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US Grandstands on Chemical Weapons Treaty While Violating It September 14, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Chemical Biological Weapons.
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Government keeps tons of chemical weapons in Kentucky and Colorado, breaking global commitments to destroy them

 

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

As the Obama administration continues to threaten military intervention in Syria unless the government of Bashar al-Assad follows international ‘norms’ on chemical weapons, the U.S. government violates those very norms by storing tons of chemical weapons at facilities in Kentucky and Colorado, breaking its own promises to the international community.

kentucky

The Blue Grass Army Depot stores 523 tons of chemical weapons in igloos like this one. (Photo: Kentucky Environmental Foundation)

The U.S. government keeps approximately 2,611 tons of mustard gas in a facility in Colorado, and 524 tons of a spectrum of chemical weapons—including deadly nerve agent Sarin—in a facility in Kentucky, despite commitments to have already destroyed its chemical arsenals by now.

As a ratifier of the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty, overseen by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at the Hague, the U.S. agreed in 1997 to destroy its chemical weapons stocks within 10 years, with the possibility of a 5-year extension. Yet, with the latest possible deadline of 2012 now passed, U.S. officials say that they can’t destroy all of their arsenals until 2023.

Furthermore, chemical weapons inspectors have been stymied several times by U.S. politicians since the U.S. ratified the agreement, including President George W. Bush’s 2002 role in successfully pushing for the firing of José Maurício Bustani, the director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons who pushed for thorough inspection of U.S. facilities.

Mustard gas stored at a facility in Colorado (Photo: Wikimedia)

While the U.S. is not the only ratifier that has broken deadlines for destroying weapons stockpiles, it has notably been using this treaty to build arguments in favor of military force against the Syrian government, whose use of chemical weapons has still not been definitively proven.

As the Obama administration has railed against Syria for failing to ratify the convention, it has remained silent on Israel’s refusal to ratify, even though the country is documented to possess chemical weapons, and like the U.S., has used them against civilians.

Syria claimed earlier this week that it would place its chemical weapons into international control, and that it wishes to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry enters into discussions Thursday with Russian officials in Geneva, as the Obama administration continues to threaten military force.

Critics charge that, given the track record of the U.S. government, it is on shaky grounds to single out Syria. “Focusing on Syria alone doesn’t seem to be reasonable or realistic, Stephen Zunes—leading Middle East Peace scholar, told Common Dreams. “What we need is universality. Weapons of Mass Destruction apartheid, where we’ll let one country have weapons but go to war with another, is not going to work.”

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Confronting the lies about the Iraq invasion March 18, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan, Media, War.
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Statement by Brian Becker, national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition, on the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq

Confronting the lies about the Iraq invasion

Ten years ago, the United States and Britain invaded Iraq. The history of how this invasion came about has been largely falsified by both the right-wing supporters of the invasion and the liberal commentators who opposed the war.

january-18-2003-washington-dc-antiwar

500,000 rally against looming war on Jan 18, 2003

 

The core argument of the professional liberal commentators and historians is that Bush hoodwinked the country and the general public, with the help of a supplicant media, by scaring people into thinking that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the Bush administration had to invade to defend America and its people.

The fallacious handwringing liberal position was typified in the recent 10th-anniversary account of the war by Micah Sifry, published by the National Memo.

“But 10 years ago, it was not a good time to be a war skeptic in America. It rarely is. The vast majority of ‘smart’ and ‘serious’ people had convinced themselves that in the face of Saddam Hussein’s alleged stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction, the prudent thing to do was to go to war to remove him from power,” writes Sifry.

This is a fanciful and false account.

The “country” was not hoodwinked. There was no general feeling that the U.S. must strike first or be engulfed by Saddam Hussein’s military.

The opposite was true. The people of this country—and the world—mobilized in unprecedented numbers prior to a military conflict under the banner: “Stop the War Before it Starts.”

An unprecedented, massive anti-war movement

In the months prior to the invasion, I was the central organizer of the mass anti-war actions in Washington, D.C., that brought many hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of the capital in repeated demonstrations—on Oct. 26, 2002; Jan. 18, 2003; and March 15, 2003.

The Jan. 18, 2003, demonstration filled up a vast expanse of the Mall west of the Capitol building, which houses the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Washington Post described the Jan. 18 demonstration as the largest anti-war protest since the end of the Vietnam War.

In addition to the Washington demonstrations, there were mass anti-war protests in cities throughout the United States, on both the east and west coasts and nearly everywhere in between.

Thousands of organizations and millions of individuals were participants and organizers in this grassroots global movement.

On Feb. 15, 2003, there were coinciding demonstrations in more than 1,000 cities in almost every country—including many hundreds of cities and towns in the United States.

The rise of a global anti-war movement of such magnitude—before the actual start of military hostilities—was without precedent in human history. Mass anti-war movements and even revolutions have occurred inside one or more of the warring countries at the time of their defeat or perceived defeat, but the Iraq anti-war movement of 2002-2003 was in anticipation of a war and before the gruesome impact of the slaughter could be seen and felt.

