The Wider World - news summaries (ARCHIVE - continues)
For today's summary Click here
transcript of the Blair/Humphrys interview, 29/9/ 2004
transcript of the Blair/Humphrys interview, 29/9/ 2005
They Work for You.com (new window) keeping tabs on the MPs, links to Hansard 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'.
An "....official inquiry into the foreign prison population in Britain's jails has identified major failings in how the immigration service is handling deportations, branding the department 'unaccountable', 'unreliable' and a 'generation in the past'..." ObserverIt 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,
"... The Bush administration used to boast that Iraqis were more optimistic about their future than Americans. I'm afraid his policies have led to a surge in pessimism in both places. A new poll in Iraq shows that a majority of Iraqis thinks their economy is bad and getting worse. 3/4s say that security is bad.
For a wounded soldier with brain damage to later get a bill from the Bush administration for the cost of the weapon he left in Iraq's sands is just about the worst thing I have ever heard...."
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
"....poor oversight by the United States in the reconstruction of Iraq, an effort plagued by reports of billions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also blocked efforts by the inspector general to obtain documentation on the program, the audit found. An unnamed Army officer who ran the task force destroyed some documents, the report says......Erinys-Iraq ....was financed with the help of A. Huda Farouki, a Virginia businessman and close friend of Ahmad Chalabi, the former Pentagon favorite linked to faulty intelligence that helped lead the U.S. into the war..."
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):
"'As the world continues to turn away from the use of the death penalty, it is a glaring anomaly that China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the USA stand out for their extreme use of this form of punishment as the 'top' executors in the world,' said Ms Khan.
In a 900-word press release, Amnesty devoted 47 words focusing specifically on Iran in the 11th paragraph of a 19-paragraph article. While the press release discussed the death penalty "across the world", the BBC's title chose to focus on "Mid-East executions".
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
: "Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5."Keeble commented:
"Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of 'one of Britain's most distinguished journals' as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll. And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in the Guardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists." (Keeble, 'Hacks And Spooks,' Media Alert, March 3, 2006; http://www.medialens.org/alerts/06/060303_hacks_and_spooks.php)
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
Jim Murphy, the Cabinet minister responsible for the bill, says that itll be redrafted so that itll be crystal clear that its only purpose is to tackle red-tape." But Peter was not convinced and neither am I. The terms of the bill give ministers the power to reform legislation or introduce recommendations of the Law Commission, which suggests updates to the law, by order". Select committees would be allowed to scrutinise the orders and suggest changes, but they would not go to the floor of the Commons...
... I left Peter pondering his options and reflected that there could not be a more damning indictment of what New Labour has become than for its chief to be immortalised by the men who brought us Spitting Image."
27 April 2006 ~ "The media do not fix the terms of political debate, politicians do." said Simon Jenkins on Wednesday
" It was the prime minister who asserted that "the rules of the game have changed" and constructed an entire foreign policy on the sort of glib historical parallel to which Clarke takes exception. Blair likened Saddam Hussein and militant Islam to Hitler and nazism, thus validating his doctrine of pre-emptive war.......The defence secretary, John Reid, even charges those opposing his dispatch of an expeditionary force to Afghanistan as appeasers, cowards and Lord Haw-Haws. ..."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.
"..... "Believe it or not, I want to work with you," Mr Snow told reporters at the rostrum in the cramped White House press room. He did, however, immediately depart with Mr Bush, leaving a host of shouted questions hanging in the air..."
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.
"It is remarkable he has chosen to blame the media - especially as his whole strategy seems designed to achieve good headlines for the Government rather than effective policies to protect the citizens."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:
We should await, with keen anticipation, their rebuttal of any black propaganda against Iran that might surface in our newspapers in the coming months. Frankly its difficult to know where to start, given the mishmash of misunderstanding, gross exaggeration and things that are just plain wrong," the Prime Minister will spit as he demolishes stories of Iran building nuclear weapons. But I believe that a pernicious and even dangerous poison is now slipping into at least some parts of this media view of the world," the Home Secretary will belch as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclamations are lampooned in the press as the rantings of a swarthy Hitler with little man syndrome."
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 :
"....The company in charge engaged in what some American officials saw as a self-serving attempt to limit communications with the government until all the money was gone.....With the failed effort at Al Fatah, the inspector general estimated lost money from crude oil exports at as much as $5 million a day. The United States was forced to issue a new $66 million job order that includes another attempt to run pipelines across the Tigris - this time using a different technique. .....
..... "Everything I could see out of it was being swept under the rug," ..." Read in full
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
Antisocial Behaviour OrdersSee 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"
Detention Without Charge
Glorification of terrorism and the Terrorism Act 2006 Stop and Search Powers
Control Orders, introduced under the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act after the indefinite detention without charge of terrorist suspects at Belmarsh prison was ruled illegal.
"John Catt, 81, is an unusual victim of the 2000 Terrorism Act, but one who highlights how its interpretation and application can be flawed..."
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,
".....After all the shootings of innocent Iraqis out for a drive, after the torture and illegal detentions at Abu Ghraib, after the indiscriminate bombing of Iraqi cities, there were few blots remaining as imaginable on the American escutcheon in Iraq. But, well, we just weren't thinking big enough. There was after all the possibility of the revival of slavery! Some of the civilian firms supplying "military support services" at US military bases in Iraq have been using slave labor. .....even I could not have imagined slavery ...." Read in full
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 -
"......In no order of awfulness, this government has emasculated the House of Commons by the permanent use of guillotines. On the whim of the Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellorship has been neutered, removing a voice of law from the cabinet.
Those instances are on the parliamentary front, but what the government has done to the liberty of the subject is far worse. Note that I say liberty of the subject, not the rights of the citizen. That is because liberties are boundless unless circumscribed by law and rights are, by their nature, circumscribed.
It has repealed the law on double jeopardy. With Asbos, it has sent to prison some of the young on hearsay evidence for things that are not even criminal. It has created a centralised register held by the government on all citizens and proposes to force them to have ID cards. It has formed a police force with unprecedented powers of arrest - the Serious Organised Crime Agency - over which the Home Secretary has authority no predecessor has previously enjoyed.
Through its control orders, it has introduced a system of deprivation of liberty without trial on the say-so of the executive. It has passed the Civil Contingencies Act that allows a minister to override any statute after the calling of a state of emergency and now there is the Regulatory Reform Bill, which has been described as 'the abolition of parliament bill' and against which our party did not even vote at second reading. This gives gauleiter-like powers to ministers which we are blandly told will not be used. ..." Full text in the 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 "
"...... The LA Times reports on the election of key officers of the Iraqi government by parliament on Saturday. Borzou Daragahi and Bruce Wallace report that 266 of 275 elected legislators convened a a convention center [where the air conditioning is broken], and cast their votes in the sweltering heat of a Baghdad late April. The US military guards the Green Zone, a 4 square mile area of downtown Baghdad that is cordoned off with concrete blocks and razor wire, but apparently can't fix air conditioners for a government that has a $17 billion a year budget. ..."
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
"People watching would have no idea that Venezuela was the only oil-producing country in the world to use its oil revenue for the benefit of poor people. They would have no idea of spectacular developments in health, education, literacy; no idea that Venezuela has no political jails - unlike the United States.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.
So if the Bush administration moves to implement "Operation Bilbao", a contingency plan to overthrow the democratic government of Venezuela, who will care, because who will know? ..."
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
...". Lost in most accounts of the complicated Plame backstory is its relevance in terms of Bush's 2004 re-election, and hence the obvious concern by Rove and other presidential deputies: that if Wilson's credentials and information were not undermined they would serve as confirmation during the presidential campaign that Bush had knowingly used false claims ......Bernstein concludes
In a baker's dozen of hearings before pliant committees of Congress, a parade of the top brass from Rice to Rumsfeld, to the Joint Chiefs, to Paul Bremer has managed for almost three years to evade responsibility for - or even acknowledgment of - the disintegrating situation on the ground in Iraq..." Read the article.
" There was understandable reluctance in the Congress to begin a serious investigation of the Nixon presidency. Then there came a time when it was unavoidable. That time in the Bush presidency has arrived."
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
"was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions - or bury the results."
19 April 2006 ~ You might think it was a moment to draw on some well-worn term like "peaceful coexistence"; but (see Tomgram) :
"...The Americans are sunk deep in the Iraq morass; the Chinese are desperate for a little space and peace to deal with the endless problems spinning off from their overheated economy. the Bush administration is instead ramping up its military might in the Pacific and, after two years trapped in! Baghdad's Green Zone, once again putting China in its strategic gun sights as America's future imperial competitor and enemy of choice. .."
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.
""There is a populist approach to politics, sometimes also in the media - not only in Britain. They try to mix everything - migration, asylum, refugees and security concerns with terrorism. It is absolutely essential that things are clarified. Refugees are not terrorists, they are the first victims of terror." Antonio Guterres, the High Commissioner. Independent
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
".....China lies at the heart of many Bush conundrums and the Bush administration lies athwart numerous Chinese desires.To the extent that the Bush administration still floats above the waves, it does so significantly on borrowed dollars from China; just as the Chinese leadership.... lives off the American market. Without Chinese help, the administration's ability to deal with the other two axes of the Axis of Evil, Iran and North Korea, seems problematic at best. Yet, when it comes to Iran, China has just signaled that it's in a less than receptive mood. .."
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
"...looked down the road of conflict and chose to avoid further hostilities.... Now, as in the mid-90's, any United States bombing campaign would simply begin a multi-move, escalatory process. Iran could respond three ways ............
the current level of activity in the Pentagon suggests more than just standard contingency planning or tactical saber-rattling. The parallels to the run-up to to war with Iraq are all too striking:
remember that in May 2002 President Bush declared that there was "no war plan on my desk" despite having actually spent months working on detailed plans for the Iraq invasion.Read in full
18 April 2006 ~The US, Iran and the End of the International Order article by Jussi Sinnemaa at http://informationclearinghouse.info
".....While the Administration officially claims to be looking for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, it is feared the decision to go to war was made a long time ago and will not be reconsidered......the IAEA has repeatedly acknowledged, Iran is not in violation of any of her legal obligations as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In fact, Iran has allowed far more intrusive international inspections of her nuclear facilities than required by the NPT. Iran remains the only country to have done so....There is....simply no evidence whatsoever that Iran is, or intends to be, developing nuclear weapons.Read in full
Iran has repeatedly, at least from the year 2002 onwards, expressed her willingness to engage in bilateral negotiations with the US, with the ultimate goal of normalizing the two countries4 relations. Reportedly Iran could even consider recognising Israel in exchange for security guarantees from the US........
it seems clear that, what is really at stake here is American geopolitical hegemony over the vast oil and gas reserves of the Middle East. ....if the US does attack Iran, she will surely be crossing the Rubicon": the established international order will be gone forever, and the whole Middle East may go up in flames. .."
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 http://informationclearinghouse.info/ has relevance for the UK and should be read in full.
"....Dissidents will be marginalized - usually by the people" themselves. Deprived of historical knowledge by a thoroughly impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, left ignorant of current events by a corporate media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly.... The rulers will act in secret, for reasons of national security," ..."
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
"if this rate of displacement continued for a year, it would result in a million and a half Iraqis being made internal refugees! Iraq is heading toward Afghanistan-scale catastrophe."
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)
"....Usually we're talking fast cars and diamond bling. But in this case, the conspirators' purloined booty includes a stolen election and a fraudulently obtained authorization for war. I see no reason why a judge could not impound the 82d Airborne as "fruits of the fraud " -- lock, stock and gun barrels -- and bring the boys home..."
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 http://groups.google.co.uk/group/chickenyoghurt 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
"........Any American bombing attack, Richard Armitage told me, would have to consider the following questions: What will happen in the other Islamic countries? What ability does Iran have to reach us and touch us globally - that is, terrorism? Will Syria and Lebanon up the pressure on Israel? What does the attack do to our already diminished international standing? And what does this mean for Russia, China, and the U.N. Security Council?"
Iran, which now produces nearly four million barrels of oil a day, would not have to cut off production to disrupt the worlds oil markets. It could blockade or mine the Strait of Hormuz, the thirty-four-mile-wide passage through which Middle Eastern oil reaches the Indian Ocean...." Read in full
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
SAS soldier quits Army in disgust at 'illegal' American tactics in Iraq March 12
"I didn't join the British Army to conduct American foreign policy ,," Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent - "In his first interview since being discharged from the SAS in June last year, Ben Griffin explained why he has decided to speak out about the war.....He said he had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops... "12 Mar 2006
"......he was allowed to leave the Army with his exemplary military record intact and with a glowing testimonial from his commanding officer, who described him as a "balanced and honest soldier who possesses the strength and character to genuinely have the courage of his convictions"...."
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
"...These are the people - the party leaders and their predecessors - who have been selling honours to pay for their burgeoning empires and then lied about it. Tony Blair and David Cameron now have the cheek to tell the public that if it wants them to stop doing what they deny doing it must pay them for it. The effrontery is breathtaking..
...If parties cannot persuade the public to play a vigorous part in this national/local partnership, they deserve neither votes nor subsidies. .. " read in full
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 www.editorandpublisher.com for the full story. (or read here
"....former senior intelligence official said the attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the military, and some officers have talked about resigning. "There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries," Hersh quotes the Pentagon adviser.
The adviser warned that bombing Iran could provoke "a chain reaction" of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world and might also reignite Hezbollah: "If we go, the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle.")
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:
"....Despite the violence, U.S. officials have discounted talk of civil war. However, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday that an "undeclared civil war" had already been raging for more than 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:
"The only reason it is even controversial that Iraq is in civil war is because the Bush administration spinmeisters are resisting the term, for PR purposes. Why doesn't the US press just ignore them when they start saying ridiculous things like that? "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
"... Tell them that until they listen to us, give us real democracy and reform their corrupt, evasive, unaccountable, money-grabbing, expense-exploiting, primus inter pares contempt for us, their paymasters and employers, we want none of them.
The hired help, the servants, are no good. They've forgotten their place - we are upstairs, it is they who are downstairs. This isn't The Servant, it's The Remains of the Day. When an employee is lazy, dishonest and mendacious you don't reward him. In days gone by recalcitrant servants were thrashed.
Time to get out the None Of The Above vote.
7 April 2006 ~ Mr Bush and the Valerie Plame case TheBBC today reveals
"Mr Libby's testimony marks the first time he has put Mr Bush into the frame of events surrounding leaks from the White House to the press over the Iraq war. Reports suggest he disclosed Mrs Plame's name to the New York Times in the same conversation where he passed on National Intelligence Estimate information. No-one has been charged with a crime over the leaking of Mrs Plame's name to reporters..."
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
".....The perverse fact is that we are being asked to place great trust in a government that makes a point of distrusting everyone outside its inner circle. If we don't share their assumption that they alone know what is best for the rest of us, we had better start protesting now. Last year Blair promised to listen to us. As he dismantles our defences, what he is hearing is something close to silence.".
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. www.pressgazette.co.uk
The letter has been signed by nearly every national newspaper home affairs correspondent as well as journalists from PA, the BBC and Channel Four News. In it they say: "Research Thursday' may have been successful while the home secretary was at DfES. But, as we hope you will recognise after a number of chaotic episodes, it is simply not practical in a large department such as the Home Office, which generates so many research papers and statistical publications."
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
".....The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is an urgent topic. It is due for its third and final reading in the House of Commons around Easter. Over the last few days many more people have become exercised about it, largely because lawyers, journalists and bloggers have kept up the pressure. We now know that it has leapt from mere business deregulation to allowing a government to make up laws without parliamentary approval. We know that the few safeguards currently built into the Bill can be removed once the Bill is passed. 'We will just have to hope that they (the government) come to their senses and realise theres a great deal of opposition out there', says Paul Flynn. Amendments or not, he will now be voting against the Bill this Easter."
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
"The Americans and British only seem to take on board changes on the ground in Iraq six months after they have happened," a senior Iraqi official lamented to me at the weekend. Within hours Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw were in Baghdad on a surprise visit which instantly confirmed the extent to which they are out of touch with Iraqi reality...."
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
"outlawing aggressive wars was at the center of the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II.... U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who represented the United States at Nuremberg, made clear that the role of Hitlers henchmen in launching the aggressive war against Poland was sufficient to justify their executions and that the principle would apply to all nations in the future. Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions," Jackson said.."
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
".... For the past two weeks I have been going through all the Labour legislation that has reduced our freedoms, compromised our rights and menaced the life of Parliament. It was an extremely depressing experience, partly because I felt ashamed that I had not registered what was happening earlier, but mainly because the checks and balances that I assumed existed had not been brought into play and, further, that this had not caused the slightest alarm in the media. .....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."
What has happened to the morale and self belief of MPs?.... "
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:
"By trying to justify Iraq along the lines of his seminal Chicago speech on humanitarian intervention, by putting Iraq in a row with British participation in the interventions in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Kosovo, Blair does not strengthen the case for the Iraq war; he merely taints the case for the brave and justified interventions that preceded it."Similarly, an article in globalecho.com by Linda S Heard quotes Mr Blairs recent speech:
"Unless we articulate a common global policy based on common values, we risk chaos threatening our stability, economic and political, though letting extremism, conflict or injustice go unchecked,"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"
"..... He claims that US soldiers such as him were told little about Iraq, Iraqis or Islam before serving there; other than a book of Arabic phrases, "the message was always: 'Islam is evil' and 'They hate us.' Most of the guys I was with believed it." Blake says that the turning point for him came one day when his unit spent eight hours guarding a group of Iraqi women and children whose men were being questioned. He recalls: "The men were taken away and the women were screaming and crying, and I just remember thinking: this was exactly what Saddam used to do - and now we're doing it."
29 March 2006 ~ ID cards and the threat to the House of Lords The Independent says that ministers (Geoff Hoon and co)
" have warned the House of Lords that peers' defiance over ID cards could lead to a legal ban on them blocking the Government's manifesto pledges."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,
" "Above all, we need to care about the 22 million Uzbek people, suffering from poverty and lack of freedom. They are not just pawns in the new Great Game."
27 March 2006 ~ 'madness' against America? Comment from Martin Kettle of the Guardian:
".... As too often, the prime minister conflates and over-simplifies to make his politicial points. But anti-Bushism is not the same thing as the anti-Americanism which Blair rightly criticises.
As it happens, I was talking to one of Britain's most eminent pollsters about this subject at the weekend and he came up with some easy-to-remember figures that prove the point. What you have to realise, said the pollster, is that 20% of people in Britain dislike Americans, 40% dislike America, 60% dislike the American government, and 80% dislike George Bush."
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
"... previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident. ....Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said... The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment. (Januaary 31st 2003)Most of the quotations in this article have not been previously reported
Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons... " NYT article Read in full
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:
"....The old principles of equity and tort law, by which private individuals could accommodate their interests to each other in a natural and rational manner, is giving way to a system of arbitrary and artificial power....
The Regulatory Reform Bill is an Enabling Act, identical in spirit to the one the Nazis passed in 1933. On that occasion, Hitler promised that "the government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures..." Read in full
27 March 2006 ~ "Blair has seized the initiative. Labour's whole direction and meaning is now on the line..." Jackie Ashley in the Guardian
"..... with Brownite ministers being hauled off the airwaves, violently worded briefings flying in both directions and now this public declaration that Blair fights on, the battle is well and truly joined.."
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:
Excerpt: "In parallel with agreeing a new proposal, we will also want to bind Russia and China into agreeing to further measures that will be taken by the Security Council should the Iranians fail to engage positively. That would be reflected in Step Four. We would not, at this stage, want to be explicit about what would be involved then there will need to be extensive negotiations on that in May/June".
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....
He's like a gambler at the roulette wheel, sinking further and further into debt, but still praying for one more lucky spin that will restore his fortune. Maybe he'll enjoy a small win one of these days. But it can't last. His luck has run out. And he cannot blame fate or chance or anyone but himself - and his decision to fight the war that destroyed him...."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
- Defence chief attacked on war's third anniversary
- Ex-PM Allawi says conflict is tantamount to civil war
And Paul Eaton, a former American army general in charge of training Iraqi forces until 2004, marked the anniversary with a furious attack on Mr Rumsfeld, saying he was "not competent to lead our armed forces". .."
