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'And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet' Matthew 24:6
Shortly before his untimely death, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that "Al Qaeda" is not really a terrorist group but a database of international mujaheddin and arms smugglers used by the CIA and Saudis to funnel guerrillas, arms, and money into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Courtesy of World Affairs, a journal based in New Delhi, WMR can bring you an important excerpt from an Apr.-Jun. 2004 article by Pierre-Henry Bunel, a former agent for French military intelligence.
"I first heard about Al-Qaida while I was attending the Command and Staff course in Jordan. I was a French officer at that time and the French Armed Forces had close contacts and cooperation with Jordan . . .
"Two of my Jordanian colleagues were experts in computers. They were air defense officers. Using computer science slang, they introduced a series of jokes about students' punishment.
"For example, when one of us was late at the bus stop to leave the Staff College, the two officers used to tell us: 'You'll be noted in 'Q eidat il-Maaloomaat' which meant 'You'll be logged in the information database.' Meaning 'You will receive a warning . . .' If the case was more severe, they would used to talk about 'Q eidat i-Taaleemaat.' Meaning 'the decision database.' It meant 'you will be punished.' For the worst cases they used to speak of logging in 'Al Qaida.'
"In the early 1980s the Islamic Bank for Development, which is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, like the Permanent Secretariat of the Islamic Conference Organization, bought a new computerized system to cope with its accounting and communication requirements. At the time the system was more sophisticated than necessary for their actual needs.
"It was decided to use a part of the system's memory to host the Islamic Conference's database. It was possible for the countries attending to access the database by telephone: an Intranet, in modern language. The governments of the member-countries as well as some of their embassies in the world were connected to that network.
"[According to a Pakistani major] the database was divided into two parts, the information file where the participants in the meetings could pick up and send information they needed, and the decision file where the decisions made during the previous sessions were recorded and stored. In Arabic, the files were called, 'Q eidat il-Maaloomaat' and 'Q eidat i-Taaleemaat.' Those two files were kept in one file called in Arabic 'Q eidat ilmu'ti'aat' which is the exact translation of the English word database. But the Arabs commonly used the short word Al Qaida which is the Arabic word for "base."
The military air base of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is called 'q eidat 'riyadh al 'askariya.' Q eida means "a base" and "Al Qaida" means "the base."
"In the mid-1980s, Al Qaida was a database located in computer and dedicated to the communications of the Islamic Conference's secretariat.
"In the early 1990s, I was a military intelligence officer in the Headquarters of the French Rapid Action Force.
Because of my skills in Arabic my job was also to translate a lot of faxes and letters seized or intercepted by our intelligence services . . . We often got intercepted material sent by Islamic networks operating from the UK or from Belgium.
"These documents contained directions sent to Islamic armed groups in Algeria or in France. The messages quoted the sources of statements to be exploited in the redaction of the tracts or leaflets, or to be introduced in video or tapes to be sent to the media. The most commonly quoted sources were the United Nations, the non-aligned countries, the UNHCR and . . . Al Qaida.
"Al Qaida remained the data base of the Islamic Conference. Not all member countries of the Islamic Conference are 'rogue states' and many Islamic groups could pick up information from the databases.
It was but natural for Osama Bin Laden to be connected to this network. He is a member of an important family in the banking and business world.
"Because of the presence of 'rogue states,' it became easy for terrorist groups to use the email of the database. Hence, the email of Al Qaida was used, with some interface system, providing secrecy, for the families of the mujaheddin to keep links with their children undergoing training in Afghanistan, or in Libya or in the Beqaa valley, Lebanon. Or in action anywhere in the battlefields where the extremists sponsored by all the 'rogue states' used to fight. And the 'rogue states' included Saudi Arabia. When Osama bin Laden was an American agent in Afghanistan, the Al Qaida Intranet was a good communication system through coded or covert messages.
"Al Qaida was neither a terrorist group nor Osama bin Laden's personal property . . . The terrorist actions in Turkey in 2003 were carried out by Turks and the motives were local and not international, unified, or joint. These crimes put the Turkish government in a difficult position vis-a-vis the British and the Israelis. But the attacks certainly intended to 'punish' Prime Minister Erdogan for being a 'toot tepid' Islamic politician.
" . . . In the Third World the general opinion is that the countries using weapons of mass destruction for economic purposes in the service of imperialism are in fact 'rogue states," specially the US and other NATO countries.
" Some Islamic economic lobbies are conducting a war against the 'liberal" economic lobbies. They use local terrorist groups claiming to act on behalf of Al Qaida. On the other hand, national armies invade independent countries under the aegis of the UN Security Council and carry out pre-emptive wars. And the real sponsors of these wars are not governments but the lobbies concealed behind them.
"The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the 'devil' only in order to drive the 'TV watcher' to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money."
In yet another example of what happens to those who challenge the system, in December 2001, Maj. Pierre-Henri Bunel was convicted by a secret French military court of passing classified documents that identified potential NATO bombing targets in Serbia to a Serbian agent during the Kosovo war in 1998. Bunel's case was transferred from a civilian court to keep the details of the case classified. Bunel's character witnesses and psychologists notwithstanding, the system "got him" for telling the truth about Al Qaeda and who has actually been behind the terrorist attacks commonly blamed on that group. It is noteworthy that that Yugoslav government, the government with whom Bunel was asserted by the French government to have shared information, claimed that Albanian and Bosnian guerrillas in the Balkans were being backed by elements of "Al Qaeda." We now know that these guerrillas were being backed by money provided by the Bosnian Defense Fund, an entity established as a special fund at Bush-influenced Riggs Bank and directed by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith.
Published: 27 October 2005
The Government has been arguing before the House of Lords for the right to act on intelligence obtained by torture abroad. It wants to be able to use such material to detain people without trial in the UK, and as evidence in the courts. Key to its case is a statement to the Law Lords by the head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller. In effect she argues that torture works. It foiled the famous ricin plot.
She omits to mention that no more ricin was found than is the naturally occurring base level in your house or mine - or indeed that no poison of any kind was found. But let us leave that for now. She argues, in effect, that we need to get intelligence from foreign security services, to fight terrorism. And if they torture, so what? Her chief falsehood is our pretence that we don't know what happens in their dungeons. We do. And it is a dreadful story. Manningham-Buller is so fastidious she even avoids using the word "torture" in her evidence. Let alone the reality to which she turns such a carefully blind eye.
Manningham Buller also fails to mention that a large number of people have been tortured abroad to provide us with intelligence - because we sent them there to be tortured. The CIA's "extraordinary rendition" programme has become notorious. Under it, detainees have been sent around the world to key torture destinations. There is evidence of British complicity - not only do these CIA flights regularly operate from UK airbases, but detainees have spoken of British intelligence personnel working with their tormentors.
So the UK receives this intelligence material not occasionally, not fortuitously, but in connection with a regular programme of torture with which we are intimately associated. Uzbekistan is one of those security services from whose "friendly liaison" services we obtained information. And I will tell you what torture means.
It means the woman who was raped with a broken bottle in both vagina and anus, and who died after ten days of agony. It means the old man suspended by wrist shackles from the ceiling while his children were beaten to a pulp before his eyes. It means the man whose fingernails were pulled before his face was beaten and he was immersed to his armpits in boiling liquid.
It means the 18-year-old whose knees and elbows were smashed, his hand immersed in boiling liquid until the skin came away and the flesh started to peel from the bone, before the back of his skull was stove in.
These are all real cases from the Uzbek security services which we viewed as friendly liaison, and from which we obtained regular intelligence, in the Uzbek case via the CIA.
A month ago, that liaison relationship was stopped - not by us, but by the Uzbeks. But as Manningham-Buller sets out, we continue to maintain our position as customer to torturers in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco and many other places. The key point is that none of the these Uzbek victims were terrorists at all.
The great majority of those who suffer torture at the hands of these regimes are not terrorists, but political opponents. And the scale of this torture is vast. In Uzbekistan alone thousands, not hundreds, of innocent men, women and children suffer torture every year.
Across Manningham-Buller's web of friendly intelligence agencies, the number may reach tens of thousands. Can our security really be based on such widespread inhumanity, or is that not part of the grievance that feeds terrorism?
These other governments know that our security services lap up information from their torture chambers. This practical condoning more than cancels out any weasel words on human rights which the Foreign Office may issue. In fact, the case for the efficacy of torture intelligence is not nearly as clear-cut as Manningham-Buller makes out. Much dross comes out of the torture chambers. History should tell us that under torture people would choke out an admission that they had joined their neighbours in flying on broomsticks with cats.
We do not receive torture intelligence from foreign liaison security services sometimes, or by chance. We receive it on a regular basis, through established channels. That plainly makes us complicit. It is worth considering, in this regard, Article 4 of the UN Convention Against Torture, which requires signatories to make complicity with torture a criminal offence.
When I protested about these practices within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I was told bluntly that Jack Straw and John Scarlett, the head of MI6, had considered my objections, but had come to the conclusion that torture intelligence was important to the War on Terror, and the practice should continue. One day, the law must bring them to account.
A final thought. Manningham-Buller is arguing about the efficiency of torture in preventing a terrorist plot. If that argument is accepted, then in logic there is no reason to rely on foreign intermediaries. Why don't we do our own torturing at home? James VI and I abolished torture
- New Labour is making the first attempt in English courts to justify government use of torture information. Why stop there? Why can't the agencies work over terrorist suspects?
The Security Services want us to be able to use information from torture. That should come as no surprise. From Sir Thomas Walsingham on, the profession attracts people not squeamish about the smell of seared flesh from the branding iron. That is why we have a judiciary to protect us. I pray the Law Lords do.
The writer was British ambassador to Uzbekistan 2002-2004
London Independent / Marie Woolf, Raymond Whitaker and Severin Carrell
16 Oct 2005
A powerful coalition of judges, senior lawyers and politicians has warned that the Government is undermining freedoms citizens have taken for granted for centuries and that Britain risks drifting towards a police state. One of the country's most eminent judges has said that undermining the independence of the courts has frightening parallels with Nazi Germany.
Senior legal figures are worried that "inalienable rights" could swiftly disappear unless Tony Blair ceases attacking the judiciary and freedoms enshrined in the Human Rights Act.
Lord Ackner, a former law lord, said there was a contradiction between the Government's efforts to separate Parliament and the judiciary through the creation of a supreme court, and its instinct for directing judges how to behave. He cautioned against "meddling" by politicians in the way the courts operate.
"I think it is terribly important there should not be this apparent battle between the executive and the judiciary. The judiciary has been put there by Parliament in order to ensure that the executive acts lawfully. If we take that away from the judiciary we are really apeing what happened in Nazi Germany," he said.
Lord Ackner added that the Government's proposals to hold terrorist suspects for three months without charge were overblown. "The police have made a case for extending the two weeks but to extend it to three months is excessive."
Lord Lester QC, a leading human rights lawyer, expressed concern that the Government was flouting human rights law and meddling with the courts.
"If the Prime Minister and other members of the Government continue to threaten to undermine the Human Rights Act and interfere with judicial independence we shall have to secure our basic human rights and freedoms with a written constitution," he said.
Lord Carlile, a deputy High Court judge, warned against the whittling away of historic civil liberties. "We have to be acute about protecting what is taken for granted as inalienable rights. In the United States the Patriot Act included a system whereby a witness to a terrorist incident can be detained for up to a year. This is in the land of the free."
The senior barrister remarked that judges had now replaced MPs as the defenders of basic human rights."People use d to look to their MPs as the first port of call to deal with any perceived injustice by the executive. Now there is an increasing tendency for people to look to the judges to protect their liberties," he said.
Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said Tony Blair was transforming Britain into an authoritarian state. "In eight years he has dismantled centuries of judicial protection. Britain's reputation as the world's most tolerant nation is now under threat," he said.
If Mr Blair's proposed terror legislation was unamended, said Anthony Scrivener QC, "Britain would be a significant step closer to a police state". The Prime Minister spoke of "summary justice", said the lawyer: "It would be better named street justice."
This week the Law Lords will consider whether evidence obtained under torture abroad should be admissible in British courts. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said admitting such evidence would undermine one of Britain's basic freedoms."The Prime Minister is trying in his own words to try to tear up the rules of the game," she said. "The rules of liberal democracy are about no torture, free speech and fair trials. Every time he denigrates these he undermines the fabric of our society."
Marcel Berlins - Monday October 3, 2005 - The Guardian
Legally speaking, Walter Wolfgang's experience at the Labour party conference was even more bizarre than it first seemed. After being forcibly ejected he wanted to get back in but was stopped from doing so by the police, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
I don't believe the police had any legal right to do what they did. I've been reading section 44 and it's absolutely clear that its purpose is to give the police the power to stop and search. Not just to stop someone, full stop. The stopping is only there to lead to the searching.
But there is nothing I've seen in any of the reports to suggest that Mr Wolfgang was searched. If that's right, then the police were not entitled to use section 44. The whole act, as its title suggests, is specifically aimed at terrorism. Section 45 says that authorisation to carry out a section 44 stop and search "may be exercised only for the purpose of searching for articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism".
So even had a search been authorised and carried out, it would probably have been illegal. Whoever decided to use the Terrorism Act to stop Mr Wolfgang from returning to the hall didn't know what he was doing - but achieved the objective.
Another protesting octogenarian felt the brush of section 44 last week, though he was searched. John Catt was wearing a T-shirt proclaiming "Bush Blair Sharon to be tried for war crimes torture human rights abuse" and, lower down, "the leaders of rogue states".
The stop-and-search form filled out by the police officer stated, under grounds for intervention, "carrying plackard [sic] and T-shirt with anti-Blair info". The purpose of the stop and search was stated as "terrorism". So now we know. For the Sussex police, at any rate, an anti-Blair slogan is a ground for suspecting terrorism.
There is obviously a problem in the use of section 44. It was used prolifically against protesters around the Brighton conference centre. I am sure Sussex are not the only force using section 44 essentially as a tool of control. The police know very well that the vast majority of the people they're stopping have absolutely no hint of a suspicion of any link with terrorism. But the Terrorism Act is all they've got, they argue, to ensure that gatherings like party conferences and G8 meetings go off smoothly.
When Tony Blair and Charles Clarke tell the chief constable of Sussex that they want no trouble at their conference, and if that can only be achieved by wrongly using the anti-terrorism laws to stifle freedom of expression, freedom of movement and the right to protest - tough. That is not the way a democratic state should behave. But don't just blame the police for exceeding their powers. The government is conniving at every stage.
· This is an amazing legal coincidence. After many years - no, make that centuries - in which we have had none at all, we've now got, within a few days of each, two masturbating judges facing justice. One I've mentioned in the past, the Oklahoma judge using a penis pump in court - the giveaway was the loud whooshing sound it made. This week he's on trial for indecent exposure. But now he's got a judicial masturbatory rival, a French judge from Angoulême, Philippe Z, who also performed his solo during a court hearing. He has been suspended from duty and psychiatrists have agreed that he was not responsible for his actions. He has just appeared before the judges' disciplinary body claiming that his suspension was unfair. "I am curable and readaptable," he insisted. "But," he went on in an outburst of honesty, "as what, I don't know."
· In the US, calling someone scuzzy or a scuzzball is pejorative, offensive and denotes an unpleasant low-life kind of person, somewhat akin to an English scumbag. For Demetrius Fiorentino, on trial for murder in West Chester, Pennsylvania, this creates a problem. He's generally known as Scuz, and last week his lawyer tried to persuade the judge to ban the use of that nickname during the trial. He argued that if witnesses kept referring to the defendant as Scuz, it would suggest to the jury that Fiorentino had acquired that name for a reason, and it would prejudice jurors against him. Impossible, riposted the prosecution. The witnesses didn't know him by any other name. They would be unable to give evidence about him unless they could call him Scuz. The judge is thinking about it.
By Robert Parry
September 29, 2005
Federal authorities frog-marched Private Lynndie England in handcuffs and shackles off to prison
to serve three years for her role in abusing and humiliating Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.
The 22-year-old single mother from West Virginia joins a group of nine reservists punished for mistreating Iraqis, some of whom were stripped naked and forced to pose in mock sexual positions. England appeared in photos, pointing at a prisoners penis and holding a naked Iraqi by a leash.
While Englands punishment fits with George W. Bushs pledge to prosecute military personnel for wrongdoing in Iraq, a larger question is whether low-ranking soldiers are becoming scapegoats for the bloody fiasco that Bush created when he ordered the invasion in defiance of international law. Pumped-up by Bushs false claims linking Iraq to the Sept. 11 terror attacks, U.S. soldiers charged into that Arab country with revenge on their minds.
In a healthy democracy, the debate might be less about imprisoning England and other grunts than whether Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other war architects should be frog-marched to the Hague for prosecution as war criminals.
The international community also has largely shied away from the issue of Bushs criminality, apparently because of the unprecedented military might of the United States.
If the leaders of a less powerful nation had invaded a country under false pretenses touching off a war that left tens of thousands of civilians dead there surely would be demands for war crimes prosecutions before the International Criminal Court at the Hague. But not for Bush and his War Cabinet.
Ironically, Lynndie Englands sentencing at Fort Hood, Texas, on Sept. 27 came as new evidence surfaced that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was not just the work of some deviant prison guards on the night shift at Abu Ghraib. Army Capt. Ian Fishback and two sergeants alleged that prisoners were subjected to similar treatment by the 82nd Airborne at a camp near Fallujah and that senior officers knew. [See Human Rights Watch report.]
Fishback blamed the pattern of abuse on the Bush administrations vague orders about when and how Geneva Convention protections applied to detainees, a problem that has extended from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a network of shadowy U.S. prisons around the world.
We did not set the conditions for our soldiers to succeed, said Fishback, 26, who has served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. We failed to set clear standards, communicate those standards and enforce those standards. [NYT, Sept. 28, 2005]
And in another case of apparent deterioration of discipline among U.S. troops in Iraq, a separate Army investigation examined whether some U.S. troops traded gruesome photos of dead bodies with captions like Cooked Iraqi for access to a pornographic Web site specializing in sexual images of wives and girlfriends. [NYT, Sept. 28, 2005]
For his part, Bush has condemned the misconduct of Lynndie England and her cohorts. After publication of the Abu Ghraib photos in 2004, Bush said he shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated. Bush added that their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people.
But the cavalier treatment toward Iraqi lives can be traced back to the very start of the war. Determined to invade Iraq, Bush brushed aside international objections, prevented the completion of a United Nations search for alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and unleashed his shock and awe bombing campaign on March 19, 2003.
Bush and his high command authorized the bombing of one Baghdad restaurant where civilians were having dinner because of shaky intelligence that Saddam Hussein might be eating there, too. The logic apparently was that the goal of killing Hussein justified the slaughter of the innocent restaurant clientele.
As it turned out, Hussein was not there, but the attack killed 14 civilians, including seven children. One mother collapsed when rescue workers pulled the severed head of her daughter out of the rubble.
In another U.S. bombing raid, Saad Abbas, 34, was wounded, but his family sought to shield him from the greater horror. The bombing had killed his three daughters Marwa, 11; Tabarek, 8; and Safia, 5 who had been the center of his life.
It wasnt just ordinary love, his wife said. He was crazy about them. It wasnt like other fathers. [NYT, April 14, 2003]
The horror of the war was captured, too, in the fate of 12-year-old Ali Ismaeel Abbas, who lost his two arms when a U.S. missile struck his Baghdad home. Alis father, Alis pregnant mother and his siblings were all killed.
As he was evacuated to a Kuwaiti hospital, becoming a symbol of U.S. compassion for injured Iraqi civilians, Ali said he would rather die than live without his hands.
The slaughter extended to the battlefield where the outmatched Iraqi army sometimes fought heroically though hopelessly against the technologically superior U.S. forces. Christian Science Monitor reporter Ann Scott Tyson interviewed U.S. troops with the 3rd Infantry Division who were deeply troubled by their task of mowing down Iraqi soldiers who kept fighting even in suicidal situations.
For lack of a better word, I felt almost guilty about the massacre, one soldier said privately. We wasted a lot of people. It makes you wonder how many were innocent. It takes away some of the pride. We won, but at what cost?
Commenting upon the annihilation of Iraqi forces in these one-sided battles, Lt. Col. Woody Radcliffe said, We didnt want to do this. Even a brain-dead moron can understand we are so vastly superior militarily that there is no hope. You would think they would see that and give up.
In one battle around Najaf, U.S. commanders ordered air strikes to kill the Iraqis en masse rather than have U.S. soldiers continue to kill them one by one.
There were waves and waves of people coming at (the U.S. troops) with AK-47s, out of this factory, and (the U.S. troops) were killing everyone, Radcliffe said. The commander called and said, This is not right. This is insane. Lets hit the factory with close air support and take them out all at once. [Christian Science Monitor, April 11, 2003]
Three weeks into the invasion, Husseins government collapsed, but Bushs occupation plan left U.S. forces stretched thin as they tried to establish order.
Sometimes, jittery U.S. soldiers opened fire on demonstrations, inflicting civilian casualties and embittering the population. In Fallujah, some 17 Iraqis were gunned down in demonstrations after U.S. soldiers claimed they had been fired upon. Fallujah soon became a center of anti-American resistance.
As the Iraqi insurgency began to spread and Americans began dying in larger numbers military intelligence officers encouraged prison guards to soften up captured Iraqis by putting them in stress positions for long periods of time, denying sleep and subjecting them to extremes of hot and cold.
Some of the poorly trained prison personnel like those on Lynndie Englands night shift at Abu Ghraib added some of their own bizarre ideas for humiliating captured Iraqis. But even some of those strange techniques, such as adorning Iraqi men with womens underwear, could be traced to practices used elsewhere.
The mistreatment of detainees further fueled the insurgency and spread anti-Americanism across the Middle East and around the globe.
Back in Washington, the Bush administration claimed that the prisoner abuses were the work of a few bad apples who would be singled out for punishment. Looked at differently, however, Bush opened U.S. soldiers to a kind of double jeopardy when he ordered the invasion.
Not only did the soldiers risk their lives in combat, but they faced added legal risks in trying to execute a war in defiance of the UN Charter, which prohibits one country from attacking another without the approval of the UN Security Council.
The evidence is now clear, too, that Bush rushed the nation to war without UN sanction, in part, because his rationalizations about WMD and Iraqs ties to al-Qaeda were falling apart, even as he was determined to make the war happen.
As British spy chief Richard Dearlove observed in the so-called Downing Street Memo in July 2002, Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
The memo added, The case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.
Still, the Bush administration was confident that it could whip the U.S. news media and the American people into a war fever.
To stir up fears about nuclear bombs falling into the hands of terrorists, the administration leaked to the New York Times a story about Iraq buying aluminum tubes for making nuclear weapons. But U.S. nuclear experts soon concluded that the tubes actually were for conventional rockets.
Later in 2002, administration officials insisted that they knew where Iraqs WMD stockpiles were. But UN inspectors, who were readmitted by Hussein as part of Iraqs agreement to comply with international weapons restrictions, were finding nothing at the U.S.-identified sites.
In January 2003, Bushs predicament got so desperate that his State of the Union speechwriters dug down to the bottom of the barrel to pull out an already discredited claim about Iraq seeking enriched uranium in Africa.
Then, in a Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the UN Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell played up assertions from a dubious source codenamed Curveball about Iraqs supposed mobile WMD labs. Powell also read a doctored intercept between two Iraqi officials that made an innocent conversation sound sinister. [For details, see Consortiumnews.coms Powells Widening Credibility Gap.]
Instead of giving the UN inspectors more time to complete their search for Iraqi WMD, Bush cut short the mission, forcing them to leave Iraq so the invasion could proceed.
Several months later, as Bush faced new questions about his war justifications, the president started a new lie, claiming that Hussein had never let the UN inspectors in.
On July 14, 2003, Bush said about Hussein, we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldnt let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power.
In the following months, Bush repeated this claim in slightly varied forms. On Jan. 27, 2004, Bush said, We went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution 1441 unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in.
Though the U.S. national press corps had witnessed the UN inspections of Iraq and certainly knew that Bushs historical revisionism was false, American reporters failed, repeatedly, to challenge Bushs account.
Even ABCs veteran newsman Ted Koppel fell for the administrations spin, using it to explain why he Koppel thought the invasion was justified.
It did not make logical sense that Saddam Hussein, whose armies had been defeated once before by the United States and the Coalition, would be prepared to lose control over his country if all he had to do was say, All right, UN, come on in, check it out, Koppel said in an interview with Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now.
As Koppel obviously was aware, Hussein indeed had told the UN to come on in, check it out, but even prominent journalists were ready to put on blinders for Bush. [For details, see Consortiumnews.coms President Bush, With the Candlestick ]
In 2004, Fallujah was back in the news after Iraqi insurgents killed four American security contractors and a mob mutilated the bodies. Bush ordered Marines to pacify the city of 300,000 people.
The U.S. assault on Fallujah transformed one soccer field into a mass grave for hundreds of Iraqis many of them civilians killed when U.S. forces bombarded the rebellious city with 500-pound bombs and raked its streets with cannon and machine-gun fire. According to some accounts, more than 800 citizens of Fallujah died in the assault and 60,000 fled as refugees.
In attacking Fallujah and in other counterinsurgency operations, the Bush administration again has resorted to measures that some critics argue amount to war crimes. These tactics include administering collective punishment against the civilian population in Fallujah, rounding up thousands of young Iraqi men on the flimsiest of suspicions and holding prisoners incommunicado without charges and subjecting some detainees to physical mistreatment.
Even Bushs boast that he closed Husseins torture chambers and rape rooms has lost its moral clarity.
A 53-page classified Army report, written by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, revealed that some of those abuses resumed as U.S. intelligence officers urged Abu Ghraibs military police to break down Iraqis before interrogation.
The report said the abuses, occurring from October to December 2003, included use of a chemical light or broomstick to sexually assault one Iraqi. Witnesses also told Army investigators that prisoners were beaten and threatened with rape, electrocution and dog attacks. At least one Iraqi died during interrogation.
Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees, said Tagubas report. [See The New Yorker's May 10, 2004, issue.]
One victim who faced torture at Abu Ghraib under both Saddam Husseins regime and the U.S. occupation said the physical abuse from Hussein's guards was preferable to the sexual humiliation employed by the Americans. Dhia al-Shweiri told the Associated Press that the Americans were trying to break our pride. [USA Today, May 3, 2004]
Yet, as the U.S. military death toll heads toward 2,000 and Iraqis die in far greater numbers, the U.S. news media continues to avert its gaze from what should be a central question: Should senior Bush administration officials most responsible for this bloody debacle join Lynndie England in the dock of accountability?
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His new book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'
BAGHDAD, Sept. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraqi police detained two British soldiers in civilian clothes in the southern city Basra for firing on a police station on Monday, police said.
"Two persons wearing Arab uniforms opened fire at a police station in Basra. A police patrol followed the attackers and captured them to discover they were two British soldiers," an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua.
The two soldiers were using a civilian car packed with explosives, the source said.
He added that the two were being interrogated in the police headquarters of Basra.
The British forces informed the Iraqi authorities that the two soldiers were performing an official duty, the source said. British military authorities said they could not confirm the incident but investigations were underway.
Ian Cobain, Stephen Grey and Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday September 12, 2005 - The Guardian
It was only a matter of time before the CIA caught up with Saad Iqbal Madni.
A Pakistani Islamist and, allegedly, a close associate of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, he turned up in Indonesia in November 2001, just as the Taliban regime was crumbling and members of al-Qaida were fleeing Afghanistan. Renting a room in a Jakarta boarding house, he told locals he had arrived to hand over an inheritance to his late father's second wife.
On January 9 2002, Iqbal was seized by Indonesian intelligence agents. Two days later, according to Indonesian officials, he was bundled aboard a Gulfstream V executive jet which had flown into a military airfield in the city. Then, without any extradition hearing or judicial process, he was flown to Cairo.
