Monday, May 16, 2011

Deployments, revelations

Scott Wasserman (Twin Cities Fox 9 -- link has text and video) reports, "It's the second largest deployment of Minnesota Guard members since World War II. Over 2,400 men and women are preparing to leave home so they can serve in Iraq." He notes that they will be deployed in Iraq for "about a year." ABC Newspapers note, "A total of 460 soldiers will be leaving Minnesota May 22 for training before departing for the Middle East." Last Thursday, Corey Dickstein (Savannah Morning News) reported, "Fort Stewart officials announced Thursday that the 3rd Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion will be deployed to Iraq in late fall to support Operation New Dawn."

The Iraq Inquiry has been ongoing since 2009. The London-based inquiry is headed by John Chilcot. Irfan Husain (Pakistan's Dawn) brings everyone up to date:

When Gordon Brown asked Sir John Chilcot to head a commission to enquire into the Iraq war, few expected it to come up with anything earthshaking. Chilcot was widely seen as a "safe pair of hands", and a pro-establishment mandarin who was not known to rock the boat.
And so it has proved to be: in a series of interviews with the principal actors in the run-up to the bloody but unnecessary war, no great revelations have emerged. The effect of being grilled by Chilcot has been likened to "being mauled by a toothless sheep". Tony Blair was allowed to drone on for hours, expanding on all the reasons why he thought the war was a good idea. His misuse of intelligence was not seriously questioned by the commission, and he was permitted to leave scot free, with his loathsome grin in place.
Blair's powerful spin doctor Alastair Campbell was similarly let off the hook. This despite widespread charges in the media that he had been a key player who had used his proximity to Blair to bully the British intelligence community into sexing up the dodgy intelligence dossier that was used by Blair into persuading Parliament to authorise him to attack Iraq.
But now, after Chilcot had interviewed all the witnesses in the drama, a senior intelligence officer has claimed that Campbell lied in his testimony. Major General Michael Laurie, director general of the Defence Intelligence Staff, responsible for collating and analysing raw intelligence data before the Iraq war, has delivered a bombshell that has produced a gaping hole in the Blair-Campbell narrative.

The Laurie revelations remind many of BBC News' 2003 reporting (first on the Today show, the reporting that the intel was "sexed up") by Andrew Gilligan which were slammed by Tony Blair's supporters and led to heads rolling at the BBC. Ian Burrell (Independent of London) pursues that angle and notes:

John Kampfner, who was a political correspondent on Today but left before the 2003 controversy, said the BBC should have done more to stand up to the New Labour government. "There was absolutely no willingness on behalf of the governors to do anything but raise the white flag," he said. "It was a wholesale capitulation instead of what should have been a partial expression of regret for certain procedures of oversight with an agreement to disagree on the substance and [an expression of] support for courageous journalism." What was already a cautious news organisation took on a culture of being fearful of "sticking your neck out", he said.

Suzanne Moore (Daily Mail) offers her oww reflections:

Both Labour and the Tories, remember, voted for a war that many thought was Bush’s folly.
We were repeatedly told that they had access to knowledge that we didn’t, and the Labour machine spun itself dizzy trying to frighten us with the prospect of Saddam about to launch a missile attack at any second.
Some Ministers have vaguely apologised but many still maintain they thought they were doing the right thing, believing what many suspected at the time to be flawed intelligence.
Blair has God as his judge and Alastair Campbell is forever on TV, sometimes as an expert in mental health, sometimes on politics.
He often features on the BBC, the organisation he sought to bring to its knees.
Greg Dyke may have lost his job and David Kelly taken his life, but Campbell’s views are still sought after.
Thousands of Iraqis are dead, military families are still lost in grief but those who pushed for this war appear to have lost little.
Sure, there have been the inquiries – Butler, Hutton, Chilcot – where they have been cleared of wrongdoing. But evidence is still coming in to Chilcot.

Today on Law and Disorder Radio (which I don't think broadcasts on WBAI today due to fund raising -- I could be wrong -- but it broadcasts around the country throughout the week), Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith are joined by attorney Daniel Mayfield to explore an attempt to shut down student speech -- specifically the 11 Muslim students who protested a speech at the University of California at Irvine and, with Omar Barghouti, they explore divestment, sanctions, boycotts and other strategies in the pursuit of rights for the Palestinians.

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