The depth of the movement was breathtaking for the organizers and the participants. Millions went into the streets over and over and over again. They knew that they were in a race against time. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were likewise racing to go to war, not because Iraq was getting stronger or closer to having weapons of mass destruction but because this global grassroots anti-war movement had the potential to shake the political status quo to its very foundations

In February 2003, The New York Times described the global anti-war movement as the world’s “second super-power.”

Why the race toward war

It was under these circumstances that the “mass media” went into overdrive to promote the war. Anti-war voices on television were booted off the air. The airwaves were filled up with the obviously bogus imagery that Iraq in league with unspecified “Muslim terrorists” was about to engulf the United States in a nuclear mushroom cloud. The message was that war was inevitable and that protests were futile.

Bush rushed hundreds of thousands of troops to Kuwait in a race to launch the invasion that they knew was likely to destroy the Iraqi military in a few weeks.

The Democratic Party leaders in Congress had already acquiesced to Bush and Cheney’s war demands. Even though the calls and letters to Congress against the war were running 200 to 1, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, by lopsided margins, passed resolutions on Oct. 11, 2002, authorizing Bush to use the armed forces of the United States against Iraq.

The Iraq invasion was a criminal enterprise. Millions of Iraqis died, more than five million were forced into the miserable life of refugees, thousands of U.S. troops were killed and tens of thousands of others suffered life-changing physical and mental injuries.

Today, Bush and Cheney are writing books and collecting huge speaking fees. They are shielded from prosecution by the current Democratic-led government.

The war in Iraq was not simply a “mistake” nor was it the consequence of a hoodwinked public. It was rather a symptom of the primary reality of the modern-day political system in the U.S. This system is addicted to war. It relies on organized violence, or the threat of violence, to maintain the dominant position of the United States all over the world. The U.S. has invaded or bombed one country after another since the end of the so-called Cold War. It has military bases in 130 countries and spends more on lethal violence than all other countries combined. Yes, in the United States the adult population is encouraged to vote every two or four years for one of two ruling-class parties that enforce the global projection of U.S. empire with equal vigor when they take turns at the helm. And this is labeled the exercise of “democracy” and proof that the United States is indeed the land of the free.

The invasion of Iraq succeeded in creating mass human suffering and death. What Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld failed to anticipate was that the Iraqi people, like all people everywhere, would never willingly accept life under occupation. It was the unanticipated resistance of the Iraqi people that eventually forced the withdrawal of the occupation forces nine long years later.

Brian Becker was the lead organizer of the largest anti-war demonstrations in Washington, D.C., between Oct. 26, 2002, and the start of the Iraq invasion on March 19, 2003. The October demonstration drew 200,000 people. Less than two months later, on Jan. 18, 2003, approximately 500,000 demonstrated again in what the Washington Post called the “largest anti-war demonstration” in Washington, D.C., since the end of the Vietnam War. On Feb. 15, 2003, millions of people demonstrated in nearly 1,000 cities around the world, including several hundred cities and towns in the United States. On March 15, just four days before the start of the invasion, 100,000 demonstrated once gain in Washington, D.C.

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Bush and Blair Should Be Sent to The Hague September 2, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, George W. Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Why I had no choice but to spurn Tony Blair

I couldn’t sit with someone who justified the invasion of Iraq with a lie

Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu: pulled out of a seminar which Tony Blair was scheduled to attend. Photograph: Str/REUTERS

The immorality of the United States and Great Britain’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.

Instead of recognising that the world we lived in, with increasingly sophisticated communications, transportations and weapons systems necessitated sophisticated leadership that would bring the global family together, the then-leaders of the US and UK fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.

If leaders may lie, then who should tell the truth? Days before George W Bush and Tony Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq, I called the White House and spoke to Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser, to urge that United Nations weapons inspectors be given more time to confirm or deny the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Should they be able to confirm finding such weapons, I argued, dismantling the threat would have the support of virtually the entire world. Ms Rice demurred, saying there was too much risk and the president would not postpone any longer.

On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers’ circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush’s chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

The cost of the decision to rid Iraq of its by-all-accounts despotic and murderous leader has been staggering, beginning in Iraq itself. Last year, an average of 6.5 people died there each day in suicide attacks and vehicle bombs, according to the Iraqi Body Count project. More than 110,000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had been killed and more than 32,000 wounded.

On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague.

But even greater costs have been exacted beyond the killing fields, in the hardened hearts and minds of members of the human family across the world.

Has the potential for terrorist attacks decreased? To what extent have we succeeded in bringing the so-called Muslim and Judeo-Christian worlds closer together, in sowing the seeds of understanding and hope?

Leadership and morality are indivisible. Good leaders are the custodians of morality. The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level.

If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without an acknowledgement or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children?

My appeal to Mr Blair is not to talk about leadership, but to demonstrate it. You are a member of our family, God’s family. You are made for goodness, for honesty, for morality, for love; so are our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in the US, in Syria, in Israel and Iran.