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"
the trial of since-released British prisoner Feroz Abbasi, in which Mr Abbasi vainly pleads with his judge, a US air force colonel, to reveal the evidence against him, something he says he has a right to hear under international law. And here is what the American colonel replied:
"Mr Abbasi, your conduct is unacceptable and this is your absolute final warning. I do not care about international law. I do not want to hear the words international law. We are not concerned about international law."Alas, these words - which symbolise the very end of the American dream - are buried down the story..." Read in full
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
"....The man overseeing the planning, Tom Warrick, a State Department official, so impressed aides to Jay Garner, a retired Army lieutenant general heading the military's reconstruction office, that they recruited Mr. Warrick to join their team. George Ward, an aide to General Garner, said the reconstruction office wanted to use Mr. Warrick's knowledge because "we had few experts on Iraq on the staff." But top Pentagon officials blocked Mr. Warrick's appointment, and much of the project's work was shelved...". After FOIA request 200304121NEA1, filed at the time of the NYT article by Russ Kick of MemoryHole.org 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)
"I believe Tony Blair is an out-and-out rascal, terminally untrustworthy and close to being unhinged. .... What kind of a man would employ Alastair Campbell as his mouthpiece to history? What kind of a man would have given journalists on a plane to China the clear and false impression that he had had nothing to do with the outing of Dr David Kelly? What kind of a man makes Silvio Berlusconi his friend and incurs a personal debt of gratitude to that bad, bad man? ... the Prime Minister recognised that if a gift were declared then the chain of events would be judged disgraceful. So the money was hidden: hidden even from his own party treasurer. ... "Read in full
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
" earned the nickname at Westminster of the Parliamentary Scrutiny (Abolition) Bill. Some MPs claim it gives Labour powers in excess of those afforded to Henry VIII.... Lord Grocott has hit out at "the inadequacy of the existing safeguards on the face of the Bill". ... "(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
"...Nothing better illustrated the ideological bankruptcy of the Labour party than that it bought Blair hook, line and sinker. But his most remarkable achievement in politics was to get Labour not just to abandon these convictions but to hand over to him the job of replacing them.."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,
".... Clarke has now established himself as a deceiver, even in the eyes of his party. Labour democrats such as Kate Hoey, Diane Abbott, Bob Marshall-Andrews and Mark Fisher all understood that the Lords' amendments of last week simply sought to underline this concept of a voluntary scheme, which complied with the 2005 manifesto. Oddly enough, the compulsory provision of personal information to the government database is not the greatest threat to our freedom, though it is in itself a substantial one. The real menace comes when the ID card scheme begins to track everyone's movements and transactions, the details of which wlil kept on the database for as long as the Home Office desires..." read in full
19 March 2006 ~ " Prejudicial Interest " "The signs are that Prescott's code is completely cracked" says Booker's Notebook
"In Aylsham, Norfolk, Alan Quinn, a former Ofsted inspector, has resigned as a town councillor after a row about the design of a new Tesco. He was excluded from discussing it, on the grounds that he had opposed the original proposal. The Standards Board decided it would be "unreasonable" to say this meant he had a "prejudicial interest" in how the store itself should look - but its ruling was sent back to the monitoring officer of Broadlands district council who had recommended Mr Quinnn's exclusion in the first place. She has chosen to interpret the board's opinion as confirming her original judgment..
....one has only to imagine what would happen if the same rules were applied to MPs. The Commons would end up being empty - as our council chambers soon may very well be. ."
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
" the many groups, projects, campaigns and individuals who do care about liberty, people from all walks of life and of all political persuasions, will come together and work collaboratively towards a greater goal...."
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.
The answer - #4158 million
#3,068 million pounds 2003 - 2005 plus an estimated #1,098 million for the financial year 200506 - a total of approximately four thousand, one hundred and fifty eight million pounds
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
".... If Bush means that he will strike at terrorists whom he has good reason to suspect of imminently carrying out an attack on the US, then that is in accord with the United Nations Charter. States can always engage in self-defense from imminent threat. But if he means he can go around invading other countries because he doesn't like the looks of them--which is what he actually does seem to mean-- then that is a war crime both in US law and in international law..."
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
"......Mr Blair is planning to deliver a speech next week to justify the war, and answer the deep misgivings within his own party at the continued occupation of Iraq. Although there was never any evidence to link Saddam to the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11, Mr Blair yesterday said he would be linking the war which toppled Saddam with the global battle against terrorism. ...anti-war Labour MPs will be joining a mass demonstration against the continued occupation of Iraq in London on Saturday...
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.
".... While the British Government was publicly asserting that Abu Qatada's whereabouts were unknown, Abu Qatada was actively engaged in a dialogue with British officials that involved Mr al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna. Mr al-Rawi asked Mr el-Banna to drive Abu Qatada's wife and son to meet Abu Qatada in London. Mr el-Banna followed Mr al-Rawi, who led the way on his motorcycle. When Abu Qatada was arrested, Mr el-Banna taxied his wife and child home at the request of the British officials on the scene. Mr el-Banna never was arrested: the police thanked him for his assistance. He was never even questioned because everyone was aware of his limited involvement. Based on this involvement, he has been tortured and jailed for three years. .." read in fullSee 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.
"....Whatever the intentions of Coughlin and other journalists, the innocence of Begg, the Tipton Three and the other British detainees who have come home is a part of the story of Guantánamo that no official wants people to hear. Like all major miscarriages of justice finally overturned, the officials concerned will never apologise for breaking these men's lives, no one in authority will lose their jobs, and sections of the media will continue to question their innocence. The denial of justice for these British Muslims - not to speak of the 490 men, including nine UK residents, still in Guantanamo with no legal rights - will corrode the social fabric of this country far into the future."
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
" can apparently sell almost anything in the way of justifying external violence to a large fraction of the populace, at least in the short run....... To put this over required tacit collusion between the administration and mainstream media.."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" http://www.saveparliament.org.uk/" 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 saveparliament.org uk says,this bill
"grants any minister the ability to amend, replace, or repeal existing legislation. The frightening thing is this: they would be able to do so without having to allow Parliament to examine it properly, taking away the ability of Parliament to meaningfully represent the citizens of this country."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,
"Those high on the narcotic of power lose their nose for right and wrong. Mr Clarke says he will use his powers reasonably . All authoritarians say that. ......"
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
'........ "May God damn you," Sadr said of Rumsfeld. "You said in the past that civil war would break out if you were to withdraw, and now you say that in case of civil war you won't interfere." '
Cole: I have to admit, it is hard to see what use it is to have US soldiers in Iraq if they won't be deployed in a genuine national emergency.
....... The British are withdrawing 800 troops from Iraq. ...... Given how close Iraq came to civil war in late February, the British are probably eager to get their soldiers out of there. If there were a bloodbath, there is some danger that they would just be massacred. Even a well-armed force of 8000 could not stand against millions...
The memos of John Sawers from April-July of 2003 in Baghdad show the alarm of the British at what seemed to them the chaotic American administration of Iraq.." read in full
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
"...The findings show how much is stake if Britain were to withdraw military protection from Iraq..... A total of 61 British companies are identified as benefiting from at least #1.1bn of contracts and investment in the new Iraq. But that figure is just the tip of the iceberg; ..The biggest British player, Aegis - run by Tim Spicer, the former British army lieutenant colonel who founded the security company Sandline - has a workforce the size of a military division and may rank as the largest corporate military group ever assembled.......In five years, the #1.1bn of contracts identified in the report will be dwarfed by what Britain and the US hope to reap from investments. Highly lucrative oil contracts have yet to be handed out. ."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 www.corporatewatch.org.uk 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.
"......A full challenge to the domination of the dollar as world central bank reserve currency entails a de facto declaration of war on the full spectrum dominance of the United States today. The mighty members of the European Central Bank Council well know this. The heads of state of every EU country know that. The Chinese leadership as well as Japanese and Indian know that. So does Vladimir Putin.
Until some combination of those Eurasian powers congeal in a cohesive challenge to the unbridled domination of the USA as sole superpower, there will be no Euro or Yen or even Chinese Yuan challenging the role of the dollar.." read in full
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
"...Falconers extraordinary performance on Friday indicates that the prime minister believes election entitles him to do what he likes. Under Falconers back-of-an-envelope constitution he is right. But in that case Britains politicians should stop complaining about the press. It is working overtime to do their job for them. "
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.
"...After three months in Baghdad, Ben Griffin told his commander that "he thought the Iraq war was illegal He said he had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops, claiming they viewed all Iraqis as "untermenschen"...
On Wednesday, the pre-trial hearing will begin into the court martial of Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith, a Royal Air Force doctor who has refused to return to Iraq for a third tour of duty on the grounds that the war is illegal. Mr Griffin's allegations came as the Foreign Office minister Kim Howells, visiting Basra yesterday, admitted that Iraq was now "a mess"..."
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
"Since 1999 the Government has almost doubled its NHS spending.... But 80 per cent of this additional money has gone, not on expanding health care, but on a massive inflation in salaries....One of the biggest increases has been the 66 per cent rise in the number of health service "managers", in what is now said to be the third-largest state-run organisation in the world, after the Chinese army and the Indian railways. Yet it is these bureaucrats who are deciding to close down nearly a quarter of our community hospitals...." Read in full See also atory about the "politically or maliciously inspired complaints, which have to be investigated by the Standards Board's highly-paid Ethical Standards Officers.....bizarre rulings by zealous monitoring officers that councillors cannot even be present during discussions of issues on which they are judged to have a "personal and prejudicial interest", although these may be the very issues on which they were elected." See also below
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
"After the US and British invasion, there were suggestions that the prison should be turned into a memorial site for those who had been killed. Instead, the US used it to hold thousands of prisoners accused of being insurgents. The treatment of those prisoners and the paucity of evidence used to hold many of them was revealed by investigations triggered by the emergence in spring 2004 of thousands of photographs ..."
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:
"...As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition. But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists largess. Protests are limited to your free speech zones", out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question. ...." Read in full
9 March 2006 ~Iraq Rupert Cornwell in the Independent : At last, the warmongers are prepared to face the facts and admit they were wrong
PNAC....goal was "an international order friendly to our security, prosperity and values". The war on Iraq, spuriously justified by the supposed threat posed by Saddam's WMD, was the test run of this theory. It was touted as a panacea for every ill of the Middle East.......after Iraq, why not Syria, Iran and anyone else that stood in Washington's way?
....not only were the neo-cons too impatient. A second error was to believe that an all-powerful America would be trusted to exercise a "benevolent hegemony". A third was the gross overstatement of the post 9/11 threat posed by radical Islam, in order to justify the dubious doctrine of preventive war....
Paul Wolfowitz, the war's most relentless and starry-eyed promoter, has moved on to the World Bank, silent about the mess he did so much to create. Richard Perle, leader of the resident hawks department at the American Enterprise Institute think-tank here, has vanished from the scene. Lewis Libby meanwhile has stepped down as Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, to focus his energy on staying out of jail... "
8 March 2006 ~ Attempts to turn Labour leadership elections into US-style primaries would put money in command Michael Meacher in the Guardian
Later this month, at Labour's national executive, an innocently-titled document called the Party Renewal Project will be tabled for discussion. For what really lies behind this we should be grateful to Stephen Byers. Once famously self-dubbed the "outrider of the Blairite project", he recently disclosed what that project is now planning for electoral politics. It amounts to the dismantling of the Labour party as it has operated for the past 100 years...
8 March 2006 ~ Iraq : a stark profile of a volatile situation in danger of sliding into chaos.... Guardian
"The US ambassador to Baghdad conceded yesterday that the Iraq invasion had opened a Pandora's box of sectarian conflicts which could lead to a regional war and the rise of religious extremists who "would make Taliban Afghanistan look like child's play". Zalmay Khalilzad broke with the Bush administration's generally upbeat orthodoxy to present a stark profile of a volatile situation in danger of sliding into chaos.... Mr Rumsfeld said sectarian violence had been exaggerated by the media. When asked how that squared with Mr Khalilzad's view, he replied: "Well, he's there. He's an expert. And he said what he said. I happen to have not read it, but I am not going to try to disagree with it."
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:
"It's not often it's left to the opposition to make sure the government honours its manifesto pledges." He said the description of ID card plans as voluntary "stretches the English language to breaking point".
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.
"... Like all Labour's anti-libertarian bills, it appears in relatively innocuous guise. ... ministers and the executive, who will enjoy a huge increase in their unscrutinised power. As with the Civil Contingencies Act 2004,....this bill takes another chunk out of our centuries- old democracy. ..... powers that may be granted to ministers that could further damage the concept of habeas corpus, alter the law on Britain's relationship with the Commonwealth, on the relationship with the EU, on extradition, the appropriation of property and the criminal law. In theory, even the monarchy could be affected. This is to say little about common law, the centuries of precedents and rulings which contain so many of the historic rights of British culture.....This is an article that must be read in full
...If Blair was more interested in British history....he would see the great damage his laws are doing to the institutions we have inherited...... .... "
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. informationclearinghouse.info
" ....There are dire consequences to the current direction of the U.S. foreign policy. Among those consequences, he said, is a nuclear Armageddon. "Under the current U.S. policies, a nuclear exchange is inevitable," the 77-year-old MIT professor said in his presentation, "Imminent Crises: Paths Toward Solutions." He spoke to an over-capacity crowd in BU's Osterhout Concert Theater. Chomsky cited nuclear proliferation and environmental collapse as the two greatest crises that "literally threaten survival." . .....The large majority of the population already agrees with the things activists are committed to. All we have to do is organize people who are convinced."
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
The West's two "beacon democracies" in Asia - Iraq and Afghanistan - are beacons only of instability. Bush's two regional allies, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, are exemplars of authoritarianism. In visiting Pakistan yesterday the president honoured a military regime that is an epicentre of regional terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Democratic, English-speaking, freedom-guarding India, the one country Washington should crave as an ally, had been ignored. That neglect is now over. The reason is not just that India is looking as rich as China, but that Washington is badly in need of Asian friends. ..."
5 March 2006 ~ The so-called Standards Board for England proudly boasts that
"Confidence in local democracy is a cornerstone of our way of life..... responsible for promoting high ethical standards and investigating allegations that members' behaviour may have fallen short of the required standards."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?
Our work is important to everyone who cares about the maintenance of an open and honest system of local governance."
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
".....My government now says the most important freedom is the freedom not to be blown up on the way to work. No it isn't. What a stupid, contemptible thing to say.
Hell's bells. Can't you see? Do I, a person who was blown up on the way to work, have to spell it out to you?
You need to protect liberty itself, not the liberties of those you favour, those whose votes you want. Liberty is not a pie to be sliced up: it is the oxygen of society, it belongs to us all and must be cherished by us all.
You torture and bomb illegally, you lock people up without charge, here and in a foreign war, then they will bring their rage to the streets of London. You cannot lecture Iran on nuclear weapons whilst busily buying more of your own. You need to be against ALL abhorrent behaviour to have the moral high ground and you need to protect the liberties of ALL people; as Chris Huhne said ' remember that all of us are minorities at one time or another. All of us could be wrongly accused. All of us could express views or do things the government does not like. We all of us sometimes do unpopular things. We all of us need the protection that the rule of law gives us.' The laws we already have are sufficient to protect us all...." Rachel's website
4 March 2006 ~ Guantánamo After four years of secrecy, the Pentagon has released documents naming detainees at Guantanamo Bay NYT
".....Neal Sonnett, chairman of the American Bar Association's task force on enemy combatants, said he hoped the documents would help focus attention on the conditions for the detainees and the way the hearings were handled. "Perhaps even more important than just the identities of the detainees," Mr. Sonnett said, "are the unedited transcripts of the hearings, which I think will reveal a lot about the way in which the detainees have been treated and the way in which their status has been determined." ..."See also (listen) http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/ram/today4_guantanamo_20060303.ram (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..
." a military dictator like Pervez Musharraf, who intervened to corrupt the 2002 Pakistani parliamentary elections, lacks legitimacy according to Bush's rhetoric even as Bush pals around with him and makes him as an individual the cornerstone of US policy in that part of the world.Meantime, Bush has had a predator missile fired on a Pakistani village, and has been complaisant toward US torture of Muslim prisoners at Bagram and in Iraq.
The PR disaster of the Pakistan trip is a decisive and sad reflection on the complete failure of Bush at public diplomacy in the Muslim world, at a time when nothing is more important to US security and goals abroad. ..."
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
"The idea that terrorists willing to commit suicide will be afraid of the US after it invades Iraq is just a misreading of human nature. Terrorism is produced precisely by humiliation and hopelessness and living in fear (which is not a life worth living). It cannot be stopped by inducing more fear and humiliation. You will note that Ariel Sharon has been trying out this tactic for 30 years and it hasn't worked...Read in full
.....Nor is it clear that going about having serial wars with Iraq, Iran, Syria, N. Korea, and apparently ultimately China [these are the ideas thrown out by the Richard Perle/ Paul Wolfowitz circle that controls our Defense Department] is going in any way to help with this task of surveillance and infiltration....this business about controlling everybody all around the world just sounds to me like pie in the sky, and the same sort of thinking that got us mired in the jungles of Vietnam. I will be ecstatic to see Saddam go. But I have a bad feeling about this, as Han Solo once said prophetically. "
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.
- Was intelligence cherry-picked and/or manipulated?
- Was the terrorist threat manipulated in order to drum up support for the invasion?
- Did our government knowingly authorise, condone or quietly tolerate the use of torture in the pursuit of 'quality' intelligence?
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 globalecho.com that
" the scale and intensity of the corruption and fraud perpetrated by the occupation is unprecedented in modern history. The largest part of the money spent by the US-British occupation was not US or international donor funds, but oil revenue that belongs to the Iraqi people. During the period of direct rule the US spent, or committed to spend, around #11.3 billion, most of which was disbursed to US corporations. Of this expenditure, #5 billion is unaccounted for. From the available evidence we know that much of it has vanished into the hands of corporations, corrupt public officials and elite Iraqi deal fixers.Read in full.
#4.5bn The value of contracts awarded to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root in Iraq for 2003
#1.4bn Moeller-Maersk profits for 2004. The Danish company was awarded the contract to run Iraq's major oil terminal. It sacked the local workers and replaced them with foreign labour
#386m The value of contracts awarded to the Bechtel Group. The contracts will eventually be worth around #56.7 billion, to be paid from Iraqi oil revenues ."
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
"Our leaders were never trustworthy, yet many people were only too willing to believe them - and they may do so again ..... The war in Iraq has revealed just how truly bullish and persistent this market in bad ideas based on flawed preconceptions can be. Bad ideas helped take us into the war; and unless we examine what they were and why some managed to believe them, they will prevent us from getting out....
A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll last week revealed that 57% of Americans support military intervention if Iran builds itself a nuclear capability. ... "
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:
The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway.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
"Ironically, Cheney and Rumsfeld were among those persuading the reluctant Ford in 1976 to approve offering Iran a deal for nuclear reprocessing facilities that would have brought at least $6.4 billion for US corporations like Westinghouse and General Electric. The project fell through when the Shah was ousted three years later.
It is altogether reasonable to expect that Iran's leaders want to have a nuclear weapons capability as well, and that they plan to use their nuclear program to acquire one. From their perspective, they would be fools not to. Iran is one of three countries earning the "axis-of-evil" sobriquet from President Bush and it has watched what happened to Iraq, which had no nuclear weapons, as well as what did not happen to North Korea, which does have them. And Iran's rival Israel, which has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty but somehow escapes widespread opprobrium, has a formidable nuclear arsenal cum delivery systems...." read in full
6th February 2006 ~ A lot of Muslim countries saw no protests at all Professor Juan Cole's Informed Comment website
"Before I launch into this report, I want to underline that few places in the Muslim world have seen violence over the caricatures, so far mainly Damascus and Beirut (which are unexpected in this regard.) Protests in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and elsewhere have been nonviolent. This is not to play down the seriousness of what happened in Damascus and Beirut over the weekend--acts which can only inspire horror and condemnation--only to set it in context. There are 1.5 billion Muslims. A lot of Muslim countries saw no protests at all. In some places, as in Pakistan, they were anemic. The caricature protests are resonating with local politics and anti-imperialism in ways distinctive to each Muslim country. The protests therefore are probably not mostly purely about religion..."
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
"......that causing religious offence should be regarded a sign of western machismo is obscene.
The traditional balance between free speech and respect for the feelings of others is evidently becoming harder to sustain. Ascribing evil consequences to religious faith is a sure way of causing offence. Banning such offence is an equally sure way for a politician to curry favour with a minority and thus advance the authoritarian tendency. The present Home Office needs no such encouragement. ..." Read in full
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 warmwell.com 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:
"....Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald continues to work on the CIA leak case......I believe it highly likely that, just below the surface, the worlds of Karl Rove and Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, shifting like tectonic plates, are about to collide....."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
".... Ahmed Qureia, the outgoing Palestinian Prime Minister and a leading figure in the Fatah "old guard", condemned the caricatures, saying they " provoke all Muslims everywhere in the world". While asking gunmen not to attack foreigners, he added: "But we warn that emotions may flare in this very sensitive issue."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
"At the same time, the ICC regards the violent threats made against Danish and EU citizens by some groups in the Muslim world as completely unacceptable and displaying an utter disregard of basic Islamic injunctions on how to resolve disagreements and differences." ( See ICC press release New window. )
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: http://www.channel4.com/news/special-reports/whitehouse_meeting_memo.html 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.
"Analysis of the division list showed the prime minister voted in the first division but not in the second, which was lost by one vote. "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 Stiglitz: " a global public finance system would force countries to acknowledge the external damage their policies had, "the most important being global climate change".(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".
".... The implication is that British troops will act only in self-defence. How that turns back the Taliban tide is a mystery. It is just offering target practice for mujaheddin. ..... ." Read in full
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.
"... The increased tension between Iran and the US on the nuclear issue is affecting relations between Washington and the Shiites here," one European diplomat said. They are trying to find someone else, some other allies who will not turn against them (in Iraq) if things heat up with Iran." US officials deny a policy shift..." Reuters
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
"........Paradoxically, it is Scarlett, the man at the heart of claims that the government "sexed up" Iraq intelligence, who is reported by a Foreign Office official as saying he "sees this as a political issue and a matter for the Foreign Secretary". A separate e-mail summarises the position of the intelligence agencies in a single sentence: "They do not oppose proscription but oppose reliance on their assessment to justify what they see as a change of policy, not fact."...."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
"We cannot allow the central bank of the United States, the main custodian of the nation's currency and coin, to commit continual and serious errors in reporting its currency and coin operations, nor can falsification of reports of currency activities be permitted,"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
".... fielded questions on former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the stunning victory of the radical group Hamas in Palestinian elections and the administration's cooperation with Congress on its investigation of Hurricane Katrina.
