Saturday, November 14, 2009

Inquiries and 'inquiries'

What is the purpose of the Chilcot inquiry? Its stated objective is to "learn lessons" from the planning and execution of the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. If only this were true, because this is what the British people demand, but reading between the lines, there appears a more insidious intent.
From 1998 to 2002, I was the UK's Iraq "expert" on the UN Security Council. I resigned from the Foreign Office after giving evidence to the
Butler inquiry in 2004. That inquiry produced an ultimately comforting outcome: that while the intelligence used to justify the war might have been exaggerated, it was not deliberately manipulated. The establishment might have made mistakes, but in the final analysis it could be trusted.
That Sir John Chilcot served on the Butler inquiry is like trying the same crime twice with the same judge and jury – not a credible standard for truth-seeking. Nor would a truth-seeker allow the inquiry's staff to be headed by the civil servant who was in a senior position in the foreign and defence policy secretariat of the Cabinet Office during Britain's military occupation of Iraq.

The above is from Carne Ross' "The country needs the Iraq inquiry. What a shame it will be a whitewash" (Observer). Staying with the topic of inquiries, the November 9th snpashot noted the developments that day in the ongoing inquiry into Baha Mosua's death. Baha died in Iraq, in British custody. The inquiry is taking place in England. On November 9th, British soldiers Gareth Aspinall and Garry Reader testified that Baha was abused repeatedly while in British custody, that he was beaten to death and that they were ordered to keep quiet about what took place. Last night, new allegations of abuse surfaced. BBC News reports that Phil Shiner, an attorney for some Iraqis, is calling for an inquiry into abuse allegations which include British soldiers raping "a 16-year-old boy". Robert Verkaik (Independent of London) adds, "Claims that British soldiers recreated the torture conditions of Abu Ghraib to commit the sexual and physical abuse of Iraqi civilians are being investigated by the Ministry of Defence. The fresh allegations raise important questions about collusion between Britain and America over the ill-treatment of Iraqi prisoners during the insurgency." BBC News (link has text and video) reports today that the UK Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell is insisting that there's no need for a public inquiry and claiming that any investigation can be handled (privately) by the Ministry of Defence.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded two police officers. Reuters notes a Garma roadside bombing wounded three members of the Iraqi military.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer and his brother were shot dead in Baghdad Friday night and that Economical Crimes Department Brig Gen Watah Nasrat was injured in an assassination attempt. Reuters notes 1 "Christian boy" shot dead in Mosul and 1 man shot dead in Kirkuk.

Meanwhile Dennis Campbell (Guardian) reports:

Professor Nigel Brown, an expert in the causes of birth defects and dean of the faculty of medicine and biomedical science at St George's, University of London, points out that war zones such as Falluja involve many of the risk factors that cause deformities in children.
"The whole of the war situation produces a very unusual set of circumstances to which the civilian population is exposed, mainly involving the destruction of the built environment and its knock-on effects," he said.
"Those include the degrading of sanitation, the stress [on people of being in a place of conflict], the disruption of the water supply, poor nutrition and air pollution caused by both chemicals and particulates."
It was impossible to identify any one of those particular factors that may lie behind the apparent dramatic increase of birth defects in Falluja.
In addition, despite suspicion to the contrary, there is no reliable evidence to show that the components of munitions causes birth defects, except for ionising radiation, Brown said.

Still on the toxic, illegal war that's damaged so many, Rebecca S. Green (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette) reports on Iraq War veteran John Pete Troost who is among the many veterans and contractors suing KBR in 39 (and counting) lawsuits against KBR in federal courts for exposure to health hazards in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Troost's case stems from a massive burn pit at the Balad Air Base in Iraq, where tractors pushed a variety of waste -- from trucks, tires, metals, medical waste, biohazards -- including human corpses, asbestos and hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles, according to court documents.
The lawsuit alleges that KBR, in an effort to make more money, ignored contractual obligations and began burning the vast amounts of waste in 2003. The practice continues unabated today, according to court documents.
The smoke was so thick that, on some occasions, it compromised the military’s mission. The military did not prevent KBR and the other contractors from solving the problem in a safer way, according to court documents.
But KBR and its subcontractors, according to the lawsuits, continued to burn the trash, even trash that was known to cause cancer.

Since Thursday night, the following posts have appeared at community sites:

"Got War?"
"Deviled Eggs in the Kitchen"
"The economy is speaking"
"The Crook vs. the Fighter"
"Somerby, 44, American Dad"
"Anita Dunn doesn't know how to go away"
"Carly's performance"
"new action from now"
"some stand strong, some don't"
"Do headline writers read?"
"Carly Simon, Susanna Hoffs, Matthew Sweet"
"The ones holding us back"
"ACORN embarrasses again"
"Love Finds Andy Hardy"
"Stop whining"
"Barbra on The Doctors this Monday"
"Concert, what's Barack saying now, and abuse"
"His latest snit fit"
"So eager to please"

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oh boy it never ends