time.

    Feb 18 ~"a turning point in U.S. foreign policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the world," says Senator Byrd.

    " This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our -- or some other nation's -- hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation. ...we hear little about the aftermath of war in Iraq. In the absence of plans, speculation abroad is rife. Will we seize Iraq's oil fields, becoming an occupying power which controls the price and supply of that nation's oil for the foreseeable future?...I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is "in the highest moral traditions of our country". This war is not necessary at this time. ." Read the speech

    Feb 18 ~ EU Thought Police to England's green and formerly pleasant land.

    We are filled with foreboding today by an article in the Telegraph ( Britons face extradition for 'thought crime' on net By Philip Johnston) about the new European arrest warrant and remember a former article in November : "critics suspect that this is to allow for a future designation of Europol officers as part of EU moves towards a common judicial area.
    Leolin Price, QC, an expert on European constitutional law, said: "Arrest for deportation without the general protection of extradition procedures is an alarming novelty in this country. If it were to be made by an officer of the member state where the warrant is issued, the novelty and the alarm would be worse." He added: "It is difficult to see why the Home Secretary should have an open-ended discretion to specify 'appropriate persons'. He should tell us . . . who are to be his 'appropriate persons' to make these extraordinary new arrests.....Earlier this year, Lord Scott, a law lord, said the definition of a xenophobia offence "would almost certainly cover the distribution of Biggles and probably the Old Testament". (article last November)

    Feb 18 ~"The rift between Tony Blair and the British public over war against Iraq is today confirmed

    by an opinion poll which shows for the first time that a clear majority of British voters now oppose a military attack. Guardian The survey, taken over the weekend, reveals that Mr Blair has sustained significant political damage from the debate over Iraq. His personal rating has dropped through the floor to minus 20 points, the lowest level since the petrol crisis two and a half years ago. This month's Guardian/ICM poll also shows that at least one person from 1.25 million households in Britain went on Saturday's anti-war march in London, confirming estimates that between one million and two million people went on the march. ..."

    Feb 18 ~ "Can someone please explain how a mobile early-warning radar can be "a threat to coalition aircraft"? Other than detecting them of course....."

    writes a puzzled emailer, after seeing this Reuters report Warplanes swoop again on Iraq "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Aircraft taking part in U.S.-British patrols over Iraqi "no-fly" zones have attacked an Iraqi air defence radar, in the seventh strike in 10 days, the U.S. military says. ...... "The coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi forces moved the mobile radar into the southern no-fly zone where it was a threat to coalition aircraft," Central Command said in a news release. U.S. and British jets have been increasingly attacking air defence missiles, radar and communications in Iraq's northern and southern no-fly zones over the past several months. Both the United States and Britain have massed forces in the Gulf region for a possible invasion of Iraq...."

    Feb 18 ~ "we're not talking crazed "radical" elements, but students, elderly women, families and assorted peace-loving others.

    Never again will I nod my head in assent when someone brings up that old, "how can only three guards with machine guns hold back three thousand prisoners in Auschwitz?" Same way five or six cops with Glock 9mms on each street kept away thousands of protesters in NYC, Saturday, February 15, 2003. ....I went to the rally thinking of the horrible fate of the Iraqi people and wondering if anything could be done to change it. I came away thinking of the horrible fate of the American people, and wondering if anything can be done to change it. " CounterPunch

    Feb 17/18 ~ Last night Rory Bremner mentioned a letter written 5 years ago by the Project for the New American Century, giving reasons why Iraq should be attacked. The signatories are those now in the US government.

    See John Pilger in December 2002 "... The Project for the New American Century was formed, along with the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and others that have since merged the ambitions of the Reagan administration with those of the current Bush regime.
    One of George W Bush's "thinkers" is Richard Perle. I interviewed Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about "total war", I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing America's "war on terror". "No stages," he said. "This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war... our children will sing great songs about us years from now."

    Feb 17/18~ Here are the letters - written in January and May 1998 by those who now surround the President - referred to by Rory Bremner and Co:

    Extract:"... if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world's supply of oil will all be put at hazard. .....Our friends and allies in the Middle East and Europe will soon be subject to forms of intimidation by an Iraqi government bent on dominating the Middle East and its oil reserves.....We should establish and maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the region, and be prepared to use that force to protect our vital interests in the Gulf - and, if necessary, to help remove Saddam from power Although the Clinton Administration's handling of the crisis with Iraq has left Saddam Hussein in a stronger position that when the crisis began, the reality is that his regime remains vulnerable to the exercise of American political and military power...."