On the Middle East, Bush expressed concern that Palestinian elections had given a majority to the radical party Hamas, which has called for the elimination of Israel, although he noted that democratic elections sometimes produce unwelcome results. ..."
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.
"Iraqi journalists constantly face threats, either from guerrillas or from supporters of government officials, for writing critically about either. Reuters reveals that there really is not any freedom of the press in Iraq, and nor could there be given the poor security situation and the unconventional civil war..."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 Justice Eady said the Telegraph was not neutral in its reporting and not only adopted the allegations but "embraced them with relish and fervour and even embellished them". Sir Anthony, in the ruling today, said the appeal court agreed with the High Court judge's comments that the allegations were seriously defamatory. He also said the defence of privilege failed because the allegations that Mr Galloway had taken money for his own personal gain were presented as fact not comment in the newspaper. .."(Mr Galloway was evicted from Celebrity Big Brother house last night.
" I thought I could get on with almost everybody, Tony Blair excepted, but I certainly could not," he said. "I thought I could bring people together in a common cause and I failed. I thought I could live without the news and I could not. So I did learn things about myself. I also learned some personal things," he added. Guardian)
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. "
"......What is being alleged against the Bush administration are misdeeds that have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, the torture of people in US custody, blatant and unapologetic violations of the Fourth Amendment, and the shredding of American credibility around the world all of which are ongoing, claiming new victims everyday.
That's why the advocates of impeachment say we can't afford to wait two years for another election. Besides, they say, stopping the imperial ambitions of a president is precisely why the founders created the tool of impeachment.
"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land," warned James Madison, "it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." San Francisco Bay Guardian
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"
The story was hailed as one of the biggest scoops in the history of British television news and ITV has entered it for the Royal Television Society awards. The leak from the IPCC's investigation included witness statements and photographs that undermined early accounts by the Metropolitan police.... 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
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.
"...Campaigners will mount a legal challenge in the House of Lords today. Lawyers acting for the civil rights pressure group Liberty will launch a test case in the House of Lords today, claiming the law breaches fundamental human rights. They will press the case of Pennie Quinton and Kevin Gillan, who were among about 140 people arrested under the Terrorism Act at an international arms fair in east London in 2003. .... " Read in full
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).
There is considerable unease within the information technology (IT) industry around both the government's record on IT procurement and the technologies - especially biometrics and database security - proposed for use in the ID cards scheme. Most of the implementation of the scheme is likely to be done by private companies, some of which have already been meeting and lobbying government. These include companies with previous poor records in outsourced public sector work."More
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'
Tony Blair today dodged questions about accusations made by the Russian security service, the FSB, that British spies at the embassy in Moscow had been caught "red handed" using high-tech gadgetry to collect intelligence. .... using a secret transmitter device hidden underneath a fake stone in a central square. The programme also said a UK diplomat made regular payments to Russian non-governmental organisations..
...Last year the head of the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, accused the US and other foreign intelligence services of using NGOs to spy on Russia and foment political upheaval in ex-Soviet republics....
Alex Standish, editor of Jane's Intelligence Review, said the allegations should be treated with caution, but they could be accurate. ..
John Hughes-Wilson, author of Puppet Masters..."... They are gravely concerned that the US in particular are trying to chip away at Belarus and places like Kyrgyzstan."..... " Guardian
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
"The argument for social control goes like this: if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear from a national data bank of identity/the terrorism act/the tapping of MPs' phones/the use of the public-order act to control protest and limit free expression/the new powers of arrest/the retention of DNA samples taken from innocent juveniles.And Christopher Booker shows what a charade the "consultation"on the police actually is.
Over the past few months, I have listened to five people airily make this pitch. Not one of them was a complete fool; it's just that they haven't been paying attention to the Prime Minister's unflagging mission to increase the power of the state over the individual, to the shoal of anti-libertarian laws which have slipped through a mesmerised parliament..." Read in full
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times says "Byte by byte our identity is being stolen" concluding,
"I hardly know which is worse - a state that is good at getting and guarding our personal records, or one which is pretty bad. But either way, the time has come to think carefully and publicly about how we want to use technology to stop the recording eye of Big Brother stealing our identities."
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
- Clause 1. Her Majestys government is proud of British secondary education since 1997 and sees no reason to screw it up all over again.
- Clause 2. Her Majestys government regards schools as critical in holding communities together, in socialising, training and disciplining young people. That account is best rendered through local education authorities not central government. Ministers see no reason to undermine that accountability.
- Clause 3. The government accordingly withdraws its 500 regulations, 350 policy targets, 175 efficiency targets, 700 notes of guidance, 17 plans and 26 grant streams, in addition to its home/school agreements, desirable learning outcomes, social inclusion initiatives, behaviour improvement taskforces and national grids for this and that. They were all a regrettable lapse into madness, chiefly under David Blunkett. They can be burnt.
- Clause 4. Admission to secondary school is for local authorities (not schools) to decide. If they wish to have a selective or non-selective transfer it is up to them. Whitehall has made a hash of this for half a century and wants no further part in it. If parents do not like the policy they can protest, vote or move house.
- Clause 5. All central grants for education will be based on capitation, biased strongly towards schools in areas of greatest need. The only condition is that 90% of grants must go direct to school budgets. Whitehall will in future confine itself to inspection and exam monitoring. In short, Her Majestys government will get out of educations professional hair.
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.
"This memo appears to suggest that at least somewhere in the government someone was giving advice to Number 10 Downing Street that rendition was probably illegal, that there was probably an obligation to make investigations."
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
"The report will not be made public until any trial or inquest arising from the case has been completed, but IPCC sources told the BBC all officers interviewed by them over the shooting remained under investigation. A CPS spokeswoman said the case was being treated as a priority, but there was no timetable on when a decision would be made. .."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".
The "conflict assessment" is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid). The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush...."
18th January 2006 ~ The Iranian crisis is part of a wider, global crisis: the end of the cheap oil era. Guardian letters
"....oil is a finite resource and the development of alternative energy sources is a legitimate concern for all nations. Tony Blair has signalled that he is in favour of developing a new generation of nuclear power stations to meet Britain's energy gap. He is also in favour of developing a new generation of nuclear weapons - the rationale being that although the UK has no nuclear-armed enemies at present, we may have in the future. There is little reason to trust the Iranian government and one might infer that it is developing nuclear weapons to deter attacks from its nuclear-armed enemies, Israel and the US. But is it not disingenuous for the UK to attack Iran for employing the same logic to the problems of energy and defence as we do? The Iranian crisis is part of a wider, global crisis: the end of the cheap oil era. We are at a historical cross roads - one path leads to an era of nuclear proliferation, resource wars and possible systemic collapse; the other demands a massive commitment to developing renewable energy resources, nuclear disarmament and positive systemic change.
Dan Welch Manchester
18th January 2006 ~ Simon Jenkins on Iran "Never pick a fight you know you cannot win." Guardian
"Nothing I have read or heard in recent weeks suggests that fighting Iran over its nuclear enrichment programme makes any sense at all. The very talk of it - macho phrases about "all options open" - suggests an international community so crazed with video game enforcement as to have lost the power of coherent thought....
How can we say such a country has "no right" to nuclear defence?.... ..... If you cannot stop a man buying a gun, the next best bet is to make him your friend, not your enemy..." Read in full
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
"A high-level intelligence assessment by the Bush administration concluded in early 2002 that the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq was "unlikely" because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles, according to a secret memo that was recently declassified by the State Department.... The memo, dated March 4, 2002, was distributed at senior levels by the office of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and by the Defense Intelligence Agency... A Bush administration official, who requested anonymity because the issue involved partly classified documents, would not say whether President Bush had seen the State Department's memo before his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2003....
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) :
".... at best useless and at worst could cause serious problems. The whole question of glorification is simply going to confuse and trouble the courts. The definition is amazingly wide."(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.)
The Bishop of Winchester ( Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt) " .... it is very important at every point in this Bill, much of which I find profoundly questionable, to remember the political and educational and legal influence of our work elsewhere, especially in those Commonwealth countries who to a very significant extent share our legal traditions."
Baroness Helena Kennedy quoted a letter by Louise Arbour, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, that it "could pose grave challenges to effective human rights protection and set worrying precedents in the global struggle against terrorism".
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
".....Conservatives and Liberal Democrats lambasted the potentially huge costs involved. They demanded a full costing and called for MPs to be given an unprecedented vote on the scheme's budget. Ministers also faced pressure from Labour's left-wingers to abandon their plans.
Academics from the London School of Economics criticised secrecy over the potential costs of the scheme and warned that the legislation would pave the way for "endemic" checks on identity, and predicted that firms would make "substantial profits from relentless and unnecessary identity checking".
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
"undiminished appetite for a national register is curious."When Simon Jenkins writes of control freakery, readers of this website in particular see exactly what he means.
"public-sector IT projects running vastly over budget - and the determination to go ahead is unfathomable... The inescapable conclusion is that the government has been seduced into championing ID cards by the hundreds of companies now bidding for a slice of the lucrative pie. "
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
" Russia demanded that it be handed back, saying that it was covered by the 1997 agreement dividing the Soviet Black Sea fleet and vital for safe navigation in the area. But Ukraine says that Russia has no legal claim to the lighthouse or 35 other hydrographic sites" on the Crimean peninsula"
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.
At least 17 were killed or wounded if we include police officers' body guards, in cities and towns from Baquba to Tuz Khurmato. .. ..The implementation of the new Iraqi constitution will likely lead to an even more thorough impact of Islamic law. James Palmer of the Religion News Service interviews Iraqi women who fear or welcome this development ... Informed Comment
Bush's approval rating has dipped back down to 39 percent. Only 34 percent think he is doing a good job on Iraq...
...The US military released two Reuters correspondents whom it held for months without charge. It is still holding other journalists. The military said it had to ascertain whether the men were really journalists. Couldn't they have, like, just asked Reuters? The intimidation of journalists is one of many propaganda tools the Pentagon has deployed to keep the full story of how bad things are in Iraq from getting out....
William Fisher argues that Bush turned Iraq over to the State Department because even he finally realized that Rumsfeld's administration of the country was corrupt and error-prone.....
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.
" It is impossible to tell how stable the situation in Pakistan is, or when an incident like this one will tip it over into substantial popular unrest. That uncertainty should inspire caution. There are lots of things wrong with firing a missile at a private home at the time of the Feast of Sacrifice and killing 12 women and children....".Informed Comment
15th January 2006 ~ Drop this costly ID scheme Observer Leader
".... At a time when all departments are tightening their belts, an unpopular project which, by the government's admission, will cost at least #5.8bn over its first 10 years seems a candidate for the chop.....Yes, there is a need to make the new generation of passports incorporate biometric technology such as fingerprints or iris scans. But this does not justify making it mandatory for everyone to possess a piece of plastic with so many other biometric components...... The inescapable conclusion is that the government has been seduced into championing ID cards by the hundreds of companies now bidding for a slice of the lucrative pie...." read in full
15th January 2006 ~ the apotheosis of control freakery. Simon Jenkins in the Times
"......Name any public service, add in some human interest, and in 24 hours it is swarming with blame-throwers and Salem witch-hunters. Blairs government denies all respect to public institutions. Blair, Kelly, Hewitt, Charles Clarke or Alistair Darling do not really trust any school, hospital, police force or rail company to do its job. Any statistic suggesting a postcode lottery" has ministers shouting for blanket national standards. Later this month Kelly is to commit suttee on the funeral pyre of Blairs education policy. It will be the apotheosis of control freakery. .." read in full
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
http://www.backingblair.co.uk 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."
"...."This is a piece of real evidence to back up the gut instinct many of us have that the denials of complicity we are hearing from E.U. member and candidate states cannot be relied upon," Sarah Ludford, a Liberal Democratic .."
read in full
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:
".... the concern that the Army still does not appreciate the extent of the watershed it faces. To that end, the planned Army Transformation needs to focus less on generating warfighting capability and much more on:
- The realisation that all military activity is subordinate to political intent, and must be attuned accordingly: mere destruction of the enemy is not the answer.
- The development of a workforce that is genuinely adaptive to changes in purpose, as opposed to merely adapting to be even better at conventional warfighting.
- Keeping the lure of technology in perspective, and realising that the human component is the key to adaptability...."
read in full
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:
" .... Gen Rose has spoken for me and countless other officers and soldiers whom I served alongside. We wondered what on earth we were doing risking both our lives and those of our men every day; we knew there was no justification for war..."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
Extract "...... Listening to Tony Blair talk about his "respect agenda" yesterday, I wondered if he was losing his marbles. What is "investing in good behaviour"? When was "spitting at old ladies always a crime"? We have had this drivel for eight years..
....Withdraw responsibility from communities and you withdraw authority. Withdraw authority and you do not get placid submission to Blair's "summary power". You get anarchy. You get Basra. Does Downing Street never learn? ."
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.
"To get on top of 21st century crime, we need to accept that what works in practice is a measure of summary power with right of appeal" Tony BlairSee United Press International which quotes Shami Chakrabarti
"With the move to summary, arbitrary and loosely defined community justice, anti-social behavior laws have to date been at best neutral and at worst positively damaging."(Bloggerheads' Tim Ireland points out that the domain name for the main campaign website (respect.gov.uk) was registered all of seven days ago..)
The measures were described as "knee-jerk populism" by the Conservatives while the Liberal Democrats branded them a "mish-mash" of gimmicks.
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
".... A key fear is that Iraq's mostly Shiite Muslim and Kurdish army will use American and allied bombing missions for revenge attacks on the Sunni Muslim Arab minority, which provides most of the insurgency's fighters. "If we allow that to happen, then in essence we'll be doing the same thing we accused Saddam Hussein of doing," said Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA and State Department official. "We'll just be substituting one tyranny for another."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.
".....Some argue that at least the US is now more open and less hypocritical about its behaviour towards terrorist suspects. To this, one should reply: "If US representatives mean only this, why are they telling us? Why don't they silently go on doing it, as they did it until now?" ....The act of publicly revealing something is never neutral; it affects the reported content itself. The same goes for the US's recent admission that it is using torture. When we hear people such as Dick Cheney making statements about the necessity of torture, we should ask ourselves why he has decided to make a public statement about it. The question to be raised is: what is there in this statement that made the speaker decide to enunciate it? This is 24's real problem: not the content itself but the fact that we are being told openly about it. And that is a sad indication of a deep change in our ethical and political standards."
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
"...I certainly think he should be held to account for what he did because certainly, from a soldier's perspective, there can't be any more serious decision taken by a Prime Minister than declaring war - and then to go to war on what turns out to be false grounds is a crime that no one should be allowed to walk away from.."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
".......In his documentary, Bell denounces the war as an "ill-considered adventure" and suggests it may prove more damaging to those who launched it even than America's involvement in Vietnam. Bell wrote yesterday: "In March it will be three years since the invasion, yet Iraq remains in the unshakeable grip of sectarian violence and may be on the brink of civil war. In just two bloody days last week, more than 170 people were butchered by insurgents. We have entered a tunnel with no light at the end of it. The mission has not been accomplished. Instead we face the prospect of war without end. Even Vietnam offered a less disastrous outcome." ...." Read in full
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
"Town hall bureaucrats are to be given sweeping new powers to investigate homes for identity card evasion and to impose heavy fines on occupants found without one. The revelation, in an obscure Whitehall consultation paper, calls into serious doubt the Government's repeated promises that planned ID cards, already hugely controversial, will be voluntary and that no one will be forced to carry one. .."
8th January 2006 ~ Scandal of force-fed prisoners Observer Hunger strikers are tied down and fed through nasal tubes, admits Guantánamo Bay doctor
"... Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist at Queen Elizabeth's hospital in Birmingham, is co-ordinating opposition to the Guantanamo doctors' actions from the international medical community. 'If I were to do what Edmondson describes in his statement, I would be referred to the General Medical Council and charged with assault,' he said.
- Yesterday the new German Chancellor Angela Merkel became the latest leader to condemn the United States for practices at the prison. In a magazine interview days before her first visit as premier to the US, Merkel said Washington should close Guantanamo and find other ways of dealing with terror suspects."
6th January 2006 ~ Robert Fisk on Ariel Sharon in the Independent
" President George Bush acclaims Ariel Sharon as 'a man of peace', yet the blood that was shed at Sabra and Chatila remains a stain on the conscience of the Zionist nation. As Sharon lies stricken in his hospital bed, his political career over, how will history judge him? ..... it is as a war criminal that Sharon will be known forever in the Arab world, through much of the Western world, in fact - save, of course, for the craven men in the White House and the State Department and the Blair Cabinet - as well as many leftist Israelis...."Read in full
6th January 2006 ~ Ministers 'trying to neuter Lords with review of blocking powers' Independent
"... Ministers have proposed setting up a joint committee of MPs and peers to discuss the way the Lords can amend government Bills and delay their passage into law....the Tories and Liberal Democrats may decide not to join the inquiry, as they suspect that ministers want to use it to shackle the second chamber... opposition parties are suspicious about the Government's intentions. They have accused Mr Blair of packing the upper house by nominating "Tony's cronies". Labour is now the largest single party in the Lords, although it does not enjoy an overall majority and the Tories and Liberal Democrats regularly inflict defeats on the Government by joining forces. ...." Read in full
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
"....Government officials now acknowledge that there is no evidence, or even reliable intelligence, connecting the Iranian government to the infra-red triggered bombs which have killed 10 British soldiers in the past eight months.......The allegations had also been confirmed by Tony Blair at a joint press conference in Downing Street with Iraq's President Jalal Talabani. Mr Blair told reporters: "There is no justification for Iran or any other country interfering in Iraq.".... ....A former Labour defence minister, Peter Kilfoyle, accused the Blair government of following President George Bush's obsession with Iran.(Mr Blair told reporters: "There is no justification for Iran or any other country interfering in Iraq.".... .)
"Is this intelligence or is it propaganda? This is what happened in Iraq. I have 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. This is part of an almost unconscious urge to support whatever the American policy of the moment might be."
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...
''The signing statement is saying 'I will only comply with this law when I want to, and if something arises in the war on terrorism where I think it's important to torture or engage in cruel, inhuman, and degrading conduct, I have the authority to do so and nothing in this law is going to stop me,' " he said. ''They don't want to come out and say it directly because it doesn't sound very nice, but it's unmistakable to anyone who has been following what's going on."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.
''Congress is trying to flex its muscle to provide those checks [on detainee abuse], and it's being told through the signing statement that it's impotent. It's quite a radical view."
5th January 2006 ~ President Bush is widening his circle of advisers
Reuters reports that President Bush is
"soliciting the views of former secretaries of state and defense, some of whom have doubted his Iraq policy. The group will meet Bush on Thursday and will be briefed by Gen. George Casey, the U.S. commander in Iraq, as well as Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador there. ...Other former secretaries of state from both Republican and Democratic administrations who have accepted the White House invitation include Madeleine Albright, Lawrence Eagleburger, James Baker, George Shultz and Alexander Haig. Former secretaries of defense include William Cohen, Frank Carlucci, James Schlesinger, Harold Brown, Melvin Laird and Robert McNamara. ...."
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.
"Those who want to stop the progress of freedom are becoming more and more marginalized." -Bush 1/04/05...
"In January 2006, the mission is to continue to hand over more and more territory and more and more responsibility to Iraqi forces . . . - Bush" ....
"As we see more of these Iraqi forces in the lead, we will be able to continue with our stated strategy that says as Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down."- Bush
"As the Iraqi army gains strength and experience, and as the political process advances, we'll be able to decrease troop levels without losing our capacity to defeat the terrorists." - Cheney 1/2/05. ."
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
"Judge Jed S. Rakoff's order on Wednesday was a victory for the Associated Press, which sued the Pentagon in April 2005 seeking the names of detainees and transcripts of hearings held by the U.S. military to determine whether they were properly classified as enemy combatants. The Pentagon tried to block the Associated Press' attempt.."
5th January 2006 ~The government was accused last night of compiling a national DNA database "by stealth" Telegraph "...by 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:
".... None of the Jewish extremists, some of them violent, who are invading the West Bank and making the lives of the local Palestinians miserable will ever be branded "terrorists" by the US Government, and Abramoff's foray into providing sniper lessons will be quietly buried.See also Washington Post
Terror isn't terror and aggression is not aggression when it has lobbyists in Congress who can provide luxury vacations and illegal campaign funding."
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.
"..... Apart from the violation of human rights, (Craig) Murrays point is the same as all other critics that information extracted by torture is generally useless.See below
Murray, isolated and sometimes ridiculed as an eccentric, has been fighting a one-man campaign against the Foreign Office to clear his name. Despite pressure, he has stayed true to his aims, and a planned book on his experiences was submitted to his former employers, the Foreign Office, some time ago for clearance.
On Christmas Eve, Murray received news that he would have to remove from the book all references to two particularly damning British government documents which appear to indicate that the UK knowingly received information from Uzbekistan extracted through torture.
Murrays response has been to release the documents to numerous websites...."
