Monday, February 08, 2010

Jack Straw prepares to testify again, St. Tony of the Fan Rags plays Drama Queen

In London, the Iraq Inquiry continues today and among the witnesses will be Jack Straw who will be providing testimony for the second time. ITN notes, "Jack Straw will return to the Iraq Inquiry later to answer questions about why he rejected advice from Government lawyers that the war would be illegal." BBC News reminds of his last appearance before the committee:

By his own account, Mr Straw played a pivotal role in the war - if he had objected, the UK would not have invaded Iraq.
When Mr Straw's own legal adviser told him an invasion without a second UN resolution would amount to a crime of aggression, he rejected the advice.
Former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has told the BBC's Hardtalk programme that he was "puzzled" by Mr Straw's earlier evidence to the inquiry.
Mr Straw had told the panel that a report drawn up by Mr Blix on the eve of the war had "made an indelible impression" on him and that it "convinced me that Iraq's non-compliance with Security Council requirements going back to 1991 was profound".
But Mr Blix said he found such a reaction "amazing" as "there was nothing sensationally new in that document".

Meanwhile the UK's Liberal Democrats issued the following today:

Commenting ahead of Jack Straw's appearance today at the Iraq Inquiry, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary, Edward Davey has set out three key questions that must be answered.
Commenting, Edward Davey said:
"Jack Straw has systematically hidden the truth about the advice he received from Foreign Officer Legal Advisers and the Attorney General over the legality of the Iraq war. He's tried to hoodwink the Cabinet, Parliament and then the British people in his cover up.
"How can any judge or lawyer, let alone the British people, have confidence in the Minister in charge of our legal system when he has apparently shown such reckless disregard for the legal advice he’s given, the Ministerial Code he's supposed to keep to and the demands of the Freedom of Information Act he piloted through Parliament.
"Unless he can provide the Chilcot Inquiry with some plausible explanation for these actions, he can surely no longer remain as the Secretary of State for Justice.
"Sir John Chilcot and his colleagues therefore must be fair today to the Secretary of State for Justice – they must allow Jack Straw this final chance to clear his name."

Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) live blogs Straw's testimony
. Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger live blogs at Twitter.

Meanwhile wearing so much make up he should have been taking part in a drag show, Tony Blair appeared on Fox News yesterday. Nico Hines (Times of London -- link has text and a video snippet of the interview) reports St Tony of the Fan Rags "dismissed the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war as part of Britain’s obsession with conspiracy and scandal." There's no hidden conspiracy, Tones, just a criminal one and maybe Cherie will represent you before the Hague. Then again, she might make you first promise to stay out of her make up. While the Poodle pretends his illegal war was legal, Stephen Moss (Guardian) speaks with Justice Tom Bingham (who retired in 2008)about his new book The Rule of Law:

The most powerful parts of the book are the chapters dealing with the international legal order and ­terrorism. He condemns the Iraq war of 2003 as illegal. His language in the book is ­considered, but the force of his conclusion inescapable. "It is not at all clear to me what, if any, legal justification of its action the US government relied on . . . If I am right and the invasion of Iraq . . . was unauthorised by the security council, there was a serious violation of international law and the rule of law . . . It is, as has been said, 'the difference ­between the role of world policeman and world vigilante.' "
"I took the view which Michael Wood and Elizabeth Wilmshurst [legal advisers to the Foreign Office in 2003] took – that it simply wasn't authorised," he tells me. "The whole of the Foreign Office thought this." Did he express that view to the government at the time, in his position as senior law lord? "No, it would have been quite improper for me to do that. I wouldn't have dreamed of making this statement at a time when I could still have found myself in a position to rule on this question judicially, which seemed a possibility."
Should Michael Wood, the chief legal adviser, have resigned when the government ignored his advice, as Elizabeth Wilmshurst, his deputy, did? "I think he has behaved with ­extraordinary dignity and correctness," says Bingham. "He says he was never called on to defend the advice, and has maintained total discretion and silence at the time and since. I know him quite well and he never breathed a word. No one knew what his position had been. I wouldn't criticise him. After all, the senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office at the time of the Suez expedition was totally against it, and he didn't resign."
Was he surprised that Jack Straw ­appeared to boast to the Chilcot ­inquiry that he often went against the legal advice he was given, as home ­secretary as well as foreign secretary? "I did find that slightly surprising." You have to imagine the drawled, characteristically English ­understatement here. "Michael Wood drew attention to the fact that the ministerial code obliges ministers to act in accordance with national and international law, so it isn't really good enough to say I don't take the advice of law officers."

Today on The Diane Rehm Show, the first hour is the job's agenda and guests include Dean Baker, Mark Zandi, Rea Hederman and the Wall St. Journal's Jennifer Merritt. The second hour is Politico's Eamon Javers discussing his new book Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage. The book is released tomorrow and you can read an excerpt here (Wall St. Journal) and here (Politico). The Diane Rehm Show begins airing on most NPR stations -- and streaming online live -- at 10:00 a.m. EST.

In yesterday's Washington Post, Anthony Loverde wrote about how Don't Ask, Don't Tell effected his life:

In April 2008, I told my commander that I am gay. He had been with me in Iraq, conducting combat flight missions in the face of small-arms fire, surface-to-air missiles and adverse weather. "It's been an honor to serve with you," he told me. "If you need anything just let me know." Then he sent me home.
By telling someone that I am gay, I had violated federal law -- a law that the military's leadership has finally acknowledged is wrong. "Speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do," Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.
It's more than just the right thing to do. It's needed to keep our country safe, and it will not disrupt discipline in our armed forces. How do I know? Because after I came out, I accepted a position doing the same job that I did when I was enlisted.

And Russ Feingold and Lee Hamilton take on the lack of funds for Congress to provide oversight of the intel community at the Wall St. Journal. Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Stuffed Shirt" went up yesterday. And we'll close with this from David Bacon's "Farm Labor in Oxnard" (ImmigrationProfBlog):

At 5:00 in the morning, farm workers line the sidewalks on Cooper Road in La Colonia, the Mexican barrio of Oxnard, looking for work. Labor contractors or riteros (people who sell rides to the fields) stop and pick people up from this shape-up, for work picking strawberries, raspberries or other kinds of farm labor.
At the edge of town, a crew of farm workers cuts and packs celery for Hiji Brothers, a local rancher. As the crew moves through the field, cutters cut and trim the bunches. Cutters work quickly, often getting ahead of the rest of the crew. They stop and sharpen their knives, which they give a razor edge so that they can make three clean cuts in a blur -- at the bottom, the top, and then trimming the sides of each bunch. Cutters are followed by packers, who pick up the bunches, bag them, and pack them into boxes on a metal carrier they push down the rows. Behind the packers, staplers close the boxes and loaders throw them onto shipping pallets, held by a big forklift. Celery is a better-paying job in farm labor, and workers usually work by piecerate.
In another field, the strawberry harvest has just started. There aren't a lot of ripe berries yet, so workers are still paid by the hour. It's been raining for weeks, so between the raised beds of strawberries, covered in plastic, the water has turned the rows into trenches filled with mud.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

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