Friday, May 13, 2011

Oil and death

Starting with an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers blogging at Inside Iraq in "Facing Death:"
I don't know how to start this blog. I am still under the effect of the shock that happened to me only less than an hour ago. I was about to lose my life and my lovely son because of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. 
    I used to bring sweets to my family every Thursday from a close bakery on the main street. Today I did the same thing but I went only about half an hour ago. My son Haider insisted to join me so I took him. In my way back home and Just less than ten steps from the sweets bakery, I hear sound of shooting and I thought that some kids are playing with fireworks. I was shocked to know the issue is bigger than my simple mind. I saw by my own eyes two young boys covering their faces with black scarves holding two pistols and shooting a broker inside his office in a very cool blood and walked away.
And some keep telling you how peaceful Iraq is and how the violence is over.  As big a lie as the claim that the Iraq War was legal or that it had nothing to do with oil.  From yesterday's snapshot:
** Moving over to England where new revelations emerged from the Iraq Inquiry.  The John Chilcot led inquiry hasn't heard testimony in months but they've released evidence that is in leading the news cycle in England.  Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) calls the release "devestating" and explains, "A top military intelligence official has said the discredited dossier on Iraq's weapons programme was drawn up "to make the case for war", flatly contradicting persistent claims to the contrary by the Blair government, and in particular by Alastair Campbell, the former prime minister's chief spin doctor.  In hitherto secret evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Major General Michael Laurie said: 'We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care'."  In his [PDF format warning] evidence released today, Laurie wrote:
Alistair Campbell said to the Inquiry that the purpose of the Dossier was not "to make a case for war". I had no doubt at that time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used.  The previous paper, drafted in February and March, known to us then also as the Dossier, was rejected because it did not make a strong enough case.  From then until September we were under pressure to find intelligence that could reinforce the case.  [Redacted passage.]  I recall Joe French frequently enquiring whether we were missing something; he was under pressure. We could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to WMD, generally concluding that they must have been dismantled, buried or taken abroad.  There has probably never  been a greater detailed scrutiny of every piece of ground in any country. 
During the drafting of the final Dossier, every fact was managed to make it as strong as possible, the final statements reaching beyond the conclusions intelligence assessments would normally draw from such facts.  It was clear to me that there was direction and pressure being applied on the JIC and its drafters.
In summary, we knew at the time that the purpose of the Dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care. 

The JIC is a collegiate body and has not, in any significant way, broken ranks over events.
But now, in the form of Michael Laurie, someone serving just below the top tier has expressed his displeasure about the way events have been characterised and particularly the extent to which those collecting intelligence were blamed for getting things wrong.
He is adamant the purpose of the dossier was, indeed, to make a case for war.
His assertion that there was direction and pressure on those drafting the dossier will be deeply uncomfortable for those associated with it.
Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) adds, "The Iraq Inquiry will not produce its final report until September at the earliest, almost a year after it was originally due, the Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot has disclosed. " *** [End of excerpt]
If you missed yesterday's snapshot because Blogger/Blogspot is having problems, remember we have the original backup site and this backup site as well.  The statements from Laurie continue to receive press attention but there's a new element in the mix as well. Duncan Gardham (Telegraph of London) reports:
The briefing note from the Chief of MI6's private secretary to Sir David Manning, Tony Blair's foreign policy adviser three months after the September 11 attacks, said there was "no convincing intelligence (or common sense) case" that Iraq supported Islamic extremists.
But it said the "removal of Saddam remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies" as well as "engage a powerful and secular state in the fight against Sunni extremist terror."
The briefing note further contradicts the story Tony Blair told the Iraq Inquiry by demonstrating that the desire for and decision to go to war took place long before what he publicly admits.  If you need to jog your memory on the official timeline, check out the one provided by the Telegraph of LondonOliver Wright (Independent of London) notes, "Oil was a key motivating factor behind the efforts to remove Saddam. 'The removal of Saddam remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies,' the officer writes."  Noting the oil revelations, Ian Drury (Daily Mail) observes:
The intelligence service also made clear in newly declassified papers that the 'prize' for removing the Iraqi dictator was 'new security to oil supplies'.
The documents will add weight to critics' claims that this was the real reason the U.S. and Britain went to war, and not because they feared Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.
The Iraq Inquiry has heard that Tony Blair had signalled that he would be willing to back 'regime change' in Iraq when he met President George W Bush in Texas in 2002.
But the latest papers highlight how the prospect of removing Saddam had been discussed by the then Prime Minister's inner circle months earlier.

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