It's not like there is any need for more reasons to indict the UK "Dodgy Dossier" on Iraq. But unverified taxicab chit-chat seems to have been the major source for Tony Blair's creative writing exercise designed to whip up public fright during the fall of 2002 about being bombed with Iraqi weapons on 45-minute notice.
Debbie Downer: "They never did catch that anthrax guy."
Former UK ambassador to US cites anthrax as key Iraq causus belli
Just about no one here has noticed that the UK is having a major inquiry into the causes and conduct of the Iraq war.
Sir Christopher Meyer, who was British ambassador to the United States in 2003 told of how pre-invasion planning included "convergence" of former President Bush and former Prime Minister Blair. According to a story in the Independent, Meyer
suggested that Mr Blair may have agreed to back military action during a secretive meeting with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. "There was a large chunk of that time when no adviser was there," he said. "To this day I am not entirely clear what degree of convergence was, if you like, signed in blood at the Crawford ranch."
Meyer also cited alleged involvement of Iraq in the fall 2001 anthrax mailings to US senators and others as a factor, important to "an extent not appreciated by him at the time."
Today, Glenn Greenwald jumps on this statement by Meyer, concluding:
Greenwald: Here we have one of the most consequential political events of the last decade at least -- a lethal biological terrorist attack aimed at key U.S. Senators and media figures, which even the FBI claims originated from a U.S. military lab. The then-British Ambassador to the U.S. is now testifying what has long been clear: that this episode played a huge role in enabling the attack on Iraq. Even our leading mainstream, establishment-serving media outlets -- and countless bio-weapons experts -- believe that we do not have real answers about who perpetrated this attack and how. And there is little apparent interest in investigating in order to find out. Evidently, this is just another one of those things that we'll relegate to "the irrelevant past," and therefore deem it unworthy of attention from our future-gazing, always-distracted minds.
The origin of the 2001 anthrax probably was domestic, as was the real anthrax actually sent to Saddam Hussein during the 1980s. No wonder there is a see-no-evil attitude towards unearthing these details in the U.S.
Posted by The Owl on Nov 27 at 13:14. Filed under: Iraq
Sir John Chilcot says there will be no "whitewash" in the current full-blown inquiry into Britain's involvement in Iraq.
Iraq war inquiry will be no whitewash, Chilcot says BBC | Monday, 23 November 2009
The man in charge of the inquiry examining events surrounding the Iraq war has said his committee will not produce a report that is a "whitewash"...
... Sir John acknowledged that, for many people, the overriding questions would be whether Britain was right to go to war and whether the conflict had been legal.
This, of course, begs the question of whether or not the earlier Hutton inquiryhad been a whitewash, specifically about the "45-minute" claim in the so-called "Dodgy Dossier." I wrote about this HERE.
THIS sampling of UK internal documents already exposes a fair bit of the rotten underbelly.
And how about one more begged question: When is a similar inquiry going to happen in the US? The provocative but truncated Senate Intelligence Committee "Phase II" report (pdf) issued in July 2008 would be a fine starting point.
Posted by The Owl on Nov 24 at 09:25. Filed under: Iraq
U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts By MICHAEL R. GORDON and JUDITH MILLER
Published: Sunday, September 8, 2002
WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today.
In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. American officials said several efforts to arrange the shipment of the aluminum tubes were blocked or intercepted but declined to say, citing the sensitivity of the intelligence, where they came from or how they were stopped.
The diameter, thickness and other technical specifications of the aluminum tubes had persuaded American intelligence experts that they were meant for Iraq's nuclear program, officials said, and that the latest attempt to ship the material had taken place in recent months.
Search in Iraq Fails to Find Nuclear Threat No Evidence Uncovered Of Reconstituted Program By Barton Gellman | Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 26, 2003; Page A01
In their march to Baghdad on April 8, U.S. Marines charged past a row of eucalyptus trees that lined the boneyard of Iraq's thwarted nuclear dream. Sixty acres of warehouses behind the tree line, held under United Nations seal at Ash Shaykhili, stored machine tools, consoles and instruments from the nuclear weapons program cut short by the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Thirty miles to the north and west, Army troops were rolling through the precincts of the Nasr munitions plant. Inside, stacked in oblong wooden crates, were thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes. ...
