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transcript of the Blair/Humphrys interview, 29/9/ 2004
transcript of the Blair/Humphrys interview, 29/9/ 2005
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Legal advice and Lord Goldsmith   Downing Street Memos

Valerie Plame Affair - latest

"Liberty has never come from Government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it... The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it." Woodrow Wilson

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." Groucho Marx


30 April 2006 ~ a department that is 'unaccountable and unreliable'.

It all adds to a picture of a government out of its depth. The parallel universe that appears to be being inhabited by the heirarchy of the Labour party seems less and less like our own. Hospitals and mental centres (in Suffolk for example) have closed or are closing down all over the country, to the anguish of those living near. Can Mrs Hewitt, Mr Clarke and all the Blunketts, Prescotts, Byers, Jowells, Reids and Straws of the Labour Party really be surprised at the outrage felt by ordinary people? The answer seems to be yes. They are both surprised and hurt - and Mr Blair, puppeteer in chief, puts it all down to the pernicious media.

30 April 2006 ~ Iran has enriched uranium to about 4 per cent - ie in the range used for fuel in nuclear power stations. At least 80% enrichment is needed for nuclear weapon production.
See ABC news

30 April 2006 ~ Iraq. 70 American GIs have been killed in Iraq in the past month, and over 2400 have been killed since the war began. As for the Iraqi casualties...on Saturday alone, "...bombings and assassinations left some 25 persons dead in Iraq, including 17 who just showed up in the street dead, with some showing signs of torture..." See Informed Comment. Juan Cole also says,

30 April 2006 ~ Iraq "billions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse." The Los Angeles Times "..... Iraqi insurgent attacks on oil pipelines drain as much as $8 million a day from the Iraqi treasury, and strikes against electrical towers are among the primary reasons that power production remains below prewar levels."
A federal audit released yesterday s the latest account of

30 April 2006 ~ "guided democracy" in Prescott's UK Booker's Notebook: "....... The net effect of Mr Prescott's revolution has thus been to abolish the principle which lies at the heart of democracy.
If voters can no longer choose the candidate who best represents their wishes, and councillors are not permitted to express a view until they are told what to think by officials, what remains of representative democracy?
In the Soviet Union, this was known as "guided democracy". Thanks to the fiat of Mr Prescott, it is happening here. .."

29 April 2006 ~ Why did the BBC decide to focus so prominently and heavily on Iran? Medialens says,"Wittingly or otherwise, the BBC may now be participating in a rehashed 'Operation Mass Appeal' to generate support for an assault on Iran and asks of this BBC report, , "Why did the BBC decide to focus so prominently and heavily on Iran - a country under serious threat of attack by the United States and perhaps Britain? Why would the BBC choose to isolate and highlight the sins of an official enemy, thereby boosting the government's propaganda campaign? Is this innocent, or are more cynical forces at work here?" Yesterday's Amnesty International press release, 'Death Penalty: 20,000 on death row across the world,' actually said (extract):

29 April 2006 ~playthings of MI5? In a recent Guest Media Alert, Richard Keeble, author of Secret State, Silent Press (John Libbey 1997), cited Roy Greenslade, media specialist at the Telegraph

Keeble commented:

28 April 2006 ~ Charles Clarke Will he resign now? "......five of those es Clarke Will he resign now? "......five of those mistakenly released prisoners have since been convicted of drugs and violence offences." Snowmail tells us.

28 April 2006 ~ Letter in the Telegraph "... That is what an opposition is for, to harry and expose the government of the day so that the sort of laws listed so depressingly by Mr Johnson never hit the statute book - or are repealed when they get back in...."
The letter refers to Mr Cameron being in Norway. We have never needed an effective opposition more. (Boris Johnson's Comment article yesterday should be read in full)

28 April 2006 ~ "...The cumulative effect of these constant New Labour shenanigans is to give the impression of a government that likes being in power and all the trappings that come with it, but not the tiresome business of running the country competently..... ..... If the cabinet *was* a normal office, of, say, 20 people, ten of them would be having extramarital affairs, five would be fiddling their expenses, two of them wouldn't have a fucking clue how to do their job, two would be congenital liars and one of them would be a Scientologist. Maybe this is what's meant by UK plc." "The Friday Thing"

28 April 2006 ~ Peter Law ".. Scotland Yard is considering whether to investigate a claim that the Labour party offered the late rebel MP Peter Law a peerage not to stand as an independent.... " Guardian

28 April 2006 ~ Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill Alex Wade in the Times has been talking to Peter Fluck of Spitting Image

27 April 2006 ~ "The media do not fix the terms of political debate, politicians do." said Simon Jenkins on Wednesday

No, concludes Jenkins, "this is not a totalitarian government but it is a "creeping authoritarian" one. Nor is the press peddling "a pernicious and dangerous poison" in protesting. It is doing its job."

27 April 2006 ~ Blair dismisses talk of 'Black Wednesday' says the Guardian with rather a wonderful rogues' gallery photo montage "And then there were three ... the embattled Charles Clarke, Patricia Hewitt and John Prescott."
Mr Blair apparently considers that a combination of the failure to consider deporting 1,000 foreign criminals by Mr Clarke, the jeering of Mrs Hewett by nurses, and the admission of adultery by John Prescott, does not amount to a "Black Wednesday".
One wonders what would.
In the mind of the Prime Minister, who compared himself today to football managers like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger facing criticism, a shaky record on the football field apparently equates to the demise of competence, trust, decency and honesty in the highest echelons of New Labour.

27 April 2006 ~ Fox News network pundit, Tony Snow, to be the new White House press spokesman "the proof of the pudding will be in the eating" says the Independent.

25 April 2006 ~ ("Bleed, bleed, poor country! Great tyranny! lay thou thy basis sure, For goodness dare not check thee:..." Macbeth Act IV sc 3)
"You don't defend our way of life by sacrificing our way of life." So says David Davis.

All right - so where (oh where) is the effective opposition from the Cons and Lib Dems? Is it not their job to be giving more attention to the manner in which our hard-won freedoms are being sacrificed by power seekers who, being quite convinced that they are right, have actually los touch with both their common sense and their common humanity?
Why is it that a handful of good journalists are the only ones sticking out their brave necks?
Mr Blair says defiantly, "We have given the police the resources and powers.... We will legislate again if they need more powers." What sort of language is this? Is it not akin to "the rantings of a swarthy Hitler with little man syndrome?" And yet Blair began so well....

25 April 2006 ~ "The truth just flies out of the window." said Charles Clarke (see Independent)
Chicken Yoghurt's comment:

25 April 2006 ~ Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, formerly Kellogg Brown & Root. The failure of the Al Fatah pipeline project seen as a metaphor for the failures of the entire $45 billion rebuilding effort in Iraq. New York Times :

25 April 2006 ~ Afghanistan - Government statements are at variance with the reality "A senior commander has acknowledged that British soldiers may carry out offensive operations in Afghanistan, despite government denials....The deployment of almost 6,000 troops into Afghanistan at a cost of #1bn has been accompanied by repeated assertions from ministers that British soldiers will not take part in warfare and counter-insurgency operations. ............The shadow Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, has written to Mr Reid threatening to withdraw Tory support for the Afghan mission if the Government continues to make statements in the Commons which he says are in "variance" with the real military operations. " Independent

24 April 2006 ~" If you still think you live in a liberal and democratic society, then please read on" wrote Simon Carr in the Indepenendent (Portfolio). Retaliating, Mr Clarke has attacked "incorrect, tendentious and over-simplified assertions about this Government's record on civil liberties". (But please see Bloggerheads for blessedly sane antidote to Mr Clarke's frightening nonsense)
The Independent today Essential measures - or chipping away at our freedom? sums up what critics of the government's measures say about

See also the 34 examples (so far) that Simon Carr gave to show " to any disinterested observer how Britain has changed in the past eight years"

24 April 2006 ~ "If the world is demanding Iran doesn't develop nuclear weapons it should also demand that countries which possess nuclear weapons." Ynet news reports today that Jordanian King Abdullah says that his country is interested in a nuclear-free Middle East and he has urged the international community to pressure Israel to dismantle its nuclear arsenal. disarm," Abdullah said in an interview to Spanish newspaper El Pais.

24 April 2006 ~ Professor Juan Cole today: "I don't know how Bush lives with himself. He has squandered 5 years of unparalleled power and opportunities, and has nothing to show for it but national bankruptcy and national humiliation." In a previous posting today, Prof Cole says,

24 April 2006 ~ "the practice of confiscating passports from such workers was both widespread on American bases and in violation of the U.S. trafficking laws". Following the link from Prof Cole, we read in the Chicago Tribune "...Gen. George Casey ordered that contractors be required by May 1 to return passports that have been illegally confiscated from laborers on U.S. bases after determining that such practices violated U.S. laws against trafficking for forced or coerced labor. Human brokers and subcontractors from South Asia to the Middle East have worked together to import thousands of laborers into Iraq from impoverished countries. Two memos obtained by the Tribune indicate that Casey's office concluded that the practice of confiscating passports from such workers was both widespread on American bases and in violation of the U.S. trafficking laws..."

23 April 2006 ~ Lord Onslow speaks out. Observer -

23 April 2006 ~ Juan Cole on events in Iraq "President Talabani asks al-Maliki to Form a Government; 6 Dead in Sunday Mortar Barrage; 5 US Troops, 26 Iraqis Killed Saturday "

23 April 2006 ~ UK Forty per cent of senior nurses "would resign if they could", the Royal College of Nursing has claimed. ITN (Would the figure for teachers be even higher? Having a vocation isn't much fun when one is at the mercy of government "targets" rather than trust, and a society in near despair.)

22 April 2006 ~ Young Officers Join the Debate Over Rumsfeld NYT "..... discussions often flare with anger, particularly among many midlevel officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and face the prospect of additional tours of duty. "This is about the moral bankruptcy of general officers who lived through the Vietnam era yet refused to advise our civilian leadership properly," said one Army major in the Special Forces who has served two combat tours. "I can only hope that my generation does better someday."....
".... the Army major in the Special Forces. "...The Army, however, went gently into that good night of Iraq without saying a word...For that reason, most of us know that we have to share the burden of responsibility for this tragedy. And at the end of the day, it wasn't Rumsfeld who sent us to war, it was the president. ....." (in full)

20 April 2006 ~Venezuela

John Pilger, fearing (as we do) for Chavez and Venezuela - and writing about the dangerous servility of the media in the US and UK. With the utmost reluctance, we conclude that he is right.

20 April 2006 ~ " 50 percent in some polls - who say they would favor impeachment if the president were proved to have deliberately lied to justify going to war in Iraq...." The Vanity Fair article by Carl Bernstein Senate Hearings on Bush, Now

Bernstein concludes

20 April 2006 ~ The retired three-star Marine Corps general who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war's planning, Gregory Newbold, wrote in Time last week that the decision to invade Iraq

19 April 2006 ~ You might think it was a moment to draw on some well-worn term like "peaceful coexistence"; but (see Tomgram) :

19 April 2006 ~ Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, will appear before the Constitutional Affairs Committee which is opening a full-scale inquiry into the system of political party funding. ITN

19 April 2006 ~ "the West's obsession with combating terrorism" The UNHCR report singles out a Europe-wide initiative launched by Tony Blair in 2003 as an example of how the industrialised north is trying to make the developing world cope with more than its share of refugees.

19 April 2006 ~ America meets the new superpower The visit of President Hu to Washington underlines the inevitable loss of America's economic supremacy to China Independent Bush said he would discuss Iran's nuclear activities with China's President Hu Jintao, who has been cool toward sanctions, during his U.S. visit this week. Asked if his options included planning for a nuclear strike, Bush said: "All options are on the table. We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so." Reuters

18 April 2006 ~ "The weak Chinese-Russian strategic alliance against the U.S. that goes by the name of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has just granted Iran full membership, a quiet political statement of the first order." TomDispatch

18 April 2006 ~ the current level of activity in the Pentagon suggests more than just standard contingency planning or tactical saber-rattling. The New York Times In 1996, the US and Iran

18 April 2006 ~The US, Iran and the End of the International Order article by Jussi Sinnemaa at

Read in full

14-16 April 2006 ~"And finally, this notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table. (Laughter.)"
George W Bush, 22nd February 2005
As Scott Ritter wrote a year ago. "The American media today is sleepwalking towards an American war with Iran with all of the incompetence and lack of integrity that it displayed during a similar path trodden during the buildup to our current war with Iraq."

14-16 April 2006 ~ consent of the governed" will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small and privileged group who rule for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons...." A thought provoking article called "The Rise of Fascism in America" at has relevance for the UK and should be read in full.

14-16 April 2006 ~ Iraq There was major violence in Iraq yesterday. 52 were killed and another Shiite shrine has been blown up. The concerned Iraqi ministry announced yesterday that 65,000 more Iraqis have been displaced during the past two weeks by ethnic violence and reprisal killings. Professor Juan Cole says

14-16 April 2006 ~ The pressure is growing on Donald Rumsfeld to go "Two more retired U.S. generals called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign on Thursday, claiming the chief architect of the Iraq war and subsequent American occupation should be held accountable for the chaos there." Reuters See also ITN "Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni said Mr Rumsfeld should be held responsible for a series of blunders, starting with "throwing away 10 years worth of planning, plans that had taken into account what we would face in an occupation of Iraq."

13 April 2006 ~ " this scandal makes Neil Hamilton look like a boy scout." Martin Bell quoted by Channel 4 Snowmail this evening, after a Dagenham head teacher was arrested today for an offence under the Honours Prevention of Abuses Act 1925

13 April 2006 ~ The RAF doctor has been jailed for eight months. See below and today's Independent "As to the preliminary orders given in this trial process and indeed the conviction and sentence that have now taken place, Dr Kendall-Smith has given very clear and unambiguous instructions to lodge an appeal with all haste."

13 April 2006 ~ "The court would be failing in its duty under the Human Rights Act if it did not say, loud and clear that the procedure under the Act whereby the court merely reviews the lawfulness of the Secretary of State's decision to make the order upon the basis of the material available to him at that early stage are conspicuously unfair.... To say the Act does not give the respondent in this case 'a fair hearing' in the determination of his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights would be an understatement." ." - a damning verdict on the Government's anti-terror policy by Mr Justice Sullivan in the High Court. The Home Secretary will appeal. See Independent

13 April 2006 ~ Terrorism Act 2006 now law. ".......trespass on nuclear sites a terrorist offence and allows organisations involved in all such activities to be banned. Human rights group Liberty said it was concerned the law would outlaw "passionate speech" and criminalise non-violent political parties and "make Britain less safe by silencing dissent". ..." Independent

13 April 2006 ~ A fourth former US army general in less than a month today called on the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to resign over his handling of the war in Iraq. Guardian

13 April 2006 ~ Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill(see below)"The government is to write new safeguards into a controversial bill giving ministers sweeping powers to change the law after Labour's chief whip in the Lords warned it would otherwise face defeat. Lord Grocott wrote to Tony Blair and John Prescott warning them it would be "exceptionally difficult" to pass the legislation without making changes." Guardian

13 April 2006 ~ "Okay, So Let's Get This Straight: On Monday, Bush Admitted That he Lied About Leaking a Lie to Smear Someone Who Revealed the Truth About His Lying"
Buzzflash take on the latest revelations (that rarely make it to the BBC news)

12 April 2006 ~ "We have found the weapons of mass destruction" ..... But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true. ...."There was no connection to anything biological," said one expert who studied the trailers. " The Washington Post today: "Administration Pushed Notion of Banned Iraqi Weapons Despite Evidence to Contrary" The truth slowly emerges. (in full)

12 April 2006 ~ "another escalation of the war of rhetoric between Iran and the West over his nuclear programme. In his speech, President Ahmadinejad called on the West not "to cause an everlasting hatred in the hearts of Iranians" by trying to force Iran to give up enrichment..." Independent

12 April 2006 ~ The defeat of Silvio Berlusconi has left Tony Blair isolated in Europe as the last political leader supporting the war in Iraq. ......Much of Mr Berlusconi's time in office was spent passing laws limiting the time frame in which he could be prosecuted after an alleged offence to 10 years. There were suggestions last night, however, that a new government might seek to change the statute of limitations..." Independent

12 April 2006 ~ RAF doctor ".... had decided that "I would, in fact, refuse the orders as a duty under international law, the Nuremberg principles and the law of armed conflict"......I was subjected, as was the entire population, to propaganda depicting force against Iraq to be lawful but it was not until the middle of 2004 that I researched and found that not to be the case...." Independent

12 April 2006 ~ "more cock-up than conspiracy" in any subsequent soft-pedalled Today programme interview (forget about a public inquiry), which is the platitude of choice these days for Government ministers trying to explain away their serial stupidity - which surely must be the excuse if our leaders deny being calculating and mendacious. .." A good, well written, angry but restrained Blog. We like it. See for this and others

11 April 2006 ~ Valerie Plame case Prosecutor Puts Bush in Spotlight "It is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish Wilson.' " With more filings expected from Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor's work has the potential to keep the focus on Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney at a time when the president is struggling with his lowest approval ratings since he took office". New York Times (More)

11 April 2006 ~ Rioting gets results in France Unlike the English, whose several million strong show of anti-war solidarity on Feb 15th 2003 was contemptuously ignored by the government, the french riots have resulted in the government's hasty retreat ; the burial of the CPE - the measure that would have allowed employers to dismiss under 26-year-olds without any explanation during a two-year trial period of employment. See Independent

11 April 2006 ~"not necessarily" The Independent "Mr Bush said force was not necessarily required to stop Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and said reports of plans for a military attack were "wild speculation". ...Tehran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes."
(One wonders for how long, if this is true, Iran can feel secure without a nuclear deterrent in the face of all the drum beating and brinkmanship.)

11 April 2006 ~ "RAF doctor who refused to go to Iraq did not have the "responsibility" to question the legality of orders given to him, a court martial has been told..." BBC

10 April 2006 ~ Iran What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?" Read the Seymour Hersh article here

10 April 2006 ~Venezuela President Chavez has threatened to expel the US ambassador after accusing him of provoking a recent demonstration. BBC "Last week ambassador William Brownfield's convoy was pelted with eggs, onions and tomatoes and chased by supporters of the president. The US accused officials in the capital Caracas of condoning the attack, but the mayor's office has denied this. Mr Chavez told Mr Brownfield to "start packing" before he "kicks him out". ..."

9 April 2006 ~ Three years on " The destruction of the statue was no spontaneous eruption of Iraqi joy but orchestrated PsyOps. To his credit, John Lichfield, writing in The Independent, cottoned on immediately, noting that the toppling of the statue was partly staged.." Firdos Square -giving them a show

9 April 2006 ~"multiple people in the White House" -- using classified information -- to "discredit, punish or seek revenge against" a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq..." says the Washington Post quoting Fitzgerald.
The New York Times "an administration in some disarray as the failure to discover illicit weapons in Iraq had undermined the central rationale for the American invasion in March 2003..........Mr. Bush, through Mr. Cheney, had authorized Mr. Libby to tell reporters that "a key judgment of the N.I.E. (National Intelligence Estimate) held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium." In fact, that was not one of the "key judgments" of the document...." Valerie Plame case latest

9 April 2006 ~ "The Ministry of Defence will cut war widows' pensions if they successfully sue the Government over the death of their husbands on the battlefield...." Telegraph

9 April 2006 ~ Ben Griffin, who left the Special Air Service in June last year after spending three months on operations in Baghdad, has been informed that the Government is considering "civil proceedings" against him after he described the war as "illegal" in a Sunday Telegraph interview. .... Last night, Mr Griffin said that the suggestion that his article had damaged the SAS was nonsense. Telegraph

9 April 2006 ~ " the only redress may yet be rioting in the streets" Sir Simon Jenkins is angry. Party leaders are now discussing how to replenish their party coffers from state funds

9 April 2006 ~ Iran Reuters reports that Iran is brushing aside what it called a U.S. "psychological war" against its nuclear programme after report by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker magazine, "citing unnamed current and former officials, said Washington has stepped up plans for possible attacks on Iranian facilities to curb its atomic work. " See for the full story. (or read here

9 April 2006 ~ Iraq The Associated Press reveals that a senior Iraqi official, Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal , has admitted that Iraq has been in a civil war for at least a year:

The BBC reports that "Jack Straw rejects claims by the Egyptian president that Iraq has descended into civil war."
What Prof Juan Cole says about the US and the US press applies equally to the UK:On the subject of Mubarak's words, Juan Cole says "As for Mubarak's caution against a US withdrawal, it strikes me as self-serving. If the US withdraws, regional leaders may have to step up."

8 April 2006 ~ "What the present case and others like it reveal is at best an unacceptable disregard by the Home Office of the rule of law - at worst an unacceptable disdain by the Home Office for the rule of law, which is as depressing as it ought to be concerning." Guardian

8 April 2006 ~ Public Private Partnerships or "Plundering the Public Purse"? #70 billion of "taxpayers' money" on "management consultants" and IT. The Guardian - David Craig worked as a management consultant for 20 years. He has now written a new book, Plundering The Public Sector. He says in their last year in government the Tories spent #500 million on management consultants. Labour is spending #2.5 billion a year and when expensive IT systems consulting figures are added in, the total under Labour is unofficially #70 billion.

7 April 2006 ~ "Don't vote Labour. Or anybody else." Part of a very readable little rant from the Chicken Yoghurt blog

7 April 2006 ~ Mr Bush and the Valerie Plame case TheBBC today reveals

6 April 2006 ~ Two grandmothers from Yorkshire face up to a year in prison after becoming the first people to be arrested under the Government's latest anti-terror legislation. Helen John, 68, and Sylvia Boyes, 62, both veterans of the Greenham Common protests 25 years ago, were arrested on Saturday after deliberately setting out to highlight a change in the law which civil liberties groups say will criminalise free speech and further undermine the right to peaceful demonstration...." Independent.
For similar stories see the lunacy highlighted at Backing Blair weblog (worth a visit a day)

6 April 2006 ~ From forcing through ID cards to the erosion of parliamentary scrutiny, a determined clique is hijacking our democracy Jenni Russell in today's Guardian


6 April 2006 ~ Journalists accuse the Home Office of burying bad news by timing all of its reports to go out on just one day each month.

5 April 2006 ~ Are MPs waking up to the reality of the governments Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill? Paul Flynn says, " 'We accepted it at face value. It hadnt been properly discussed. It didnt emerge on the radar. We accepted the assurances that it was a deregulatory Bill, with no malign effects.' He was, he added, very unhappy. See corporate watch article

4 April 2006 ~ " Do Rice and Straw realise that Iraq has broken up? There is something absurd about calling for a 'strong leader' to unite Iraqis" - Patrick Cockburn in the Independent

3 April 2006 ~ "During the three years of carnage in Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has shifted away from her now-discredited warning about a mushroom cloud" to assert a strategic rationale for the invasion that puts her squarely in violation of the Nuremberg principle against aggressive war..." Very clear article from Consortium News - chilling in its criticism of the US media and in its reminders that

3 April 2006 ~ "The Rice-Straw initiative in Iraq has all the appearance of panic about it and is into its third day. Truth to tell, all the signals coming out of Iraq are that events in the ground are marginalising US and UK forces by the day and that as the ring of fire around the political process intensifies, the void opening up in the middle is palpable. Sources are telling C4 News that many of the most senior Iraqis who might have once seen a role for themselves in the revival of Iraq are simply giving up. The whole endeavour is on the edge of a precipice." Channel 4 Snowmail

3 April 2006 ~ Anti war protestor Brian Haw was in the High Court today. The Home Office have appealed against the decision taken in the High Court last July, that Brian Haw is exempt from the measures in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 which ban unauthorised protest near Parliament. If the three judges decide in the Home office's favour Mr Haw may be able to appeal to the House of Lords.