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
".... The president's first public comments of the new year after no public appearances last week offered a glimpse into how his administration intends to deflect congressional inquiries into his authorization of wiretaps on terrorism suspects -- with a vigorous defense of the program as a matter of national security. ....In Texas, Bush dodged a question about whether he was aware of any resistance to the spying program by high-ranking Justice officials and whether those concerns may have influenced his decision to approve it...."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
"... If the US were staying in Iraq in a big way, and still hoping to make a significant place for the multinationals there, it would have to bite the bullet and continue to try to do reconstruction. If the Bush administration is throwing in the towel, then whether Iraqis have enough electricity really isn't its problem any more. .."Professor Juan Cole also comments that
"... an ongoing electricity crisis has left the Baghdad capital in complete darkness for many hours a day. A protest against a tripling of gasoline prices turned violent in Kirkuk, with police killing 3 protesters (they accused the demonstrators of having turned to arson).....
There is an error in the WaPo article, which quotes Iraqi oil production as 2 billion barrels a day a day. That should be 2 million, and will no doubt be corrected on the web. But that still isn't right. They weren't able to do more than an average of 1.8 million in 2005, last I knew, and in December it was less.."
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"
"Did it not seem strange to Blair that he could not move outside his walled fortress, could not drive anywhere or talk to any Iraqis? Did he wonder why British troops have withdrawn from two anarchic provinces? Was he really told that security is transformed for the better? If so he is horribly deceived. ..."
".....The idea that American or British withdrawal would lead to civil war" suggests that Iraq is like Yugoslavia. It is not. Since the foreign troops spend most of their time in bases they have no role in policing Iraqs communal strife. Their departure would rather end what Iraqis regard as a humiliation and remove a recruiting sergeant and target for the insurgency. ...."
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
"Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, has published documents on the Internet that he says prove that the British knowingly received information obtained through torture. Mr. Murray, who was forced to quit the Foreign Office last year after publicly condemning the Uzbek authorities, criticized the British and American governments in reports from Uzbekistan that he posted on the site, www.craigmurray.org.uk...."
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 http://www.blairwatch.co.uk/down/30decMurray.mp3 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:
"..I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on the 18th March 2003. A government lawyer gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired through torture. On behalf of the Intelligence Services, I was told they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the "war on terror".."The letters from Mr Murray to his bosses at the Foreign Office outline his concerns about the dangers of using such intelligence..
" I repeat that this material is useless. We are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful and is designed to give the message the Uzbechs want the West to hear."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,
"There are certainly circumstances where we may get intelligence from a liaison partner where we know that their practices are well below the line. If you do get a bit of information which seems to be completely credible which may have been extracted through unacceptable practices, do you ignore it? And my answer to that is, at the moment at which it is put before you, you have to make an assessment about its credibility."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.
"...A judge in London ruled two weeks ago that Home Secretary Charles Clarke had "no power in law" to deprive Mr Hicks of his citizenship. Mr Justice Collins had given the Home Secretary permission to appeal against his judgment, but refused to suspend his decision pending the appeal...."
27th December 2005 ~ Greek newspaper, Proto Thema, names British MI6 spy chief involved in the abduction and mistreatment of 28 Pakistani migrants. BBC
"... It also named 15 Greek agents who it says were involved in the operation, which allegedly took place after the 7 July bombings in London. .... The British government previously described allegations of ill-treatment of migrants following the London bombings as "utter nonsense" and "far fetched". ... Proto Thema said the swoop on the Pakistanis was a co-ordinated operation involving Greek and British intelligence services.
The BBC's correspondent in Athens, Malcolm Brabant... "One detainee has alleged that he had a gun placed in his mouth; one said he was beaten; and another claimed he saw a third detainee being beaten up. All 28 said they had hoods placed over their heads and some were held incommunicado for seven days. "
27th December 2005 ~ US embassy close to admitting Syria rendition flight The Guardian says today
"Although Mr Tuttle, a Beverly Hills car dealer and major donor to George Bush's re-election campaign, has been ambassador in London only since the summer, he is proving to be accident-prone. .."
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,
"The reduction is on top of the planned withdrawal of some 20,000 troops sent to secure the election and marks what American officials hope will be the beginning of a new and less intense phase in their involvement in Iraq."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
"..... The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries..
...Bush administration officials declined to comment on Friday on the technical aspects of the operation and the N.S.A.'s use of broad searches to look for clues on terrorists. Because the program is highly classified, many details of how the N.S.A. is conducting it remain unknown, and members of Congress who have pressed for a full Congressional inquiry say they are eager to learn more about the program's operational details, as well as its legality. ..."
23rd December 2005 ~ Who runs Britain? We heard George Galloway today and Tim Ireland yesterday - but here is George Monbiot nominating the CBI
"If Jesus Christ were to return to earth and the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit were to slay the greater part of mankind, the first thing the media would do would be to find out how the markets had reacted. The next would be to ring Sir Digby Jones, the head of the Confederation of British Industry, for a comment.
The CBI is usually described as a "lobby group". But this reveals a misunderstanding of its relationship with the government. Today the government lobbies the CBI. Every public event the bosses' trade union hosts is attended by a senior minister, usually either the Prime Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They come on bended knee to ask permission to stay in office..."
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.)
"I, I have absolutely no evidence to suggest that anything illegal has been happening here at all, and I'm not going to start ordering inquires into this, that and the next thing when I've got no evidence to show whether this is right or not - and I honestly, and you know, it's like all this stuff about camps in Europe or something - I don't know, I've never heard of such a thing. I can't tell you whether such a thing exists - because, er - I don't know."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
"......Congress has banned harsh treatment of terrorism suspects in US custody and demanded a quarterly report on such activities. People like Dick Cheney who favor an imperial presidency should remember that Congress funds the government, and they don't have to fund unconstitutional measures. that Dick had to interrupt his travels lately to pull a budget bill out by his teeth should send a chill through him in this regard. Congress should just cut off money for the Guantanamo Bay prisons.........
... One thing that is increasingly clear is that the Bush administration is stuck in the Cold War.... The obsession with Catholic Workers and Mao... demonstrates that the administration doesn't really care about al-Qaeda and isn't even mainly using the act to combat that sort of terrorism. In fact, with all its powers, it is hard for the Federal government to point to any successful domestic investigation and prosecution of al-Qaeda-type terrorists in the US..."
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
"....Michael Rubin of the AEI was predicting 5 percent for Chalabi (the neocon favorite) and 20 percent for Allawi, a prediction that demonstrates that after 2 1/2 years the neocons still just can't understand anything about contemporary Iraq....R.J. Eskow shreds the Neocon vision of what Iraq would become to pieces. Iraq is going to be pro-Iran, and will not recognize Israel (Muqtada al-Sadr will be part of the ruling coalition!) The 38 Sadrist parliamentarians and the 50 or so Sunni ones will form a powerful bloc calling for immediate US withdrawal from Iraq."(R J Eskow also says
"The question of whether it was worth it has been answered - with a solid "no" ........ war-friendly Democrats are wrong to say that now that the harm's been done by invasion, we have to stay to fix it. That's a coward's stance. The truth is that harm was done by the invasion, and is made worse with every day we stay.
Yet no American leader, Republican or Democrat, will say what needs to be said: We've given the President his war, and we've seen the results. The Iraqis have elected their Iran-friendly, fundamentalist Muslim leadership, as is their sovereign right. Now let's leave the country to those leaders to run as they see fit..")
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
"....The first rumblings of a backlash are finally evident in a Congress that has up to now been loth to challenge a wartime president. Sensing that the president may have overplayed his hand, Republican senator Arlen Specter has announced he'll hold hearings into Mr Bush's decision to allow domestic wiretaps without court approval...Public opinion still lags behind the outrage of senators..."
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"
"... in the best and worst of ways, in this wild, wild year that ends so differently than it began... Much of the news is grim, but the best of it is being lived out by nurses, immigrant farmworkers, Korean farmers, campers in the grass of Crawford, Texas, marchers in the streets of Washington, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, scribblers on various blogs, volunteers in various crises, and the immeasurable force of people everywhere who won't let the official version go unchallenged anywhere.. .."
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
"...Cole said he believed that more than 5,000 foreigners were detained in the days after September 11, and none was convicted of a terrorist crime. Nor was any of about 80,000 men from certain Middle Eastern nations called in for fingerprinting and registration charged with terrorism..."
21st December 2005 ~ "Singers defy Parliament demo ban" The BBC is evidently wondering what the response will be.
Bloggerheads says today:
"......(* Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005 - which appears to have written by an 8-year-old - bans demonstrations within a carefully defined area, but does not define what constitutes a demonstration. Technically, you could be arrested for anything from wearing a 'Make Poverty History' bracelet to demonstrating the correct way to use a potato peeler.)
PS - Admittedly, we are open to a legal challenge over public safety if the turn-out is massive (i.e. if there are more people than Parliament Square can safely accommodate) but there is a contingency plan that covers this unlikely event...."
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
"The well-placed source said the Foreign Office "totally accepts" that the United States used British airfields to transfer prisoners abroad for interrogation, and is "extremely worried" about the political consequences...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." "
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?
As far as Iraq's supposed nuclear capability was concerned the US and UK stood nearly alone in their professed belief . But even in the UK, Intelligence chiefs confirmed that they had been openly sceptical about the presence of WMD in Iraq for years Sunday Herald in Jan 2004Will the mainstream media allowing Mr Bush to get away with such utter nonsense as "intelligence agencies around the world felt the same way"?
In January 2005 , Douglas Feith resigned in haste. He had helped set up an Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon to cherry-pick Iraq intelligence and create a case for Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and having operational links with al-Qaeda. Juan Cole
The "irrefutable evidence" referred to September 2002 by Dick Cheney were those aluminium tubes later referred to by Dr. David A. Kay,as "the only piece of physical evidence about the Iraqi weapons programs that they had." David Kay, the head of the Iraq Survey Group, resigned his post saying he didn't think WMD existed in Iraq. George Tenet said "alternative views were shared" with the administration in late September 2002. (See more on this)
The Washington Post revealed extensive doubts among intelligence experts on the very day before the attack on Iraq.
Hans Blix said in a 2004 interview "among the 700 inspections that we performed, none brought us any evidence of weapons of mass destruction. I warned the Security Council about that... "
A video clip (new window) from John Pilger's documentary, Breaking the Silence, contains 2001 footage of Powell and Rice declaring that Iraq is not a threat. Colin Powell said Hussein had not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."
Ray McGovern, David Albright, Mel Goodman, Scott Ritter, Joseph Wilson and Graham Fuller are all shown in the documentary Uncovered: The War on Iraq questioning the WMD case for war in the months before the invasion.
See also The Downing St memos - reality Check
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
"On Iraq, Bush pointed to the country's election last Thursday as a sign of progress in the war, which is costing taxpayers $6 billion a month and in which more than 2,100 U.S. troops have died."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
"...It is a brutal fact of modern media and politics that honesty and sincerity are not rewarded, but instead heavily punished, by powerful interests with plenty at stake. It does not matter how often the likes of Pinter, Le Carri, Noam Chomsky and John Pilger are shown to be right. It does not matter how often the likes of Bush and Blair are shown to have lied in the cause of power and profits. The job of mainstream journalism is to learn nothing from the past, to treat rare individuals motivated by compassion as rare fools deserving contempt. .." Read in full
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"
"... around which we are reshaping the UKs local government.. ..Ministers .. recently agreed ... empowering foreign courts to order British police to seize documents and search premises, even just on the suspicion of an offence which is not a crime under British law..." Read in fullThe 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
" it may well be that Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, whom Bush doesn't seem very interested in capturing, have had the last laugh. Their monstrous "theatrical" terrorism on a large scale has paralyzed the US political and judicial elite in the face of Cheney's and Bush's New American Empire, an Empire in which the US Constitution has been turned into a dead letter.
Those same FBI and DHS agents who are heroes when they take on al-Qaeda directly are in danger of becoming double agents for Bin Laden when they are tempted by all the new prerogatives offered them... to sidestep the Bill of Rights, due process and the rule of law."
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..."
"..Consider -- an American citizen who has committed no crime is flagged forFrightening stuff
(a.) having travelled abroad, and
(b.) for having checked out a book on the Department of Homeland Security's "watch list" of forbidden or dangerous titles, as revealed by the government's secret monitoring of library circulation transactions.
All this without probable cause, a search warrant or any semblance of due process."
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 eavesdropping was pronounced lawful by the attorney-general and White House counsel each time before Bush signed off on the programme..." Sunday TimesThe 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")
"..Britain will pay more into the EU, our net contribution rising from #3.5 billion to nearly #6 billion a year. The British rebate has been shaved by #1 billion a year. And for what?.."(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
"...Among the profiteers of our Iraq crusade are big oil (House of Bush/House of Saud), Halliburton (the vice-president), Bechtel (a nest of mighty Republicans) and so forth. All of this is extraordinarily blatant, yet the American people seem benumbed, unable to read, think, or remember....
There is now a parody of the American Jesus, a kind of Republican CEO who disapproves of taxes, and who has widened the needle's eye so that camels and the wealthy pass readily into the Kingdom of Heaven. We have also an American holy spirit, the comforter of our burgeoning poor, who don't bother to vote. The American trinity pragmatically is completed by an imperial warrior God, trampling with shock and awe...."
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
"...One thing seems pretty clear at this point: Iyad Allawi is highly unlikely to be prime minister. His people were putting around rumors that a lot of Sunnis would vote for him, or that the Shiites of the south had turned against the fundamentalist Shiite UIA. The early returns aren't showing either allegation to have been true. As for Ahmad Chalabi, his Iraqi National Accord seems to have sunk without a trace as far as early leaked returns are showing...."
17th December 2005 ~ "the extreme stress caused by captivity in a tiny isolation cell." An exposé of Guantanamo in the Washington Post
"The purpose of Guantanamo is to create a sense of hopelessness in detainees....Human rights groups and lawyers are watching a proposal under discussion on Capitol Hill that would strip detainees of the ability to file habeas corpus claims and other cases with U.S. federal courts....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.
"We're not going to turn the war on terror over to the judges," Graham said in a conference call with reporters yesterday.."
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:
"... Even if you don't like the questions, don't like the answers, think you know the answers already, Mr Blair, it is us, not you, who are paying the cost for this... We run the risks on the trains, the buses, the streets each day. You answer to us, the public and if I could shame you into answering us now, my God, I would. How dare you presume you know our questions and how dare you presume that they can be answered by a 'narrative of what happened', as if we are children to be placated with a story. I know what happened, I want to know why. I want a debate, Mr Blair, I want a dialogue. I will not shut up about it either."
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, :
"The LA Times probably reflects the thinking of a lot of Americans in hoping that these elections are a milestone on the way to withdrawing US troops from Iraq. I cannot imagine why anyone thinks that. The Iraqi "government" is a failed state. Virtually no order it gives has any likelihood of being implemented. It has no army to speak of and cannot control the country. Its parliamentarians are attacked and sometimes killed with impunity. Its oil pipelines are routinely bombed, depriving it of desperately needed income. It faces a powerful guerrilla movement that is wholly uninterested in the results of elections and just wants to overthrow the new order. Elections are unlikely to change any of this...."
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
"Today's rejection of re-authorisation in the Senate is a major defeat for the US president, George Bush, and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill....
a New York Times report today... said Mr Bush authorised the National Security Agency to monitor the international phone calls and international emails of hundreds - perhaps thousands - of people inside the US.
..... Senator Russ Feingold: "I don't want to hear again from the attorney general or anyone on this floor that this government has shown it can be trusted to use the power we give it with restraint and care. ...."
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:
"I am startled, even a little dismayed, at the suggestion [and the acceptance by the court of appeal majority] that this deeply rooted tradition" - namely abhorrence for torture and its fruits - "and an international obligation solemnly and explicitly undertaken, can be overridden by a statute and a procedural rule which makes no mention of torture at all".
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..
".... his answer was similar to Dr Rice's: careful, evasive and lawyerly. He might well have no records, but maybe records weren't the point. More direct and detailed questions may prove harder to deflect."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
"....Amnesty calls for charges to be brought against them or for the restrictions on their freedom to be lifted. A spokesman said: "Is this really what we call justice in this country? These men have had their liberty taken from them for four years yet they haven't even been charged and tried, let alone found guilty of anything. What's really shocking is that these men, supposedly 'suspected international terrorists', have never once been questioned since their arrest."
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
"The Bush administration has never officially acknowledged that secret detention facilities exist, but the basic facts surrounding them have been described by current and former government officials. The location of the prisons in particular remains a carefully guarded secret, though the European Union is seeking information to confirm a report by The Washington Post last month that said that at least two were in Eastern Europe..."
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
"The inquiry, which will begin next year and looks certain to sour relations between Washington and Brussels, was approved by the European Parliaments political group leaders last night after mounting pressure from backbenchers...The Euro MPs will co- operate with the separate investigation, headed by Dick Marty, a Swiss senator, that the 46-nation Council of Europe began last month. Mr Marty delivered an interim report stating that his work had reinforced the credibility of the allegations concerning the transfer and temporary detention of individuals, without any judicial involvement, in European countries".
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
"...the choice of name may well be intentional. It encourages the idea that the flights belong in the hazy world of the conspiracy theorist rather than the real-life horror of the torture room. Both Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw have had the opportunity to deny that these are effectively torture flights", used to transport terrorist suspects to countries outside US jurisdiction, where they can be subjected to coercive interrogation" (another euphemism) without infringing American laws. Instead of answering the questions directly, they have posed more. .." Read in full
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"
" JH: Indeed. And the numbers of these aircraft were recorded. They were recorded amongst other people by plane spotters who obviously would have no political axe to grind. They simply made a note of the numbers of the aircraft and they were CIA aircraft - or are you telling me they weren't CIA aircraft?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.
JS: No I'm not telling you that .."
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
"... If Charles Clarke and the government "welcome" the law lords' decision to ban evidence obtained by torture why did the same government fight to avoid such a ban all the way from the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) up to the House of Lords, instead of accepting it in the first place? It's equally disingenuous to welcome the test which the law lords said should be applied to establish whether evidence has been obtained by torture without also admitting that this test was only supported by a 4-3 majority of the law lords, and that the senior law lord, Lord Bingham, called it "a test which, in the real world, can never be satisfied ..." Read in full
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
"....there are signs that the Government's attempt to keep free of the controversy are becoming untenable, amid calls from MPs, human rights groups and European bodies for an in-depth investigation...
Many observers believe the lack of pressure from European governments shows that several may have been made aware of what was taking place. One diplomat argued: "This row is not being fuelled by the governments in Europe. It is being led by the media and public opinion.""
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
"Politicians and victims of the bombings have reacted angrily to the decision....The news was condemned by Sir Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain....:"It has to be a fully comprehensive public inquiry that will provide us the information we need as to what actually happened, how it happened and why it happened so that we will be better prepared to prevent such tragedy happening again."
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".
".. Swiss senator Dick Marty, who is looking into the scandal for the 46-nation Council of Europe human rights watchdog, criticized the United States for failing to come clean over the allegations. ..... it was hard to believe that certain governments and secret services in Europe had not cooperated with the CIA -- in breach of their human rights obligations..The rapporteur ... deplores the fact that no information or explanation had been provided on this point by Ms Rice during her visit to Europe," he said.."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.....
....Mr Straw said there was no reason for a judicial-level investigation into the reports about renditions and said he did not know of the existence of any secret prisons in Europe. ... Andrew Tyrie, Conservative chairman of the Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, said Mr Straw's words "should reassure nobody".
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
".... As with the Jan. 30 elections, the Dec. 15 elections are not being held in accordance with international standards of fairness, and cannot be. Proper elections would require that security be provided to voters and candidates. But there is no security. Several candidates have already been assassinated or attacked, and most of the 7000 or so cannot come out in public or they would be killed, too. In many parts of the center-north, voters will have no guarantee of coming home alive. The only way the vote will happen at all is that the US military has forbidden all vehicular traffic, so everyone has to walk for the next few days. This tactic prevents carbombings from disrupting the elections, but it is a desperate measure and not a sign of an election that could be certified as free and fair...."
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"
"....The 90 people (at least) who, according to Colin Powell's former chief of staff, seem to have been tortured to death during US interrogations from Gitmo to Abu Ghraib are ... what? Non-existent? Victims of rogue agents?
....At Prime Minister's Questions last week, (Tony Blair) responded to Charles Kennedy's questions about CIA torture flights by saying, "I do not know what the Right Honourable Gentleman is referring to." He added quickly, "I accept entirely Secretary of State Rice's assurances," rubber-stamping her statement that the US "never" uses torture. Not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan, not when "rendering" terrorists to tyrannical allies."
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' ...
"....ministers have said that no relevant records exist of such flights because the government does not need to keep them. The Ministry of Defence has said no records of passengers are needed if they do not leave the airfield. And yesterday Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, refused to say how many times a Boeing 737 and a Gulfstream identified by the Guardian as being used by the CIA - registered N313P and N379P - had landed in Britain. Such information could only be provided at "disproportionate cost", he said..
Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP for Chichester and chairman of a parliamentary committee set up to investigate the CIA flights,...: "Turning a blind eye is not good enough. There is enough weight in the evidence which requires the UK to investigate and ask the US categorically what is going on. Until that is done and we have a clearer and frank answer the British government will remain exposed to the possibility they may be breaking the law."....."
