Thursday, January 14, 2010

The reviews are in and Alastair closed out of town

I don't doubt that, as in previous inquiries into the war, he twisted the truth a good deal in his 'evidence'.
But it dawned on me that he is no mere casual liar who calculatingly and cynically tells fibs.
He passionately believes in one cause - Tony Blair and the Iraq war - and, just as he was prepared to refashion reality when he and his master made the case for war, so he is happy to do so again nearly seven years later.
Anyone who disagrees with him is vilified: previous witnesses at the Chilcot Inquiry, such as Sir Christopher Meyer, former Ambassador to Washington, described as 'not accurate,' 'churlish' and 'glib'; the French, attacked several times because they had 'pulled the plug' on a UN resolution authorising force; the BBC, which had the temerity to allege he had 'sexed up' the case for war; and, of course, nearly all journalists, a group he thinks are mendacious, superficial or both.

The reviews for Alastair Campbell's Tuesday performance before the Iraq Inquiry continue to come in and they aren't pretty. The above is from Stephen Glover's "At last, we know the truth. The Iraq debacle was dreamt up by two crazy men on a sofa" (Daily Mail). From Quentin Letts' "Alastair Campbell, Haunt Us No More" (Forbes):

Campbell, who was effectively Blair's propaganda chief, gave evidence the other day to the London inquiry into the Iraq war. The inquiry has so far been a genteel, almost academic affair (its five members include two historians). It is being held in a small room whose windows have been blacked out by blinds. In all, it has been as untheatrical a business as you could imagine. More drama in the average supermarket queue.
But then Alastair Campbell turned up. Crash, bang, wallop. Flashbulbs popped, policemen barged a clear path through the throng of reporters, and Fleet Street's newspapers cleared their front pages to run pictures of the beaky, grim-faced Campbell swaggering back into public life.

Peter Wilby (New Statesman) expresses some concerns over Campbell's performance:

One of the drawbacks of putting those accused of war crimes on trial is that they can use the occasion as a public platform. I fear the Chilcot inquiry is doing just that. Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's director of communications and the guiding hand behind the dossiers that supposedly made the case for the Iraq war, showed no contrition, no admission of the slightest error, not even a hint of embarrassment. He said Britain should be "proud" of what it did in Iraq. I'm not sure even Blair would dare to say that.
Faced with a negative story, Campbell's technique was always to divert it by going on the attack. It was shown to brilliant effect when, with criticism of the war growing, Campbell went for the BBC and its reporter Andrew Gilligan over the claim that the September 2002 dossier was "sexed up". What ought to have been a story about Blair's errors became one about the BBC's. Campbell dealt similarly with Chilcot's questioning about the dossier's claim that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes.

Today the Iraq Inquiry holds no public hearing. They resume public hearings tomorrow with Maj Gen Graham Binns (General Officer Commanding Multi-National Division South East, August 2007 through February 2008) scheduled to offer testimony. Next week, they hold public hearings Monday through Friday. Jack Straw testifies Thursday and might be the big focus for the press were it not for the fact that reports circulate that Tuesday's witness, former UK Defence Secretary (2001-2005) Geoffrey Hoon has been pressured behind the scenes to go 'easy' on Tony Blair. Yesterday, the Inquiry heard from Nemat Shafik and Andrew Turnbull. Of Turnbull's testimony, Michael Savage (Independent of London) offers, "Tony Blair froze out anyone with concerns about the Iraq war and was not challenged on the issue by a Cabinet that had been "conditioned" to accept that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the Iraq inquiry has been told." Jim Pickard (Financial Times of London) emphasizes this aspect, "However, the US merely wanted the endorsement - rather the involvement - of the UN, according to Lord Turnbull. 'When Bush said the UN would have a vital role he was fobbing us off,' he said."