Iqbal, 24, had become the latest terrorism suspect to fall into a system known in US intelligence circles as "extraordinary rendition" - the apprehension of a suspect who is not placed on trial, or flown to Guantánamo, but taken to a country where torture is common.
These suspects are denied legal representation, and their detention is concealed from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The most common destination is Egypt, but there is evidence of detainees also being flown to Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Syria.
Precise numbers are impossible to determine. A report on renditions published by New York University school of law and the New York City Bar Association suggests that around 150 people have been "rendered" in the last four years, but that is only an estimate. A handful have emerged from what has been labelled a secret gulag, and have given deeply disturbing accounts of horrific mistreatment.
Previous media reports have uncovered sketchy details of a British link to CIA abduction operations, but the full extent of the UK's support can now be revealed. Drawing on publicly available information from the US Federal Aviation Administration, the Guardian has compiled a database of flight records which shows the extent of British logistical support.
Aircraft involved in the operations have flown into the UK at least 210 times since 9/11, an average of one flight a week. The 26-strong fleet run by the CIA have used 19 British airports and RAF bases, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Luton, Bournemouth and Belfast. The favourite destination is Prestwick, which CIA aircraft have flown into and out from more than 75 times. Glasgow has seen 74 flights, and RAF Northolt 33.
The Gulfstream V on to which Iqbal was bundled and flown to Egypt, for example, left Cairo on January 15 and headed for Scotland. After a brief stopover at Prestwick, probably to refuel, it departed again for Washington. Iqbal was held in Cairo for two years before appearing in Guantánamo, where he told other detainees who have since been released that he was tortured by having electrodes placed on his knees. It also appears that his bladder was damaged during interrogation.
Human rights campaigners insist that these operations violate international law. Washington insists they do not. Nevertheless, the United Nations is seeking to examine Britain's role in the policy, as part of a wider inquiry into ways in which counter-terrorism operations around the world may breach basic human rights.
Martin Scheinin, a UN commission on human rights special rapporteur, has submitted a number of queries to the British government. His view about complicity in renditions is clear: "When several states can, through cooperating, breach their obligations under international law simultaneously, if they are all involved in torture, they all bear their own responsibility. It is my intention to look at acts where more than one state is involved. It is too early to say what will happen with the UK."
Although the Foreign Office has denied any knowledge of the use of British airports during renditions, Prof Scheinin says: "It isn't unusual that governments deny involvement and try to keep it secret as long as possible." Some of the flights which the Guardian has examined were made during operations which clearly ended in the abduction of a terrorism suspect who was then tortured, such as Iqbal.
Other data points to the strong possibility that the CIA was using British airports during an abduction operation. On March 26 2002, the Gulfstream used in the abduction of Iqbal flew from North Carolina to Washington and on to Prestwick, where it remained overnight before flying to Dubai. Two days later, FBI officials and Pakistani police stormed a house in Faisalabad, where they arrested a number of al-Qaida suspects, including Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden's senior aides.
Flight records do not show where the aircraft flew after Dubai, and where Zubaydah was taken remains a mystery. There have been rumours that he is being held in the far east, however, and the Gulfstream next appeared in Alaska before returning to Washington.
On other occasions the same aircraft has stopped off at Prestwick before and after flying people from Pakistan to Tashkent in Uzbekistan. Craig Murray, the former British ambassador in Tashkent, says he is aware of detainees being flown into the country on an executive jet, and believes they were probably tortured.
It is not clear whether any detainees are on board the aircraft when they land in the UK, or whether the CIA is using British airports purely for refuelling and other logistical support. There is no suggestion that any of the UK airport authorities have colluded in any wrongdoing. The CIA's renditions programme, and its use of UK airports, has angered some human rights lawyers. Concern is also being expressed in a number of other European countries, where authorities have barred the agency from making unauthorised flights or have launched investigations into abductions.
Last month Denmark announced that unauthorised CIA flights would not be allowed into the country's airspace, while in Austria, in January 2003, two fighters were scrambled to intercept a Hercules transport plane thought to be involved in the renditions operation which had not declared itself to be on a government mission. In Sweden, a parliamentary investigator into the abduction of two Egyptian men flown from Stockholm to Cairo in December 2001 concluded that CIA agents had broken the country's laws by subjecting the pair to "inhuman treatment". In Italy, a judge has issued warrants for the arrest of 19 CIA agents said to have been behind the kidnapping of Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, an Islamist cleric dragged into a van near his home in Milan in February 2003. He was flown to Egypt for interrogation, and later told relatives that he had been tortured with electric shocks.
The aircraft and their crews are the successors to Air America, the CIA-owned airline that flew covert missions during the Vietnam war. Many of the aircraft are operated by a company called Aero Contractors, which was founded by a former chief pilot of Air America, and is based in a remote corner of an airfield at Smithfield, North Carolina.
Most of the CIA's fleet, which includes executive jets, a Boeing 737 and a Hercules transport plane, is owned, at least on paper, by a network of seven other companies. Examination of records in the US shows these seven firms to be a series of shell companies with no premises, and the directors of the companies appear to be fictitious. Aero's company president, Norman Richardson, would not talk to the Guardian, although he has told one American journalist: "Most of the work we do is for the government. It's on the basis that we can't say anything about it." A former Aero Contractors pilot has confirmed to the New York Times that he had been recruited by the CIA, and that the agency ran the airline. He said the crews did not use the term extraordinary rendition: "We used to call them snatches."
British assistance for covert CIA kidnapping operations may violate international law, according to some lawyers, while the CIA agents involved may also be breaking British domestic law. "In international law, states are required to prevent acts of torture, and not turn a blind eye to it," said Paul Green, a member of the Law Society's international human rights committee.
It remains illegal under US law for any American citizen to torture a foreigner. Critics of the rendition campaign argue that the CIA gets around this by practising "torture by proxy", taking detainees to countries where they know they will be tortured.
President George Bush has defended the renditions programme, saying: "We operate within the law and we send people to countries where they say they're not going to torture the people." Critics doubt whether such pledges are credible. The US State Department describes torture as being systemic in most of the countries. Even the CIA has described the "curtailment of human rights" in Uzbekistan as a concern.
The CIA declined to comment.
Ever since the 1995 bombing of the Paris metro by the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) made France the first western European country to suffer so-called radical Islamist terrorism, its politicians and "terror experts" have consistently warned Britain to the dangers of welcoming Islamist political dissidents and radical preachers to her shores.
In the aftermath of the July London attacks, commentators were quick to argue that France's "zero tolerance" policy and campaign of "integration" in the name of republican values - embodied in the 2004 ban on the display of all religious symbols in schools - has spared the country from terror attacks, while Britain's failure to follow Spain and Germany in adopting the French model has proved a spectacular own-goal. However, as Tony Blair made clear in unveiling his government's proposed legislation on August 5, "the rules of the game have changed". Suddenly, the French recipe for dealing with Islamist terror has become feted by British politicians and media alike.
But how would we regard the virtue of the French model if, a decade after bombs ripped through the metro, enough evidence had been gathered to demonstrate that the attacks allegedly carried out by Islamist militants were not fuelled by fundamentalism, but instead were dreamt up and overseen by the Algerian secret service as part of a domestic political struggle that spilled over into Algeria's former colonial master? The most comprehensive studies - including Lounis Aggoun and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire's Françalgérie: Crimes and Lies of the State - argue that this is exactly what happened.
In 1991 Algeria's main Islamic party, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), won a first-round victory in the country's inaugural multiparty general elections, which threatened to strip away the power of the generals who had controlled the state from the shadows.
Exploiting Europe's fear of an Islamic government, the Algerian army intervened to halt the second round of voting, forcing the president to step down and a temporary commission to rule the country. But the legitimacy of this new arrangement could only be assured if the Islamic opposition could be discredited and crushed.
The DRS - the Algerian secret service - systematically infiltrated insurrectionary Islamist groups such as the GIA and from 1992 onwards launched its own fake guerrilla groups, including death squads disguised as Islamists. In 1994, the DRS managed to place Jamel Zitouni, one of the Islamists it controlled, at the head of the GIA.
"It became impossible to distinguish the genuine Islamists from those controlled by the regime," says Salima Mellah, of the NGO Algeria Watch. "Each time the generals came under pressure from the international community, the terror intensified". By January 1995, however, Algeria's dirty war began to falter. The Italian government hosted a meeting in Rome of Algerian political parties, including the FIS. The participants agreed a common platform, calling for an inquiry into the violence in Algeria, the end of the army's involvement in political affairs and the return of constitutional rule.
This left the generals in an untenable position. In their desperation, and with the help of the DRS, they hatched a plot to prevent French politicians from ever again withdrawing support for the military junta. As Aggoun and Rivoire recount, French-based Algerian spies initially given the task of infiltrating Islamist networks were transformed into agent provocateurs. In spring 1995, Ali Touchent, an Algerian agent, began to gather and incite a network of disaffected young men from north African backgrounds to commit terrorist attacks in France. The DRS's infiltrators, led by Zitouni, also pushed the GIA to eliminate some of the FIS's leaders living in Europe.
On July 11 1995 Abdelbaki Sahraoui, a FIS leader in France, was assassinated. The GIA claimed responsibility. Two weeks later the metro was hit by bombs, killing eight. After a further attack, Zitouni called on President Jacques Chirac to "convert to Islam to be saved". The resulting public hysteria against Islam and Islamism saw the French government abandon its support for the Rome accord.
So what happened to the perpetrators? The masterminds of the main attack were never caught. Despite being publicly identified by the Algerian authorities as the European ringleader of the GIA and by French investigators as the key organiser, Touchent evaded capture, returned to Algeria and settled in a secure police quarter of Algiers.
France's inability to bring to justice those genuinely responsible for the 1995 attacks was evidently more than an accident. According to Mohamed Samraoui, a former colonel in the Algerian secret service: "French intelligence knew that Ali Touchent was a DRS operative charged with infiltrating pro-Islamist cells in foreign countries." It has never been officially denied that in return for supplying the French authorities with valuable information, Touchent was granted protection.
This is not the only explanation for French collaboration with the Algerian government. Algeria is one of the main suppliers of gas and oil to France, and an important client. François Gèze of La Decouverte, a French publisher which exposed the involvement of the Algerian secret services in the dirty war, argues that at the heart of this economic relationship is a web of political cor ruption. "French exporters generally pay a 10 to 15% commission on their goods. Part of this revenue is then 'repaid' by the Algerians as finance for the electoral campaigns of French political parties."
What the true story of France's 1995 brush with "Islamic terror" reveals is that the attacks, while probably executed by a small number of Muslim extremists, were conceived and manipulated by vested interests. British policymakers would do well to understand the specific context and complex colonial legacy of French-Algerian relations before they go looking for direct comparisons. The 1995 case is also a warning against blaming "Islamists" for terror, while turning a blind eye to repressive actions of governments in the Arab world when they suit western governments' agenda.
· Naima Bouteldja is a French journalist and researcher for the Transnational Institute
Stephen Grey and Ian Cobain
Tuesday August 2, 2005
Al-Manaar mosque cultural centre in London where Benyam Mohammed was a volunteer. Photograph: Martin Godwin
A former London schoolboy accused of being a dedicated al-Qaida terrorist has given the first full account of the interrogation and alleged torture endured by so-called ghost detainees held at secret prisons around the world.
For two and a half years US authorities moved Benyam Mohammed around a series of prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan, before he was sent to Guantánamo Bay in September last year.
Mohammed, 26, who grew up in Notting Hill in west London, is alleged to be a key figure in terrorist plots intended to cause far greater loss of life than the suicide bombers of 7/7. One allegation, which he denies, is of planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" in a US city; another is that he and an accomplice planned to collapse a number of apartment blocks by renting ground-floor flats to seal, fill with gas from cooking appliances, and blow up with timed detonators.
In an statement given to his newly appointed lawyer, Mohammed has given an account of how he was tortured for more than two years after being questioned by US and British officials who he believes were from the FBI and MI6. As well as being beaten and subjected to loud music for long periods, he claims his genitals were sliced with scalpels.
He alleges that in Morocco he was shown photos of people he knew from a west London mosque, and was asked about information he was told was supplied by MI5. One interrogator, he says, was a woman who said she was Canadian.
Drawing on his notes, Mohammed's lawyer has compiled a 28-page diary of his torture. This has been declassified by the Pentagon, and extracts are published in the Guardian today.
Recruits to some groups connected to al-Qaida are thought to be instructed to make allegations of torture after capture, and most of Mohammed's claims cannot be independently verified. But his description of a prison near Rabat closely resembles the Temara torture centre identified in a report by the US-based Human Rights Watch last October.
Furthermore, this newspaper has obtained flight records showing executive jets operated by the CIA flew in and out of Morocco on July 22 2002 and January 22 2004, the dates he says he was taken to and from the country.
If true, his account adds weight to concerns that the US authorities are torturing by proxy. It also highlights the dilemma of British authorities when they seek information from detainees overseas who they know, or suspect, are tortured.
The lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, says: "This is outsourcing of torture, plain and simple. America knows torture is wrong but gets others to do its unconscionable dirty work.
"It's clear from the evidence that UK officials knew about this rendition to Morocco before it happened. Our government's responsibility must be to actively prevent the torture of our residents."
Mohammed was born in Ethiopia and came to the UK aged 15 when his father sought asylum. After obtaining five GCSEs and an engineering diploma at the City of Westminster College in Paddington, he decided to stay in Britain when his father returned, and was given indefinite leave to remain. In his late teens he rediscovered Islam, prayed regularly at al-Manaar mosque in Notting Hill, and was a volunteer at its cultural centre. "He is remembered here as a very nice, quiet person, who never caused any trouble," says Abdulkarim Khalil, its director.
He enjoyed football, and was thought good enough for a semi-professional career. "He was a quiet kid, he seemed deep thinking, although that might have been because his language skills weren't great," says Tyrone Forbes, his trainer.
In June 2001 Mohammed left his bedsit off Golborne Road, Notting Hill, and travelled to Afghanistan, via Pakistan. He maintains he wanted to see whether it was "a good Islamic country or not". It appears likely that he spent time in a paramilitary training camp.
He returned to Pakistan sometime after 9/11, and remained at liberty until April 2002 - during which time, US authorities believe, he became involved in the dirty bomb and gas blast plots. His alleged accomplice, a Chicago-born convert to Islam, Jose Padilla, is detained in the US. Mohammed says interrogators repeatedly demanded he give evidence against him.
Mohammed was arrested in Karachi while trying to fly to Zurich - and thus entered a "ghost prison system" in which an unknown number of detainees are held at unregistered detention centres, and whose imprisonment is not admitted to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
His brother and sisters, who live in the US, say the FBI told them of his arrest in summer 2002, but they were unable to find out anything else until last February. In recent days the Bush administration is reported to have lobbied to block legislation, supported by some Republican senators, to prohibit the military engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment", and hiding prisoners from the Red Cross.
Mohammed alleges he was held at two prisons in Pakistan over three months, hung from leather straps, beaten, and threatened with a firearm by Pakistanis. In repeated questioning by men he believes were FBI agents, he was told he was to go to an Arab country because "the Pakistanis can't do exactly what we want them to".
The torture stopped after a visit by two bearded Britons; he believes they were MI6 officers. He says they told him he was to be tortured by Arabs. At one point, he says, they gave him a cup of tea and told him to take plenty of sugar because "where you're going you need a lot of sugar".
He says he was flown on what he believes was a US aircraft to Morocco, while shackled, blindfolded and wearing earphones. It was, he says, in a jail near Rabat that his real ordeal began. After a fortnight of questioningand intimidation, his captors tortured him with beatings and noise, on and off, for 18 months. He says his torturers used scalpels to make shallow, inch-long incisions on his chest and genitals.
Throughout, he was accused of being a senior al-Qaida terrorist and accomplice of Padilla. He denies these allegations, though he says that while tortured he would say whatever he thought his captors wanted. He signed a statement about the dirty bomb plot. At one point, he says, interrogators told him his GCSE grades, and asked about named staff at the housing association that owns his bedsit and about a man who taught him kickboxing in Notting Hill.
After 18 months, he says, he was flown to Afghanistan, escorted by masked US soldiers who were visibly shocked by his condition and took photos of his wounds.
During five months in a darkened cell in Kabul, he says he was kept chained, subjected to loud music, and questioned by Americans. Only after he was moved to Bagram air base was he shown to the Red Cross. Four months later he was flown to Guantánamo.
Mr Stafford Smith was first allowed to see him two months ago. He said there were marks of his injuries, and he is pressing the US to release the photos taken in Morocco and Afghanistan.
Asked about the allegations, the Foreign Office said the UK "unreservedly condemns the use of torture". After consulting with the Home Office, MI5, and MI6, a spokesman said: "The British government, including the security and intelligence services, never uses torture for any purpose. Nor would HMG instigate or condone the use of torture by third parties.
"Specific instructions are issued to all personnel of the UK security and intelligence services who are deployed to interview detainees, which include guidance on what to do if they considered that treatment in any way inappropriate."
The FBI, the US justice department, the Moroccan interior ministry and the Moroccan embassy in London did not return calls. The CIA declined to comment.
Pilger : 26 Jul 2005
by John Pilger
The New Statesman, London
The latest bombings in London have produced a strange political atmosphere here; I cannot recall anything like it. A truth is struggling to be heard. It is being said guardedly, apologetically. Occasionally, a member of the public breaks the silence, as an East Londoner did when he walked in front of a CNN camera crew and reporter in mid-platitude. "Iraq!" he said. "We invaded Iraq and what did we expect? Go on say it."
The Scottish MP Alex Salmond tried to say it on BBC radio. He was told he was speaking "in poor taste . . . before the bodies are even buried." The Respect Party MP George Galloway was lectured by BBC televison presenter that he was being "crass". The Mayor of London, Ken Livinstone, said the diametric opposite of what he had previously said, which was that the invasion of Iraq would come home to our streets. With the exception of Galloway, not one so-called anti-war MP spoke out in clear, unequivocal English. The warmongers were allowed to fix the boundaries of public debate; one of the more idiotic, in the Guardian, called Blair "the world's leading statesman".
And yet, like the man who interrupted CNN, people understand and know why, just as the majority of Britons oppose the war and believe Blair is a liar. This frightens the British political elite. At a large media party I attended, many of the important guests uttered "Iraq" and "Blair" as a kind of catharsis for that which they dared not say professionally and publicly.
The bombs of 7 July were Blair's bombs. Blair brought home to this country his and Bush's illegal, unprovoked and blood-soaked adventure in the Middle East. Were it not for his epic irresponsibility, the Londoners who died in the Tube and on the No 30 bus almost certainly would be alive today. This is what Livingstone ought to have said. To paraphrase perhaps the only challenging question put to Blair on the eve of the invasion, it is now surely beyond all doubt that the man is unfit to be prime minister.
How much more evidence is needed? Before the invasion, Blair was warned by the Joint Intelligence Committee that "by far the greatest terrorist threat" to this country would be "heightened by military action against Iraq". He was warned by 79 per cent of Londoners who, according to a YouGov survey in February 2003, believed that a British attack on Iraq "would make a terrorist attack on London more likely". A month ago, a leaked, classified CIA report revealed that the invasion had turned Iraq into a focal point of terrorism. Before the invasion, said the CIA, Iraq "exported no terrorist threat to its neighbours" because Saddam Hussein was "implacably hostile to al-Qaeda".
Now, an 18 July report by the Chatham House organisation, a "think tank" deep within the British establishment, may well beckon Blair's coup de gr?ce. It says there is "no doubt" the invasion of Iraq has "given a boost to the al-Qaeda network" in "propaganda, recruitment and fundraising" while providing an ideal targeting and training area for terrorists. "Riding pillion with a powerful ally" has cost Iraqi, American and British lives. The right-wing academic, Paul Wilkinson, a voice of western power, was the principal author. Read between the lines and it says the prime minister is now a serious liability. Those who run this country know he has committed a great crime; the "link" has been made.
Blair's bunker-mantra is that there was terrorism long before the invasion, notably 11 September. Anyone with an understanding of the painful history of the Middle East would not have been surprised by 11 September or by the bombing of Madrid and London, only that they had not happened earlier. I have reported the region for 35 years, and if I could describe in a word how millions of Arab and Muslim people felt, I would say "humiliated". When Egypt looked like winning back its captured territory in the 1973 war with Israel, I walked through jubilant crowds in Cairo: it felt as if the weight of history's humiliation had lifted. In a very Egyptian flourish, one man said to me, "We once chased cricket balls at the British club. Now we are free."
They were not free, of course. The Americans re-supplied the Israeli army and they almost lost everything again. In Palestine, the humiliation of a captive people is Israeli policy. How many Palestinian babies have died at Israeli checkpoints after their mothers, bleeding and screaming in premature labour, have been forced to give birth beside the road at a military checkpoint with the lights of a hospital in the distance? How many old men have been forced to show obeisance to young Israeli conscripts? How many families have been blown to bits by America-supplied F-16s with British-supplied parts?
The gravity of the bombing of London, said a BBC commentator, "can be measured by the fact that it marks Britain's first suicide bombing". What about Iraq? There were no suicide bombers in Iraq until Blair and Bush invaded. What about Palestine? There were no suicide bombers in Palestine until Ariel Sharon, an accredited war criminal sponsored by Bush and Blair, came to power. In the 1991 Gulf "war", American and British forces left more than 200,000 Iraqis dead and injured and the infrastructure of their country in "an apocalyptic state", according to the United Nations. The subsequent embargo, designed and promoted by zealots in Washington and Whitehall, was not unlike a medieval siege. Denis Halliday, the United Nations official assigned to administer the near-starvation food allowance, called it "genocidal".
I witnessed its consequences: tracts of southern Iraq contaminated with depleted uranium and cluster bomblets waiting to explode. I watched dying children, some of the half a million infants whose deaths Unicef attributed to the embargo - deaths which US Secretary of State Madeline Albright said were "worth it". In the west, this was hardly reported. Throughout the Muslim world, the bitterness was like a presence, its contagion reaching many young British-born Muslims.
In 2001, in revenge for the killing of 3,000 people in the Twin Towers, more than 20,000 Muslims died in the Anglo-American invasion of Afghanistan. This was revealed by Jonathan Steele in the London Guardian and was never news, to my knowledge. The attack on Iraq was the Rubicon, making the reprisal against Madrid and the bombing of London entirely predictable: the latter "in response to the massacres carried out by Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan ...", claimed a group called the Organisation for El Qaeda in Europe. Whether or not the claim was genuine, the reason was. Bush and Blair wanted a "war on terror" and they got it.
Omitted from public discussion is that their state terror makes al-Qaeda's appear miniscule by comparison. More than 100,000 Iraqi men, woman and children have been killed, not by suicide bombers, but by the Anglo-American "coalition", says a peer-reviewed study published in the Lancet, and largely ignored.
In his poem "From Iraq", Michael Rosen wrote:
We are the unfound
We are uncounted
You don't see the homes we made
We're not even the small print or the bit in brackets . . .
because we lived far from you,
because you have cameras that point the other way . . .
Imagine, for a moment, you are in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. It is an American police state, like a vast penned ghetto. Since April last year, the hospitals there have been subjected to an American policy of collective punishment. Staff have been attacked by US marines, doctors have been shot, emergency medicines blocked. Children have been murdered in front of their families.
Now imagine the same state of affairs imposed on the London hospitals that received the victims of the bombing. When will someone draw this parallel at one of Blair's staged "press conferences", at which he is allowed to emote for the cameras about "our values outlast [ing] theirs"? Silence is not journalism. In Fallujah, they know "our values" only too well. And when will someone invite the obsequious Bob Geldoff to explain why his hero, Blair's smoke-and-mirrors "debt cancellation" amounts to less than the money the Blair government spends in a week, brutalising Iraq?
The hand-wringing over "whither Islam's soul" is another distraction. Christianity leaves Islam for dead as an industrial killer. The cause of the current terrorism is neither religion nor hatred for "our way of life". It is political, requiring a political solution. It is injustice and double standards, which plant the deepest
grievances. That, and the culpability of our leaders, and the "cameras that point the other way", are the core of it.
On 19 July, while the BBC governors were holding their annual general meeting at Television Centre, an inspired group of British documentary filmmakers met outside the main gates and conducted a series of news reports of the kind you do not see on television. Actors played famous reporters doing their "camera pieces". The "stories" they reported included the targeting of the civilian population of Iraq, the application of the Nuremberg Principles to Iraq, America's illegal rewriting of the laws of Iraq and theft of its resources through privatisation, the everyday torture and humiliation of ordinary people and the failure to protect Iraqis archaeological and cultural heritage.
Blair is using the London bombing to further deplete our rights and those of others, as Bush has done in America. Their goal is not security, but greater control. The memory of their victims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere demands the renewal of our anger. The troops must come home. Nothing less is owed to those who died and suffered in London on 7 July, unnecessarily, and nothing less is owed to those whose lives are marked if this travesty endures.
By Kim Sengupta
Published: 23 July 2005
The second wave of attempted bomb attacks have raised fresh questions over the ability of Britain's intelligence services to prevent terrorist atrocities.
As police yesterday released CCTV images of the men claimed to have made a bungled attempt to repeat the 7
July carnage on Thursday, security chiefs were forced to admit that they had once again been taken by surprise.
None of the men caught on the CCTV cameras was even known to the police, MI5 or MI6.
The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, had admitted that the first attacks, which cost 52 lives, had "come out of the blue"; now it appears that the latest series had also come as a surprise.
Sir Ian Blair, the Scotland Yard Commissioner, acknowledged: "Officers are facing previously unknown threats ... great danger." He added: "We are learning fast, but I am afraid there are bound to be casualties along the way."
Just weeks before the 7 July blasts, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) had downgraded the security threat. Leaked documents also revealed that the security service had concluded Islamist terrorists did not have the capability to mount a major operation in London at the present time.
Just as after the first bombing, the investigation into the new attacks has moved at pace. This time, the police and the security agencies stress that they have crucial evidence lacking in the 7 July bombings: unexploded devices that could yield forensic clues. However, new information also emerged quickly after the first explosions including the identities of the bombers, details of their contacts, as well as the discovery of an explosives cache. That did not stop the second set of bombing attempts.
The new wave of attacks also came on the day that Tony Blair met senior officials from the police, MI5, MI6, and GCHQ (the Government's listening post) in what was, in effect, an inquest into the failure of two weeks ago.
Officials in the security and intelligence services, as well as the police, admit that they are suffering from an information vacuum. The nationalities of the second wave of bombers is unclear, but security sources say there is no reason to believe they were not "home-grown'", like the terrorists who were responsible for the 7 July bombings.
Therein lies a significant problem for the intelligence services. Dealing with an attack by foreign Islamists - be they Moroccan, Algerian or Syrian - would have been comparatively easier. There are international databases, recognisable suspects, and tranches of information from allied services in Europe and the Middle East.
What they have faced instead appears to have been a small, autonomous cell of Britons, hitherto unknown to the authorities, who carried out a fairly unsophisticated operation. Once they had the explosives, they simply had to get off a mainline train and on to the Underground lines and buses with their deadly packages.
There is, however, a foreign link to this, and it is Pakistan that is now internationally recognised as the de facto headquarters of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. It is a country whose military and intelligence services have been accused by both the West and Pakistani opposition figures of being deeply infiltrated by the Islamist extremists [and the CIA - ed.].
It appears perfectly natural for young British Muslims, the majority of Pakistani descent, to return to their ancestral homes and for those who have chosen the path of militancy to meet up with extremists just as the Leeds bombers are believed to have done.
"We are looking at a totally new and menacing situation," said a senior security source.
by Fintan Dunne, BreakForNews.com
22 July, 2005 12:00pmET
Staged terror events --like magic tricks-- rely on misdirection to throw people off the track. The first step in uncovering how the London bombings were carried out by a Western black operations team -is to see through the key misdirections they built into the operation.
