Thursday, December 17, 2009

The rats turn on War Hawk Tony Blair?

The head of MI6 and Britain's top diplomat yesterday refused to back Tony Blair's assertion that the war in Iraq was worth the human and financial cost.
In testimony to the Chilcot Inquiry, spymaster Sir John Sawers and Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Britain's ambassador in Washington, both admitted they now agonise over whether the UK should have joined the invasion.
They warned that, in doing so, Britain had damaged its reputation around the world.

The above is from Tim Shipman's "Now Blair's key Iraq war aides desert him: Spy chief and top envoy tell inquiry of their doubts" (Daily Mail) about Wednesday's public testimony. The Iraq Inquiry continues holding public hearings today in London. Witnesses offer testimony today are Jim Drummond, Martin Dinham and Stelphen Pickford (topic is "Promoting Iraq's recovery and growth after the initial invasion"). Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger will continue live blogging and tweeting the testimony though notes "Hmmm - somewhat underwhelming session. Let's see whether it picks up this afternoon - same witnesses from 14h00." Chris Ames (at Iraq Inquiry Digest) looks at some of the press on the inquiry:

To get the headline issues out of the way first, the Daily Mail and others focus on witnesses’ doubts about whether the human cost of the war was justified by the outcome, the Independent and Mirror look at Sir John Sawers’ admission that Britain had some advance knowledge of problems at Abu Ghraib and the BBC covers both issues, as well as pointing out that:
"Panel member Sir Roderic remarked that [Lt Gen Sir Robert Fry] was the first witness to suggest that the UK’s contribution was 'critical' to winning the war."
The BBC's Peter Biles also says that:
"With the steady accumulation of evidence over the past few weeks, there has been a noticeable and welcome change of tone at the inquiry."

Mehdi Hasan (New Statesman) offers this take on Sawers, "So, according to the head of MI6 - who also happens to be a former foreign-affairs adviser to Tony Blair - it was not 'reasonable' to assume the violence should have been foreseen and that only President Mubarak of Egypt predicted the manner in which the invasion of Iraq would exacerbate the threat of al-Qaeda-related terrorism, inside and outside Iraq. Is he lying, suffering from amnesia or just plain ignorant? It must be one of the three because I can assure Sir John that countless intelligence reports, terrorism experts, diplomats, politicians and pundits, at home and abroad, warned that invading Iraq wouldn't be the 'cakewalk' predicted by the neocons and that it would only radicalise Muslims across the globe, destabilise the country and the region and provide new opportunities for jihadists to attack western troops on a Muslim battlefield."

Take a moment to grasp that what John Pilger has called "the crime of the century" -- met with universal agreement judging by the repostings -- including most recently US Socialist Worker -- gets nothing, gets zilch. All the freaks from Panhandle Media go rushing off to Copenhagen and insisting they're doing something (they're not doing a damn thing -- except bad journalism) for two weeks. They can't do a damn thing for "the crime of the century." That would be Iraq. But it's not their concern. Truth's not their concern either and today provided you with multiple examples of that if you paid attention. But, hey, when you've lied to people repeatedly that it's a "live broadcast," it's not like you have many ethics or journalistic standards. (Hint: Live broadcasts do not allow for 'excerpts' of guest interviews to be played at the start of the program. How stupid do they think people are.) To pose and preen, they can go off to Copenhagen. And accomplish nothing as everyone knew would be the case. But the Iraq War? The thing that gave them the level of 'fame' they now have? No time for it. Possibly, Naomi Klein didn't want to bother her mind with reality. Wasn't that what the idiot said on election night? When she was so out of it she was 'seeing' things that no one else 'saw' (because they didn't happen).
Whatever the nut was on then, she's on it again today as she rants and raves about 'evil' Hillary Clinton. Naomi Klein's an idiot and she's a coward (and notice she won't call out Barack -- in Naomi's sex-crazed mind, Hillary's some evil S&M dominatrix strapping Barry O to a bed and forcing him to do 'bad' things, 'naughty' things. It's never Barry's fault, for Crazy Naomi.).

Her father was born in the United States. He fled the US during Vietnam because he didn't want to serve in Vietnam. I applaud him for that. But I don't applaud little cowards like Naomi Klein who, in the US, has to be pressed to even acknowledge that fact in her public speaking gigs and who never, ever brings it up in her interviews. Naomi holds dual citizenship -- US and Canadian -- so she damn well is as responsible for the illegal war as any other American and she damn well needs to speak out against it and, as the child of a war resister, she should be leading today's war resistance movement but she doesn't have time and worries and frets that being 'public' (anything other than a petition) might hurt her US TV bookings. What a coward, what a freak.
What an air-head mall rat, that's apparently all she'll ever be -- she's sealed her own fate.

Among the developments being missed out of the Iraq Inquiry? Try: "ignored," from yesterday's snapshot:

In addition to Sawers possible problems noted earlier by Sparrow and Ames, the Belfast Telegraph states that another witness, also with M16 at one point (Sawers is the current head of M16) has problems: John Scarlett. They note his claim that the assertion of Iraq being able to attack England "within 45 minutes" was both "reliable and authoritative" is refuted by Brian Jones ("senior WMD analyst"): "Dr Jones, who was head of the nuclear, chemical and biological branch of the Defence Intelligence Staff in the run-up to the invasion, said that it was 'absolutely clear' the intelligence the Government relied upon was coming from untried sources. The 45-minute claim was one of the key assertions that convinced MPs to take Britian to war."

