It is 2015. In November 2009, the Iraq Inquiry began hearing testimony from witnesses. The British government set up the inquiry to determine the United Kingdom's action and role in the Iraq War. Testimony ended in February 2011 and it was thought that by the end of the year a report would be issued. It is now four years later and still no report.
John Chilcot was the chair of the Committee. He continues to receive a salary for that post.
And the report has still not been issued.
British politicians have long criticized the delay -- often around election time since the Labour Party backed the illegal war and both the Liberal Democratic and Conservative Parties can, presumably, use a report slamming Labour to their advantage.
British politicians -- including some Labour members -- have also criticized the delay if they were publicly against the war.
In addition, antiwar groups in the UK, such as Stop the War, have demanded the report be released.
As the delays have mounted, pretty much everyone has criticized the long wait.
And they all have a right to.
That's what free speech is.
But today, John Chilcot did something that might seem 'good guy of him' but was actually both insulting and wrong.
BBC News reports:
Sir John Chilcot has tried to explain to families of UK soldiers killed in Iraq why his inquiry is taking so long following threats of legal action.In a statement, he said he understood their "anguish", but responses from those criticised in the report had opened up new lines of inquiry.
Here's his statement in full:
In the light of recent comment and speculation I am making the following statement on behalf of the Iraq Inquiry.
I should like firstly to reiterate that my colleagues and I understand the anguish of the families of those who lost their lives in the conflict.
We take the responsibility we were given as an independent inquiry extremely seriously and understand the need for Government, Parliament and the public to see our report as soon as possible.
The inquiry was tasked by Mr Gordon Brown, as Prime Minister, with drawing lessons from the UK's involvement in the Iraq conflict between 2001 and 2009.
In its scope and length, this is an inquiry mandate for which there is no precedent.
We have been guided throughout by a number of key principles:
:: The inquiry is independent and impartial.
With the agreement of Parliament, we were asked to conduct our work within the established tradition of independent Inquiries and to determine our own procedure.
:: We wished the process to be as open as possible.
At our insistence, the large majority of the hearings were held in public, with witnesses speaking for themselves and not through lawyers.
:: In the interests of openness, we agreed that the Government should give us access to all relevant documents; and have made a large number of requests for declassification of documents, including prime ministerial notes and telephone calls with the US president.
This has taken a considerable time.
Some documents have been received only this year.
The declassification process continues.
We intend to publish a large number of documents with our report.
:: We intend the report to be rigorous, accurate, and firmly based on the evidence we have assembled.
:: It is critically important that the report should be fair to all who participated in the conflict and to those who bore the responsibility of taking decisions.
Since the autumn of 2009 the inquiry has held more than 130 sessions of witness evidence and received more than 150,000 documents.
Given the scale of the task of assembling a reliable account of a nine-year period and drawing conclusions on a wide range of issues, it became apparent as the work proceeded that the report would have to be very long and would take a considerable time to produce.
I reflected that in my published letters to the Prime Minister and in the evidence I gave to the Foreign Affairs Committee in February 2015.
We have for some time been engaged in the 'Maxwellisation' process, in which individuals are given the opportunity to respond to provisional criticism of themselves in the inquiry's draft report.
Some have questioned why Maxwellisation is happening at all.
We consider it an essential part of the inquiry's procedures, in order to ensure that conclusions drawn by the Inquiry are robust and that any criticism included in the final report is soundly based, fair and reasonable.
Maxwellisation is a confidential process - both the inquiry and the individuals involved have made a commitment to that effect, which we still consider to be an essential part of ensuring fairness to individuals and intend to maintain.
Importantly, when witnesses agreed to give evidence to the inquiry, they did so on the basis of the inquiry's witness protocol, which says that: "If the inquiry expects to criticise an individual in the final report, that individual will, in accordance with normal practice, be provided with relevant sections of the draft report in order to make any representations on the proposed criticism prior to publication of the final report."
Individuals have not been given an open-ended timescale and Maxwellisation is not a process of negotiation.
The inquiry has remained in control of its deadlines throughout the process.
In some cases, the response sent to us required detailed and complex analysis which has taken time.
The Maxwellisation process is essential not only to the fairness but also the accuracy and completeness of our report.
It has already led, for example, to the identification of government documents which had not been submitted to the inquiry and which have in some cases opened up new issues.
We expect to receive the last responses to our Maxwellisation letters shortly.