I did not deem it appropriate to have this discussion at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg last week. As the date drew nearer, I felt an increasingly profound sense of discomfort about attending a summit on “leadership” with Mr Blair. I extend my humblest and sincerest apologies to Discovery, the summit organisers, the speakers and delegates for the lateness of my decision not to attend.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Bush and Blair Should Be Sent to The Hague September 2, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, George W. Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Why I had no choice but to spurn Tony Blair

I couldn’t sit with someone who justified the invasion of Iraq with a lie

 

Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu: pulled out of a seminar which Tony Blair was scheduled to attend. Photograph: Str/REUTERS

The immorality of the United States and Great Britain’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.

Instead of recognising that the world we lived in, with increasingly sophisticated communications, transportations and weapons systems necessitated sophisticated leadership that would bring the global family together, the then-leaders of the US and UK fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.

If leaders may lie, then who should tell the truth? Days before George W Bush and Tony Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq, I called the White House and spoke to Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser, to urge that United Nations weapons inspectors be given more time to confirm or deny the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Should they be able to confirm finding such weapons, I argued, dismantling the threat would have the support of virtually the entire world. Ms Rice demurred, saying there was too much risk and the president would not postpone any longer.

On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers’ circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush’s chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

The cost of the decision to rid Iraq of its by-all-accounts despotic and murderous leader has been staggering, beginning in Iraq itself. Last year, an average of 6.5 people died there each day in suicide attacks and vehicle bombs, according to the Iraqi Body Count project. More than 110,000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had been killed and more than 32,000 wounded.

On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague.

But even greater costs have been exacted beyond the killing fields, in the hardened hearts and minds of members of the human family across the world.

Has the potential for terrorist attacks decreased? To what extent have we succeeded in bringing the so-called Muslim and Judeo-Christian worlds closer together, in sowing the seeds of understanding and hope?

Leadership and morality are indivisible. Good leaders are the custodians of morality. The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level.

If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without an acknowledgement or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children?

My appeal to Mr Blair is not to talk about leadership, but to demonstrate it. You are a member of our family, God’s family. You are made for goodness, for honesty, for morality, for love; so are our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in the US, in Syria, in Israel and Iran.

I did not deem it appropriate to have this discussion at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg last week. As the date drew nearer, I felt an increasingly profound sense of discomfort about attending a summit on “leadership” with Mr Blair. I extend my humblest and sincerest apologies to Discovery, the summit organisers, the speakers and delegates for the lateness of my decision not to attend.

Ignatieff linked to Iraq war planning April 20, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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—–
http://m.ottawasun.com/images/stories/canoe/logo_ottsun.gif

BRIAN LILLEY, Parliamentary Bureau

First posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 6:00:00 EDT AM
http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/04/20/ignatieff-linked-to-iraq-war-planning

OTTAWA - As a politician in Canada, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has said that he was on the sidelines of the Iraq war, but new information reveals he was on the front lines of pre-invasion planning when he worked in the U.S.

Ignatieff — long known to be a supporter of the decision to invade — was part of an academic advisory team that helped U.S. state department and American military officials conduct strategy sessions.

The academic-turned-politician was singled out in a Pentagon briefing the day before the invasion started.

One of the top officials in Air Command cited Ignatieff’s work in helping the military ready comprehensive plans to mitigate collateral damage while preparing for the invasion.

“I personally have been working with The Carr Center for Human Rights,” said U.S. Col. Gary Crowder on March 19, 2003. “Michael Ignatieff and Sarah Sewell (another Carr Center employee) and their program are a wonderful program.”

Crowder told reporters that he was working with Ignatieff on how to best conduct the war while minimizing civilian deaths.

“They bring non-governmental organizations, military officers, policy makers (and) media into a forum in which we can discuss these issues and better understand exactly each of our requirements,” Crowder said.

“If we’re required to conduct military operations, we would desire to conduct those while minimizing collateral damage and unintended damage.”

While leading the Carr Center, Ignatieff sponsored workshops with high-level U.S. military leaders prior to the invasion of the Iraq.

Ignatieff was one of the leading liberal voices supporting the war and his workshops and writings helped former U.S. President George Bush’s administration push the message that the war was necessary.

Tensions heated up in September 2002 when U.S. President George W. Bush told world leaders at a UN General Assembly session to confront the “grave and gathering danger” of Iraq — or stand by while the U.S. acted.

United Nations weapons inspectors returned to Iraq the following month backed by a resolution that threatened serious consequences if Iraq was found to have been hiding weapons of mass destruction.

In March 2003, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix reported that Iraq was offering better co-operation, but insisted that inspectors needed more time to do their job.

On March 17, Bush gave dictator Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war.

Three days later, the U.S. launched an invasion which toppled Hussein’s government, sparking years of violence in the bloodied country. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

Hussein was captured hiding in a hole in the town of Adwar, near Tikrit, in December 2003 and later executed for crimes against humanity.

In his own interviews, Ignatieff has said supporters of the war — like himself — hadn’t thought everything through despite having seen plenty of details on the plan for the invasion and during the post-invasion.

“First of all, there was some real failures in post-invasion planning,” Ignatieff told PBS interviewer Charlie Rose in September 2003.

“I saw matrices, you know, checklists compiled by, you know, the department of the army and army planners. They had some of the stuff that you’d want on a good post-invasion checklist, but what I think happened on that side was the military victory occurred so quickly that the post-invasion followup just didn’t get generated fast enough.”