Today Michael Savage (Independent of London) reports:

The Iraq inquiry committee has come under pressure to recall Britain's former spy chief to give further public evidence after allegations that he misled them over Saddam Hussein's ability to use weapons of mass destruction.
Sir John Scarlett, who oversaw the drafting of the government's controversial 2002 dossier outlining the case for invading Iraq, had claimed that intelligence indicating that Iraq could launch missiles within 45 minutes was "reliable and authoritative". But Dr Brian Jones, the most senior WMD analyst who saw the original intelligence, told The Independent that it was vague, inconclusive and unreliable.

Over the weekend, Tony Blair floated various themes -- in anticipation of his upcoming testimony before the Iraq Inquiry next year -- including that it didn't matter whether or not Saddam Hussein had WMD (the claim Blair based his push for war on), it was the 'proper' thing to do. You haven't heard a great deal about that from Panhandle Media either. Again, Iraq only interested them when they could make a buck on it. Pru notes Sian Ruddick's "Put Blair on trial for his war crimes" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Tony Blair finally admitted last week what millions of people in the anti-war movement have known for years -- that he was intent on going to war in Iraq whether the country posed a threat or not.

Fern Britton asked Blair in a BBC TV interview last week, “If you had known then that there were no WMDs [weapons of mass destruction], would you still have gone on?”

Blair replied, “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”.

He added, “I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat.”

Blair’s confession that he wanted “regime change” has provoked outrage.

Even Sir Ken MacDonald, the former director of public prosecutions, wrote after seeing the interview, “The degree of deceit involved in our decision to go to war on Iraq becomes steadily clearer.

“This was a foreign policy disgrace of epic proportions, and playing footsie on Sunday morning television does nothing to repair the damage.

“It is now very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Tony Blair engaged in an alarming subterfuge with his partner, George Bush.

“He went on to mislead and cajole the British people into a deadly war they had made perfectly clear they didn’t want, and on a basis that it’s increasingly hard to believe even he found truly credible.”

The interview came before Blair was due to appear at the official inquiry into the Iraq war.

Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry’s chair, has said that Blair will give evidence in public, except when national security matters are being discussed or if appearing would present a danger to his health or security.

But this offers Blair an opportunity to ensure the bulk of his evidence will be heard in private.

We will not be told what questions the inquiry asks and whether it challenges Blair on the question of war crimes. It is against international law to attack a country on the basis of regime change.

Millions of people took to the streets of London and other cities across the world in 2003 against Bush and Blair’s plans. Protesters argued that there was no truth to the claims about Iraq’s WMD, and that it was a war for US power and control of oil.

But Bush and Blair did not care about the truth. Now Blair has admitted that different arguments should have been used but the outcome would have been the same – regime change and the deaths of over one million Iraqis.

For the millions who opposed the war, Blair’s words offer no satisfaction – only more anger at the lies we were told.

The car and suicide bomb attacks that rocked Baghdad last week, killing 123 people and injuring 500, are the bloody legacy of the war and occupation.

The Stop the War Coalition is calling for the Iraq inquiry to declare Tony Blair guilty of war crimes and send him to The Hague for trial.

Lindsey German, the convenor of Stop the War, said, “If Tony Blair repeats his confession of war crimes to the Iraq inquiry, it will have no alternative but to recommend that legal proceedings be taken against him.

“Not to do so will confirm what many people suspect – that Sir John Chilcot’s committee was handpicked by Gordon Brown with the clear intention of whitewashing war crimes.”

The following should be read alongside this article:
» Vigils after 100th British death in Afghanistan
» Drop the charges against soldier Joe Glenton

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The Inquiry has been big news in England and if you ever doubt that, grasp that CNN tried to pretend it wasn't (see Kat's entry). Adrian Hamilton (Independent of London) offers this take on the Iraq Inquiry thus far:

Senior officials from the Foreign Office turned up before Chilcot to whine about how they were kept out of the loop of Blair's planning, with the implication that somehow it might all have been different if they had been brought in. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, our representative to the UN before the invasion and in Baghdad after, even declared that he was prepared to resign if another UN resolution went against us.
Prepared to resign? Anyone who has ever worked in an organisation knows that the threat of future resignation isn't worth the paper it isn't written on. As for the suggestion that all these figures were against the invasion at the time, all one can ask is: "What did you do about it then?" (Not that Chilcot's committee ventured to ask.)
Major General Tim Cross, who liaised with the US on reconstruction, declared that he urged the Prime Minister in a private conversation two days before the invasion to delay it until post-war plans were better prepared. Two days before, with the troops already assembled and on the move, and a senior officer honestly thought some mildly expressed concerns would stop the ball from rolling? What kind of soldiers are we promoting to generalship these days.
The answer is the same kind of men (for they are all men) that we've witnessed throughout these hearings, masters of bureaucratic temporising with an eagerness to please their political masters matched by an equal desire to evade responsibility if things go wrong.

There's a lot coming out of the Iraq Inquiry and it's amazing how little our 'brave' 'voices' care . . . unless you noticed their retreat on Iraq immediately after the 2006 mid-term elections. To have not dropped the topic then would have meant bringing real pressure on the Democrats -- who had just been handed control of both houses -- to end the illegal war. And that pressure didn't fit with their agenda.

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