Here's the official spin on what happened:
Key evidence of the movements of the four alleged bombers comes from a single CCTV image of four similar-looking individuals entering Luton Station to catch a London-bound train. Three of them had driven to Luton to meet the fourth and carry on by train to King's Cross station in London.
The police claim to have another CCTV video of them splitting up at Kings Cross and heading in different directions to carry out the attacks. Papers identifying them were found at the scenes --where their bodies have also been recovered. Police also found bomb materials in the car they left at a pay carpark in Luton.
That's the tale of the "suicide bombers." The big problem with this account is that a terror group would never deliberately waste valuable human resources in suicide attacks, when suicide tactics are not needed.
In answer, mainstream media are now also pushing the line that they may have been duped --and didn't know the bombs would explode immediately they were set. In alternative media some are also pushing the idea that they simply thought they transporting drugs.
Both explanations assume the four did actually carry the bombs onto London's Underground trains and a bus.
Which of course, they didn't. All this has been misdirection.
Here's how it really went down:
The three who were driving from Leeds to Luton never completed their journey. Somewhere along the M1 motorway, a car with a flashing blue light came up behind them and both cars pulled over to the side of the road. The seeming police officers demanded identification and then insisted that the car be moved off the motorway for safety reasons and for further questioning.
Meanwhile another team was intercepting the fourth person in as he made his way from nearby Aylesbury to Luton. None of them would be seen alive in public again. They did not participate in the bombings.
The CCTV image of them entering Luton Station is a cut and paste of prior surveilance photos taken of the four. This is the key misdirrection.
Intercepting the four would have been much to public once they entered Luton Station. They were taken out before that. Let's come back to what happened to them after we unveil the other key misdirection.
The bombs on the Underground were not in the tube carriages. They were under the floors of the carriages. The black-ops team would need access to rail or maintainance yards in order to plant these timed devices.
That's the reliable way. That's why this was inevitably how it would be done.
Confirmation of this comes from a number of reports, including this eyewitness account of the Aldgate East tube bomb by Cambridge dancer Bruce Lait. He and dance partner Crystal Main were the only passengers in their carriage who survived without serious injury - despite being nearest to the bomb blast.
Here's the Cambridge Evening News report:
"When I woke up and looked around I saw darkness, smoke and wreckage. It took a while to realise where I was and what was going on... " He and Crystal were helped out of the carriage. As they made their way out, a policeman pointed out where the bomb had been.
"The policeman said 'mind that hole, that's where the bomb was'. The metal was pushed upwards as if the bomb was underneath the train. They seem to think the bomb was left in a bag, but I don't remember anybody being where the bomb was, or any bag," he said.
Moreover, Christophe Chaboud, head of the French Anti-Terrorism Co-ordination Unit, told Le Monde newspaper that the explosives used in the bombings were of military origin:
He added that the victims' wounds suggested that the explosives, which were " not heavy but powerful", had been placed on the ground, perhaps underneath seats.
Or perhaps under the floor.
Causing injuries such as those suffered by Emily Benton, one of two Knoxville, TN sisters on vacation in London who were injured in one of the tube blasts. She had broken bones and skin missing on her feet:
"Her feet were badly injured (the hospital doesn't think she will lose her feet), and she has a bad cut on her arm."
With much of the carnage taking place underground, it was useful that the bus bomb could provide an above-ground spectacle -and the only sighting of a bomber in action:
BUS blast survivor Richard Jones yesterday revealed how he came face-to-face with one of the London bombers. The Scots IT expert got off the doomed double-decker just seconds before it was torn apart in an explosion that killed 13 passengers.
"This young guy kept diving into this bag or whatever he had in front of his feet," he told The Associated Press.
He said the bomber was around 6ft tall, in his mid-twenties, clean-shaven and smartly dressed. The man was wearing hipster-style fawn checked trousers, with exposed designer underwear, and a matching jersey-style top. 'The pants looked very expensive, they were white with a red band on top... He was standing with his back to me downstairs at the driver's side, which is exactly where the explosion was... The noise was unbelievable. I served an apprenticeship in an explosives factory in Ayrshire so I knew what it was.'
Which doesn't sound anything like the blue-jeaned, unshaven, rather drably-dressed Hasib Hussain. But the tale of a nervous bomber served to add color to a London landscape which badly needed at least one eyewitness account of the bombers in action.
The bus -like the trains, had a concealed bomb.
Meanwhile, the alleged bombers had been whisked to a remote location to be ruthlessly murdered in a way that would be consistent with their participation in a suicide bombing. They died in a callous blast arranged with military precision.
Four more murders came easily to those who were meanwhile killing scores in London with the same ruthless precision.
Their bodies and body parts would be infiltrated into the forensic investigation. Their identity papers would be "found" at the scenes of the bombings. Their injuries would be consistent. Their names and their memory smeared forever.
It's war. This is what it's like. Stop it.
Credits: Team 8+ & WagNews Posters
20 July 2005 - Western Daily Press - letters
Sir - The rush to pass judgment on the Muslim community continues apace.
At the same time the awkward questions are on the increase.
Why, with no previous connections to any militant groups, did the four choose to die and kill for Islam?
Why did they pose for the CCTV cameras and carry wallets full of ID when they knew that their families, friends and the Muslim community would be abused, ostracised and punished?
Why did they hire a car instead of using one of the men's new red Mercedes?
Who warned Israeli minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to leave his hotel room adjacent to Liverpool Street Station?
Why, if they knew that they were carrying bombs, did they buy return rail tickets?
Why did they buy pay-and-display parking tickets?
Why were the explosives not strapped around their midriffs?
How were the three bombs detonated at precisely the same time without timers?
Who decided that timers and military explosives should be dropped and replaced with no timers and "home-made explosives"?
Did the police use extra-sensory perception to find out so much so quickly?
Why did the suicide bus bomber go to the top deck where the damage would have been much less?
As all the available evidence points to the four being murdered along with the rest, what did they believe that they had been given when they picked up their knapsacks?
If they were couriers what were supposed to be the goods?
Pat Rattigan Chesterfield Derbyshire
July 19, 2005
BY JOHN O'SULLIVAN
LONDON -- Do the four young men who blew up 55 people in London qualify as exceptional and terrifying ''suicide bombers''? Or were they run-of-the-mill, regular, ordinary terrorist bombers such as you meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in any small provincial English town? It may seem that this is a slightly odd question to ask. What does it matter which they were? They still kill people, don't they?
But the fact is that this question actually worries the British government, police, intelligence services and ''chattering classes'' even if most ordinary Brits take the attitude of the medieval pope who ordered ''Kill them all -- and let God decide.'' It is not too much to say that the elites desperately hope the bombers will turn out to be ordinary terrorists (or, as the BBC would put it, ''militants''). This hope does not rest on an easy confidence that Britain handled conventional terrorism before and knows how to do so. IRA terrorists murdered 2,200 people over 30 years, and as part of the Good Friday agreement, they were released to wander about the streets, intimidate their neighbors, kneecap dissenters, run rackets, and in general live like semi-retired Mafiosi in a lax witness protection program.
But the IRA faced one great difficulty: Its terrorists wanted to live. They wanted to plant bombs and get away. And if you want to get away, that complicates the difficulty of exploding the bomb. It has to be detonated either by a timer or by remote control; it has to be left lying around. These difficulties explain the IRA's ingenuity in inventing more and more ways of planting bombs without being caught. They explain why IRA ''experts'' are sought by less experienced terrorist groups like the Colombian FARC to train their operatives. It is no exaggeration to say the IRA pioneered almost all the modern methods of terrorist murder: car bombs, pub bombs, remote control detonators, even suicide bombers.
In the IRA's case, however, the suicide bomber was involuntary. They took a hostage, packed him with explosives, drove him to a British Army checkpoint, and threatened to murder his family unless he approached the soldiers. The poor man tried to warn the soldiers -- God rest his brave soul -- as he drew near and was blown up. Now, the fascinating theory has emerged in British intelligence circles that the four young Muslim terrorists may have been ''suicide'' bombers of the same involuntary kind.
Here is the evidence: They bought return railway tickets. Their bombs were not strapped to their bodies but carried in knapsacks as if to be left behind on the trains. None of them was heard to shout the customary ''Allah Akhbar'' before the bombs exploded. Unusually for suicide bombers, they left identification on their bodies. And surveillance videotapes show them laughing and joking casually -- rather than grimly determined or prayerful -- as they caught the Underground train.
These little pieces of circumstantial evidence suggest the possibility the bombers were duped. Maybe they were told by their controllers that the bombs were timed to go off five minutes after being detonated rather than immediately. It would not be the first time that al-Qaida had deceived its devotees: Osama bin Laden revealed that not all the 9/11 hijackers were aware that the planes were to be flown into buildings. And the bombers' ''suicide'' would protect the terrorist network against the chance that they might be caught and persuaded to talk.
This is no more than a theory. It may never be conclusively established or disproved. But it is a tempting theory because the British authorities find the prospect of suicide bombing so terrifying.
Like the U.S. authorities, they fear that bombers who don't have to plan an escape route (because they will be dead) cannot be deterred. If they were born and brought up in Britain, they cannot easily be detected. And if they exist in even modest numbers in Muslim and immigrant communities, they will pose an insuperable security threat. These fears are reasonable. But we should not terrify ourselves by exaggerating them. Israel has succeeded in greatly reducing the extent and success of suicide terrorism by good intelligence, by penetrating the terrorist groups, and by focusing attention less on the suicide bombers than on the networks required to sustain them and the surrounding community from which they come.
The pool of potential suicide bombers is not vast. It consists of radical Muslims who are brave and dim. Reluctant though we may be to admit the fact, it undoubtedly requires courage to blow oneself up. To kill oneself and innocent passersby, however, in the belief that God will reward you with Paradise and instant Playboy centerfolds, suggests a silliness of epic proportions.
But courage and stupidity are still not enough for suicide bombing. You have to be psyched up for it. The testimony of failed suicide bombers reveals that a network of persuaders constantly reinforces their loyalty -- and not just that. Every bomber is shepherded by large numbers of recruiters, trainers, explosives experts, ''mentors,'' and controllers to direct their crime. Remove even one link in this chain and the entire apparatus has to be built again in an atmosphere of fear.
Here the Brits have been given a useful lead by the evidence that at least two of the bombers had recently visited Pakistan. Every young British Muslim who has recently visited Pakistan is a potential informant on these networks. So are Saudi-financed imams and academics who advocate ''jihad.'' If Muslim pressure groups are inclined to protest at their interrogation, they should have the words of Abdel Rahman al-Rashed of the Al-Arabiya news channel quoted at them: ''It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.''
Britain does not have the resources to question everyone; so it is justified in questioning those most likely either to be terrorists or to know them. This is not Islamophobia; it is common sense. Ordinary law-abiding Muslims in Britain accept that. They know the radical Islamists among them threaten their daughters' lives and their sons' souls. Until now, Britain has not asked them to take sides. And since it is human nature to avoid painful choices, they have remained quiet -- and the cancer within Islam has spread. Over the weekend, however, Prime Minister Tony Blair attacked Islamism as a ''perversion'' of Islam and as an ''evil ideology.''
Now that appeasement of radical Islamism is no longer British policy, neutrality is no longer an option for British Muslims.
By Webster G. Tarpley
Washington DC, July 11 2005
Last week's London explosions carry the characteristic features of a state-sponsored, false flag, synthetic terror provocation by networks within the British intelligence services MI-5, MI-6, the Home Office, and the Metropolitan Police Special Branch who are favorable to a wider Anglo-American aggressive war in the Middle East, featuring especially an early pre-emptive attack on Iran, with a separate option on North Korea also included. With the London attacks, the Anglo-American invisible government adds another horrendous crime to its own dossier. But this time, their operations appear imperfect, especially in regard to the lack (so far) of a credible patsy group which, by virtue of its ethnicity, could direct popular anger against one of the invisible government's targets. So far, the entire attribution of the London crimes depends on what amounts to an anonymous posting in an obscure, hitherto unknown, secular Arabic-language chatrooms in the state of Maryland, USA. But, based on this wretched shred of pseudo-evidence, British Prime Minister Tony Blair - who has surely heard of a group called the Irish Republican Army, which bombed London for more than a decade - has not hesitated to ascribe the murders to "Islam," and seems to be flirting with total martial law under the Civil Contingencies Act. We are reminded once again of how he earned his nickname of Tony Bliar.
That the British Government knew in advance that blasts would occur is not open to rational doubt. Within hours of the explosions, Israeli Army Radio was reporting that "Scotland Yard [London police headquarters] had intelligence warnings of the attacks a short time before they occurred." This report, repeated by IsraelNN.com, added that "the Israeli Embassy in London was notified in advance, resulting in Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remaining in his hotel room rather than make his way to the hotel adjacent to the site of the first explosion, a Liverpool Street train station, where he was to address an economic summit." This report is attributed to "unconfirmed reliable sources." At around the same time, the Associated Press issued a wire asserting that "British police told the Israeli Embassy in London minutes before Thursday's explosions that they had received warnings of possible terror attacks in the city," according to "a senior Israeli official." This wire specifies that "just before the blasts, Scotland Yard called the security officer at the Israeli Embassy to say that they had received warnings of possible attacks ."
According to eyewitness reports from London, BBC claimed between 8:45 and some minutes after 10 AM that the incidents in the Underground were the result of an electrical power surge, or alternatively of a collision. Foreign bigwigs, presumably not just Netanyahu, were warned, while London working people continued to stream into the subway. These reports have been denied, repudiated, sanitized, and expunged from news media websites by the modern Orwellian Thought Police, but they have been archived by analysts who learned on 9/11 and other occasions that key evidence in state-sponsored terror crimes tends to filter out during the first minutes and hours, during the critical interval when the controlled media are assimilating the cover story peddled by complicit moles within the ministries. These reports are not at all damaging to Israel, but are devastating for British domestic security organs. An alternative version peddled by Stratfor.com, namely that the Israelis warned Scotland Yard, is most probably spurious but still leaves the British authorities on the hook. Which Scotland Yard official made the calls? Identify that official, and you have bagged a real live rogue network mole.
Another more general element of foreknowledge can be seen in the fact reported by Isikoff and Hosenball of Newsweek that, since about November 2004, the US FBI, but not other US agencies, has been refusing to use the London Underground.
Operations like these are generally conduited through the government bureaucracies under the cover of a drill or exercise which closely resembles the terror operation itself. So it was with Amalgam Virgo and the multiple exercises held on 9/11, as I show in my 9/11 Synthetic Terror - Made in USA (Joshua Tree CA: Progressive Press, 2005). So it was with the Hinckley attempt to assassinate Ronald Reagan, when a presidential succession exercise was scheduled for the next day, as I showed in my George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography (1992; reprint by Progressive Press, 2004). An uncannily similar maneuver allows the necessary work to be done on official computers and on company time, while warding off the inquisitive glances and questions of curious co-workers at adjoining computer consoles.
Such a parallel drill was not lacking in the London case. On the evening of July 7, BBC Five, a news and sports radio program, carried an interview with a certain former Scotland Yard official named Peter Power who related that his firm, Visor Consulting, had been doing an anti-terror-bombing drill in precisely the Underground stations and at the precise times when the real explosions went off. Peter Power and Visor had been subcontractors for the drill; Power declined to name the prime contractors. Small wonder that Blair, in his first official report to the Commons on July 11, went out of his way to rule out a board of inquiry to probe these tragic events.
Tony Blair may be eyeing the advantages of emergency rule for a discredited lame duck like himself, but the British people may have a different view. The alternative is clear: on the one hand is the American response after 9/11, marked by submissive and credulous gullibility in regard to the fantastic official story of what had happened. On the other hand is the militant and intelligent Spanish response after March 11, 2004, marked by powerful mass mobilization and righteous anger against politicians who sought to manipulate the people and sell a distorted account of events. Which way will the British people go? Straws in the wind suggest that the British response may be closer to the Spanish, although it may develop more slowly because of the lack of mass organization and related factors. If this is the case, Tony Blair, Jack Straw, and the rest of the malodorous "New Labor" crypto-Thatcherites will be out the window.
My thesis is that the London explosions represent a form of communication on the part of the transatlantic Anglo-American financier faction with Bush, Blair, and the heads of state and government assembled at Gleneagles, Scotland for the G-8 meeting on the day of the blast. The London deaths were designed to deliver an ultimatum in favor of early war with Iran. Here a word of clarification may be necessary. The demonization of Bush by his many enemies, while understandable, risks blurring the basic realities of power in the US and UK. Since the Bay of Pigs and the Kennedy assassination (to go back no further than that), we have been aware of a secret team. During the Iran-contra era, the same phenomenon was referred to as an invisible, secret or parallel government. This is still the matrix of most large-scale terrorism. The questions arises for some: do Bush and Cheney tell the invisible government what to do, or does the invisible government treat the visible office holders as puppets and expendable assets? To ask the question is to answer it: Bush, Cheney & Co. are the expendable puppets. The explanation of terror is not Bush "makes it happen on purpose," or "MIHOP," as some seem to argue, but rather invisible government MIHOP, an altogether more dire proposition.
How then does the invisible faction communicate with the public mouthpieces? Given the violence of the power relations involved, we can be sure that it is not a matter of sending out engraved invitations announcing that the honor of Bush's presence is requested at the launching of an attack on Iran. Rather, the invisible and violent rogue network communicates with Bush, Blair, and others by means coherent with their aggressive nature - as they did on 9/11. Bush, of course, is a weak and passive tenant of the White House whose instinct is to do virtually nothing beyond the day-to-day routine.
We therefore need to note that the London blasts come after two months of vigorous and impatient prodding of Bush by the invisible government. On May 11, a small plane almost reached the White House before it was turned away, while the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House (but not the Pentagon, the Treasury, etc.) were evacuated amid scenes of panic. The White House went to red alert, but Bush was not informed until it was all over, and was riding his bicycle in the woods near Greenbelt, Maryland. Flares were dropped over the Brookland district and Takoma Park, MD. The resemblance of all this to a classic coup scenario was evident. On May 18, a live hand grenade, which turned out to be a dud, landed near Bush as he spoke at a rally in Tbilisi, Georgia.
On June 29, the approach of another small plane led to an evacuation of the Congress and the Capitol, again with scenes of panic. On the afternoon of July 2, no fewer than three small planes came close to Bush's Camp David retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland; this story was suspiciously relegated to the local news page of the Washington Post. The details of these incidents are of little interest; what counts is the objective reality of a pattern. These incidents also provide background for Bush's unbalanced behavior on July 5 at Gleneagles, when he crashed into a policeman while riding on his bicycle. Then came the London blasts on July 7.
What is it that the invisible government wants Bush and Blair to do? Scott Ritter announced last January that Bush had issued an order to prepare an attack on Iran for the month of June. According to a well-informed retired CIA analyst I spoke with on July 3, this order actually told US commanders to be ready to attack Iran by the end of June. This project of war with Iran is coherent with most of what we know about the intentions of the US-UK rogue faction, and thus provides the immediate background for the London explosions. The Bush administration and the Blair cabinet have failed to deliver decisive military action, and the invisible government is exceedingly impatient.
One way to increase the pressure on Iran would be to implicate a group of Iranian fanatic patsies in the London bombings. This would not be difficult; in fact, as I show in 9/11 Synthetic Terror, the British capital, referred to during the 1990s as Londonistan, is home to the largest concentration of Arab and Islamic patsy groups in the entire world, in such infamous locations as Finsbury mosque and Brixton mosque; these groups are known to have enjoyed de facto recruiting privileges in Her Majesty's Prisons. But perhaps an Iranian patsy group would be too obvious at this time. More likely may be the sinking of a US warship in the Gulf by a third country, duly attributed to Iran.
In a recent speech, Dr. Ephraim Asculai of Tel Aviv University made two main points: first, that there is no military solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, and second, that there is no such thing as a point of no return in nuclear weapons development. Dr. Asculai showed that South Africa, Sweden, and other nations had turned away from deploying A-bombs well after having acquired the ability to produce them. Dr. Asculai is evidently arguing against widespread tendencies in the US-UK-Israeli strategic community who are whipping up hysteria around the notion that Iran is now indeed approaching exactly such a point of no return.
For her part, Miss Rice of the State Department has now declared that it will no longer be sufficient for Iran to turn away from nuclear weapons production; the entire Iranian program for nuclear energy production will also have to be dismantled, in her view. Such maximalism makes a negotiated solution impossible as long as the current Washington group holds power.
The US, UK and Israel have been on the brink of war with Iran for at least a year, and the rogue network is generally aware that time is not on its side. There is also an important new development which threatens the ability of the Anglo-Americans to wage war. On July 5, the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which brings together China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Krygyzia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan plus new members India, Pakistan, and Iran, issued a call for the United States to vacate the bases seized in the autumn of 2001 under the cover of the 9/11 emergency and the looming invasion of Afghanistan. The parties to this call represent about half of the world's population. This demand was immediately rejected by the State Department, but veteran Russian Eurasian expert Yevgeny Primakov crowed that for the first time a formula had been agreed to by which the US would be ejected from this region. The US presence goes back to the Bush-Putin emergency hotwire talks of September 11, 2001, when Putin, seeing that the madmen had seized control in Washington, dropped Russian objections to a US intrusion into the former Soviet republics of central Asia. The US-UK can attack Iran from Iraq in the west, from Afghanistan in the east, and from Qatar in the south, but without the Uzbek and Kyrgyz bases, the Anglo-American ability to attack from the north as well will be severely limited.
The SCO states are also concerned about US-backed "color revolutions" on the recent Georgian and Ukrainian models, traditionally known as CIA "people power" revolutions, being used to destabilize their governments. To make matters worse for Washington and London, Kazakhstan is a few months away from opening an oil pipeline to China, which will diminish the US-UK ability to use their Gulf presence to blackmail Beijing. Washington and London are also dismayed by the pro-Iranian overtures in various fields being made by their Shiite puppets in Baghdad.
And what of the report in the Washington Post of July 11, which claims that US and UK planners are now contemplating a sharp reduction in the US forces in Iraq? The most plausible explanation is that this is pure disinformation, similar to news blips issued by both Hitler and Stalin in May and June of 1941. It should also be noted that the British plan explicitly provides for most of the forces now at Basra to go to Afghanistan, where they would be positioned for operations against Iran, or into central Asia.
Generally, the invisible government appears dismayed by its loss of momentum and the constant erosion of the political position of its asset, Bush. 110,000 US factory workers lost their jobs in June, the worst total in a year and a half: autos and textiles are collapsing. The housing bubble may also be nearing its end, with the bankruptcy of Fannie Mae on the near-term agenda. World derivatives have officially reached $300 trillion, with JP Morgan Chase holding the largest single portfolio. The one virtuoso performance of July 7 was that of the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and European Central Bank, which flooded equity and capital markets with liquidity through such vehicles as the Plunge Protection Team (PPT), turning a big Wall Street loss into a small gain.
During the recent Reopen 9/11 tour of 8 European cities, Jimmy Walter repeatedly forecast that the general predicament of the Bush regime and the US financier faction would lead to another large-scale terror attack before the end of 2005; this has now occurred, and there is no end in sight. The tide of US public opinion has now definitively turned against the Iraq war and to some degree against Bush, as all major polls demonstrate. Notable is the 42% affirmative response to the Zogby International question as to whether, if it could be proved that Bush lied to launch the Iraq war, he should be impeached. Larry Franklin of the Wolfowitz-Feith neocon apparatus has been indicted for divulging US secrets, and the American-Israeli Public Affairs Council has been raided twice; further indictments are expected. Karl Rove has now been revealed as the source of the Valerie Plame leak, making Rove and perhaps other White House officials fair game for federal indictment. The Niger yellowcake forgeries and the Chalabi state secrets cases are still pending - to say nothing of two stolen elections and the 9/11 Septembergate itself. All these factors incline the rogue network to seek an improvement in their situation through a flight forward to a wider war in Iran. Those who stand to lose most by such an Iranian adventure must now mobilize to make Mr. Bush's second term as eventful as Nixon's second term turned out to be in 1974.
By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer Thu Jul 7, 7:14 AM ET
British police told the Israeli Embassy in London minutes before Thursday's explosions that they had received warnings of possible terror attacks in the city, a senior Israeli official said.
Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to attend an economic conference in a hotel over the subway stop where one of the blasts occurred, and the warning prompted him to stay in his hotel room instead, government officials said.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he wasn't aware of any Israeli casualties.
Just before the blasts, Scotland Yard called the security officer at the Israeli Embassy to say they had received warnings of possible attacks, the official said. He did not say whether British police made any link to the economic conference.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of his position.
The Israeli Embassy was in a state of emergency after the explosions in London, with no one allowed to enter or leave, said the Israeli ambassador to London, Zvi Hefet.
All phone lines to the embassy were down, said Danny Biran, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official.
The ministry set up a situation room to deal with hundreds of phone calls from concerned relatives. Thousands of Israelis are living in London or visiting the city at this time, Biran said.
Amir Gilad, a Netanyahu aide, told Israel Radio that Netanyahu's entourage was receiving updates all morning from British security officials, and "we have also asked to change our plans."
Netanyahu had been scheduled to stay in London until Sunday, but that could change, Gilad said.
©2005 The Associated Press
Victor de la Serna
Friday July 8, 2005
Explosions on jam-packed trains during rush hours with no prior warning, horrific results in terms of deaths, maimings and injuries, chaos and panic in a major European capital city, early if unreliable claims of responsibility by obscure al-Qaida subsidiaries: the resemblances between the 3/11 terrorist attacks in Madrid and the 7/7 attacks in London are so obvious that comment appears superfluous. The differences may be more revealing.
The key difference, of course, was that three days after 3/11 there was a 3/14 in Spain: general elections that the conservatives of the then prime minister, José María Aznar, were likely to win despite the fact that he was not himself running and despite widespread popular opposition to his backing the American invasion of Iraq. In the end, however, the Socialist party won after three venomous days of recriminations about the terrorist actions and their perpetrators.
These electoral effects contaminated reactions to the bombings in a deep and lasting manner - the same will not happen in the UK, where there are no electoral urgencies at present.
In Spain, that contamination was so intense that the main point in the recent report of the parliamentary inquiry into the attacks, 16 months after the events, was not related to the perpetrators but to the performance of Mr Aznar's cabinet. It was criticised by the current parliamentary majority for not having prepared better for Islamic terrorist actions and for "misleading" public opinion when it insisted early on that the Basque terrorist group, Eta, was most likely responsible - which would have helped the conservatives' electoral push.
For their part, the conservatives have, since then, devoted all their strenuous efforts to defending their record. They also insist that too many question marks remain about the 2004 attacks - the physical perpetrators were petty Madrid-based criminals; the explosives used were sold by traffickers in northern Spain who are suspected to have supplied Eta too; regional police authorities had known about those dealings since 2001 but had not acted. A local Socialist party official had even been visiting a suspected Islamist terrorist in jail. Ties between the suspected terrorists and the Moroccan secret services have surfaced.
Amid the barrage of political infighting, the actual investigation of the origins and ramifications of the attacks has proceeded at snail's pace. Several suspected terrorists were blown up - or blew themselves up - in an apartment on the outskirts of Madrid days after the bombing, which certainly made things more difficult.
In addition, it is hard to envision anyone among those who died or those who have been arrested having enough planning skills and technical sophistication to have organised the highly synchronised attacks and having set up the sophisticated explosive devices that were detonated with cell phones.
The poisoned political atmosphere has provoked a deepening social divide, with a triumphant Spanish left chastising the right as never before since the political transition of Franco's death, and the right now responding in kind against a Socialist administration whose main initiatives - like the recent legalisation of gay marriage - have been directly aimed at traditional, Catholic sensitivities in Spain.