Most notably, investigators have judged the aluminum tubes to be "innocuous," according to Australian Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Meekin, who commands the Joint Captured Enemy Materiel Exploitation Center, the largest of a half-dozen units that report to Kay. That finding is pivotal, because the Bush administration built its case on the proposition that Iraq aimed to use those tubes as centrifuge rotors to enrich uranium for the core of a nuclear warhead. ...
Participants in the Pentagon-directed special weapons teams, interviewed repeatedly since late last spring, noted that Kay's operation has taken no steps to collect the estimated 20,000 tubes in Iraq's inventory -- some badly corroded, but others of higher quality than the ones the U.S. government intercepted in Jordan three years ago and described as dangerous technology.
"If you told me they had access to these tubes and have chosen not to seize and destroy them, it undermines the judgment that these tubes are usable for, if not intended for, centrifuge development," said Robert Gallucci, dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, who retains his classified clearances and still consults with government analysts on Iraq.
Meekin said he no longer knows the whereabouts of the tubes once stacked at Nasr. "They weren't our highest priority," he said. "The thing's innocuous." Unguarded, the tubes "could be in arms plants, scattered around, being grabbed by looters, perhaps in scrap metal yards."
Scavengers, he said, most likely have "sold them as drain pipe."
A Whole New Ballgame in Iraq US Troops Leaving the Cities
Baghdad. There are few American patrols on the streets of Baghdad and soon there will be none. In just over two weeks time on June 30, US military forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities. The occupation which began six years ago is ending. On every side there are signs of the decline of US influence. ... The knowledge that the US forces in Iraq will go is already transforming the Iraqi political landscape, long before the exit of the last American troops. It is no longer politic for any Iraqi leader to be identified in the eyes of Iraqis with the American occupation. ...
Cockburn covers the story in his unique way, trying to make sense of dozens of observations and reports about certain incidents that happen (some unfortunately very violent) and the activities and behavior of important officials. He describes tension along "a 300-mile-long unofficial frontier, of areas which are outside the boundaries of the highly autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government but have a Kurdish majority" and points to the struggle "over oil, which is being discovered in large quantities in the KRG under contacts the Oil Ministry in Baghdad denounces as illegal."
Cockburn concludes on a hopeful note, "One of the main destabilizing factors in Iraq for the last six years has been the presence of a large US army and with its departure Iraq's many simmering conflicts might just be kept under control."
I have my suspicions about the extended presence of U.S. forces and its continuing control over its central embassy palace and airport bases. Supposedly the new War Supplemental funding measure prohibits "permanent bases", but how long will they "endure"? But despite the bases and embassy, when I add up the entire picture of Iraq since 2003, I believe the U.S. did not acquire anything resembling the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld vassal originally intended.
True, U.S.-connected cleptocrats stole tens of billions of dollars of Iraqi wealth, recklessly destroyed Iraqi towns and cities, while millions in the population suffered unspeakable death, injury, and displacement. There is good reason for officials now not wanting to be seen to have anything to do with the Americans.
No clear, absolute American control of Iraqi oil seems to be in place. A U.S. attempt at privatization on behalf of Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, BP, and Chevron desired by Bush a year ago didn't fly. The Pentagon later greased a deal for Shell, but that has faced Iraqi resistance along the way as well.
The U.S. remains destined to be involved in the affairs of Iraq for years to come. But it hasn't turned out to be the model of imperialism often wrongly conceived by Americans as "liberation."
Update: The missing link to the story was added.
Posted by The Owl on Jun 16 at 12:56. Filed under: Iraq
This is a clip from the Al Jazeera English program, "Witness." It brings us what most Americans do not have any sense of at all--what the U.S. invasion has wrought--countless dead, two or three million internal refugees now living in deplorable conditions out of sight behind U.S.-built barriers.