3 April 2006 ~ "Naming the Dead" In spite of the clear breach of Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, police appeared unwilling to arrest those in Parliament Square yesterday for a four-hour "unauthorised" demonstration - complete with hundreds of placards and signs, 5 giant puppets and a large banner, reading the names of 1000 Iraqis who died as a result of the invasion and occupation.

2 April 2006 ~ Iraq backlash 'for years' Spy chiefs have warned that the war has made Britain a terror target Sunday Times

2 April 2006 ~ Only a constitution can save us from this abuse of power says Henry Porter in the Observer

Henry Porter lists the legislation - and a horrifying catalogue it is. It must be read in full by anyone who thinks it is exaggeration to say "In just nine years all the conventions of the rule of law, the 'gentleman's agreement'... have been swept away by a Prime Minister with a winning manner and the instincts of tyrant."

2 April 2006 ~"Let's hear it for South Hams" says Booker' Notebook today. "At last one group of councillors has had the courage to rise in revolt against the way our local democracy is being destroyed by John Prescott's Code of Conduct for councillors, enforced by council "monitoring officers" and the Standards Board for England. " Read in full

30 March 2006 ~ ID cards - The problem has always been the database. And the database, in spite of the "compromise" is going full steam ahead. From 2008-9, everyone who wants a passport will have their biometric details - probably including their irises and fingerprints - recorded. And as Henry Porter says below, "..... The real menace comes when the ID card scheme begins to track everyone's movements and transactions, the details of which will be kept on the database for as long as the Home Office desires..."

30 March 2006 ~ Mr Blair's policy of pre-emption or first strike The Guardian reports that Sir Douglas Hurd asked a question beginning, "With the greatest respect to your person and your office," ...... He then delivered a brief, withering critique of the Iraq intervention, which, he said, had created terrorists that did not exist before...Visibly holed beneath the water line by this semantic Exocet, and listing heavily, the prime minister was unconvincing in his response" The Guardian commented:

Similarly, an article in by Linda S Heard quotes Mr Blairs recent speech: She comments: " What he means, of course is that the world must adopt Western values or be damned. She quotes Simon Jenkins (as we did on Sunday) , adding, "...Both Bush and Blair have more synchronised speeches in the pipeline. So get ready to either polish your anti-propaganda antenna or get a thick pair of earmuffs."

29 March 2006 ~ Michael Mansfield QC on the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. Once again, our thanks are due to the Queen's Counsel for speaking out against what he sees as Mr Blair's 'insidious' human rights reforms. In the Times yesterday, we read, "....talking at the Oxford Literary Festival, delivered a systematic attack on the way in which recent reforms have cut back civil rights on a domestic and international scale and claimed the Prime Minister had become arrogant and corrupt.

The latest such bill, he said, was the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill...."This Government has shown a disregard for the due processes domestically and internationally that have taken hundreds of years to achieve." On the Terrorism Act ... "The threat and perception of terrorism is being used to structure human rights in the UK. It is a grotesque bill." " Read in full

29 March 2006 ~"I just remember thinking: this was exactly what Saddam used to do - and now we're doing it." Guardian on the " publicity nightmare for the US military: an ever-growing number of veterans of the Iraq conflict who are campaigning against the war"

29 March 2006 ~ ID cards and the threat to the House of Lords The Independent says that ministers (Geoff Hoon and co)

Lord Armstrong of Illminster, the former cabinet secretary, reminds us that Labour's manifesto pledge was that the ID scheme be voluntary.
"The issue of personal freedom should not be brushed aside as being of no consequence." We wonder where are the champions to point out that it is the House of Commons that needs radical reform? So many times in the past five years we have seen that it is the Lords who have been able so regularly to shine a searchlight on the crassness of some legislation when career politicians have given it the nod. Read again the wonderful moment when the Lords rose - despite the Government's three-line whip - to support Lord Moran's courageous stand on the Animal "Health" bill. As for ID cards, the Lords are - in a calm, assured and often blessedly witty way - stating the obvious on our behalf. They are protecting democracy, not thwarting it.

29 March 2006 ~ Halliburton repeatedly overcharged taxpayers and provided substandard cost reports under a $1.2 billion contract to restore Iraq's southern oil fields, according to a new report by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman. Reuters

29 March 2006 ~ Deepcut The independent report on the deaths of four young soldiers at the Deepcut army barracks is to be published today.

29 March 2006 ~ Craig Murray Guardian " One of the most embarrassing episodes for the Foreign Office in recent years is about to become even more embarrassing. British film-makers are planning to make a movie for release next year about the exploits of the renegade British ambassador, Craig Murray, with Steve Coogan in the running to play him..."
About the US need for bases in central Asia Mr Murray says,

27 March 2006 ~ 'madness' against America? Comment from Martin Kettle of the Guardian:

27 March 2006 ~ President Bush " was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons" New York Times today

Most of the quotations in this article have not been previously reported

27 March 2006 ~ Labour isn't wicked - but it's doing just what the Nazis did In his article in the Telegraph, Danny Kruger looks closely at the Human Rights Act, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, ID cards, at the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill and says:

27 March 2006 ~ "Blair has seized the initiative. Labour's whole direction and meaning is now on the line..." Jackie Ashley in the Guardian

26 March 2006 ~"...Blair is now trotting round the world and showing his fear of Bin Laden. He is curbing civil liberty at home and releasing bombs and bullets across the Middle East. The resulting loss of life and of respect for the West have been appalling. Perhaps in his next speech Blair might re-examine his lack of faith in the robustness of western democracy. Perhaps he might find its values stronger and its liberties more trenchant than he supposes. Perhaps he might be more of a liberal and less of a wimp...Terrorism is not, as Blair keeps calling it, an ideology. It is a weapon, like a gun or a bomb. It can kill people and destroy property but it cannot win arguments or topple governments" Simon Jenkins

25 March 2006 ~Terry Waite in the Times: "... invading Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and 'extraordinary rendition' were all signs of 'victory for the terrorist'. "No civilised state should engage in these things. We have got to clean up our act, use good intelligence and good diplomacy, and use force of arms as a last resort."

22 March 2006 ~ IRAN Britain is pressing for a UN resolution that would open the way for the use of force This leaked letter published in the Times fills us with foreboding. "John Sawers, a leading British diplomat, outlined his strategy for winning Russian and Chinese support for tougher action against Iran in a confidential letter dated March 16. It was addressed to his counterparts in France, Germany and the US:

22 March 2006 ~ "The crude, harsh truth is that no one can take what Blair says on foreign policy seriously, because he is responsible for the greatest foreign-policy disaster in half a century of British history....

Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian

22 March 2006 ~ the smearing of Dromey by Clarke. "The sign of internal Labour bitterness about came as a Scottish Nationalist MP, Angus MacNeil, revealed that he had asked the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, to investigate why every donor who had given Labour #1m had been nominated for a peerage or a knighthood." Guardian Clarke turns on Labour treasurer

22 March 2006 ~ Blair and the #14m questions Independent
Police probe 'loans for peerages' in blow to Blair Independent

22 March 2006 ~ 'Iraq was awash in cash. We played football with bricks of $100 bills' At the beginning of the Iraq war, the UN entrusted $23bn of Iraqi money to the US-led coalition to redevelop the country. With the infrastructure of the country still in ruins, where has all that money gone? In Tjhursday's Guardian, echoing Monday's Dispatches programme,, Callum Macrae and Ali Fadhil write about one of the greatest financial scandals of all time

21 March 2006 ~ A near-unanimous vote by the fourth estate - Blair can't lord it much longer Opinion in the Telegraph gives a review of media comment on Mr Blair's position.

20 March 2006 ~ "Blair created this mess. He cannot clear it up " Guardian Comment. "Gordon Brown will need new people and clean hands to restore public faith after Labour's cash for peerages scandal.."

20 March 2006 ~ Rumsfeld singled out as crisis deepens in Iraq Guardian

20 March 2006 ~ Iraq 3 years on. The Independent report Three Years On - The march of folly, that has led to a bloodbath by Robert Fisk. See also

  • In memory of those who have died in Iraq
  • Death squads on the prowl in a nation paralysed by fear
  • Blair unrepentant, but still tormented by legacy of war
  • Bush still sees no reason to apologise
  • Johann Hari on Iraq
  • 20 March 2006 ~ Robert Fisk on the" farcical end of the American Dream" - in particular, the collusion and racism of the US media who are so eager to quote "US Officials" As he says, "the US press is supposed to be challenging the lies of this war"

    20 March 2006 ~ Future of Iraq Project About a year and a half before the invasion, seventeen working groups covered such areas as the justice system, local government, agriculture, media, education, and oil at a cost of $5 million. The project's reports were reported on in October 2003 by the New York Times

    . After FOIA request 200304121NEA1, filed at the time of the NYT article by Russ Kick of documents were finally released (not in their entirety) in paper format by the Department of State on 10 Feb 2006

    19 March 2006 ~ So the money was hidden Matthew Parris spells it out (Sunday Times)

    19 March 2006 ~"the Parliamentary Scrutiny (Abolition) Bill"An article in the Sunday Telegraph reveals that the government chief whip in the Lords, Lord Grocott, has expressed serious doubts about the safety of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill with its sweeping powers for ministers to amend, repeal or replace primary and secondary legislation without asking Parliament. It has

    (see also below)

    19 March 2006 ~ "For a politician to lose one conviction may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose all, and when still in opposition, looked like strategy." Blair has hijacked Labour's soul and we shall never see it again Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times today

    As usual , it is not possible adequately to extract from a Simon Jenkins article - please read in full

    19 March 2006 ~ ID Cards "the government will do anything to get this bill through parliament, including ignoring its own manifesto pledge : 'We will introduce ID cards, including biometric data like fingerprints, backed up by a national register and rolling out initially on a voluntary basis as people renew their passports.' It turns out that there is nothing voluntary about it. Henry Porter in the Observer writes,

    19 March 2006 ~ " Prejudicial Interest " "The signs are that Prescott's code is completely cracked" says Booker's Notebook

    19 March 2006 ~ Botswana's persecution of the bushmen Baroness Tonge "..praised Botswana for dragging these "primitive", "Stone Age" people into the 21st century, claiming that this was what most of them wanted. She brushed aside as "unsubstantiated" the widely reported cases of torture and shootings of bushmen.... Fortunately ...Lord Pearson of Rannoch...was aware of the gulf between what the bushmen were telling them and the version that was passed on by an official, and believed by Baroness Tonge.." Booker's Notebook in full

    18/19 March 2006 ~ I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery"
    a website called Liberty Central (new window) covers the more worrying legislation either passed or being processed by New Labour. It . hopes that

    18 March 2006 ~ A rally will be held in Trafalgar Square at 1.00 pm Demonstrations against the presence of US and UK troops in Iraq will also be held worldwide, including Baghdad. There will be co-ordinated demonstrations in the United States, Britain and Iraq. Speakers will include Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell and bereaved military families See also BBC and ITN

    18 March 2006 ~ The financial cost to Britain of the Iraq war so far
    PQ 57734 Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his latest estimate is of the cost to public funds of the Iraq war.

    18 March 2006 ~ The financial cost of bird flu vaccination It is thought to be around 10p per bird. See Guardian The Dutch programme applies to "hobby poultry" and free-range laying hens throughout the country - up to eight million birds in total.

    18 March 2006 ~ Clearing landmines Every 30 minutes, an accidental victim of abandoned landmines dies or suffers horrific injuries. Over 90% are civilians. One third are children. It costs about #1 to clear a square metre of minefield

    17 March 2006 ~ "You wonder if the Bushes will be able to vacation in Europe when he goes out of office, or if Pinochet's fate awaits George." Professor Cole on President Bush's latest assertion about his policy of "Preemptive" Attack

    17 March 2006 ~ " It does make you wonder what Bush thinks he is doing. .." Informed Comment "The US military command in Iraq, perhaps despairing of inaction in Washington, does not seem to have sought the authorization of President Bush for this operation. It does make you wonder what Bush thinks he is doing. .... it is difficult to see how the US/ Iraqi government forces can prevail. ...... Frankly, the Samarra "Operation Swarm" is probably also meant to give the impression of progress or at least of activity in Iraq, where the political process is stalled and the guerrillas seem to strike at will, with increasing political success."

    17 March 2006 ~ "Unrepentant and unmoved in spite of the rising death toll, Tony Blair has declared that if he was faced with the same circumstances, he would support the invasion of Iraq all over again. ..." Independent

    17 March 2006 ~ Mr Blair is refusing to give up his powers of patronage to nominate supporters for peerages. Labour may have received up to #12m in secret loans Independent

    16 March 2006 ~ MI5, Camp Delta, and the story that shames Britain Indpendent with a story of officila treachery that is so shocking that even the most world weary will surely feel bewildered.

    See also Telegraph

    16 March 2006 ~ Deep doubts about the Iraq war and pessimism about America's future have shattered public confidence in President George W. Bush and helped drive his approval ratings to their lowest level ever, pollsters say. Reuters

    16 March 2006 ~ 9 trillion dollar debt. The US Senate voted today to allow the US national debt to swell to nearly $9 trillion..... Washington Post

    16 March 2006 ~ the biggest aerial bombardment of Iraq by the US is under way Reuters

    16 March 2006 ~ "Listening to the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, this week, denying that there was any collusion between the British and Israelis in the withdrawal of monitors from the Jericho prison, and then again earlier this week trying to say how much we loved the Iranian people while leading a campaign to impose UN sanctions on them, I was reminded of General Pinochet. Not in the sense that Straw is like Pinochet, although they do share a similar delight in themselves. ..." is Adrian Hamilton's comment about the siege of Jericho. See the Independent article, "Britain and US complicit in Jericho raid, says Abbas"

    16 March 2006 ~ House of Lords stands firm on ID cards for the third time Independent ..... but the government today succeeded in its latest bid to overturn the Lords' move to keep ID cards voluntary. Guardian

    15 March 2006 ~ "The creation of a new Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly is a major step forward for the protection of victims worldwide, Human Rights Watch said today." Reuters

    15 March 2006 ~ Whitewashing Guantanamo Guardian yesterday.

    15 March 2006 ~Iran - According to Edward S. Herman, " three times as many people regard Iran as the U.S.'s greatest menace than four months ago and 47 percent of the public agrees that Iran should be bombed if needed to prevent its acquiring any nuclear weapon capability." Today, ZNet explains 12 principles of a system that

    The writer concludes; "When each day you are adding to your service to the rich and damaging the majority, war can come in handy to get folks to turn again to the "nobler, institutionally less hazardous" matters like stopping the dire threat of an Iranian bomb."

    14 March 2006 ~ Save Parliament from the "Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill"" shares our deep disquiet about this innocuously named bill. It aims to alert people to what has been called by the Times "...a nightmare plot", by the Daily Mail " ...almost unfettered power" while the Guardian says that this is " ...truly how democracy is extinguished". As uk says,this bill

    The information page gives links to press articles and resources. All are urged without delay to write to their MP and, if possible, contact the media.

    14 March 2006 ~ ID cards overnment Ministers have called on the House of Lords to end its fight against identity cards after Blair's plans survived a fresh Commons rebellion. As Simon Jenkins wrote in January 2005,

    14 March 2006 ~ Iraq : Senior British diplomatic and military staff gave Tony Blair explicit warnings three years ago that the US was disastrously mishandling the occupation of Iraq, according to leaked memos.

    14 March 2006 ~ Donald Rumsfeld said last week that the US military would not intervene in an Iraqi civil war, leaving that to Iraqi forces. Professor Cole reports

    13 March 2006 ~ "Defence Secretary John Reid has announced the first significant pull out of troops from Iraq since the invasion period. Eight hundred are to come out which leaves just over 7000 British troops remaining. It's about 10% that are leaving.." Snowmail

    13 March 2006 ~ Biter bit - Sir Ian Blair secretly taped a private telephone conversation with the Attorney General about bugging phone calls. Lord Goldsmith is reported in the Independent as being "incensed over the breach of trust "
    The two men were, at the time, discussing whether the law could be changed to enable the use of bugged telephone calls in court cases. One wonders if the irony of his wrath can really have escaped Attorney General Goldsmith.

    13 March 2006 ~ The War Dividend: The British companies making a fortune out of conflict-riven Iraq Independent article today

    Read also about Aegis Defense ".... not only did the Pentagon have no idea who Spicer was when they gave his company a huge contract, they didn't seem to care when challenged about it. "
    UPDATE Top 10 firms profiting from Iraq ( and people) Independent
    The Corporate Watch report CORPORATE CARVE-UP is available on their website who are currently looking for funding to print it.

    13 March 2006 ~ March towards war with Iran ".. vital to understand the true dynamics bringing the world to the brink of possible nuclear catastrophe today." An article by F William Engdahl entitled "No, the Iran Oil Bourse is not a causus belli..." should be printed out and read by those wishing to delve deeper into the history of forces bringing us even closer to the edge of the brink.

    13 March 2006 ~ Whiter than white? "In this toothless parliament ministers can mislead at will". In the first place he (Falconer) stated that it was absolutely not" possible to buy an honour from Tony Blair. It is. I know people who have. The late Lord Montague of Oxford boasted the fact to me... Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times

    12 March 2006 ~ Iraq war enters its third year... Foreign office minister Kim Howells has admitted that Iraq is "a mess" BBC
    The Telegraph reports that an SAS soldier has refused to fight in Iraq and has left the Army over the "illegal" tactics of United States troops and the policies of coalition forces.

    12 March 2006 ~ Hospitals "Such is the spate of closures and cutbacks taking place all over the country... that some 90 of our 350 community hospitals are threatened....What makes this truly scandalous are the reasons for the closures. ooker's Notebook

    12 March 2006 ~ "Milosevic, who presided over wars and slaughter in which more than 250,000 people died, was found dead in his prison cell yesterday..." Observer

    12 March 2006 ~ corruption at home "David Mills ordered #150,000 from a fund at the centre of the Silvio Berlusconi corruption investigation to be used to purchase shares in a company appointed to administer a flagship Government policy. The first evidence directly linking Tessa Jowell's husband to the Government and the public purse has prompted immediate calls for an inquiry. " Independent

    10 March 2006 ~ Iraq US The United States authorities are facing demands by doctors from around the world to abandon the barbaric method of force-feeding hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay. 550 prisoners of some 35 nationalities are being held, some for more than four years. Only 10 have been formally charged with a crime and none has been brought to trial (Independent)
    The Independent also reports today that, for reasons of "security" the US will close Abu Ghraib but rehouse prisoners elsewhere in Iraq

    9 March 2006 ~ Iraq and America I Return Enclosed the Symbols of My Years of Service" by Joseph DuRocher A Veterans Letter to the President:

    9 March 2006 ~Iraq Rupert Cornwell in the Independent : At last, the warmongers are prepared to face the facts and admit they were wrong

    8 March 2006 ~ Attempts to turn Labour leadership elections into US-style primaries would put money in command Michael Meacher in the Guardian

    8 March 2006 ~ Iraq : a stark profile of a volatile situation in danger of sliding into chaos.... Guardian

    8 March 2006 ~ Iran says bring it on "The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain but it is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if the United States wishes to choose that path, let the ball roll.." Reuters

    7 March 2006 ~ The House of Lords last night defeated by 227 to 166 government plans to make all passport applicants also have an ID card. Initially the government had promised that ID cards would be voluntary to start with. Mr Clarke has accused some peers of "playing party politics" and trotted out the old mantra that - rather than being a check -they " should respect the clear views of elected MPs" The BBC reports that the Liberal Democrat Lord Phillips of Sudbury said:

    7 March 2006 ~ House of Lords Letter in Independent
    "Sir: If Peter Hain was right that the House of Lords too often opposes the will of Parliament (report, 4 March), I would welcome curbs on its powers. Since, in reality, the Lords are the main opposition to policies decided by the Prime Minister and his unelected advisers, I'm all for them having as much power as possible."

    6 March 2006 ~ "a barely noticed Bill will rip the heart out of parliamentary democracy" Henry Porter's article about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (link to bill) in yesterday's Observer makes for very worrying reading indeed.

    This is an article that must be read in full

    6 March 2006 ~ "All we have to do is organize people who are convinced." (a tall order)
    Noam Chomsky has warned of a nuclear catastrophe.

    5 March 2006 ~ "Indians have watched America's (and Britain's) cringeing appeasement of Chinese dictatorship and wondered how long the hypocrisy would last. Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times. Read in full

    5 March 2006 ~ The so-called Standards Board for England proudly boasts that

    "an open and honest system of local governance"? This is an unfunny joke. How can any confidence be felt in local democracy when councillors such as Alex Riley, aghast at the severe impact on Longstanton of Northstowe, is not even allowed to speak out against it or even discuss it with others?

    5 March 2006 ~ What we have come to... Booker's Notebook today tells us that ".. John Prescott is planning a new town for 18,000 people, Northstowe, on land owned by English Partnerships, a body run by his department. It will be the biggest single planning application ever submitted in the UK.
    Yet the councillor for the community most immediately affected by these plans has been told that, under Mr Prescotts Code of Conduct" for councils, he cannot in any way represent the views of his electors, must leave the room whenever the plans are discussed and that it will be an offence for him even to discuss the subject with other councillors. .." Booker's Notebook.

    5 March 2006 ~ Blind man's Buff We learn today that Geoff Hoon, (whose survival on the government sofa indicates that the necessary checks and balances are already desperately lacking) wants to ban the Lords from challenging controversial Bills Independent on Sunday "Britain's peers would be legally forbidden from challenging controversial legislation, such as the ID cards Bill and the ban on glorifying terrorism, under a radical constitutional reform proposed by Geoff Hoon. .."
    Lord Lester is not impressed. He wants any suppression of power to be targeted at our present "elective dictatorship"

    4 March 2006 ~ Rachel spells it out. One of the July 7 bomb victims, Rachel of North London, has been blogging ever since. Today, she remembers Robin Cook's speech and the standing ovation it received from all parts of the House. No wonder Mr Blair feared his influence. Almost exactly three years on, Rachel writes

    4 March 2006 ~ Guantánamo After four years of secrecy, the Pentagon has released documents naming detainees at Guantanamo Bay NYT

    See also (listen) (direct from the mouth of a detainee at Guantanamo)

    4 March 2006 ~ Mr Bush In Pakistan Juan Cole writes that he arrived in Islamabad to find it eerily quiet..

    4 March 2006 ~ God will judge me, PM tells Parkinson Guardian "....He admits to only losing a night's sleep "on about three or four different occasions" since 1997." (Reaction to this can be seen on the BBC)

    4 March 2006 ~ Venezuela plans the biggest military reserve in Americas Guardian " Around 500,000 Venezuelans to start military training today to become members of territorial guard..."

    2 March 2006 ~ Menzies Campbell wins The turnout was 72% In the second round, 58% went to Mr Campbell. He said the challenge for Liberal Democrats now was to lead the party back towards government; the party would champion freedom, fairness and environment protection and would be a party which pledges to take power from Westminster and Whitehall to give it to people in their own communities.

    2 March 2006 ~ Katrina The Washington Post reports that a "newly leaked video recording of high-level government deliberations the day before Hurricane Katrina hit shows disaster officials emphatically warning President Bush that the storm posed a catastrophic threat to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and a grim-faced Bush personally assuring state leaders that his administration was "fully prepared" to help...In New Orleans, Mayor C. Ray Nagin (D) was visibly shocked when shown the recording by reporters......When the video ended, Nagin turned away and said, "Oh, God." (Mr Bush later claimed nobody had guessed the New Orleans levees would be breached.)