Is disgust with the political deterioration a reason why the horror of 3/11 itself seems to have vanished so quickly from social consciousness in Spain, specifically, in Madrid? Or is it a sort of collective defensive reflex? The fact is that two months after the bombings a report of the Spanish Society for the Study of Anxiety and Stress determined that 8% of Madrid denizens showed symptoms of "serious depression"; a year later only 2% still suffered them, and now the psychological scars - save for the victims and their families - seem to have practically disappeared.
A very sad post-mortem.
· Victor de la Serna is deputy editor of the Spanish newspaper, El Mundo
Barbara McMahon in Rome
Sunday June 26, 2005
Italy and the United States were embroiled in a growing diplomatic row today over the CIA's alleged kidnapping of a terror suspect, as other countries also began investigations into America's role in the disappearance of their citizens.
Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, was seized two years ago on the streets of Milan. Italian investigators claim he was bundled into the back of a van, driven to a US airbase in the north of Italy and secretly flown to Egypt, where he was interrogated and tortured.
The abduction is alleged to be part of America's 'rendition programme', in which terrorist suspects are forcibly removed to their home countries or to a third nation, where they can be interrogated without legal protection.
Earlier last week, an Italian judge issued arrest warrants for 13 people said to be CIA operatives involved in Omar's abduction. Another six people - all Americans - are also under investigation. It is the first time a foreign government has filed criminal charges against US citizens involved in counter-terrorism work abroad.
Other nations have also begun to oppose Washington's forcible removal of terror suspects. Canada is holding hearings into the deportation of a Canadian to Syria for questioning about alleged ties to al-Qaeda. German prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into the suspected kidnapping of a German man who was flown to Afghanistan. In Stockholm, a parliamentary investigator has already concluded that CIA agents violated Swedish law by subjecting two Egyptian nationals to 'degrading and inhuman treatment' during a rendition in 2001.
In Italy, news of the arrest warrants has caused outrage and the issue is expected to be discussed in parliament this week. Paolo Cento, vice-president of the justice committee in the Chamber of Deputies, called on the Interior and Defence Ministers to say whether Italian authorities had been alerted by the Americans prior to the rendition of Omar. 'We want to know if American agents have freedom of action on our territory and how, if that is the case, the government intends to protect the prerogative of our sovereignty,' Cento said.
Italians are also angry that the abduction of Omar, who had claimed political refugee status in Italy, disrupted their own investigation into his activities. They believe he was trained in Afghanistan and Bosnia and was connected to a suspected terrorist network in Europe.
'Our belief is that terrorist suspects should be investigated through legal channels and brought to a court of law - not kidnapped and spirited away to be tortured in some secret prison,' a senior Italian official said.
The current whereabouts of Omar are not known. He was released for a short time after imprisonment in Egypt but may now be back in custody.
The 13 people alleged to be working for the CIA were traced by Italian investigators after they left behind a trail of evidence including hotel bills, telephone records and car hire receipts.
Since the 11 September attacks more than 100 terrorism suspects are believed to have been transferred by the US to Pakistan, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Uzbekistan and other countries.
WTC janitor pulls burn victim to safety after basement explosion rocks north tower seconds before jetliner hit top floors. Also, two other men trapped and drowning in a basement elevator shaft, were also pulled to safety from underground explosion..
June 24, 2005
By Greg Szymanski
What happened to William Rodriguez the morning of 9/11 is a miracle. What happened to his story after-the-fact is a tragedy.
But with miracles and tragedies comes truth. And truth is exactly what Rodriguez brings to the whole mystery surrounding 9/11.
Declared a hero for saving numerous lives at Ground Zero, he was the janitor on duty the morning of 9/11 who heard and felt explosions rock the basement sub-levels of the north tower just seconds before the jetliner struck the top floors.
He not only claims he felt explosions coming from below the first sub-level while working in the basement, he says the walls were cracking around him and he pulled a man to safety by the name of Felipe David, who was severely burned from the basement explosions.
All these events occurred only seconds before and during the jetliner strike above. And through it all, he now asks a simple question everybody should be asking? How could a jetliner hit 90 floors above and burn a mans arms and face to a crisp in the basement below within seconds of impact?
Rodriguez claims this was impossible and clearly demonstrates a controlled demolition brought down the WTC, saying "Lets see them (the government) try to wiggle out of this one."
Well, they havent wiggled out of it because the government continues to act like Rodriguez doesnt exist, basically ignoring his statements and the fact he rescued a man burnt and bleeding from the basement explosions.
His eye witness account, ignored by the media and the government, points the finger squarely on an official cover-up at the highest levels since the government contends the WTC fell only from burning jet fuel. And after listening to Rodriguez, its easy to see why the Bush administration wants him kept quiet.
Bush wants him quiet because Rodriguezs account is proof positive the WTC was brought down by a controlled demolition, not burning jet fuel. And Bush knows if hes caught lying about this or caught in a cover-up, its just a matter of time before the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.
In fact, Rodriguezs story is so damaging so damning it literally blows the lid off the government story, literally exposing the whole 9/11 investigation as a sham and a cover-up of the worst kind.
And it appears the cover-up also extends to the media.
NBC news knew about his story several years ago, even spending a full day at his house taping his comments. But when push came to shove, his story was never aired. Why?
His eyewitness account, backed up by at least 14 people at the scene with him, isnt speculation or conjecture. It isnt a story that takes a network out on a journalistic limb. Its a story that can be backed up, a story that can be verified with hospital records and testimony from many others.
Its a story about 14 people who felt and heard the same explosion and even saw Rodriguez, moments after the airplane hit, take David to safety, after he was burnt so bad from the basement explosion flesh was hanging from his face and both arms
So why didnt NBC or any other major news outlets cover the story? They didnt run it because it shot the government story to hell and back. They didnt run it because "the powers that be" wouldnt allow it.
Since 9/11, Rodriguez has stuck to his guns, never wavering from what he said from day one. Left homeless at times, warned to keep quiet and subtly harassed, he nevertheless has continued trying to tell get his message out in the face of a country not willing to listen.
Here is his story:
Its a miracle Rodriguez, 44, who worked at the WTC for 20 years, is even alive. Usually arriving to work at 8:30am, the morning of 9/11 he reported 30 minutes late. If hed arrived on time, it would have put him at the top floors just about the same time the jetliner hit the north tower.
"It was a miracle. If I arrived on time, like always, Id probably be dead. I would have been up at the top floors like every morning," said Rodriguez about the quirk of fate that saved his life.
But since he was late, Rodriguez found himself checking into work in an office on sub-level 1 when the north tower was hit, seemingly out of harms way. However, the sound and concussion of a massive explosion in the sub-levels right below his feet changed that.
"When I heard the sound of the explosion, the floor beneath my feet vibrated, the walls started cracking and it everything started shaking," said Rodriguez, who was huddled together with at least 14 other people in the office.
Rodriguez said Anthony Saltamachia, supervisor for the American Maintenance Co., was one of the people in the room who stands ready to verify his story.
"Seconds after the first massive explosion below in the basement still rattled the floor, I hear another explosion from way above," said Rodriguez. "Although I was unaware at the time, this was the airplane hitting the tower, it occurred moments after the first explosion."
But before Rodriguez had time to think, co-worker Felipe David stormed into the basement office with severe burns on his face and arms, screaming for help and yelling "explosion! explosion! explosion!"
David had been in front of a nearby freight elevator on sub-level 1 about 400 feet from the office when fire burst out of the elevator shaft, causing his injuries.
"He was burned terribly," said Rodriguez. "The skin was hanging off his hands and arms. His injuries couldnt have come from the airplane above, but only from a massive explosion below. I dont care what the government says, what scientists say. I saw a man burned terribly from a fire that was caused from an explosion below.
"I know there were explosives placed below the trade center. I helped a man to safety who is living proof, living proof the government story is a lie and a cover-up.
"I have tried to tell my story to everybody, but nobody wants to listen. It is very strange what is going on here in supposedly the most democratic country in the world. In my home country of Puerto Rico and all the other Latin American countries, I have been allowed to tell my story uncensored. But here, I cant even say a word."
After Rodriguez escorted David to safety outside the WTC, he returned to lead the others in the basement to safety as well. While there, he also helped two other men trapped and drowning in the basement elevator shaft, another result he says of the explosives placed below the tower.
In fact, after leading these men to safety, he even made another trip back into the north tower, against police orders, in order to rescue people from the top floors.
"I never could make it to the top, but I got up to the 33rd floor after getting some of my equipment and a face mask out of the janitors closet," said Rodriguez, adding he heard a series of small explosions going off between the 20th and 30th floors, unrelated to the airplane strike, while making his way through the stairwell to the top floors.
"Also, when I was on the 33rd floor, I heard strange sounds coming form the 34th floor, loud noises like someone moving and thumping heavy equipment and furniture. I knew this floor was empty and stripped due to construction work so I avoided it and continued to make my way up the stairs."
Rodriguez said he finally reached the 39th floor before being turned back by fire fighters and then, reluctantly, started his descent back down and his own flight to safety while, at the same time, hearing explosions coming from the South Tower.
The concerted effort by the media and the government to silence Rodriguez is the tragedy behind this American heros story. And there is no question, Rodriguez is a "silent hero" for saving so many lives and for having the courage to continue telling his story against tremendous odds.
In an effort to open a fair and honest investigation as to why the WTC collapsed, Rodriguez has been ignored by government officials, the 9/11 Commission and the National Institute of Safety and Technology (NIST).
NIST, an independent investigative group funded by the government, put the finishing touches this week on its 2 year $35 million 9/11 investigation. This week Rodriguez made his final plea to have his story heard while testifying at the final public hearing held in New York.
" I disagree 100%with the government story," said Rodriguez. "I met with the 9/11 Commission behind closed doors and they essentially discounted everything I said regarding the use of explosives to bring down the north tower.
"And I contacted NIST previously four times without a response. Finally, this week I asked them before they came up with their conclusion that jet fuel brought down the towers, if they ever considered my statements or the statements of any of the other survivors who heard the explosions. They just stared at me with blank faces and didnt have any answers.
"Also, The FBI never followed up on my claims or on the other part of my story when I told them before 9/11, I encountered one of the hijackers casing the north tower."
Besides the explosions, Rodriguez also has provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission that he stumbled across one of the supposed 19 Arab hijackers inside the WTC several months before 9/11
"I had just finished cleaning the bathroom and this guy asks me, 'Excuse me, how many public bathrooms are in this area?'" Rodriguez told the 9/11 Commission. "Coming from the school of the 1993 [Trade Center] bombing, I found it very strange. I didn't forget about it"
Rodriguez, claims he saw United Airlines Flight 175 hijacker Mohand Alshehri in June 2001, telling an FBI agent about the incident a month after the attacks. Never hearing back from the bureau, he later learned agents never followed up on the story.
"I'm very certain, I'll give it 90%" that Alshehri was casing the towers before the attacks," said Rodriguez.
Regarding the medias apathetic approach to his story, Rodriguez said immediately after 9/11 some newspapers picked it up but his words were never taken seriously and quickly forgotten.
"During the 9/11 hearings, NBC brought a crew out to my house and spent a day taping my story but they never did air a word of it," said Rodriguez. "Since then, some reporters and commentators have subtly warned me to keep quiet, told me my life could be in jeopardy and warned me that I really didnt understand who I was dealing with.
"I have been receiving this type of subtle harassment for years, but I keep telling everybody I cant be intimidated because I am on a mission. Whenever someone asks why I keep talking or warns me that I could be killed, I just tell them I have nothing to lose.
"I tell them I lost 200 friends and I am their voice now. I tell them I will do everything in my power to find out the truth since I am living on borrowed time since I probably should be dead anyway."
Besides trying to tell his explosive story, Rodriguez has been active raising money for 9/11victims, being involved with charity groups that have raised more than $122 million. He says he has used over $60,000 of his own money, originally earmarked to buy a new house, in order to get at the truth behind 9/11.
Also seeking justice at the highest level, Rodriguez is the lead plaintiff in a federal RICO lawsuit filed against President Bush and others, alleging conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes in the deaths of more than 3,000 at the WTC.
The case, filed last November in a Philadelphia federal district court, recently was moved to New York in a change of venue after a governments motion to dismiss was overruled, allowing legal discovery to continue.
"Even if the case goes no farther, I feel we have scored a victory by winning this first battle," said Rodriguez. "At least the judge seems willing to listen which is a victory of sorts. However, I sincerely hope we can eventually take the case all the way to trial and reveal the truth to the American people about 9/11."
For more informative articles, go to www.arcticbeacon.com where kind donations are also accepted to keep the truth flowing in the wake of media apathy.
Greg Szymanski http://www.arcticbeacon.com/articles/article/1518131/28031.htm
Wednesday May 11, 2005 - The Guardian
OK, I'm paranoid and depressed. My new government of troglodytes, murderers and spivs barely elongates the customary scream I give upon waking. What troubles me more is our rulers' inevitable recommencement of the war on terror bollocks.
To begin at what we're told is the beginning, we have 9/11 - the one in the US, not the earlier one in Chile when covert US government intervention killed thousands of innocents and handed the country to a commerce-friendly, torture-loving, far-right junta. Now if 9/11/2001 is so important, why is it so hard to find out what happened?
The FBI, as we know, blocked all manner of investigations into the plot in the run up to its execution, whether these involved highly specific warnings from its own agents or from government sources in Afghanistan, Argentina, Britain, the Cayman Islands, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco and Russia.
Meanwhile, I worry why the nearest military aircraft weren't scrambled to intercept any of the hijacked flights when this is standard procedure and why, when more distant jets were finally aloft, they flew at less than half speed, thus failing to prevent the impacts at the twin towers and then, it would seem, managing to shoot down Flight 93 when its passengers may already have overcome its hijackers.
It would, of course, be easier to know what happened to Flight 93 if there weren't - according to educated estimates - three minutes of the cockpit recording missing. It would, equally, be handy to have access to the black boxes from the other crashes. Firefighters at Ground Zero have repeatedly stated that three of the four possible black boxes there were found and taken away by government agents.
And these worries are maybe less important than the ones about clear links between the Pakistani ISI, the CIA and the men named as the 9/11 hijackers. Or the mysterious inability of anyone to capture Osama bin Laden, who fled from Tora Bora, possibly being evacuated by helicopter, and then escaped to Pakistan unhindered.
So while Chinese paperclips are now made out of vital 9/11 evidence and almost every implicated party goes free, we and our controlling US interests continue fearlessly to terrorise countries unconnected with the attacks, to place permanent military bases near oil reserves and pipeline routes, to harass and murder Muslims anywhere we can, and to foment terrorist resistance at every opportunity. The UK unmasks non-existent ricin plots and threatens us with ID cards, but we can't supply our troops in Iraq with working radios or a legal causus belli.
But you'd never want to think that on 9/11/2001 covert US government intervention killed thousands of innocents and handed the country, if not the world, to a commerce-friendly, torture-loving, far-right junta. That would make you a paranoid, depressed conspiracy theorist. And, take it from me, that just wouldn't be comfortable.
May 01, 2005 - Sunday Times
SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell
IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY
Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.
This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad US options were:
(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).
(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.
The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:
(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.
(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.
(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.
On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.
John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.
The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.
(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.
(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.
(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.
(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.
(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.
(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.
(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)
(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)
The Sunday Times - Britain - May 01, 2005
INSIDE Downing Street Tony Blair had gathered some of his senior ministers and advisers for a pivotal meeting in the build-up to the Iraq war. It was 9am on July 23, 2002, eight months before the invasion began and long before the public was told war was inevitable.
The discussion that morning was highly confidential. As minutes of the proceedings, headed Secret and strictly personal UK eyes only, state: This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
In the room were the prime minister, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, and military and intelligence chiefs. Also listed on the minutes are Alastair Campbell, then Blairs director of strategy, Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, and Sally Morgan, director of government relations.
What they were about to discuss would dominate the political agenda for years to come and indelibly stain Blairs reputation; and last week the issue exploded again on the political scene as Blair campaigned in the hope of winning a third term as prime minister.
For the secret documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that on that Tuesday in 2002:
Blair was right from the outset committed to supporting US plans for regime change in Iraq.
War was already seen as inevitable.
The attorney-general was already warning of grave doubts about its legality.
Straw even said the case for war was thin. So Blair and his inner circle set about devising a plan to justify invasion.
If the political context were right, said Blair, people would support regime change. Straightforward regime change, though, was illegal. They needed another reason.
By the end of the meeting, a possible path to invasion was agreed and it was noted that Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the defence staff, would send the prime minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.
Outside Downing Street, the rest of Britain, including most cabinet ministers, knew nothing of this. True, tensions were running high, and fears of terrorism were widespread. But Blairs constant refrain was that no decisions had been taken about what to do with Iraq.
The following day in the House of Commons, Blair told MPs: We have not got to the stage of military action . . . we have not yet reached the point of decision.
It was typical lawyers cleverness, if not dissembling: while no actual order had been given to invade, Blair already knew Saddam Hussein was going to be removed, sooner or later. Plans were in motion. The justification would come later.
AS a civil service briefing paper specifically prepared for the July meeting reveals, Blair had made his fundamental decision on Saddam when he met President George W Bush in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002.
When the prime minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April, states the paper, he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change.
Blair set certain conditions: that efforts were first made to try to eliminate Iraqs weapons of mass destruction (WMD) through weapons inspectors and to form a coalition and shape public opinion. But the bottom line was that he was signed up to ousting Saddam by force if other methods failed. The Americans just wanted to get rid of the brutal dictator, whether or not he posed an immediate threat.
This presented a problem because, as the secret briefing paper made clear, there were no clear legal grounds for war.
US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community, says the briefing paper. Regime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law.
To compound matters, the US was not a party to the International Criminal Court, while Britain was. The ICC, which came into force on 1 July, 2002, was set up to try international offences such as war crimes.
Military plans were forging ahead in America but the British, despite Blairs commitment, played down talk of war.
In April, Straw told MPs that no decisions about military action are likely to be made for some time.
That month Blair said in the Commons: We will ensure the house is properly consulted. On July 17 he told MPs: As I say constantly, no decisions have yet been taken.
Six days later in Downing Street the man who opened the secret discussion of Blairs war meeting was John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee. A former MI6 officer, Scarlett had become a key member of Blairs sofa cabinet. He came straight to the point Saddams regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action.
Saddam was expecting an attack, said Scarlett, but was not convinced it would be immediate or overwhelming.
His assessment reveals that the primary impetus to action over Iraq was not the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction as Blair later told the country but the desire to overthrow Saddam. There was little talk of WMD at all.
The next contributor to the meeting, according to the minutes, was C, as the chief of MI6 is traditionally known.
Sir Richard Dearlove added nothing to what Scarlett had said about Iraq: his intelligence concerned his recent visit to Washington where he had held talks with George Tenet, director of the CIA.
Military action was now seen as inevitable, said Dearlove. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.
The Americans had been trying to link Saddam to the 9/11 attacks; but the British knew the evidence was flimsy or non-existent. Dearlove warned the meeting that the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
It was clear from Dearloves brief visit that the US administrations attitude would compound the legal difficulties for Britain. The US had no patience with the United Nations and little inclination to ensure an invasion was backed by the security council, he said.
Nor did the Americans seem very interested in what might happen in the aftermath of military action. Yet, as Boyce then reported, events were already moving swiftly.
CDS (chief of the defence staff) said that military planners would brief (Donald) Rumsfeld (US defence secretary) on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The US invasion plans centred around two options. One was a full-blown reprise of the 1991 Gulf war, a steady and obvious build-up of troops over several months, followed by a large-scale invasion.
The other was a running start. Seizing on an Iraqi casus belli, US and RAF patrols over the southern no-fly zone would knock out the Iraqi air defences. Allied special forces would then carry out a series of small-scale operations in tandem with the Iraqi opposition, with more forces joining the battle as they arrived, eventually toppling Saddams regime.
The running start was, said Boyce, a hazardous option.
In either case the US saw three options for British involvement. The first allowed the use of the bases in Diego Garcia and Cyprus and three squadrons of special forces; the second added RAF aircraft and Royal Navy ships; the third threw in 40,000 ground troops perhaps with a discrete role in northern Iraq entering from Turkey.
At the least the US saw the use of British bases as critical, which posed immediate legal problems. And Hoon said the US had already begun spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime.
AMID all this talk of military might and invasion plans, one awkward voice spoke up. Straw warned that, though Bush had made up his mind on military action, the case for it was thin. He was not thinking in purely legal terms.
A few weeks later the government would paint Saddam as an imminent threat to the Middle East and the world. But that morning in private Straw said: Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.
It was a key point. If Saddam was not an immediate threat, could war be justified legally? The attorney-general made his position clear, telling the meeting that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action.
Right from the outset, the minutes reveal, the governments legal adviser had grave doubts about Blairs plans; he would only finally conclude unequivocally that war was legal three days before the invasion, by which time tens of thousands of troops were already on the borders of Iraq.
There were three possible legal bases for military action, said Goldsmith. Self-defence, intervention to end an humanitarian crisis and a resolution from the UN Security Council.
Neither of the first two options was a possibility with Iraq; it had to be a UN resolution. But relying, as some hoped they could, on an existing UN resolution, would be difficult.
Despite voicing concerns, Straw was not standing in the way of war. It was he who suggested a solution: they should force Saddam into a corner where he would give them a clear reason for war.
We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors, he said.
If he refused, or the weapons inspectors found WMD, there would be good cause for war. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force, said Straw.
From the minutes, it seems as if Blair seized on the idea as a way of reconciling the US drive towards invasion and Britains need for a legal excuse.
The prime minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors, record the minutes. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD . . . If the political context were right, people would support regime change.
Blair would subsequently portray the key issue to parliament and the people as the threat of WMD; and weeks later he would produce the now notorious sexed up dossier detailing Iraqs suspected nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programmes.
But in the meeting Blair said: The two key issues are whether the military plan works and whether we have the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.
Hoon said that if the prime minister wanted to send in the troops, he would have to decide early. The defence chiefs were pressing to be allowed to buy large amounts of equipment as urgent operational requirements. They had been prevented from preparing for war, partly by Blairs insistence that there could be no publicly visible preparations that might inflame splits in his party, partly by the fact there was no authorisation to spend any money.
The meeting concluded that they should plan for the UK taking part in any military action. Boyce would send Blair full details; Blair would come back with a decision about money; and Straw would send Blair the background on the UN inspectors and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
The final note of the minutes, says: We must not ignore the legal issues: the attorney-general would consider legal advice with (Foreign Office/Ministry of Defence) legal advisers.
It was a prophetic warning.
Also seen by The Sunday Times is the Foreign Office opinion on the possible legal bases for war. Marked Confidential, it runs to eight pages and casts doubt on the possibility of reviving the authority to use force from earlier UN resolutions. Reliance on it now would be unlikely to receive any support, it says.
Foreign Office lawyers were consistently doubtful of the legality of war and one deputy legal director, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, ultimately resigned because she believed the conflict was a crime of aggression.
The Foreign Office briefing on the legal aspects was made available for the Downing Street meeting on July 23. Ten days ago, when Blair was interviewed by the BBCs Jeremy Paxman, the prime minister was asked repeatedly whether he had seen that advice.
No, said Blair. I had the attorney-generals advice to guide me.
But as the July 23 documents show, the attorney-generals view was, until the last minute, also riven with doubts.
Three years on, it and the questionable legality of the war are still hanging round Blairs neck like an albatross.
Tuesday April 26, 2005
Tony Blair has been the worst prime minister since Neville Chamberlain, a figure with whom he shares a number of significant characteristics. Chamberlain was a supremely confident and arrogant politician, an excellent speaker and a deeply religious man with a hotline to God. He had an unassailable majority in parliament, was popular in the country and presided over a cabinet stuffed with nonentities.
Unfamiliar with the outside world, he conducted his own disastrous foreign policy with the help of backroom advisers as ignorant as himself. By seeking to appease the German government, the principal threat to world peace at the time, he onlysucceeded in encouraging that country's appetite for aggression and expansionism. His egregious errors played a not insignificant role in the outbreak of the second world war, the principal tragedy of the 20th century.
Blair has followed in his footsteps, and is destined for the same place in history's hall of infamy. Like Chamberlain, he is an arrogant and God-fuelled appeaser, the unseemly ally of an unbridled country that presents a global threat similar to Germany in the 1930s.
Instead of seeking a grand alliance to confront this new danger - "a coalition of the unwilling" that would include the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese - Blair has sided with the evil empire. He has taken up a role as its principal cheerleader, obliging Britain to become a participant in its wars of aggression. Today's Labour party has been a supine collaborator in this policy of appeasement, just like the Tory party in the 1930s. Blair's war party must be defeated at the polls.
The most popular slogan at the moment is "Blair must go". This simple message echoes across the political spectrum from the Conservative party to Respect, and even into the ranks of Labour itself. It clearly has majority support in the country. Blair is a war criminal who should be locked up behind bars without a vote, not standing for election. Yet Labour party supporters who dislike Blair have a bitter pill to swallow. The entire party shares in the war guilt of its leader and his silently complicit government.
New Labour may be self-destructing, but old Labour is in no better shape. It was already in a terminal state of collapse in the 1970s, as the recent obituaries of Jim Callaghan have recalled. The idea that a lively party exists that might rally behind Gordon Brown is a forlorn hope. The Labour party is a shadow of its former self, as damaged and decimated as the trade union movement, and it will have no further role to play in the 21st century. Given its recent record, that is an outcome to be welcomed.
The Tories, of course, are in no better shape. They too are led by war criminals, caught up in supporting a war of aggression that their traditional Arabist loyalties might perhaps have led them to greet with less enthusiasm had they been in power at the time. Their passivity over the war has occurred against a background of wider collapse, for the Tory party, like the monarchy, the Church of England and the BBC, is in terminal decline. There will be no return to the automatic Tory majorities of the 20th century. A freak Tory victory would hardly last a twelvemonth.
At the last election I chose the Abstention party, and it romped home to a spectacular victory. Many may feel disposed to support it again, since the choices on offer are so singularly unattractive. The degeneration of British politics and the inability of a pusillanimous generation of MPs to prevent the slide to war continue to make abstention an attractive option. Yet the background mood to this election, not necessarily reflected in the opinion polls, remains this deep sense of anger and resentment against the Blair government, even of disgust, and this may yet drive people to vote rather than abstain, and lead to an unusual result.
This year, because of the serious and lasting disaffection of a large slice of the electorate that traditionally sees it as its duty to vote, there is a slim but realistic chance of a change. Votes cast thoughtfully rather than tribally could bring about a breakthrough that would not only destroy the Blair government but create a new political framework. Each individual voter must use the vote to secure an anti-war majority in parliament, and to this end it will be necessary to vote in most cases, for the Liberal Democrats and occasionally for Respect or the Greens. Yet no one should be ashamed of voting for Tories who voted in parliament against the war. Ancient animosities must be set aside, as they were in the Commons vote that brought down Chamberlain.
The ideal outcome would be that the vagaries of the existing electoral system, which requires the selection of a local MP rather than a party leader, throws up a result in which the three main parties would each have approximately 30% of the MPs in the new House of Commons. The resulting hung parliament would bring home the troops from Iraq, just as the Spanish electorate was able to do. It would also have a further benefit, producing fresh electoral arrangements and the possible revival of interest in politics within the parliamentary arena. That might be unlikely, but is the most optimistic scenario that might emerge from the current contest.
· Richard Gott is the author, with Martin Gilbert, of The Appeasers, republished by the Phoenix Press
Wednesday April 27, 2005
Three days before the first US missiles hit Baghdad, Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, answered a question in the Lords on the legal basis for the use of military force. In nine short paragraphs he set out his reasoning: that even without the "second resolution" UK diplomats had been frantically trying to secure, existing UN resolutions permitted an invasion.
