The Iraq inquiry has resumed this week, promising crucial witnesses — Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Lord Goldsmith and possibly Gordon Brown.We have been told repeatedly what it is not: a trial, an inquest, an inquisition, a court, a statutory inquiry. Nevertheless, however its investigative format is described, none of this fancy terminological footwork can evade the central expectation for a thorough, transparent and impartial quest for the truth about the way decisions and actions were carried out.
What remains is not clear. Neither a judge nor a lawyer is on the panel, which is bizarre given that one of the main questions raised by most victims and their families relates to the illegality of the war.
The above is from Michael Mansfield's "Iraq inquiry: we have every right to know why we went to war" (Times of London). Reporting on yesterday's public hearing, Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) explains that the deal made with 'insurgents,' the cease-fire allowed for the British forces to take less of a beating:
The witnesses to the inquiry yesterday said these led to a significant drop in the number of British casualties, enabling the garrison to leave Basra Palace peacefully, and were supported by senior Iraqi political and security officials. However, the deals were criticised at the time by the US, which wanted the British to stay longer.
Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry chairman, suggested on Tuesday, without making it clear, that he planned to hold a session in private about the deal with the Mahdi army. He asked Simon McDonald, Gordon Brown's foreign policy adviser since 2007, whether it would have been possible to withdraw troops from Basra Palace to the city's airport without the ceasefire.
McDonald replied: "Not with the same confidence in not losing men and not suffering bloodshed."
Meanwhile the Daily Mail is reporting that John Chilcot's salary for heading the Iraq Inquiry is greater than the salary paid Gordon Brown for being Prime Minister of England. The Iraq Inquiry's public hearings continue today and Channel 4 News' Iraqi Inquiry Blogger continues blogging the hearings.
In Iraq, Nada Barki (New York Times) reports an al-Anbar Province bombing which has cliamed multiple lives and "struck the houses of an anti-terrorism official and his relatives". Hamid Ahmed (AP) identifies the official as Lt Col Walid Sulaiman al-Hiti (his father's home was also targeted). BBC News counts 8 dead and six wounded in four exposions. From yesterday's snapshot:
Meanwhile Uthman al-Mukhtar (Asia Times) reports that al Anbar Province residents are "alarmed" by the recent increase in violence in the province and quotes Noor Saadi stating, "The police can't even protect themselves." The violence is causing her to keep her son at home and not let him attend school while other people are refusing "to return to their businesses or open their shops."
In addition, Reuters notes 2 Khanaqin roadside bombings which claimed 1 life (Shi'ite mosque security guard) and left thirteen injured and, dropping back to yesterday for what follows, a Balad suicide bomber who took his/her own life and left eight Sahwa wounded and a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 child and left four more injured.
The Times of London's Iraq blog is Inside Iraq and Alice Fordham has been posting there including this entry:
On the farm just north of Baghdad that has been in his family for more than 300 years, Sheikh Ali points out towering date palms planted by his grandfather and the shorter ones from his father's time.
Then he indicates trees that died when there was no water, electricity or ease of movement during Iraq's bloody sectarian war. "During the past years," he says, "agriculture in general degraded and deteriorated. In 2005 and 2006, it was the troubles and it was all over the country, including in this neighbourhood."
Inside Iraq is also the title of the McClatchy Newspapers' blog run by Iraqi correspondents and one wonders "Why Shall We Vote for Them:"
The speaker of the Iraqi parliament urged the heads of the political blocks to push the members of their blocks to attend the parliament sessions in order to approve some important laws that deal with the daily life of Iraqis. The meetings came after the parliament failed in approving any law during many sessions because of the non sufficient quorum. That means more than 138 out of 275 lawmakers were absent and they did not do their national duties which they were elected for.
Reminder, March 20th, there's a DC action being called by A.N.S.W.E.R. and others.
Brandon notes Stephen C. Webster's "D.C. Court of Appeals: Obama’s Detention Powers not Limited by Laws " (World Can't Wait):
The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Tuesday that upholds the Bush administration's broad claims of executive power to detain non-citizens.
The case, Al-Bihani v. Obama, "was the first by the Circuit Court to directly apply the Supreme Court's 2008 decision in Boumediene v. Bush creating a constitutional right for Guantanamo Bay detainees to challenge their captivity,"according to the SCOTUS blog. "Unless reviewed and overturned either by the en banc Circuit Court or the Supreme Court, the new decision will control how scores of detainee cases are resolved in District Court in Washington."
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