    Feb 17/18 ~ In 1999 inspectors were withdrawn - not thrown out

    From Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting "...Back in 1999, major papers ran front-page investigative stories revealing that the CIA had covertly used U.N. weapons inspectors to spy on Iraq for the U.S.'s own intelligence purposes. "United States officials said today that American spies had worked undercover on teams of United Nations arms inspectors," the New York Times reported (1/7/99). According to the Washington Post (3/2/99), the U.S. "infiltrated agents and espionage equipment for three years into United Nations arms control teams in Iraq to eavesdrop on the Iraqi military without the knowledge of the U.N. agency." Undercover U.S. agents "carried out an ambitious spying operation designed to penetrate Iraq's intelligence apparatus and track the movement of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to U.S. and U.N. sources," wrote the Boston Globe (1/6/99). Each of the three news stories ran on the papers' front pages. At first, U.S. officials tried to deny them, but as more details emerged, "spokesmen for the CIA, Pentagon, White House and State Department declined to repeat any categorical denials" (Washington Post, 3/2/99). By the spring of 1999, the UNSCOM spying reported by the papers was accepted as fact by other outlets..."

    Feb 17 ~ Their master's voice

    From today's Guardian "Rupert Murdoch argued strongly for a war with Iraq in an interview this week. Which might explain why his 175 editors around the world are backing it too, writes Roy Greenslade .......This accounts for the current spate of anti French jokes repeated by the country's Sun readers. We find the Murdoch connection in all this deeply chilling.

    Feb 17 ~ Spin from the Scotsman

    Many will share our disappointment at the Scotsman's pro-war stance. Today sees an article boldly entitled Millions on march fail to sway Blair (external link)
    Tim Cornwell's evidence for such a claim would seem to consist of the following:
    "John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, urged Labour members to rally round a leader who he said had earned their trust through his sound judgment in crises over Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Afghanistan."
    "President George Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said Washington was considering tabling a new resolution threatening Iraq with the use of force, but made clear its patience with the UN was running out. "Continuing to talk about more time and more time and more time is simply going to relieve pressures on the Iraqis to do what they must do," she added. "
    The Scotsman refers to this as "emphatic backing" for Mr Blair. Similarly, their article Mass protest fails to shake Blair's resolve (external link) has no evidence to support the implication in the headline except for the vague phrase "senior Cabinet members rallied behind Mr Blair over his stance on Iraq". If empty rhetoric from John Prescott is all that can be put in the balance against the heartfelt efforts of hundreds of thousands of English and Scots peace marchers, the headlines make no sense at all - except as propaganda. The Scotsman ought to know better.

    Feb 17 ~ "Has anyone written about a connection between what is happening now and the experience during the FMD epidemic?"

    asks a much respected emailer this morning. "That must have conditioned many people to question and challenge the government when it was so clear that common sense, expert advice, and moral arguments were ignored by those who they had previously trusted. Isn't it curious that the government then bowed to the uninformed opinion of a pressure group (NFU) rather than informed expert advice? They continue to do so - with the whole animal disease control consultation process aimed at soliciting comment but not taking the steps to provide for an informed choice. Yet now they will not bow to any opinion or advice, informed or uninformed, because they believe they either have the moral high ground or secret information.
    When I watched these people marching for the first time, I kept thinking that, now even, many townspeople should be able to understand what it was like for us."

    Feb 17 ~ One town's experience of the Feb 15 London March -

    "a significant statement" "...And what did it feel like to be part of such a huge mass of people all facing in the same direction, most walking in silence until one of the spontaneous waves of roaring lifted everyone into a sound so overwhelming it seemed to surge through the blood? .. It felt as though what was being created by this mass of people was a significant statement that hardly needed words. What we were saying by our simple presence was clear and obvious - the horror and pain of war makes no sense in any way and to embark upon war without the backing of the very organisation put in place by the sane - the United Nations Organisation - would be utterly insane. A route to Hyde Park that would take a fit walker about 15 minutes, took the marchers two and a half hours. The British don't like to be harangued and it was interesting that those speakers who were shouting aggressively soon lost the interest of the crowd. (What on earth did such speakers think we were there for?) The atmosphere among the marchers seemed wholly peaceful and friendly. Even the placards showed more good nature than moral outrage. The worst I saw about our poor benighted leaders were "Blair - don't be a bushbaby!" and the laconic "Son of a Bush..." But others made one smile. "Make TEA not WAR" proclaimed a poster showing Tony Blair carrying a rifle with a huge teacup on his head "Give Peas a Chance! Gardeners against the war!" , "No IRAC No Phobia!" for those, presumably, who dislike spiders, and the irrefutable "War is Silly"
    The 3400 policemen on duty around the march route were a restrained presence - and, it seemed to us, rather unnecessary...."

