Thursday, July 08, 2010

Attacks on pilgrims continue in Iraq

Timothy Williams and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) report this morning, "Less than a day after a suicide bomber killed more than 50 people in a crowd of Shiite pilgrims at a police checkpoint in Baghdad, more explosions struck worshipers on Thursday, killing seven and wounding about 60 despite intensive efforts by Iraqi security forces to foil such attacks." Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News) offers this opinion, "By targeting Shia pilgrims, it seems clear that the bombers are intent on reigniting that sectarian violence which nearly tore the country apart." Sounds like someone's been sniffing their own gas bagging. It seems clear that pilgrims are targeted for the reason that they've always been targeted -- they're out in the open, it's easy to plant road bombs on their paths and route which are known ahead of time. Sometimes, Gabe, a banana is just a banana. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) explains, "Security measures included using vehicles to transport pilgrims; thousands of deployed troops; security cameras in and around the shrine; aerial surveillance; and 500 personnel to combat the threat of female suicide bombers."

Reuters notes the following violence taking place today: Ramadi roadside bombing claimed the lives of 4 police officers and left six injured, a Kirkuk sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 person and left another injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 3 lives and injured thirty-one people, a Baghdad car bombing injured eleven people and a Baghdad roadside bombing injured fourteen people.

The Iraq Inquiry has no public hearing today. It did release the following:

The Iraq Inquiry has now heard from 35 witnesses in private. This means that by the end of the this round of public hearings, the Inquiry will have heard from more than 140 witnesses. Sir John Chilcot made clear at the start of the Inquiry that whilst the Committee is determined to hold as many of its proceedings in public as possible, there were circumstances where a private hearing would be necessary. These were laid out in the Inquiry’s protocols.

Iraq Inquiry Chairman Sir John Chilcot, said:

“These hearings have given the Inquiry valuable evidence which could have not be heard in public session without damaging national security or international relations. They have supplemented the Inquiry’s understanding as it takes forward its public work.”

Some witnesses gave evidence in private because the evidence concerned matters which, if revealed in public, could damage national security or other vital national interests. In some cases, sessions took place in private because of the personal circumstances of the witnesses, either because of the organisations for whom they worked, or because they were relatively junior officials at the time that they served in Iraq or were giving evidence as part of a group with other people who were junior officials at the time.

The witnesses who gave evidence in private were:

The Hon Dominic Asquith CMG Director Iraq, 2004 to 2006

HM Ambassador to Iraq, 2006 to 2007
Major General Graham Binns CBE DSO MC General Office Commanding Multi National Division (South East), 2007 to 2008
Major General Adrian Bradshaw CB OBE Commander 7th Brigade 2003
Edward Chaplin CMG OBE HM Ambassador to Iraq, 2004 to 2005
Sir Richard Dearlove KCMG OBE Chief SIS, 2001 to 2004
Tim Dowse CMG Chief of Assessments Staff, 2003 to 2009
Sir William Ehrman KCMG Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee, 2004 to 2005
Sir Jeremy Greenstock GCMG HM Ambassador to the United Nations, 1998 to July 2003

UK Special Representative for Iraq, 2003 to 2004
Martin Howard CB Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence, 2003 to 2004

Director General Operational Policy, 2004 to 2007
Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Lamb KBE CBE DSO General Officer Commanding Multi National Division (South East), 2003 to 2003

Senior British Military Representative – Iraq, 2006 to 2007
Major General Michael Laurie CBE Director General Intelligence Collection, 2002 to 2003
Ian Lee Director General Operational Policy, Ministry of Defence, 2002 to 2004
Sir David Manning GCMG CVO Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister, 2001 to 2003

HM Ambassador to Washington 2003 to 2007
Julian Miller CB Chief of Assessments Staff, 2001 to 2003
Christopher Prentice CMG HM Ambassador to Iraq, 2007 to 2009
Sir John Scarlett KCMG OBE Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee, 2003 to 2004

Chief of SIS, 2004 to 2009
Major Gen Jonathan Shaw CBE General Officer Commanding Multi National Division (South East) 2007
Sir Kevin Tebbit KCB CMG Permanent Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence, 1998 - 2005
Major General Tim Tyler CB Deputy Commander Iraq Survey Group, 2004
Simon Webb CBE Policy Director, Ministry of Defence, 2001 to 2004

Ian Lee provided a statement to the Inquiry, this has been published.

The Committee heard from a further six members of the SIS.

The Inquiry held two hearings with the following DFID and FCO officials who served in Iraq:

Jonny Baxter Head of DFID Baghdad, 2007 to 2008
Lindy Cameron Head of DFID Baghdad, 2004 to 2005
Simon Collis Consul General Basra, 2004 to 2005
Tim Foy Head of DFID Baghdad, 2005 to 2006

Head of PRT Basra and reviewer of PRT 2006
Richard Jones Consul General Basra, 2007 to 2008
Kathleen Reid Head of DFID Basra, 2007 to 2008
James Tansley Consul General Basra, 2005 to 2006
Rob Tinline Head of PRT Basra, 2007 to 2008
John Tucknott Deputy Head of Mission Baghdad, 2007 to 2009

The protocol allows for junior officials to give their evidence in private. As the Inquiry wanted to hear from these junior witnesses alongside other more senior witnesses who served in Iraq at the same time, the Committee decided to hear from all of them in private. Most of the content of these evidence sessions did not require protection under the protocol. The Inquiry will therefore publish transcripts of these sessions.

The Inquiry has published an updated ‘Protocol for witnesses giving evidence to the Iraq Inquiry’. This provides further detail on the conduct of private hearings but does not change the grounds upon which a witness might give evidence in private. The Inquiry is committed to being open and transparent and will publish as much of the evidence from these hearings as possible. The Protocol sets out the approach the Inquiry will take to considering how best to draw on and explain in public what was covered in private.

In other news, Jack Phillips (Epoch Times) reports, "Representative Charles Rangel said no more tax dollars should be spent on 'hunkering down in Iraq and Afghanistan' and if the people in the United States really support the conflicts, then Congress should be willing to set up a draft."

Debra Sweet's "Torture Goes on at Bagram" (World Can't Wait):

Join a World Can't Wait conference call moderated by War Criminals Watch advisory board member Ray McGovern, featuring Josh Herlands, on the International Justice Network's team, which is doing crucial work exposing the on-going use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" at Bagram prison --while the Obama administration fights against the right for all Bagram prisoners to habeas corpus.

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