Friday, January 29, 2010

Tony Blair pins the blame on 9-11

Currently the one-time prime minister who may have forever tained the Labour Party, the full-time War Criminal who should be behind bars, the forever poodle who spents years sniffing Bush's ass Tony Blair is giving six hours of testimony to the Iraq Inquiry in London. Major protests are and have been taking place while Tones tries to wash the blood off his hands. From Stop The War Coalition's "Protest on Tony Blair's Judgement Day: 29 January from 8am:"

Peoples Dossier
New Stop the War pamphlet

Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, Broad
Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE

On Friday 29 January, Tony Blair will try to explain to the Iraq Inquiry the lies he used to take Britain into an illegal war.

Writers, musicians, relatives of the dead, Iraqi refugees, poets, human rights lawyers, comedians, actors, MPs and ordinary citizens will join a day of protest outside the Inquiry to demand that this should be Tony Blair's judgement day.

There will be naming the dead ceremonies for the hundreds of thousands slaughtered in Blair's war. Military families who lost loved ones in Iraq will read the names of the 179 British soldiers killed.

Join us from 8.0am onwards.

Tony's already began testifying and we'll note this video of his testimony. A warning, before you view, for some strange reason, Blair has dyed his hair orange and is speaking after the Mayor of Quahog finishes interacting with citizens.

"9-11 was bad," declares Tony Blair in the video above (Seth MacFarlane) and though that's really Lois of Family Guy above, the reality is that really does capture the spirit of Tony's answers or 'answers.' 9-11 is his excuse for illegal war. He's lying relentlessly and hiding behind 9-11.

It's not going over well. Cambridge News reports:

But parents of soldiers killed in the conflict thought he was "smirking" and accused him of "disrespect".
One father walked out of an adjoining room where most of the families given access to the hearing were watching on a live monitor.
He left after just one hour and was overheard telling a friend that it was a "complete waste of time".
Sarah Chapman, from Cambridge, whose brother Sergeant Bob O’Connor died five years ago tomorrow, attacked Mr Blair's "smug appearance".

AFP also reports on the families' reactions:

Karen Thornton, 47, whose son Lee died in Iraq in 2006, was smoking a cigarette in a break from Blair's evidence outside the heavily guarded London conference centre where the inquiry is taking place.
She said she was "very angry" to see Blair, who has kept a relatively low profile in Britain since stepping down as prime minister in 2007, in public again.
"It's a whitewash. 9/11 has got nothing to do with us," she said, referring to Blair's comments that his views on the need to tackle Saddam Hussein toughened after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Though NPR's Morning Edition offers a segment which features the loud cries of protesters, they insist the Inquiry itself is just England's attempt to "move on." Yes, when I have a romantic break, I like to call all the witnesses and everyone who may have been involved and begin public hearings. Don't you?

The Financial Times of London live blogs the hearing here. Andrew Sparrow live blogs today's hearing for the Guardian. Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger live blogs at Twitter. Chris Ames is fact checking at Iraq Inquiry Digest. Reuters is offering "highlights" by Michael Holden, Keith Ware and Sonya Hepinstall.

If you're attempting to follow the feed, as Chris Ames notes, it is crashing. After the testimony is complete, it will be archived at the Inquiry's website (video and transcript). Oliver August (Times of London) reports on Iraqi reaction to Blair:

Sunni Muslims are mostly hostile as they fared well under Saddam Hussein, a Sunni himself. Abu Ahmed, a retired government employee, said: "This war has brought us nothing but death and destruction and those like Tony Blair who took the decision to invade Iraq must be tried for their crimes."
Many of the opinions voiced by Sunnis about Mr Blair are unprintable, often involving violence towards his family.
Some Shias, too, are hostile towards the former British Prime Minister, even though their sect now holds power in Iraq. Majid Abu Yasin, the owner of a plumping supplies store, said: "It's not that the war wasn't legal. It was. The outcome is the problem.
"Blair said he wanted to liberate Iraq, but now we have nothing but fear, not the freedom he talked about. People steal, kill, block the street or do whatever they want. That’s not what we wanted."

Philippe Naughton (Times of London) reports, "Several hundred demonstrators -- chanting 'Jail Tony' and 'Blair lied' -- gathered outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, although the former prime minister managed to slip in via a cordoned-off back entrance two hours before he was due to appear."

Right now (Inquiry), a strong question re: not communicating with the French and whether that was to avoid going for a second UN resolution was just asked. Tony Blair takes a basic question and spins it out of control. He didn't want things to become "ugly" he explains (lies) on the Security Council. "Ugly"? Because a war is so beautiful?

Blair is asked: Did Bush offer him a way out? Offer to go it alone?

Blair's view he says was "it was right for us to be with America since I believed in it too". He gets caught lying about how he hoped it would work -- he's corrected by the Committee about how he said earlier in his testimony he wasn't confident it would work.

Key moment when Tony Blair agrees with Committee Member Roderic Lyne's summary (Blair's comment after agreement). We'll pick up on that in the snapshot today (I'm flipping back and forth between phones while also trying to go through e-mails and I don't want to paraphrase and get it wrong).

CNN reports on his assertion that he believed in his 45 minute lie (UK could be attacked by Iraq in 45 with WMD that Iraq had -- Iraq had no WMD).