    Feb 17 ~ "Charles Kennedy won loud applause for stating that 'The report from Hans Blix gives no moral case for war on Iraq';

    George Galloway won both applause and laughter for suggesting a new slogan: 'Don't attack Chirac'. Mo Mowlam warned: 'We will lose this war. It will be the best recruiting campaign for terrorists that there could be. They will hate us even more.' Will yesterday, astonishing yesterday, change anything? The facts are undeniable. Perception is all.
    If you look more carefully, in fact, at the warlike Wellington statue, a new tale emerges. The driver of the chariot is a boy. The reins are slack. The horses are not rearing with anger, but pulling up in mid-charge. Behind, the fierce, all-powerful figure is not the Spirit of War but the angel of peace, carrying an olive branch. " Yesterday's Observer One million. And still they came by Euan Ferguson

    Feb 17 ~ ".. war seems a very odd choice."

    writes Sir Timothy Garden in Why the rush to attack a spent force? in today's Times. Sir Timothy is visiting professor at the Centre for Defence Studies, King's College London. As an Air Marshal he was Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies, and subsequently director of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

    Feb 17 ~ "..those very courageous Jewish American groups who so bravely oppose this madness have been the first to point out how pro-Israeli organisations foresee Iraq not only as a new source of oil but of water, too;

    why should canals not link the Tigris river to the parched Levant? No wonder, then, that any discussion of this topic must be censored, as Professor Eliot Cohen, of Johns Hopkins University, tried to do in the Wall Street Journal the day after Powell's UN speech. Cohen suggested that European nations' objections to the war might - yet again - be ascribed to "anti-Semitism of a type long thought dead in the West, a loathing that ascribes to Jews a malignant intent."
    This nonsense, it must be said, is opposed by many Israeli intellectuals who, like Uri Avnery, argue that an Iraq war will leave Israel with even more Arab enemies, especially if Iraq attacks Israel and Sharon then joins the US battle against the Arabs.
    The slur of "anti-Semitism" also lies behind Rumsfeld's snotty remarks about "old Europe". He was talking about the "old" Germany of Nazism and the "old" France of collaboration. But the France and Germany that oppose this war are the "new" Europe, the continent which refuses, ever again, to slaughter the innocent. It is Rumsfeld and Bush who represent the "old" America; not the "new" America of freedom, the America of F D Roosevelt. Rumsfeld and Bush symbolise the old America that killed its native Indians and embarked on imperial adventures. It is "old" America we are being asked to fight for - linked to a new form of colonialism - an America that first threatens the United Nations with irrelevancy and then does the same to Nato. This is not the last chance for the UN, nor for Nato. But it may well be the last chance for America to be taken seriously by her friends as well as her enemies...." Robert Fisk in Saturday's Independent.

    Feb 17 ~ "What we do not have - unless our MPs are prepared to provide it - is a group of men and women dedicated to telling the world, and their own Government, what the people of the United Kingdom think."

    "Parliament ought to be Tony Blair's biggest, noisiest and most trusted focus group. If it is muted, if it gags itself or allows itself to be gagged, then marches and demonstrations like today's will have to take its place. They may be crude - even ugly - affairs, they will do a great deal of damage to the turf in our Royal Parks, and their messages will be blurred, ragged and confused; but they will be all we have.
    They are all we have. Hyde Park today is glory to the persistence of democracy, and a disgrace to the House of Commons. The inimitable Matthew Parris in Sunday Times

    Feb 17 ~ Almost exactly seven years ago, in 1996, the Scott Inquiry into the arms-to-Iraq affair found that government ministers had misled Parliament by secretly relaxing an arms embargo.

    Feb 14 ~ "Today, after 13 years of an economic blockade that has been compared with a medieval siege, Iraq is defenceless, no matter the discovery of an odd missile that can reach barely 90 miles.

    Its ragtag army is woefully under-equipped and awaiting its fate, along with a civilian population of whom 42 per cent are children. They are stricken. Even the export of British manufactured vaccines meant to protect Iraqi infants from diphtheria and yellow fever has been restricted. The vaccines, say the Blair government, are "capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction". This is the nation upon which the Bush gang says it will rain down 800 missiles within the space of two days. "Shock and awe" the Pentagon calls its "strategy". ..." Read John Pilger today on ITV.com " It is not possible to overstate the significance and urgency of the march and demonstration against an unprovoked British and American attack on Iraq, a nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat. : John Pilger :14 Feb 2003"
    "....American public opinion, now stirring heroically after the most sustained brainwashing campaign for half a century, may even stop the Bush gang in its tracks. As of yesterday 42 American cities had passed resolutions condemning an attack.
    Is all that a cause for optimism? Yes it is. Look at how this week's French and German "rebellion" almost seemed to change everything; and remember that those governments are speaking out only because of overwhelming pressure from their people.
    Now that has to happen in Britain. Tomorrow you can begin to make it happen."