His argument was that the security council's authorisation for the 1991 Gulf war (resolution 678) could be reactivated if Iraq were found to be in material breach of its ceasefire conditions (resolution 687). Since resolution 1441, unanimously passed the previous November, stated that Iraq had not "fully complied with its obligations to disarm", the authority to use force was automatically revived, Lord Goldsmith wrote. His view was that if the resolution demanded another meeting of the security council to authorise war it would have said so. All 1441 required, he wrote, was "discussion by the security council of the Iraq's failures".
Key UN personnel including Kofi Annan, the secretary general, and Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, later disputed the legal status of the invasion under international law. Plenty of international lawyers also disagree with the reasoning of Lord Goldsmith's nine paragraphs.
Tony Blair, the prime minister, insists the written answer of March 17 was a "fair summary" of the advice he was given and Lord Goldsmith said it was "consistent" with the longer document. But leaked documents and disclosures suggest the full 13 pages Lord Goldsmith wrote for the prime minister 10 days before were more ambiguous.
A summary of the advice, obtained by the Guardian and Channel 4 News, said resolution 1441 was "capable in principle" of reauthorising 678 (the gist of his written answer) but it added two qualifications omitted on March 17. First, that the language of 1441 suggests "differences of view within the [security] council" on the legal impact of 1441 so the safest legal course would be to secure a second resolution. Second, that the eventual argument he did deploy - the reactivation of 678 - would only be "sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity" to comply with the Gulf war ceasefire.
"In other words," read the summary of Lord Goldsmith's advice to the prime minister, "we would need to demonstrate hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation. Given the structure of the resolution as a whole, the views of Unmovic and the IAEA [the two UN weapons inspections authorities] will be highly significant in this respect."
Hans Blix, the head of Unmovic, moved to the opinion that Iraq was beginning to comply with 1441's call for it demonstrate it had disarmed. On February 14 2003 he delivered a report to the security council listing examples of Iraqi compliance and questioning some of the US intelligence behind Colin Powell UN presentation on Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes. He followed up on February 28 with a more mixed assessment but marked out Iraq's commitment to comply with a deadline to destroy its illegal Samoud 2 missiles as a positive development. The Swede's final report to the council, delivered on March 7, was also ambivalent but Mr Blix stressed the disarmament under way: "We are not watching the destruction of toothpicks," he told the security council.
Mr Blix's reports divided security council opinion. March 7, the day Lord Goldsmith suggested a second resolution to authorise force would offer the "safest legal course" and the day of the final Unmovic report, was the day this second resolution became increasingly unlikely. Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, proposed the UN set an ultimatum for Iraq to demonstrate "full, unconditional, immediate and active cooperation" by March 17, but France made it clear it would veto such a resolution.
Britain then proposed setting "six tests" for Iraq to meet if it was to avoid war. The idea galvanised some diplomatic support but not enough to suggest Britain and the US could win a second resolution. On March 12, with the hope of a such a resolution fading, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of defence staff, asked the prime minister for an unequivocal statement on the legality of war under resolution 1441. The next day, Lord Goldsmith saw Lord Falconer and Baroness Morgan, two of Mr Blair's closest advisers, at an unminuted Downing Street meeting, and expressed his "clear view" that war would be lawful under 1441.
Previous disclosures suggest he did. Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy legal adviser to the Foreign Office, resigned in March 2003 because she did not believe war with Iraq was legal. Her letter setting out why said Lord Goldsmith "gave us to understand" he agreed with Foreign Office lawyers that the war was illegal without a new UN resolution but changed his advice twice just before the war to bring it in line with "what is now the official line".
The summary certainly reveals doubts. The attorney general says in conclusion that he could not be sure that if the "reasonable case" for reactivating 678 (the case that became the nine published paragraphs) ever came to court "the court would agree with the view". This detail - and the reference that the published argument was one he heard in Washington - appear to make for a tricky week ahead for the prime minister.
Monday April 18, 2005
Last summer, in the lull of the August media doze, the Bush administration's doctrine of preventive war took a major leap forward. On August 5 the White House created the office of the coordinator for reconstruction and stabilisation, headed by Carlos Pascual, the former ambassador to Ukraine. Its mandate is to draw up elaborate "post-conflict" plans for up to 25 countries that are not, as yet, in conflict. According to Pascual, it will also be able to coordinate three full-scale reconstruction operations in different countries "at the same time", each lasting "five to seven years".
Fittingly, a government devoted to perpetual pre-emptive deconstruction now has a standing office of perpetual pre-emptive reconstruction. Gone are the days of waiting for wars to break out and drawing up plans to pick up the pieces. Pascual's office keeps "high risk" countries on a "watch list" and assembles rapid-response teams made up of private companies, NGOs and members of thinktanks - some, Pascual told an audience at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, will have "pre-completed" contracts to rebuild countries that are not yet broken.
The plans Pascual's teams have been drawing up in his office in the state department are about changing "the very social fabric of a nation", he told CSIS. The office's mandate is not to rebuild any old states, you see, but to create "democratic and market-oriented" ones. So his reconstructors might help sell off "state-owned enterprises that created a nonviable economy". Sometimes rebuilding, he explained, means tearing apart the old.
Few ideologues can resist the allure of a blank slate - that was colonialism's seductive promise: discovering wide-open new lands where utopia seemed possible. Now there are no new places to discover, no terra nullius, but there are many countries smashed to rubble, whether by acts of God or Bush; there is a chance to grab hold of "the terrible barrenness", as a UN official described the devastation in Aceh, and fill it with the most perfect plans.
"We used to have vulgar colonialism," says Shalmali Guttal, a Bangalore-based researcher with Focus on the Global South. "Now we have sophisticated colonialism, and they call it 'reconstruction'." It certainly seems that ever larger portions of the globe are under active reconstruction by a familiar cast of consulting firms, engineering companies, mega-NGOs, government and UN aid agencies and financial institutions. From Iraq to Aceh, Afghanistan to Haiti, a similar chorus of complaints can be heard: the work is far too slow, if it is happening at all; foreign consultants live high on expense accounts and thousand-dollar-a-day salaries, while locals are shut out of jobs, training and decision-making; "democracy builders" lecture governments on transparency and "good governance", yet most contractors and NGOs refuse to open their books to those same governments, let alone give them control over how their aid money is spent.
Three months after the tsunami hit Aceh, the New York Times reported that "almost nothing seems to have been done to begin repairs and rebuilding". The dispatch could have come from Iraq, where, as the Los Angeles Times has reported, all Bechtel's allegedly rebuilt water plants have started to break down, one more in a litany of reconstruction screw-ups. It could have come from Afghanistan, where President Karzai blasted "corrupt, wasteful and unaccountable" foreign contractors for "squandering the precious resources that Afghanistan received in aid".
But if the reconstruction industry is stunningly inept at rebuilding, that may be because rebuilding is not its purpose. According to Guttal: "It's not reconstruction at all - it's about reshaping everything." The stories of corruption and incompetence mask this deeper scandal: the rise of a predatory form of disaster capitalism that uses the desperation created by catastrophe to engage in radical social and economic engineering. On this front, the reconstruction industry works so efficiently that the privatisations and land grabs are usually locked in before local people know what hit them. Herman Kumara, of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement in Negombo, Sri Lanka, sent an email to colleagues around the world warning that Sri Lanka is facing "a second tsunami of corporate globalisation and militarisation ... We see this as a plan... to hand over the sea and the coast to foreign corporations ... with military assistance from the US marines."
Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, oversaw a similar project in Iraq: the fires were still burning when US officials announced that the country's state-owned companies would be privatised. Some argue that Wolfowitz is unfit to lead the World Bank; in fact, nothing could have prepared him better.
'Post-conflict" countries now receive 20-25 % of the World Bank's lending, up from 16% in 1998. Rapid response to disaster has traditionally been the domain of UN agencies. But today, with reconstruction revealed as tremendously lucrative, the World Bank leads the charge. There are massive engineering and supplies contracts ($10bn to Halliburton in Iraq and Afghanistan alone); "democracy building" has exploded into a $2bn industry; and times have never been better for the private firms that advise governments on selling off their assets. (Bearing Point, the favoured of these firms in the US, reported that revenues for its "public services" division "had quadrupled in five years".)
But shattered countries are attractive to the World Bank for another reason: They take orders well and will usually do whatever it takes to get aid dollars - even if it means racking up huge debts and agreeing to sweeping policy reforms. Even better, many war-ravaged countries are in states of "limited sovereignty" and considered too unstable to manage aid money, which is often put in a trust fund managed by the World Bank - in East Timor, the bank doles out money to the government as long as it shows it is spending responsibly. Apparently, this means slashing public-sector jobs (the government is half the size it was under Indonesian occupation) but lavishing aid money on foreign consultants. In Afghanistan, the World Bank mandated "an increased role for the private sector" in water, telecommunications, oil, gas and mining and directed the government to leave electricity to foreign investors. Few outside the bank knew of these changes, as they were buried in a "technical annex" attached to an emergency-aid grant.
It has been the same story in Haiti. In exchange for a $61m loan, the bank requires that private companies run schools and hospitals - extremely controversial given Haiti's socialist base. The bank admits that, with Haiti under what approaches military rule, there is "a window of opportunity for reforms that may be hard for a future government to undo".
Now the bank is using the December 26 tsunami to push through its favoured policies. The most devastated countries have seen almost no debt relief, and most of the bank's aid has come in the form of loans, not grants. The bank is pushing for expansion of tourism and industrial fish farms, rather than rebuilding small-boat fisheries. As for roads and schools, bank documents recognise that rebuilding "may strain public finances" and suggest that governments consider privatisation (yes, they have only one idea).
In January Condoleezza Rice horrified many by describing the tsunami as "a wonderful opportunity" that "has paid great dividends for us". If anything, she was understating the case. A group calling itself Thailand Tsunami Survivors and Supporters says that for "businessmen-politicians, the tsunami was the answer to their prayers, since it wiped these coastal areas clean of the communities that had stood in the way of resorts, hotels, casinos and shrimp farms". Disaster, it seems, is the new terra nullius.
· A longer version of this article is published in the Nation; additional research by Aaron Maté and Debra Levy
By Duncan Campbell The Guardian - UK 15Apr05
Colin Powell does not need more humiliation over the manifold errors in his February 2003 presentation to the UN. But yesterday a London jury brought down another section of the case he made for war - that Iraq and Osama bin Laden were supporting and directing terrorist poison cells throughout Europe, including a London ricin ring.
Yesterday's verdicts on five defendants and the dropping of charges against four others make clear there was no ricin ring. Nor did the "ricin ring" make or have ricin. Not that the government shared that news with us. Until today, the public record for the past three fear-inducing years has been that ricin was found in the Wood Green flat occupied by some of yesterday's acquitted defendants. It wasn't.
The third plank of the al-Qaida-Iraq poison theory was the link between what Powell labelled the "UK poison cell" and training camps in Afghanistan. The evidence the government wanted to use to connect the defendants to Afghanistan and al-Qaida was never put to the jury. That was because last autumn a trial within a trial was secretly taking place. This was a private contest between a group of scientists from the Porton Down military research centre and myself. The issue was: where had the information on poisons and chemicals come from?
The information - five pages in Arabic, containing amateur instructions for making ricin, cyanide and botulinum, and a list of chemicals used in explosives - was at the heart of the case. The notes had been made by Kamel Bourgass, the sole convicted defendant. His co-defendants believed that he had copied the information from the internet. The prosecution claimed it had come from Afghanistan.
I was asked to look for the original source on the internet. This meant exploring Islamist websites that publish Bin Laden and his sympathisers, and plumbing the most prolific source of information on how to do harm: the writings of the American survivalist right and the gun lobby.
The experience of being an expert witness on these issues has made me feel a great deal safer on the streets of London. These were the internal documents of the supposed al-Qaida cell planning the "big one" in Britain. But the recipes were untested and unoriginal, borrowed from US sources. Moreover, ricin is not a weapon of mass destruction. It is a poison which has only ever been used for one-on-one killings and attempted killings.
If this was the measure of the destructive wrath that Bin Laden's followers were about to wreak on London, it was impotent. Yet it was the discovery of a copy of Bourgass's notes in Thetford in 2002 that inspired the wave of horror stories and government announcements and preparations for poison gas attacks.
It is true that when the team from Porton Down entered the Wood Green flat in January 2003, their field equipment registered the presence of ricin. But these were high sensitivity field detectors, for use where a false negative result could be fatal. A few days later in the lab, Dr Martin Pearce, head of the Biological Weapons Identification Group, found that there was no ricin. But when this result was passed to London, the message reportedly said the opposite.
The planned government case on links to Afghanistan was based only on papers that a freelance journalist working for the Times had scooped up after the US invasion of Kabul. Some were in Arabic, some in Russian. They were far more detailed than Bourgass's notes. Nevertheless, claimed Porton Down chemistry chief Dr Chris Timperley, they showed a "common origin and progression" in the methods, thus linking the London group of north Africans to Afghanistan and Bin Laden.
The weakness of Timperley's case was that neither he nor the intelligence services had examined any other documents that could have been the source. We were told Porton Down and its intelligence advisers had never previously heard of the "Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, containing recipes for ricin and much more". The document, written by veterans of the 1980s Afghan war, has been on the net since 1998.
All the information roads led west, not to Kabul but to California and the US midwest. The recipes for ricin now seen on the internet were invented 20 years ago by survivalist Kurt Saxon. He advertises videos and books on the internet. Before the ricin ring trial started, I phoned him in Arizona. For $110, he sent me a fistful of CDs and videos on how to make bombs, missiles, booby traps - and ricin. We handed a copy of the ricin video to the police.
When, in October, I showed that the chemical lists found in London were an exact copy of pages on an internet site in Palo Alto, California, the prosecution gave up on the Kabul and al-Qaida link claims. But it seems this information was not shared with the then home secretary, David Blunkett, who was still whipping up fear two weeks later. "Al-Qaida and the international network is seen to be, and will be demonstrated through the courts over months to come, actually on our doorstep and threatening our lives," he said on November 14.
The most ironic twist was an attempt to introduce an "al-Qaida manual" into the case. The manual - called the Manual of the Afghan Jihad - had been found on a raid in Manchester in 2000. It was given to the FBI to produce in the 2001 New York trial for the first attack on the World Trade Centre. But it wasn't an al-Qaida manual. The name was invented by the US department of justice in 2001, and the contents were rushed on to the net to aid a presentation to the Senate by the then attorney general, John Ashcroft, supporting the US Patriot Act.
To show that the Jihad manual was written in the 1980s and the period of the US-supported war against the Soviet occupation was easy. The ricin recipe it contained was a direct translation from a 1988 US book called the Poisoner's Handbook, by Maxwell Hutchkinson.
We have all been victims of this mass deception. I do not doubt that Bourgass would have contemplated causing harm if he was competent to do so. But he was an Islamist yobbo on his own, not an Al Qaida-trained superterrorist. An Asbo might be appropriate.
Duncan Campbell is an investigative writer and a scientific expert witness on computers and telecommunications. He is author of War Plan UK and is not the Guardian journalist of the same name
In TV, they call it the guilty building shot. When, for instance, you are making a hard-hitting documentary about the horrors of Sellafield but the authorities wont let you inside, you drive along the fence with the camera running, then dub in some sinister music in the cutting-room later. You know the sort of thing. It starts with a long, low note, then a long, slightly higher note, then, as the Sellafield sign or, in extremis, a lamppost comes into view, a brief, nerve-jangling musical sting like that bit in the Psycho shower scene.
I confess Ive used the technique in the odd TV programme myself, but at least I always had a few guilty people, or guilty documents, to flesh out the thesis. In the BBCs extraordinary coverage of the Kamel Bourgass ricin plot trial last week, all they really had was the buildings.
It is a story that can only now be told ...of how al-Qaeda spent years training, planning and preparing for attacks, not just in Britain but across Europe, gritted the corporations home affairs editor, Mark Easton, sinister music playing in the background, bodies piling up on the Paris Métro. A series of co-ordinated chemical and biological strikes which could have left hundreds dead and millions in fear for their lives.
This effort appeared on, of all places, Newsnight, normally the home port of the raised eyebrow and the cynical smirk. It tried everything: the slow-motion reconstructions, the tendentious location shots from around Europe (Lyons, Bratislava, Thetford), the library clips of those al-Qaeda blokes running round Afghanistan, and that inevitable harbinger of a scare being well and truly mongered, David Blunkett. But all the tricks in the TV locker could not save it from one essential truth: that it was blatant, shameless bollocks.
By day, he sold chocolates. By night, he helped Kamel Bourgass make poisons, said Mr Easton of the key prosecution informant, Mohammed Meguerba, bravely striding through a suspiciously dusky, foreign-looking crowd as he delivered this line. Meguerba never actually gave evidence against Bourgass, but he was the sole, if slender, thread connecting this banal Islamic thug and murderer to a far more exciting world of Afghan training camps and international WMD conspiracies.
Sadly, according to defence sources, Meguerba told the authorities that he and Bourgass attended their al-Qaeda camp, where they met Osama bin Laden, in the summer of 2002 nine months, in other words, after al-Qaeda had been kicked out of Afghanistan, the training camps closed and bin Laden had escaped on a donkey. The unreliability of Meguerbas supposed confession can perhaps be explained by the fact that it was obtained by the Algerian security services, almost certainly under torture not something Mr Easton troubled to mention.
There was so much in this report that could have been a Chris Morris parody: the uncritical acceptance of police and political spin, the failure to include a single sceptical voice, the police video tour of the Wood Green apartment of death (Everything was as Meguerba had said. There were the industrial scales, as the pictures showed a small set of household scales. There was the coffee grinder. Could the plotters have been coffee drinkers, perhaps?)
But, of course, these are all secondary to the main point: there was no ricin, and even if there had been, it could not possibly have left hundreds dead. Ricin is not a weapon of mass destruction; it is an instrument of one-to-one killing, just like a pistol, a knife or indeed a kettle of boiling water. What there was found in the flat was nicotine which, according to Meguerba, Bourgass planned to smear on car-door handles in the Holloway area.
Nicotine, however, is even less of a terror weapon than ricin. According to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, you have to swallow it in fairly substantial quantities to get ill. So the intended millions of victims would probably have had to lick their car-door handles for several minutes in order to suffer the desired deadly effects: not an especially common practice, even in Holloway.
Essentially, therefore, the story of this particular plot, at least, is the exact opposite of that told by the media: if anything, a rather reassuring picture of amateurishness, isolation and incompetence, a success for effective police work but a serious failure of journalism. Have we learnt nothing from the experience of Iraq? Cant we recognise an agenda when we see one? The authorities may tell few direct lies in cases like these, but they are very good at pointing journalists in the wrong direction, then letting us charge off down the path under our own steam. That is exactly what appears to have happened here.
Despite serious disquiet in parts of the organisation about Mr Eastons report, the BBC has remained quiet. One BBC film-maker, Adam Curtis, was bold enough to speak out: the reporting, he said, was not in any way justified. Mr Curtis repeated this at the Bafta awards ceremony earlier this week, which was being televised by the BBC; but by the time it came to be broadcast, his remarks had been edited out.
None of this is to say that there is not a real threat against us; or that there will be no serious attempts to kill us in future. There is, and there may well be, perhaps even before the election. That is why the failings of the Mark Easton approach are so important: not merely because they are bad journalism, but because they actually, if unconsciously, abet the terrorists.
The truth about Islamic terrorists is that they can kill us, but they cannot do it very often. In three and a half years, there has been only one Islamic terror attack in the West. Terrorisms most effective weapon is not explosives, conventional or otherwise; it is fear. It is not what it can do to us; it is what it can persuade us to do to ourselves.
By stoking that fear, politicians and journalists are playing entirely into terrorisms hands.
Monday April 18, 2005 The BBC has come under fire for cutting the acceptance speech of a BAFTA winner who last night criticised the media's coverage of the threat posed to Britain by terrorists. Adam Curtis, who won the factual series award for BBC2's The Power of Nightmares, used his speech to question newspaper and broadcast reports of last week's ricin trial, which he said had sensationalised the threat of a poison terror attack. The acceptance speech was removed from BBC1's Bafta coverage when it aired two hours later. Mr Curtis said he suspected his comments had been cut because they "touched a nerve". Although he did not name the corporation in his speech, he had singled out the BBC's coverage at another TV awards ceremony two days earlier. "I wasn't really surprised. It could be because I was incredibly boring but I suspect it touched a nerve because this issue has got to be addressed and broadcasting organisations know this," he said. "Reporting of the whole terrorist threat has either become exaggerated, distorted or in some cases a complete fabrication and they are beginning to realise this. They know they have to sort it out. It has touched a nerve and the fact they cut it shows that." He said the media had failed in its coverage of Kamel Bourgass, who was jailed for 17 years last week for plotting to commit a public nuisance by poisons and explosives. He was already serving a life sentence for the murder of Detective Constable Stephen Oake. But the jury could not agree on a charge of conspiracy to murder, and eight other men were cleared in trials relating to the Algerian. Mr Curtis, a senior producer in the BBC's news and current affairs department, said reports of an "al-Qaida plot to poison Britain" that could have consequences "equal or greater to 9/ 11" were "massively exaggerated or a complete fantasy". But a BBC spokeswoman defended the decision to cut the speech. She denied it was politically motivated, and said it was one of a number of edits made to the awards because of timing. "Any cuts to speeches were purely because of time constraints - this year we had more awards than ever before. The nature of the show is that it is broadcast with a short delay live in the evening - any decisions on cuts were made purely on the basis of timing." "It's a shame they cut that out," said Stephen Lambert, the director of programmes at independent RDF, who executive produced The Power of Nightmares. "I think someone who was editing the show thought 'this is politics, we can't have that', and took it out. It's disappointing because Adam gave the most interesting speech of the night," Mr Lambert added. He said the BBC had failed to give the factual categories at last night's awards the coverage they deserved. "They were all lumped together and there were no clips from any of the shows. "I can't believe that's what the BBC should be doing if it is trying to celebrate the breadth and excellence of television. It was the same in the news and current affairs categories. I know there is the view that people want to see celebrities, and if it was on ITV then that might be an argument." The Power of Nightmares, which was written, produced and directed by Mr Curtis, won the best documentary series prize at the Broadcasting Press Guild last Friday. After accepting the BPG award, Mr Curtis said: "The extrapolation from the very tiny bit of evidence that was reported in court to the reports we did on the Six O'Clock News and other bulletins was not in any way justified. "As someone who had been in the court room and watched the trial collapse, I could not understand how you could take that very limited evidence and extrapolate from that a story of a threat as ghastly as September 11. In the post-Hutton era I think that raises very serious questions."
· To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor at mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 7239 9857
April 15, 2005
By Jill Sherman, Sarah Weaver and Dominic Kennedy
APPLICATIONS for postal votes for the general election have risen by up to 500 per cent in marginal seats, sparking concern about the risk of electoral fraud.
A survey by The Times shows that applications have almost trebled since 2001. In some key marginals the numbers have risen even further. In Cheadle, Manchester, where the Liberal Democrats have a majority of 33, the number of applications stands at 8,226, nearly five times the 1,695 cast in 2001.
The Times has learnt that the Government has, for the first time in a general election, invited international observers to monitor the last week of the campaign. The Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights will decide in the next two days whether to accept the invitation. We dont investigate and we would not micromanage the police, but postal voting will be looked at if we accept, a spokeswoman said.
Election officials privately blamed the surge in postal voting in marginals as evidence that the parties were organising for people to register. Most expect a further surge nearer to polling day. The figures coincide with mounting concern about the aggressive way in which all three main parties are trying to maximise postal votes. The Tories and Labour are processing millions of applications sent to freepost addresses in Dartford and Newcastle, before forwarding them to returning officers.
In Braintree, where Labour is defending a majority of 358 over the Tories, applications have jumped from 3,000 to 10,000.In all the marginals surveyed, the increase would be enough for the seat to change hands.
Those areas with a history of fraud, such as Birmingham and Blackburn, have also had huge increases in applications. The survey, which also looked at votes collected by local councils covering several constituencies, found huge differences in the numbers collected in each.
In Birmingham, where six Labour councillors were found guilty of fraud by an election commissioner, applications have soared from 16,000 to 53,000. In Blackburn, where a Labour activist was sentenced to three years and seven months in jail for electoral fraud last week, they have risen from 7,603 to 20,351.
In Southampton the number of votes increased from 2,000 to 26,189, while in Runnymede and Basingstoke, the rise is more than sevenfold.
The Electoral Reform Society said yesterday that the huge increase inevitably brought a risk of fraud. There has been a massive increase since 2001 and this raises both problems of potential fraud and logistical problems for election office staff, a spokesman said.
We hope that election officials have had a wake-up call from last year and will have put procedures in place to cope with any further increase.
Part of the increase in postal voting is because of the all-postal ballot pilot schemes conducted in three regions in last years local elections. Many in these areas have asked for permanent postal votes.
Election officers are privately dismayed by the surge in marginal constituencies. One returning officer said last night: The parties feel that these people cant be bothered to walk down to the school or the community centre on election day but they might fill in a postal vote, particularly if canvassers offer to put it in the post.
Another said that a Labour Party expert had claimed: You need 75,000 votes to win elections in this country and I know where they all are.
David Monks, leader of Englands returning officers, said that he was a little sceptical that parties would stick to the Electoral Commission code of conduct, which discourages campaigners from touching postal votes.
However, many prospective candidates were encouraged by the increase. Jim Knight, who is defending Labours 153-vote majority in Dorset South, said: The biggest threat to our majority is turnout, so we are encouraging postal votes wherever we can.
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights said that the body has never monitored a UK general election before, although it observed local elections in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2003. But the spokeswoman said that the monitors were frustrated by having no access to polling stations on the final day.
Friday April 1, 2005
Before his denunciation yesterday of the "prevailing influence" of the US in the "anti-constitutional coup" which overthrew him last week, President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan had used an interesting phrase to attack those who were stirring up trouble in the drug-ridden Ferghana Valley. A criminal "third force", linked to the drug mafia, was struggling to gain power.
Originally used as a label for covert operatives shoring up apartheid in South Africa, before being adopted by the US-backed "pro-democracy" movement in Iran in November 2001, the third force is also the title of a book published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which details how western-backed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can promote regime and policy change all over the world. The formulaic repetition of a third "people power" revolution in the former Soviet Union in just over one year - after the similar events in Georgia in November 2003 and in Ukraine last Christmas - means that the post-Soviet space now resembles Central America in the 1970s and 1980s, when a series of US-backed coups consolidated that country's control over the western hemisphere.
Many of the same US government operatives in Latin America have plied their trade in eastern Europe under George Bush, most notably Michael Kozak, former US ambassador to Belarus, who boasted in these pages in 2001 that he was doing in Belarus exactly what he had been doing in Nicaragua: "supporting democracy".
But for some reason, many on the left seem not to have noticed this continuity. Perhaps this is because these events are being energetically presented as radical and leftwing even by commentators and political activists on the right, for whom revolutionary violence is now cool.
As protesters ransacked the presidential palace in Bishkek last week (unimpeded by the police who were under strict instructions not to use violence), a Times correspondent enthused about how the scenes reminded him of Bolshevik propaganda films about the 1917 revolution. The Daily Telegraph extolled "power to the people", while the Financial Times welcomed Kyrgyzstan's "long march" to freedom.
This myth of the masses spontaneously rising up against an authoritarian regime now exerts such a grip over the collective imagination that it persists despite being obviously false: try to imagine the American police allowing demonstrators to ransack the White House, and you will immediately understand that these "dictatorships" in the former USSR are in reality among the most fragile, indulgent and weak regimes in the world.