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:
"At best, these kind of statements reassure people that the police are pulling out the stops. At worst, they frighten members of the public. We can surely be given a more detailed threat assessment without jeopardising ongoing operations."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
"......Behind George W, there are four generations of Bushes and Walkers devoted first to using political networks to pile up and protect personal fortunes and, latterly, to using absolutely any means to gain office, not because they want to do good, but because they are what passes in America for hereditary aristocrats. In sum, Bush stands at the apex of a pyramid of privilege whose history and social significance, given his animosity towards scholarly thought, he almost certainly does not understand...." Howell Raines, former editor of the New York Times
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
" Instead of sweeping away all the existing national institutions in each country, these have all been left standing while being hollowed out from within. ..... We are ruled, far more than most people yet realise, by a system of government which is not elected and which therefore we cannot hold to account or dismiss. ... the fact that some of our fellow-European citizens last summer tried to say No to any further European integration now begins to look tragically irrelevant. ...Read in full
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.'
"..Ethiopian student who lives in London...Binyam Mohammed, 27, says he spent nearly three years in the CIA's network of 'black sites' ... Mohammed signed a confession but told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, he had never met Padilla, or anyone in al-Qaeda.......Stafford Smith said: 'I am unaware of any evidence against him other than that extracted under torture.'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.
"..In February of 2004 I got a long message that maintained that Muqtada al-Sadr's movement was dissipating and that the US was about to put $18 billion of reconstruction money into Iraq, which would jump-start the economy, draw off dissidents, and make the place peaceful and flourishing. Two months later the entire South and Baghdad were in flames... The pipe dreams spring eternal, but they are mirages..."
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
"I'm absolutely convinced that some day, 50 or 60 years from now, an American president will be speaking to an audience saying," Mr. Bush said. " 'Democracy spread and the world is more peaceful for it.' "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
" It is shameful in a democratic society for the Secretary of Defense to engage in such warped discourse. It is more shameful that almost no one calls him on it."
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
ing Maya Anne Evans case. Her "serious" crime was to stand by the Cenotaph, close to Downing Street, reading aloud the names of the 97 British soldiers who have died in Iraq.) The police have said in the past that anyone who is visiting or supporting Brian and not taking part in a separate protest will not be arrested.
Early yesterday, police came up to Brain Haw's Iraq protest display outside The Houses of Parliament and threatened to arrest a visitor who was sitting near Brian as he slept. She said she was not protesting.
Mr Haw was then arrested for breach of the peace as he maintained that the young woman should not be arrested. He was taken to Charing Cross Police Station but released without charge after too long.
The Independent article "a casualty of free speech here.
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...
Lawmakers will respond to pressure by eliminating one small piece of the torture apparatus: closing a prison, shutting down a programme, even demanding the resignation of a really bad apple like Rumsfeld. But ... "they will preserve the prerogative to torture.".
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....
"Rumsfeld is committing a logical fallacy here. He is comparing apples and oranges. ...The likelihood from the information that has leaked out from the Baghdad morgue is that Iraq is among the more murderous societies in the world at the moment. (As you would expect, since where there is no law and order, criminal elements act with impunity. Worse, there are regular political assassinations by religiious militias.) These Iraq murders are not usually reported in the press, any more than the murders in the US are...... deaths in the guerrilla war are extra.
The essential fallacy here is comparing political violence, which aims at altering the government, to individual acts of criminality. ..... A criminal slitting someone's throat in a back alley of Baghdad won't cause a civil war. Actions like the bus bombing are potentially consequential...
. Rumsfeld has a long track record of indulging in this particular form of sloppy thinking. It is shameful in a democratic society for the Secretary of Defense to engage in such warped discourse. It is more shameful that almost no one calls him on it."
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
".... The stout refusal by the top level of our judiciary to compromise on this legal principle reflects poorly on the Government and its equivocal stance on torture. The Government, backed by the UK's security services, has been arguing for several years now that it is impossible to ignore any information that "may save hundreds of lives", no matter its provenance. But these are weasel words. ...."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
".. "These charges are carefully documented and we want those responsible to be held to account," Mr Benn said. "We are talking about the top people, not just Bush and Blair but ministers, generals, who were responsible for the decisions that led to prisoners being inhumanely treated or sexually abused."...
....The indictments include: crimes against peace; planning and conducting an aggressive war using deceit; failure to ensure public order and safety by disbanding the army and police of Iraq; extensive destruction of service infrastructure; deliberate damage to hospitals; failure to prohibit looting and arson; failure to respect cultural property; and economic exploitation of occupied territories."
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
Sir Menzies Campbell MP calls it a "landmark judgment .... Set against the background of extraordinary rendition and illegal detention it marks a return to due process and the rule of law."
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
"..they are absolutely infiltrated...the police and security services are not a national cohesive entity. It is driven by ethnic sectarian tendencies and they do not see themselves as "Iraqis" any more.
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
".....Preventing future Iraqs -- future aggressive wars, abuse of civilians, torture of prisoners, and other war crimes -- is not just a matter of changing administrations and foreign policies. It also involves restoring and elevating the legal barriers that once stood in the way of an out-of-control imperial presidency. "Lost powers," usurped by "the institution of the presidency," must be reclaimed by the people and their representatives." Read in full
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:
"....Dean suggested an over-the-horizon US military force be stationed in a nearby friendly Arab country to deal with any problems of terrorism ....
Dean's remarks will, predictably, be twisted so that he is depicted as urging isolationism and complete withdrawal ("surrender", the Right will call it.) ...... We have to win smart. That means giving the Iraqis their independence ASAP while acting responsibly to avert potential crises if necessary.
The looney left is attacking me now because I say I think the US does have the responsibility to forestall massive hot civil war in Iraq if it can........ Dean gets that. Bush doesn't."
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:
".....silence has shrouded the shocking story of Diego Garcia. Last year, a report in the Washington Post alleged that the United States had "rendered" alleged al-Qaeda prisoners for interrogation (tortured them) at the US base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. ...... "Violating international law," writes Curtis (Web of Deceit), "has become as British as afternoon tea." Read in full
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. Spacewar.com
"Flush with oil export revenues, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been pouring resources into his Strategic Missile Forces to upgrade the land-mobile SS-27 Topol-M and submarine-launched Bulova ICBMs and make them maneuverable and impervious to America's still untried new anti-missile defense systems.
"You would think the Cold War never ended," analyst James Hackett wrote in the Washington Times ..
...it would be much more expensive and technically demanding for the United States to add a space-based interceptor program to its current, vastly over-budget and behind schedule ABM programs at a time of unprecedented federal deficits. When the U.S. Missile Defense Agency has failed in two of its last three attempts to get even the basic engine of a ground-based ABM interceptor to ignite for take-off, the sheer engineering challenge of deploying a fleet of space-based interceptors that could intercept dozens of Topol Ms or Bulavas appears insurmountable... .."
6th December 2005 ~ "...Rendition Group, made up of case officers, paramilitaries, analysts and psychologists." Washington Post article "Anatomy of a CIA rendition gone wrong
"Their job is to figure out how to snatch someone off a city street, or a remote hillside, or a secluded corner of an airport where local authorities wait.
Members of the Rendition Group follow a simple but standard procedure: Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA's own covert prisons -- referred to in classified documents as "black sites," which at various times have been operated in eight countries, including several in Eastern Europe..."
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)
"... Menzies Campbell... described Ms Rice's statement as "disingenuous". He said: "The volume of evidence of transfers has become overwhelming but what possible purpose is served by rendition other than to subject individuals to harsher treatment than would otherwise be the case?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:
"Parliament and the public are entitled to expect the British Government to show equivalent candour. But the question remains, what did our government know and when did it know it? How high up the political tree did such knowledge go?"
"We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions ..."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.
There have been more than 210 flights in and out of the country since the attacks of September 11. One Gulfstream V executive jet, for example, which has changed its tail number several times and has been linked with a number of abductions, is a regular visitor to Glasgow airport, and also flies in and out of Luton, Northolt and Brize Norton....
Jack Straw responded to Ms Rice by saying that "all European countries fully share the determination expressed here by the US to protect our citizens from the threat of terrorism, clearly while operating within international law and our treaty obligations...... Secretary Rice's reply makes clear that US policy is to comply with the UN convention against torture."
The Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the parliamentary committee, said....MPs were "not prepared to put up with vacuous replies".....
Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said any suggestion from Ms Rice that the ends justified the means "would give dangerous ammunition to every dictator and terrorist around the world".
5th December 2005 ~The Blair legacy .....a tragically ugly one Max Hastings in the Guardian
"...Blair, intoxicated by the sensation of standing shoulder to shoulder with the most powerful man on earth in doing a good deed, committed Britain on a false prospectus and in the caravan of gross incompetents in Washington. The consequences threaten to be interminable, not least in this country's increased vulnerability to terrorism...
Blair is running a race before an audience that is already drifting away from the stadium, and in which he is competing vainly against events. The Blair legacy is sealed and witnessed beyond amendment or codicil, and a tragically ugly one it is."
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
" A lavish award ceremony.... in London this week is causing turmoil among British officials, who are scrambling to welcome an unexpected host of foreign leaders...Suggestions are not, apparently, being sought.
"We don't know what to do with all these leaders," admitted one flustered Whitehall source.
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
"Merely giving permission for the flights to refuel while en route to the Middle East to collect a prisoner would constitute a breach of the law, according to the opinion commissioned by an all-party group of MPs, which meets in parliament for the first time today. The report comes as the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, arrives in Europe.."
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
"Damaging revelations about the scale of covert CIA flights allegedly used to transport Islamic terrorist suspects throughout Europe will overshadow a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Germany on Tuesday ..A potentially explosive report in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine disclosed yesterday that German air traffic controllers had handed Chancellor Angela Merkel's government a list of 437 flights suspected of being operated by the CIA in German air space...."
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
" talks great good sense about the drawbacks of Bush's "fight until victory" applause line, in the light of military and political realities on the ground. Some British sources are saying that the situation in Basra is worse (more oppressive?) than it had been under Saddam, and 80 percent of the police in the city of a million and a half are not under the control of the police chief, but rather of local militias."
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.
" If the US had the wisdom, we could make the world safer. The US military budget was over $420 billion in 2005. We could split that three ways: a third on economic development in the Middle East, especially Iraq; a third on tackling injustice at home, such as providing universal healthcare - and that would still leave us with the world's biggest military budget. People .....need to understand many of them will die and parts of their country will become uninhabitable unless they hold their government to account." Read in full
4th December 2005 ~"...the first definitive account of the day Mr de Menezes died." IoS
"...The findings contradict key evidence disseminated by police sources in the immediate aftermath of the shooting - and paint a picture of confusion, human error and faulty intelligence in the first definitive account of the day Mr de Menezes died.... discrepancy between police account and what really happened" Read in full
3rd December 2005 ~ " ordinary Americans are way out in front of their largely tamed press and television reporters." Robert Fisk
"...the moment that a respected Democratic congressman and Vietnam war veteran in Washington dared to suggest that the war in Iraq was lost, that US troops should be brought home now - and when the Republican response was so brutal it had to be disowned - the old media dog sniffed the air, realised that power was moving away from the White House, and began to drool.....Seymour Hersh, that blessing to American journalism who broke the Abu Ghraib torture story, produced another black rabbit out of his Iraqi hat with revelations that US commanders in Iraq believe the insurgency is now out of control..." Read in full
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.
"...post Butler we know, not only that they (SIS and MI6) can get it wrong on even the most vital and high profile issues, but that they have a particular yen for highly coloured material which exaggerates the threat... " Read in full
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
"....The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for the CIA assessment, the PDB of September 21, 2001, and dozens of other PDBs as part of the committee's ongoing investigation into whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the run-up to war with Iraq. The Bush administration has refused to turn over these documents. .
..Bush and Cheney have also recently answered their critics by ascribing partisan motivations to them and saying their criticism has the effect of undermining the war effort. ..
Vice President Cheney himself wrote on one of Feith's reports detailing purported evidence of links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. In barely legible handwriting, Cheney wrote in the margin of the report: "This is very good indeed Encouraging Not like the crap we are all so used to getting out of CIA." "
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
"The Government's condemnation of torture needs to come across clearly in all areas of its domestic and foreign policy. The policy of seeking diplomatic assurances that persons deported from this country will not be tortured, controversial as it is, should be matched by a determination to avoid any form of assistance with the outsourcing of torture by others...
....Even if the persons concerned never leave a plane on the Tarmac at a British airport they are covered by the law.
...There is a need for the facts to come out. Reports about "extraordinary renditions" of persons to prisons abroad for coercive interrogation techniques are not new. The allegations about the use of British and other European airports have similarly been current for some months. If there is no truth in some of these claims, that should be said at once. " Read in full
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
"......Michael Ratner, director of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, said: "It's a secret. No one knows what happens in the rendition process or in the gulag of secret CIA hellholes." But journalists and campaigners have tracked some of what is happening..... Twenty-six planes apparently used by the CIA have made 307 flights in Europe since 9/11. Of these, 94 had stops in Germany and 76 in Britain, at Luton, Glasgow, Prestwick and Northolt. The UK government has denied prisoners are being held on a US-operated base on British-owned Diego Garcia...." Read in full
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
"The USA Today quotes experts on how unrealistic that plan is in the short to medium term. I have heard from contacts in Iraq that the soldiers in the new army often don't get their paychecks, and aren't properly equipped, and sometimes are reduced to selling their bullets on the black market. Guess who buys them?"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.
"Capt Adnan Tawfiq of the Iraqi Interior Ministry .... said: "When the security companies kill people they just drive away and nothing is done. Sometimes we ring the companies concerned and they deny everything. The families don't get any money or compensation. I would say we have had about 50-60 incidents of this kind."
1st December 2005 ~ No way out. Ayad Allawi warned in his interview with The Observer last Sunday
"....We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated,' he added. 'A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations. We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.' He said that immediate action was needed to dismantle militias that continue to operate with impunity. If nothing is done, 'the disease infecting [the Ministry of the Interior] will become contagious and spread to all ministries and structures of Iraq's government', he said.
In a chilling warning to the West over the danger of leaving behind a disintegrating Iraq, Allawi added: 'Iraq is the centrepiece of this region. If things go wrong, neither Europe nor the US will be safe.'
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,
".......What had to come, has come. The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon - and at what cost. In this respect, as in so many others, the obvious parallel to Iraq is Vietnam.See also Guardian article by Brian Whtaker
....... Whereas North Vietnam at least had a government with which it was possible to arrange a cease-fire, in Iraq the opponent consists of shadowy groups of terrorists with no central organization or command authority. And whereas in the early 1970s equipment was still relatively plentiful, today's armed forces are the products of a technology-driven revolution in military affairs. Whether that revolution has contributed to anything besides America's national debt is open to debate. What is beyond question, though, is that the new weapons are so few and so expensive that even the world's largest and richest power can afford only to field a relative handful of them...." Read in full
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.
"They appeared briefly in court today, and were bailed to appear again in a few weeks. The related move by the attorney general reminding the media that they should not publish any of the content should they acquire it is curious - it remains a fact that the Official Secrets Act has never been used against the press in this way before - and there is some confusion as to why the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith is taking such measures.."Simon Jenkins said a couple of days ago that
"Goldsmith risks going down in history as the most miserable holder of his Janus-faced office. He is supposedly an independent law officer" and adviser to the government (as over Iraq). Yet he also enjoys the patronage of the prime minister as his private legal counsel (as over Iraq). The conflict of interest is glaring. ..." Read in full(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
"...... Al Jazeera is in town and they're cross. They are also not getting any answers from a government that once prided itself for its openness and honesty. And before you ask, no, they've never shown beheadings, referred to American forces as "the enemy", and waited until US networks showed the Bin Laden video before they aired it themselves. Such are urban myths, spread to good effect by certain, otherwise respectable news outlets...
......Maguire is certain from his sources that the tone of the memo shows Bush was indeed not joking... ." Read in full
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
" He was merely reminding papers, in the words of his note to them, "that to publish the contents of a document which is known to have been unlawfully disclosed by a crown servant is itself a breach of section 5 of the Official Secrets Act". True, but only (Lord Goldsmith omitted to say) if the prosecution can prove that what was disclosed was damaging (I summarise) to the country's security or to its international relations and - an important "and" - that the newspaper knew (or had cause to believe) that it was damaging.
I have been trying all weekend to think of ways in which disclosing the memo - even if, apart from the al-Jazeera bits, it also contains what Bush and Blair said about the US attack on Falluja - could cause the damage required by the act. I have failed..." Read in full
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
"... the BBC had consistently overlooked credible testimony from multiple sources suggesting such weapons had been used and such acts had taken place.... And, as Dahr Jamail has reported over many months, cluster bombs and depleted uranium were also used in the assault on Fallujah. (http://dahrjamailiraq.com)..."
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. :
"We do not agree with the use of torture." Pressed over whether that was an absolute rule,Mr Blair added: "I mean absolute in this sense, that you say 'Look, it is simply the civil liberties of the suspect, or simply the liberties of freedom from terrorism'. You have to balance those two things." the IndependentThe 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
(The Attorney General) "...... is dragging David Keogh, a former civil servant, and Leo OConnor, a former political aide, before the Bow Street magistrates for allegedly leaking a memo to the Daily Mirror. As Tulkinghorn would intone, The reputation of one of Englands noblest families is at stake." The name of the Blairs must be protected at all costs.(and see Lord Goldsmith pages)
Goldsmith risks going down in history as the most miserable holder of his Janus-faced office. He is supposedly an independent law officer" and adviser to the government (as over Iraq). Yet he also enjoys the patronage of the prime minister as his private legal counsel (as over Iraq). The conflict of interest is glaring. ..." Read in full
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
"....... Last week, in testimony to the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons, the Prime Minister was clear about who was to blame for the carnage in Iraq: the terrorists. This simplification will no longer do. In the face of Britain's most egregious foreign policy misjudgment since Suez, ministers can no longer remain in denial ..... This is why MPs from all major parties, including two former cabinet ministers, have tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for a committee of privy counsellors to examine the political decision-making prior to and in the aftermath of the invasion.
........ There are currently more than 170,000 foreign troops in Iraq. Despite the efforts of coalition forces to achieve stability and support reconstruction, we can no longer delude ourselves about how they are perceived. .... On 8 February this year, the Prime Minister told the Liaison Committee of the Commons that he would publish a paper setting out 'the way forward for the Iraqiisation of security [and] for outreach to Sunni areas'. Ten months on, there is still no such paper...."
27th November 2005 ~ "what do they have to hide?" ask Raymond Whitaker and Marie Woolf in the Independent on Sunday
"The answer to that appears to reflect the degree to which Tony Blair is still haunted by the Iraq war. The attack on Fallujah, which was at its height when he met George Bush, epitomises many of the most serious concerns about that war. In response to the lynching of four American security contractors, US forces were ordered to "clean out" Fallujah, over the protests of the Marine commander on the ground, who argued that months of painstaking efforts to win hearts and minds would be destroyed.
"The decision was political, not military," said Toby Dodge of Queen Mary College, London University, who went to Downing Street with other Iraq experts before the war to warn Mr Blair of the perils of an invasion. "It was taken in the Oval Office." Read in full
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
...The decision of the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, to approve the prosecution and warn the media against coverage of the leaked document has surprised many at Westminster. The affair has renewed accusations of "control freakery" by the Government. MPs said the decision to go to court and gag the media was "heavy handed" and a sign that Tony Blair was losing his grip on power. Some in Whitehall see it as a "warning shot" to journalists following a string of embarrassing leaks revealing the internal workings of Tony Blair's government..."
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
"If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. .. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for..."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)
Wareing, Robert N
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
"...seeking an urgent meeting with Tony Blair over a report that George Bush .... during a face-to-face meeting with Mr Blair at the White House on April 16 last year. .... about bombing al-Jazeera's building in Doha are reported to be contained in a note of the meeting. .... In the Commons yesterday, the Liberal Democrat MP David Heath said Lord Goldsmith had threatened editors with the Official Secrets Act to prevent government embarrassment rather than protect national security. ...The former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle last night tabled a Commons motion saying MPs were "appalled" by Mr Bush's reported comments and Mr Blair's apparent failure to restrain him by persuading him to moderate US tactics in Iraq. He said any note of the White House meeting should be published...."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.)
"22.11.2005(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.)
EDM 1088 Douglas Hogg,
supported by Alan Simpson, Menzies Campbell, Elfyn Llwyd, Alex Salmond, Kenneth Clarke,
"That this House believes that there should be a select committee of seven honourable Members, being members of Her Majesty's Privy Council, to review the way in which the responsibilities of Government were discharged in relation to Iraq and all matters relevant thereto, in the period leading up to military action in that country in March 2003 and in its aftermath."
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)
" I think Mr Blair really thought that he was getting involved in a disarmament campaign- which was all to the good - I fully supported that. I think at the end of the day he was double-crossed by the regime change crowd in Washington and by that time he will have to explain exactly how that happened but certainly, as an outsider, it looks as though he was double crossed and had no choice but to go along with it." (Read in full)
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
" 'The British Government has recently learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' ....the Administration knew full well that those words weren't true..."And the interview with Mr Wilson himself: Listen Again
"...what I saw was a two year smear campaign, a campaign to assassinate my character and impugn my integrity and that reached a crescendo when a Congressman stepped forward and said that my wife, who was a complete innocent in all this, "got what she deserved"...I have always speculated that the real reason they did this was to send a signal to others..."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."