    Feb 14 ~ "Reading in yesterday's Guardian about 'how scared are you' set me thinking that what would scare me, in the event of war..."

    writes an emailer today. "...what would scare me, in the event of war, God forbid, would be this government and their 'react now - think later' approach which made such an almighty cock-up of F&M. I'm off to London to try to see Dürer's drawings before the march. Yes, I also hate marching, but the Government seem determined to bury their heads to the huge public opposition. .."

    Feb 14 ~ Mr Blair was in effect rejecting ethics and substituting relativity. In place of a moral precept he offered a league table.

    Simon Jenkins in the Times is always worth reading closely. This article is a salutary lesson for those of us who tend towards pontification instead of argument: "Shut away the ethicists," says Mr Jenkins, "Meet grim reality unencumbered." "..... How many people would sanctions and containment kill compared with his quick-fix of bombs and tanks? As treason is said to be a matter of dates, so the ethics of war is a matter of body-counts." Read article

    Feb 14 ~ 96 per cent response against war in a recent poll in the WMN.

    "Between 81 and 90 per cent nationally of people in every opinion poll that's been taken are recording their opposition to an attack on Iraq. I'm pleasantly surprised that here in the Westcountry you've got an even higher proportion of people who are showing common sense and saying 'we don't want this murder and we don't want this devastation on our conscience'. "Blair is deliberately ignoring the feeling of the British people, despite all the protestations about wanting to act in accordance with democracy, and he's doing exactly the opposite." See Western Morning News (external link)

    Feb 14 ~ There is not a single verifiable fact.

    See WsWS.org (external link) "... The Bush administration, together with the government of Tony Blair in Britain, has over the past week launched a concerted campaign to sow fear and terror among the American and British people in an effort to overcome widespread opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq. Following the Homeland Security Department's declaration of a 'code orange' terror alert in the US, humvees mounted with anti-aircraft batteries have been deployed in the shadows of the Washington Monument and the US Capitol, while machine-gun toting SWAT teams have been sent into the streets of New York City. In London, tanks and combat troops are patrolling Heathrow Airport.
    Why has 'code orange', signifying a 'high' threat of terrorist attacks, been declared? No US official has offered a specific or credible reason. Vague references are made to 'increased chatter' overheard by intelligence agencies, the end of the Haj in Mecca, etc. There is not a single verifiable fact...."

    Feb 14 ~"Bush needs a terrorist attack, so there will be one."

    We don't at all like the style of this article from CounterPunch (external link) - but we can only agree with its conclusions:

    Feb 14 ~ Fake attacks have been planned before

    One example from the Operation Northwoods document. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Kennedy vetoed the idea. Would the present US administration? See MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE Subject: Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba

    Feb 13 ~ "In 1998, Denis Halliday, the first coordinator of humanitarian relief in Iraq, resigned after 34 years of service with the UN."

    After Mr Blair's stupendously silly bluster about morality and sanctions in the House of Commons yesterday - as if the continuing infanticide of sanctions were the only alternative to war - we offer the following articles Halliday stated: Halliday's replacement, Hans von Sponeck, also resigned in 2000. "How long," he asked, "should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?"

    Feb 13 ~ BBC bans news stars from anti-war march

    Jason DeansTuesday February 11, 2003 "Senior BBC news presenters such as Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce and journalists including Andrew Marr have been ordered by bosses to stay away from Saturday's anti-war march in London. The BBC deputy director of news, Mark Damazer, yesterday sent an email to newsroom staff listing which categories of journalist should not attend the march and rally in Hyde Park. These include all presenters, correspondents, editors, output editors and "anyone who can be considered a 'gatekeeper' of our output". ...." Guardian (external link)

    Feb 13 ~ Backlash against war

    Today's Times "London ready for huge protest as opposition grows" By Tom Baldwin, Ben Hoyle and Ruth Gledhill This is likely to be exceeded. TEN coaches from one single rural area reported. Never before have so many ordinary people felt so strongly that they are being hoodwinked into an unnecessary and disgraceful war. As one email read on the internet today says, "...I would happily disembowel Saddam Hussein in retribution for the Socialists and Communists butchered on his orders to the applause of the same people now planning war on the people of Iraq. Iraq, even under Saddam, is the most tolerant country of the Middle East, with Christian Ministers and a Vice President in its Government, the ideology of the B'aath Party being conceived by an Iraq Christian, denounced by Osama bin Laden as non-Islamic. Iraq is the most likely country of the Middle East to develop a genuine democracy. Is this what Bush and the oil barons fear? Would such an example not be contagious, leading to the overthrow of the corrupt tyrannies who do Uncle Sam's will?"