    2 March 2006 ~ Guantanamo "..... The military judge presiding over four of the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals said on Wednesday he would consider whether torture was involved when deciding what evidence could be admitted in the trials..." Reuters

    2 March 2006 ~ Informed Comment from 3 years ago

    Read in full

    2 March 2006 ~ Menzies? Voting closed at noon yesterday in the ballot of the Liberal Democrats' 73,000 members to decide the new leader. The result will be announced in London this afternoon.

    2 March 2006 ~ Grieving UK relatives Independent "... Although Mr Blair has agreed to find time to record an appearance on ITV's Parkinson show, he wrote this week to Rose Gentle, the mother of Fusilier Gordon Gentle, 19, who was killed in June 2004, saying: "I am afraid a meeting will not be possible."

    2 March 2006 ~ Berlin File Says Germany's Spies Aided U.S. in Iraq New York Times"......German liaison officer made 25 reports to the Americans, answering 18 of 33 specific requests for information made by the United States during the first few months of the Iraq war in what was a systematic exchange between American intelligence officials and the Germans, according to the German report. The decision to install the officer was planned and approved at the highest levels of the German government...."

    1 March 2006 ~Ken Livingstone has been given a temporary reprieve from suspension as London Mayor after a High Court judge ruled that he should remain in office pending an appeal on the ban...Mr Livingstone said yesterday: "The fundamental issue is not whether or not I was 'insensitive', it is the principle that those whom the people elect should only be removed by the people or because they have broken the law." Independent

    26 Feb 2006 ~ Prince Charles"..... Leftwingers who protest at an unelected landowner expressing his views to ministers are granting modern royalty a significance way beyond its merits. As for the prince being unelected, what about Blairs Blackadder court of cronies, placemen, consultants of the privy purse and ermined ladies of the bedchamber? The prince was said in evidence to regard himself as a dissident". The description is so redolent of history as to be a constitutional precedent in itself. " Simon Jenkins. Read in full

    February 2006 ~ "The only way we can move forward in the struggle against terrorism is to clear up this matter once and for all.

    These questions and more have yet to be answered. Ask your MP to support the Early Day Motion 1088, and if they won't, make sure they give you a damn good reason why." The blog Backing Blair made this plea on November 24, 2005. To date there are 149 signatures. Is your MP's name among them? If not, please consider making a polite request for his or her reasons.

    8th February 2006 ~ "The money from Iraqi oil will be yours  to be used to build prosperity for you and your families." "....On the day that major hostilities were declared over, Tony Blair told the Iraqi people, "Saddam Hussein and his regime plundered your nation's wealth. While many of you live in poverty, they have the lives of luxury. The money from Iraqi oil will be yours  to be used to build prosperity for you and your families."
    We read today at that

    Read in full.

    7th February 2006 ~ "The price was right; the market was ripe; people bought into it" Gary Younge's The gullibility that led us into the last war could yet bring us a new conflict in yesterday's Guardian

    7th February 2006 ~ White House Memo - the false colours At that White House meeing on 31 January 2003 President Bush made it clear that he had already decided to go to war and said that:

    He also told Mr Blair that the " US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."
    Mr Blair said he was "solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam"
    Foreign Office statement "The Government only committed UK forces to Iraq after securing the approval of the House in the vote on 18 march 2003." Channel 4 has a series of very interesting pages.

    7th February 2006 ~ "Perle, Wolfowitz, Bolton and others have a long history of calling for "winnable nuclear war." ...." See Prof. Strauss and the neocon takeover

    7th February 2006 ~"....oil extraction in Iran is already at or near peak and that the country will need alternatives to oil in coming decades. Ray McGovern in Juggernaut Gathering Momentum, Headed for Iran

    6th February 2006 ~ A lot of Muslim countries saw no protests at all Professor Juan Cole's Informed Comment website

    5th February 2006 ~ If important institutions, in this case the press, will not practise self-discipline then governments will practise it for them. Simon Jenkins' clear thinking on the Cartoons row These cartoons don't defend free speech, they threaten it

    4th February 2006 ~ Cartoon Row. Dr Yunes Teinaz is the spokesman for the London Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre . He is also the one man who has dared, in the face of many threats to his life, to fight the filthy and criminal trade in dirty meat in the UK on behalf of public health. (See Warmwell's Dirty Meat pages in new window) and for whom we feel an astonished and grateful admiration.
    His views on the subject of the cartoons can be read at the top of the BBC page and were repeated in an interview given to the BBC World TVService last night.
    ("Never the twain shall meet?" Ordinary people, bombarded with politically motivated scare stories, need also to listen to the intelligent voice of Islam and remember our common humanity. As for the argument that printing the cartoon somehow demonstrated "freedom of the press" - if the mainstream media really were free, there would be no reason for websites such as to exist. )

    4th February 2006 ~ Hugo Chavez rallied tens of thousands of supporters in Caracas today Reuters says,"....Chavez is promoting socialist reforms at home and aggressively challenging U.S. free-market proposals by allying himself with his South American neighbors, as well as Cuba and Iran. Since his 1998 election, Chavez has clashed repeatedly with the United States, which he accuses of trying to overthrow his government and backing a brief 2002 coup attempt that he survived with the help of loyal troops..."

    4th February 2006 ~ Iran The U.N. nuclear watchdog voted on Saturday to report Iran to the Security Council over fears it is trying to build atomic bombs and a defiant Tehran said it would end snap U.N. inspections of its nuclear plants from Sunday Reuters
    Welcoming the vote by the UN nuclear watchdog on Saturday to report Iran to the Security Council, McCain repeated that military action against Tehran must remain an option if it did not bow to international demands to halt its nuclear activities Reuters

    3rd February 2006 ~ ".. there lurks a presidential problem of administration-staggering proportions that few are even thinking about at the moment." Tom Dispatch:

    see Valerie Plame case latest

    3rd February 2006 ~ Cartoon row The international row over newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad is now top headline news - and the Independent says that

    More European daily papers printed the controversial Danish caricatures yesterday. Muslims have stepped up pressure to stop them. In the UK, the Islamic Cultural Centre, while deeply deploring the cartoons, says, in a press release sent to warmwell

    3rd February 2006 ~ UK casualties The Ministry of Defence will publish casualty figures for UK troops in Iraq on its website within the next few weeks Independent

    2nd/3rd February 2006 ~ "Lord Goldsmith warned Tony Blair that Britain, if it went ahead, could be challenged in the international criminal court. Ten days later, he said a second resolution was not necessary..." The Guardian on the war memo revealed in the new edition of Lawless World
    See also warmwell pages on Legal advice and Lord Goldsmith and the Downing Street Memos
    Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian shows that Mr Blair backed invasion despite illegality warnings , there was a plan to disguise US jets as UN planes and Mr Bush was confident that postwar violence or sectarian conflicts were unlikely.

    2nd February 2006 ~ Revealed: Bush and Blair discussed using American Spyplane in UN colours to lure Saddam into war. Channel 4 News tonight reveals extraordinary details of George Bush and Tony Blair's pre-war meeting in January 2003 at which they discussed plans to begin military action on 10 March 2003, irrespective of whether the United Nations had passed a new resolution authorising the use of force. All the details at: See also Independent

    2nd February 2006 ~ Biometric ID cards 'not secure' Times Britain Security experts have found a weakness in the technology to be used for the Government's biometric ID cards, it is claimed....

    2nd February 2006 ~ "The phone tapping was carried out by unknown person or persons using high technology." Who has been tapping the phones of the Greek PM and his Minsiters for more than a year? BBC report

    1st February 2006 ~ "a similar recommendation made by GAO more than a decade ago after Hurricane Andrew went unheeded"
    Katrina response lacked leadership Reuters "GAO Comptroller General David Walker said at a news conference that in the future, the president needs to designate a single individual to take charge and cut through the bureaucratic red tape. He said a similar recommendation made by GAO more than a decade ago after Hurricane Andrew went unheeded ."

    1st February 2006 ~ Cindy Sheehan has been arrested Reuters Police at the U.S. Capitol arrested U.S. anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on Tuesday, shortly before President George W. Bush was to give his annual State of the Union speech, a police spokeswoman said. The spokeswoman, Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, said she had no immediate details. Sheehan had been invited to be a guest at the address to a joint session of Congress by U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat......Wapo "Cindy Sheehan, mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq, wasn't the only one ejected from the House gallery during the State of the Union address for wearing a T-shirt with a war-related slogan that violated the rules. The wife of a powerful Republican congressman was also asked to leave.."

    31st January 2006 ~Two shock defeats over attempts to overturn Lords changes to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.
    The Lords' amendment said only "threatening words" should be banned by the bill and called for the offence to be intentional. Such things as proselytising, discussion, criticism, insult, abuse and ridicule of religion, belief or religious practice should not be an offence.
    BBC " MPs voted by 288 votes to 278 to back a key Lords amendment to the bill.

    Labour rebel Bob Marshall-Andrews said: "It was an awful misjudgement to believe you could get a bill like this through in the teeth of opposition from so many of your backbenchers."

    31st January 2006 ~ Stephen Byers has been told to apologise for telling an "untruth". See BBC. "Mr Byers was unwise to try and devise retrospectively an explanation for his inaccurate answer," says the report. .." In July, Stephen Byers, finally admitted that he had lied about whether or not there was a Treasury conspiracy, Project Ariel, to renationalise the old British Rail infrastructure company, Railtrack. The conspiracy involved denying 250,000 shareholders, despised as "grannies", compensation of some #4 billion. Several of our best journalists have written about the Byers case.

    31st January 2006 ~ 100th soldier dead Channel 4's Snowmail says " This country is at war and it is, perforce, an extraordinarily under-reported conflict. ....It's simply too dangerous even for our own indigenous Iraqi journalists. We do infrequently embed our journalists with British and American troops, but that inevitably provides a blinkered perspective... tonight it's an opportunity at least to assess what British forces are still doing on the ground in southern Iraq. Tonight we have an evaluation, we talk to the British, we talk to the Iraqis and we debate whether the British should indeed still be there."

    30th January 2006 ~ Davos - plans for a global public finance system?
    The Independent story UN unveils plan to release untapped wealth of...$7 trillion (and solve the world's problems at a stroke) tells us that the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has "drawn up a visionary proposal that has been endorsed by a range of figures including Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Laureate....The price? An admission that the nation-state is an old-fashioned concept that has no role to play in a modern globalised world where financial markets have to be harnessed rather than simply condemned." "

    (Professor Joseph Stiglitz resigned/was fired as the World Bank's Chief Economist. Leaked World Bank documents showing detailed plans to force developing countries to sell off their natural resources and national industries to Western multi-nationals fell into the hands of Greg Palast.
    An insider to the scheme, John Perkins, whose conscience forced him to write a book about the "real purpose of Western loans to developing countries", Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, is astonishing evidence of the financial and economic workings of the New World Order. It all makes parliament look more and more like a sheep pen - and ourselves? Warmwell has a new section about Debt for anyone who shares our ignorance.)

    30th January 2006 ~ Menezes shooting "The following morning, (Saturday) he (Sir Ian Blair) told a television crew: "The Met is playing out of its socks. I am very pleased with what is happening." He added that Scotland Yard was unable to say whether or not the man was a terrorist. It would be extraordinary, however," (comments the Telegraph)" if Sir Ian did not know by the Saturday morning that the dead man was not Osman."

    29th January 2006 ~ None of the senior soldiers to whom I have talked, let alone intelligence sources or United Nations drug officials, can make sense of Reids mission Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times writes on the idiocy of sending troops to Afghanistan (do we never learn from history?) Rightly singled out for scorn was the ".. the bravura of a drawing-room general " from the opposition's Liam Fox who said it was "unacceptable either to fail to act or to act and fail". Unacceptable in SW1 may seem less so in the sandstorms of Helmand" says Simon Jenkins and he adds - what ought to be apparent to anyone with a grasp of current events that "Britain is being set up by the Americans in Afghanistan. .."
    Simon Jenkins says that Reids policy is based on two assertions; to prevent a Taliban revival and countering narcotics. "... Neither objective is achievable, least of all with a total Nato force just 9,000 strong. I doubt if 90,000 could do the trick".

    29th January 2006 ~ a slaughter beyond anything justified by facts on the ground..... Is all this the best diplomacy can offer the 21st century? Simon Jenkins writes, ".... Tony Blair cannot stop the Taliban returning to Afghanistan, any more than he can stop Iran enriching plutonium. Why pretend? Britain must soon face a messy withdrawal from Iraq. Its troops in Basra are virtually in garrison mode", avoiding any confrontation with Iran-backed militias. These militias in turn may soon be responding to events unfolding in Tehran. Extending the Bush/Blair doctrine of military pre-emption by bombing Iran would be Allahs gift to the crazies around Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
    Such a confrontation would mean engaging Iran in a real rather than a rhetorical conflict, a slaughter beyond anything justified by facts on the ground. It would mobilise pro-Iranian militias inside Iraq and activate suicide cadres across the region. Hamass hardliners would cheer and Israels security be ever more threatened. And for what? Is all this the best diplomacy can offer the 21st century?" read in full

    28th January 2006 ~ a dawning realization in Washington that the Iraqi Shiites would not react positively to a US attack on Iran. Given the increasing focus on Iran's nuclear energy program by Bush, his allies in the Iraqi South are becoming increasing liabilities, given their own warm relations with Tehran.

    28th January 2006 ~About 60 percent of planned water and sanitation projects in Iraq have not been carried out since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion , a U.S. audit said on Thursday. A new report says that the US will not be able to use the $18 bn voted by Congress to complete water, sanitation and electricy project Reuters "Only 49 of 136 planned water- and sanitation-related projects will be completed and only about 300 of 425 planned electricity-related projects." Juan Cole says, "The article blames Saddam for having run down Iraq but does not mention the role of stringent US-backed international sanctions in degrading Iraqi society in the 1990s."

    28th January 2006 ~ Three in four Americans want President George W. Bush to disclose his aides' links with disgraced lobbyist Abramoff ,Jack Abramoff a demand the White House has rejected so far, according to Reuters (There is a can of very nasty worms here. Some of the same names in the Abramoff scandal also surface in connection with the 9/11 hijacker, Mohamed Attas. Less than a week before the 9.11 attack, for example, Atta and several other 9/11 hijackers made a still-unexplained visit onboard one of Abramoffs casino boats.

    28th January 2006 ~"the stupidity and the tragedy. And then there's the growing disparity between rich and poor. The corruption. The incompetence." Interview with Al Franken (new window) author of The Truth (With Jokes)
    Al Franken, a Harvard schooled political activist, devotes an entire chapter in his book "The Truth, With Lies" to the Abramoff scandal.)

    28th January 2006 ~ President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, worried with good reason at US belligerence and its concern about Venezuelan oil, has threatened to jail any US officials caught spying in his country. The BBC has the story
    Chavez said on Friday that Washington plans to brand Venezuela a sponsor of terrorism because he used the World Social Forum to vent against U.S. imperialism and the Iraq war. Reuters

    28th January 2006 ~ Bush Presses On in Legal Defence for Wiretapping NYT "Despite the administration's arguments, many legal scholars remain skeptical about the domestic spying program's legality..."

    27th January 2006 ~"As Blair's anti-terror plan unravels, secret e-mails show that even ministers and intelligence chiefs are questioning one of its key elements.
    Martin Bright's article in the New Statesman

    Read in full
    The disclosure in last week's NS of a secret Foreign Office memo on illegal "rendition" flights forced Straw and Tony Blair into making urgent public statements.

    27th January 2006 ~"government on the hoof. The e-mails obtained by the New Statesman magazine show that, "even on an issue as grave as anti- terror legislation, the Prime Minister has been prepared to make it up as he goes along, without due consultation."

    27th January 2006 ~ "I don't know him," President George W. Bush sought to distance himself from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff on Thursday, saying "I don't know him," and refused to release photographs in which he appeared with Abramoff. Reuters (For Abramoff scandal see Independent)
    It is odd and disquieting that some of the same names in the Abramoff scandal also surface in connection with Mohamed Attas. Less than a week before the 9.11 attack, for example, Atta and several other 9/11 hijackers made a still-unexplained visit onboard one of Abramoffs casino boats.

    27th January 2006 ~ "Harry Truman called war profiteering treason. It is because of the money that's been essentially stolen [by private corporations] -- our guys and our women are dying -- every cent that should have gone to rebuilding the country -- getting Iraqis to work, getting the electricity and the water up, taking care of sewage. [The war] has alienated the Iraqi people and fueled the insurgency and our men and women are being killed because of it..." Interview with Al Franken author of The Truth (With Jokes) Al Franken, a Harvard schooled political activist, devotes an entire chapter in his book "The Truth, With Lies" to the Abramoff scandal.

    27th January 2006 ~ Constituents stand by Galloway "Politicians do a lot of things behind closed doors, which this certainly wasn't." "....He is still the man who had the courage to say all the right things about Iraq. He is still the man who stood up to Tony Blair. So what if he went on TV and was told to act like a cat?"....."At the end of the day, George Galloway is pro-justice. He is pro giving British people a voice....." Independent

    27th January 2006 ~ Texas congressman Henry B. Gonzalez died just over 5 years ago. He investigated the Reagan and Bush administrations' dealings with Iraq before the Gulf War and unearthed evidence that U.S. agricultural credits and illegal loans were used to help Saddam Hussein build his war machine before the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. He was a staunch champion of full disclosure from financial institutions. In a letter ten years ago to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Gonzalez said

    His political life and ideals put into sharp contrast those politicians of today who, by their spin, scaremongering, and sycophancy to the New Order powerful, show such contempt for the lives, common sense and decency of ordinary people.

    26th January 2006 ~ Russia will clamp down on human rights groups President Vladimir Putin has claimed the recent unmasking of four British "spies" proved he was right to clamp down on the activities of human rights groups Independent

    26th January 2006 ~ Bush says domestic spying program "is designed to protect civil liberties" CNN reports on the president's first full-scale news conference of the new year, and the 10th since he was re-elected in 2004. He also

    26th January 2006 ~ Police protest over planned merger of authorities "...police authority leaders lobbied Westminster to protest against the planned mergers. Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, last year set out proposals for England and Wales to be covered by between 12 and 23 "strategic" police forces.... The plans have prompted opposition campaigns across the country, with police authorities refusing to co-operate.... The Prime Minister struck an emollient note yesterday, telling MPs that the plans were not set in stone. .." Independent

    26th January 2006 ~ In civilized countries, journalists are not tried for criticizing governments. says Juan Cole, talking of Iraq and Kurdistan.

    Here, an ITN journalist who revealed police blunders leading up to the shooting dead of Jean Charles de Menezes, has been arrested on suspicion of "theft" ... An ITV News insider said police seemed to be looking for evidence that money was paid for the statements. The source said no money was paid ..." Guardian

    26th January 2006 ~ Telegraph loses Galloway libel appeal Independent

    (Mr Galloway was evicted from Celebrity Big Brother house last night.

    26th January 2006 ~ US officials stashed cash and wasted money in Iraq TimesOnline: World American officials in charge of reconstruction spending in Iraq kept millions of dollars in cash in their bathroom lockers and filing cabinets, according to the latest audit of financial practices in the country...".

    26th January 2006 ~ Section 4, Article II, US Constitution "The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. "

    25th January 2006 ~ George Galloway faces the prospect of a criminal investigation by the serious fraud office over the oil-for-food corruption scandal in Iraq.... Last night a spokesman for Mr Galloway said: "There is no crime to investigate. This is politically motivated, specious, frippery. It is a total waste of public money." Guardian
    ( Mr Galloway, who doesn't know yet of the SFO allegations because he is in the Big Brother house, has said in the past : "How many times must I repeat this: I've never had a penny through oil deals and no one has produced a shred of evidence that I have ... A lie doesn't become a truth through repetition." )

    25th January 2006 ~ An ITN television journalist who revealed police blunders leading up to the shooting dead of Jean Charles de Menezes, has been arrested on suspicion of "theft"

    25th January 2006 ~ Police stop and search 100 people a day under new anti-terror laws Independent Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which was passed six years ago... ...35,776 searches of vehicles and people were recorded....only 455 were arrested....
    The Home Office insisted the powers were essential to disrupt terrorist activity.

    25th January 2006 ~ A critical analysis of private companies' engagement with the identity cards scheme. "... considerable criticism ..on the grounds of erosion of civil liberties, ineffectiveness in its intended aims and lack of clarity around cost, ..little attention seems to have been paid to the significant practical problems of implementing ID cards and the National Identity Register (NIR).


    24th January 2006 ~ Peers reject ID-card database plans as attack on freedom " Angry peers last night invoked the memory of fascist regimes which forced citizens to carry their papers as they tore the heart out of the Government's planned legislation for identity cards..." Independent

    24th January 2006 ~Top Ten Mistakes of the Bush Administration in Reacting to Al-Qaeda Informed Comment Because they exaggerate the scale of the conflict, and because they use it cynically, Bush and Cheney have grossly mismanaged the struggle against al-Qaeda and Muslim radicalism after September 11. Here are their chief errors:..Essential reading

    24th January 2006 ~ US army changes execution rules "The revision also makes it possible for executions to take place at any military prison, not just Fort Leavenworth. This, according to anti-death penalty protesters, means it would be technically legal for executions to take place at Guantanamo Bay. Currently 10 detainees there have been charged with various offences, but none of them are capital cases." BBC

    24th January 2006 ~ CIA torture flights Swiss senator Dick Marty will present his interim report to the Council of Europe See Independent
    He has already said he has no doubt that there were secret CIA prisons and that terrorism suspects have been illegally kidnapped and then flown out of Europe on so-called torture flights. Mr Marty has also accused European governments of being complicit, saying it would have been impossible for them not to know about such activities. However, the BBC's Rob Watson in Strasbourg says the senator is finding it tough to find evidence to back up his claims. BBC

    24th January 2006 ~ New Judge Orders U.S. to Supply Prisoner Names NYT Washington A federal judge has ordered the Pentagon to release the names and nationalities of hundreds of prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay

    24th January 2006 ~ White House had early warning on Katrina Washington Post In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.

    24th January 2006 ~ Bush said he found it "amazing" to be accused of breaking the law by ordering a secret program to intercept calls and e-mails
    New Administration Starts Weeklong Blitz in Defense of Eavesdropping Program President . NYT

    24th January 2006 ~ President Bush in a classic grip-and-grin with Jack Abramoff.
    Photos of Bush With Disgraced Lobbyist Are Confirmed Washington White House officials acknowledged that, yes, photographs did exist . NYT (see below)

    24th January 2006 ~ The Spy story Independent "..... Russian state TV had shown footage of a fake "rock" left in a Moscow street and allegedly used by British agents to plant a transmitter. Data from the rock was then supposedly downloaded on to a palm-top computer. The method is similar to one used in a David Attenborough wildlife programme to hide a tiny camera inside artificial elephant dung. "

    23rd January 2006 ~ Blair evades questions over British 'spy ring'

    23rd January 2006 ~ Iran "Tony Blair has insisted he does not want to take any action against Iran or Syria, saying it would be a "terrible miscalculation" if they thought otherwise..." Telegraph
    " Mixing defiance with diplomacy, Iran said on Monday it did not fear Western threats over its nuclear program and vowed to pursue uranium enrichment if taken to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions." Reuters

    23rd January 2006 ~ Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq's biggest Sunni political bloc committed itself on Sunday to talks with Shi'ites and Kurds to form a government of national unity, but said its key demands, including changes to the constitution, must be met.