In the Netherlands, a finding was released that the Iraq War was illegal and the finding has political implications. John Tyler (Radio Netherlands) reports: "'I don't take anything back.' With these words in parliament late Wednesday night, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende summed up his attitude toward the Davids Commission report." Dutch News adds, "A cabinet crisis has been avoided. But only after a day of crisis negotiations among leaders of the three coalition partners. And only after the prime minister was pressured to admit that the mandate under international law to invade Iraq was weak. Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende has written to parliament to say the cabinet now accepts that 'a more adequate legal mandate' was necessary for the US and Britain to invade Iraq." From NRC's editorial "International law took back seat to politics:"

In 2002, when the ministry of Foreign Affairs had to think through the legitimacy of an invasion of Iraq, international law was misused to justify it. The Davids commission provides sad evidence of this in the form of a quote from an official at the ministry. That official described the legal basis for the invasion as “paper thin [but] maybe just sufficient for us to go along with it". During the official decision-making that followed, 'paper-thin' was thickened to 'thin', 'not cast-iron', and 'feeble' via 'sufficient', to the position that a new UN resolution providing a more solid legal basis was 'not essential'. Finally, the minister dared to pronounce the legal foundation for Dutch support "sufficient" and "adequate".
Even then, that was a risky position to adopt. The invasion was, after all, aimed at removing a government, while international law never offered an independent foundation for this. At the time, it was seen as high legal opportunism to stitch together 'collected' UN resolutions that Bagdad had failed to fulfil -- some of which were ten years old- and define them as a sort of collective justification for invasion.

Violence continues in Iraq. Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing injured one Iraqi soldier, 1 man was shot dead in Mosul and a drive-by shooting claimed the lives of 1 man and 1 woman in Mosul. Zhang Xiang (Xihua) reports a Baquba cart bombing has claimed 2 lives with ten more people wounded in a market and six shops destroyed, high schooler Sameer Aziz was shot dead in Khalis ("Aziz's Sunni family was displaced for two years from their home during the sectarian strife in the past years and his family has just returned home as the city witnessed a relative calm in recent few months, the source said.") and, dropping back to Wednesday night, Sahwa leader Khalid Hardan was shot dead in Edhaim (his uncle was also wounded).

The Detroit Green Party issued the following:

For Immediate Release: January 10, 2010

For More Information Contact:
Name: Derek Grigsby
Cell Phone: 313-706-2985

Detroit Green Party calls for outlawing of utility shutoffs
Stop the killing of our innocent sisters and brothers!
Outlaw utility shut-offs now!

Detroit, MI January 10, 2010 – In the week that ushered in the New Year, at least eight people died in four Detroit fires.

Why does this happen every winter in Detroit, over and over again?

"Detroit is a city with poor people often unable to pay their utilities. If they get behind in their payments; it's pretty difficult to get caught up. So when water or gas or electricity is turned off, they have a choice of doing without or rigging something up. This kind of access to power leads to fires every winter,” stated Detroit Green Party spokesperson Derek Grigsby. "DTE should be prevented from shutting-off electricity in the middle of winter. We should put the needs of ordinary people before the profits of a wealthy few."'

In the latest case, the three people who died were using walkers. They weren’t nimble enough to exit the house. By the time firefighters pulled two of the three out of the house and rushed them to nearby hospitals, they were pronounced dead.

While the immediate cause of the fire remains under investigation, the underlying cause is that in the midst of a deep economic crisis, where effectively half the city’s adult residents are unemployed, utilities are shut off for non-payment. Instead of a business-as-usual approach to people’s needs, we need to adopt a strategy of saving people’s lives by having a moratorium on the shut off of utilities and foreclosures.

In the latest case, Marvin Allen, 62, and his brother Tyrone Allen, 61, both handicapped, along with Tyrone's girlfriend, Lyn Grier, 59, died without any insurance. The family asked that donations be made for funeral services to the Allen Memorial Fund at any Comerica Bank Branch. The Detroit Greens has made a contribution, and encourages others, including DTE, to do so.

Detroit Green Party, a local of the Green Party of Michigan

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