Ignatieff distanced himself from the Iraq war and the Bush administration after he returned to Canada and was appointed deputy leader of the Liberal Party.

“I’ve learned that acquiring good judgment in politics starts with knowing when to admit your mistakes,” Ignatieff wrote in the New York Times Magazine in August 2007.

“The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq has condemned the political judgment of a president. But it has also condemned the judgment of many others, myself included, who as commentators, supported the invasion. Many of us believed, as an Iraqi exile friend told me the night the war started, that it was the only chance the members of his generation would have to live in freedom in their own country,” Ignatieff wrote.

The Iraq war was denounced by opponents of the Bush administration around the world for its failure to obtain the approval of the UN.

Ignatieff has said that if he forms a Liberal government, Canadian troops would never be used outside of Canada’s borders without the approval of the UN.

Bush, Cheney and the Great Escape February 9, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan, Torture.
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Friday 05 February 2010

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

photo
(Photo: phxpma; Edited: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

With each passing day, it becomes more and more astonishing to encompass the fact that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their henchmen from the prior administration have managed thus far to escape any accounting whatsoever for the massive battery of criminal activity committed during their time in office. More than a year has passed since these men had their hands on the levers of power, and evidence of their myriad crimes and frauds is laying all over the countryside, yet nothing has come of it.

The British government has been running a wide-ranging inquiry into the manner in which the UK and United States were led to war in Iraq by then-President Bush and then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. An astonishing amount of damning evidence and information has been uncovered and publicly aired, including the following statements delivered by a senior member of Parliament (MP) on Tuesday:

A senior Welsh MP said last night he knew “for certain” Tony Blair and George Bush struck a deal to invade Iraq at their notorious Crawford Ranch meeting in 2002 – a year before war was declared. Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary leader, said he had seen a confidential memo to that effect, although he would not divulge its exact contents.

Critics of the military action in Iraq have long suspected Mr Blair and President Bush came to an agreement at the president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas in April 2002, a claim Mr Blair denied in evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry last week. Mr Llwyd said he had offered to give evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry himself, in private if necessary.

The Meirionnydd Nant Conwy MP said: “I think other things should have been pursued [at the inquiry], in particular the detailed conversation at the ranch in Crawford in April 2002. I do know that the deal was struck, I know for certain it was struck at that stage so just to pretend months down the road that no deal had been struck I think is unforgivable. I have offered to give evidence and Chilcot has said ‘I’ll come back to you’. At that stage I will have private discussions with him.”

MP Llwyd refers here to the infamous Downing Street Memos, a collection of British government documents that lay out George W. Bush’s intent to invade and occupy Iraq whether or not there was any WMD/terrorism evidence to support the action, documents that further demonstrate Prime Minister Tony Blair’s willing acquiescence to the plan. Most damning of all is the secret memo dated 23 July 2002, explaining that war in Iraq was coming, and if the facts did not support the action, those facts would be twisted and buried. “There was a perceptible shift in attitude,” read the memo [emphasis added]. “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.”

These documents, along with testimony from the likes of MP Llwyd, offer a vivid portrait of a Bush administration far gone in the pursuit of its own militant plans, and more than willing to break laws and deceive the public to achieve the ends they sought. It was a nest of criminals that occupied the White House for those eight long years, proof of this continues to pile up in vast drifts, and nothing comes of it.

Quite the contrary, in fact. A recent report from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility slapped a big fat “Not Guilty” stamp on the jackets of John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the two central authors of the notorious “torture memos” that argued the legal justifications for the use of torture by the Bush administration. Worse, it appears Obama’s DOJ went out of the way to make sure Bybee and Yoo escaped free and clear from any censure for their despicable activities. According to a recent Newsweek report:

An upcoming Justice Department report from its ethics-watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), clears the Bush administration lawyers who authored the “torture” memos of professional-misconduct allegations.

While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors – Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor – violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter.

But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action – which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.

The truth of the matter is plain enough. Yoo and Bybee are not going to turn themselves in. Neither are any of the other actors in this gruesome play. If any measure of justice is going to be achieved, it will fall upon Congress, President Obama and his Department of Justice to get it done. Subpoenas must be issued, evidence gathered and testimony heard for the truth to be brought forth and for punishment to be meted out.

But this DOJ cannot even accept the judgment of its own OPR on two comparatively minor foot soldiers of the Bush administration without sanding down the conclusions enough to spare Yoo and Bybee the punishment they so richly deserve. Is there any hope at all that the larger players in the Bush-era criminal activities – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Perle, Feith and Wolfowitz most prominently – will be brought to justice when those two lesser lights are allowed to return to a law school classroom and a seat on the federal bench?

Disgraceful as it is to say, don’t hold your breath.