    23rd January 2006 ~ overseas service providers are proposing to undertake work on behalf of the DWP Union leaders say they have uncovered plans to transfer thousands of jobs overseas to slash UK civil service posts. BBCBBC Home Affairs correspondent Stephen Cape said the leaked document says service providers are proposing to undertake work on behalf of the DWP overseas. The PCS union said the plan showed "utter contempt" for the workforce and it fears tens of thousands of jobs would be lost.

    23rd January 2006 ~ Taiwan Premier Frank Hsieh led his cabinet ministers in an expected mass resignation on Monday, paving the way for a planned reshuffle. Mr Hsieh, whose resignation was announced last week, warned President Chen Shui-bian over his China stance. He said some of Mr Chen's hardline policies on China were not in tune with what Taiwanese people wanted. Mr Chen is trying to revive his Democratic Progressive Party following a December election setback. "It's only reasonable that policies should have the support of over 75% of the people," Mr Hsieh told ministers. The DPP advocates a separate Taiwanese identity, while the KMT and its allies oppose Taiwan independence and favour closer ties with Beijing. See BBC

    23rd January 2006 ~ Friendly Fire A series of legal actions by servicemen badly injured during "friendly fire" incidents in Iraq are being brought against the Government, claiming negligence by the Ministry of Defence. Independent

    23rd January 2006 ~ Bush's Spy Program Whether the White House can succeed in depicting the program as an asset depends very much on how the issue is presented says the NYT

    22nd January 2006 ~ "We are wiring up for a police state" "We don't live in a police state yet, but we're heading there. With barely a protest, Britain's liberties are being eroded in the name of a dubious campaign against terrorism and crime " says Henry Porter today in the Observer

    And Christopher Booker shows what a charade the "consultation"on the police actually is.
    Meanwhile, the Sunday Times says "Byte by byte our identity is being stolen" concluding,

    22nd January 2006 ~ Simon Jenkins "get-out-of-jail schools white paper" Again on the subject of the loony control-freakery of the government he suggests instead:

    read in full

    22nd January 2006 ~ Bin Laden dead? In view of latest scaremongering it is intereting to consider the evidence

    21st January 2006 ~ Iran The trading of oil in Euros is a factor. A contact connected to the oil industry says that the US is none too pleased that Iran has oil and gas contracts with China. See articles

    20th January 2006 ~ "two big Baghdad bombs killed 23 on Thursday. And the thirty-odd police recruits kidnapped earlier in the week are feared dead. UPI reports that it was another grim week in Iraq. Martin Sieff also suggests that the figures on successes against the guerrillas are way too optimistic, in view of its continued obvious vigor." Informed Comment

    20th January 2006 ~ Memo"... opposition MPs said yesterday that Britain had greater obligations than the United States to prevent torture because it had signed the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the United Nations Convention Against Torture. The MPs warned that Ms Rice's definition of "torture" might allow cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment such as sleep deprivation, exposure to loud noise or indefinite detention without legal process, which are outlawed in Britain but not the US..." Today's Independent

    19th/20th January 2006 ~ Mr Blair faces calls for a public inquiry into America's use of UK airports to transport terror suspects. BBC
    The Memo (pdf see point 17) that has caused outrage today (see BBC) led Sir Menzies Campbell to say he would be writing to Mr Blair to demand a full statement.

    19th/20th January 2006 ~ Menezes family angry over report they say they are being "kept in the dark" over a report into his death. BBC

    An emailer remarks, "Just to let you know that during a BBC report yesterday evening concerning the shooting of Mr Menezes in London, they quietly, almost hidden away, stated that "Special Forces were on secondment to the Police" during the operation..."

    19th January 2006 ~ the injured the "forgotten soldiers of the Iraq war" Independent "Almost three years after the invasion, the military insist that the figures have simply not been centrally collated. "To retrospectively collate detailed information... would exceed the upper limit of #600 set by fees regulations," it said in response to one Freedom of Information question. ..."

    19th January 2006 ~ Official US agency paints dire picture of 'out-of-control' Iraq Guardian "....a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".

    18th January 2006 ~ The Iranian crisis is part of a wider, global crisis: the end of the cheap oil era. Guardian letters

    18th January 2006 ~ Simon Jenkins on Iran "Never pick a fight you know you cannot win." Guardian

    18th January 2006 ~ Niger Memo from 2002, just declassified, shows that Bush administration were aware of doubts, and yet Bush went ahead with State of Union address claims. See NYT

    18th January 2006 ~ "Peers have dealt a devastating blow to the Government's proposed anti-terror laws, throwing out plans to create a new offence of "glorifying" terrorism. Independent Lord Goodhart (Lib Dem) :

    (The New Labour leadership, not surprisingly, wants to "neuter" the blocking power of the Lords in the name of the supremacy of the elected chamber.)

    17th January 2006 ~ BBC Newsnight tonight reports a new Freedom of Information Request concerning the memo detailing the plan to bomb al-Jazeera. It is beginning to look as if the government is coming under pressure to release the memo . Peter Kilfoyle and co, the Keogh and O'Connor trial ("the first thing their lawyers are going to do when this gets to the Old Bailey, is to demand disclosure of the documents") and the FOIA requests.
    See Transcript of tonight's Newnight Report on the al-Jazeera FOIA Request:
    See also Daily Post Jan 11 2006 "Kilfoyle may face jail over Bush bomb threat leak"
    ( The media are reluctant to cover this. That vehicle increasingly known as the blogosphere, however, is prepared to seek out strange new developments, expose cover-ups , to boldly go where the mainstream press keeps silent - and, in the interests of openness and transparency, be damned to the consequences.)

    17th January 2006 ~ Walter Cronkite, .... "the most trusted man in America", has added his voice to those calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, echoing an appeal he made in 1968 to President Lyndon Johnson to cut his losses in Vietnam. .." Independent

    17th January 2006 ~ "Proposals for a national ID card scheme are in crisis after peers inflicted a treble defeat on the Government's flagship programme....Independent

    16th January 2006 ~ "And the oil? The model being prepared at the moment will cost Iraq billions in lost revenues while global corporations reap the harvest. The contracts being prepared would provide them with returns of 42% to 162% in an industry where the minimum returns are in the region of 12%. While the oil will remain the legal property of the state, the production-sharing agreements (PSAs) will give the concessions to private companies. This too would be seen as a victory by Halliburton and its political patrons. ..." Tariq Ali in the Guardian

    16th January 2006 ~ "We must do it while we are still strong enough to negotiate, and not a broken rabble led by brutal war lords."James Lovelock writes today in a manner that seems to unify every part of warmwell's rather rambling collection of issues; For many of us his article will put into perspective all that we are witnessing in the relentless and brutal wars for resources and energy, the systmatic destruction of local responsibility and local food production, the paranoia of the power hungry over the individual and - as far as our blundering incompetence over pollution, disease and their consequences - the arrogant futility of " acting as if we were in charge"

    16th January 2006 ~ The House of Lords will today try to bring some common sense to the ID Bill They will attempt to ensure that the costs of the scheme are independently audited and understood. As the Observer Leader said yesterday, the government's

    When Simon Jenkins writes of control freakery, readers of this website in particular see exactly what he means.
    A new ID system should be supported only if it is it is simple, has a clearly defined use and can actually be implemented with more success that this government's past record of IT systems.

    16th January 2006 ~ The British cabinet is considering lifting a decades-old ban on tapping MPs' telephones, defence secretary John Reid said on Sunday. See Times

    16th January 2006 ~ Ukraine and RussiaThe Yalta lighthouse, a key landmark for Russias Black Sea fleet was entered by a team from Ukraines Transport Ministry on Friday and Russian personnel were barred from entering. Times

    16th January 2006 ~ Iran issues stark warning on oil Guardian Iran steps up defiance of international pressure over its nuclear programme by warning of soaring oil prices if it is subjected to economic sanctions.

    16th January 2006 ~ Guerrillas shot or blew up Iraqi policemen and soldiers all over the country on Sunday.

    . Informed Comment

    16th January 2006 ~ Dawn reports that 5000 protesters rallied in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on Sunday to protest the US missile strike that killed 18 Pakistani villagers (including women and children) in a failed attempt to kill al-Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

    15th January 2006 ~ Drop this costly ID scheme Observer Leader

    15th January 2006 ~ the apotheosis of control freakery. Simon Jenkins in the Times

    15th January 2006 ~"additional and unnecessary burdens "we are thus left with the situation where, thanks to the Patent Office and the DACS, a directive bitterly opposed by our Government is to be applied much more damagingly than is necessary, in a way which makes a fool of both Mr Blair and Gordon Brown, who recently attacked such "gold-plating" as imposing "additional and unnecessary burdens" Booker's Notebook

    14th January 2006 ~ Pakistani officials said Ayman al-Zawahri was not there and condemned the attack. Reuters The strike near the Afghan border on Friday killed at least 18 people, including women and children, and three houses were destroyed, according to residents of Damadola village in Bajaur tribal area.

    14th January 2006 ~ Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), the former Marine who is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, has become the latest Democrat to have his Vietnam War decorations questioned. See Washington Post ".....The Cybercast article appeared shortly before a segment scheduled for CBS's "60 Minutes" tomorrow in which Murtha predicts that the "vast majority" of U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by year's end."

    14th January 2006 ~ (BBC) Ex President Clinton says Mr Blair would make a good UN Secretary has a rather different message.

    14th January 2006 ~ Shiite massacre in 1991 "The US could have interdicted the helicopters from firing, but chose not to" While U.S. investigators have confirmed that Iraq used sarin-filled bombs to quash a Shiite uprising after the 1991 Persian Gulf War ( 60,000 Shiites were killed in April of 1991 when Saddam used helicopter gunships and armor to crush the rebellion) Professor Cole points out that US could have stopped this use of chemical weapons and chose not to. He adds that Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney maintained that the Saudis had "expressed unhappiness about the prospect of a Shiite take-over of Iraq."

    14th January 2006 ~ "A canny German observer sees the recent leak that German intelligence officers in Baghdad supplied intelligence to the Americans before the war as payback by US intelligence agencies." says Prof Juan Cole "They are said to be settling scores with the Social Democratic Party's holier than thou attitude when it was in power and also to be firing a shot across the bow of conservative PM Angela Merkel in reaction to her call for the Guantanamo detention facility to be closed."

    13th January 2006 ~ Reuters Asked if the United States ruled out using force to stop Iran in what Washington says is its pursuit of a nuclear bomb, Rice told CBS Evening News, "The president of the United States never takes any of his options off the table and nobody would want the president to do that."

    13th January 2006 ~ "Iran argues that it has a right under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to enrich uranium, and has informed the IAEA that it only intends to conduct small-scale enrichment at Natanz . The Europeans and US could face difficulties in referring Iran to the UN Security Council for breaking a moratorium which was voluntary in the first place, and without the IAEA declaring Iran to be in breach of its obligations. .." Independent

    12th January 2006 ~ Abu Ghraib. Did orders to use dogs to frighten prisoners came from higher up? Washington Post "It's very unusual for senior officers to invoke their Article 31 rights. The culture in the military tends to encourage cooperation rather than the opposite." Miller has long been in the spotlight of the Abu Ghraib abuse investigations, largely because he was sent to the Iraq prison in August and September 2003 with the goal of streamlining its intelligence-gathering operations, using Guantanamo Bay, commonly called "Gitmo," as a model. Officers at Abu Ghraib have said that Miller wanted to "Gitmo-ize" the facility, and that harsh tactics migrated from the Cuba facility via "Tiger Teams" that Miller sent to Iraq as trainers.

    12th January 2006 ~ Swiss Investigate Leak to Paper on C.I.A. Prisons NYTSwitzerland is conducting criminal investigations to track down the source of a leak to the Zurich-based newspaper SonntagsBlick of what it reported was a secret document citing clandestine C.I.A. prisons in Eastern Europe.....Martin Immenhauser, a spokesman for the military prosecutor, said of the document: "Nobody has told us that it's not authentic. I think you can say that it's 99 percent certain that it's authentic."

    12th January 2006 ~ Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster said US tactics early in the occupation had alienated Iraqis and exacerbated problems for the coalition. BBC "Officers displayed cultural ignorance, self-righteousness, over-optimism and unproductive management, he said. The article, in Military Review, has drawn US criticism but also approval. ...Brig Aylwin-Foster says American officers displayed such cultural insensitivities that it "arguably amounted to institutional racism" and may have helped spur the insurgency..."
    See also Guardian (whose headline might be thought mischievous in view of what Brigadier Aylwin-Foster is trying to achieve.) See also Independent

    12th January 2006 ~ ".. realising that the human component is the key to adaptability"original article (pdf new window) Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations by Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, British Army extract:

    11th January 2006 ~ " The ambiguity of the Government's position on this clandestine practice of extraordinary rendition seems to deepen with every answer given." Mr. Nick Clegg (Sheffield, Hallam) (LD) in yesterday's brief exchange with Dr Howells on torture

    11th January 2006 ~ "Despite four inquiries and an election, there are many important questions that remain unanswered. We need something better. .."
    Dr Brian Jones
    (see warmwell pages) is one of those commenting in the Guardian Letters page on General Sir Michael Rose's Guardian article yesterday.
    Also, a retired infantry captain who served in Iraq in 2004 writes this:

    Guardian Letters page

    11th January 2006 ~. Withdraw authority and you do not get placid submission to Blair's "summary power". You get anarchy.
    Simon Jenkins on the "Respect Action Plan" in today's Guardian

    11th January 2006 ~ "Respect Action Plan" - underlying philosophy of this policy was that presumption of innocence was "too cumbersome," Mr Blair has ".. acknowledged that many of the powers would change the burden of proof so that the accused would have to prove themselves innocent instead of the accuser having to prove guilt.

    See United Press International which quotes Shami Chakrabarti (Bloggerheads' Tim Ireland points out that the domain name for the main campaign website ( was registered all of seven days ago..)

    11th January 2006 ~ the little-covered US air war in Iraq, and its civilian and political costs. The question is raised of whether air power is useful in fighting an insurgency. In his Informed Comment web-column, Professor Juan Cole (who gives his opinion as a decisive No) today cites the Knight Ridder article

    Professor Cole also directs us to the latest TomDispatch

    11th January 2006 ~investigations into US eavesdropping Washington Post "The National Security Agency's inspector general has opened an investigation into eavesdropping without warrants in the United States by the agency authorized by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a letter released late yesterday...." and see also "A Washington advocacy group filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking more information about the FBI's use of clandestine surveillance, arguing that the agency has not been forthcoming about possible cases of misconduct since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."

    10th January 2006 ~ "The idea that torturers can retain their human dignity if the cause is right is a lie" writes Slavoj Zizek, the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, in today's Guardian.

    10th January 2006 ~ Enough of his excuses: Blair must be impeached over Iraq Guardian "The only way parliament can regain the trust of disaffected voters is to admit that it was wrong to support the war .....the impeachment of Mr Blair is now something I believe must happen if we are to rekindle interest in the democratic process. ..." General Sir Michael Rose

    9th January 2006 ~The Prime Minister should be impeached over Iraq General Sir Michael Rose, formerly one of the top officiers of the British army and commander of the UN forces in Bosnia at one of the most difficult stages of the war there, says that the Prime Minister should be impeached over Iraq. BBC Listen again

    See also Guardian and ITN

    9th January 2006 ~ Martin Bell's programme on Iraq: The Failure of War can be seen on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on Friday. Guardian

    8th January 2006 ~ No identity card? You could be fined #2,500 ID cards are coming - and with them, a new tax, a new criminal offence, and unprecedented new powers for the state to snoop on private citizens and intrude into their lives. Sunday Telegraph

    8th January 2006 ~ Scandal of force-fed prisoners Observer Hunger strikers are tied down and fed through nasal tubes, admits Guantánamo Bay doctor

    6th January 2006 ~ Robert Fisk on Ariel Sharon in the Independent

    6th January 2006 ~ Ministers 'trying to neuter Lords with review of blocking powers' Independent

    6th January 2006 ~ Iraq : 130 Killed, Over 200 Wounded in Two Huge Bombings Informed Comment "...Al-Hakim said: "We hold responsible Coalition forces, and political elements that have openly announced their support for terrorism, for the pure blood that has flowed." ..."
    Guardian " More than 130 Iraqis killed in one of the deadliest days of insurgent attacks since the fall of Saddam Hussein."

    5th January 2006 ~ "a deep, abiding mistrust of what is put out by the Government and a deep, abiding mistrust of what is put out by the intelligence services..." "Anger as Britain admits it was wrong to blame Iran for deaths in Iraq" says today's The Independent

    (Mr Blair told reporters: "There is no justification for Iran or any other country interfering in Iraq.".... .)

    5th January 2006 ~ "Congress is being told through the signing statement that it's impotent" When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he issued a ''signing statement". Boston GlobeDavid Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said...

    Elisa Massimino, Washington director for Human Rights Watch, called Bush's signing statement an ''in-your-face affront" to both McCain and to Congress. ''The basic civics lesson that there are three co-equal branches of government that provide checks and balances on each other is being fundamentally rejected by this executive branch," she said.

    5th January 2006 ~ President Bush is widening his circle of advisers
    Reuters reports that President Bush is

    5th January 2006 ~Prof Juan Cole "A horrific day unfolded in Iraq on Wednesday, with a massive bomb at a funeral, a daring raid that destroyed fuel tankers, and deadly bombings and shootings all over the center-north of the country, even reaching into the south. President Bush's and Vice President Cheney's recent pronouncements do not seem to me to fit very well with the Iraqi reality they say they are describing....And "Coalition" and Iraqi forces don't seem to have been able to do anything about it, despite Bush's pledge. In fact,... bombing in Kirkuk is said to have destroyed a humvee, which suggests there may have been US military casualties not yet announced.

    5th January 2006 ~ A federal judge has rejected the U.S. Defense Department's argument for not disclosing the names of detainees at Guantanamo Bay but has stopped short of ordering that the names be released. Reuters

    5th January 2006 ~The government was accused last night of compiling a national DNA database "by stealth" Telegraph " 2008, the samples of some 4.2 million people - seven per cent of the population - will be contained on a central criminal database, which is growing by about half a million a year. The system, which held only 700,000 samples when Labour took office in 1997, now exceeds three million and includes 140,000 from people never charged with any offence...."

    4th January 2006 ~the torture telegrams were featured on over 4,000 blogs worldwide within 72 hours. "on the torture telegrams, the government has been caught using material from the World's most hideous torture chambers. Jack Straw and Tony Blair have been caught lying about the fact that they do this. And they have been shown to be completely impotent in their efforts to suppress the truth when faced with blogger revolt and modern technology..." Craig Murray

    4th January 2006 ~ Abramoff "...corruption scandal involving as many as 20 congressmen, senators and their aides" See Independent The man who bought off Washington "Lobbyist's guilty plea set to expose bribery scandal at the heart of US political system"
    Professor Juan Cole comments at length on the case, concluding:

    See also Washington Post

    4th January 2006 ~ Galileo - an electronic tag by any other name, and you don't even have to commit a crime to get one.. EUreferendum blog "each motorist would, of course, need to carry a satellite-linked 'smart box' in their car ... "Big brother" will be in the back seat or the boot... and, any time they wish, state authorities will be able to call up information.
    ... you can bet that, if the government decided to insist on electronic tagging for everyone, there would be an outcry. Yet, this is exactly what the system is  it is an electronic tag by any other name, and you don't even have to commit a crime to get one."

    3rd January 2006 ~ "I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family's links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services. ..."
    You are urged to read Craig Murray's material - the documents that the UK Foreign Office insisted he remove from his book - in full (opens in new page)

    3rd January 2006 ~ "As official denials grow ever more opaque, evidence which points to Britain's involvement in torture grows ever more transparent." Thank heaven for the Sunday Herald, one of the very few papers to bother to report on Britains complicity in the international kidnapping, interrogation and torture of terrorist suspects.

    See below

    3rd January 2006 ~ US Rep. Murtha says he wouldn't join military now See Reuters ".....A decorated Vietnam combat veteran who retired as a colonel after 37 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Murtha told ABC News' "Nightline" program that Iraq "absolutely" was a wrong war for President George W. Bush to have launched....."Let me tell you, war is a nasty business. It sears the soul," he said, choking up. "And it made a difference. The shadow of those killings stay with you the rest of your life." "

    2nd January 2006 ~ "Questions about whether Bush overstepped his constitutional authority and violated a law intended to prevent the government from spying on its citizens without court approval are likely to be central to hearings planned this month by lawmakers, who stepped up their criticism today." Washington Post

    See also NYT

    2nd January 2006 ~ The Lincoln Group (Iraqex) - information warfare and psychological operations - tens of millions of dollars " A Pentagon contractor has been compensating Sunni religious scholars in Iraq in return for assistance with its propaganda work in Iraq." NYT

    2nd January 2006 ~ "$18 billion voted by the US Congress for Iraqi reconstruction is mostly committed or spent, with large amounts diverted to security, prisons and trials. The administration does not intend to ask for any more.." Informed Comment

    Professor Juan Cole also comments that

    1st January 2006 ~ "... It was as if Gladstone had visited Gordon during the siege of Khartoum. Simon Jenkins in the Times "Leave the field now - the Iraqi endgame is about to begin"

    1st January 2006 ~ "...Galileo's other purpose is to provide the centrepiece for the EU's bid to create its own armed forces, independent of the US - and incidentally to boost its members' arms sales to countries such as China (which already has a fifth share in Galileo), by selling them weapons and vehicles which are Galileo-dependent..." Read Booker's Notebook today for the parts of the story about Galileo that the mainstream media do not reach.

    31st December 2005 ~ documents prove that the British knowingly received information obtained through torture. The New York Times reports today

    31st December 2005 ~ Foreign Office official line ".. we have not knowingly received intelligence that we have known has been gained under torture" Radio 4's PM asked: "Don't we deserve, when it comes to torture and people's human rights, something better than this.. linguistic semantics...?"

    31st December 2005 ~ " ...UK government is particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers. The British Foreign Office is now seeking to block publication of Craig Murray's forthcoming book, which documents his time as Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession...."Read the material

    31st December 2005 ~ Murray Torture Telegrams Listen to the recording of Craig Murray talking to the PM programme on December 30th 2005.

    ".....Craig Murray... has continued to claim that both the American and the US Security servcies have used evidence gained by the torture of detainees in Uzbechistan. Today he's heading for a new showdown with the Foreign Office over the publication of his memoirs. Mr Murray intended to include in his book a number of documents that he claims prove Britain has knowingly received intelligence from terror suspects who have been tortured abroad. The Foreign Office has demanded the removal of all references to the documents but Mr Murray has published them anyway on his website, including the following extract:

    The letters from Mr Murray to his bosses at the Foreign Office outline his concerns about the dangers of using such intelligence.. The government has continued to claim that it doesn't condone torture on any circumstances but in evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee earlier this year, the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said this, Listen in full

    27th December 2005 ~ UK Government appeals against UK High Court ruling ITN The Government is appealing against a High Court ruling granting British citizenship to David Hicks. He was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and won the right this month to a British passport, which he hoped would force the UK to aid his release from Guantanamo Bay.

    27th December 2005 ~ Greek newspaper, Proto Thema, names British MI6 spy chief involved in the abduction and mistreatment of 28 Pakistani migrants. BBC

    27th December 2005 ~ US embassy close to admitting Syria rendition flight The Guardian says today

    26th December 2005 ~ Embassy "clarification" US embassador in London, Robert Tuttle, told the Today Programme there was no evidence of "extraordinary renditions" to Syria. The embassy has now "moved to clarify remarks" ( BBC) Canadian citizen Maher Arar was detained as a terrorist suspect in New York in 2002 and then flown to Jordan, before being transferred to Syria. He was released a year later following the intervention of the Canadian government. Mr Arar says he was tortured while in Syrian custody. (background)

    24th December 2005 ~Charles Clarke has remained defiant even as his plans to create police "superforces" began to unravel in the face of a growing revolt. See Independent

    24th December 2005 ~ Donald Rumsfeld has announced that combat forces in Iraq will be cut by up to 7,000 early in 2006 (but the number of US soldiers training Iraqi security forces will increase.) . The Telegraph says,

    Meanwhile, Tony Blair says (Guardian) that a phased withdrawal of British troops from Iraq could begin within six months.

