Sunday, January 10, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

Fresh evidence has emerged that Tony Blair's discredited Iraqi arms dossier was "sexed up" on the instructions of Alastair Campbell, his communications chief, to fit with claims from the US administration that were known to be false.
The pre-invasion dossier's worst-case estimate of how long it would take Iraq to acquire a nuclear weapon was shortened in response to a George Bush speech.
As Campbell prepares to appear before the Iraq inquiry on Tuesday, new evidence reveals the extent to which -- on his instructions -- those drafting the notorious dossier colluded with the US administration to make exaggerated claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

The above is the opening to Chris Ames and Richard Norton-Taylor's "Alastair Campbell had Iraq dossier changed to fit US claims" (Guardian). In London, the Iraq Inquiry continues. Some are referring to all the weeks of public hearings that have already taken place as the 'context' and framework for the committee (and the public) as they now begin hearing from those who, as the Iraq Inquiry Blogger explains, "took those decisions and created those policies." John Chilcot is the chair of the committee and among the biggest revelations last week was the information that Nouri jumped the Basra attack by three months due to a political rival and was urging carpet bombing with no concern for civilian deaths. The Inquiry has heard how Downing Street was advised, before the start of the Iraq War, that the claim Tony Blair insisted upon making about Iraq being able to attack England with WMD in less than an hour was false. Tony Blair hasn't appeared before the Inquiry yet. He has, however, attempted to work the media. In his big-news interview last month, he didn't deny that the information had reached him that his claims were false before the start of the Iraq War (the information should have reached him and the Inquiry should probe that when he appears before them) but he boasted the Iraq War was worth it regardless of the basis for it.

In less than twelve hours, the Inquiry will begin hearing public testimony again. There's a great deal that's already been revealed by the Inquiry and even more should be coming out as various officials are called in the coming weeks. However, in the US there's little interest in the Inquiry. Dissident Voice, for example, seems to offer a near weekly insistence that the Inquiry is a whitewash and nothing will come of it. Actually detailing what was said in hearings, you understand, is too much work for the columnists. By repeatedly, week after week, telling readers the Inquiry is a whitewash and nothing will come of it, the various 'writers' are able to recycle the same column over and over and isn't that the new 'green' left for you?

If they really believe it will be a whitewash, shouldn't they be shining a light on the proceedings now? While they can steer some attention to it, while they can let the committee know that the world is watching?

With the exception of Free Speech Radio News, no 'independent' media broadcast program has shown interest in the Inquiry. In the US, it is very easy to be unaware that the Inquiry is even taking place. For those in the US, one thing that can come of the Inquiry -- regardless of the findings -- is that Americans can watch as England demands their officials and leaders testify in public about the Iraq War while . . . the US government . . . does nothing except continue along about its merry way as the Iraq War continues.

At Iraq Inquiry Digest, Chris Ames observes:

It would have been a disaster for Bush and Blair if the Security Council had produced a majority vote for a second resolution extending time for the weapons inspectors to do their job, in the interests of international peace and security, and not for military action. (Under the terms of SCR1441, there appears no iron clad reason why other, less warlike, options could not be chosen if the Security Council deemed best and had been allowed to work freely through its Operational Paragraphs and not fettered by the US-UK quasi-legal doctrine of “automaticity”).

The Inquiry will need to consider whether the recalling of automaticity at this key juncture was to circumvent just such an unwelcome outcome for the US and UK, predisposed to military force for disarming and removing Saddam.

The Inquiry could also seek legal advice on whether the fettering of the Security Council’s rights and freedoms to take majority decisions by the “automaticity” doctrine was lawful under international law in this case.

But those questions are apparently judged 'unimportant' by independent and 'independent' media in the US. The Inquiry, like the illegal war itself, continues with little US press coverage.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4372. Tonight it's 4373. (Yes, there were two announced deaths from Monday through Friday -- ICCC dropped their count by one on Thursday. Ask them why.)

Turning to some of the violence reported today . . .


Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing left a 14-year-old girl and three Iraqi soldiers injured, a Mosul sticky bombing injured three students, and, dropping back to Saturday for the next two, a Mosul mortar attack that resulted in two deaths ('suspects') and a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 young boy.