Speaking of evidence, there is this: a bomb in Karbala exploded on Wednesday, killing and wounding dozens of Shiite pilgrims. Another bomb in Karbala was attached to a military vehicle and killed and wounded dozens on Wednesday. Another bomb killed and wounded several other pilgrims outside Baghdad on Wednesday. Gunmen shot and killed a police officer in Kirkuk on Wednesday. The day before, a suicide bomber killed 54 and wounded dozens more in the outskirts of Baghdad. As of Wednesday, almost 5,000 US soldiers had been killed in Iraq, and nearly 50,000 more have been wounded. More than a million Iraqi civilians have likewise been killed and wounded.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Rice, and a dozen other members of the Bush administration, including Yoo and Bybee, are directly responsible for this carnage. They lied through their teeth and broke any number of laws to see it done. They are guilty of much more than the war crimes they committed in both Iraq and the United States. They are guilty of bankrupting this nation with two wars begun on false pretenses and perpetuated to enrich the few, while further cementing the stranglehold “defense spending” has on our growth as a civilized nation.

Thanks in no small part to the Iraq debacle, there is no political impetus to lay a finger on the wildly bloated “defense” budget, even as the fabric of our society shreds and shatters under the economic yoke placed upon our necks by the previous administration. Ours is a government staffed from stem to stern with political cowards who refuse to heal these wounds, and with those who are just as culpable as those members of the Bush administration (read: members of Congress who voted to support each and every criminal act that led us to this place).

Justice? When it comes to the Bush administration, the word has no meaning. They have escaped that justice, and we are all less free because of it.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: “War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know” and “The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.” His newest book, “House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation,” is now available from PoliPointPress.

Clare Short: Tony Blair Lied and Misled Parliament in Build-Up to Iraq War February 2, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Published on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

Blair ‘lied’ over war preparations • Attorney general ‘misled’ government • Brown ‘marginalised and unhappy’

by James Sturcke

Clare Short, the former international development secretary, today accused Tony Blair of lying to her and misleading parliament in the build-up to the Iraq invasion.

[Clare Short arriving to give evidence at the Iraq inquiry. (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)]
Clare Short arriving to give evidence at the Iraq inquiry. (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

 

Short, giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the war, also said the 2003 conflict had put the world in greater danger of international terrorism.

 

Declassified letters between Short and Blair released today show she believed that invading Iraq without a second UN resolution would be illegal and there was a significant risk of a humanitarian catastrophe.

She told the inquiry that she had a conversation with Blair in 2002. He told her that he was not planning for war against Iraq and that the evidence has since revealed that he was not telling the truth at that point, she said.

She also said she was “stunned” when she read the 337-word legal advice written by the then-attorney general Lord Goldsmith during a cabinet meeting on 17 March 2003, three days before the war began. She was forbidden by Blair from discussing it during the meeting.

“I said, ‘That is extraordinary.’ I was jeered at to be quiet. If the prime minister says be quiet there is only so much you can do.

“I think for the attorney general to come and say there’s unequivocal legal authority to go war was misleading.”

Short, who was applauded by some audience members in public seats at the end of her evidence, said the ministerial code was broken as cabinet colleagues were not aware of Goldsmith’s modifications to his legal advice over the previous weeks. The inquiry has already heard how Goldsmith changed his mind over the need for a second resolution after visiting the US the month before the war.

Short said cabinet colleagues were unaware of the legal advice given by the most senior Foreign Office lawyers, Sir Michael Wood and Elizabeth Wilmshurst, which called for a second UN resolution.

“The ministerial code said legal advice should be circulated and it wasn’t. We only had the answer to the parliamentary question [Goldsmith's short ruling]. There was a lot of misleading of parliament too by the prime minister of the day.

“The ministerial code is unsafe because it is enforced by the prime minister and if he’s in on the tricks then that’s it. When I found out what went into it I think we were misled.”

She added that she had “various cups of coffee” with Gordon Brown, at that time the chancellor, who “was very unhappy and marginalised [in the run up to war]“.

He was disillusioned about a number of issues, not specifically Iraq, and felt Blair was “obsessed with his legacy”.

Later, Short added that after the war, “Gordon was back in with Tony and not having cups of coffee with me any more”.

Asked about the cabinet meetings in the run-up to the war, Short told the inquiry that the cabinet did not operate in the manner it was required to constitutionally.

“It was not a decision-making body. I don’t think there was ever a substantive discussion about anything in cabinet. If you ever raised an issue with Tony Blair he would cut it off. He did that in July 2002 when I said I wanted to talk about Iraq. He said he did not want it leaking into the press.”

Short described cabinet meetings as “little chats” rather than decision-making opportunities.

“There was never a meeting … that said: ‘What is the problem? What are we trying to achieve? What are our options?’”

The declassified documents showed that Short believed the situation in Iraq to be “fragile” before hostilities began.

In one, written on 14 February 2003, she wrote: “Any disruption could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. With some more time, sensible measures can be taken to reduce these risks and improve people’s prospect of stability after the conflict.”

Short told the panel that both the British and US armies failed to honour their Geneva convention responsibilities to keep order, describing the situation in the post-invasion aftermath as “mad”, with food for refugees only being ordered at the last minute.

Short said Blair persuaded her against resigning on the same day as Cook by assuring her that the UN would have the lead role in reconstructing Iraq and that George Bush would support the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Asked why she didn’t resign earlier, she said: “If I knew then what I know now, I would have.” As for the pronouncements that the French would not back a second resolution, it was one of the “big deceits” of the British, Short said.