    24th December 2005 ~ Several thousand Sunni Arabs are protesting what they said was broad-based fraud in elections last week, in a sign of deepening Sunni discontent over the vote. NYT

    24th December 2005 ~Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove Bush administration eavesdropping much larger than the White House has acknowledged. New York Times

    23rd December 2005 ~ Who runs Britain? We heard George Galloway today and Tim Ireland yesterday - but here is George Monbiot nominating the CBI

    22nd December 2005 ~ " I'm not going to start ordering inquires into this, that and the next thing"
    Thanks to Blairwatch (again) for this transcript of Mr Blair at yesterday's Press Conference, here on the subject of CIA torture flights. (Warmwell finds it interesting that whenever Mr Blair is in Squealer mode, the final consonants of his words disappear. Listen Again.)

    Mr Blair says he doesn't know. The Foreign Office however "totally accepts" that the United States used British airfields to transfer prisoners abroad for interrogation. Ministers were "extremely worried" about the issue, the source said. Both Downing Street and the Foreign Office were simply "hoping it is going to go away." See United Press

    22nd December 2005 ~ No police reaction to the carol service in Parliament Square. See Bloggergeads. " ....No-one in authority wanted a picture of police challenging this event to make the newspapers. Given this, and the failure to evict Brian Haw, it is certain that this legislation will have to pass through Parliament once more. Hopefully, with more scrutiny this time around." See also the "Seriously Organised Criminal Carol Singers" at Guido's Blog - and Blairwatch's archived BBC report. (Blairwatch here)

    22nd December 2005 ~ one of the 11 judges on the US court that authorises government surveillance in intelligence cases resigned in protest over the programmeProfessor Juan Cole

    22nd December 2005 ~ The U.S. Senate has voted to extend key provisions of the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act set to expire in 10 days - for six months. Reuters "....The temporary extension, approved without dissent, would provide time to try to resolve differences over safeguards for civil liberties before making permanent most of the provisions the Bush administration deems vital in its war on terrorism..."
    The Senate has also passed yet another bill, ".. a budget measure that would cut spending by $39.7 billion over five years, including reductions to Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor. This bill only cleared the Senate after Vice President Dick Cheney, the president of the Senate, broke a 50-50 deadlock. The House must vote on it again." Reuters

    22nd December 2005 ~ Appeal court extends ban on degrading treatment 7 "British soldiers in Iraq are bound by the Human Rights Act which forbids torture and inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners, the appeal court ruled yesterday in a judgment which also criticised the way the military has investigated allegations of criminal conduct by UK forces.
    The judgment dealt a fresh blow to the beleaguered Ministry of Defence by extending the principle that the act covers the behaviour of British troops when they were "in effective control" of Iraqis..." Guardian

    21st December 2005 ~ "a prediction that demonstrates that after 2 1/2 years the neocons still just can't understand anything about contemporary Iraq" Professor Cole on the Iraqi election results Shiite Religious Parties dominate 10 of 18 Provinces

    (R J Eskow also says

    21st December 2005 ~ The government must allow an independent inquiry into the death of an Iraqi civilian BBC "Baha Mousa died in custody after being arrested in Basra.... The government has failed in its bid to overturn a court ruling that it must hold a full inquiry into the death of an Iraqi civilian who died in custody.On Wednesday, the government's bid to overturn last December's ruling over an independent inquiry on Mr Mousa's death was rejected at the Court of Appeal. " See also Guardian

    21st December 2005 ~ "So far fear has triumphed over hope," writes Philip James, former Democratic Party strategist, in the Guardian today

    20th December 2005 ~ a bad year for those who would only state the facts convenient to the powerful" If you can possibly make time, read the cheering (in parts) article by Rebecca Solnit "2005: Bad Year for Goliath"

    20th December 2005 ~ Four years after September 11, the Bush administration has claimed some legal victories in its war on terrorism, but there has not been a single trial of anyone caught trying to carry out an attack. Georgetown University law professor David Cole is quoted by Reuters

    21st December 2005 ~ "Singers defy Parliament demo ban" The BBC is evidently wondering what the response will be.
    Bloggerheads says today:

    20th December 2005 ~ No public Inquiry - yet again. Relatives of British service personnel killed in Iraq have lost their high court challenge to the government's refusal to hold a full public inquiry into why Britain went to war. Guardian

    20th December 2005 ~ "never a serious security risk" Rihab Rashid Taha, who became known as "Dr. Germ" for helping Iraq make weapons out of anthrax, has finally been freed. At the time of Kenneth Bigley's kidnap in late September 2004, U.S. officials crushed reports that "a high-profile female Iraqi weapons scientist could be released from jail soon" - as demanded by the kidnappers - after Iraqi officials announced that she would be freed. Despite the best efforts of all who did try to save him, Bigley was beheaded on October 7. There is a biography on the internet.

    20th December 2005 ~ Germany has quietly released a Hizbollah member jailed for life for the murder of a U.S. Navy diver, disregarding Washington's desire that he either be extradited or remain behind bars, officials said on Tuesday. Reuters

    19th December 2005 ~U.K. minister 'lied over CIA flights' The revelation that the Foreign Office accepts that CIA rendition flights passed through Britain comes in direct contrast to official denials by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who last week "categorically" denied that any such flights had taken place. United Press

    19th December 2005 ~" You know, intelligence agencies around the world felt the same way, by the way... there was a universal feeling that he had weapons of mass destruction." President Bush in his press conference today chose to ignore the fact that many experts are well knownto have believed otherwise. Intelligence agencies around the world?

    Will the mainstream media allowing Mr Bush to get away with such utter nonsense as "intelligence agencies around the world felt the same way"?

    19th December 2005 ~ "Bush's comments represent a "retreat from who we are and who we should be" as a nation" Of the covert spying on Americans, Bush has just said, "My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war." Reuters reports

    U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, has justified the eavesdropping by citing the U.S. Congress' authorization of military force after the September 11, 2001 attacks. (or, perhaps, "Just try and stop us." ) CNN "....Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold said Bush's comments represent a "retreat from who we are and who we should be" as a nation. (Transcript of Bush press conference)

    19th December 2005 ~ "Lips still moving, Bush calls a morning press conference to make the nation feel better about his domestic spying on American phones" Village Voice "everyone had believed in the existence of WMN" Bush just keeps on talking

    19th December 2005 ~ Medialens has an unmissable article on media smearing

    19th December 2005 ~ Police-force mergers - (Don't mention the EU) "We will not be bought off," says the APA
    Independent ".....Mr Clarke had offered extra money to authorities who volunteered to merge their forces by next Friday's deadline .." The Independent says, "..the Home Office claims mergers are needed to enable forces to cope with the demands of threats from terrorism and the drugs trade." but as Christopher Booker has been pointing out for months, the merger is simply what is demanded by the EU to police its new UK "regions"

    The APA estimates that the reorganisation will cost between #500-#600 million.

    19th December 2005 ~ "US Firm Paid $20 million for Iraq Propaganda" The Pentagon has ordered an investigation into the work last year by the Lincoln Group who were hired by the Pentagon itself to secretly write anonymous pro-U.S. news stories in Iraq Science Daily

    19th December 2005 ~ Iraq triples the price of oil Prof Cole says "Now that the elections are safely over, the government of Ibrahim Jaafari has tripled the price of gasoline and made substantial increases in the price of gas and heating oil, in contravention of its campaign promises.."

    19th December 2005 ~ "... to sidestep the Bill of Rights, due process and the rule of law.." Prof Cole , quoting our favourite lines fromRobert Bolt's " A Man for all Seasons", also writes

    19th December 2005 ~"It's not just the NSA engaging in wholesale monitoring of phonecalls. Now we find out that Bush's Department of Homeland Security also monitors interlibrary loan requests from college libraries. It makes the 1950s look like halcyon days..."

    Frightening stuff

    19th December 2005 ~ Cheney visits Iraq amid calls for US pullout"....Saleh al-Mutlak, a Sunni Arab nationalist who stood in the parliamentary election and has spoken up for insurgent views, said Americans were not welcome in Iraq and should leave. His comments echoed those of outspoken Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who accused the Americans Saturday of peddling their own agenda and disregarding Iraqis...." Reuters
    The New York Times says, "The Department of Defense has identified 2,149 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war."

    18th December 2005 ~ "George W Bush has gone on the offensive over accusations that he abused his executive power by allowing the secret wiretapping of Americans without a court warrant.

    The New York Times said yesterday, "President Bush acknowledged on Saturday that he had ordered the National Security Agency to conduct an electronic eavesdropping program in the United States without first obtaining warrants, and said he would continue the highly classified program because it was "a vital tool in our war against the terrorists."

    18th December 2005 ~ he returned from Brussels clutching a piece of paper The Comment writer in the Sunday Times echoes Sir Christopher Meyer's opinion (he failed to use his leverage in dealing with the White House over Iraq. Instead he was seduced by the proximity and glamour of American power")

    (Certainly, the footage on french television of Mr Blair's strained expression, the fiddling with his cuffs and intermittent forced smile while walking next to a jubilant M Chirac betrayed his own awareness of failure.)

    Wednesday 21 December Carol Service in Parliament Square. The organisers humbly request that those who attend do not bring placards, banners or circulars to this event. See also Blog (new window)

    Click here for more information.

    17th December 2005 ~ What defines America? "Democracy" is a ruined word, because of its misuse in the American political rhetoric of our moment. Harold Bloom in the Guardian

    17th December 2005 ~ "Ahmad Chalabi's National Accord seems to have sunk without a trace 10-11 million of Iraq's 15 million potential voters came out on Thursday, according to al-Zaman. Of Iraqis abroad, 320,000 voted (a relatively small proportion of those eligible). Informed Comment

    17th December 2005 ~ "the extreme stress caused by captivity in a tiny isolation cell." An exposé of Guantanamo in the Washington Post

    Terrifying to know this is carrying on in the glare of public knowledge. When people believe that they are " in danger " they turn away from natural feelings of outrage, as did the Germans 60 years ago. Meanwhile, such inhumanity to our fellow men turns the bogus danger into reality.

    17th December 2005 ~ Petition Launched Demanding Enquiry Into London 7/7 Attacks has been launched following the decision not to have a public inquiry (see below)
    To view the petition click here (new page) As Rachel, a tube train blast survivor from North London, says on her blog:

    16th December 2005 ~ "It is not actually a positive sign for the Americans that Sunni Arabs came out to vote in order to get rid of them...... The American faith that if people go to the polls it means they won't also be blowing things up is badly misplaced..." Juan Cole's Informed Comment
    While the elections were actually taking place yesterday he wrote, :

    16th December 2005 ~The US Senate votes against re-authorisation of the Patriot Act by 52-47 . The 16 provisions of the Patriot Act will expire on December 16 if a compromise is not reached. Guardian tonight

    16th December 2005 ~ "Their lordships' opinions are, once again, an embarrassment to a government that has lost sight of fundamental principles..." Michael Mansfield QC writes in the Guardian today. In his scathing letter about Charles Clarke he quotes Lord Bingham who, in part 51 of the Law Lords' judgment, observed:

    16th December 2005 ~ torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture .." said President Bush in an interview with the New York Times in January. Jane Mayer's article "Outsourcing Torture" in the New Yorker was written shortly afterwards. The reality of "rendition" to those able to talk about it afterwards comes across; a sickening reminder of our governments' euphemisms, weasel words and writhing protestations. See Guardian today. Of Jack Straw..

    This issue really is not going to go away - or, if we let it, we deserve to carry on accelerating downwards into the clutches of totalitarianism. See again the parts of Mr Straw's Today interview that the Foreign Office chose to airbrush out - here.

    16th December 2005 ~ Uzbekistan: Survivors of torture and the May 13 massacre of unarmed protesters in Andijan, Uzbekistan, filed a case on Monday in Germany calling for the prosecution of Zokirjon Almatov, Uzbekistan's Minister of Internal Affairs, for crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch As Tim Ireland's blog (new window) reminds us, British military advisers trained Uzbek troops in "marksmanship" shortly before a massacre in which hundreds of people were killed. (See Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian in June)

    15th December 2005 ~ "We've been moving from one nightmare to another." The Independent's top story today is the plight of the so-called Belmarsh detainees

    15th December 2005 ~ House Defies Bush and Backs McCain on Detainee Torture NYT "The House vote was 308 to 122, with 107 Republicans lining up along with almost every Democrat behind Representative John P. Murtha...who has become anathema to the administration on any legislative measure related to Iraq since his call last month to withdraw American troops from Iraq in six months. "Torture does not help us win the hearts and minds of the people it's used against," Mr. Murtha said on the House floor. "Congress is obligated to speak out."

    15th December 2005 ~ The McCain amendment would prohibit the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners in American custody anywhere in the world, including at secret facilities run by the C.I.A.
    NYT Senate Is Set to Require Details on Secret Prisons

    15th December 2005 ~ US bill requires the White House to provide classified intelligence documents on Iraq hitherto withheld from Congress. NYT

    15th December 2005 ~ "God less you." US Blog "......the Pentagon tersely attributed the soldiers' deaths to "enemy indirect fire." An officer handed Nahvi's mother, Nancy, a form asking if she wanted her 24-year-old son's body parts returned if they were recovered. President Bush sent his parents a three-paragraph condolence letter. It contained a typo: "God less you."..."

    15th December 2005 ~ ""Time to come clean, Mr Straw"Herald Editorial comment yesterday "If Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw believe they have cleared the air with their carefully worded statements about the secret transportation of terror suspects for interrogation, they are profoundly mistaken..."

    15th December 2005 ~ "Euro MPs are to investigate allegations that the United States is operating secret CIA prisons on European soil and illegally transferring terrorist suspects between countries." The Times

    15th December 2005 ~ The US had never formally denied the allegations, Senator Marty said in a statement handed to reporters, and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had failed to rebut them during a recent trip to Europe. Associated Press

    14th December 2005 ~"Nothing about their separate statements fits together." Magnus Linklater in the Times on Obscure messages from the dark side

    14th December 2005 ~ The Foreign Office chose to leave out of its transcript of the Jack Straw/John Humphrys interview on Monday some of the highly significant exchanges that allowed the media, for example Richard Norton-Taylor in yesterday's Guardian, to say "Straw finally admits CIA planes landed in Britain"

    Mr Straw's refusal to engage with several of Sir Menzies Campbell's questions later that day ("It is not the Government's policy to comment on intelligence matters.") and Adam Ingram's refusal to say how many times a CIA Boeing 737 and a Gulfstream ( registered N313P and N379P) - had landed in Britain - "such information could only be provided at disproportionate cost", he said - cannot surely - many would say - be put down to mere arrogance but rather to a wish to conceal. Here, in red, are the parts of the transcript omitted by the FO.

    14th December 2005 ~ "a degree of chutzpah remarkable even for New Labour" Brian Barder, a member of Special Immigration Appeals Commission ( Siac), 1998-2004 writes in the Guardian

    14th December 2005 ~ when last year's BBC survey came out I did my television report on it from a busy market in central Baghdad, I wondered round on my own afterwards and even did some shopping, I certainly won't be doing that today, it would be an invitation to kidnapping and murder. It may be hard to express this change in per centage terms but everyone here knows that Baghdad has become a far, far more dangerous place than it was last year.

    14th December 2005 ~ ".... I do believe that for many Iraqis the fact that this time we are voting for people who are staying in government for four years has sunk in. We've been through three trial runs and this time it's for real. Keep your fingers crossed for us, will you?"Salam Pax (aka Salam Al-Janabi)

    14th December 2005 ~ " row is being led by the media and public opinion" Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, has accused the Government of conducting a "hear no evil, see no evil" policy on renditions..." Independent

    14th December 2005 ~ Not surprisingly, a public inquiry into the July 7 bombing in London has been ruled out by the Home Office who may, instead, issue some sort of narrative of the events.(See Guardian)
    ITN reports that

    14th December 2005 ~ "$400 million Pentagon psychological warfare operation includes plans to place pro-American messages in foreign media outlets without disclosing the U.S. government as the source, USAToday reported on Wednesday..... the three companies handling the campaign include the Lincoln Group...."Reutersc

    14th December 2005 ~ Anti-war suporters details on secret database "The Pentagon has a secret database that indicates the U.S. military may be collecting information on Americans who oppose the Iraq war and may be also monitoring peace demonstrations, NBC reported on Tuesday....The database, obtained by the network, lists 1,500 "suspicious incidents" across the United States over a 10-month period and includes four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, some aimed at military recruiting..." Reuters

    13th December 2005 ~ CIA Prisons - MPs are not reassured by the foreign secretary ... ( See Blairwatch for a rather more outspoken view of the latest on this issue.)
    Reuters"A month-old investigation has reinforced allegations the CIA ran a network of secret prisons in Europe, abducted prisoners and transferred them between countries, a European human rights investigator said on Tuesday".

    Guardian "Sir Menzies Campbell, foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, is among a group of MPs who have set up the Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, which today criticised Mr Straw's position.....

    13th December 2005 ~ CIA flight assurances 'worthless' BBC " Jack Straw's statement that there are no records of the CIA flying terror suspects through the UK to face torture may be "worthless", a group of MPs say.

    13th December 2005 ~ "voters will have no guarantee of coming home alive" Professor Juan Cole on the coming Dec 15 elections in Iraq

    13th December 2005 ~ Tony Blair's position."I accept entirely Secretary of State Rice's assurances," And how does he know?
    Has he studied the hefty piles of documentation and witness statements provided by human rights groups? No - his reasoning is more simple. Condoleezza Rice told him so.
    Johann Hari's (portfolio) article "Tortured logic and twisted arguments"

    13th December 2005 ~ US planes carrying prisoners were allowed to land in Britain, says Straw Independent "The British Government has been accused of adopting a "hear no evil, see no evil" approach over CIA flights carrying terrorist suspects for possible torture, after Jack Straw said a Whitehall search revealed no evidence of US requests for such flights into UK airspace...."

    13th December 2005 ~ Jack Straw finally admits CIA planes landed in Britain Richard Norton-Taylor in today's Guardian Refusal to question US over 'torture flights' may be illegal ... Calls grow for inquiry into use of UK in 'renditions' ...

    13th December 2005 ~ "The terrorists are here and they are going to go on attempting to kill people like you and people like me,"
    Sir Ian Blair, is quoted in the Guardian where he says ( ungrammatically, alas ) "You may argue on the current legal position or British government's position, but we are in a different place than before the opening of this century."
    Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said:

    Meanwhile, responding in the Guardian to the law Lords' ruling that evidence obtained by torture must be excluded from Siac hearings, Charles Clarke, who may or may not be on the same planet as people like you and people like me, says " The law lords verdict last week merely strengthened our existing policy..." Read in full

    13th December 2005 ~ Top US commentators' verdicts on five years of George Bush. Guardian

    13th December 2005 ~ " Chinese intellectuals have written an open letter condemning the shooting of protesters in the south. Paramilitary police last week opened fire on villagers protesting over the seizure of land for a power plant in Dongzhou, Guangdong province..." BBC

    11th December 2005 ~".... the EU and its allies, including Mr Blair, have been behaving just as though the peoples of Europe had never spoken." Christopher Booker feels like Professor Quatermass as he tries to wake us up to a slow-motion coup detat

    11th December 2005 ~ China "Bloody Suppression of Farmers in Shanwei; 70 People Shot to Death by Police" " For the past five months, villagers in Shanwei in China's Guangdong Province have been protesting to the government for forcibly taking away their land to build an electricity plant. On December 6, the Provincial government used the military to crush protests. During the suppression, the military and police shot at villagers. Most of the dead are young people in their twenties. The dead bodies were buried to destroy any evidence of the shootings. Families are not allowed to claim the bodies of their relatives."

    11th December 2005 ~CIA is now in 'deep crisis' over 'extraordinary rendition' A senior US intelligence official told The Observer 'Renditions and torture aren't just wrong, they also expose CIA personnel and diplomats abroad to enormous future risk.'

    The Foreign Office, the Moroccan Embassy and the CIA refused to comment yesterday.

    11th December 2005 ~ ""We have no requirements to adhere to journalistic principles of objectivity," Colonel Summe, the Army psychological operations specialist, said." The New York Times today on the huge cost of " ...a secret propaganda war to counter the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan..... The Pentagon increased spending on its psychological and influence operations and for the first time outsourced work to contractors. One beneficiary has been the Rendon Group, which won additional multimillion-dollar Pentagon contracts for media analysis and a media operations center in Baghdad, including "damage control planning." The new Lincoln Group was another winner. ..... something of a mystery how Lincoln came to land more than $25 million in Pentagon contracts in a war zone....A former Lincoln employee said the ploy of making the articles appear to be written by Iraqis by removing any American fingerprints was not very effective. "Many Iraqis know it's from Americans," he said.

    11th December 2005 ~".... ..if Iraq breaks up we will almost certainly trace the break-up to the rush to get the constitution drafted and the way in which the Kurds and Shiites stacked it with goodies for themselves at the expense of the Sunni Arabs.." Professor Cole today.

    10th December 2005 ~ 'Thank goodness a generation of Americans rose to the challenge and helped people be liberated from tyranny,' President Bush's latest Caligulan flight of fancy is reported, without comment, by the NYT

    Mr Bush's version of democracy - and that increasingly of the UK government and police -no longer includes the notion of I dont agree with you, but Ill defend to the death your right to say it What it does include is a willingness to ignore years and years of hard won liberties for short term gain or an imaginary notion of "safety". All this is happening before our almost disbelieving eyes. As Professor Juan Cole said about Donald Rumsfeld's similar nonsense

    10th December 2005 ~ The Independent's main article today Blair's Britain 2005 - where peaceful protest can be costly gives an overview of some of the recent cases where legislation has been used to detain or charge peaceful, committed protest. Read in full

    10th December 2005 ~"I'm not breaching the peace. I'm fighting for it." Brian Haw.
    Mr Haw continues to be harrassed by the police, even though High Court judges ruled in July that he was exempt from the "so-called "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005" as his protest began before it came into force. (See below the disturb

    9th December 2005 ~ Naomi Klein in the Guardian Comment: The US has used torture for decades. All that's new is the openness about it. By ignoring past abuses, opponents of torture are in danger of pushing it back into the shadows instead of abolishing it...

    9th December 2005 ~ Cindy Sheehan, whom we admire very much, is in Britain.
    Guardian She says "It's gratifying that America is now opening its eyes and I'm not so wacky and out there by myself any more. We are not the 'extreme' people any more. Look at the polls, George Bush, you're the one who's at the extremes."

    9th December 2005 ~ "Too bad he won't go. He has been a perfect disaster" Professor Juan Cole on the complaints made by Donald Rumsfeld that, while there are 14,500 murders a year in the United States and 42,000 driving fatalities, and the US press isn't covering that, guerrilla violence in Baghdad is front page news....

    9th December 2005 ~" the law lords have performed another vital service by unanimously outlawing the use in British courts of evidence produced by torture," says the Independent Leader

    See also Law lords ban evidence gained under torture

    9th December 2005 ~ Kofi Annan has defended Louise Arbour, his high commissioner for human rights, who said the U.S.-led war on terror undermined the global ban on torture. The U.S. ambassador, John Bolton, rebuked her for criticizing the U.S. stance on torture and called her criticism "inappropriate and illegitimate". Reuters says that Kofi Annan "wants to take up the matter with Bolton as soon as possible."