    Feb 13 ~ "Pregnant women, malnourished children, and the elderly will be the first to succumb"

    An important eye-witness account of conditions in Iraq "... a cruise missile will strike Iraq every five minutes for the first 48 hours the war. These missiles will seek out military, intelligence, and security-force targets around highly populated areas like Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul, Iraq's largest cities, where "collateral damage" is unavoidable. Unable to meet the acute medical needs of the country's population now, the health care system of Iraq will be overwhelmed by such an assault.
    ....... I have worked in war zones before and I have been with civilians as they were bombed by U.S.-supplied aircraft, but I don't think I've experienced anything on the magnitude of the catastrophe that awaits our attack in Iraq. Still, as deeply troubling as this looming human disaster is, another issue troubles me far more. If the U.S. pursues this war without the backing of the U.N. Security Council, it will undermine a half-century of efforts by the world community to establish a foundation of humanitarian and human rights law. ..." More

    Feb 12/13 ~ "Why do we have endless debates about whether to kill foxes, but no debate on whether to kill people?" he asked. Mr Blair told him he saw "no reason" to change. ...

    Guardian today ".....The prime minister's war-making powers come from the royal prerogative, an arcane authority which allows government to bypass parliament on many major issues. In theory the Queen is the source of prerogative power, but the doctrine has long been a constitutional figleaf disguising the actual exercise of the powers by the prime minister.
    The power of patronage - which ranges from the creation of life peers, the appointment of the chair of the BBC governors and the award of honours to senior civil servants to individual ministers' rights to appoint thousands of members of quangos - will also be examined by the committee."

    Feb 12/13 ~ Go to it

    ".... this week I have suffered twice from the familiar combination of BBIV (blood boiling with indignation in my veins) and HUIN (hair standing up at the back of my neck) out of a sense of shame for my country and its government."
    Read Paul Foot in Wednesday's Guardian
    "..Tory and Labour leaders cling together to proclaim the most fantastic and monstrous proposition that before we even have any proof of these weapons of mass destruction or the likelihood of their use, the most powerful armed forces in the world should unleash an attack on one of weakest and most defenceless countries on earth.....It seems suddenly that everyone is interested; everyone except Julie Burchill and Ian Duncan Smith is shocked and everyone wants to do something about it. On Saturday, the cliché will become the truth.
    The eyes and ears of the world will be fixed on the London streets and on Hyde Park. The size and fury of the demonstration will have an impact on real events the like of which I have not experienced in a lifetime of protest. Hyde Park will once again host a demonstration, like that of the Reform League in 1867 or the suffragettes in 1908, that can change the whole course of politics. Go to it. "

    Feb 12/13 ~ "No specific intelligence of any threat to the airport or anywhere else in the region...."

    "....Mr Livingstone said he had been told of a "potential threat" to Heathrow airport "some weeks if not months ago". Armed officers from Greater Manchester police today carried out spotchecks at Manchester airport to "reassure the public that every possible step is being taken." However, chief inspector Martin Gaffney said that military personnel would not be deployed as there was no specific intelligence of any threat to the airport or anywhere else in the region.
    See theGuardian
    "Mr Reid denied that the deployment was an over the top reaction to the threat of a war in Iraq...."
    Mr John Reid, Labour party chairman, is not taking seriously our disbelief, it seems. However, if he thinks we are calling it a "game" he is much mistaken. No, Mr Reid. We are calling it by a very much more serious name than that.

    Feb 12/13 ~ "Do they think we are stupid?"

    "Possibly upwards of one million people will be marching through London on Saturday (and many 100,000's more around the country) so they try to scare us with a terrorist alert?! If you were a terrorist would you attack a country whose population was mobilising itself in support of those threatened by Bush and Blair?!!
    This is going beyond laughable.
    Blair is making our country the laughing stock of the world."
    (email received )

    Feb 12 ~ "I am sitting here in front of my computer logged into the wonderful internet almost in tears, feeling I could burst, as I read the list of 306 cities around the Globe (including Antartica!) who will be demonstrating on the 15th."

    writes an emailer. "(This figure does not include all the small demos, such as at Hereford, that are also happening that day) see http://unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=725 Would we stop the World in its tracks if we all shouted NO! at the same time?" LATER (same emailer) Re. the "306 cities demonstrating around the world" it's now 354! and I've added Hereford (but I am sure there are many more not on the list). How can they not listen to us?"
    As Noam Chomsky says in this splendidly simple idea -"the Rice Solution" - making its way around the address books of the internet, " I can't think of another case where there was large scale protest to a war before it started. Nothing like that during the Vietnam years. Protest over the Vietnam War came after four to five years. There is unprecedented opposition -- UK and US policy analysts are keeping their eyes open to it, and if it grows even more, they'll be concerned. In fact, some of the high level hawkish arguments against the war is that too much divisiveness will be created inside the UK and US. That's a concern -- No matter who you are, you are going to be concerned about popular opinion." (More)

    Feb 12 ~ Blair "acting upon serious intelligence information" when he ordered the British Army in to Heathrow Airport today?