The French president, Jacques Chirac, could have supported military action but not while UN weapons inspectors wanted more time and it should have been given.

“There was no emergency. No one had attacked anyone. There wasn’t any new WMD. We could have taken the time and got it right. The forces weren’t ready to go in. They have said that themselves.”

Short ended her evidence by calling for a serious debate about the “special relationship” with the US, calling the current one “poodle-like”.

Short stood down from the cabinet on 12 May 2003, nearly eight weeks after the invasion.

© 2010 Guardian News and Media Limited

Iraq Invasion in 2003 Was Illegitimate: Dutch Probe January 12, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Published on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 by Agence France Presse

THE HAGUE – The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq lacked legitimacy under international law, an independent commission probing Dutch political support for the still controversial action said Tuesday.

“There was insufficient legitimacy” for the invasion for which the Netherlands gave political but no military backing, commission chairman Willibrord Davids told journalists in The Hague.

The commission’s report said the wording of UN resolution 1441 “cannot reasonably be interpreted (as the Dutch government did) as authorising individual member states to use military force to compel Iraq to comply with the Security Council’s resolutions.”

The resolution, passed in 2002, had offered Iraq “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations”.

The Dutch commission, which started its work in March last year, was set up by the government following pressure from opposition politicians and the public for a probe of claims that crucial data had been withheld from Dutch decision-makers who opted to support the US-led action.

The Netherlands had sent about 1,100 troops to Iraq in July 2003 to take part in a post-invasion, UN-mandated Iraqi stabilisation force. They left Iraq in 2005.

The probe found that Dutch policy on the issue had been defined by the foreign ministry under then minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who later became NATO secretary-general.

“The Prime Minister (Jan Peter Balkenende, still premier today) took little or no lead in debates on the Iraq question; he left the matter of Iraq entirely to the minister of foreign affairs,” the report said.

The commission also found that Dutch intelligence services did not have “any significant amount of independently sourced information” that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destructions — the main justification used by the United States and Britain for the war. None were ever found.

Balkenende has repeatedly stated that Dutch backing for the invasion was based on then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s refusal to respect UN Security Council resolutions.

The commission report said the Dutch government did not disclose to parliament the full content of a 2002 US request for support.

But there was “no evidence”, it added, to support rumours that the Netherlands had made a clandestine military contribution to the invasion.

Last month, a former UN weapons inspector said former US president George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair shared a conviction that Hussein was a threat, blinding them to the lack of evidence justifying war and causing them to mislead the public.

An official inquiry has started in Britain, with Blair set to testify in the coming weeks on the intelligence used to make a case for war.

© 2010 AFP

The Truth of UK’s Guilt Over Iraq November 28, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Published on Saturday, November 28, 2009 by The Guardian/UK

Until Chilcot hears UN weapons inspectors’ testimony, the fiction of Britain honestly seeking a WMD smoking gun prevails

by Scott Ritter

With its troops no longer engaged in military operations inside Iraq, Great Britain has been liberated politically to conduct a postmortem of that conflict, including the sensitive issue of the primary justification used by then Prime Minister Tony Blair for going to war, namely Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or WMD.The failure to find any WMD in Iraq following the March 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of that country by US and British troops continues to haunt those who were involved in making the decision for war. The issue of Iraqi WMD, and the role it played in influencing the decision for war, is at the centre of the ongoing Iraq war inquiry being conducted by Sir John Chilcot.

Among the more compelling testimonies provided to date has been that of Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British ambassador to the US, who served in that capacity during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Meyer convincingly portrayed an environment where the decision by the US to invade Iraq, backed by Blair, precluded any process (such as viable UN weapons inspections) that sought to compel Iraq to prove it had no WMD. Rather, Great Britain and the US were left “scrambling” to find evidence of a “smoking gun” to prove Iraq indeed possessed the WMD it was accused of having.

In short, Saddam had been found guilty of possessing WMD, and his sentence had been passed down by Washington and London void of any hard evidence that such weapons, or even related programmes, even existed. The sentence meted out – regime termination – mandated such a massive deployment of troops and material that all but the wilfully blind or intentionally ignorant had to know by the early autumn of 2002 that war with Iraq was inevitable. One simply does not initiate the movement of hundreds of thousands of troops, thousands of armoured vehicles and aircraft, and dozens of ships on a whim or to reinforce an idle threat.

President George Bush was able to disguise his blatant militarism behind the false sincerity of his ally Blair and his own secretary of state, Colin Powell. The president’s task was made far easier given the role of useful idiot played by much of the mainstream media in the US and Britain, where reporters and editors alike dutifully repeated both the hyped-up charges levied against Iraq and the false pretensions that a diplomatic solution was being sought.

The tragic final act of the farce directed by Bush and Blair was the theatre of war justification known as UN weapons inspections. Having played the WMD card so forcefully in an effort to justify war with Iraq, the US (and by extension, Britain) were compelled once again to revisit the issue of disarmament. But the reality was that disarming Iraq was the furthest thing from the mind of either Bush or Blair. The decision to use military force to overthrow Saddam was made by these two leaders independent of any proof that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Having found Iraq guilty, the last thing those who were positioning themselves for war wanted was to re-engage a process that not only had failed to uncover any evidence Iraq’s retention of WMD in the past, but was actually positioned to produce fact-based evidence that would either contradict or significantly weaken the case for war already endorsed by Bush and Blair.