    8/9th December 2005 ~ "The governments of Tony Blair and George Bush have been charged with war crimes by a distinguished group of anti-war campaigners, who are calling for an investigation by the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, into breaches of international law.. Independent

    8th December 2005 ~ Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, 37, an RAF medical officer based in Scotland, faces a court martial for refusing to serve in Iraq on the basis that the war was illegal. Independent
    See too the Daily Mail on the Maya Anne Evans case. The 25-year-old was arrested on October 25 under the so-called "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005" She stood next to the Cenotaph, outside Downing Street, reading out the names of 97 British soldiers killed in Iraq. The Liberal Democrat David Heath has demanded an urgent debate on the "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005."

    8th December 2005 ~ The Law Lords will rule today on whether intelligence obtained through torture is admissible in this country. The people who were originaly detained- without trial - under provisions of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act with a view to deportation, mounted two appeals, one of which was successful when the Law Lords effectively ruled that their detention was unfair. This second appeal, suggesting that some of the evidence against them may have been obtained through torture has been working its way through the system. Their lawyers say there is an absolute prohibition on such evidence and it doesn't matter whether it has come from a Third Country or not, the Government would be under a duty to see whether torture had been used.
    UPDATE Torture evidence inadmissible in UK courts, Lords rule

    8th December 2005 ~ "The violence, contrary to the optimistic pronouncements of both Washington and London, has not diminished". Ahmed Hashim, Professor of Military Stategy at the US Naval War College, and author of a study on insurgency and counter insurgency in Iraq, talked to the Today Programme this morning about Norman Kember. He had not heard the name of the group that says it will kill the hostages unless Iraqi prisoners are released. Mr Hashim said both nationalists and extremists were carrying out suicide bombings because it is so effective

    7/8th December 2005 ~ Ms Rice had assured him the practice was being conducted legitimately. Guardian "... Tony Blair told parliament today he knows nothing about alleged torture going on in CIA detention camps in eastern Europe...Mr Blair said there was a difference between rendition and torture, adding that Ms Rice had assured him the practice was being conducted legitimately. "It must be applied in accordance with international conventions, and I accept entirely her assurance that it has been," he said..."

    7th December 2005 ~ " restoring and elevating the legal barriers that once stood in the way of an out-of-control imperial presidency" The latest TomDispatch

    7th December 2005 ~ "erroneous renditions " (as the current euphemism has it) I am asking the American government to admit its mistakes and to apologize for my treatment," said al-Masri in a written statement. Throughout my time in the prison, I asked to be brought before a court but was refused. Now I am hoping that an American court will say very clearly that what happened to me was illegal and cannot be done to others." MSN
    "The Masri affair has attracted world attention as the United States faces renewed allegations of illegal tactics and human rights abuses while waging its declared war on terrorism." Reuters
    "....a story that threatens to get very seriously out of hand if the Blair government can't hose it down." says Jon Snow's daily email

    7th December 2005 ~ "...... the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening." Howard Dean
    Professor Juan Cole's comments on what Howard Dean says need to be read in full:

    7th December 2005 ~ "The United States said (today) it had changed its policy on interrogations of detainees, putting a worldwide ban on U.S. personnel subjecting prisoners to cruelty, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said....Previously, the Bush administration had interpreted the convention as only applying to U.S. territory. Human rights groups have said the United States has exploited that loophole ....Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and a former prisoner of war who was mistreated in Vietnam, has pressed the administration to close the loophole.
    Until Wednesday, the administration, led by Vice-President Dick Cheney, had resisted legislation proposed by McCain that was widely backed in Congress." Reuters

    7th December 2005 ~ The former Australian terror suspect, Mamdouh Habib, says he was forced, during his four years in custody, into making a number of confessions "I just repeated what they wanted me to say," he told the BBC. He was released, without charge, from Guantanamo Bay in January.

    7th December 2005 ~ al-Qaeda prisoners "rendered" on Diego Garcia?
    More than 2,000 people were "cleared" from the archipelago 40 years ago to make way for a US military base. This is British territory "leased" by the United States without the agreement of the inhabitants. Representatives went to the High Court in London to overturn a "shameful" order, imposed by ministers last year - under, says the Independent, "arcane rules" which by-pass Parliament. In 2003, John Pilger wrote:

    7th December 2005 ~ "Germany's victim of extraordinary rendition sues in US courts as Rice is forced on defensive" The Independent today retells yesterday's much longer Washington Post story about Khaled al Masr. See Washington Post article "Anatomy of a CIA rendition gone wrong"

    6th December 2005 ~ Russia continues to push ahead with its most massive intercontinental ballistic missile testing and upgrading program since the collapse of communism.

    6th December 2005 ~ "...Rendition Group, made up of case officers, paramilitaries, analysts and psychologists." Washington Post article "Anatomy of a CIA rendition gone wrong

    6th December 2005 ~Condoleeza Rice refused to comment specifically on such prisons, saying Washington "cannot discuss information that would compromise the success of intelligence, law enforcement and military operations," Independent - which also asks today "the questions that Condoleeza Rice must answer" Her assurances were "dismissed last night by a cross-party group of MPs as "beyond belief".....(Independent)

    As we say below, Craig Murray certainly felt that Jack Straw knew that torture had been used in "intelligence" obtained in Uzbechistan. Murray does not share what he calls the "casuistry" of those who quietly condone torture. He said simply: He was, of course, subsequently dismissed as British ambassador to Uzbekistan.

    6th December 2005 ~"The full extent of British logistical support for the CIA's secret "ghost flights" emerged yesterday as Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said the agency's operations were "a vital tool" in the campaign against terrorism. The Guardian has compiled "a detailed log of the CIA's flights in and out of the UK during the period that the rendition programme has been operating.

    5th December 2005 ~The Blair legacy .....a tragically ugly one Max Hastings in the Guardian

    5th December 2005 ~ Mr Tony Blair has, by the EastWest Institute, been declared "Statesman of the Decade" and the Telegraph, with no trace of astonishment, reports that

    Suggestions are not, apparently, being sought.

    5th December 2005 ~ "The British government is guilty of breaking international law if it allowed secret CIA "rendition" flights of terror suspects to land at UK airports, according to a report by American legal scholars...." Guardian

    5th December 2005 ~ Condoleezza Rice is planning to offer a studied defense in the debate over reports of secret prisons for terror suspects in several European countries. New York Times
    Condoleezza Rice will launch a counteroffensive against European criticism of U.S. treatment of detainees in its war on terror at the start of a trip to the region on Monday. Reuters

    5th December 2005 ~ The U.S. military is abusing its United Nations mandate in Iraq by detaining thousands of people without due process of law, a senior U.N. official said. Reuters

    4th December 2005 ~ Some British sources are saying that the situation in Basra is worse (more oppressive?) than it had been under Saddam Prof Juan Cole reports that Trevor Royle of the Sunday Herald

    4th December 2005 ~ Venezuela - polls suggest supporters of President Hugo Chavez will extend their majority. Five opposition parties are boycotting the vote... Mr. Chavez has condemned the boycott as a Washington-backed plot to destabilize his regime...VHeadline

    4th December 2005 ~CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights Reports in the Der Spiegel newspaper say CIA flights have "landed in Germany". ITN

    4th December 2005 ~ David Dionisi, a former US army intelligence officer, is convinced that plans for a nuclear attack are under way. English Aljazeera "Once a conservative Republican, Dionisi .... later rejected his political beliefs and now advocates peace, social justice and humanitarianism. .... Dionisi argues decades of unjust US foreign policies will be largely to blame for sowing the seeds of hostility and vengeance which could lead to a nuclear catastrophe.

    4th December 2005 ~"...the first definitive account of the day Mr de Menezes died." IoS

    3rd December 2005 ~ " ordinary Americans are way out in front of their largely tamed press and television reporters." Robert Fisk

    3rd December 2005 ~ "The Government's condemnation of torture needs to come across clearly in all areas of its domestic and foreign policy..." says Elizabeth Wilmshurst below. That the UK was happy enough to use "intelligence" obtained under torture, emerges from this telegram sent in July 2004 by Craig Murray when he was still British ambassador to Uzbekistan.

    3rd December 2005 ~ "...we are all part of the decision and we are all part of a democratic society. We all bear responsibility." Ninety-five bishops from President Bush's church said on Thursday they repent their "complicity" in the "unjust and immoral" invasion and occupation of Iraq. This is reported by Fox News..

    2nd December 2005 ~ "What the President was told on September 21 2001 was consistent with everything he has been told since - that the evidence was just not there." "Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks... President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda.."
    An article from the National Journal last week

    2nd December 2005 ~ If there is no truth in some of these claims, that should be said at once.(i.e. claims that the CIA is using UK airports to fly suspects for torture in secret prisons )
    "No statement that "the rules of the game have changed" can apply to principles such as these..." says Elizabeth Wilmshurst

    2nd December 2005 ~ "Pressure is mounting on the White House to answer claims that the CIA is using UK airports to fly terrorist suspects for torture in secret prisons in Europe. Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the former Foreign Office lawyer who resigned over the Iraq war, warned Tony Blair last night that he cannot duck the questions crowding in about the flights which could mean Britain has been complicit in torture..." Independent Blair faces allegations of complicity in torture

    2nd December 2005 ~ "stopping any further leaks should be our priority".
    "How do I know this?" asks Martin Bright at the New Statesman, "Because their e-mail exchanges have - in the sweetest of ironies - now been leaked to me at the New Statesman. These missives demonstrate a growing panic at the heart of Whitehall over the increasingly porous nature of the civil service...
    ....Between the disclosures that tragically contributed to the death of the UN weapons inspector David Kelly in July 2003 and the revelations at the heart of the latest secrecy trial, there has been a regular alternative supply of information to counter the official narrative of the government.
    Perhaps most important of part of this was the so-called "Downing Street memo"..... The full significance of this document has never really been recognised in this country....." Read in full

    1st December 2005 ~ U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq. The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the ... Los Angeles Times

    1st December 2005 ~ Al-Jazeera's quest for answers has been met with silence from both the White House and Downing Street ... Guardian

    1st December 2005 ~ "The strategy of the Bush administration in Iraq depends heavily on standing up battle-ready units of the new Iraqi army. " Professor Juan Cole

    He also mentions the chilling Aegis video, reported in the Sunday Telegraph last week Aegis, which was recently awarded a multimillion-dollar contract by the US government to provide security in Iraq, was started in 2002 by a former Scots Guard officer, Lt. Col. Tim Spicer. The video (now removed from the internet) shows "security guards" firing on civilian cars against a sound track of Elvis Presley's Mystery Train.

    1st December 2005 ~ No way out. Ayad Allawi warned in his interview with The Observer last Sunday

    1st December 2005 ~ The Blairwatch Blog campaign had, by Wednesday evening, 178 bloggers willing to share a cell as a result of publishing the memo that has so upset both Downing St and the White House. (Not to be confused with the document David Keogh and Leo O'Connor are charged with leaking... which was, as far as we can tell from all the confusion, the memo Iraq in the Medium Term that has been on this website as well as many others, since May 2004 - see recent blog)

    1st December 2005 ~ "A gathering storm of outrage will greet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visits Europe next week amid allegations that the CIA has been using airports and military bases across the Continent to secretly transport and detain terrorist suspects. Six countries have launched judicial investigations, Europe's top human rights watchdog has begun a probe, and the European Union has formally asked Washington to clarify reports that the Central Intelligence Agency's network of clandestine jails extends to Europe..." Christian Science Monitor

    30th November 2005 ~ "The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon." The Today Programme Listen Again on the " great claims today President Bush will make about the progress being made by Iraqi security forces"
    However, an article by Professor Martin van Crefeld' in Forward (he is the only non-American author on the U.S. Army's required reading list for officers.) entitled Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War which appeared five days ago in in Forward says,

    See also Guardian article by Brian Whtaker

    29th November 2005 ~ "You begin to speculate, you begin to wonder ... was this intelligence spun? Was it politicised? Was it cherry-picked? Did, in fact, the American people get fooled? ..." The Guardian today on the concerns of Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff.
    "Mr Wilkerson repeated his criticisms of Mr Cheney, holding him responsible for abuses of prisoners in Afghanistan...."

    29th November 2005 ~ "..There is some confusion as to why the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith is taking such measures .." Snowmail today on David Keogh and Leo O'Connor's court appearance.

    Simon Jenkins said a couple of days ago that (and see Lord Goldsmith pages)

    29th November 2005 ~ "Of course," said Maguire, "the government wouldn't be using the Official Secrets Act if the reports weren't true. This government will go to great lengths to keep this memo secret." The Robber Rabbit blog has a brief report from last night's discussion moderated by Martin Bell, at which Wadah Khanfar, the Director General of al-Jazeera Channel, and Kevin Maguire, Associate Editor of the Daily Mirror, spoke at the Frontine Club

    29th November 2005 ~" If Sir Ian, or any of his officers, are found to have knowingly made misleading statements they will be under pressure to resign. A statement from the IPCC said the inquiry would be separate from the current investigation into the fatal shooting. ..." Independent

    28/29th November 2005 ~ David Keogh and Leo O'Connor will appear before Bow Street magistrates on Tuesday. They are charged with leaking the secret 5-page FCO government memo....Warmwell Blog a mess of memos, a wealth of whistle-blowers

    28th November 2005 ~ Sir Ian Blair is to be investigated by the police complaints commission over his role in the immediate aftermath of the killing of Mr de Menezes. See Reuters

    28th November 2005 ~Attorney general. "Me, of all people, gag the press? Heaven forfend." Michel Berlins in the Guardian

    28th November 2005 ~ "Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of US military reprisal, a high-ranking Red Cross official estimated that "at least 800 civilians" were killed in the first 9 days of the November 2004 assault on Fallujah. .." MediaLens Alert on the tragedy of the embedded BBC, White Phosphorus, Fallujah And Unreported Atrocities

    28th November 2005 ~"a definition of absolute you'll be unfamiliar with" Don't be put off by the name; the Chicken Yoghurt blog is well written, angry and funny. :

    The Chicken Yoghurt blogger comments: That's a definition of absolute you'll be unfamiliar with. When we say absolute, we mean "not limited by restrictions or exceptions". What Blair means by it, well, you'd have to ask him. I think it means Tony condones torture, whatever the nauseating wordplay he uses for sake of appearances."

    28th November 2005 ~ "suddenly we need to protest to the British Government about its human rights record. Our own government." BBC: "Security service MI5 has received information given by terror suspects held in "secret prisons" outside the US, the BBC has learned."
    Chicken Yoghurt says "It costs two pounds a month to join Amnesty International. I joined this morning because suddenly we need to protest to the British Government about its human rights record. Our own government. I'd urge you to do the same."

    27th November 2005 ~ ".....why invoke the Official Secrets Act to ban such material? Here the plot thickens. ...." Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times

    (and see Lord Goldsmith pages)

    27th November 2005 ~ "In the face of Britain's most egregious foreign policy misjudgment since Suez, ministers can no longer remain in denial ....." No more evasions We deserve the whole truth about the lead up to this disastrous war, argues Menzies Campbell in The Observer

    27th November 2005 ~ "what do they have to hide?" ask Raymond Whitaker and Marie Woolf in the Independent on Sunday

    27th November 2005 ~" Lord Goldsmith denied that he had intervened to save the Government from embarrassment, telling Radio 4's Today programme that he was acting in his legal capacity to prevent prejudice to this week's trial. He would not say whether national security was at issue..." Independent on SundayPM on the defensive over Official Secrets Act trial By Raymond Whitaker and Marie Woolf

    26th November 2005 ~ Paul Drayson, the junior defence minister who in recent years has been one of the Labour Party's biggest contributors, and has not only been given a peerage but put in charge of Britain's arms procurement. For the rest of us it has not been a bargain.... Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph with his usual jaw-dropping tales. Read the account of a "crazy kind of reasonable" and weep.

    26th November 2005 ~ UK would use information gained by torture "Tony Blair has been accused of undermining decades of British campaigning for international human rights by using the war on terror to give a "green light" to torture... Amnesty International is to launch an unprecedented global campaign tomorrow against the British Government after ministers admitted they would use information gained by torture to prevent attacks on the United Kingdom.......... .a letter-writing campaign targeting Mr Blair and build international pressure to oppose plans to deport suspects to countries that use torture..." Independent

    26th November 2005 ~ Hear from Your MP - another step towards actual democracy and accountability from the same volunteer team that brought us Fax Your MP and They Work for You.

    25th November 2005 ~"I'll go to jail to print the truth about Bush and al-Jazeera" says Boris Johnson

    Blairwatch asks "Would any other bloggers like to join us in this pledge? Please let us know by comment or trackback or email if you're with us." (We are.)
    Peter Kifoyle's EDMs are EDM 1084 and EDM1117

    25th November 2005 ~ Is your MP among Friday evening's list of those supporting this Early Day Motion? EDM 1088 : CONDUCT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY IN RELATION TO THE WAR AGAINST IRAQ (see below)
    Hogg, Douglas
    Simpson, Alan
    Campbell, Menzies
    Llwyd, Elfyn
    Salmond, Alex
    Clarke, Kenneth
    Price, Adam
    Shepherd, Richard
    Short, Clare
    Holmes, Paul
    Hopkins, Kelvin
    Jackson, Glenda
    Jones, Lynne
    Marshall-Andrews, Robert
    McDonnell, John
    Mitchell, Austin
    Browning, Angela
    Corbyn, Jeremy
    Cryer, Ann
    Evans, Nigel
    George, Andrew
    Gibson, Ian
    Austin, John
    Bottomley, Peter
    Wallace, Ben
    Wareing, Robert N
    Weir, Mike
    Whittingdale, John
    Williams, Hywel
    Wishart, Pete
    Jackson, Stewart
    Pugh, John
    Smith, Robert
    Harvey, Nick
    Keetch, Paul
    Lilley, Peter
    Moore, Michael
    Brake, Tom
    Hancock, Mike
    Tapsell, Peter
    Browne, Jeremy
    Harper, Mark
    Hosie, Stewart
    Howarth, David
    MacNeil, Angus
    If not, and you wonder why not, trying faxing your MP online (new window). It is simple. Press report

    25th November 2005 ~ al-Jazeera's director general, is flying to Britain this weekend Guardian

    BBC "Many of al-Jazeera's employees have long been privately convinced that their offices in Kabul and Baghdad were deliberately targeted by the Pentagon in 2001 and 2003 respectively."

    24/25th November 2005 ~ Is your MP supporting this Early Day Motion? EDM 1088 : CONDUCT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY IN RELATION TO THE WAR AGAINST IRAQ
    (new window) Fax Your MP to ask.
    ( If not, perhaps they might write and tell you why not.)

    (If this paragraph could be emailed to friends and family with a request that they might want to pass it to others, it would perhaps help Mr Hogg.)

    24th November 2005 ~ Gagging the press "It is time for the media and lawyers to view the current gag in light of Gun's case. It is time for an editor to challenge the political process and force the issue to be put before a politically unbiased court of law.
    To the extent that the attorney general may choose to threaten the UK press, the press should robustly rebut such threat with reference to the European convention on human rights. Under Article 10 of the convention the freedom to receive and impart information can only be constrained if it is prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society..." Guardian

    24th November 2005 ~Today Interview with Ambassador Joseph Wilson
    (Mr Blair )"... will have to explain exactly how that happened but certainly, as an outsider, it looks like he was double crossed and had no choice but to go along with it." (written extracts from the Today Interview with Ambassador Wilson : warmwell transcript)

    24th November 2005 ~ Plame Scandal On the Today Programme today, Ambassador Joseph Wilson spoke to James Naughtie (extracts: warmwell transcript)
    BBC: "The husband of the CIA agent whose identity was revealed by the White House, says that Tony Blair was double crossed by those in the Bush administration who wanted to go to war with Iraq regardless of the situation on weapons of mass destruction." Listen Again

    And the interview with Mr Wilson himself: Listen Again See also Valerie Plame pages and the Niger pages on warmwell.
    (written extracts from the Today Interview with Ambassador Wilson.)

    24th November 2005 ~Sending a signal to others?. Richard Norton-Taylor and Michael White in the Guardian - Secrecy gag prompted by fear of new Blair-Bush revelations today talk of , "this week's unprecedented threat by the attorney general to use the Official Secrets Act against national newspapers."

    (What one finds odd about this "unprecedented threat" by Lord Goldsmith in gagging details of a conversation that happened 18 months ago, is that if a transcript were published openly it could justify those criticised by Sir Christopher Meyer. Sir Christopher's criticism that Britain never complains to Washington over what happens in Iraq caused an uproar. Why not refute it? Is there something more in the memo that could cause even more dismay if it came to light? )

    23rd November 2005 ~ 1,283 visitors had watched Tim Ireland's The World According to Leo Blair (new window) by 10.00 pm. (broadband needed unless you are very patient)

    24th November 2005 ~The Jose Padilla case New York Times

    (Even at the time of his arrest, Time magazine was pointing out how "former Chicago gangbanger" Padilla had "no radioactive material or any other bomb-making equipment. Nor had he chosen a target, or formulated a plan" and that "Unkind voices in Washington even drew attention to the fact that the timing of the announcement had helped the administration forestall criticism over the government's handling of intelligence and security matters.")

    23rd November 2005 ~"double attack on the freedom of the press and freedom of information"
    The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith has threatened newspapers with the Official Secrets Act and the Contempt of Court Act if they publish details of a leaked document referred to by the Mirror yesterday in which, at a White House summit on April 16 last year, Mr Bush apparently told Mr Blair that he wanted to target Al Jazeera. U.S. forces in Iraq were launching a major assault on Fallujah at the time. The Mirror quoted an "unnamed government official" suggesting Bush's threat was a joke but added another unidentified source saying the U.S. president was serious. Today's Mirror says

    The Guardian reports: Reuters reminds us that "In 2001, the station's Kabul office was hit by U.S. bombs and in 2003 Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a U.S. strike on its Baghdad office. The United States has denied deliberately targeting the station."

    23rd November 2005 ~ CIA's alleged use of secret prisons The Council of Europe has given European governments three months to reveal anything they know about the use of clandestine prisons to hold terrorist suspects and secret flights to move them between countries. Reuters says "The move came amid a growing wave of investigations by prosecutors, judges and human rights groups around Europe into the CIA's alleged use of clandestine prisons to hold terrorist suspects ..."

    23rd November 2005 ~ A Commons motion, signed by MPs from all main parties "..will be tabled to test the water for the creation of a seven-strong committee of privy councillors to prevent what one MP called "other botched military interventions in Iran or elsewhere" Guardian

    22nd November 2005 ~ "The media couldn't have made a bigger pig's ear of the white phosphorus story" George Monbiot in the Guardian

    Apologies that the David Traynier article below was incorrectly uploaded yesterday. A link to the declassified document George Monbiot mentions can be found on Gabrielle's blog at

    22nd November 2005 ~ "Murtha pointed out that a recent poll indicated that 80% of Iraqis want the U.S. out. This poll, a secret British defense ministry survey conducted in August 2005, is consistent with earlier polls and several facts: ..." Juan Cole quotes Gilbert Achcar and Stephen R. Shalom - who examine John Murtha's position. ".....Nevertheless, the anti-war movement needs to be careful not to confuse Murtha's position with its own."