    If he was: why were Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Glasgow left unprotected?
    More window dressing - in itself far more worrying than any bugbear. And see also a far from amusing spoof on Bush's entourage from CounterPunch (external link) Extract: "....KARL ROVE: I'm afraid we may need some real fireworks to get this war going. We can't pull this off without the Brits and they're about to kick Blair into the sea. We need to arrange a few terror bombs over there. Maybe the Parliament. Or a couple of schools. Blair needs some face time with some dead bodies. Just make sure they don't think it's the IRA again..."

    Feb 12 ~ there is still hope

    "It seems all too likely that this war is going to happen, probably in a few weeks time but there is still hope. This is why I will be marching on Saturday and urge as many people as possible to join us." ex-colonel Kevin Cranston.

    Feb 12 ~ Ex-colonel points to service opposition to Blair-Bush war

    Kevin Cranston, a former colonel who organised helicopter support for the British army in the 1991 Gulf war and now the Green Party's military policy advisor, has drawn attention to unrest amongst British service personnel about the impending "unjustified, futile and counter-productive" attack on Iraq.
    Kevin Cranston said today: "The use of British troops in a futile act of aggression the like of which has not been seen since Suez and the colonial wars at the start of the 20th Century is undermining morale and changing the ethos of the British army. "Tony Blair is pushing for a war which three-quarters or more of the UK population oppose. In 1991 there was support from across the Middle East, now there is virtually none. Saddam is not a threat to Britain, either in military terms or as a terrorist. Since the Gulf War he hasn't been able to re-equip his forces and there is no way he could invade anyone else. An attack would be immoral."
    "A lot of soldiers are deeply concerned about the current situation. They joined to defend Britain, not to mount unjustified attacks on other countries." (message from the Green Party)

    Feb 12 ~ Tony Blair proclaimed that the impending invasion of Iraq "has nothing to do with oil, or any of the other conspiracy theories put forward."

    CommonDreams org. "In a widely reported January 16 speech, Tony Blair proclaimed that the impending invasion of Iraq "has nothing to do with oil, or any of the other conspiracy theories put forward." One week later, Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, quietly passed word to Russia and France that their countries will be frozen out of staggeringly lucrative postwar oil contracts unless they roll over and endorse the US attack.
    Yes, Tony, there is a conspiracy, in the dictionary sense of the term: an agreement among people to perform a criminal or wrongful act. It consists, not of a tiny cabal, but of the whole of the American power elite, from politicians to business executives to journalists. It has everything to do with oil. But it is not secret.
    The conspirators know they can count on the uncritical support of the mass media. Therefore knowledge of their cynical motives and thuggish tactics can be made available in journals and other specialized fora, all but invisible to most Americans but accessible to the few with sufficient time and inclination to dig beneath the headlines. ...."

    Feb 12 ~ both the Iraqi and British peoples were once again let down by the BBC.

    Medialens.org ".....Where Iraq is concerned, Blair is the Bush administration's key ally - he is playing a central role in making war possible. Lack of British public support might just stop him and so might just stop Bush. The BBC's interview, therefore, was of critical importance. One might think that the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people facing death by incineration in the next few weeks at least deserve an incisive and vigorous attempt at challenging Blair. One might think that they at least deserve that the basic facts, the readily accessible evidence and the most obvious counter-arguments be presented.
    Well, they got next to nothing of these - both the Iraqi and British peoples were once again let down by the BBC."

    Feb 12 ~ "Before the last Stop the War demo, I felt uneasy about telling my friends I was going on it. This time my attitude is, if they're not on it I shan't speak to the fuc*ers for two years"

    See the advice for " those taking their first steps on the long road to freedom" from yesterday's Independent.
    "....For most people, Blair and Bush have simply lost the argument. Despite being in a hole, these two politicians can't stop digging. Every piece of compelling new evidence for the necessity of war turns out to be even more ludicrous than the last, so we've now arrived at plagiarised student theses and crackly intercepted phone calls that couldn't secure a conviction for possession of dope. And this to justify chucking around the armed might of the greatest superpower the world has known, the equivalent of a Bali bombing every night for as long as it takes. All this will be carried out in the name of human rights and democracy by the power that destroyed both in Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Indonesia. It will be in the name of ridding the world of chemical weapons, by the power that spread napalm and Agent Orange across half a continent. It will be to rid the world of a dictator who gassed his own people and invaded Iran, when those acts could only have been carried out with the backing of the superpower in the first place.
    Robert Del Naja of the pop group Massive Attack said last week: "Before the last Stop the War demo, I felt uneasy about telling my friends I was going on it. This time my attitude is, if they're not on it I shan't speak to the fuc*ers for two years."