The US and Britain had both abandoned aggressive UN weapons inspections in the spring of 1998. UN weapons inspectors were able and willing to conduct intrusive no-notice inspections of any site inside Iraq, including those associated with the Iraqi president, if it furthered their mandate of disarmament. But the US viewed such inspections as useful only in so far as they either manufactured a crisis that produced justification for military intervention (as was the case with inspections in March and December 1998), or sustained the notion of continued Iraqi non-compliance so as to justify the continuation of economic sanctions. An inspection process that diluted arguments of Iraq’s continued retention of WMD by failing to uncover any hard evidence that would sustain such allegations, or worse, sustain Iraq’s contention that it had no such weaponry, was not in the interest of US policy objectives that sought regime change, and as such required the continuation of stringent economic sanctions linked to Iraq’s disarmament obligation.

The British were never willing (or able) to confront meaningfully the American policy of abusing the legitimate inspection-based mandate of the UN inspectors. Instead, London sought to manage inspection-based confrontation by insisting that before any intrusive inspection could be carried out, it would have to be backed by high-quality intelligence. But even this position collapsed in the face of an American decision, made in April 1998, to stop supporting aggressive inspections altogether.

In the end, the British were left with the role of fabricating legitimacy for an American policy of terminating weapons inspections in Iraq, supplying dated intelligence of questionable veracity about a secret weapons cache being stored in the basement of a Ba’ath party headquarters in Baghdad, which was used to trigger an inspection the US hoped the Iraqis would balk at. When the Iraqis (as hoped) balked, the US ordered the inspectors out of Iraq, leading to the initiation of Operation Desert Fox, a 72-hour bombing campaign designed to ensure that Iraq would not allow the return of UN inspectors, effectively keeping UN sanctions “frozen” in place.

As of December 1998, both the US and Britain knew there was no “smoking gun” in Iraq that could prove that Saddam’s government was retaining or reconstituting a WMD capability. Nothing transpired between that time and when the decision was made in 2002 to invade Iraq that fundamentally altered that basic picture.

But having decided on war using WMD as the justification, both the US and Great Britain began the process of fabricating a case after the fact. Lacking new intelligence data on Iraqi WMD, both nations resorted to either recycling old charges that had been disproved by UN inspectors in the past, or fabricating new charges that would not withstand even the most cursory of investigations.

The reintroduction of UN weapons inspectors into Iraq in November 2002 was counterproductive for those who were using WMD as an excuse for war. This was aptly demonstrated when, in the first weeks following their return to Iraq, the inspectors discredited almost all of the intelligence-based charges both the US and Britain had levelled against Iraq, while failing to uncover any evidence of the massive stockpile of WMD that Iraq had been accused of retaining.

The decision for war had been made independently of any viable intelligence information on Iraqi WMD. As such, the work of the UN weapons inspectors inside Iraq following their return in November 2002 was not a factor in influencing the lead-up to the actual invasion of Iraq. Having decided that Saddam was guilty of possessing WMD, the failure of the UN weapons inspectors to uncover evidence of such retention made their efforts not only irrelevant, but undesirable. The inconvenience of the UN weapons inspectors when it comes to the truth about the lead-up to the war with Iraq continues to this day.

The parade of British diplomats and officials appearing before the Chilcot hearings rightly point out the absolute lack of any “smoking gun” concerning Iraq and WMD. But until Chilcot receives testimony from those best positioned to speak about Iraq’s WMD programmes, namely the UN weapons inspectors themselves, all the hearings will succeed in doing is sustain the false appearance of well-meaning British officials, stampeded into a war with Iraq by an overbearing American ally, looking in vain for a “smoking gun” that would justify their decision to invade. The evidence needed to undermine any WMD-based case for war, derived from the work of the UN weapons inspectors, was always available to those officials in a position to weigh in on this matter, but either never consulted or deliberately ignored.

There is a big difference between searching for a “smoking gun” and searching for the truth. By ignoring and/or undermining the work of the UN weapons inspectors in the lead-up to the war with Iraq, British officials demonstrated that they were not interested in the truth about Iraqi WMD, a fact that testimony provided by the likes of Sir Christopher Meyer alludes to, but falls short of actually stating.

The search for truth can be an inconvenient process, especially when it threatens to expose potentially illegal activities in the prosecution of an unpopular war. Until he calls upon UN weapons inspectors themselves to deliver testimony before his inquiry, Sir John Chilcot perpetuates the perception that Britain simply can’t handle the truth when it comes to uncovering the level of official British culpability in the deliberate fabrication of a case for war against Iraq that everyone knew, or should have known, was false.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2009
Scott Ritter was a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998 and is the author of Iraq Confidential (IB Tauris, 2006).

Cheney’s Role Deepens May 14, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Dick Cheney, Torture.
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by Robert Windrem

At the end of April 2003, not long after the fall of Baghdad, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi who Bush White House officials suspected might provide information of a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi was the head of the M-14 section of Mukhabarat, one of Saddam’s secret police organizations. His responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups.