And a friend (on the phone) notes that the Socialist Worker just posted:

Tony Blair’s judgement day starts at Chilcot inquiry

by Sian Ruddick

Hundreds of people protested outside the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war this morning as Tony Blair arrived to give evidence.

The demonstration brought together school students, trade unionists and activists in a show of anger against the war crimes Blair committed in Iraq. It began at 8am in central London.

Protesters carried a coffin, symbolising the deaths of the over a million Iraqis in the war. Others wore Blair masks and covered their hands in fake blood.

Police set up cordons to keep the demonstration away from the entrance of the Queen Elizabeth conference centre near the Houses of Parliament. This did not happen when any of the other witnesses came to give evidence.

Many protesters felt the inquiry the chance for a final reckoning with Blair and the lies that formed the basis for war.

Carys is an FE student from south London. She told Socialist Worker, “This war has ruined Iraq and ruined Britain. No one trusts anything politicians say now. Tony Blair has made a joke of democracy here.”

There were many young people on the protest, including pupils on the way to a local school, who came in their uniforms.

Mark is 15 and came with some of his classmates. “British soldiers have been in Iraq for nearly half my life. That’s pretty scary isn’t it? Think of the children born in Iraq since 2003 – that’s all they’ve known.”

Among the demonstrators were writer and academic Paul Gilroy, music producer Brian Eno and Iraqi academic Sami Ramadani.

Sami told Socialist Worker, “Throughout the inquiry what is becoming clear is the degree of deception that Blair, Gordon Brown, that snake Jack Straw and all the others have been up to.

“It is clear now, even for those reserving judgement, that this pattern of deception was consciously built.”

“There is an attempt to repress the memory of Iraq, but the ecological and human consequences will be felt for generations”, said Paul Gilroy.

Artists, activists and leaders of the anti-war movement read the names of British soldiers and some of the Iraqis known to have been killed in the war.

Blair is due to leave the protest at 4pm. People are encouraged to join the protest, which is running all day, to call Tony Blair to real account.

The following should be read alongside this article:
» Tony Blair is guilty of mass murder
» Blair and Brown have blood on their hands
» Afghanistan: London conference will not stabilise the 'good war' gone bad
» Chilcot whitewash brings out the dirt
» Attempt to ban protest outside Tony Blair’s appearance at Iraq inquiry
» Protesters greet warmongers’ London Afghanistan conference
» Army drops several major charges against Joe Glenton

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

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In Iraq today, Reuters reports 2 Iraqi soldiers were injured in a Mosul shooting and four were injured in a Baghdad roadside bombing.

The Liberal Democrats have just released -- just -- the following:

“If Gordon Brown has nothing to hide then he should have no qualms making it crystal clear to Sir Gus that the Iraq Inquiry must have what it needs," said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Commenting on the Iraq Inquiry, Edward Davey said:

“Sir John Chilcot is absolutely right to demand detailed reasoning from the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell as to why he has rejected requests to make documents public.

“There is clearly growing pressure on the Cabinet Secretary to justify his actions in withholding publication of documents.

“If Gordon Brown has nothing to hide then he should have no qualms making it crystal clear to Sir Gus that the Iraq Inquiry must have what it needs.

“It is welcome news that Sir John may recall Tony Blair to the inquiry. The fact that Tony Blair cannot currently be questioned directly against these vital documents is totally unsatisfactory.”

And that's it, we're wrapping up. I could stay on the phone all day (getting suggestions on what to highlight) and keep working on this entry. But we need to wrap up here.

Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Peter Baker (New York Times), Dan Balz (Washington Post), Gloria Borger (CNN) and John Harris (Politico). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes NOrton, Tara Setmayer and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Quiet Professionals
In a rare chance to show America's elite Special Forces up close, "60 Minutes" spent over two months with a Green Beret unit as they trained a group of Afghan soldiers and then went into battle with them against the Taliban. Lara Logan reports. | Watch Video

White Hot
U.S. Snowboarder Shaun White, who took home the gold at the last Winter Olympics, is still the guy to beat as he shows Bob Simon some of the tricks he'll use next month in Vancouver. | Watch Video

Steve Kroft profiles the superstar singer on the road and backstage where she explains what makes her one of the world's most successful entertainers. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio notes. The Diane Rehm Show begins airing on most NPR stations (and begins streaming online live) at 10:00 am EST. The first hour, domestic hour, Diane's panelists are Jim Angle (Fox News), David Corn (Mother Jones) and Karen Tumulty (Time magazine). The second hour, international hour, her panelists are James Fallows (Atlantic Monthly), Tom Gjelten (NPR -- and listen to see if he makes fun of callers and laughs at them as he did the last time he was on Diane's show) and Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy). Remember that Diane's show is also archived and you can stream for free. (Today's show will be archived around 1:30 this afternoon -- EST.) And Tori notes that she's had trouble streaming from the archives on Fridays so she's just signed up for the podcast which she recommends (and which is free of charge).

Tony Blair is insisting that Peter Goldsmith is "absolutely a lawyer's lawyer". That may qualify as joke of the week. Blair insists that Goldsmith made it clear that "to be legally secure on this, we needed to go down the UN route." Really? When did he make that clear because until right before the start of the illegal war, according to Goldsmith, he was telling Blair a second resolution was needed.

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