From the YouTube description:
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a Baghdad-born award-winning photographer and journalist, returns to the streets of a Baghdad now divided by security walls separating Sunni and Shia. Ghaith's ability to move around the city despite the dangers, gives us a unique insight into this Baghdad and to a story so far untold.
I wonder if keyboard warriors like Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe ever have noticed the type of wreckage upon wreckage that the U.S. has brought since 2003. Jacoby after all used to write things like the "US-led war in Iraq was a great blessing."
I couldn't find a good quote quickly, but I seem to recall that people like former Vice President Cheney often remarked about how bad Saddam left conditions in Iraq. Hard to argue they're better now even after a lull in overt violence.
There are a total of four Witness- Baghdad City of Walls segments referenced HERE.
Posted by The Owl on Apr 12 at 13:27. Filed under: Iraq
H/T to Harry Shearer for item on March 22 edition of Le Show
Now it can be told Harry Shearer mentioned this March 20 story from the Guardian:
Intelligence made it clear Saddam was not a threat, diplomat tells MPs Government left 'paper trail' in build-up to war
More facts still to come to light, says former envoy
David Hencke, Westminster correspondent
The Guardian, Friday 20 March 2009
A former diplomat at the centre of events in the run-up to the Iraq war revealed yesterday that the government has a "paper trail" that could reveal new information about the legality of the invasion.
Carne Ross, who was a first secretary at the United Nations in New York for the Foreign Office until 2004, told MPs: "A lot of facts about the run-up to this war have yet to come to light which should come to light and which the public deserves to know." ... He told the inquiry that the intelligence made it "very clear" that Saddam Hussein did not pose a significant threat to the UK, as was being claimed at the time by ministers ...
This reminds me of a go-round I had with John C. McAdams, associate professor of political science at Marquette University a few years ago. McAdams had castigated people who claimed "Bush lied" in the Iraq war run-up on a Wisconsin Public Radio phone-in program:
McAdams: People who, who, who use the "Bush lied" argument, it seems to me, are, are just completely heedless of any standards of, of, of telling the truth or making a plausible argument? um, you know, Let?s make a list of those who believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction: Russian intelligence, French intelligence, British intelligence, Tony Blair, the CIA, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Kerry. And somehow we?re supposed to believe?
This was a popular conservative tactic that McAdams used here: assert that "everybody agreed" Saddam had WMD and follow that with an impressive list of countries whose intelligence services said he did.
The problem is, it's just an exercise in naming countries. The supposition that "intelligence" in these countries really "agreed" with Bush on Iraq is a canard.
At the time, HERE, I noted that German intelligence believed no such thing with regard to the fabricator Curveball, upon whose vaporous assertions Colin Powell's February 5, 2003 U.N. presentation was based. Now we have even more evidence that what the real intelligence high-level British officials kept secret in fact showed Saddam did not have WMD pointed at the U.K., contrary to the popular notion of a "45-minute" threat promoted by Prime Minister Blair and reiterated by President Bush during late 2002 and early 2003.
Posted by The Owl on Mar 23 at 10:14. Filed under: Iraq
Teach-in to be held Saturday March 21 1-5pm at the UU Church, 120 Park Street, Bangor
Here is the full 18-minute sixth anniversary press event at the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine:
All teevee stations covered this event.
There were brief statements on the significance of the anniversary from five of the sixteen organizations co-sponsoring the "New Organizing Strategies for the Obama Era" teach-in on Saturday, March 21st from 1-5 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 120 Park Street in Bangor. Come and show your support for continuing to build the movement for peace, justice and a sustainable environment.
In order of appearance in the video: Ilze Petersons, Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine; Mary Ellen Quinn, Pax Christi; Ryan Tipping-Spitz, Maine People's Alliance; Lee Davis, Orono Peace Group; and Al Larson, Veterans for Peace.
Two days after the 6th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, sixteen Maine organizations are co-sponsoring a teach-in entitled "New Organizing Strategies for the Obama Era" on Saturday, March 21st from 1-5 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bangor. The teach-in is free and open to the public but pre-registration is suggested. Click below for more information:
Posted by The Owl on Mar 19 at 16:00. Filed under: Iraq
Clare Short: "There was no Cabinet debate in run-up to war"
The first 19 days of March 2003 were a period of historic breakdown of international law under the insistence of U.S. President George W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. There is still a strong reluctance of officials in successor administrations to discuss the realities of that period.