“To those who wanted or suspected a relationship, he would have been a guy who would know, so [White House officials] had particular interest,” Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraqi Survey Group and the man in charge of interrogations of Iraqi officials, told me. So much so that the officials, according to Duelfer, inquired how the interrogation was proceeding.

In his new book, Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq, and in an interview with The Daily Beast, Duelfer says he heard from “some in Washington at very senior levels (not in the CIA),” who thought Khudayr’s interrogation had been “too gentle” and suggested another route, one that they believed has proven effective elsewhere. “They asked if enhanced measures, such as waterboarding, should be used,” Duelfer writes. “The executive authorities addressing those measures made clear that such techniques could legally be applied only to terrorism cases, and our debriefings were not as yet terrorism-related. The debriefings were just debriefings, even for this creature.”

Duelfer will not disclose who in Washington had proposed the use of waterboarding, saying only: “The language I can use is what has been cleared.” In fact, two senior U.S. intelligence officials at the time tell The Daily Beast that the suggestion to waterboard came from the Office of Vice President Cheney. Cheney, of course, has vehemently defended waterboarding and other harsh techniques, insisting they elicited valuable intelligence and saved lives. He has also asked that several memoranda be declassified to prove his case. (The Daily Beast placed a call to Cheney’s office and will post a response if we get one.)

Without admitting where the suggestion came from, Duelfer revealed that he considered it reprehensible and understood the rationale as political-and ultimately counterproductive to the overall mission of the Iraq Survey Group, which was assigned the mission of finding Saddam Hussein’s WMD after the invasion.

“Everyone knew there would be more smiles in Washington if WMD stocks were found,” Duelfer said in the interview. “My only obligation was to find the truth. It would be interesting if there was WMD in May 2003, but what was more interesting to me was looking at the entire regime through the slice of WMD.”

But, Duelfer says, Khudayr in fact repeatedly denied knowing the location of WMD or links between Saddam’s regime and al Qaeda and was not subjected to any enhanced interrogation. Duelfer says the idea that he would have known of such links was “ludicrous”.

This proposed use of enhanced interrogation techniques, or torture, in Iraq was not the only time these methods were actually used to derive information for a purpose other than the stated one-to derive intelligence about imminent threats to the United States following the 9/11 attacks.

An extensive analysis I conducted as a reporter for NBC News of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report and its monograph on terrorist travel showed that much of what was reported about the planning and execution of the terror attacks on New York and Washington was based on the CIA’s interrogations of high-ranking al Qaeda operatives who had been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

More than one-quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Report refer to CIA interrogations of al Qaeda operatives subjected to the now-controversial interrogation techniques. In fact, information derived from the interrogations was central to the 9/11 Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks.

The NBC analysis also showed-and agency and commission staffers concur-there was a separate, second round of interrogations in early 2004, specifically conducted to answer new questions from the 9/11 Commission after its lawyers had been left unsatisfied by the agency’s internal interrogation reports.

Human-rights advocates, including Karen Greenberg of New York University Law School’s Center for Law and Security and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, have said that, at the least, the 9/11 Commission should have been more suspect of the information derived under such pressure.

Commission executive director Philip Zelikow (later counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) admitted, “We were not aware, but we guessed, that things like that were going on. We were wary…we tried to find different sources to enhance our credibility.” (Zelikow testified before the Senate on Wednesday, May 13, that he had argued in a 2005 memo that some of the tactics used on suspected terrorists violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.)

A former senior U.S. intelligence official told me the Commission never expressed any concerns about techniques and even pushed for a second round of interrogations in early 2004, as the Commission was finishing up its work. The second round of interrogations sought by the Commission involved more than 30 separate interrogation sessions.

“Remember,” the intelligence official said, “the Commission had access to the intelligence reports that came out of the interrogation. This didn’t satisfy them. They demanded direct personal access to the detainees and the administration told them to go pound sand.”

“As a compromise, they were allowed to let us know what questions they would have liked to ask the detainees. At appropriate times in the interrogation cycle, agency questioners would go back and re-interview the detainees. Many of [those] questions were variants or follow-ups to stuff previously asked.”

At least four operatives whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators critical information as a way to stop being “tortured.” Those claims came during their hearings in the spring of 2007 at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

For Duelfer, an experienced interrogator, the details now being laid out in CIA and White House memoranda and in congressional hearings cannot be justified. While admitting that the interrogators faced enormous pressure in 2002 and 2003, he said he had problems with the overall strategy.

“Interrogation is about two humans who are face to face, sweat to sweat. Is your hand going to hit them?” he notes. “That’s a relationship that becomes very deep. If you are going to reach someone at an intellectual or emotive level, it’s hard to see how you can do that and still be the person who accosts that person. I don’t know how to do that.”

Robert Windrem is a Senior Reserach Fellow at the NYU Center on Law and Security. For three decades, he worked as a producer for NBC News. During that time, he focused on issues of international security, strategic policy, intelligence and terrorism. He is the winner of more than 40 national journalism awards for his work in print, television, and online journalism, including a Columbia-duPont Award, mostly for his work on international security issues.

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