"....Andrew Nicol QC, a media law expert, said he was unaware of any case going to trial where a newspaper or journalist had been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. He said Lord Goldsmith appeared to be trying to "put down a marker" to prevent further leaks or publication of further disclosures from the document already allegedly leaked.(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? )
Last night the former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle tabled a Commons motion saying Mr Blair should publish the record of his discussion with Mr Bush."
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
" was supposed to be an example of why the administration needs to suspend prisoners' rights when it comes to the war on terror. It turned out to be the opposite. If Mr. Padilla was seriously planning a "dirty bomb" attack, he can never be held accountable for it in court because the illegal conditions under which he has been held will make it impossible to do that. If he was only an inept fellow traveler in the terrorist community, he is excellent proof that the government is fallible and needs the normal checks of the judicial system. And, of course, if he is innocent, he was the victim of a terrible injustice.(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.")
The same is true of the hundreds of other men held at Guantánamo Bay and in the C.I.A.'s secret prisons. This is hardly what Americans have had in mind hearing Mr. Bush's constant assurances since Sept. 11, 2001, that he will bring terrorists to justice."
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 Attorney General warned that publication of any further details from the document would be a breach of the Official Secrets Act.The Guardian reports:
He threatened an immediate High Court injunction unless the Mirror confirmed it would not publish further details. We have essentially agreed to comply. The five-page memo - stamped "Top Secret" - records a threat by Bush to unleash "military action" against the TV station, which America accuses of being a mouthpiece for anti-US sentiments..."
"NUJ secretary, Jeremy Dear. "These sort of attempts to stifle uncomfortable revelations printed in a newspaper, which is only carrying out its proper duty to inform the British public, does the government of what is supposed to be a democracy no credit whatsoever. "What we need in this country is free and open debate and a proper political dialogue over important issues of this sort, not a knee-jerk panic reaction."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
"A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC that white phosphorus "was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants". He claimed "it is not a chemical weapon. They are not outlawed or illegal." This denial has been accepted by most of the mainstream media. UN conventions, the Times said, "ban its use on civilian but not military targets". But the word "civilian" does not occur in the chemical weapons convention. The use of the toxic properties of a chemical as a weapon is illegal, whoever the target is.....The US army knows that its use as a weapon is illegal. In the Battle Book, published by the US Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, my correspondent David Traynier found the following sentence: "It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets." Read in fullApologies 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 http://www.thecatsdream.com/
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,
"...Mr. Cheney repeated a formulation from a speech he made last week, calling the suggestion by some senators that the administration manipulated prewar intelligence "dishonest and reprehensible."......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."
Mr. Cheney did not mention that the administration had access to far more extensive intelligence than Congress did, like the highly classified daily briefing provided for the president by the Central Intelligence Agency....Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said in a statement, "The only thing dishonest and reprehensible is the way the administration distorted, misrepresented and manipulated the intelligence to justify a war America never should have fought," adding, "It defies belief that the vice president can continue to say with a straight face that Congress had the same intelligence as the president and vice president had." ."
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:
"....on Radio 4's The World At One last Friday, the presenter referred to 'President Bush's so-called war on terror' -the first time I've heard such a clear distancing qualifier in scripted speech..... Both Blair and Bush are on their way out and it might be that the state is preparing to mount a superficial withdrawal from Iraq (obviously the bases will quietly remain) while hanging the whole debacle on their necks ....
.....the overwhelming structural imperatives of Peak Oil, Chinese expansion and 'radical Arab nationalism' means that further foreign intervention will still be required; yet strategies for taking such action are diminished ..." Read in full
21st November 2005 ~ a deeper disquiet about the war on both sides of the aisle USA Today
".....Former president Bill Clinton, who has opposed setting a timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq, says he's reconsidering in the wake of a proposal from Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, a retired Marine colonel who served in Vietnam. "He's a really good man," Clinton told USA TODAY. "I'm going to have to think about it because I respect him so much."
Murtha's proposal to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq within six months provoked an uproar Friday night between House Democrats and Republicans. But the partisan standoff masked a deeper disquiet about the war on both sides of the aisle...."
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." Rabble.ca
"...... testimony of returned GIs about the use of white phosphorous is so disturbing, and the comments of GIs (Fry the bastards!") during the battle for Fallujah so compelling. For what we hear are the voices of men reduced to the barbaric levels of the weapon they are enthusiastically using, as though their victims were some sort of sub-human species. ..."
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
".... said he didn't convey his own doubts to Tenet because he didn't know until after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq that Curveball was "of such import" in prewar CIA assessments provided to the president, Congress and the public. "Later, I remember the guffaws by myself and others when we said, 'How could they have put this much emphasis on this guy? He wasn't worth [anything] in our minds," Pavitt said..." (see CommonDreams.org last April)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
".........Administration attempts to label him a defeatist have abjectly backfired. "I've never seen such an outpouring" of support, the decorated Marine Corps veteran, now 73, declared on NBC's Meet the Press programme yesterday. "It's not me, it's the public that's thirsting for answers." No longer could President Bush "hide behind empty rhetoric". Mr Murtha said that his vote for war in October 2002 "was obviously a mistake. We were misled, they exaggerated the intelligence". ..."
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
"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done. I resent the fact, on Veterans Day, he [Bush] criticized Democrats for criticizing them."Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com, writes very interestingly about how the language of headline writers is showing a subtle change.
"....Lashing out, stalked, dogged, under siege, counterattacking, fighting a rearguard action -- let's not just attribute this to "newly aggressive war critics." It's a long-coming shift in the zeitgeist, as evident in the media as in the halls of Congress.
On Thursday, for instance, ABC prime-time TV news, which led with a story on the President "lashing out" at critics, then offered a long, up-close-and-personal segment in which a teary-eyed Murtha spoke of the war-wounded he's regularly visited at hospitals and the fraudulence of administration policy. That same night, another prime-time news broadcast turned the President's claim that the Democrats were "irresponsible" in their criticisms into a montage of Bush repeatedly saying "irresponsible" in different poses -- so many times in a row, in fact, that the segment could easily have come from a sharp opening sequence on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show..
None of this would have been possible even weeks ago in a country where it was once gospel that you don't attack a president while he's representing the United States abroad. That's ....undoubtedly why our stay-at-home President's handlers decided to turn him into a Latin American and Asian globetrotter.." TomDispatch
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
"... a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress.. .
....Chalabi contacted Judith Miller of The New York Times. Miller, who was close to I. Lewis Libby and other neoconservatives in the Bush administration.... reported that unnamed "government experts" called his information "reliable and significant" -- thus adding a veneer of truth to the lies.... " Read in full
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:
"....The sniffy response from No 10 was that Rimington was a private individual who was entitled to her opinion. It was a stupid way to describe one who had spent her career defeating terrorism. Her intervention further weakened the governments flimsy case. Its ID cards bill got a further mauling in the Lords. ..." Read in full
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
"...Moderate Republicans are also uneasy. Senator Chuck Hagel said: "Suggesting that to challenge oer criticise policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy, nor what this country has stood for, for over 20 years."
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"...."ITV.com
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 ...
in another stunning development, John Murtha, an old-school Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania of 30 years' standing, demanded an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, "because they have become the target". A decorated marine veteran and ranking Democrat on the House defence appropriations subcommittee, Mr Murtha has been a hawk on military matters, and voted for the 2003 invasion. But close to tears at times in a press conference, he said he had changed his mind."It is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. .." IndependentWashington 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.
"Mr Keogh was charged with an offence under section three of the Official Secrets Act, Mr O'Connor under section five."
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. Rhetoric.journalspace.com has a close look at the options offered to those questioned.
".....You've also been guided to think that to disagree with the police is to distrust their motives, and that a concern for civil liberties does not reflect the interests of the majority....".(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
"....... Predictably, as it has done with Galileo, the commission stressed its "user-friendly" application in guiding relief work after disasters or providing real time images of forest fires or oil spills. But, writes Rennie (in the Telegraph) a commission memo" also acknowledged that GMES would play a key role in the "implementation, review and monitoring of EU policies", including watching for agriculture and fisheries fraud and boosting "internal security"...."
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
".... the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that until now the police, ministers, and the Home Office had discussed using lethal force "behind closed doors". But delivering the annual Dimbleby lecture on BBC1 last night, he said: "That has to change. An open debate is now required."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.
"Dame Stella Rimington said on Wednesday that most documents could be forged and this would render ID cards "useless". Shadow home secretary David Davis said her remarks showed government arguments for the cards were "completely bogus". .. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten urged ministers to listen to Dame Stella and abandon their plans."See also http://www.no2id.net/ (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".
"Downing Street also stressed that insurgents in Falluja had been offered talks before last year's attack on the city. ....John Reid said ..... "We do not use white phosphorus, or indeed any other form of munition or weaponry, against civilians...We do not use it for anything other than a smokescreen to protect our troops when in action."(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. www.afterdowningstreet.org
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.
"....One of the most-cited reasons for toppling Saddam Hussein was his deployment of chemical weapons against his own people. That does not justify us in using them. If Sir Christopher Meyer is right, Britain never complains to Washington over what happens in Iraq. But when the full story of these decisions is told, serious charges should be laid against British ministers.........Reid should explain why he is really committing 4,800 troops to act as Taliban targets in Helmand and why he is so sceptical of Talabani's offer. He might also ask himself why Rumsfeld is laughing..." Read in full
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
"Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari held a hurriedly organized news conference to announce the official inquiry. He also said there would be a second investigation, including a comprehensive count of the thousands held in Iraqi jails, to determine whether there was a wider pattern of abuse, as many opponents of his government have claimed....The discovery of what appeared to have been a secret torture center created a new aura of crisis for American officials and Iraqi politicians....An Interior Ministry statement said flatly that torture had occurred and that "instruments of torture," which it did not describe, were found in the building. The ministry's under secretary for security, Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, was similarly blunt. "They were being abused," he told Reuters. "This is totally unacceptable treatment and it is denounced by the minister and everyone in Iraq."
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.
"We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents using WP to flush them out and high explosive shells (HE) to take them out."
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:
"... ...Iran presents a convenient opportunity to set a precedent to be used against other aspirants for nuclear power in the developing world. That is why Ahmad-inejad was denounced as an uncompromising hardliner in the coverage of his UN presentation. But he did in fact suggest a compromise deal....he proposed to operate Iran's enrichment programme as joint ventures with private and public sector firms from other countries to ensure that the programme remains transparent and could not be secretly diverted for military purposes. This was no small offer...." More
14 November 2005 ~ Mr Blair's "charm offensive" (Guardian) John Denham warned
"What won't work is an approach which just says, 'We have decided what we are going to do and we are just going to spend a lot more time explaining it to you. Most of all, (Mr Blair) needs to turn away from some of the people close to him who are saying that anybody criticising the programme is out to get him." ......
... The former deputy chief whip George Mudie last night warned of "civil war" if Mr Blair and his lieutenants tried to strong-arm rebels into toeing the line..."
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"
Sunday Times "....The key to the headlong rush of police chiefs into Blairs bunker last week was an explosive document lying on the home secretarys desk. It is his plan completely to reorganise policing in England and Wales. The present 43 local forces will become just 12 regional ones under the Home Office and its quangos. This means that 43 jobs appointed locally will become a dozen appointed centrally. The police will be not politicised" but nationalised....
. the 1964 Police Act and the first moves towards centralisation did this Dixon of Dock Green" tradition start to crack. In England and Wales, 123 forces came down to 47. The Home Office encouraged the police to get off the beat and into cars. Street crime soared and police aloofness, corruption and unpopularity with it. In the words of one historian, plods became pigs". ...
.... No opposition was as vehement as that of the Labour spokesman in the Commons. In 1994 he excoriated nationalisation as driven by an ideology which resents local freedom with an aversion bordering on paranoia". That man was Tony Blair. ...." Read in full
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
"use his forthcoming testimony before the Commons public administration committee..., to raise the issue of politicians who publish tell-tale books. 'I think it's a good opportunity to start airing these issues. Why should there be one rule for politicians and special advisers and another for civil servants?' he said......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...."
The attacks on Meyer risked backfiring last night after Jack Straw dismissed Meyer's description of how he briefed a half-dressed John Major in his bedroom as 'preposterous and demeaning'.
Cherie Blair's recent book The Goldfish Bowl recounts similar incidents, describing Major as sitting on the end of the bed 'in a towelling dressing robe'. Her source? Meyer."
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
"devastating ruling given by Mr Justice Thornton in September 2004, which excoriated Defra for its dishonesty and incompetence in failing to pay..."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
"As the Prime Minister reels from his first defeat, a new study claims the scheme will cost #40bn and peers prepare to shoot down the bill....faces a fresh revolt over his flagship plans for identity cards which could, in effect, neuter the scheme, as new questions were raised over its cost to taxpayers. Peers are plotting to render the scheme toothless by blocking plans to make the cards compulsory for every citizen and sabotaging the requirement to make Britons store their personal details on a national register.." Read in full
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
" The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide." 2003 State of the Union addressYet 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 )
"INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets...." Read in fullSee also from MediaMatters.org "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 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5403731)
"....In April 2004, the Intelligence Committee released a report that concluded that "much of the information provided or cleared by the Central Intelligence Agency for inclusion in Secretary Powell's [United Nation's] speech was overstated, misleading, or incorrect." ."...... the administration also refused to turn over to the committee contents of the president's morning intelligence briefings on Iraq, sources say. These documents, known as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB, are a written summary of intelligence information and analysis provided by the CIA to the president...." National Journal
12/13 November 2005 ~ "We were so appalled at what had arrived from the White House".... Vanity Fair 2004
".... As the I.N.C.'s Washington adviser, Francis Brooke, admits, he urged the exile group to do what it could to make the case for war: "I told them, as their campaign manager, 'Go get me a terrorist and some W.M.D., because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.'" As for Iraq's links to al-Qaeda, Powell's staff was convinced that much of that material had been funneled directly to Cheney by a tiny, separate intelligence unit set up by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "We were so appalled at what had arrived from the White House," says one official." Read in full
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
"....The suicide bombings that killed 56 innocents in Amman bore in that cliche beloved of all journalists, "all the hallmarks" , of al-Qa'ida and Zarqawi. Why do we keep gifting these creatures with the attributes of silver? If, that is, Zarqawi is alive...
......There are many unanswered questions about al-Qaida's role in Iraq - and now in Jordan - which we journalists now prefer to leave alone. Why Jordan? Why now?
Well, partly because King Abdullah is so loyal a servant of President George Bush. Partly because his forces are training Iraqi soldiers. Partly because he is allowing US special forces to train those soldiers on his soil. Partly because Jordan has also become a rear echelon air base for US fighter-bombers, which are attacking cities in Iraq. And partly because Jordan, with its unconstitutional monarchy and its growing slums of Islamists in its largest cities, is the soft underbelly of "the West" in the Middle East ..." Read in full
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
"..... Last night the Home Office confirmed that the Home Secretary Charles Clarke had phoned Ken Jones, chairman of the terrorism committee at the Association of Chief Police Officers, to discuss the possible involvement of chief constables in briefing MPs ahead of Wednesday's vote..."
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
"...social movements are now a decisive force in every Latin American country - even in the state of fear that is the Colombia of Alvaro Uribe Velez, Bush's most loyal vassal. ..
....While the world looks to Iran and Syria for the next Bush attack, Venezuelans know they may well be next. On 17 March, the Washington Post reported that Feliz Rodriguez, "a former CIA operative well-connected to the Bush family" had taken part in the planning of the assassination of the President of Venezuela. On 16 September, Chavez said, "I have evidence that there are plans to invade Venezuela.."....leaked internal Pentagon documents have identified Venezuela as a "post-Iraq threat" requiring "full spectrum" planning. ." Read in full
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?"
".....Mosul is 1.1 million, Baghdad is about 6 million, Kirkuk is about a million. All are highly mixed ethnically, and all are tinderboxes. If you put 50,000 US troops into each of those three cities and just abandoned Anbar province, you still could not control them. The US troops can't tell a guerrilla from an ordinary Iraqi. They cannot penetrate urban extended family networks or neighborhoods. Adhamiyah would be opaque to them. And having a military force in the capital that would be only 1 percent of the population would not be decisive in ending guerrilla actions. The patrols and house invasions and inspections would also turn more and more urban Iraqis against the US presence...." More
10 November 2005 ~ Jordan bombings "one of those little mysteries..." Professor Cole
".... Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that a lot of Iraqi politicians stayed at the Grand Hyatt. The Radisson is mainly for rich tourists, including Israelis. The Days Inn is a 3-star, and is not famous except for its night club ("night clubs" in Amman are rather tame affairs).
In one of those little mysteries that pops up so frequently in the Middle East, it transpires that Israeli security operatives came to the Radisson earlier in the day and escorted Israeli tourists from the hotel. It is very odd that the Jordanian secret police had not penetrated the cells that planned this thing. They had managed to do so in the past. But one could speculate that Mossad did know that an operation was planned. In that case, either it did not tell the Jordanians (which would be very strange) or the Jordanians did not take them seriously (stranger still)..
.... If the Iraq guerrilla war does spill over into Jordan, it won't stop there. Bush, Cheney and the Neocons have managed to endanger Israeli security by destabilizing the Middle East, just as they have endangered us all." Read in full
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."
"This is a good day for parliamentary democracy. It was the Prime Minister who chose to make this issue into one of confidence and it's a bad day for his authority. This is now a chastened prime minister." Charles Kennedy
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.
"If 40 Labour members voted against him when the chips are down, when he's called in all the favours, twisted all the arms, that really does kick his authority," he said.
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
". the biggest load of manure to hit the print media since Michael Brown (later of FEMA) and his Arabian Horse Society were profiled in Arabian Horse Times.
The French youth who are burning automobiles are as French as Jennifer Lopez and Christopher Walken are American....
..... The solution? Recognizing that "Frenchness" is not monochrome, that France is a tapestry of cultures and always has been, and that sometimes some threads of the tapestry need some extra attention if it is not to fray and come apart."
9 November 2005 ~ "... backlash from angry Labour MPs" Independent
"... As Mr Blair prepared for a knife-edge Commons vote on the proposal tonight, he was accused of vetoing a plan by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, to compromise over the 90-day limit....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."
John Denham, the former Labour Home Office minister, said there was virtually no information to back the police's request for a 90-day limit. He said: "Had the police been told or asked to produce a much more substantive analysis of why it should be this particular length of time, everybody would be in a much better position."
Downing Street cited the seven-page paper produced last month by Andy Hayman, the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, as the justification for the move. But a Tory spokesman said last night: "It is an extremely weak document. The logic of it is that there should be no limit at all.""
8 November 2005 ~ US forces 'used chemical weapons' on Fallujah The Independent
" Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon..."Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for." Photographs on the website of RaiTG24, the broadcaster's 24-hours news channel, www.rainews24, show exactly what the former soldier means... ."
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
As a historian, I feel it important to point out that the use of phosphorus bombs in Iraq is not a new thing. The British used it to control the rebellious Iraqi tribes. (The British also used mustard gas in Iraq, long before Saddam.)
Indeed, Sir Arthur Harris, who planned large numbers of British bombing raids in Iraq in the 1920s, went on to become the architect of the fire-bombing of Dresden during World War II, which killed at least 25,000.
The lessons of British Iraq were mostly unknown to the American politicians who planned out and executed the 2003 Iraq War. One of them is that the military occupation of a conquered population is a barbaric business and can easily draw the colonizer into the use of horrific means to control the rebellious occupied. The Americans' moral fibre is being destroyed from within by things like Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, and other atrocities. In the end, America may not any longer be America. The country that began by forbidding cruel and unusual punishment is ending by formally authorizing torture on a grand scale, and by burning small town Iraqis down to the bone with white phosphorus."
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
"The advice the British Prime Minister then gave the US President would never have been more important in my time in Washington. It could even be the swing vote for war or peace. The pendulum never swung back again."
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
".......Policy statements are made before the rank and file is allowed the privilege of discussing them. Despite his claim, it is the record, not his critics, that insists: "He does not much care about the Labour party and is going to do whatever he wants to do." Not one in 10 of the guests at the constituency annual dinner I spoke at last Friday would have argued otherwise.
They certainly feared that he is more concerned with his place in history than with the continuing success of the party he leads. On Friday, Blair made his position absolutely clear. A defeat at the next election, he said, would "not just be a defeat for Labour, but for me personally." Just for Labour? Not much doubt about which catastrophe he regards as most tragic. Someone ought to ask him which he prefers - defeat for a party remade in his image or victory for Labour after it regains its moral purpose." Read in full
7 November 2005 ~ Blair's litany of failures on Iraq - ambassador's damning verdict says the Guardian this morning
" ..... according to Sir Christopher: "Tony Blair chose to take his stand against Saddam and alongside President Bush from the highest of high moral ground. It is the definitive riposte to Blair the Poodle, seduced though he and his team always appeared to be by the proximity and glamour of American power.
"But the high moral ground, and the pure white flame of unconditional support to an ally in service of an idea, have their disadvantages. They place your destiny in the hands of an ally. They fly above the tangled history of Sunni, Shia, Kurd, Turkomen and Assyrian. They discourage descent into the dull detail of tough and necessary bargaining: meat and drink to Margaret Thatcher but, so it seemed, uncongenial to Tony Blair." Read in full
7 November 2005 ~ Blair faces angry rebel MPs with an offer of terror Bill compromise
"Tony Blair will accept today that he cannot force through plans to hold suspected terrorists in detention for 90 days without charge. But he has blamed his opponents - a coalition of Labour rebels, Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs - for scuppering the plan, accusing them of "woeful complacency" about the issue...." Independent
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:
"Bush's approval ratings have been in decline for months, but on issues of personal trust, honesty and values, Bush has suffered some of his most notable declines. Moreover, Bush has always retained majority support on his handling of the U.S. campaign against terrorism -- until now, when 51 percent have registered disapproval.