    It's dirty, and it's deadly.
    When you coat a shell with it, it slices through armoured plating as if it was cheese, turning tanks, buildings and bomb shelters into exploding incinerators.
    It causes cancer among people who breathe its dust, or touch it.
    It causes horrible birth defects among the babies of pregnant women who breathe it or touch it.
    It causes a host of chronic ailments and sicknesses among returning troops.
    It was used by the US army in Iraq, in Kosovo, and Afghanistan.
    The United Nations wants a worldwide ban on it.
    The US plans to use it again, in its war on Iraq...
    "Many of us have seen the heart-wrenching pictures of deformity and death in Iraq, and know of the growing cancer wards in Bosnia and Kosova, not to mention the 80,000 American, 15,000 Canadian and thousands of British, Australian, French and other troops who are suffering a painful existence from Gulf War Syndrome plus the growing number suffering from a Balkans equivalent. ..." ..(see more on depleted uranium and Gulf War syndrome )

    Feb 10 ~" I find this plagiarism unforgivable and so indicative of our less than truthful government."

    "Asked whether Downing Street was embarrassed about the affair, the spokesman said: "We all have lessons to learn." The Mirror yesterday:
    ....... Mr Boyne, who works for military magazine Jane's Intelligence Review, said he was shocked his work had been used in the Government's dossier. Articles he wrote in 1997 were plagiarized for a 19-page intelligence document entitled Iraq: Its Infrastructure Of Concealment, Deception And Intimidation to add weight to the PM's warmongering. He said: "I don't like to think that anything I wrote has been used for an argument for war. I am concerned because I am against the war." ........
    It emerged the PA to Mr Blair's spin chief Alastair Campbell was involved in drawing up the dossier which was published last month. Alison Blackshaw and a Government press officer were both named on the dossier when it was first put on the Government's website. But the names were later removed.
    The bulk of the Government's document is directly copied, without acknowledgement, from Ibrahim's 5,000-word thesis - Iraq's Security and Intelligence Network - published last September.
    He did not even know the dossier existed until Glen Rangwala, a Cambridge-based Iraq analyst, spotted the plagiarism and called him.
    Mr al-Marashi and Mr Boyne said their figures had been altered in the Government document.
    Former Labour Defense Minister MP Peter Kilfoyle said: "It just adds to the general impression that what we have been treated to is a farrago of half-truths. "I am shocked that on such thin evidence that we should be trying to convince the British people that this is a war worth fighting." ..."

    Feb 10 ~... It is unwise for modern democracies to go to war without the broad support of their populations.

    (Today's Independent) The US, above all, should know that. The effect on troop morale of popular opposition to war in Vietnam was debilitating. Mr Blair knows how dangerous it would be for him to go to war with British opinion in its present alignment.
    That world opinion is so divided should not be a cue for the US government to chastise those who disagree with it. It should be a warning that the case for war has not yet been made. " article: Why is the West so divided over this war? Perhaps because it is wrong... (external link)

    Feb 9 ~ Today's Sunday Scare Story Nonsense

    Terror gas detector vans to guard Britain David Cracknell and Adam Nathan MINISTERS are preparing to introduce a national network of air detectors to provide early warning of a biological attack by terrorists. " etc etc....
    Read Joan Smith in the Independent instead: ".....A few days later, after a young American artist was found murdered in a park in east London, police announced that they were looking for two men of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance. An al-Qa'ida connection! That was the conclusion of a friend of another American living in London, who reported it in the Daily Telegraph and described the city as a place where "you could be mugged, murdered, raped or gassed by al-Qa'ida at any moment". Strange, then, that not a single member of my vast circle of friends in London has experienced any of these events within living memory. We have not been infected with anthrax either, although some of us got a flu-like virus at Christmas that turned out to be - well, flu...."