    22nd November 2005 ~ Iraq's Oil "Iraqis face the dire prospect of losing up to $200bn (#116bn) of the wealth of their country if an American-inspired plan to hand over development of its oil reserves to US and British multinationals comes into force next year..." Independent

    22nd November 2005 ~ "Peers now look certain to throw out the contentious proposal to outlaw the "glorification" of terrorism, which critics warn will stifle free speech. And the row over locking up terrorist suspects without trial is to be reignited as a Labour peer plans a fresh attempt to force a 90-day detention period into law..." Independent

    22nd November 2005 ~ Dick Cheney now calls Murtha "a good man, a Marine, a patriot." in, as the Los Angeles Times puts it, "using an olive branch" to "lash his foes".
    The New York Times says,

    The NYT also quotes a former war-supporter constituent of Senator Murtha saying: "It's really surprising that you would see Mr. Murtha speaking out and saying that it's time to get out, and if he's saying it then it's probably so."

    22nd November 2005 ~ 'green shoots' of an oncoming shift here in the UK too? David Traynier who writes on the Persistence of Vision message board, writes in response to the Tom Dispatch below:

    21st November 2005 ~ a deeper disquiet about the war on both sides of the aisle USA Today

    21st November 2005 ~ " there is something else astir in the United States of America and Willie-Pete" (GI jargon for white phosphorus) has become to Iraq what napalm became to Vietnam - a flashpoint illuminating the savagery of what is taking place under the guise of bringing democracy to Iraq."

    21st November 2005 ~ "Don't even ask to see him because he's a fabricator and he's crazy." was the way a German intelligence officer had referred to Curveball, the Iraqi defector whose claims Colin Powell vouched for in an address to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, just before the war. The CIA later learned that Curveball was the brother of a top aide to Chalabi. In May 2004, Chalabi denied providing false Iraqi WMD data, saying ".. It was up to them to analyze this and the responsibility for reporting to the president after analyzing the information is not mine, neither is it the INCs. It is the job of the adviser to the president on intelligence and it is the responsibility of the CIA," (Global Security Newswire)
    James L. Pavitt, deputy director of operations and head of the CIA until he retired last summer

    Now (see Independent today ) a presidential commission in the US is claiming that top CIA officials ignored repeated warnings before the invasion that Curveball's information was at best dubious, if not downright wrong. All this at a time that Washington is also still reverberating from the outburst of John Murtha

    21st November 2005 ~"one-man tipping point " The ex-Marine and decorated Vietnam veteran John Murtha is not impressed by the insults of the the President, Vice President, National Security Adviser, and others. Mr Murtha says

    Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's, writes very interestingly about how the language of headline writers is showing a subtle change.

    20th November 2005 ~ " thanks to Miller's story, they could point to "proof" of Saddam's "nuclear threat." An extraordinary article by James Bamford, reveals that the false testimony of Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, the Iraqi civil engineer who said that tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons had been buried by Saddam, was actually "evidence" that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon. John Rendon is described as Bush's colonel of propaganda

    20th November 2005 ~ " If we were going to spend #30 billion on improving our security could we not deploy it better on something other than identity cards, which are clearly as watertight as a colander? .......the prime minister has shown that we should rely on him least on what matters most: national security.."
    Michael Portillo's article in the Sunday Times pulls no punches about the dangerous nature of our leaders. He argues that "Both Bush and Blair are zealots: men with a mission. They think that to appear tough they must take dramatic, exceptional measures. They believe that they face a unique threat, which is absurd when you consider what massive evils our countries fought and overcame during the 20th century" As for the blow to ID cards struck by Dame Stella Rimington:

    20th November 2005 ~ M... project rolls on regardless.... Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph this week reports on the "astonishing speed" with which Charles Clarke, is bulldozing through Government plans to restructure the 43 local police forces of England and Wales on "regional lines", and the fact that John Prescott is railroading through his plan to give England eight regional governments in spite of the four to one veto of the people in the North-East against an elected regional assembly. Read in full

    18/19 November 2005 ~ John Murtha's speech and resolutionThe Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania, John Murtha, gave a press conference on Thursday introducing his resolution for redeployment of American troops in Iraq "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us..." Read in full. The Guardian reports that

    18 November 2005 ~ ITV "A former CIA director has claimed that torture is condoned and even approved by the Bush government. The devastating accusations have been made by Admiral Stansfield Turner who labelled Dick Cheney "a vice president for torture". He said: "We have crossed the line into dangerous territory"...."

    18 November 2005 ~ "the full advice of the attorney general of March 7 2003. Far from being unequivocal, it is full of legal riders and cautionary statements: the language of resolution 1441 "leaves the position unclear", "arguments can be made on both sides", and "the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force". Further, he advised that the government should "consider extremely carefully whether the evidence of non-cooperation and non-compliance by Iraq is sufficiently compelling to justify the conclusion that Iraq has failed to take its final opportunity"...." From an article in the Guardian by Paul Shiner, a solicitor acting for Military Families Against the War (See also warmwell pages on Lord Goldsmith's advice)

    18 November 2005 ~ "Former president Bill Clinton's verdict that the war in Iraq was "a big mistake" is echoing around the world ...

    Washington Post by Howard Kurtz."If I had to pick one of the least likely candidates to demand an immediate pullout from Iraq, the Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania would be right up there. Vietnam veteran, big Pentagon supporter, rarely makes waves on the Hill..."

    18 November 2005 ~Guantanamo Bay In Geneva today, human rights experts announced that the United Nations (UN) inspection of the Guantanamo Bay US military prison has been abandoned after access to detainees was denied by the American authorities. See Guardian and others

    18 November 2005 ~ illegal prison camps in Poland or Romania U.S. detention policies have attracted new notice in Europe since the Washington Post report that dozens of detainees have been held in a network of secret "black sites" run by the CIA. ...... Amnesty director general Irene Khan ssaid in London that there is "a huge responsibility on the UK, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, to investigate what is going on, whether it be Poland or Romania, and both have been named" Reuters "Why won't they let people come and inspect? What have they got to hide?"

    18 November 2005 ~ Official Secrets Act used to charge the Downing Street memo whistleblowers Ex-civil servant David Keogh and former MP's researcher Leo O'Connor, both from Northampton, will appear before Bow Street magistrates on 29 November. The BBC , which does not refer to the sensational contents of the memos, says they have received police bail.

    Although constantly referred to in the US press (At least one influential a website is dedicated to the fallout from them) the Downing Street memos have, in spite of or because of their extraordinary content, received little coverage by the official media in this country.
    According to the minutes, Sir Richard Dearlove is shown to have concluded that war was "inevitable" because "Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action," and "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Mr Blair had told the Cabinet "If the political context were right, people would support regime change," Jack Straw had said the case for war was "thin" because "Saddam was not threatening his neighbors and his WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran " and an ultimatum to allow in U.N. weapons inspectors, provoking a confrontation, would "help with the legal justification for the use of force."
    That the memos are genuine has never been denied by Downing Street - and if anything further were needed to prove their authenticity, this use of the OSA provides it .

    18 November 2005 ~ The Register reports on the Lords' rejection of ID cards, Dame Stella Rimington's views, the price of biometrics and several other issues that are related. More

    17 November 2005 ~The questions in the YouGov survey which allowed some of our politicians to assert the existence of "public support for 90 day detention of suspected terrorists without trial" were, as so often in such polls, somewhat weighted towards the required outcome. 2014 people were questioned. has a close look at the options offered to those questioned.

    (See the actual statement options and percentages) Some might say that Intelligence was being fixed around the policy.

    17 November 2005 ~ EU network of spy satellites will allow Brussels "to ensure nations and private individuals are obeying its policies." From EU Referendum blog

    17 November 2005 ~ the police were wrong to adopt a secret "shoot to kill" strategy against suicide bombers without public debate, says Ian Blair The Independent

    Other things "have to change" too, perhaps. The concept of accountability for arrogant mistakes - particularly deadly ones - needs no public debate as to its rightness but we see very little sign of it in today's UK. The Telegraph revealed yesterday that the police used the banned "dum dum" bullets to shoot Mr Menezes in the head at point blank range.

    17 November 2005 ~ David Davis says arguments for ID cards are "completely bogus". Yesterday's comments by Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, about the uselessness of ID cards in the war against terror, have been "seized on by opposition parties," says the BBC this morning.

    See also (new window)

    17 November 2005 ~ Under the heading "Smokescreen", the BBC reports how worried MPs have become by the admission of the Pentagon spokesman, Lt Col Barry Venable, on Tuesday that white phosphorus had indeed been used as an "incendiary weapon against enemy combatants".

    (See also Guardian "....Since the Guardian columnist George Monbiot highlighted discrepancies in US accounts of weapons used in the bloody battle of Falluja this week, the Pentagon has backtracked on earlier denials..."). Meanwhile, in the US, Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday that accusations the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify the war were a "dishonest and reprehensible" political ploy.(see Reuters) _ and see also the latest twist in the Valerie Plame case

    17 November 2005 ~ Incendiary weapons: The big white lie says the Independent US finally admits using white phosphorus in Fallujah - and beyond. Iraqis investigate if civilians were targeted with deadly chemical "........persuasive evidence that civilians had been among the victims.
    The fresh controversy over Fallujah, which has raged for a full 12 months, was initially sparked last week by a documentary by the Italian state broadcaster, RAI, which claimed there were numerous civilian casualties. A Pentagon spokesman said yesterday he would "not be surprised" if WP had been used by US forces elsewhere in Iraq. ..." Read in full

    17 November 2005 ~ free trade without unnecessary regulation or political union. Daniel Hannan MEP sets out the case for the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which, he says, "comes close to realising the dispensation that most British voters always wanted from Europe" People in EFTA enjoy lower inflation, higher employment, healthier budget surpluses and lower real interest rates. Interestingly, they also export more per head than EU states, selling $16,498 per capita to overseas markets  the highest ratio in the world.

    16 November 2005 ~ ID cards won't make us safer says Former MI5 chief Dame Stella Rimington Guardian "...and nobody in the secret intelligence services supports their introduction..... I don't think anybody in the intelligence services - not in my former service - will be pressing for ID cards."

    16 November 2005 ~ legislation to stop funding the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts) has introduced the "End the War in Iraq Act of 2005." H.R. 4232. The bill would allow Defense Department funds to be used only to provide for: the safe and orderly withdrawal of all troops; consultations with other governments, NATO, and the UN regarding international forces.....the bill would not prohibit or restrict non-defense funding to carry out reconstruction in Iraq.

    16 November 2005 ~ "serious charges should be laid against British ministers" " America is shrewdly retreating from Afghanistan, knowing that the place is heading for trouble. Britain is the fall guy. Will the same happen in Iraq? " asks Simon Jenkins in the Guardian.

    16 November 2005 ~ The US has won its fight to stay in charge of the internet, despite opposition from many nations. See BBC
    This month, Le Monde Diplomatique said, "In theory, hegemony over the net gives the US the power to limit anyone's access to any site in any country. It can also block emails anywhere in the world....this is the time to demand that Icann cease to answer to Washington. Instead it should be turned into an indepedent organisation under UN supervision."

    16 November 2005 ~ Iraq has ordered an investigation of allegations that many of the 173 detainees discovered in the basement of an Interior Ministry building had been tortured. A senior Iraqi official who visited the detainees said two appeared paralyzed and others had some of the skin peeled off their bodies by their abusers. New York Times See also Channel 4

    15 November 2005 ~ Chemical weapons used on Fallujah "Saddam, facing a possible death sentence, is accused of mass murder, torture, false imprisonment and the use of chemical weapons. He is certainly guilty on all counts. So, it now seems, are those who overthrew him." George Monbiot

    15 November 2005 ~ White Phosphorus merely used as "smokecreen" as the US ambassador claims? The Independent today quotes three US soldiers who said WP shells were used against insurgents taking cover in trenches.

    14 November 2005 ~Allegations that Iran is attempting to build a nuclear warhead.( See Independent. ) However, Iran's intentions to obtain the full nuclear cycle date from the 1970s when its nuclear energy programmes was set up with the US and some European governments. Le Monde Diplomatique this month comments:

    14 November 2005 ~ Mr Blair's "charm offensive" (Guardian) John Denham warned

    14 November 2005 ~ Venuzuela "Days after branding Mexican President Vicente Fox a "lapdog" of U.S. imperialism for backing Washington's trade policies at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, Chavez warned him "Don't mess with me, mister, because you'll get pricked." Reuters

    12/13 November 2005 ~ Simon Jenkins "Its not a Blair police state we need fear, its his state police"

    12/13 November 2005 ~ "attacks on Meyer risked backfiring"Attempts to smear Sir Christopher Meyer (Who tells the Independent today that he is " in no mood to take lectures from politicians") include the "revelation" that he once displayed in the British Embassy a topless picture - part of a spoof newspaper story given as a leaving present from a previous job .
    The Observer, having described the charities (including one whose patrons include Cherie Blair and Laura Bush) to which all the money from the serialisation of his book will go, quotes Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb who "called on him to 'consider his position,' because somehow giving to these charities "creates a potential conflict, and his position is incompatible with that."
    Sir Christopher Meyer also told The Observer he would

    See also Independent on Sunday "... the now infamous description of cabinet members as "political pygmies" - have incensed politicians from all parties. None more so than Mr Straw, whom Sir Christopher hardly mentions in his account of the discussions between Britain and the US about Iraq. He suggests that it is this that has driven the Foreign Secretary "bonkers"...personally I just didn't find myself dealing with the Foreign Office. The strategic conversations, the big conversations were all with Downing Street...."

    12/13 November 2005 ~ That the Met Police chief "overstepped the mark" with his support for detention of terror suspects is the stated view of Charles Kennedy. See BBC and the Independent on Sunday "... senior police officers are blaming the Government for dragging them into the growing row ..."

    12/13 November 2005 ~ Uncomfortable reading for the government as Booker's Notebook in the Sunday Telegraph continues (for the present) to say what they would rather was not said: the quiet closure of all UK ammunition, aviation and military repair and engineering services, Mr Blair's cosy relationship with a China whose "murderous treatment of Tibetans, Christians, Muslims, dissidents and strikers" necessitates the use of mobile execution vans, the sneaky change of wording on a Commons select committee website to try " to get it off a legal hook which could cost local authorities billions of pounds" and the revelation that the insistence by the Royal Courts of Justice that "no attempt to suppress the findings of a High Court judgment" had been made in the DEFRA v Ruttles case is simply untrue. Defra's lawyers had insisted that to reveal the

    would be "contempt of court".Read in full and see also Christopher Booker on the Ruttles judgement in September

    12/13 November 2005 ~ Blair faces fresh ID card rebellion says today's Observer

    12/13 November 2005 ~ Congress had "access to the same intelligence as the administration"? (If this information - and much more like it - can be found on the internet after a search of a few minutes, why does Mr Bush think he can continue to make such assertions?)
    What Congress and we in the UK heard was that

    Yet even the NIE had judged in October 2002, the tubes were rocket fuselages with no connection to uranium. From "Iraq's Continuing Program for Weapons of Mass Destruction Key Judgements (from October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate ) See also from "Conservatives falsely claimed White House and Congress saw "same intelligence" on Iraqi threat"

    12/13 November 2005 ~ A document ( See New York Times ) from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), only recently declassified and thus not read by Congress at the time, shows that strong doubts were voiced about the credibility of certain informants such as the Al Qaeda scientist known as "Curveball" and Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, whose statements were used as the foundation for claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons.
    Aluminum tubes were substituted by Powell at the last minute to replace the Niger-yellowcake connection favored by the President in his State of the Union speech.

    12/13 November 2005 ~ Who was responsible for the erroneous information being presented to the American public, Congress, and the international community? The White House even withheld from Senate investigators the Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs) on Iraq delivered to the Oval Office before the war (See

    12/13 November 2005 ~ "We were so appalled at what had arrived from the White House".... Vanity Fair 2004

    11 November 2005 ~ "...who was to blame? Why Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, of course. The same tiresome, odd, ruthless, nebulous Zarqawi ..." Robert Fisk today on the Jordan bombings

    11 November 2005 ~ "Police chiefs were facing a backlash from MPs last night over their "crass and crude" attempt to influence the Commons vote on the Government's controversial plans to detain terrorist suspects for 90 days without charge..." WMN

    11 November 2005 ~ "... Venezuela a "post-Iraq threat" requiring "full spectrum" planning" John Pilger on the rise of popular social movements, from Colombia down to Argentina - and US plans to counter such movements

    11 November 2005 ~" The worm is in the fruit" Le Monde editorial yesterday "For three centuries, democracy has been founded on the principle of habeas corpus.....Mr Blair says his defeat does not call his authority into question, but he will have a hard time persuading others of that ..... Mr Blair suffered a defeat and had to make a semi-admission of weakness by calling for reinforcement from his "dauphin" et rival, Gordon Brown. The countdown to his departure may well have got under way."

    11 November 2005 ~ The anti-terror bill will create a "significant chill factor" in the Muslim community, censor those who criticise British foreign policy and drive extremists further underground, the government's advisers warned yesterday. Guardian

    11 November 2005 ~ ".. Peter Lilley and Stephen Dorrell have criticised the government for using chief constables to lobby MPs ahead of the detention plan vote. In a Commons motion, they said they feared the move was a "damaging step towards the politicisation of the police". BBC

    11 November 2005 ~ Professor Juan Cole on Senator McCain's suggestion that US forces concentrate on making a handful of key cities safe rather than doing sweep and clear missions like Tal Afar and Husaybah. "Elected Iraqi politicians simply could not risk putting more foreign troops into a place like Baghdad-- their constituents would rebel. Why does McCain not know this, if I do?"

    10 November 2005 ~ Jordan bombings "one of those little mysteries..." Professor Cole

    10 November 2005 ~ "Mr Blair sat grim-faced and shaking his head in the Commons as it was announced that the 90-day detention plan had been rejected by 322 votes to 291. A total of 49 Labour backbenchers joined the Tories and Liberal Democrats to reject the proposal." Independent "......Senior ministers may now swing behind Mr Brown in pressing Mr Blair to outline his departure timetable for the sake of party unity. "He has got to name a date," said one Brownite MP."

    9 November 2005 ~ Mr Blair' first defeat. He lost the vote by 31 votes. Reuters quotes Richard Wyn Jones, political expert at Aberystwyth University, whosaid Blair's standing had definitely taken a hit.

    9 November 2005 ~ Professor Cole brings some much-needed sanity to the hype surrounding the french riots - in particular the highly offensive comments by some right-wing American commentators which he calls

    9 November 2005 ~ "... backlash from angry Labour MPs" Independent

    See also "Today, Tony Blair faces trial by Parliament over plans to extend the detention of terror suspects without charge. Here, we test his case..." Independent and "PM's biggest risk is that he will face Commons defeat for first time" Independent".....The bookies are offering odds of 1/2 that Mr Blair will get his way, but the numbers remain desperately close......The Lords is expected to throw out any increased detention period and the "glorification" proposal, returning an emasculated Bill to MPs."

    8 November 2005 ~ US forces 'used chemical weapons' on Fallujah The Independent

    8 November 2005 ~ "The country that began by forbidding cruel and unusual punishment is ending by formally authorizing torture on a grand scale" Professor Juan Cole writes, "The use of incendiary bombs against civilian targets or concentrations of civilians with no military function is forbidden by Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Although the US ratified Protocols I and II of the Convention, it does not appear to have adopted Protocol III into US law.
    There also exists a Convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction, Paris 13 January 1993, which went into effect in 1997 and which the United States signed...." Informed Comment

    8 November 2005 ~ the swing vote for war or peace "President Bush would still have faced an agonising decision if he had encountered opposition from his key ally, Britain, in the weeks before the war in 2003." Sir Christopher Meyer Independent

    8 November 2005 ~ "a 90-day detention limit was one of the most notorious aspects of the apartheid regime in South Africa. .." Michael Howard. The Government will press ahead with the 90-day proposal in a Commons vote tomorrow, but Mr Blair put in place a fall-back position if the Government is defeated. He has talked of "a compromise with the nation's security"
    The Tories have insisted that they would not move beyond a 28-day limit. See Independent

    8 November 2005 ~ "the row over Saddam's mythical WMD, whose existence was so vigorously promulgated by Mr Chalabi and his followers, has exploded into full view again with the CIA leak scandal...... The episode has heavily discredited Mr Cheney, arguably the fiercest advocate for war within the administration, who insisted on the validity of the phoney WMD information peddled by Iraqi defectors linked to Mr Chalabi and the INC. It has also shattered the credibility of Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who wrote pre-war WMD stories based on information supplied to her, it is assumed, by Mr Chalabi and Mr Libby..." The Independent today on Chalabi offers the White House an exit route from Iraqi quagmire

    7 November 2005 ~more concerned with his place in history than with the continuing success of the party he leads Roy Hattersley on Tony Blair Guardian

    7 November 2005 ~ Blair's litany of failures on Iraq - ambassador's damning verdict says the Guardian this morning

    7 November 2005 ~ Blair faces angry rebel MPs with an offer of terror Bill compromise

    7 November 2005 ~ The Washington Post reports a new poll that shows that the US public's approval of Bush in the realms of trust, honesty and values has declined even in his base:

    7 November 2005 ~ "A UN auditing board has recommended the United States pay as much as 208 million dollars to Iraq for over-billing or shoddy work performed by a subsidiary of US oil services firm Halliburton, The New York Times reported on Saturday." more

    7 November 2005 ~ "The bodies are arriving at the mortuary in Baghdad in such large numbers that the orderlies have run out of places to store them properly." Telegraph

    6 November 2005 ~"Last week MPs passed, albeit by just one vote, Charles Clarkes latest dreadful anti-terrorism bill...." Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times

    6 November 2005 ~ US economic woes linked to imperial policy
    From TomDispatch

    6 November 2005 ~ David Davis - Christopher Booker with an anecdote that ought to cheer the Davis camp. Booker's Notebook

    5 November 2005 ~ War has contributed to home-grown terrorism - London's former ambassador to Washington says the war in Iraq fuelled home-grown terrorism in Britain. Sir Christopher Meyer, who was heavily involved in the planning that led up to the war, said he disagreed with Blair's view that joining the United States in the 2003 invasion of Iraq had not exposed Britain to terrorist attacks.

    Sir Christopher's

    4/5 November 2005 ~ The Council of Europe has demanded an investigation into claims the US ran secret jails for terror suspects. BBC "The human rights watchdog called the claims "extremely worrying" and said such prisons would constitute a serious human rights violation. A US newspaper said such prisons were set up in eight countries - some of them unnamed Eastern European states...."

    4 November 2005 ~ terror bill " Mr Clarke's apology left a "cloud of uncertainty" over its legality. .." Guardian

    4 November 2005 ~"inhuman and degrading treatment" The Law Lords have ruled that the UK Asylum policy has forced hundreds of asylum-seekers to sleep rough and that it violates their human rights. See Independent

    4 November 2005 ~"Fifty-five percent said the Bush administration intentionally misled the public in making its case for war...." Reuters reports that

    4 November 2005 ~" it emerged that the Government survived a key vote on Wednesday night because nine Tories and two Liberal Democrats were absent from the Commons...." Telegraph

    3 November 2005 ~ "Whether or not Blunkett was sacked, he deserved to be sacked." writes Matthew Parris in the Times- but sees no reason why he should not return.

    3 November 2005 ~Paris Riots Professor Cole says, "The mainstream press doesn't seem to be connecting the dots here, but the continued marginalization, high unemployment and discrimination faced by the large French Muslim community could help push them toward Salafi radicalism. And that has implications for Iraq and for the future of Europe..."