The CIA leak case has apparently contributed to a withering decline in how Americans view Bush personally. The survey found that 40 percent now view him as honest and trustworthy -- a 13 percentage point drop in the past 18 months. Nearly 6 in 10 -- 58 percent -- said they have doubts about Bush's honesty, the first time in his presidency that more than half the country has questioned his personal integrity."
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
"....Britains political ethos is wholly eccentric. A minister may take Britain to war on a lie, blow billions on health computers and tax credits, waste grotesque sums on ID cards and Eurofighters. For all this he may walk down Whitehall with his head held high. But if he fails to declare a mortgage loan or a two-bit consultancy the Furies descend in synthetic rage and drive him from office. Cause a fatal pile-up on the M1 and you may leave your insurers name; stop one minute on a yellow line and you are in the slammer. .
...While Blunkett was being ejected, his colleagues fraudulent expense claims for second homes were being revealed in the press to total silence. These people seem no longer to care if Britain is poorly governed....." Read in full
6 November 2005 ~ US economic woes linked to imperial policy
"... .... "The US is losing billions of dollars as international tourists are deterred from visiting the US because of a tarnished image overseas and more bureaucratic visa policies.."........There is the as yet unrealized possibility that spreading guerilla warfare and terrorism will include escalating sabotage against vast and largely indefensible stretches of oil pipeline in the Middle East. It is this scenario among others that caused professor of Middle Eastern history and Informed Comment blogger Juan Cole to liken Bush's Iraq debacle to "throwing grenades around in the cockpit of the world economy."
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.
''There is plenty of evidence around at the moment that home-grown terrorism was partly radicalised and fuelled by what is going on in Iraq. There is no way we can credibly get up and say it has nothing to do with it. Don't tell me that being in Iraq has got nothing to do with it. Of course it has,Sir Christopher's
I don't believe the enterprise is doomed necessarily though, God, it does not look good. A lot of people think what we are going to end up with is precisely what we did not want.
I think the US and ourselves are on the horns of an absolutely impossible dilemma.''
To abandon rebuilding of Iraq would leave ''the relatives of at least 2,000 American servicemen and 98 British servicemen with a legitimate question about what they died for''. See Guardian
"descriptions of ministers and officials will be acutely embarrassing to some of those involved in planning the Iraq war - a fact that led him to fear the Cabinet Office might try to block his book. Already this year the memoirs of Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's former UN ambassador who later served in Iraq, have been withheld from publication on the orders of the Foreign Office. Sir Christopher says that Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, blocked the book personally and that it will not be published "until another foreign secretary occupies that chair". "Deep throats inside the Foreign Office tell me so," he adds. .." Read in full
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
"Reports last month suggested Lord Goldsmith was unhappy with the 90-day proposal......Mr Clarke told MPs on three separate occasions that he had spoken to the attorney general and received advice from him that the provisions sought by the government would comply with Britain's human rights obligations.
But in the Commons yesterday, Mr Clarke told MPs: "I should clarify that the clear legal advice I received as to the bill's ECHR [European convention on human rights] compliance ... did not come from the attorney personally..." .....The former Conservative chancellor Kenneth Clarke, who initially asked the home secretary to confirm in the Commons that Lord Goldsmith was satisfied with the bill, said: "We now no longer know what the attorney general's opinion is, despite the press speculation there has been that he is deeply disturbed." "Read in full
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
"The law lords ruled that their human rights had been breached because they had been subjected to "inhuman and degrading treatment". Lord Bingham said ministers had a duty to prevent foreseeable destitution caused by the policy. He added: "I have no doubt that the threshold [of suffering] may be crossed if a late applicant with no means and no alternative sources of support, unable to support himself is, by deliberate action of the state, denied shelter, food or the most basic necessities of life."
4 November 2005 ~"Fifty-five percent said the Bush administration intentionally misled the public in making its case for war...." Reuters reports that
".... up 12 points from last spring, the poll found.
On Iraq, 60 percent said the war was not worth fighting, up 7 points since August to another high, and 73 percent called the level of U.S. casualties "unacceptable."
Fifty-two percent of those polled said the CIA leak case indicated broader problems with ethics in the administration.......68 percent said the nation was on the "wrong track," ....."
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.
"...Over the last year or more the former Work and Pensions Secretary and former Home Secretary has made a series of staggeringly foolish decisions. He has been arrogant, he has been evasive, he has bullied and misled. He has completely miscalculated where the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour lies. On a more personal level he has miscalculated how far over that line he himself could step with impunity. He has seemed to think he was invulnerable. There was no way he could carry on in this Cabinet.
Yet I see absolutely no reason why so powerful an intellect, so gifted a communicator, and a man whom nobody seriously believes to have been crooked should be wiped for ever off the political map...."
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
"....One minister described the Work and Pensions post as the "job nobody wants'' and a "poisoned chalice". Mr Hutton is regarded as an ultra-loyal Blairite who will deliver the radical changes to welfare and pensions that are being demanded by Downing Street. They could include forcing more on invalidity benefit to seek work, and encouraging more people to work beyond the age of 65..."
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.)
"If Rove stays, which colleagues say remains his intention, he may at a minimum have to issue a formal apology for misleading colleagues and the public...
...McClellan relayed Rove's denial to reporters from the White House lectern in 2003, and he has not yet offered a public explanation for his inaccurate statements. "That is affecting everybody," said a Republican who has discussed the issue with the White House. "Scott personally is really beaten down by this. Everybody I talked to talks about this." I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's former chief of staff, will be arraigned today on five counts, involving three felony charges, in the leak probe. Libby also told McClellan two years ago he was not involved, a denial that was also relayed to the public." Washington Post
3 November 2005 ~Mass protests in the US " we are staring down the barrel of fascism in this country" Reuters
"... Thousands of protesters staged rallies on Wednesday across the United States against the policies of President George W. Bush, including the war in Iraq and response to Hurricane Katrina. protests that took place in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. In New York, students walked out of schools and colleges and joined other supporters as thousands rallied in Union Square before marching nearly 2 miles to Times Square along avenues lined with police on motorbikes. "The Bush regime is out to remake the world with its policies," said organizer Sunsara Taylor. "From the war in Iraq to environmental policies to the remaking of the Supreme Court ... we are staring down the barrel of fascism in this country."
3 November 2005 ~ "you really could be forgiven for thinking the world had gone mad..." Snowmail yesterday
"..It is normal now for ministers to resign "without a stain of impropriety". Peter Mandelson (twice), Stephen Byers, Beverley Hughes and David Blunkett all went with honour according to Tony Blair. And so it was with Mr Blunkett, again. Listen to the former Work and Pensions Secretary explaining why, or Mr Blair recounting what happened and you really could be forgiven for thinking the world had gone mad. Apparently he has done nothing wrong. So why has he resigned? ....."
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
"....How the perpetrators of terror must have wanted to see candles labelled Aldgate, King's Cross, Edgware Road and Tavistock Square .... .... Since July 7, a battery of new laws has been sought by Downing Street, against free speech, freedom of assembly and habeas corpus. An astonishing #10bn is being found for identity cards. International human rights have been traduced. Torture evidence has been readmitted to British justice. Police powers under the Terrorism Act have been used against hecklers, demonstrators and assorted immigrants...
A liberal government does not hold the ring between fear and liberty. It defends liberty from fear in all its forms. It shuts down the bomber's echo chamber. ...." Read in full
2 November 2005 ~ Mr Blair's Place in History? Tony Benn in today's Guardian writes,
"I left parliament four years ago. Looking at it today, I now see it as the British equivalent of the Green Zone in Baghdad: heavily fortified and patrolled by police with submachine guns, with bulletproof glass separating the electors in the gallery from those whom they elected. But the press gallery has no such glass barrier, for there sit the embedded correspondents, as in Iraq, who are briefed every morning in Downing Street and emerge to tell us what they have been told, repeating the process under Big Ben after their afternoon briefing. ....his real legacy could be the destruction of the Labour party itself, for that could well be how history will see it. "
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
"The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions,'' Reid said before the doors were closed. ..."
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
The Pentagon has admitted for the first time that it is keeping track of civilian casualties in Iraq. The figures, slipped into a bar graph in a lengthy report to the US congress this month, show that the daily number of Iraqi casualties has more than doubled in the past 18 months. ... an estimated 26 casualties a day between January and March of last year, rising to 64 a day in the run up to the referendum on the new constitution. This contradicts the Pentagon's assertion that the security situation in Iraq is improving....."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.
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.
The five-count federal indictment says Cheney talked to Libby about the fact that Valerie Plame - the wife of Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador and administration critic - was a CIA operative. And it suggests that Cheney was close by his chief of staff as Libby took some of the actions that led to the charges of lying and obstruction of justice. If the case goes to trial, testimony could show whether Cheney had any role in inspiring Libby's alleged decision to unmask Plame. Even if Cheney emerges blameless, the indictment deprives him of a capable and like-minded assistant who helped him carry out his foreign-policy agenda, beginning with the Iraq war.Juan Cole remarks drily today,
"...It strikes me that "Libby" is close to "fib." So "to libby" would have the connotations of "to tell a falsehood." But it is also close to "lobby." So the sense would be of lying for the purpose of convincing a large number of persons to adopt some policy that was bad for them. .... The name is also close to "libel." So it would have an overtone of launching a vindictive smear. " ... I'm sure there are other dimensions of the verb "to libby" that haven't yet occurred to me."
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.
"In an explosive series of articles appearing this week in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, investigative reporters Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe d'Avanzo report that Nicolo Pollari, chief of Italy's military intelligence service, known as Sismi, brought the Niger yellowcake story directly to the White House after his insistent overtures had been rejected by the Central Intelligence Agency in 2001 and 2002......Following the exposure of the discredited Niger allegations in the summer of 2003 by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, White House officials at first sought to blame the CIA for the inclusion of the controversial "16 words" in the president's speech. Although thenNational Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Hadley eventually accepted some responsibility for the mistake, the White House undertook a covert campaign to discredit Wilson and exposed the CIA affiliation of his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson.See La Repubblica.
Yet if anyone knew who was actually responsible for the White House's trumpeting of the Niger claims, it would seem from the Repubblica report that Hadley did. ..."
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.
"Privates Sean Benton, James Collinson, Geoff Gray and Cheryl James died at the barracks in Surrey between 1995 and 2002. .........Yvonne Collinson, whose son James, 17, was found dead with a bullet wound upwards through his chin in March 2002, said the training and welfare conditions at the base now would no doubt be impressive. She said: "If we had allowed our sons' deaths to be brushed under the carpet, don't tell me all of these changes would have been made because they wouldn't have been. I just think it is ludicrous they are doing this while the Blake Review is ongoing and we don't know the outcome. It's a total farce."..."
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.
"...There are two organizations in southern Iraq called Hizbullah.....Both of these "Hizbullah" organizations are indigenous Iraqis. Poorly informed and perhaps also not very bright Neocons in Iraq were alarmed to see Hizbullah insignia up alongside that of SCIRI, but it was the Iraqi Hizbullah.
The American Enterprise Institute and the Rockingham Cell in the British Ministry of Defense are hoping that you won't know the difference, and that they can find a way to hang violence in Iraq on Iran and the Lebanese Hizbullah. Anyway, if they were so worried about Lebanon's Hizbullah becoming more powerful, they shouldn't have put the Dawa Party and SCIRI into power in Iraq; they are its allies ideologically, and the Iraqi Dawa helped set up Hizbullah in south Lebanon to begin with back in the 1980s.
Apparently AEI and Blair think of Iraq as a magical, mysterious War Machine. Fight one war, you can create all kinds of pretexts to fight another." Informed Comment
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. Warmwell.com 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"
"burly security men moved in to give them the Walter Wolfgang treatment. Survival's director Stephen Corry, one of those evicted, wryly noted the Union's boast on its website that it stands for "diversity, outspokenness and the free exchange of ideas".
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
"two police cars roared up beside me and cut me off, like a scene from Starsky and Hutch, and officers told me I was being arrested under the Terrorism Act. The harbour master was waffling on and (saying that), because of September 11, I would be arrested and charged."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:
The judiciary has been put there by Parliament in order to ensure that the executive acts lawfully. If we take that away from the judiciary we are really apeing what happened in Nazi Germany"
Lord Carlile... remarked that judges had now replaced MPs as the defenders of basic human rights.
"People use d to look to their MPs as the first port of call to deal with any perceived injustice by the executive. Now there is an increasing tendency for people to look to the judges to protect their liberties," he said.
Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said Tony Blair was transforming Britain into an authoritarian state. "In eight years he has dismantled centuries of judicial protection. Britain's reputation as the world's most tolerant nation is now under threat," he said...." (read article)
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."
"On Thursday, the alliance of writers, comedians, bishops and peers unveiled a series of amendments they want added to the bill. They want three safeguards would ensure the bill protects people, rather than beliefs. The proposed safeguards are:
- Nobody can be found guilty of new religious hate crimes unless it is proved they intended to stir up hatred
- Only threatening words should be banned by the bill, not those which are only abusive or insulting
- There should be a specific part of the bill saying the law should not restrict discussion, criticism of expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or beliefs.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester said: "The purpose of these amendments is to take the rot out of a rotten bill."
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.
Justin Raimondo has developed a source in Washington who has named for him three US citizens who were involved in cooking up the forged documents that alleged recent Iraqi purchases of Niger yellowcake uranium. (In fact, the Iraqis had never had the capacity to do anything serious with yellowcake.)(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.....")
The mystery is still how the forged documents got into the hands of Rocco Martini, a former operative of Italian military intelligence. But after all that wouldn't have been so hard.
Also, a chief of staff to former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, 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. The fact of it has long been obvious. It is interesting to have an insider testify to it publicly. But., Col. Wilkerson apparently can now expect his wife to be smeared by Richard Bruce Cheney and Irving Lewis Libby."
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.
"...Despite a chorus of criticism the ID Cards bill passed its final Commons stages by 309 votes to 284, but the party's 66-strong majority slumped to its lowest level since the general election. Twenty five Labour MPs rebelled, including the former ministers Clare Short, Kate Hoey, Glenda Jackson and Mark Fisher. .... Labour MP Mark Fisher, a former minister, protested that every use of the card would be recorded. He said: "By having this card, the bearer will be traceable, all his actions, all his activities." Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, accused the Government of "consistently seeking to oversell" the merits of the cards. "Just as one argument is knocked down, then another one is produced."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
"...Analysts say it will be very hard to prove the original charge of an organised conspiracy to leak Ms Plame's name and job. More likely, it is believed, are charges of perjury or obstruction of justice, arising from discrepancies in testimony made to the grand jury.Valerie Plame case
But the consequences for the White House could be devastating. Mr Rove and Mr Libby are the most influential aides of their bosses. If indicted, they would have to take a leave of absence to organise their defence ahead of any trial...."
blogs.citypages.com " "...now we are told that Fitzgerald not only is pursuing Cheney, but has been for months. This only underscores the folly of pretending to know where or on whom Fitzgerald's investigation will land in the end: As recently as two weeks ago, 95 percent-plus of blog and media speculation on the case concerned an endgame that was all about Scooter Libby and Karl Rove. I think it will be exceedingly hard to fit Cheney with a noose. I'm also a little dubious as to what Fitzgerald's got, ultimately, on Karl Rove. But it sure looks like Scooter Libby is as good as indicted...."
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"
" It is not only Fisk's efforts to explain the Muslim side of events but to understand them that makes him enemies. He is also seen as an apologist for the West's worst bogeyman, Osama bin Laden. Fisk has interviewed bin Laden three times, once in the Sudan and twice in Afghanistan. The two got on well, even though Fisk says that bin Laden tried to recruit him. We get an impression of the man very different from the one disseminated.Fisk says bin Laden is devout, shy, thoughtful and - like Bush and Blair - possesses that dangerous quality: total self-conviction. Bin Laden has an almost obsessive interest in history and believes that it is working against the US, for whom hatred "lies like a blanket" over 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
"...in many instances the people who are voting for this constitution have no idea what exactly it is, the substance that they're voting for. The constitution allows provincial confederations which have claims on resources and perhaps on enormous resources.
It would be as though Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico could form a confederacy, and then they could tell Washington, well, you're not going to be getting as much tax money from our oil as you used to, and moreover, if you want to talk to Austin, you have to go through our confederal parliament and our prime minister.
The last time we had a confederacy in this continent it caused a lot of trouble. And I'm very concerned that these provisions in the constitution could lead to such a weak central government and to such strong provinces that there will be centrifugal forces breaking the country apart.
And then 20 percent of the population, the Sunni-Arab population, seems to be pretty diehard against this constitution; that's going to weaken its legitimacy... it is an extremely troubling document..... '
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:
" It was such a long time ago, I cannot remember, but it is not a truthful statement and I apologise for that. I cannot remember the motives behind it."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
" He said that the "constant, intensive involvement" in the Middle East by the West was a recurring pattern over centuries and was the reason why "so many Muslims in the Middle East hate us". He added: " We can close doors on history. They can't."
Fisk doubted the sincerity of Western leaders' commitment to bringing democracy to Iraq ......
.... He said that the portrayal of Iraq by Western leaders of efforts to introduce democracy, including Saturday's national vote on the country's proposed constitution was "unreal".... "They aren't sitting in their front rooms discussing the referendum on the constitution." ......
...... "When you are at the scene of a massacre, you are entitled to feel immense anger and I do." He rejected suggestions that graphic pictures of the dead in newspapers took away their dignity. He said: "My view is the people who are dead would want us to record what happened to them." (Read in full) and listen to the quietly impressive Robert Fisk on BBC's Start the week
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:
"Lord Carlile of Berriew dealt another damaging blow to the contentious plans - which are already under fire from MPs of all parties, senior judges and human rights groups - by raising fresh doubts over the legality of the plans. His remarks followed a unsuccessful attempt by the Government to argue that the proposals in the Terrorism Bill, published yesterday, were not out of step with other Western nations. A Foreign Office dossier showed that British police were being offered wider powers to interrogate suspects than is allowed in any comparable country...."
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.....Critics say the measures are draconian compared with other countries and even Britain's top judge has attacked the plans. "Occasionally one feels that an individual politician is trying to browbeat the judiciary, and that is wholly inappropriate," said Lord Phillips. The government-appointed reviewer of security legislation, senior lawyer Lord Carlile, also expressed reservations. "If there are to be extensions for up to three months ... in my view the protections (for the suspect) built into the bill as drafted are inadequate," he said...."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,
" ...We`ve said it before but why is it that the poor have to suffer these things? Because they out-number the better off by a million to one I suppose.The Independent printable donation form is at http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article318803.ece
Now, those that are clinging to life under the rubble will soon die of drowning because of the rain. Those few that have been rescued will die because of no proper medical facilities. The Pakistan government have sent up all their helicopters (these total four I think, but they do have the bomb... ) to the remotest area. These are now grounded because of the weather. On top of the rain it is now getting colder and the lucky ones,in the open, sitting on rubble, are protecting themselves from the elements with broken umbrellas..."
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:
".. The aim of the simultaneous operations River Gate and Iron Fist is to kill as many as possible, and then turn the area over to forces loyal to the government in Baghdad. If that sounds familiar, it's because you've heard it before..... Modern western politicians put extraordinary faith in the military to solve complex political problems, against the advice of soldiers such as Smith.
The threat of force is a powerful tool, but by using it in Iraq the Americans have exposed their weakness: the limits to their power are there for all to see. The most advanced armies in the world cannot beat a few thousand rebels armed only with Kalashnikovs and second-hand rocket-propelled grenades...
...The US has more "soft power" than any other country: its films, music and consumer habits are coveted and copied the world over. But the use of "hard power" has created such resentment that even American "soft power" is diminished. ............ General Smith says that 21st-century wars will be fought "among the people" - seizing their loyalty is a more important strategic objective than taking a town or even the capital. The marines fighting in Haditha know that, but the politicians back in Washington have closed their ears. ." Read in full
7th - 9th October 2005 ~ Cindy Sheehan. Simple words - but not naive. She is a remarkable woman.
"...... Camp Casey taught us that it is okay to raise your voices against the government. Not only is it "okay" but it is mandatory if your government is responsible for killing innocents. It is mandatory if there are no other checks and balances in place that we the people be the checks and balances on the media and government..." Buzzflash.com
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.
"JH:.....What we're seeing now is you seem to be criminalising - almost criminalising - thought, in some sense; 'you may not think these terrible things and then say them, if those things contradict what we say'. You see, yesterday this old man was detained , briefly admittedly, he wasn't charged I understand that, but nevertheless, under terrorism legislation. Section 44. Which shouldn't have been used.An emailer sends this poll, showing that a majority of Daily Mail readers - hardly metropolitan lefties - consider Mr Humphrys "Britain's best interviewer".
Tony Blair: Well, look, I mean, as I say, I don't know about it because I wasn't there...."