The US ambassador in Bishkek, Stephen Young, has spent recent months strenuously denying government claims that the US was interfering in Kyrgyzstan's internal affairs. But with anti-Akayev demonstrators telling western journalists that they want Kyrgyzstan to become "the 51st state", this official line is wearing a little thin.
Even Young admits that Kyrgyzstan is the largest recipient of US aid in central Asia: the US has spent $746m there since 1992, in a country with fewer than 5 million inhabitants, and $31m was pumped in in 2004 alone under the terms of the Freedom Support Act. As a result, the place is crawling with what the ambassador rightly calls "American-sponsored NGOs".
The case of Freedom House is particularly arresting. Chaired by the former CIA director James Woolsey, Freedom House was a major sponsor of the orange revolution in Ukraine. It set up a printing press in Bishkek in November 2003, which prints 60 opposition journals. Although it is described as an "independent" press, the body that officially owns it is chaired by the bellicose Republican senator John McCain, while the former national security adviser Anthony Lake sits on the board. The US also supports opposition radio and TV.
Many of the recipients of this aid are open about their political aims: the head of the US-funded Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, Edil Baisalov, told the New York Times that the overthrow of Akayev would have been "absolutely impossible" without American help. In Kyrgyzstan as in Ukraine, a key element in regime change was played by the elements in the local secret services, whose loyalty is easily bought.
Perhaps the most intriguing question is why? Bill Clinton's assistant secretary of state called Akayev "a Jeffersonian democrat" in 1994, and the Kyrgyz ex-president won kudos for welcoming US-backed NGOs and the American military. But the ditching of old friends has become something of a habit: both Edward Shevardnadze of Georgia and Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine were portrayed as great reformers for most of their time in office.
To be sure, the US has well-known strategic interests in central Asia, especially in Kyrgyzstan. Freedom House's friendliness to the Islamist fundamentalist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir will certainly unsettle a Beijing concerned about Muslim unrest in its western provinces. But perhaps the clearest message sent by Akayev's overthrow is this: in the new world order the sudden replacement of party cadres hangs as a permanent threat - or incentive - over even the most compliant apparatchik.
· John Laughland is a trustee of www.oscewatch.org and an associate of www.sandersresearch.com
Friday April 1, 2005 http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1449864,00.html
The US-British occupation of Iraq is poisoning all political processes in my country and across the Middle East. The elections held under the control of the occupying forces in January were neither free nor fair. Instead of being a step towards solving Iraq's problems, they have been used to prolong foreign rule over the Iraqi people.
Only when the occupiers withdraw from the country can Iraq take the first secure steps towards peace and stability. Once a strict timetable for withdrawal is set, Iraq's political forces could freely agree and set in motion a process of genuinely free and fair democratic elections, a permanent constitution, and a programme that meets the demands of all the Iraqi people.
The occupying powers are now following a policy of divide and rule, encouraging sectarian and ethnic divisions and imposing them on all the institutions they have created.
Incidents such as the recent kidnapping of an Italian journalist, released only to be received by a hail of bullets from the US liberators, have fuelled widespread suspicions in Iraq as to who is in fact responsible for many of the terrorist acts - kidnappings, assassinations, and indiscriminate bombing and killing -that are engulfing the whole of Iraq. These have coincided with a cover-up of significant military operations being conducted against the occupation forces across the country.
Not one of the terrorist crimes has been solved and not a single perpetrator put on trial. After each major terrorist crime, the arrest of perpetrators is proclaimed, using names and personalities spread by the US-controlled media. This media effort - which also seeks to bury the news of the destruction of entire towns, brutal night raids, kidnappings, curfews, and the detention and torture of thousands of prisoners - is overseen by the information department of the US forces, who earned the US defence secretary's special thanks during his visit to Iraq.
These crimes are a taste of the hell created by the US project in the Middle East. And now this hell is beginning to be visited on Lebanon, opening the prospect of endless wars of unimaginable consequences.
Syria is now withdrawing its forces from Lebanon and laying the responsibility of what happens next squarely on the other side. But what will happen next? Will the Lebanese resistance (led by Hizbullah) be disarmed? And if it refuses to surrender its weapons, how will it be disarmed? Will it be by landing new occupation forces in the country?
This was tried in the early 80s and led to the defeat of the US and the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. This could occur again, but on a wider scale across the whole region, which can no longer tolerate this endless US pressure, regarded by the peoples of the area as the implementation of Israeli demands.
Efforts must be directed at resolving the problems of the Palestinian people, who Israel refuses to allow to return to their lands, despite UN resolutions and all precepts of right and justice. The Palestinian problem cannot be resolved with exhibitionist gatherings such as Tony Blair's recent London conference. The big powers - particularly Britain, which helped create the problem in the first place - have a moral responsibility to resolve it.
In the same way, the Iraq crisis cannot be resolved by patching up a detested occupation with fraudulent elections and sectarian and ethnic caucuses supported by the occupiers. The only solution is the immediate withdrawal of occupation forces - or as a minimum, a strict internationally guaranteed timetable for withdrawal. Talk about freedom and democracy is seen as an endlessly repeated sham by our peoples because these words are being uttered by the very powers that have stood behind the corrupt dictatorial regimes. The US today is still the ally and backer of many such tyrannical regimes in our region and elsewhere.
We do not believe that the aggressive US stance towards Syria and Iran is intended to uphold freedom and democracy either, but to get rid of states that are refusing to go along with US and Israeli plans for the region. Today, Syria is being held to account in Lebanon because it is refusing to back the occupation of Iraq, and Iran is facing threats over its nuclear programme because the US is worried about its role in relation to Iraq and its rejection of the status quo in Palestine.
Public opinion in the occupying countries, such as the US and Britain, needs to understand that the continuation of this unjust and dangerous situation will create the conditions for a new and more general uprising which threatens truly to open the gates of hell in the region and beyond.
Ayatollah Jawad al-Khalisi is secretary general of the Iraqi National Foundation Congress, an alliance of secular and religious organisations covering all religious and ethnic groups in Iraq
alkhalissi -at- hotmail.com
March 08, 2005
ONE WORD sums up the Governments attitude to civil liberties and its proposed anti-terrorism Bill. Boo.
Alternatively: wwwwooooooooooo. Boys and girls, we have returned to the world of bogeymen, monsters under the bed and things that go bump in the night. We cannot see them, but we know they are there. Some call Britain a nanny state; but nanny always told you there was no such thing as ghosts. Now nanny says there are. Nanny says there are hundreds. Nanny says: Dont look behind you. Nanny says: Did you hear that? Nanny says: Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God.
The Prevention of Terrorism Bill, or the Blair Witch Project as it should be called, is motivated by fear. For it to become palatable, you must be scared. After all, the Government is scared. But what you fear and what it fears are very different. You fear a repeat of the atrocity in Madrid; it fears a repeat of the election in Madrid. You fear the bomb; it fears the blame.
Tony Blairs biggest fear is that he is not as clever as he is made out to be: that he took his eye off the ball. If he thinks we are so vulnerable that the only way to ensure our freedom is by surrendering it, he also knows he has the bottom-line responsibility for this farrago. He wants us scared of them because he is scared of us. Mostly, he is scared of carrying the can, of the British public waking up to a War on Terror that has been diluted, mismanaged and misdirected almost from day one.
The Blair Witch Project is an insurance policy. He has a department devoted to blame-avoidance and the timing of this Bill has their handwriting all over it. We did all we could. We made them stay home. They couldnt even use the internet. Not our fault, you see. Not our fault . . . We have wasted our energy fighting an enemy that posed no immediate threat in Iraq while allowing a potentially real menace within our borders to proliferate. Our police squandered resources on ring-fenced speed cameras, spurious mission statements and phoney slogans when vital detective work was paramount. A doom-laden article by Sir John Stevens, the former head of Scotland Yard, has provoked widespread alarm, but the most illuminating passage describes events immediately after 9/11.
I remember the shock on the faces of Mr Blair and his Cabinet as experts from Scotland Yards Anti-Terrorism Branch, MI5 and MI6 gave their first briefing on the size of the home-grown threat. I shared that horror. As more intelligence flooded in after the invasion of Afghanistan ... the grimmer those reports became and the more dismayed Mr Blair was.
There was only one thing for it. Invade a country that had nothing to do with it, on information that would ensure nobody ever trusted the security forces again. At that moment, the strategy for the War on Terror went so awry that this Government is now attempting to abandon a basic human freedom to cover those tracks. Willing workers assist it. Sir John Stevens says there are 200 al-Qaeda terrorists loose in Britain. Well, were you in charge of a major crime prevention agency while this army of psychopaths was growing? No, me neither. But Sir John was. His successor as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, is spending £300,000 renovating his office, having been in the job a month. No doubt on his retirement he will also treat us to terrifying revelations about the terrorist threat in London which he would definitely have got to grips with were it not for dry rot in the wainscoting. Step away from the Miró and do your job, Sir Ian. There is nothing to see here.
True story: post-9/11, a policeman passed on a tip to me. He said there was a café in East London that displayed recruiting posters for Islamic terrorist groups. He wondered if the newspaper would be interested. Challenged on why the police were not acting, he said they had been told to stay low-key for fear of upsetting the local community. Sir John Stevens would have been in overall charge back then. Funny how things work out. Now Sir John says opponents of the Blair Witch Project do not understand the horror of the terrorism we face. But we do, and we did. That is why, as the police declared war on school-run mums, mouthy footballers and people eating apples at traffic lights, Tony Blairs society of fear begged for proper protection from violence of all kinds. That is why when the war in Iraq started before the hunt for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda ringleaders had been successfully completed, many questioned its logic and motives.
What is truly criminal is the lie that the only way the people can now be properly protected is to heave freedom on the bonfire. The proposed legislation is so extreme that those merely believing in vigorous policing, thorough investigation, quick trial and harsh sentences are the bleeding hearts. Yet why are we panicked like this? For house arrest read blame avoidance, pure and simple. If Britain is under great terrorist threat a claim entirely unproven, yet very convenient in the circumstances, much like Iraqs weapons of mass destruction somebody has messed up.
The Blair Witch Project is Tonys way of saying: Well, it wasnt me. Right now, far from being a structured law brought in to address the threat of al-Qaeda and its fellow travellers, Blair is not even sure how it will operate. He will not rule out using it to deal with those protesting against the G8 summit in Gleneagles, for instance, a worrying development even for staunch supporters. All we can say for certain is that the Blair Witch Project will serve its purpose. Tough on blame, tough on the causes of blame.
click here for more on Operation Gladio
'You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force ... the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security."
This was the essence of Operation Gladio, a decades-long covert campaign of terrorism and deceit directed by the intelligence services of the West -- against their own populations. Hundreds of innocent people were killed or maimed in terrorist attacks -- on train stations, supermarkets, cafes and offices -- which were then blamed on "leftist subversives" or other political opponents. The purpose, as stated above in sworn testimony by Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra, was to demonize designated enemies and frighten the public into supporting ever-increasing powers for government leaders -- and their elitist cronies.
First revealed by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in 1991, Gladio (from the Latin for "sword") is still protected to this day by its founding patrons, the CIA and MI6. Yet parliamentary investigations in Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have shaken out a few fragments of the truth over the years. These have been gathered in a new book, "NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe," by Daniele Ganser, as Lila Rajiva reports on CommonDreams.org.
Originally set up as a network of clandestine cells to be activated behind the lines in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, Gladio quickly expanded into a tool for political repression and manipulation, directed by NATO and Washington. Using right-wing militias, underworld figures, government provocateurs and secret military units, Gladio not only carried out widespread terrorism, assassinations and electoral subversion in democratic states such as Italy, France and West Germany, but also bolstered fascist tyrannies in Spain and Portugal, abetted the military coup in Greece and aided Turkey's repression of the Kurds.
Among the "smoking guns" unearthed by Ganser is a Pentagon document, Field Manual FM 30-31B, which details the methodology for launching terrorist attacks in nations that "do not react with sufficient effectiveness" against "communist subversion." Ironically, the manual states that the most dangerous moment comes when leftist groups "renounce the use of force" and embrace the democratic process. It is then that "U.S. army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince Host Country Governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger." Naturally, these peace-throttling "special operations must remain strictly secret," the document warns.
Indeed, it would not do for the families of the 85 people ripped apart by the Aug. 2, 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station to know that their loved ones had been murdered by "men inside Italian state institutions and ... men linked to the structures of United States intelligence," as the Italian Senate concluded after its investigation in 2000.
The Bologna atrocity is an example of what Gladio's masters called "the strategy of tension" -- fomenting fear to keep populations in thrall to "strong leaders" who will protect the nation from the ever-present terrorist threat. And as Rajiva notes, this strategy wasn't limited to Western Europe. It was applied, with gruesome effectiveness, in Central America by the Reagan and Bush administrations. During the 1980s, right-wing death squads, guerrilla armies and state security forces -- armed, trained and supplied by the United States -- murdered tens of thousands of people throughout the region, often acting with particular savagery at those times when peaceful solutions to the conflicts seemed about to take hold.
Last month, it was widely reported that the Pentagon is considering a similar program in Iraq. What was not reported, however -- except in the Iraqi press -- is that at least one pro-occupation death squad is already in operation. Just days after the Pentagon plans were revealed, a new militant group, "Saraya Iraqna," began offering big wads of American cash for insurgent scalps -- up to $50,000, the Iraqi paper Al Ittihad reports. "Our activity will not be selective," the group promised. In other words, anyone they consider an enemy of the state will be fair game.
Strangely enough, just as it appears that the Pentagon is establishing Gladio-style operations in Iraq, there has been a sudden rash of terrorist attacks on outrageously provocative civilian targets, such as hospitals and schools, the Guardian reports. Coming just after national elections in which the majority faction supported slates calling for a speedy end to the American occupation, the shift toward high-profile civilian slaughter has underscored the "urgent need" for U.S. forces to remain on the scene indefinitely, to provide security against the ever-present terrorist threat. Meanwhile, the Bushists continue constructing their long-sought permanent bases in Iraq: citadels to protect the oil that incoming Iraqi officials are promising to sell off to American corporations -- and launching pads for new forays in geopolitical domination.
Perhaps it's just a coincidence. But the U.S. elite's history of directing and fomenting terrorist attacks against friendly populations is so extensive -- indeed, so ingrained and accepted -- that it calls into question the origin of every terrorist act that roils the world. With each fresh atrocity, we're forced to ask: Was it the work of "genuine" terrorists or a "black op" by intelligence agencies -- or both?
While not infallible, the ancient Latin question is still the best guide to penetrating the bloody murk of modern terrorism: Cui bono? Who benefits? Whose powers and policies are enhanced by the attack? For it is indisputable that the "strategy of tension" means power and profit for those who claim to possess the key to "security." And from the halls of the Kremlin to the banks of the Potomac, this cynical strategy is the ruling ideology of our times.
The Pentagon's 'NATO Option'
CommonDreams.org, Feb. 10, 2005
NATO's Secret Armies Linked to Terrorism?
International Relations and Security Network, Dec. 15, 2004
Secret Warfare: Operation Gladio and NATO's Stay-Behind Armies
Parallel History Project, Nov. 29, 2004
Synopsis of Secret Warfare: Operation Gladio
International Relations and Security Network, Dec. 15, 2004
Gladio: The Secret U.S. War to Subvert Italian Democracy
Independent Media Center, Jan. 31, 2004
Unknown Militant Group Declares War on Extremists in Iraq
Al Ittihad via Focus News, Jan. 11, 2005
U.S. Arming Baathist Militia's to Combat Shiite Cleric Rule
Asia Times, Feb. 15, 2005
The Coming Wars
New Yorker, Jan. 17, 2005
Sectarian Massacres Shake Iraq
The Guardian, Feb. 12, 2005
Iraqi Election Catapults Critic of U.S. to Power
Los Angeles Times, Feb. 14, 2005
Iraq Winners Allied With Iran are the Opposite of U.S. Vision
Washington Post, Feb. 14, 2005
COINTELPRO: Alive and Kicking
San Francisco Bay Guardian, Jan. 25, 2001
US Role in Salvador's Brutal War
BBC, March 24, 2002
Guatemala: Memory of Silence
Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification,"
Reagan's Dark Global Legacy
Counterpunch, June 7, 2004
Dark Reagan Legacy in Central America
Reuters, June 7, 2004
Reagan Set Roots for al Qaeda
News24 South Africa, June 7, 2004
Reagan and Guatemala's Death Files
Consortiumnews.com, May 26, 1999
The US-Guatemala File: Training State Terrorists
Consortiumnews.com, May 26, 1999
The Ghost of Terror Past
Salon.com, Jan. 11, 2002
US Wants to Build Network of Friendly Militias to Fight Terrorism
AFP, August 15, 2004
Opening Statement of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
House Armed Services Committee, Aug. 10, 2004
Guatemala to Pay Paramilitaries
BBC, Aug. 10, 2004
Efrain Rios Montt Background
More or Less (Australia), June 18, 2004
Rios Montt: Authoritarian Fundamentalist
Proceso (Mexico), April 15, 2001
CIA Admits 'Tolerating' Contra Drug Trafficking
Consortiumnews.com, June 8, 2000
Wackenhut: Inside the Shadow CIA
Spy Magazine, Sept. 1992
The CIA's Gentlemanly Planner of Assassinations
Slate.com, Nov. 1, 2002
Declassified Files Confirm US Post-War Collaboration With Nazis
San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 7, 2001
Nixon Rigged 1971 Uruguay Elections
National Security Archive, June 20, 2002
JFK and the Diem Coup
National Security Archive, Nov. 5, 2003
CIA and Assassinations: The Guatemala 1954 Documents
National Security Archive, May 23, 1997
Guatemala: Memory of Silence
Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification,"
Death, Lies, and Bodywashing
Consortiumnews.com, May 27, 1996
The Secret CIA History of the Iran Coup, 1953
National Security Archive, Nov. 29, 2000
CIA Acknowledges Ties to Pinochet's Repression
National Security Archive, Sept. 19, 2000
U.S. Documents Show Embrace of Saddam Despite WMD, Aggression and Human Rights
National Security Archive, Feb. 23, 2003
Eurotopia 2005: Guide to EuroEcovillages and Intentional Communities
The factor of evil in the Bush regime is a constant. The case against
George W. Bush analyzed point by point
Several years ago, if someone had said that a state could perpetrate an act of mass murder in which tens of thousands of civilians were butchered, invade a sovereign nation using a casus belli based upon barefaced lies and forgery of documents and whose military forces could commit acts of rape, bullying, sodomy and sexual depravity on a shocking scale and then go on to commit acts of torture, one might have wondered whether such a report came from the annals of the Inquisition or Ancient Rome.
We are not speaking, however, of Tomas de Torquemada or of Caligula. Once again, this news item is about the acts perpetrated by US forces under the regime of George W. Bush and his clique of corporate elitists who not only spent 280 billion USD of their taxpayers" money on their act of mass slaughter in Iraq but also broke practically every international law in the process.
On Monday, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, spoke with George Bush. About what? Aid from the US government for the Red Cross? No. Pleasantries from two officials and mutual back-slapping? No.
It was about concerns from the Red Cross about acts of torture by US armed forces at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp.
While President Bush maintains that the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay have been treated humanely, the ICRC states in a leaked report that practices at this camp were "tantamount to torture".
The case against Bush, point by point
Let us examine point by point the case against George W. Bush, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the USA which perpetrated these crimes against humanity.
1. Under international law, detainees must be treated according to the rules and principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Were all these norms respected at Abu Ghraib? No. And at Guantanamo? No.
2. IHL prohibits the use of ill treatment and torture of prisoners. Were prisoners abused and tortured at Abu Ghraib? Yes. Were they deprived of sleep, beaten and forced to undergo diet change at Guantanamo? Yes.
3. IHL prohibits the humiliation and degradation of detainees. Did this take place at Abu Ghraib? Yes. And at Guantanamo? Yes.
4. IHL states clearly that detainees must have the right to contact their families. Did they have these rights at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo? No.
5. IHL prohibits the use of cluster bombs or any other deployment of munitions that render the battle area dangerous after hostilities have ceased. Were such munitions deployed in Iraq in civilian areas? Yes.
6. IHL states that "the parties to a conflict must at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants in order to spare the civilian population and civilian property". Was this the case in Afghanistan? In Iraq? No.
7. IHL states that attacks can only be made against military targets. In Iraq, were civilian structures targeted on purpose by US Armed Forces? Yes.
8. IHL prohibits the killing or wounding of ex-combatants. Were ex-combatants killed or wounded by US Armed Forces in Iraq? Yes.
9. IHL states that medical personnel and medical establishments must be spared during conflict. Did the US Armed Forces target medical establishments during the illegal act of butchery in Iraq? Yes.
10. "Captured combatants and civilians who find themselves under the authority of the adverse party are entitled to respect for their lives". Does forced sodomy constitute respect? Maybe in the USA but not anywhere else. Do sleep deprivation and beatings count as respect or "protection against all acts of violence or reprisal"? No.
George W. Bush, his administration and the Armed Forces of the United States of America are hereby accused formally of crimes against International Humanitarian Law.
Is the world going to stand by as it did in the 1930s, allowing Hitler to try to dominate the planet? Or are those people who studied law going to do something about it in the proper forums of law? How about making a citizens" arrest of George W. Bush if he dares to step off an aircraft anywhere outside the USA.
By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
16 February 2005
A letter by the head of MI6 allegedly seeking to "sex up" a dossier on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction should be released under the Freedom Of Information Act, the former head of the MoD intelligence branch said last night.
Brian Jones, ex-head of the Defence Intelligence Staff, spoke out after Rod Barton, an Australian member of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), reopened the dispute over the "sexing up" of the government dossier on WMD that led to the suicide of David Kelly, another weapons specialist.
Dr Barton, a microbiologist who worked for Australian intelligence for more than 20 years, said John Scarlett, then head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, asked for "new elements" to be included in a draft report he was producing on the WMD in Iraq. The head of the ISG, Charles Duelfer, refused.
Dr Barton told Australia's ABC TV: "Both Washington and London wanted other things put in to make it - I can only use these words - to make it sexier.
"We left the impression that, yes, maybe there were ... WMD out there. So I thought it was dishonest. Dr Barton, who joined the United Nations' search for Saddam's illicit arsenal in 1991, said the censorship in the US investigation began after Charles Duelfer became the head of the ISG last February.
He claimed Mr Duelfer wanted "a different style of report altogether", which he had discussed with President George Bush and the CIA.
"I said to him, 'I believe it's dishonest,'" Dr Barton told the programme. "If we know certain things and we're asked to provide a report, we should say what we found and what we haven't found and put that in the report."
Dr Barton said the report was not allowed to mention two trailers held at the ISG camp which the CIA had previously labelled mobile biological weapon laboratories. "They were nothing to do with biology," he said. "We believed that they were hydrogen generators."
The Foreign Office denied Dr Barton's claims and said that they had been investigated by two public inquiries and had been found to be untrue. Dr Jones said: "I know Rod Barton well and he is a very sound guy and a very honourable man."
He said Dr Barton resigned from the ISG after the letter from Mr Scarlett. "What he says is worth listening to and worth thinking about. It does raise the question of what was in the letter that Scarlett wrote."
Dr Jones added that the letter went beyond the realms of intelligence into diplomacy and could be opened to public scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act. The Government is likely to reject a request for disclosure on grounds of national security. But anti-war Labour MPs are certain to take up the calls for disclosure.
Dr Barton also claimed he reported prisoner abuse at a second Iraqi prison in addition to Abu Ghraib where well-documented abuse by US troops took place. He said on ABC TV in Australia that he reported prisoner abuse at Camp Cropper at Baghdad airport. "My prisoner abuse wasn't at Abu Ghraib. It was at Camp Cropper,'' he said. Dr Barton said he had reported it to the Australian authorities, and was angry when the Australian parliament was told that no Australians had been involved.
Meanwhile, the Government was accused of "deplorable" behaviour for refusing to reveal when ministers sought advice on the legality of the Iraq war.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, said ministers were wrong to withhold the information. But the Foreign Office rejected her findings, saying it could prevent frank discussion of such matters in the future.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill, the Liberal Democrat peer, who complained to Ms Abraham, said: "It is deplorable that the Government refuses to comply with the Parliamentary Ombuds man's recommendation. It is Kafkaesque."
Tuesday February 1, 2005
Mention his name and the Ministry of Defence shudders. He is the target of death threats. An investigation was launched into his activities after he was viciously attacked in the pages of the Daily Mail. The inquiry is being carried out by the Legal Services Commission, the body which oversees legal aid - the same organisation that subsequently welcomed one of his high court victories as "historic".
That case was cited recently when he won the Liberty and Justice human rights lawyer of the year award. He received the award for "outstanding skill and tenacity in taking test cases to protect the rights of Iraqi civilians tortured and killed by British forces". He was also praised for his "personal sacrifice and professional dedication in fighting for justice and individual rights".
Phil Shiner, on whom praise and blame, it seems, is heaped almost in equal measure, is not afraid to court controversy. Just as well, given the causes he has taken up, ranging from the rights of former Gurkha soldiers to the wrongs of nuclear weapons.
He set up his Birmingham-based law firm, Public Interest Lawyers, in 1999 after a spell in private practice concentrating on environmental law. One of his earliest cases, he remembers, was against Edwina Currie. She was then a Conservative member of Birmingham city council. Shiner was, he says, a "fresh-faced idealistic member of Small Heath law centre". She was pushing forward what he calls a "punishment block" for what were considered the worst tenants. He took the case to the high court, forcing the council to demolish the flats.
Shiner, 48, was educated at Bishop Ullathorne Roman Catholic comprehensive school in Coventry. Last week, he returned there to give a talk to the sixth form, encouraging the pupils, he says, to believe in themselves and to go places.
So what drives him? "Throughout my life, I have always been a passionate believer in social justice. It comes from my Catholic upbringing." He goes on retreat to Iona every year and he has always been a socialist, he says. "Socialism and Catholicism go hand in hand."
Isn't the title Public Interest Lawyers - the firm has just six employees, including three solicitors - a bit presumptuous ? Shiner replies that he is not out to define the public interest; rather, to make the point that there is a strong public-interest component to the cases - and causes - he takes on. For many human rights lawyers, a lot of the issues he tackles are pretty unfashionable.
Take some of his environmental cases. They include damage done by incinerators burning hazardous or dangerous substances, landfills, open-cast coal schemes, quarries, chemical plants, inappropriately sited mobile-phone masts, and industrial or commercial developments on greenfield land.
"Litigation through judicial review is a relatively blunt instrument," says his firm's website. "We aim for a preventative approach to these polluting developments. We are not personal injury lawyers who act to sue for damages once a project has caused harm to public health and the environment."
It continues: "PIL try to take pre-emptive action, that is, to make representations to a decision-maker prior to a decision being made, say, to grant planning permission for a particular project. In that way we feed our legal representations into the broader political process so that an authority might be persuaded not to grant consent at all. For example, if an incinerator is unacceptable to the local community because of the increased levels of prescribed pollutants, it is better to persuade a local planning authority of that than expect a judge on judicial review to enter the debate as to whether that is or is not acceptable. Many of our successes have been in persuading public bodies to refuse consent for polluting projects so that, once the developer decides not to appeal, the community can close the book on the problem."
Shiner also takes on nuclear power - every aspect of it. Tomorrow, he is appealing against the refusal of legal aid for a case to decide whether the nuclear weapons facility at Faslane in Scotland should abide by the Radioactive Substances Act, an issue, he says, which is important for the local community. The nuclear weapons plant at Aldermaston in Berkshire, and the naval dockyard at Devonport, the navy's nuclear submarine base, should also be subject to extra safeguards, he says. He is taking comfort from the decision by the European Commission to seek a ruling from the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg that health and safety rules should apply to military as well as civil sites.