    3 November 2005 ~ Terrorism Bill "Tony Blair's majority slumped to just one yesterday after a humiliating revolt against the Government's planned anti-terror laws." Independent "Labour rebels joined opposition MPs to slash Labour's 66-strong majority to the lowest level since 1997 as they inflicted a crippling blow to the legislation just hours after Mr Blair insisted that the Bill was vital to protect Britain's security ..." See also Blair will promote the loyalists in bid to regain control of Cabinet

    3 November 2005 ~ "Top White House aides are privately discussing the future of Karl Rove, with some expressing doubt that President Bush can move beyond the damaging CIA leak case as long as his closest political strategist remains in the administration." See warmwell page on the Plame case (Investigations may be getting closer to Dick Cheney.)

    3 November 2005 ~Mass protests in the US " we are staring down the barrel of fascism in this country" Reuters

    3 November 2005 ~ "you really could be forgiven for thinking the world had gone mad..." Snowmail yesterday

    2 November 2005 ~ CIA's covert prison system The CIA has been holding and interrogating captives at a secret facility in Eastern Europe, part of a covert prison system established after September 11, 2001 ... virtually nothing is known about who the detainees are, how they are interrogated or about decisions on how long they will be held.... they have no recognized legal rights and no one outside the CIA is allowed to talk with or see them...." Reuters

    2 November 2005 ~ Mr Blunkett's resignation Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian. While essentially sympathetic to David Blunkett, Jonathan Freedland suggests that he gor drawn into a set that "believed neither in working hard nor playing by the rules - and Blunkett seemed to get drawn in. Or, less complicatedly, he may just have lost his judgment"..... "his story will endure, living on as a kind of parable of the strange journey Labour itself made over two remarkable decades."

    2 November 2005 ~ "A liberal government .......defends liberty from fear in all its forms ..". Simon Jenkins points out what ought, in a saner society, to be sickeningly obvious

    2 November 2005 ~ Mr Blair's Place in History? Tony Benn in today's Guardian writes,

    1/2 November 2005 ~ The US Democrats have forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session demanding answers about intelligence that led to the Iraq war. No vote is required in such circumstances. See Associated Press via Guardian

    31st October 2005 ~ US forces tonight stand accused of having killed forty of Iraqi residents says Channel 4's Snowmail " reports sketchy but it's being described as an 'atrocity' ..."

    31st October 2005 ~ US admits it is keeping track of civilian casualties in Iraq says the Independent today

    This means that insurgent attacks have killed almost twenty-six thousand Iraqis since January 2004. but we still don't know how many Iraqis have been killed or wounded by American forces.
    The US defence department always claimed it didn't keep a body count.

    30th October 2005 ~ "Aziz denies Galloway claims " Tariq Aziz, (the former deputy prime minister of Iraq who is still under arrest but not charged), through his lawyer, Badia Aref, has denied telling investigators that George Galloway personally profited from the UN oil-for-food programme for Iraq . Aref said Aziz confirmed that Iraq had participated with some $45,000 (25,000 pounds) in the Mariam Appeal cancer charity set up by Galloway, but only to help sick Iraqi children. As for the US claimes that Mr Galloway profited: "These are lies ... He [Aziz] denied this," Mr Aref said. "It is part of a media campaign aimed at smearing Galloway's reputation," said the lawyer.
    (See Reuters)

    29th October 2005 ~ "... as the Libby case moves forward, it is likely to focus more attention on the vice president's position as one of the most-powerful behind-the-scenes figures in government." The Los Angeles Times.

    Juan Cole remarks drily today,

    28th October 2005 ~ Libby indicted. Karl Rove will remain under investigation CBS News has learned that a grand jury will indict Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. The indictment will be for making false statements in connection with the CIA leak probe. That indictment will soon be announced. A source tells CBS that presidential confidant Karl Rove won't face immediate indictment but will remain under investigation. Reuters says that "Patrick Fitzgerald has informed President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, that he will be spared indictment on Friday, although he will remain under investigation and in legal jeopardy. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, had no immediate comment."
    Valerie Plame case pages on warmwell.

    27th October 2005 ~ Silvio Berlusconi instructed Italian Military Intelligence to plant the evidence implicating Saddam in a bogus uranium deal with Niger.

    See La Repubblica.

    27th October 2005 ~ Miers withdraws. President Bush's choice for Supreme Court justice nominee, Harriet Miers, withdrew from consideration today. See Reuters We await news of developments in the Valerie Plame case

    26th October 2005 ~ Deepcut open day angers dead soldiers' families Telegraph ".. the open day has been labelled a "farce" and "insensitive" by the families of the dead soldiers.

    26th October 2005 ~ Reuters" Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald arrived at the courthouse on Wednesday as a federal grand jury considers whether to bring criminal charges over the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity." Plame Case Fitzgerald, accompanied by other prosecutors, had no comment as he entered the courthouse.

    23rd October 2005 ~ The Great Iran Crock, Blair and AEI Professor Juan Cole is scathing about what he calls "disinformation and lies" about the alleged involvement of Iran in giving bombs to Iraq. Mr Blair has been fixing the intelligence, it would seem.

    23rd October 2005 ~ Unleashing the little Hitlers "The Prevention of Terrorism Act and ID cards are just an excuse for bullying" writes Carol Sarler in today's Observer. is not alone in being terrorised by recent events, it seems. Christopher Booker, in his ever excellent and readable column, notes that when 25 supporters of Survival International staged a demonstration nine days ago at the Oxford Union wearing T-shirts reading "Botswana Police Shoot Bushmen"

    22nd October 2005 ~ "We were following guidelines in requirement with the port security plan set up by the Government." (Times) This is the new UK terrorism, that of the little man dressed in a little brief authority, who will say, "We were only following orders...".
    We who were watching during the foot and mouth crisis of 2001 saw it where men and women with blank faces were also "following guidelines...set up by the Government."
    Unlike the terrifying fantasies that Harry Potter's Professor Lupin so wisely told his pupils could be defeated with laughter, in modern Britain these are not fantasies. Frank and genuine laughter, as that of Sally Cameron and the cyclists on the path last week, only infuriate the little men, who then become dangerous. Within moments Ms Cameron found herself being bawled at

    Read the article. This is the New Britain, New Labour and - unless we can show our horror - the emergence of a new nazism. Walter Wolfgang recognised it. And he should know.

    22nd October 2005 ~ "Geoff Hoon kept speaking long enough to prevent a vote being taken on the bill." Claire Short's Private Members Bill aiming to give MPs the final say over whether troops should go to war was stopped yesterday by Mr Hoon's monologue. It will not be debated again until next year. Claire Short, who said her move had the backing of a large number of MPs from all parties as well as the families of soldiers killed in the conflict, said it was Parliament's "duty" to act as a restraining influence against the tendency of power to concentrate in Number 10. Under the terms of the bill, both Houses would have to be shown the case for war and its legal justification before voting on whether to give the go ahead. See BBC

    21st October 2005 ~ "we are really apeing what happened in Nazi Germany" Yesterday in Parliament, Lord Falconer was heard waspishly to assert that the new Chief Justice, Lord Phillips (who has warned Ministers not to try to browbeat the judiciary) had also said that "Judges are in conflict with no one. The Judiciary has a clearly defined role which is to apply the law as laid down by Parliament." Lord Falconer seems to think that this self-evident description of democracy in action precludes any criticism of a government that exceeds its democratic duty to represent the people, tries to brow-beat judges, flouts human rights law and meddles with the courts.
    . In an article a few days ago in the Times the veteran and venerable Lord Ackner was quoted:

    21st October 2005 ~ Racial and Religious Hatred Bill "taking the rot out of a rotten bill"
    The Bill has its committee stage in the House of Lords next week. The BBC reports that Rowan Atkinson and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey have "joined forces with a cross-party group of peers to propose new safeguards."

    20th/21st October 2005 ~ Rory Carroll freed "....Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, said: "We're overjoyed that Rory has been released safe and sound. We'd like to thank all those in London, Dublin and Iraq who played a role in freeing him. "Both British and Irish governments have been extremely helpful - as have many journalistic colleagues around the world and sympathetic groups and individuals in Baghdad." BBC

    20th October 2005 ~" Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, has spoken publicly about the way Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney hijacked US foreign policy and instituted a secret policy-making cabal that cut the State Department out of the deal. ." Juan Cole in devastating form.

    (The Raimondo article says, " Perhaps without knowing it, Wilson  in taking an interest in this subject  was getting too close to the enormous fraud at the center of the War Party's propaganda campaign.....version names Michael Ledeen as the conduit for the report and indicates that former CIA officers Duane Clarridge and Alan Wolf were the principal forgers. All three had business interests with Chalabi.....")

    20th October 2005 ~"Baghdad is simply the most terrifying city in the world..... In the not too distant future, Blair, Straw, Reid and Hoon are going to know the full meaning of "shock and awe"." Simon Jenkins in the Guardian "Last week I returned to Iraq for the first time since the end of 2003. If the essence of "getting better" is security then things are incomparably worse. I could no longer walk the streets or visit friends. Anyone associating with foreigners risks execution. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, academics are fleeing abroad for fear of kidnap. The National Museum has closed. Visiting VIPs must go everywhere by helicopter. The Iraqi head of Baghdad's military academy must change into civilian clothes before leaving his base. After nearly three years of American rule, Baghdad is simply the most terrifying city in the world....
    ....The British cabinet now owes it to those it has sent to their deaths to remove the army from Iraq with expedition and dignity. Having just spent a week with that army I have no doubt of its morale and its loyalty. I also have no doubt of its ruthlessness in joint memoir operations. In the not too distant future, Blair, Straw, Reid and Hoon are going to know the full meaning of "shock and awe"..... " Read in full

    20th October 2005 ~Mr Byers' "inadvertent error" and "factually inaccurate evidence" The BBC reports that in spite of Mr Byers' apology to the House of Commons on Monday in which he insisted he had not deliberately misled them, "MPs have unanimously decided to ask the Commons standards and privileges committee to investigate..." See also below

    19th October 2005 ~ ID cards still on the cards. The government has narrowly averted a parliamentary defeat over its plans for national identity cards. The Independent says the Labour majority was slashed to 25 last night after a series of rebellions over controversial plans for identity cards.

    See ID card scanning system riddled with errors (Independent)

    19th October 2005 ~ Rory Carroll, Baghdad correspondent of the Guardian is feared kidnapped today after leaving a house where he had been watching the televised trial of Saddam Hussein with an Iraqi family. See BBC

    19th October 2005 ~"A nervous White House is bracing itself for the worst as the inquiry into the leak of the identity of a CIA agent reaches its climax.." Independent

    Valerie Plame case

    16th October 2005 ~ Simon Jenkins on the Iraqi Constitution "Article"..... I have more respect for what Iraqis might achieve if freed of the incubus of western minders. The vast majority of Iraqis will respect a withdrawal. They do not forget - nor will Saddam Hussein at his forthcoming trial - that Washington and London supported dictatorship during Saddams most genocidal period. They do not forget that the West imposed sanctions that aided Saddams rule. They can see that the West invaded their country illegally and brought anarchy. ..."

    15th October 2005 ~"Fisk's critics complain that he is not objective and detached. This is right. He is subjective and engaged." From the Independent's review of Robert Fisk's The Great War for Civilisation: the conquest of the Middle East"

    15th October 2005 ~ "a classic test of judicial authority over a corrupted executive" said Simon Jenkins in July
    Byers explanation for lie 'gibberish', says judge (Telegraph). But in this "classic test" judicial authority ruled that shareholders had failed to prove Mr Byers had abused his powers. See below

    15th October 2005 ~ Rove spends hours before grand jury Reuters: Politics WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, testified at length on Friday for a fourth time before a grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity, as prosecutors neared a decision on whether to bring charges. (Plame case roundup)

    15th October 2005 ~ Professor Cole on the Iraqi constitution

    14th October 2005 ~ Mr Byers told Mr Justice Lindsay his prime concerns were the public interest and the interests of the travelling public. But Mr Byers' memory fails him. Perhaps he wasn't even there.
    The class action by Railtrack shareholders has failed. Shareholders had been described by Mr Byers as "grannies" not having the nerve to risk their "blouses" when first warned of the action. (Anyone who heard the egregious Mr Byers on PM today might have been forgiven for reaching out for the nearest vomitorium as Mr Byers called the judge's decision as "a great victory". He evidently sees no reason why he should not return to the Cabinet.)
    -According to the Guardian the Judge said "His explanation as then given seemed to me little above gibberish, but it will be for parliament to assess what he meant." As Alan Duncan, the Tories' transport spokesman, told Sky News: "I'm absolutely astonished at the 'no wrongdoing' judgment. This was an essentially deceitful plan. [The decision] was kept away from parliament. This is no way to conduct the government of this country."
    Mr Byers said in July:

    He will try to pre-empt any motion referring him to the Standards and Privileges Committee by making a statement in the House of Commons next week.
    Does anyone else remember Mr Profumo and an honourable resignation? That was then.
    Warmwell Blog last July

    14th October 2005 ~ "Since the invasion of Iraq," says John Pilger in this New Statesman article, " I have spoken to a number of principled journalists working in the pro-war media, including the BBC, who say that they and many others "lie awake at night" and want to speak out and resume being real journalists. I suggest now is the time. "

    13th October 2005 ~ Robert Fisk says "The reality now in Iraq is the project is finished. Most of Iraq, except Kurdistan, is in a state of anarchy" See Independent

    13th October 2005 ~ outrage at Terrorism Bill "Imprisoning terrorist suspects without charge for up to three months could breach human rights law, the Government's terror watchdog has warned." Independent:

    12th October 2005 ~ "Terror" laws" "Occasionally one feels that an individual politician is trying to browbeat the judiciary, and that is wholly inappropriate," Lord Phillips

    Reuters also quotes Mr Blair. "I have to do my best to protect the people of this country and to make sure their safety ... comes first."
    We are reminded of two cartoons, kindly sent to warmwell shortly after Mr Wolfgang was ejected from the Labour Party Conference.

    12th October 2005 ~ Earthquake: This is "no time for compassion fatigue" The Independent, and an aghast emailer writes,

    The Independent printable donation form is at

    11th October 2005 ~"1,000 murders a month in Iraq ".....according to Peter Galbraith, a former US peace envoy, there are 1,000 murders a month, apart from those killed in suicide bombings. According to a study by the Liberal Democrats, an average of 53 people a day have been killed in Iraq during the record-length House of Commons recess, which ends tomorrow. ..." Independent

    11th October 2005 ~ "The marines fighting in Haditha know that, but the politicians back in Washington have closed their ears " Lindsey Hilsom's Channel 4 article The limits of US power quotes Sir Rupert Smith, the retired general who commanded the British Armoured Division in the 1991 Gulf war, who says that "industrial war", the use of overwhelming force, which characterised 20th-century warfare, is obsolete. "America, he says, is not very powerful in Iraq. There can be no victory because in conflicts like this one overwhelming force can win only the battle, not the war." She writes:

    7th - 9th October 2005 ~ Cindy Sheehan. Simple words - but not naive. She is a remarkable woman.

    7th - 9th October 2005 ~ Macavity wasn't there ("For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law" TS Eliot )
    Praise be for the clarity and calm insistence of John Humphrys Here he is on September 29 2005, interviewing Mr Tony Blair at the Brighton conference on the day after the forcible ejection of Walter Wolfgang. The interview speaks for itself, but a warmwell transcript accompanies the link to the recording.

    An emailer sends this poll, showing that a majority of Daily Mail readers - hardly metropolitan lefties - consider Mr Humphrys "Britain's best interviewer".

    7th - 9th October 2005 ~ Prof Juan Cole : Iraq War Generating Threats to New York writes

    (in a MORI poll for the Greater London Authority, 72 per cent of respondents in London believe Britains participation in the Iraq war contributed a great deal or a fair amount to the Jul. 7 bombings.) The Telegraph reports that Tony Blair and George Bush have been compared to Nazi war criminals by Scott Ritter, the former UN chief weapons inspector.Blair and Bush likened to Nazis

    7th October 2005 ~ Karl Rove will testify for a fourth time in the Valerie Plame case - and prosecutors are saying there's no guarantee he won't eventually be charged with leaking the former CIA agent's name to reporters..

    6th October 2005 ~ John Humphrys was nearly sacked following his after-dinner speech in which he maligned government ministers New Statesman


    6th October 2005 ~ Iran says the UK's accusation that it is responsible for fatal attacks on British troops in Iraq is a "lie". BBC

    6th October 2005 ~ "History will never forgive those who used the tragedy of Iraq to serve their vested interests. Stoking the fire of sectarian discord and civil strife will be a calamity for all," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal

    Professor Juan Cole's Informed Comment website

    5th October 2005 ~ People power confronts the "disorganized, embarrassing mess" Michael Moore reports on the inspiring (a word I do not use lightly) progress made by the staff who have been down in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast for nearly a month now setting up and running their own relief effort with Veterans for Peace. See letter. However,

    5th October 2005 ~ "When Walter Wolfgang was briefly detained by the police after heckling the foreign secretary last week, the public caught a glimpse of something that a few of us have been vainly banging on about for years.."
    George Monbiot. Guardian yesterday.

    3rd October 2005 ~ "If the Kurdish-Shiite alliance is over with, then I suspect so is Iraq..."
    Today, Juan Cole says

    3rd October 2005 ~ "The implication is that Bush and Cheney took part in discussions with Karl Rove, Lewis Libby and other administration spinmeisters" Plame case
    Professor Juan Cole says today, " this scandal could turn into an impeachment trial."

    3rd October 2005 ~Britain in the dock for human rights failures after more than 100 'guilty' judgements filed Independent

    3rd October 2005 ~ Iraq war delayed Katrina relief effort, inquiry finds Independent

    2nd October 2005 ~ " he has a acted outside the international legal framework and seems quite unable to separate truth from fiction"
    An email received from a reader (anonymously, as the author considers the writing of it may now be considered a " a terrorist activity.") about the interview with Mr Blair below.

    1st October 2005 ~ "... the issue actually, I think, I mean, I haven't actually studied in detail..."

    1st October 2005 ~ "Perhaps there is a quiet way tents can be folded, hubris can be buried ...."
    Back in July, the American, Gordon Adams, director of security policy studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and former senior White House budget official for national security in the Clinton administration, wrote:

    Today, Professor Juan Cole reports: "The Center for American Progress, which is close to the Democratic Party, has issued a withdrawal plan for US troops in Iraq that would bring them out throughout 2006- 2007. The report says,

    1st October 2005 ~ "The scandal threatens the White House directly."
    The latest development in the Valerie Plame case is that Judith Miller, released yesterday, has named Lewis Libby as her source for the outing of Valerie Plame. The stories Judith Miller wrote before the Iraq invasion about Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction, based on unnamed administration and Iraqi exile sources, were, of course, nonsense. The Guardian says,


    September 30th 2005 ~ejection of Walter Wolfgang The Times quotes one of the Brighton stewards,

    September 30th 2005 ~ I didn't just fall off some pumpkin truck on August 6th and start doing this... TomDispatch has an extraordinary interview with the very remarkable Cindy Sheehan.

    September 30th 2005 ~ "I could never work out how these sorts of things like Nazi Germany and the Holocaust etc. came about. Now we know.." email from warmwell reader, Roger: " I don`t give a toss," I said, looking the policeman in the eye. He never moved but looked straight ahead.
    Silly thing to do. Fortunately the policeman was middle aged or more -and probably secretly agreed...."

    September 30th 2005 ~ You will be Democratic, Or Else! Informed Comment

    September 30th 2005 ~ " I suspect that he is too theatrical even to realise that he is lying." The Independent has Walter Wolfgang's own view of the society we have become.

    The Independent also reports the top American commander in Iraq, General George Casey telling Congress that

    September 29th 2005 ~ "Orwellian in its grotesqueness...utterly, utterly obscene" The Today Programme's political correspondent, Norman Smith, on what happened at yesterday's Labour party Conference. I have never heard such controlled outrage from a political journalist.
    Warmwell Transcript.

    Other media reaction "Blair says Sorry" etc

    September 28th 2005 ~"....82 years old ... a Labour party member for 60 years....bundled out by security guards.." Guardian

    September 28th 2005 ~ Menezes shooting "... the son, Giovani who said the family believes they have been misled about whether CCTV cameras had been working when his brother was killed, prompting their fears of a cover-up. He is adamant that the police had so long to decide to kill his brother that the killing has to be regarded as premeditated and thus murder." Channel 4

    September 28th 2005 ~ Robert Fisk banned from the US From the

    Read Robert Fisk's latest article Meanwhile, Reuters report on a letter sent from Reuters itself to Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee

    September 28th 2005 ~"...all mention of the explosives allegedly found in the SAS men's unmarked Cressida vanished from the news.." John Pilger today on the situation in Basra.

    September 28th 2005 ~ One world community government...? The present government's authoritarian tendencies have been heavily influenced by US sociologist Amitai Etzioni. (See Guardian last year.) "An adviser to several US Presidents and a strong voice advocating a new world order, Etzioni's recent attendence at the very exclusive World Political Forum (new page) in Turin (March 2005) shows his powerful role in planning for an international government." So-called "communitarianism" holds that individual rights must be balanced against the concern for the common good.

    Local Agenda 21- a powerful and important legal document is finally getting the national attention it deserves.........."Really nice people promote it as a just, scientific, non-threatening way of cleaning up the world. "

    September 28th 2005 ~ "deals that wouldve made our forefathers weep" Tony Benn, who collapsed at the conference yesterday, was treated by paramedics at the Brighton Centre and then taken by ambulance to hospital. He is said to be "comfortable"

    This article from Common Dreams deals with the US but reminds us of the baffled despair of those in this country who cannot understand the lack of rebellion towards a government whose policies are less and less socialist , less and less accountable.

    (The K Street Project is a project by the Republican party to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions, and to reward loyal GOP lobbyists with access to influential officials. It is also the name of a US television series.)

    September 28th 2005 ~ "questions from the frontlines of an American shock-and-awe disaster of epic proportions" Tomgram today asks "Twenty-five Questions about the Murder of the Big Easy"

    September 17 2005 ~ Thank goodness that Matthew Parris is one of those readable columnists still prepared to spell out the idiocy at the dark heart and woolly mind of the present government.

    September 18 2005 ~ Booker's Notebook this weekleads with the Ruttles judgement

    Blog ~ Warmwell's Blog last updated September 13....".......The history of Katrina and the drowning of New Orleans is already being rewritten. The UK foot and mouth disaster, while it resulted in unnecessary and distressing slaughter, did not cause the loss of human life - except the suicides (and the number 60 has been quoted) of those who were in despair - but there are similarities..... This is not a frivolous analogy. ...." Read in full
    Sept 3 Another attempt to silence John Humphrys?

    " 20 August 2005 ~ "....Are we also, (in small letters somewhere at the bottom), soon to find ourselves on a blacklist? . I shall quote the quintessentially English John Betjeman ..."
    A recent entry looks back in anger at 2001 and, with some trepidation, forward into the future.
    Recent Blog titles and cartoon

    How to beat slippery Sir Humphrey, by the man who knows him best by Caroline Davies in the Telegraph. about Antony Jay's new book

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety "Benjamin Franklin

    Archive of Article of the Day



    " Things fall apart ..." Yeats
    Valerie Plame Affair - latest
    "A government is not exonerated from conduct which leads directly to a person being tortured merely by closing its eyes to that prospect." Professor James Crawford

    The West's attempt - or rather that of a Labour prime minister and a Republican president - to impose its values on distant states through armed force has been an aberration doomed to failure. As Francis Fukuyama points out in his latest book, it has betrayed the neoconservative cause as much as the liberal one. It is so obviously cruel, costly and counter-productive as to be almost beyond debate.


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