    Feb 9 ~ The UK economy, foreign affairs, defence, justice and home affairs will all be under the direct control of unelected officials of the EU superstate - and only Christopher Booker seems to be saying so

    See Booker's Notebook (external link) this week. "One didn't know whether to laugh or cry listening to our Europe minister, Peter Hain, talking on the Today programme about the draft "constitution for Europe". For once even the BBC seemed taken aback at the scale of the proposed power-grab, with the economy, foreign affairs, defence, justice and home affairs all becoming "common policies", with a central role for the European Commission. John Bruton, the former Irish prime minister, waved their concerns aside, saying this had all been agreed years ago at Maastricht. Mr Hain was reduced to hopeless bluster, claiming that these were only proposals and that the final version would look very different.
    Certainly this draft constitution is chilling to read. It lays out starkly just how close we are to becoming the subjects of a "United States of Europe", ruled by a wholly unaccountable government in Brussels. But if the BBC had done its homework, there would have been nothing surprising about it, because every detail has been on the integrationist agenda for years. In coming months, as debate on the EU constitution comes to dominate political discussion, two boring-sounding words will give the key to what is going on: "inter-governmental" and "supra-national". ..." Read also "The Great Deception"

    Feb 9 ~" the world's first nuclear war...."

    Independent's Joan Smith (external link) "If anyone had told me, in the autumn of 2001, that we were less than 18 months away from what might become the world's first nuclear war, I would have thought they were insane. In the half century since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no one has been that reckless or indeed that stupid - even, or so I thought, the Bush White House. Then came the twin towers and everything changed overnight, to the point where we find ourselves apparently on the threshold of a terrifying conflict in the Middle East. So the question I am going to ask, at the risk of causing great offence, is this: when is the US going to get over the events of 11 September?
    ...........Paranoia is not the only problem. The administration's war against the Taliban was neither a great military success (huge areas of Afghanistan are still in the hands of vicious warlords), nor did it provide the kind of catharsis that millions of shocked Americans demanded after 11 September. President Bush needs an enemy and Saddam fits the bill nicely, even though no one with an ounce of common sense credits Colin Powell's claims last week about an alliance between Iraq and al-Qa'ida. .....
    The President may take comfort from the thought that Tony Blair's Gladstonian vision lends him some moral authority, but it does not wash over here. If the world has become a more dangerous place since 11 September 2001, it is not solely because of the activities of a bunch of Islamic terrorists....

    Feb 9 ~ A Million to say NO to Blair on Iraq

    See article in today's Sunday Herald (Scotland) ".........'Even the police, who are notoriously conservative, admit that this will be the largest gathering of people in London since VE Day in 1945,' said Andrew Burgen, of the Stop The War Coalition. ....in a warning to both the United States and to UN Security Council countries contemplating using their veto on a second resolution against Iraq, Annan yesterday told the US government that it should not declare unilateral war against Saddam Hussein. In a combination of timely warning and appeal that indicates just how worried the UN is that its authority is under threat, Annan said that if the report on Friday from UN weapons inspectors points to Iraq not disarming, then 'the [security] council must face up to its responsibilities'. Annan said that the Iraqi crisis was 'an issue not for any one state, but for the international community as a whole'. ...."

    Feb 9 ~ The US gets out its cheque book...

    Sunday Herald: "Other sources suggested that the US will be spending like a lottery winner in the coming weeks to try to secure the support, or at least the non interference, of key Arab states. 'They will be writing some very large cheques in the region,' he said. 'They realise that gaining Arab support for this war is going to prove very costly.' Indeed it emerged over the weekend that White House officials have been meeting secretly with Iranian leaders seeking guarantees that Tehran will not allow members of the National Guard to seek refuge in Iran or aid the Iraqis in any war against the US. It is understood that the US has offered Iran -- which Bush labelled a member of the 'axis of evil' a year ago -- generous offers of aid if it agrees not to hinder the American war effort. ...."
    "For a new Security Council resolution to be passed, nine votes need to be cast in favour and no veto can be used by a permanent member state. Apart from the five permanent members, the council is made up of 10 countries that serve on a rotating basis. Germany, which has come out strongly against military action, currently holds the presidency. Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria and Spain are the remaining non-permanent members. All have trade links or receive either military or economic aid from the US.
    In the end, UN sources predict that self-interest will triumph. The French will get the concessions they are seeking -- namely a guarantee that the lucrative oil contracts negotiated with Saddam Hussein won't be used as toilet paper by American energy giants. The Russians and Chinese, who also have power of veto, will either abstain or vote with the Americans and British.
    The general expectation appears to be that non-permanent members will come onside during the debate that is expected to follow Hans Blix's February 14 report. By then, Saddam may have granted more concessions to the inspectors, but the view here is that it is too late for anything short of a total climbdown by the Iraqi dictator. The US and Britain will insist that he has already breached Resolution 1441 and seek a resolution asserting this fact. ...."  




    The Rice Solution - elegant, cheap, effective protest - or so we thought. See below...
    Weapons Error This page has been doing the rounds of the inboxes...(Do not adjust your set...) - Also this War Quiz extract: "This test consists of one (1) multiple-choice question ..." Cartoon by Mac in friday's Daily Mail - View here Mr Blair in the Who wants to be a Millionaire hotseat. Mr Bush seems to have a cough...
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