Shiner has pursued equally strenuously the issue of the legality of nuclear weapons and Britain's special nuclear weapons relationship with the United States. He acted for CND - with Rabinder Singh QC, a founding member of Matrix barristers' chambers with Tony Blair's wife, Cherie Booth QC - in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the high court to rule on whether the invasion of Iraq was legal. He believes the use of cluster bombs is an issue that should be heard by the International Criminal Court. And he is now preparing a case on behalf of Quakers and others, arguing that they should not have to pay the part of their taxes which is spent on armaments and warfare.
Unsurprisingly, he is not the most Ministry of Defence's most popular lawyer. Last year, he threatened a judicial review of the prime minister's decision to give ex-Gurkhas the right of abode in Britain, but only those who had recently left the regiment. The government gave way and Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, has now announced a full review of the terms and conditions of service of all Gurkhas.
It is not the first time that Shiner has taken up the Gurkhas' cause. He says one of his high points is winning the argument, in the high court and then the court of appeal, that ex-Gurkhas captured by the Japanese should be given a £10,000 ex gratia payment on a par with other armed services inmates of the wartime concentration camps. Some 1,000 Gurkhas and their families benefited.
A "low moment" was his decision to seek evidence from Iraqi families whose relatives, allegedly, had been killed, mistreated or even tortured by British troops in southern Iraq after the last Iraq war was declared over. The high-profile case provoked huge controversy. "Anyone Else Want to Sue?" the Daily Mail asked last year in a banner headline. "'Murder' Slur on Our Soldiers", it declared, adding: "Solicitor who yesterday accused British troops of murder went touting for clients in Iraq - and, yes, you've guessed it, wants legal aid, too." The newspaper published a cartoon of a large Iraqi at dinner with his wife, reading a phrasebook, a solicitor hanging upside down from a rafter in the background. "I've just worked out what he said after 'I'm English'," she says. "It was: 'Do you want to sue anybody?'"
Shiner received a number of death threats as a result of his work on this case. "You're doing it for Muslims, and Arabs, and other dirty Iraqi bastards," said one. He was sent packets of white powder. That was not all. The Legal Services Commission launched an investigation over allegations that he touted for business. The pressure was so great, Shiner says, that he almost felt that he could not go ahead with his marriage to Rachel, his second wife. "For three hours, I thought, 'I can't do this. This is too much.'"
Then, in December, Shiner, who is now acting for some 40 Iraqi families, won his case. In a landmark judgment, the high court ruled that British troops on foreign operations are bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, which bans torture and inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners. Specifically, it ruled that the convention extended to a prison in Iraq where Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist, died last year while in the custody of British soldiers.
In what Lord Justice Rix and Mr Justice Forbes called a "difficult and troubling case", the judges said that British troops were "in effective control" of the prison where Mousa died. The MoD is appealing against the judgment.
Clare Dodgson, the Legal Services Commission's chief executive, trumpeted the commission's part in funding the case, describing the judgment as a "historic legal ruling". Though it carried no implication of guilt or wrongdoing by British soldiers, she said, it allowed for allegations surrounding deaths in custody to be "fairly and independently investigated". Meanwhile, the commission is still looking into the allegations against the lawyer who brought this historic case to court.
Shiner describes the support he has received from his peers as phenomenal. He is fighting in an honourable lawyers' tradition, he says - "guilty of pursuing cases in a single-minded way and upsetting powerful people".
November 12, 2001: Dr. Benito Que, a cell biologist working on infectious diseases, was found beaten to death outside his laboratory at the Miami Medical School. No arrests and no suspects.
November 14, 2001: Dr. Don C. Wiley was one of the world's most highly renowned biochemists who worked at Harvard. His car was found in the middle of the Mississippi River Bridge, with the engine running. Thirty-five days later, Dr. Wiley's body was fished out of the river, 300 miles south of where he vanished. No arrests, no suspects.
November 23, 2001: Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, a former microbiologist for Biopreparat, the Soviet biological-weapons production facility, was found dead of a reported stroke in Wiltshire, England. Dr. Pasechnik defected from the Soviet Union in 1989. His revelations about the Soviet Union's production of such biological agents as anthrax, plague, tularemia and smallpox provided an inside account of one of the best kept secrets of the Cold War.
December 10, 2001: Dr. Robert M. Schwartz was found stabbed to death by an intruder in Leesburg, Virginia. Dr. Schwartz was a well-known DNA sequencing researcher. He founded the Virginia Biotechnology Association where he worked on DNA sequencing for 15 years.
December 14, 2001: Microbiologist Set Van Nguyen, a 15 year employee at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's animal diseases facility in Geelong, Australia. Nguyen, 44, appeared to have died after entering an airlock into a storage laboratory filled with nitrogen. Colleagues consider his death extremely suspicious.
February 8, 2002: The head of the microbiology sub-faculty of the Russian State Medical University, Victor Korshunov was found dead of blunt trauma head injuries in the entrance of his house in Moscow. No arrests, no suspects.
February 16, 2002: Dr. Ian Langford was found dead at his blood-spattered and apparently ransacked home. Langford was a Senior Fellow at the University of East Anglia's Center for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (UK), was discovered by police and ambulance men. The body was naked from the waist down and partly wedged under a chair. No arrests, no suspects.
February 27, 2002: Dr. Tanya Holzmayer, a pioneering scientist, murdered by a former colleague, Guyang Huang. He shot her when she opened her front door of her Mt. View, California home. Mr. Huang then conveniently killed himself. Both were found shot to death, case closed. The only witness was a pizza delivery man who worked for a non-existent pizza place. Dr. Holzmayer was a former Russian genome scientist who had co-invented a tool that has helped find hundreds of molecular targets to combat cancer and HIV.
March 24, 2002: David Wynn-Williams, an award-winning microbiologist died when he was struck by a vehicle while out jogging. Considered one of the world's top biologists, Wynn-Williams had assessed the capability of microbes to adapt to environmental extremes, including the bombardment of ultraviolet rays and global warming.
March 25, 2002: Denver, CO, Dr. Steven Mostow died in a small plane crash. Dr. Mostow, 63, was one of the country's leading infectious disease experts and was Associate Dean at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Mostow was an expert on the threat of bio-terrorism. No cause of crash determined.
July 17, 2003: Microbiologist Dr. David Kelly, 59, was found dead after seemingly slashing his wrists near his home in England, days after being named as the Iraq dossier mole. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death continues. Dr. Kelly was Britain's leading expert on Baghdad's weapons programs, and one of the world's most renowned microbiologists.
October 11, 2003: West Nile researcher, Dr. Michael Perich, 46, died in a one-vehicle car accident. From 1986 to 1992, Perich worked at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., as the vector suppression program manager and research medical entomologist. The anthrax used in the US attacks originated at Fort Detrick.
November 2, 2003: Vladimir Pasechnik defected from the Former Soviet Union to Great Britain while on a trip to Paris. He had been the top scientist in the USSR bioweapons program, which is heavily dependent upon DNA sequencing. In the last few weeks of his life he had put his research on anthrax at the disposal of the British and US governments, in the light of the threat from bioterrorism. The cause of the death was certified as a stroke. But it has emerged that a pathologist attached to MI5, Britain's internal security service, examined the body. His findings are not known. "There are a number of nerve agents that can mimic a stroke and leave no traces," said Dr. Leonard Horowitz, a US specialist in the field of toxic poisons.
November 20, 2003: Robert Leslie Burghoff, 45, a postdoctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine's molecular virology and microbiology department in Houston, was walking to his car Nov. 20 when he was hit from behind by a white or light-colored cargo van that jumped the sidewalk in the 1600 block of South Braeswood. He was killed instantly, no arrests, no suspects.
January 19, 2004: Dr. Robert E. Shope, one of the world's top experts on viruses and infectious illnesses, died in Galveston. The cause was listed as complications of a lung transplant In the last two years, Dr. Shope worked on a Defense Department project to develop antidotes to viral agents that terrorists might use.
January 24, 2004: Michael Patrick Kiley, one of the world's leading microbiologists and an expert in developing and overseeing multiple levels of biocontainment facilities died of a massive heart attack. He was at the forefront in the early studies of Lassa fever, the Ebola virus and mad cow disease while at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga.
(strangely, both Dr. Shope and Dr. Kiley were working on the lab upgrade to BSL 4 at the UTMB Galveston lab for Homeland Security. The lab will house some of the deadliest pathogens of tropical and emerging infectious disease as well as bioweaponized ones. They died in the same week.)
March 11, 2004: Vadake Srinivasan, originally from India, was one of the most-accomplished and respected industrial biologists in academia, and held two doctorate degrees. He died in a mysterious single car accident in Baton Rouge, La.
May 14, 2004: Dr. Eugene F. Mallove, 56, died after being beaten to death during an alleged robbery. Dr. Mallove had a broad experience in high technology engineering for government agencies and the military at companies including Hughes Research Laboratories and MIT.
June 16, 2004: William T. McGuire , 39 , of Woodbridge, N.J. His dismembered body was found floating in three suitcases in the Chesapeake Bay. McGuire was a senior programmer analyst and adjunct professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
NOTE: It does not matter what the individual circumstances of each death are. Probably a couple of these deaths are innocuous. The insurance industry uses scientific tables to accurately predict death rates. Based on the 1997 CSO Mortality Tables, the odds that all of these men could collectively die during a 30 month period is a staggering 14,000,000,000:1
This makes it logically impossible for any reasonable person to deny that the world's leading microbiology researchers are being murdered, beginning with the anthrax attacks thru last month.
The question is why are they being killed, and by whom?
January 30, 2005
by Michael Portillo
Identity cards would be political suicide, said the lord chancellor, and would constitute a first step towards a police state. Dont hold the presses. Charles Falconer was performing at a charity event taking the role of the hapless Jim Hacker in a Yes, Minister sketch written a generation ago. Having Falconer deliver the line was a good joke.
But George Churchill-Coleman, a former head of Scotland Yards anti-terrorist squad, was not kidding when he said last week: I have a horrible feeling that we are sinking into a police state. He was responding to the home secretarys proposed power of house arrest for terrorist suspects.
The government is in a mess. After September 11, 2001, it found a few people living in Britain with possible links to political organisations that use terror. It would have liked to be rid of them. But if these people pose a threat it is probably mainly to the dictators in their own countries, who would torture or kill them given the chance. Our international obligations forbid us sending them home.
So the government has detained them without charge or trial. I suspect it has also exaggerated the threat that they may pose to Britain. It has used immigration legislation that is inappropriate for indefinite detention, and it has sought derogations from human rights legislation that cannot be justified except in the short term.
In December the government had a bit of luck. It was offered the opportunity to start again. The law lords ferocious judgment against detention coincided with David Blunketts resignation. The new home secretary could have reviewed the existing cases and unveiled new safeguards.
But Charles Clarke made mistakes from the beginning. On hearing the law lords judgment, instead of biding his time he declared that the government was right to go on holding the suspects.
His new proposals are highly paradoxical. By violating the human rights of British citizens too, he will address the finding that the law discriminates against foreigners. The new power will apply house arrest to everyone. Worst of all, it will be wielded by a politician, the home secretary.
One good reason not to trust the government with such powers is that its justifications are so inconsistent. When the Home Office decided in 2001 to use immigration legislation to hold foreign suspects it argued in a memorandum that while it would be possible to seek out other powers to detain British citizens . . . it would be a very grave step. The government believes this would be difficult to justify. Amen to that.
Last week Clarke told the Commons that the need to protect ourselves against the threat justifies the changes, although he acknowledged that he was proposing a very substantial increase in the executive powers of the state in relation to British citizens who we fear are preparing terrorist activities. The suggestion that we need extra powers to lock up Britons was produced like a rabbit from a hat.
There is no new threat from British suspects and no new deficiency in the governments powers. Clarke is changing the law because he cannot deport the foreigners and fears to release them. This government is tossing away the liberties of British citizens using spurious arguments.
There have been other inconsistencies. The foreign suspects are said to pose a threat. Yet one of them was escorted under guard to Paris where he was freed, and not re-arrested by the French. Washington argued similarly that the British detainees in Guantanamo Bay were too dangerous to set loose. Yet now they are at liberty in Britain. If the Americans exaggerate the risk are we not justified in fearing that the British government does too?
Clarke oozed insincerity when he claimed that if his new powers of house arrest had been in force he might have detained the four released by the Americans last week. But why then did the British government argue for their return, knowing that it lacked the power to hold them?
The home secretary was merely seeking to give some cover to our American allies who had detained for three years four people that Britain was happy to release after 24 hours. Fortunately he does not yet have the power to detain them. If he did he would now be under intense US pressure to use it.
That illustrates why politicians cannot be trusted to decide whether a person should be deprived of his liberty. The government hates judges because they cannot be relied on to do what it wants. That is precisely why judges alone should decide. Ministers do not weigh evidence. They measure political risk. There is little in detaining too many, but a lot in deciding to release.
Political risk should not be confused with threat to the nation. Politicians have a vested interest in talking up threat levels. They use a circular argument. The threat justifies the detentions and the detentions offer proof of the threat. How can we believe ministers claim to have good intelligence on suspects when intelligence on Iraqs weapons of mass destruction was wrong and spun by the government?
In any case, I doubt that most ministers have either the competence or the time to consider the evidence fully. By declaring within 24 hours of becoming home secretary that the detentions were justified, Clarke demonstrated that he had not reviewed the cases himself. He was relying on advice. The governments main consideration may not have been justice but rather protecting Blunketts reputation. Having detained a person for three years it would be hard for the government to release him, even if the intelligence were faulty.
As a former defence secretary I understand that in some cases it can be difficult to bring evidence in court. However, those difficulties are easily overplayed, and they must be rigorously tested by independent people. Those who have seen the dossier on each foreign detainee readily admit that the suspicions vary in degree.
It is an ominous phrase. Clarke says that since only 11 people are detained the powers have clearly been used sparingly. It proves no such thing, if some are held on flimsy grounds.
If the government were obliged to make a choice (as the Law Society urges) between charging people or releasing them it would concentrate the mind marvellously. As Lord Nicholls said in his judgment: Indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial is anathema in any country that observes the rule of law. Ian McDonald QC, who resigned as an advocate for the detainees, talked of an odious blot on our legal landscape that offended principles going back to Magna Carta.
What we have at present is the worst of all worlds. The evil of entrusting our liberty to politicians is compounded by a lack of independent safeguards or transparency. Clarke boasted to the Commons that the Special Immigration Appeals Commission had upheld the governments judgment that the suspects posed a significant threat. But that body has no authority to deal with matters of evidence or proof. It sits in secret. The accused are not told why they are held and therefore cannot contest the suspicions against them.
A committee of privy counsellors chaired by the Tory peer Lord Newton of Braintree said it was concerned that there has not been a sufficiently proactive, focused, case management approach to determining whether (suspects) should continue to be detained . . . Nor did it appear that alternative ways . . . are under active consideration.
The government wants us to take many things on trust but it has no trust to call on. It asks us to believe that it knows of a threat from some foreigners so serious that their indefinite detention is justified. Now the executives power must be extended over Britons too. If the government is right it has no reason to fear removing ministers entirely from the judgment process. It should establish courts run by judges, with special rules of evidence, to consider each case and then at intervals to review it. The general conclusions should be reported openly.
Churchill-Coleman is right to be concerned. His comment shows that even those who have fought terrorists worry about the threat to our liberties. A country where a politician can order detention without charge and without limit is indeed a police state. And that is no joke.
29Jan05 - By Robin Cook, Douglas Hurd and Menzies Campbell
THE ELECTION in Iraq tomorrow is held against a dark and dangerous background. One by one the optimistic predictions of the US military have been confounded. Far from breaking the back of the Sunni insurgency the assault on Fallujah has dispersed it to the other cities of central Iraq. The official Iraqi defence spokesman has said that there are now more insurgents than there are soldiers in the multinational force. The CIA acknowledges that our action in Iraq has created a new focus for international terrorism. The search for weapons of mass destruction has been formally called off. These results were predictable and predicted, but that can give no satisfaction to critics of the war. We have to look ahead from where we are now.
None of us has argued for postponement of the Iraqi election. Most Iraqis want elections, which will create a transitional government with some democratic legitimacy. A general delay would be a success for the terrorists. It would be justified only if the insurgency could be defeated by military means given a bit more time. We see no grounds for believing that.
There might have been a case for postponing the election just in the four most troubled provinces, including the cities of Mosul and Baghdad, if the Sunnis who live in those provinces had been promised elections at a later date. That might have given time and incentive to their leaders to break away from violence and take the political road. But the authorities chose an electoral system that treats Iraq as a single constituency. There are no candidates standing for particular cities or provinces. This made it technically very difficult to hold the election on different dates in different places.
The election should go reasonably well in the Shia south and the Kurdish north. But most Sunnis are likely to repudiate the result because they have been unable or unwilling to take part. The country could then face greater tension.
How should the nations which contribute troops to the multinational force respond? Now is the time to consider this before we are again driven by events. Already there is haemorrhage. The Dutch, the Poles and the Ukrainians have said that they will pull out in coming months. Behind the barrage of determined rhetoric the Bush Administration is re-examining its options. In Washington, for the first time, there is talk of exit strategy, no doubt because this President enters his second four years with lower poll ratings than any two-term predecessor. But neither they nor we can withdraw responsibly without regard to the mess we have already created.
We should tell the Iraqi leadership now that we draw a distinction between the security threat which they face (as a result of what we have done and left undone) and their central political problem. That political problem of bringing together Shias, Sunnis and Kurds must be for Iraqis to sort out. Our troops cannot be expected to police relations between the majority and a rejectionist minority. British and American troops are no substitute for a political process. The latest allegations of human rights abuse by the Iraqi security services sharpen the dangers to us of too close an identification.
By its actions our Government has imposed on all of us, supporters and opponents of war alike, an obligation to the people of Iraq. But that obligation cannot be open-ended. The costs of our presence - financial, political and human - rise every day. We can give the people of Iraq an opportunity but they must take it: we cannot take it for them. The British Government cannot long delay reaching a judgment. Donald Rumsfeld's four years are not an option for Britain, with our more limited troop numbers.
Moreover, the longer we remain in Iraq the more our occupation becomes part of the problem for the security situation rather than the solution. The heavy-handed deployment of US firepower in urban areas, against repeated British advice, has not weakened the insurgency but strengthened the ambition of most Iraqis for an end to foreign occupation.
The UN mandate expires in a year's time with the completion of the timetable for direct election of a representative government under an agreed constitution. Both Britain and America should inform the assembly elected this weekend that we expect to leave by the end of that UN mandate. Both the assembly and the occupying forces must then each do its part to fulfil the necessary political and security tasks to meet that timetable.
In the immediate future, we need to ensure that Iraqis do not perceive their new Government as being as closely identified with the occupying forces as the previous interim administrations were. A sensible start would be to end the visible symbol of the location of occupying powers and the Iraqi Government behind the same fortifications of the green zone.
No one should underestimate the difficulties into which we have plunged Iraq and ourselves. There are no happy choices. But this time we should plan ahead while choices still exist, and not simply trust in luck and over-optimistic assumptions again.
By MICHELLE NICOLOSI
Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
Renton elections activist Bev Harris has been called a fruitcake and a muckraker. Her book and Web site about the hidden evils of modern election equipment have drawn the ire of a number of officials around the country, who say there is nothing to Harris' claims that elections systems are profoundly vulnerable to hackers and other tampering.
"Dean Logan is not fond of me," Harris says of King County's director of elections.
But not everyone thinks all of Harris' claims are "a bunch of poppycock," as she puts it: The attorney general of California recently took up a whistle-blower claim filed by Harris against Diebold Election Systems and settled with the company for $2.6 million in December.
Diebold provides the systems used to tally votes and register voters in King County and in many other counties around the country.
The whistle-blower lawsuit, filed by Harris in November 2003 and taken up by the California attorney general in September, said Diebold engaged in unfair business practices and made false claims about its product.
It alleged that Diebold used uncertified software in elections in California. The settlement requires the company to pay millions back to a number of counties and replace some equipment, among other things.
Harris said the settlement "is a good sign. It certainly vindicated that our criticisms had validity."
Harris said many of the allegations she made in her suit were not included in the complaint filed by the attorney general. She said she has filed another lawsuit to address those issues.
Harris, author of "Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century," said her research shows that the elections systems used here in King County and around the country could easily have been hacked -- and that King County's system might have been hacked during the recent primary election.
Logan said in an earlier interview that he disagreed with Harris' allegations about the primary.
"The observations and linkages she makes don't add up. We feel very confident that the outcome of the primary was proper, and the data we have backs up the results for that election," he said.
Harris' research and theories are popular: Her Web site -- www.blackboxvoting.org -- gets millions of visitors every week; her book quickly sold out of its first printing of 5,000 and is on back order now.
Harris said she discovered a hoard of internal Diebold memos and some Diebold source code while clicking around on the Internet a few years ago. She went from anonymous activist to media darling soon after posting the documents online.
Harris is waiting to hear what part of the California settlement she will net as one of two whistle-blowers who originally filed the suit.
She says she's hoping to receive about $75,000, which she says she will put into a dedicated fund to bankroll more legal action relating to the use of elections equipment.
Harris said she has plans to continue her research into the insecurity of modern election systems.
P-I reporter Michelle Nicolosi can be reached at 206-448-8217 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday January 25, 2005 1:01 PM
By ROBERT BURNS
AP Military Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon says the political uproar over the disclosure of a secret military intelligence group is overblown and based on misinformation about the group's makeup and mission.
Stephen A. Cambone, the Pentagon's top intelligence official, rushed to Capitol Hill on Monday after some members of Congress reacted strongly to a Washington Post report that revealed the existence of the group, which is managed by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and other Democrats called for hearings, but Republicans balked.
``According to The Washington Post, the Department of Defense is changing the guidelines with respect to oversight and notification of Congress by military intelligence. Is this true or false?'' Feinstein wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Feinstein and others appeared puzzled by the disclosure that the Pentagon had created a new battlefield intelligence group - ``strategic support teams,'' in Pentagon parlance - to perform clandestine missions that had been largely the province of the CIA.
Some suggested Rumsfeld had skirted congressional oversight to expand his domain.
Pentagon officials told reporters, however, that the arrangement had been worked out in close coordination with the CIA and that appropriate congressional committees had been fully informed.
A senior military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said CIA director Porter Goss told him Monday that he had ``no issue or questions or concerns'' about the Pentagon arrangement.
Another defense official said lawmakers may not recognize the news media's descriptions of the intelligence group because its name was changed after they were briefed on it last year.
Now called strategic support teams, they were previously known as humint augmentation teams, the official said, speaking only on condition that he not be further identified. (Humint refers to human intelligence, or information provided by spies.)
In an additional point of clarification, the senior military official said the intelligence teams are not to be used for covert actions, which are unacknowledged by the government and which require a legal ``finding'' by the president. Rather, they are for clandestine actions, which are meant to be secret but are subject to acknowledgment by the government if publicly disclosed.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, R-Va., and the panel's top Democrat, Carl Levin of Michigan, met for more than an hour with Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
Later, Warner said he was satisfied by the briefing and would ensure that other committee members were briefed fully as well.
``In my opinion,'' he said, ``these intelligence programs are vital to our national security interests, and I am satisfied that they are being coordinated with the appropriate agencies of the federal government.''
The teams - each with about 10 mostly civilian linguists, case officers, interrogators and debriefers - are designed to provide the military's conventional and special operations forces with more sustainable battlefield intelligence to support combat and other activities.
The defense officials said this is not a new mission for military intelligence; rather, they said, it is being structured in a new way so that it can be provided to battlefield commanders in a more standardized manner. It previously had been done in a more ad hoc way, they said.
Larry Di Rita, the chief spokesman for Rumsfeld, acknowledged the existence of the group, which he said was managed by the Defense Intelligence Agency's Human Intelligence Service.
``There is a desire to connect better intelligence to battlefield operations,'' Di Rita said, and the DIA unit is an example of things that can be done in support of commanders in the field.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was confident the Pentagon was taking the right approach.
``The notion by some that various steps taken by the Department of Defense to enhance such intelligence is somehow sinister and illegitimate is nonsense,'' Hunter said.
Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., urged hearings.
``While I fully support improving the ability of our men and women in the field to get accurate real time intelligence, the creation of this unit raises a number of questions that this committee has a duty to examine,'' Tauscher said.
The concept of augmenting military forces with specialized intelligence teams was born after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a means of expanding the military's ability to collect human intelligence - information from spies as opposed to listening devices or satellites.
by Jeffrey Steinberg
The Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz cabal that runs the Bush Administration's military and national security agenda, was hit with the political equivalent of a tsunami on Jan. 17, with the publication of a story by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in the Jan. 24-31 issue of The New Yorker. Hersh revealed that the Administration is working on plans to launch missile and commando attacks against as many as three dozen of Iran's suspected nuclear and chemical weapons facilities, perhaps as early as Summer 2005. While the Administration's wanna-be imperialists, led by the Vice President, fantasize that such military strikes will trigger a "velvet revolution" of Gap Jeans-wearing young Iranians, who will peacefully overthrow the mullahs, in yet another Bush-induced outbreak of spontaneous Western democracy, experts warn that such an action would deepen the grip of the Islamic Revolution, and trigger regional chaos.......
By Robert Fisk
08 January 2005
I travelled down to Zarqa on Christmas Eve - Zarqa as in "Zarqawi", for it is indeed the home town of the latest of America's bogeymen, a grey, dirt-poor, windy town south of Amman. The man I went to see was palpably innocent of any crime - indeed, he even has a document from the American military to prove it - but he spent almost two years of his life locked up in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay. Hussein Abdelkader Youssef Mustafa's story tells you a lot about the "war on terror" and about the abuses that go with it.
Mustafa is a thin, ascetic man with a long pepper-and-salt beard, and he sat on the concrete floor of his brother's home dressed in a long cloak and a black woollen hat and frameless spectacles. He is a Palestinian by birth but had been a resident in Pakistan since 1985, working in a school near Peshawar, teaching Afghans who had fled the 1980 Soviet invasion, visiting Afghanistan just once, in 1988, to teach at a school near Mazar-e-Sharif. Then on 25 May 2002, Pakistani soldiers and plain-clothes police stormed into his home, tied Mustafa up, led him out of the house past two Westerners, a man and a woman in civilian clothes - he assumes they were American FBI agents - and dumped him in the old Khaibar prison for 10 days. He was interrogated there by a blond, Arabic-speaking American and then taken to Peshawar airport where he was freighted off with 34 other Arabs - illegally under international law - to the large American base at Bagram in Afghanistan.
"We had been hooded in the plane, and when we arrived they stripped us naked and gave us overalls with numbers on. I was 171 and then I spent two months under interrogation," Mustafa told me. "They were Americans, usually in uniform but without names. They wanted to know about my life, about what Afghans I'd met, about where false passports came from. I knew nothing about this. I told them all about myself. I said I was innocent. They made me stand on one leg in the sun. They wouldn't let me sleep for more than two hours. We had only a barrel for a toilet and had to use it in front of everyone."
In the hours to come, I will learn that the Jordanian authorities have told Mustafa not to talk any more about his experiences - no doubt, the Americans told the Jordanians to shut him up. But he would admit later: "My torture was even less than what they did to others. A broomstick was inserted in my backside and I was beaten severely and water was thrown on me before facing an air conditioner." And why did he think the Americans did this to him? "If a prisoner did not comply and cooperate in details in Bagram, he would be abused according to how convinced the interrogator thought he was guilty; and to reach the stage of 'not guilty' in the eyes of the interrogator, one went through a long period of being physically abused."