That will allow us to complete our consideration of the responses, to decide what further work will be needed, and to provide the Prime Minister and thus Parliament and the public with a timetable for the publication of our work.
Lastly, as has been reported, we have received a letter from lawyers acting for a group of families.
I can confirm that, after careful thought, we have responded to the points they raised.
I don't intend to comment on the substance of that response and such letters are not normally published.
The Iraq War is not a private matter.
War, by its horrific nature, is a public event.
While families who lost loved ones have every right to put their voices out there in the public square, the illegal war was declared by a government and that government has to be responsive to the people -- all the people.
But those families suffered.
I'm sorry, where's Chilcot's statement to the people of Iraq?
Because for every British family who lost someone in Iraq, I'm sure there are at least a hundred Iraqi families who lost someone in the illegal war.
A public inquiry into a war is not a private club for those who feel they have lost more than others.
It is a public inquiry.
Chilcot has failed repeatedly to address the delay but now, because he looks bad in the press as the parents of various slain British soldiers speak out, he chooses to speak.
He should have kept his mouth closed.
There is no excuse for the continued delay.
There is also no excuse for the chair of the Committee to ignore public complaint after public complaint and then finally choose to respond to one group because he fears bad publicity.
And it needs to never be forgotten that no one has lost more in the Iraq War than the Iraqi people. So the next time Chilcot wants to pretend to be sympathetic, he might try issuing a statement to them instead.
The Iraq War has not ended, nor has the suffering of the Iraqi people. This week saw the publication of Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi's "The battle for your hearts and minds in Falluja" (Medium.com):
On 13th August 2015, the Iraqi government bombed the Fallujah Maternity and Neonatal Hospital, killing 31 people, including 23 women and children.
This incident was widely reported in the Western media; though the coverage was perhaps cursory and even dismissive by labeling it an “IS-held” hospital. Nevertheless, information about this atrocity was available to the Western world, as is information about the many similar atrocities committed by the Iraqi government since the start of their war against the Sunni uprising and the Islamic State in December 2013.
This was in fact the 40th time that the Iraqi government has bombed a hospital in Fallujah, and in Fallujah alone over 4,000 civilians have been killed and 5,200 wounded in the last 20 months of government attack.
The United States has also been complicit in these killings; first by shipping weapons to the Iraqi government to facilitate their internal repression of Sunnis, and then by reinitiating a campaign of airstrikes in the Sunni majority provinces of Iraq in August 2014.
The bombing of the maternity hospital, as we noted in real time, should have immediately halted all US weapons to Iraq and all US military aid.
That's not based on outrage, that's based on the law -- including the Leahy Amendment -- which does not allow the US to supply weapons and military aid to a foreign government that then uses the supplied to attack their own civilian population.
Attacking a maternity hospital is even more outrageous than attacking a general hospital -- and attacking a general hospital is a War Crime.
Ross Caputi's article explores how public opinion was manipulated by the US government during the 2004 battles in Falluja. It's an important aspect of the story. But beyond exploring that past, he also notes the reality of life in Falluja today:
This is more than history, however. The bloodbath in Fallujah is ongoing.
At the time of writing, Iraqi and Iranian troops are massing around Fallujah for a much anticipated assault on the city, which they regard as being essential to their campaign to clear Anbar province of ISIS.
This assault will not take place on an empty battlefield, but in people’s neighborhoods, around their mosques and hospitals.
Fallujans are caught between a brutal sectarian government supported by the US and Iran on the one hand, and the Islamic State on the other: they will surely pay a heavy price.
Every day they suffer and far too many press outlets -- and, sadly, also Antiwar.com -- ignore that suffering and instead present falling bombs as killing 'terrorists.'
Anbar Province is not a depopulated field.
It is home to over 1.5 million civilians (conservative estimate).
And yet bombs are dropped constantly.
And the Iraqi government and the US government announce the death of X number of 'terrorists.'
The Iraqi military has been bombing Falluja since January 2014, bombing the civilian residential neighborhoods. This started under then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and continues under the new prime minister Haider al-Abadi.
More recently, May 26th saw the start of Haider's assault on Anbar in which he was going to retake specific areas (such as Ramadi -- the key focus) back from the Islamic State
The operation, now having completed its third month, has nothing to brag about.
It's a failure, an ongoing failure.
So what does Haider do?