Reuters notes 1 male corpse discovered just outside Kirkuk.

Turning to the issue of Blackwater and the cash settlements attorney Susan Burke was able to leverage the mercenary company into making. AFP reports that 16 of the 17 families who lost a loved one in the September 2007 Baghdad shooting have agreed to settle. According to Iraqi attorney Hassan Jabbar Salman, families of the dead will receive $100,000 each while families of the injured will get "between 20,000 and 50,000 dollars." CNN covers it here. Gulf Daily News adds, "Mahdi Abdul-Kadir said Blackwater's offer of compensation in a civil lawsuit to those who had been injured or had family members killed was too low. He said he has asked the deputy speaker of Iraq's parliament to cancel the agreement that the plaintiff's lawyer Susan Burke reached on January 6."

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes Sian Ruddick's "Yemen is latest target in US war" (Great Britian's Socialist Worker):

Yemen has become the latest “rogue state” to be targeted in the US-led “war on terror”.

There has been a flood of rhetoric about Yemen, portraying the country as a “failed state” and a hotbed of extremism, swarming with Al Qaida terrorists and warring tribes.

Obama’s adminstration said last week that it plans to more than double the US’s “security assistance” – military aid – to the country.

A recent US Congress budget document explained the aims of increasing spending on Yemen: “Military assistance will increase the capacity of the Yemeni Special Forces and Coast Guard to conduct security missions… while helping achieve US counter-terrorism goals.”

And, not to be left out, Gordon Brown now plans to hold an international summit on Yemen alongside the one planned on Afghanistan in London on 28 January.

Yemen is indeed a country ravaged by war and instability – but this is the result of decades of imperialist interference in the region. And the ratcheting up of Western intervention will only make things worse.

The US military already trains Yemeni “security forces”.

And evidence has emerged to suggest that the US launched two cruise missile attacks on 17 December that killed up to 160 Yemeni civilians.

This attack took place before the failed attack on a US flight by a student who claimed he had trained with Al Qaida in Yemen.

Under pressure from Western powers, the Yemeni government claimed this week to have killed two Al Qaida members linked to alleged threats to the US, British and French embassies.

The government of Yemen is incredibly corrupt and has an appalling human rights record.

Yet the US continues to fund and prop up the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh has been in power for 31 years and has given many posts to his family and bought off rivals.

Yemen is already simmering with discontent.

It is one of the poorest countries in the world. Education levels are comparable with some of the poorest nations in Africa, while unemployment ensures a pool of angry, disenfranchised young people.

The country is marked by a destructive civil war. And US intervention will breed greater violence and misery.

It is not just the funding directly to Yemen that will shore up US interests in the region.

Neighbouring countries have also been given “watchdog” responsibilities, and the money to carry them out.


American funding to Saudi Arabia, which the US relies on for oil and for securing other parts of the region, is also due to rocket this year.

In 2008, just over $49 million was given to the regime, but almost twice that amount is earmarked for 2010.

This is in addition to the millions of dollars of arms deals the US takes up with Saudi Arabia every year.

And there are worrying signs that the US is to further spread its operations in the region.

The Congress budget justification for foreign operations for 2010 explains that, “As terrorists seek new and softer targets to strike in the region and look to increase their presence in neighboring Yemen, Oman will need US counter-terrorism assistance to help patrol its frontiers and intercept infiltrators in order to remain free from terrorist acts.”

The “war on terror” has made the world an ever more dangerous and unstable place.

The US-led war, which began in Iraq and Afghanistan, now extends to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond. Meanwhile countries such as Syria, Iran

and Lebanon feature on the “sponsors of terrorism” list.

While this looks to be a war without end, the bitter fruits of the conflict are becoming harder for even some sections of the US establishment to swallow.

The former US Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, recently told the Toronto Star, “If we go in and make this our war… it is suddenly going to become a war against us and we will lose it.”

Stop the War protest

While Gordon Brown holds his conference on the 28 January on the “war on terror”, the Stop the War Coalition will be protesting outside. The conference is due to be held in central London. For details go to

The following should be read alongside this article:
» How Western imperialism has shaped this war-torn country
» CIA and drone attacks spread the conflict

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