After two months, and 15 interrogations, Mustafa says one of his American questioners told him he believed he was innocent. "He said to me: 'Have you seen Cuba on the television? I'm going to make you one of the prisoners there. I'm very sorry, it's out of our hands. Your names are in Washington now. You have to go to Cuba.' We were tied up, blindfolded, handcuffed and chains were attached to us. They put dark eyeglasses on us so we couldn't see. They covered our ears and nose and mouth so I could hardly breathe. On the plane, they pushed three or four pills into my mouth, drugs. I felt all the time I was between sleeping and waking. It took 24 hours to reach Cuba and we stopped once on the way and changed planes about four hours after leaving Bagram."
Diego Garcia? Was this the mystery airbase? Were these chained, hooded, drugged Muslims taken via our very own and very British Diego Garcia?
Mustafa says he was less harshly treated at Guantanamo Bay. One of his interrogators was an American Iraqi. "I was shut up first in isolation in a room made all of metal. Even the floor was metal. There was just a small slit in the door. They kept going through my background papers, asking me the same questions over and over. Why was I a teacher in Pakistan? Why had I gone to Afghanistan? Sometimes in the showers, the American women soldiers could see us naked. They shaved off our beards. If we didn't obey orders quickly, they sprayed mace in our faces. In Bagram, they beat the men with sticks. Here they didn't do that. But many men tried to commit suicide in Guantanamo. I remember at least 30. We'd see them hanging themselves and shout: "Soldiers! Quickly!", and the Americans would come and take them down."
In all, Mustafa spent 20 months in Cuba, and in the last 10 of those months, he says, no one asked him a single question. "Then one day, they gave me a lie detector test and medical tests and fitted me for clothes and gave me jeans and a jacket and trainers. Three days later, an American translator said we were leaving. I asked where to, and he said: "I have no idea, but we have nothing more to do with you."
After five days, hooded and bound, Mustafa was put on an aircraft with an Iraqi, a Turk and two Tajiks and flown back to Bagram. The irises of his eyes were photographed. "We were told we were now 'guests', but I spent another four months in Bagram. Then an American officer came to see us and said: 'As you know, we were subject to a very big attack and thousands of our people were murdered. That's why we took in all these people. Now you will return to your country as any other citizen and you don't have any kind of problem to face.' And that was it? No apology, nothing. I was flown back to Amman."
Mustafa was given a document by the US Combined Joint Task Force 76 at Bagram. "This individual," it says, "has been determined to pose no threat to the United States armed forces or its interests in Afghanistan. This individual has been released into the vicinity of his capture location."
The Red Cross confirmed Mustafa's release on a paper which named his home village of birth as "Silat al-Hatezia, Palestine". But the Americans didn't have that much courage. Faced with the little problem of Mustafa's country of birth, you can see how they must have fretted over this one. Dare they put the word "Palestine"? Of course not. So beside "Country", they wrote "West Bank".
Mustafa is out of work now, living with his family in Zarqa, but with no future. Two years were taken out of his life, and his story - shameful though it is - is now so routine as to be forgettable. When the Red Cross first disclosed to me back in 2002 that Mustafa had been taken illegally from Pakistan to Afghanistan, I wrote about this in The Independent. Not a single newspaper picked up on the story. But it tells us a lot about the illegal world in which George Bush believes we must live. September 11, 2001 has become a piece of legislation. It allows us to arrest who we want, question who we want, abuse who we want, lock up who we want, invade whatever countries we want. This is the Bush administration's memorial to the dead of the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. Beat, abuse, imprison the innocent - only, it is clear in Mustafa's case, for information - and to hell with it. Why, you can even invent a new name for the prisoner's country. West Bank, indeed!
Fri 7 Jan 2005
THE man nominated to be attorney general of the United States yesterday drew strong criticism for his part in formulating policies blamed for contributing to the torture of terrorist suspects by US forces.
Alberto Gonzales faced a grilling from US senators on his suitability to take up the post of head of the justice department after telling the White House parts of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war were "obsolete".
The hearing came as the Pentagon announced an investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo Bay following the release of files by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) detailing mistreatment at the military prison in Cuba.
As Mr Gonzaless confirmation hearing got under way, the White House refused to provide senators additional documents detailing his role in the decision to allow aggressive interrogations of detainees.
The Democrat senator Edward Kennedy told Mr Gonzales that policies he supported or helped formulate "have been used by the administration, the military and the CIA to justify torture and Geneva Convention violations by military and civilian personnel".
Other Democrats continued the attack, with Senator Patrick Leahy saying "Americas troops and citizens are at greater risk" because of policies that are "tantamount to torture".
Mr Gonzales yesterday vowed to abide by international treaties on prisoner rights. "I will no longer represent only the White House. I will represent the United States of America and its people. I understand the difference between the two roles," he said. "Contrary to reports I consider the Geneva conventions neither obsolete nor quaint." He added: "I have been deeply troubled and sickened by reports of abuse.
"I share his [President George Bushs] resolve that torture and abuse will not be tolerated by this administration ... if confirmed I will ensure the department of justice vigorously pursues those responsible."
A memo Mr Gonzales wrote in 2002 argued that the "new paradigm" of the war on terrorism "renders obsolete Genevas strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of it". It was seen by Democrats as giving tacit administration approval to the use of "coercive" interrogation techniques by military personnel in Cuba and Iraq.
A month later, Mr Bush signed an order declaring he had the authority to bypass the accords "in this or future conflicts". Mr Bushs order also said the Geneva treatys references to prisoners of war did not apply to al-Qaeda members or "unlawful combatants" from the Taleban.
Mr Gonzales repeated the argument that terrorists are not soldiers and so are not covered by the Geneva treaty. Nonetheless, he said, "we must be committed to preserving civil rights and civil liberties".
Since the Republicans control the Senate, Mr Gonzales is expected to be confirmed as attorney general. If so, he would become the highest ranking Hispanic public servant in American political history.
Mr Gonzaless confirmation hearing was held as the Pentagon said it would investigate FBI reports that suggested the abuse of prisoners at Baghdads Abu Ghraib prison was inspired by treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The reports also claimed the abuse was sanctioned by a higher authority than had previously been thought. "You wont believe it!" one agent wrote of the conditions in which prisoners were being held and the treatment they were receiving.
So far 137 servicemen and women have been either punished or face courts-martial as a result of a series of investigations into the abuse of prisoners.
The FBI documents have described suspects being shackled hand and foot in a foetal position on a floor for 18 to 24 hours, and left to urinate and defecate on themselves. Others said Pentagon interrogators impersonated FBI agents at the base and used "torture techniques" on a prisoner.
"Mr Gonzales bears much of the responsibility for creating the legal framework and permissive atmosphere that led to the torture and abuse at Guantanamo and elsewhere," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained the documents under freedom of information laws.
Wednesday December 22, 2004
Dr David Kelly is the first British citizen whose sudden, unexpected and violent death has been denied an inquest. Three weeks after Dr Kelly's body was found, Lord Falconer ordered that the inquest into his death be adjourned indefinitely and subsumed into a public inquiry by invoking section 17a of the Coroner's Act 1988.
The section is designed to avoid duplication of inquiry in cases of multiple deaths where the cause of death can, to some extent, be assumed from the outset. But Dr Kelly's was a solitary death coming amid a political storm concerning doubts over the government's case for war with Iraq, and its cause required rigorous investigation. The Hutton inquiry had no power to call a jury, subpoena witnesses or cross-examine them under oath.
Disquiet expressed recently by paramedics over finding very little blood at the scene of Dr Kelly's death gives credence to our view that it is highly improbable Dr Kelly died of haemorrhage from a transected ulnar artery. From such a wound he would have lost only about a pint of blood, and for death to occur he would need to have lost some five pints. And Co-Proxamol levels in his blood were one-third of what is normally regarded as a fatal dose.
In his report, Lord Hutton confirmed that he had seen a photograph of Dr Kelly lying with his head against the base of a tree. Two volunteer searchers stated they found Dr Kelly's body slumped against a tree. Yet the paramedics who arrived later, and five other witnesses, including the forensic pathologist, reported that the body was flat on its back a foot from the tree. Police photographed the body in this position. Given that there is photographic evidence showing the body in two different positions, it must be determined who moved the body, and when and why.
The law requires a verdict of suicide to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Why should Dr Kelly's death receive less scrutiny than any other sudden, unexpected and violent death? As things stand, suicide has not been proved, and we still do not know how he died.
Dr Michael Powers QC
Specialist in vascular surgery
Specialist in internal general medicine
C Stephen Frost
Specialist in diagnostic radiology
Specialist in orthopaedic and trauma surgery
Specialist in orthopaedic and trauma surgery
Consultant in public health
John Henry Scurr
Specialist in vascular surgery
Specialist in anaesthesiology
The Observer - Sunday December 12, 2004
In the cramped office of an Oxford law firm, Dave Bartlett's solicitor turns to him and asks if he is happy to stand by the dramatic comment he has just made about the death of Dr David Kelly.
Bartlett's eyes do not waver. 'Yes. I have always said that had it been a member of my family I wouldn't have accepted what they came out with.'
Sitting next to Bartlett is his colleague, Vanessa Hunt. Like him, she has been a paramedic for more than 15 years. She does not hesitate either. 'There just wasn't a lot of blood... When somebody cuts an artery, whether accidentally or intentionally, the blood pumps everywhere. I just think it is incredibly unlikely that he died from the wrist wound we saw.'
On 18 July last year Bartlett and Hunt received an emergency call to attend a suspected suicide. Over the years they have raced to the scenes of dozens of attempted suicides in which somebody has cut their wrists. In only one case has the victim been successful.
'That was like a slaughterhouse,' recalls Hunt. 'Just think what it would be like with five or six pints of milk splashed everywhere.' If you slit your wrists, that is the equivalent amount of blood you would have to lose.
But this was not the scene which greeted the two paramedics when their ambulance arrived at Harrowdown Hill woods in Oxfordshire, where the body of Dr Kelly, the weapons expert, had been found.
The death would become one of the biggest news stories of the year, a tale of intrigue and confusion which would threaten the future of Tony Blair. Kelly was a government scientist who had been revealed as the source of a broadcast by BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan which questioned the veracity of the government's report on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. It is remembered for the allegation that Downing Street 'sexed up' the report to make the case for going to war against Iraq.
With Kelly's body lying in the woods and Blair facing political meltdown, the government announced the Hutton inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death. Its report said Kelly had died by 'bleeding from incised wounds to his left wrist'. No shadow of a doubt.
Now the paramedics, two of the first people to see Kelly, want to question that judgment. In their first interviews about the death, they are not trying to spin conspiracy theories. They offer no alternative explanation for Kelly's death. They have decided to speak out so that information which they believe Hutton failed to emphasise is put into the public domain.
They have no answers to the questions they have been asking themselves over the past 12 months, but they seem certain of one thing: Kelly could not have died from the wound they saw on his left wrist in the woods that Friday morning.
It was 9.40am when the emergency call came in. Bartlett and Hunt had just started their morning shift and were having coffee in the crew room of Abingdon ambulance station in Oxfordshire when they were told of an incident involving a male at Harrowdown Hill.
'On the way, we thought it might have been somebody who committed suicide in their car. That is quite common in the mornings,' said Bartlett. 'Or somebody out walking the dog who had collapsed,' said Hunt.
When they arrived at the woods 15 minutes later it was immediately clear that this was not a run-of-the-mill incident. 'There were a lot of police around,' said Hunt. 'Some were in civilian clothes and others in black jackets and army fatigues. I thought it might have been a firearms incident as there were the guys from the special armed response units.'
The paramedics parked their ambulance. Carrying their resuscitation equipment, they followed two armed-response police for about a mile until they reached a wooded area. In a clearing, they first saw Kelly's body.
'He was about 20 metres away lying flat down with his feet towards us,' said Hunt. Bartlett's first thought was that the 'poor chap had hung himself and fallen from the tree'.
As they approached the body, Hunt went to the right of Kelly and Bartlett to the left. Hunt checked for a pulse and Bartlett shone a light into his eyes to see if there was any pupil reaction. They then put four electrodes on his chest to detect any heart activity, but there was none. Kelly was pronounced dead at 10.07am.
Both saw that the left sleeves of his jacket and shirt had been pulled up to just below the elbow and there was dried blood around his left wrist.
'There was no gaping wound... there wasn't a puddle of blood around,' said Hunt. 'There was a little bit of blood on the nettles to the left of his left arm. But there was no real blood on the body of the shirt. The only other bit of blood I saw was on his clothing. It was the size of a 50p piece above the right knee on his trousers.'
Hunt found this very strange. 'If you manage to cut a wrist and catch an artery you would get a spraying of blood, regardless of whether it's an accident... Because of the nature of an arterial cut, you get a pumping action. I would certainly expect a lot more blood on his clothing, on his shirt. If you choose to cut your wrists, you don't worry about getting blood on your clothes.
'I didn't see any blood on his right hand... If he used his right hand to cut his wrist, from an arterial wound you would expect some spray.'
Bartlett agreed: 'I remember saying to one of the policemen it didn't look like he died from that [the wrist wound] and suggesting he must have taken an overdose or something else.'
Bartlett recalls being called to one attempted suicide where the blood had spurted so high it hit the ceiling. 'Even in this incident, the victim survived. It was like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the guy walked out alive. We have been to a vast amount of incidents where people who have slashed their wrists, intentionally or not. Most of them are taken down the hospital and given a few stitches then sent straight back home. But there is a lot of blood. It's all over them.'
The surprise of the paramedics that there was not much blood is supported by a number of medical experts. A letter was written to the papers earlier this year questioning his death.
In particular, one group of doctors has pointed to the fact that the pathology report into Kelly's death revealed that the only artery completely severed was in his left wrist, called the ulnar artery. This is not the normal main radial artery that is used to take a pulse, but a small artery below the little finger which is hard to locate and lies deep within the wrist.
Martin Birnstingl was until recently president of the Vascular Surgical Society of Great Britain. He is a former consultant at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London and one of the country's most respected vascular surgeons.
Birnstingl said he believed it was 'extremely unlikely' for Kelly to have died by simply severing the ulnar artery. He explained that arteries have muscles around them that will constrict when severed, to prevent life-threatening loss of blood. 'It would spray blood around and make a mess. But after the blood pressure started to fall, the artery would contract and stop bleeding,' he said.
This is a view echoed by Dr Bill McQuillan, a former consultant at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary who for 20 years has dealt with hundreds of wrist accidents. 'I have never seen one death of somebody from cutting an ulnar artery,' he said. He also pointed out that a warm bath might allow more bleeding, but in the open air the artery would simply close down. 'I can't see how he would lose more than a pint of blood.'
Despite these doubts, other forensic experts remain 'satisfied' with Hutton's verdict, including Professor Robert Forrest and Professor Chris Milroy. They claim to have seen suicides where a single slit artery led to death.
Hutton's findings were based on evidence given to the inquiry that there was more blood around Kelly's body, including a stain two to three feet in length running across the undergrowth.
But the paramedics are insistent. 'I am sure I would not have missed that amount of blood,' said Hunt.
Then there was the issue of an overdose. If Kelly had not died by slitting his wrists, perhaps he had taken tablets to hasten his death. Hutton did reveal Kelly had swallowed several painkillers, believed to have been taken from his wife's medicine cabinet. The pathologist found three blister packets of the painkiller coproxamol in Kelly's left-hand jacket pocket.
Each of these packets would have contained 10 tablets, but there was only one left, leading to the conclusion that Kelly may have swallowed 29 pills. Could this have been enough to kill him? No. Copraxamol is typically prescribed for mild back pain and consists of two compounds: paracetamol and an opiate-type drug, dextropropoxyphene. Both can be lethal if consumed in sufficient amounts, but a detailed toxicology report on Kelly's blood revealed the presence of only one-third of the dose that normally causes death.
Dr Alexander Allan, the forensic toxicologist who examined Kelly's blood and urine, told the Hutton inquiry that although the levels he found were more than therapeutic, they were significantly lower than doses that would lead to death.
Bartlett and Hunt are also concerned about another issue. The Hutton report said Kelly's body was found with his head and shoulders 'slumped against a tree'. The judge said he had seen a photograph showing his body in that position. One of the first people to find Kelly, Louise Holmes, agreed that he was resting against a tree. But by the time Bartlett and Hunt arrived, Kelly was lying flat, some feet from the tree. Had someone moved him? Had his body been searched? Why the discrepancy? None of the police officers at the scene said they had touched the body.
What next? A full independent inquest might have offered answers to some of the issues raised by the paramedics. The Hutton inquiry prevented a full inquest from taking place and, although witnesses were summoned, they were not cross-examined under oath.
The Oxfordshire coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, decided there was no public interest in reopening the inquest. After all, there had been no evidence from the police or any individual that a third party had been involved in Kelly's death. More important, his family had accepted Hutton's verdict and had no desire to reopen the case.
Yet for Michael Powers QC, a barrister and former doctor who is one of Britain's leading experts in coroner law, the lack of a public inquest is unsatisfactory.
'For an inquest to conclude that suicide is the cause of death, it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt,' he said. 'In this case, there are a lot of gaps. The evidence of the paramedics, who are professionals, is significant. There appears to be no accurate measure of how much blood Kelly lost and a very real question, backed up by witnesses, that it was insufficent to lead to his death.
'The toxicological evidence is very poor. There are questions over where the pills came from and how many he took.'
Like the paramedics, Powers is unwilling to suggest that Kelly might have died in mysterious circumstances. But on the evidence he has studied, he believes any inquest would be forced to conclude an open verdict.
An individual who was very close to Kelly also has serious doubts about Hutton's verdict. The person does not want to be named, but told The Observer that even if you accepted that Kelly's mental state was desperate enough for him to take his own life, it is inconceivable he would have chosen such an uncertain method.
'He was a scientist, a highly intelligent man. If he had chosen to kill himself, he would have opted for something certain, like hanging himself or throwing himself under a train. He would not have risked surviving. I can't believe he would have chosen to cut one small artery and take some pills. The outcome would be too uncertain.'
The big question is: if Kelly did not kill himself, then what happened? No one wants to give an answer to that, though many are aware of the rumour mill and conspiracy theorists who say that the death was suspicious.
Bartlett says there is one way to put such rumours to rest: 'If they showed me photos showing a lot of blood and said he had massive amounts of drugs or another substance in his body and that killed him, I would accept it. But until then there has to be some doubt.'
Bartlett and Hunt know that by making their concerns public they will have increased those doubts. All they want is to get to the truth and a final verdict on the death of a government scientist who threatened the future of the Prime Minister, so that everyone can be satisfied.
April-June: David Kelly, a Ministry of Defence scientist, is consulted over the dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
24 September: The dossier is published, including the statement that Iraq can deploy WMD within 45 minutes. Tony Blair describes the threat as 'serious and current'.
29 May In a report on Radio 4's Today programme, Andrew Gilligan quotes 'a source' who believes Downing Street wanted the September dossier 'sexed up'.
30 June: Kelly writes to his manager, Bryan Wells, admitting he met Gilligan on 22 May.
4 July: MoD drafts a statement referring to Kelly as 'an unnamed official'.
9 July: Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, writes to Gavyn Davies, then BBC chairman, asking him to confirm whether Kelly is the source. The BBC refuses. MoD confirms to journalists that Kelly is the official involved.
17 July: At 3pm, Kelly leaves home, telling his wife he is going for a walk. When he fails to return home by 11.45pm, his family contacts the police. He is found dead in the woods near his home the following morning.
20 July The BBC issues a statement after talking to Kelly's family, naming him as the source of Gilligan's report.
21 July: Lord Hutton is appointed head of an independent inquiry into the events surrounding Kelly's death.
28 January: Hutton report published. The government is exonerated and the BBC heavily criticised.
Research: Will Lee
From Tim Reid in Washington
VIOLENT abuse of prisoners by US forces in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay was widespread as recently as four months ago, according to documents released yesterday.
Secret FBI memorandums, which the Bush Administration was forced to release by a court order won by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), reveal the disgust of FBI officials who witnessed the abuse.
They also show that violence against prisoners, including the use of snarling dogs and forcing detainees to defecate on themselves, was still an interrogation tactic months after the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal caused outrage in April.
The White House denied an allegation in one memo that President Bush had signed a new executive order authorising sleep management, stress positions, use of dogs, sensory deprivation and yelling at subjects and prisoners with hoods on their heads, methods forbidden for FBI agents.
A White House official said: What the FBI agent wrote is wrong. There is no executive order on interrogation techniques.
One of the most damning memos, dated June 24 and addressed to Robert Mueller, the FBI director, and other senior bureau officials, gave the account of someone who observed serious physical abuses of civilian detainees in Iraq.
It described that such abuses included strangulation, beatings, placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings and unauthorised interrogations .
The documents mostly by FBI agents present at interrogations in Iraq and the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and sent to their superiors indicate that such tactics must have been known to government officials in Washington.
They make the official government line that abuses were the action of a few low-ranking mavericks increasingly hard to sustain.
Top government officials can no longer hide from public scrutiny by pointing the finger at a few low-ranking soldiers, said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU.
In one memo, FBI agents allege that military interrogators impersonated FBI officials, apparently to avoid possible blame in subsequent inquiries.
One FBI agent wrote that the impersonation technique was approved by DepSecDef, a reference to Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy to Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary. That allegation was denied by a Pentagon spokesman
Dec 22 2004 - Australian Financial Review
The US White House directly authorised inhumane interrogation techniques of detainees in Iraq such as sleep deprivation and the use of dogs, according to a civil liberties group that released documents in a case against the government.
The American Civil Liberties Union cited an e-mail from the FBI that was intended to steer their own agents away from such behaviour.
In one e-mail, dated May 2004, a concerned FBI agent cites an an executive order from US President George Bush that also authorised "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods" and the use of stress positions.
The e-mail was sent by an FBI "on scene commander - Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, and notes that such techniques were banned for FBI agents, despite apparent presidential authorisation.
The ACLU called upon the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order.
The documents released by the ACLU on Monday also describe incidents at the Guantanamo Bay prison for al-Qaeda suspects. In one account, an FBI agent describes how detainees were shackled hand and foot in a foetal position on the floor, for 18 to 24 hours at a time.
Most had "urinated or defecated" on themselves, the ACLU said.
"The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night," according to an e-mail from an FBI agent dated August 2, 2004.
The documents were released by court order after the ACLU and four other civil rights groups sued for the information under the freedom of information act.
The information is to be used as evidence in a lawsuit meant to determine the use of inhumane techniques on prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo.
The White House said on Tuesday the claims would be investigated.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Defence Department was investigating "a number of allegations that have been made".
"We expect them to get to the bottom of it," McClellan said.
The details were the latest to be released by the government in response to the lawsuits. They also described incidents of beatings and lit cigarettes being stuck in prisoners' ears.
The claims made in one particular memorandum, which was brought to the attention of senior US government officials in June, are based on eyewitness accounts, but the identity of the informant and the time and date of the abuse remains unclear.
Last week, in connection with the case, US military officials released documents uncovering new abuses by US marines of Iraqi prisoners that included the use of electroshocks to force a detainee to "dance".
Cases in last week's batch included the holding of a pistol to the back of a detainee's head while another marine took a picture, in Karbala in May 2003; a "mock execution" in Adiwaniyah in June 2003 of four Iraqi juveniles ordered to kneel; and severe burning of a detainee's hands after alcohol had been poured over them, in Al Mumudiyah in August 2003.
Twenty-four soldiers participated in the cases that are documented. The Washington Post reported that 11 military officials have already been sentenced by a military court in connection with the abuses.
Also last week, The Washington Post reported that the CIA had kept a special detention area at the Guantanamo Bay prison on Cuba for high value terrorist suspects that had not been made public.
Guantanamo prisoners, some of whom have been held for nearly three years without seeing a lawyer, recently gained the right to challenge their imprisonment in US federal courts under a Supreme Court ruling.
Two Australian men, David Hicks of Adelaide and Mamdouh Habib of Sydney, are among those detained at Guantanamo Bay.
By Severin Carrell
19 December 2004
He is known to the outside world only as "P". Nearly two years ago, he was arrested without charge and imprisoned as an alleged foreign terrorist - an al-Qa'ida sympathiser who threatens Britain's national security.
But P is now in a mental ward in Broadmoor secure hospital, one of four men arrested as suspect terrorists since September 11 who have suffered a severe mental collapse. And he is an alleged terrorist who has no arms.
Until now, few details have emerged about P, but The Independent on Sunday has learnt that the man, a single north African male in his 30s who came to Britain as a refugee, has lost one forearm with the other arm amputated above the elbow.
His lawyer, Gareth Peirce, claims that P's experiences highlight precisely why nine Law Lords produced their devastating attack last Thursday on the Government's powers to intern suspected foreign terrorists.
Lord Hoffman, the most senior Law Lord, described the powers as "the real threat to the life of the nation". Other Law Lords branded them as "clearly" discriminatory and unjustifiably draconian.
Ever since his arrest in January last year, P's story has become intimately wrapped up with the life of another detainee, another north African man known as "B".
Also in his 30s, B became P's closest friend when they were incarcerated together in Belmarsh high-security prison in south London. B became his carer and cellmate, giving his friend the most basic assistance possible: help with dressing, eating and washing. Ms Peirce alleges that P was effectively helpless when he was jailed, and had no false arms or disability aids.
"He had had prosthetic arms but had been arrested two years earlier, and the police had broken those arms. They'd actually caused wholesale damage. With that whole experience, he has never been able to bring himself to try them again," Ms Peirce said.
The close relationship between the two men continues. As The Independent on Sunday revealed last week, both men became so mentally disturbed by their isolation and detention without trial, they were in a "life-threatening condition".
In October and November, the two men were separately sent to Broadmoor for specialist psychiatric care.
B's mental collapse, alleges Ms Peirce, was finally caused by the closure of a pottery class at Belmarsh. A skilled artist and potter, B had found escape in the class, in one case taking two years to fashion an elaborately decorated Islamic vase which was coveted by the prison's guards. Closure of the class, she said, "became the final straw".
Their transfer to Broadmoor meant that a third of the current detainees under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 have been officially diagnosed as severely mentally ill.
One man, a Palestinian named Abu Rideh, went to Broadmoor after attempting suicide and suffering a mental breakdown following an attempted hunger strike.
A fourth detainee, "G", is living under extremely tight bail restrictions with his wife and children at home - restrictions that effectively ban him from leaving the house, making phone calls, having visitors or using his garden.
G, who is wheelchair-bound with polio, was bailed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, a secretive tribunal set up by David Blunkett, the then Home Secretary, because of his mental collapse. Mr Blunkett famously described the tribunal's decision as "bonkers".
Last week, the new Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, indicated that the Government would insist on keeping the men detained, a stance some observers believe Mr Clarke will gradually soften.
As with other detainees, the Government alleges G was linked to a hard-line Islamist terror group in the al-Qa'ida network, in his case the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. They accuse him of providing false documents and money to extremists.
B is alleged to have belonged to an Algerian extremist group, and to have helped find communications gear and other supplies for Algerian and Chechen terrorists.
The most notorious detainee is Abu Qatada, the Jordanian cleric alleged to be al-Qa'ida's "spiritual leader" in Europe and a "highly dangerous man".
One former Belmarsh inmate told The Independent on Sunday yesterday that the summary arrest and internment of the men was causing them to go slowly mad. The former inmate, a Kenyan who gave his name as "Ahmed", said: "You could see the stress and anxiety on their faces. It is really destroying them, and I don't think many will survive, even if they are released today. Many of them have been mentally destroyed."
Ahmed was arrested under separate immigration legislation for allegedly helping to plot the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, claims the intelligence services eventually admitted were unfounded.
Now with temporary leave to remain in Britain, he was held in Belmarsh for 14 months, and met the terror detainees every Friday at prayers and during education periods.
"They feel they're being used for political purposes and were arrested to create fear in the public," he said. "They know they're no threat. They feel that if they had a fair trial, they could prove to the public they're not a threat. They say they escaped as refugees to this country for safety and justice: it's ludicrous for them to be described as a threat to this country."