Yesterday, Stephen King and Ruth Pitchford (Reuters) reported that Iraq's prime minister had declared the battle for Baiji to be crucial. (Haider doesn't note it but All Iraq News does: Baiji's been under the control of the Islamic State since June 2014.)
Time to announce a new mission when your current one is a failure.
And US President Barack Obama has only made it more of a failure.
Over one year ago, he declared the only answer to Iraq's crises was a political solution.
Instead of working on that, he began bombing Iraq in August of last year.
Bombing Iraq is not helping.
It's not defeating the Islamic State.
It's destroying property and people.
And it gives the pretense that something is being done.
And, again, people who should know better whore. Here's Margaret Grffis (Antiwar.com) on today's air strikes:
In Bashir, militants wounded two Shi’ite militiamen during an attack.
Fifty militants were killed in strikes on Wailiya.
An airstrike on a convoy near the Syrian border in Anbar left 27 militants dead, including two of their leaders.
In Mosul¸ a missile strike killed 10 militant leaders. An internal power struggle left 13 militants dead. Three militant women were killed in an armed attack.
In Barwana, airstrikes left 10 militants dead and seven wounded.
Twelve militants were killed when warplanes bombed two houses in Khalidiya.
The US government doesn't need to send PSYOP operators back into CNN -- not when an alleged anti-war outlet is repeating government claims that can't be backed up, repeating them as facts.
There may (or may not) be, for example, the fact that 27 people were killed in an airstrike "near the Syrian border in Anbar," but there is no way to determine who those people killed were.
And yet Antiwar.com -- begging for money for the supposed quality work they do -- parrots the government that the dead were not civilians.
Dropping back to the August 3rd snapshot:
As we noted in the July 25th snapshot, bombing is not helping Iraq and Iraq is not an empty field but instead a populated country with over 30 million people. Barack's bombing campaign means bombs are falling on people.
If that's confusing to you, Airwars maintains US-led strikes on Iraq and Syria have killed between 489 and 1,247 civilians. Cora Currier (The Intercept) reminds, "Next Saturday marks the first anniversary of the United States’ bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq. Over the past year, a U.S.-led coalition including Canada, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and other European and Gulf states has carried out over 5,800 airstrikes against the group in Iraq and Syria."
In related news, Samuel Oakford (Vice News) reports, "The UN said Monday that it is looking into reports that as many as 40 civilians were killed in an airstrike near Ramadi last Friday, an incident that could be the latest deadly attack to hit innocent bystanders in the campaign by the Iraqi government and a US-led coalition against the self-styled Islamic State (IS)."
And that last bit?
About the airstrike in Ramadi?
The one that may have killed as many as 40 civilians on Friday, July 31, 2015?
Anyone remember how Margaret Griffis and Antiwar reported that?
Like this: "Security forces killed 33 militants in Ramadi."
Help me out here.
Is it or is not Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo who can never stop scorning disgraced journalist Judith Miller?
But Judith Miller is publicly disgraced today.
Why isn't Antiwar.com?
They've never corrected "militants" killed.
They do that every damn day.
They do what Judith Miller did: They parrot officials claims as facts.
August 21st, Justin was back to shrieking about Judith Miller and insisting:
That’s what happened in the early part of this decade when our “news” media, in collaboration with the US government, poisoned the discourse with totally false stories about Iraq’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction” – which everyone was sure Saddam Hussein was readying for a strike.
But who's doing the false stories today?
What outlet is insisting bombs kills "militants" based on the claims of government officials?
That would by Raimondo's Antiwar.com.
And there's no point in taking the outlet seriously when they call out the awful Judith Miller for being a propaganda outlet for the voices of government officials if Antiwar.com is going to do the same.
They have repeated every government official claim of dead "militants" or "terrorists" -- despite the fact that they can't confirm that and in spite of the growing awareness that civilians are being killed in these US-led bombings.
They proclaim themselves to be "antiwar" and yet in every violence summary on Iraq they endorse the lie that bombs dropped from planes only land on 'bad people.' Day after day, they promote war and bombings specifically with this nonsense pretense that "militants" are being killed.
There's no such thing as a smart bomb.
And, apparently, at Antiwar.com, there's no such thing as a smart reporter.
Brains aren't in short supply in Iraq and one person's managed to stand out for her smarts.
This is amazing & makes me so happy She's beautiful & a genius! RT & spread the word.