7th - 9th October 2005 ~ Prof Juan Cole : Iraq War Generating Threats to New York writes
"So much for the theory of 'fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here.' (which has always struck me as monstrous and immoral). But anyway... there is now at least some evidence that the war in Iraq is actually generating plots against the US homeland (i.e. against the New York City subway system). So maybe fighting wars over there is not actually making us safer here (as the London public has already decided)...."(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..
In a possible danger sign for Bush's political guru, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald "indicated no decision had been made whether or not to bring charges against Mr. Rove," said Rove's attorney Robert D. Luskin. "There never has been any guarantee he wouldn't be indicted," added Luskin.....several people directly familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that Fitzgerald sent a letter to Rove with the warning that prosecutors could no longer guarantee the presidential aide wouldn't be indicted. The prosecutor did not give Rove similar warnings before Rove's three earlier grand jury appearances, according to the report. NYU law professor Stephen Gillers said the notion that Rove isn't facing a serious new threat was "whistling in the dark," adding that "Fitzgerald has upped the ante during his endgame. It's a new warning." Newsday.com
6th October 2005 ~ John Humphrys was nearly sacked following his after-dinner speech in which he maligned government ministers New Statesman
"By muzzling journalism and deliberately avoiding giving offence to the government and the establishment - as many in-side the corporation insist that BBC bosses are doing - Grade, Thompson, Byford and their senior colleagues are betraying those viewers and listeners. And those people know it is happening, as I saw myself when taking part in a recent edition of Any Questions. When members of the panel defended Humphrys, not one hand was raised in the audience to support the BBC management. These were no metropolitan lefties, but loyal Radio 4 listeners from Exeter and the Devon countryside." Read in fullGuardian
" .... But the BBC said today: "There is not a shred of truth in the whole article."
Mr Grade wanted to sack the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today programme as part of a wider move against what he terms "difficult" journalists, the article claims. ..
The magazine also says that Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, was minded to sack the star presenter but decided not to when he saw the strength of media and public opinion in favour of the BBC and against the government...."
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
"....The British accusation is the first time British officials have made specific allegations over Iran's alleged role in Iraq. It comes as relations between the UK and Iran are running at a low ebb after the apparent collapse of negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme. Iran's military are accused of links to Shia militias in Iraq The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall says that although the dispute may sound like a tit-for-tat exchange, tensions in southern Iraq could rise and relations between Britain and Iran look set to deteriorate further. .." (See also Telegraph and Independent)
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
"....Sunni Muslim-ruled Gulf states.... fear that rising tensions between Iraq's disgruntled Sunni minority and triumphant Shi'ite majority will erupt into all-out civil war that could surge across their borders and rock the fragile balance of power in the region. ......... ..For years Arab leaders put up with Saddam's policies simply because they saw him as a guarantee against Shi'ite power.
When the West and the region turned against Saddam after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait, prominent U.S. allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia opposed finishing off the Iraqi leader after the 1991 Gulf war, fearing the Shi'ites would step into the vacuum.
The Saudis now believe U.S. policy in Iraq is widening sectarian divisions and effectively handing the country to Iran.
"They (Americans) gave Iraq to Iran on a gold plate free of charge. They did what Khomeini failed to achieve. He must be celebrating in his grave, thanking the Americans," Alani said."
Professor Juan Cole's Informed Comment website
".... Al-Hakim said that claims that there are Iranian intelligence centers and that SCIRI receives monthly financial backing from Iran that exceeds $22 million are being circulated outside and not inside Iraq. The Iraqis inside Iraq are living in the reality. Had there been Iranians, they would have seen them with their own eyes. Had there been Iranian intelligence centers, the Iraqi citizens would have seen them. Is it possible to have Iranian intelligence centers in Iraq with the presence of 140,000 US soldiers? Is it possible for the US intelligence to fail to discover these centers? Had Iran had such a presence, everyone would have been able to ascertain this, and the space channel television stations that are filling Iraq would have shown them on television."
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,
" The harsh truth that I must report to you is that the federal government and Red Cross relief efforts are still a disorganized, embarrassing mess with little or no help reaching most people -- this more than a month after Katrina. It is the freelance guerilla efforts like ours that are getting through. We aren't waiting for approval and we aren't stopping. .." read in full
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.
".....On Friday, six students and graduates of Lancaster University were convicted of aggravated trespass. Their crime was to have entered a lecture theatre and handed out leaflets to the audience. Staff at the university were meeting people from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Shell, the Carlyle Group, GlaxoSmithKline, DuPont, Unilever and Diageo, to learn how to "commercialise university research". The students were hoping to persuade the researchers not to sell their work. They were in the theatre for three minutes. As the judge conceded, they tried neither to intimidate anyone nor to stop the conference from proceeding.
They were prosecuted under the 1994 Criminal Justice Act...
....Had Mr Wolfgang said "nonsense" twice during the foreign secretary's speech, the police could have charged him under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997....". Parliament was told that its purpose was to protect women from stalkers, but the first people to be arrested were three peaceful protesters. Since then it has been used by the arms manufacturer EDO to keep demonstrators away from its factory gates, and by Kent police to arrest a woman who sent an executive at a drugs company two polite emails, begging him not to test his products on animals. In 2001 the peace campaigners Lindis Percy and Anni Rainbow were prosecuted for causing "harassment, alarm or distress" to American servicemen at the Menwith Hill military intelligence base in Yorkshire, by standing at the gate holding the Stars and Stripes and a placard reading "George W Bush? Oh dear!" In Hull a protester was arrested under the act for "staring at a building"....
Had Mr Wolfgang said "nonsense" to one of the goons who dragged him out of the conference, he could have been charged under section 125 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which came into force in August...
...until Mr Wolfgang was held, neither parliamentarians nor the press were interested.......As the parliamentary opposition falls apart, the extra-parliamentary one is being closed down with hardly a rumble of protest from the huffers and puffers who insist that civil liberties are Britain's gift to the world..."Read in full
3rd October 2005 ~ "If the Kurdish-Shiite alliance is over with, then I suspect so is Iraq..."
Today, Juan Cole says
""President Jalal Talabani called Sunday for Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari to step down........When the politics is failing, the political violence seems less important though no less tragic. Perhaps it has already attained its goal.....
The US military attempts to stop "infiltration" of foreign fighters at the Syrian border is useless, and the generals must know it. It is like charging water. I presume the intent is actually just to keep the pressure on Syria, which Washington dislikes. There has never been any correlation between this sort of military operation and the frequency of attacks. There is unlikely to be this time, either. But the Talabani/ Jaafari shennanigans raise the question acutely of what US soldiers in Iraq are fighting for. Are they dying so prima donna Iraqi politicians can strut and call one another out?"
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."
" ...... Wilson watched with amazement and outrage as the Bush administration went on relentlessly to hype Iraq's alleged nuclear program as a basis for the Iraq War that they got up. By May of 2003, Wilson had had enough, and he went public with an editorial in the New York Times, in which he told his story.
The whole point of Bushism is to punish dissidence within the ranks immediately and ruthlessly. Wilson, a former State Department official, had to be destroyed for having stepped out of line. ......
... when the awful truth was dawning that there was no WMD in Iraq, Rove, Libby, W. and the big Bruce huddled together with others in the administration to think how to discredit Wilson. They care only about image, not substance. It didn't matter to them that Wilson had been proved right. In their world, you only lose if the public sees the truth. The mere discovery of the truth in some obscure quarter is irrelevant. They had to prevent the public from seeing Wilson's truth.
So they would leak it that Wilson's wife was CIA and moreover had had something to do with having him sent on his mission. Apparently among the peculiar tribes that inhabit the press offices in Washington, this information would be enough to tag Wilson as unreliable..." Read in full
3rd October 2005 ~Britain in the dock for human rights failures after more than 100 'guilty' judgements filed Independent
"Britain has one of the worst human rights records in Europe and faces investigation over its failure to comply with a series of European court rulings...." The article includes a section on How Labour has tried to get around its obligations to civil liberties
3rd October 2005 ~ Iraq war delayed Katrina relief effort, inquiry finds Independent
"...... In a hard-hitting analysis, it says: "The US military has long planned for war on two fronts. This is as close as we have come to [that] reality since the Second World War; the results have been disastrous."
The document was compiled by Stephen Henthorne, a former professor of the US Army's War College and an adviser to the Pentagon who was a deputy-director in the Louisiana relief efforts. It charts how "corruption and mismanagement within the New Orleans city government" had "diverted money earmarked for improving flood protection to other, more vote-getting, projects. Past mayors and governors gambled that the long-expected Big Killer hurricane would never happen. That bet was lost with Hurricane Katrina."
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..."
"......Well I'm afraid, you know, that we took the view, er, we took it at the time and we take it now, that the war was justified legally, because he remained in breach of the UN resolutions. Now the issue actually, I think , I mean, I haven't actually studied in detail the actual words that Kofi used, but I think the issue that he was talking about was whether the resolution 1441 - you know, we can go back into the details of it - was such that it actually would justify action if there was a breach of it. I don't think he or anybody else is disputing that there was indeed a breach of resolution 1441...."
The Prime Minster of Great Britain in an interview with John Humphrys exactly a year ago. Worth looking at - in wonderment - again.
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:
Perhaps there is a quiet way tents can be folded, hubris can be buried and the United States can gradually disengage. It has not been defined, chilled as officials and critics are by the fear of the bloggers and the radio talk-show hosts. As in Vietnam, it is increasingly urgent to define that alternative in the long-term interests of American national security.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,
"Strategic Redeployment has four main components: military realignment that restores a realistic deployment policy for our active and reserve forces and moves troops to other hot spots in the struggle against global terrorist networks or brings them home to rebuild; a global communications campaign to counter misinformation and hateful ideologies; new regional diplomatic initiatives; and smarter support for Iraq's renewal and reconstruction."
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,
"... The case is coming to a climax at a time when the Bush administration is mired in scandal. Last month, one of the White House's leading budget officials, David Safavian, was arrested on perjury charges. A top Republican ally in Congress, Tom DeLay, was charged on Wednesday with violating election laws, and a Pentagon analyst, Lawrence Franklin, was yesterday reported to have agreed to plead guilty in a case involving the transfer of military secrets to pro-Israel lobbyists."More
September 30th 2005 ~ejection of Walter Wolfgang The Times quotes one of the Brighton stewards,
"We got no training, just a four-hour indoctrination session from police and party officials telling us about the terrorist threat and to expect trouble....It was indoctrination, creating a them-and-us climate, the same kind of paranoia, dare I say it, that led to the police shooting that man in London."
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.
(On the beginnings of Camp Casey) ......The last straw was on Wednesday, August 3 -- the fourteen Marines who were killed and George Bush saying that all of our soldiers had died for a noble cause and we had to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by continuing the mission. I had just had it. That was enough and I had this idea to go to Crawford..
(on herself) .... I didn't just fall off some pumpkin truck on August 6th and start doing this. The media couldn't believe someone like me could be so articulate and intelligent and have my own message. Number one, I'm a woman; number two, I'm a grieving mother; so they had the urge to marginalize me, to pretend like somebody's pulling my strings. Our President's not even articulate and intelligent. Someone must be pulling his strings, so someone must be pulling Cindy Sheehan's too. That offended me. Oh my gosh, you think someone has to put words into my mouth! [She laughs.] Do some research!..
(On her son, Casey) ....my son was promised a twenty thousand dollar signing bonus. He only got four thousand dollars of that when he finished his advanced training. He was promised a laptop, so he could take classes from wherever he was deployed in the world. He never got that. They promised him he could finish college because he only had one year left when he went in the Army. They would never let him take a class. They promised him he could be a chaplain's assistant which was what he really wanted to do; but, when he got to boot camp, they said that was full and he could be a Humvee mechanic or a cook. So he chose Humvee mechanic. The most awful thing the recruiter promised him was: Even if there was a war, he wouldn't see combat because he scored so high on the ASVAB [Career Exploration] tests. He would only be in war in a support role. He was in Iraq for five days before he was killed in combat......
(on President Bush)TD: And what do you actually expect? We have three and a half more years of this administration
CS: No we don't! [She chuckles.] ....I think Katrina's going to be his Monica. It's not a matter of "if" any more, it's a matter of "when," because clearly clearly, they're criminals. I mean, look at the people who got the first no-bid contracts to clean-up and rebuild New Orleans. It's Halliburton again. It's crazy. One negative effect of Camp Casey was it took a lot of heat off Karl Rove for his hand in the [Valerie] Plame case. But I hear indictments are coming down soon. So that's one way it's going to come about. George Bush is getting ready to implode. I mean have you seen him lately? He's a man who's out of control.."
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
Nearly 3/4s of Americans are now skeptical about the use of force to spread democracyThe idea that the US should simply invade countries, overthrow their governments and impose "democracy" on them was championed by a coalition of American nationalists and rightwing Zionists in Washington in 2001-2003, was promoted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (the think tank for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Project for a New American Century, and other rightwing think tanks and journals.
The targets of this social engineering on a vast scale were never, however, authoritarian regimes friendly to Washington, but rather a handful of governments that had bad relations with the US and/or Israel.
As Ret. Col. Pat Lang points out, however, armies are good for killing people and destroying things, and not very much else..." Read in full
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 issue for the party is far from resolved. It was foolish to have a foreign policy session at a conference in which the most important issues we face - Iraq and whether we are going to have more nuclear weapons - were barely discussed.The Independent also reports the top American commander in Iraq, General George Casey telling Congress that
Party leaders have increasingly controlled conference over the last few years. We used to have a very inclusive culture in the party. But New Labour has damaged that. We must reclaim it before it is too late." Read in full
"...... the number of Iraqi army battalions rated by US officers as capable of fighting without US help had dropped from three to one....
"That contributes to a loss of public confidence in how the war is going," Senator Susan Collins, said of the gereral's remarks. "It doesn't feel like progress when we hear today there is only one Iraqi battalion fully capable."
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.
"... . "heckling" is a very grand way to describe what was going on. There was muted dissent.Other media reaction "Blair says Sorry" etc
Anyway, poor old Walter Wolfgang shouted out "Nonsense!" whereby these huge bouncers cum wardens ushered him out. They also bundled out another member who said, "Hang on. What on earth are you doing here?"
... It doesn't end there though because when poor old Mr Wolfgang tried to come back into the conference hall after lunch the police wouldn't allow him back in - wait for it - UNDER THE PREVENTION OF TERRORISM ACT.
... the Labour Party grudgingly issued an apology about four or five hours later.... they are now saying that Mr Wolfgang can come back into the conference hall today "provided he gives a reassurance that he won't cause another disturbance" I mean it is utterly Orwellian almost in its grotesqueness. .He shouted "Nonsense" paradoxically as Jack Straw was saying that the Government's aim in Iraq was to establish democracy. I mean it was utterly, utterly obscene....
I do think actually it does go beyond a mere public relations shamble; it does have some sort of political ramifications ....we do need to sit down and reflect calmly about exactly what sort of society we are becoming." Read in full
September 28th 2005 ~"....82 years old ... a Labour party member for 60 years....bundled out by security guards.." Guardian
"Jack Straw was heckled today as he told the Labour party conference Britain was in Iraq "for one reason only: to help the elected Iraqi government build a secure, democratic and stable nation".
A delegate, who was 82 years old and has been a Labour party member for 60 years, was bundled out by security guards after he shouted, "That's a lie," during the foreign secretary's keynote conference address....
A second delegate was expelled for complaining at the treatment of the first heckler...."
"....Earlier Mr Straw watched as a union official, Barry Camfield of the TGWU, used the debate on Britain and the World to accuse the government of refusing to pull out for fear of "loss of face", despite the "occupation" fuelling the escalating crisis.
"Our troops should be pulled out now and quickly," he urged. "You cannot invade a country and declare war on it on an unacceptable and false premise then decide to occupy it on the basis that you were wrong in the first place and that it might be a little embarrassing or involve a loss of face to give Iraq back to the Iraqis."
He won a loud ovation from delegates."
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 Wilderness.com
".. the great British journalist Robert Fisk has been banned from entering the United States. Fisk has been covering war zones for decades, but is above all known for his incisive reporting from the Middle East for more than 20 years. His critical coverage of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, and the continuing occupation that has followed it, has repeatedly exposed U.S. and British government disinformation campaigns. He also has exposed how the bulk of the press reports from Iraq have been "hotel journalism" -- a phrase Fisk coined --"Read Robert Fisk's latest article
When nature and man conspire to expose the lies of the powerful, the truth will out What we were actually doing in Basra was to turn a blind eye on abuse, murder and anarchy ..Meanwhile, Reuters report on a letter sent from Reuters itself to Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee
. Faced with the imminent destruction of his vessel, a sailing ship captain would cut his anchor or sail ropes to allow his ship to move away from rocks or from being overwhelmed by the waves. Cutting and running was often an eminently sensible thing to do. But not for John Reid. Were not going to cut and run. Were going to be blown on to the rocks."
By Robert Fisk - 24 September 2005
"....By limiting the ability of the media to fully and independently cover the events in Iraq, the U.S. forces are unduly preventing U.S. citizens from receiving information...and undermining the very freedoms the U.S. says it is seeking to foster every day that it commits U.S. lives and U.S. dollars," the letter said.
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.
".... Instead, the story was the danger the men faced if they were handed over to the militia run by the "radical" cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. "Radical" is a gratuitous embedded term; al-Sadr has actually co-operated with the British. What did he have to say about the "rescue"? Quite a lot, none of which was reported in this country. .."
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. "
"Only a few enlightened locals understand LA-21 requires a total reorganization of government systems. It eliminates individual rights in the free countries. National systems of political economy are subserviant to LA-21 laws. It was generally thought to be a "good thing." So few people bother to read their new local vision for community, even if they know there's a plan. It's presented by experts. Really nice people promote it as a just, scientific, non-threatening way of cleaning up the world. It's a grassroots, holistic, sustainable development movement. Who's going to argue with that if they don't even know what it means?..." Read in full
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.)
".....In what amounts to a silent coup, an unholy alliance of corporate power brokers and conservative Republicans have spent the last five years attempting to hi-jack democracy and move the seat of governance from Pennsylvania Avenue to K Street. But you wont read about this coup, you wont see it played out on the evening news, and you wont hear about it on talk radio. ..
..... This complicated dance between corporate and political power gets played out daily along K street, and a variety of devils deals that wouldve made our forefathers weep has become routine business....
Norquist is famous for saying , "Our goal is to shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub." ....
.....the second part of their strategy is to simply pass on the inevitable bill to our children. If the K Street Consortium implements their policy agenda, in ten years, every child born in the US will "inherit" $36,000 of additional debt.
And that was before Katrina burst through levees weakened by budget cuts; before New Orleans and the gulf coast spun into a national purgatory as a crony-ladened FEMA bumbled around for five days.
Since Bush and his K Street cronies refuse to delay their tax cut for the rich, well have to cut more programs and shovel more debt onto our children and grandchildren to cover Katrinas and Ritas $200 billion plus price tag...." Read in full
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"
"We recently spent a week in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana interviewing relief workers, community activists, urban planners, artists, and neighborhood folks. Even as the latest flood waters from Hurricane Rita recede, the city remains submerged in anger and frustration. Indeed, the most toxic debris in New Orleans isn't the sinister gray sludge that coats the streets of the historic Creole neighborhood of Treme or the Lower Ninth Ward, but all the unanswered questions that have accumulated in the wake of so much official betrayal and hypocrisy. ..."September 17 2005 ~
".... The notion that you can make the world a better place by making it illegal to say nasty and dangerous things has the intellectual sloppiness, the headline-seeking shallowness, the philosophical carelessness and the creepy mix of the sinister with the sanctimonious, that marks it out as absolutely characteristic of our Prime Ministers mind..." The TimesThank 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
"Mr Justice Thornton's judgment ....was excoriating. He dismissed Defra's allegations of fraud out of hand. He found that its officials had repeatedly lied about what happened in 2001; that their own systems and paperwork were chaotic or non-existent; and that their claims to have investigated the case internally were largely fraudulent. On 26 points he found that Defra was in breach of contract, and that it must not only settle but pay an additional sum in interest, totalling nearly 50 per cent of the claim.
...... It was particularly gratifying to the FPB that the judge ordered Defra to pay the 12 per cent interest on its debts, under the Late Payment of Commercial Debt Act 1998, since the FPB also lobbied for the "statutory right to interest" created by that Act, which the Government cannot have anticipated would soon be turned so damagingly against itself...." Hundreds of firms fell foul of Defra's decision in 2002 to avoid paying its foot and mouth debts. Many, under Defra's remorseless pressure, eventually agreed to settle for a fraction of the money owed, under "confidentiality" agreements forbidding them to discuss their case. Some 10 large claims are still outstanding...."
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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Latest 'Generic' Contingency Plan for FMD EU Directive Sept 2003 (pdf new page) ~ Foot and Mouth News - from Yahoo and PigHealth.com
The complete FMD 2001 archive may be visited at STONELEIGH PARK see pdf and note from Rev Pinkerton "The stakeholders' contribution to decision making.."
Recent Avian Influenza Postings Bovine TB ......... The Kremers' petition
See also warmwell pages on concern about wind turbines, on oil depletion, on BSE/vCJD, on rapid diagnosis, on GM , UK meat scandals - High Yewdale Farm - or see index of main pages (new windows)
Towards a new, sane, animal disease policy, warmwell goes " from failure to failure with great enthusiasm" (Winston Churchill's definition of "success")
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