According to a Sunday story at the U.K. Mail Online,
REVEALED: 'There was no Cabinet debate in run-up to war,' says Short as Government refuses to release minutes
The Government is refusing to release minutes of Cabinet meetings before the Iraq War because they would reveal there was no discussion on the issue.
Details surrounding two crucial meetings on the eve of the conflict were laid bare for the first time yesterday when former Cabinet Minister Clare Short, who was present at both, gave a full account of what happened. ... Former Cabinet Minister Clare Short says there was NO cabinet debate in the run up to war. ...
At the last Cabinet meeting, no debate on the legality of the war was allowed and Tony Blair, then Prime Minister, said brusquely: 'That's it.'
A major issue before the U.K. Cabinet in March 2003 was Attorney General Lord Goldsmith's advice on the legality of the war. The original advice (not later watered-down versions) was released during the Spring 2005 Blair re-election campaign.
The original advice is a profoundly interesting document. It contains strong doubts about the legality under international law of invading Iraq, and a hinky theory of how it might be considered to be legal. It is no wonder that Blair wished to pass right over this uncomfortable discussion because he would have had to explain why the underlayment of international law was to be removed.
Essentially this thin strand of legality depended upon weapons of mass destruction being found after the fact and the action being precisely limited to eliminating an extant threat from such weapons. This territory has been covered in previous posts HERE and HERE.
Of course, no such weapons existed (as was believed by the leaders, even at the time). So the entire foundation of the war is vapor and it's perpetrators are criminals under any possible reading of the Nuremberg Principles. Yet no one seems concerned about any implications this may have for current policy, or about punishment of those responsible.
After all these years, it seems that every possible obstruction to public knowledge about this important history remains in place. For the U.S. part, the Obama Administration has no interest in even mentioning illegality of the war in the first place let alone what consequences for current policy that illegality should inform.
I'm reading and re-reading President Obama's Friday speech right now. I can't see that the invasion has been framed by the president as anything other than a "precious opportunity to the people of Iraq" and a fight "against tyranny and disorder" where the "United States pursues no claim" on Iraqi "territory or ... resources."
This is downright Orwellian, completely in concert with Colin Powell's perfidy in suggesting that Iraq's resources would be "held in trust for the Iraqi people" while U.S. planners envisioned "rapid privatization," and an army of American thieves arrived to plunder the Iraqi treasury and the U.S. taxpayer alike.
The history of the true underlying nature of the invasion--which was and remains the taking of Iraq for the purpose of powerful interests centered in the U.S. and U.K.--rapidly is being buried with a backhoe. The most profound and supreme associated crime of the destruction of the Iraqi society and people over six years continues to be nearly unmentionable, except in the most appallingly detached terms.
Posted by The Owl on Mar 05 at 11:54. Filed under: Iraq
Here the tenor of Representative Pingree's remarks on Iraq is a little different (in a good way) than what I read in the newspaper yesterday. Primarily she omits the "victory" formulation here. Still, I think in speaking of improvements in the immediate situation, she avoids addressing the overall devastation. You'll see what I mean if you read Dahr Jamail's SITE. Dahr has been in Iraq for a month now.
Meanwhile, we must be very skeptical about "withdrawal" plans, as the Pentagon is fixing to push against withdrawal.
Posted by The Owl on Feb 22 at 13:38. Filed under: Iraq
Rep. Chelli Pingree (D-ME) in Iraq (See Turn Maine Blue for several full-sized photos courtesy Willy Ritch, Rep. Pingree's Communications Director)
New Maine 1st District Representative unimpressive in borderline jingoistic comments after recent South Asia trip
If anything, Representative Chellie Pingree has a conventional Democrat-Obama position on the current U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But she did run on a platform suggesting she would be a stronger anti-war advocate, stating,
Pingree: We must end the war now. Congress must stop funding the war and rescind its authorization if the administration refuses to make plans for immediate withdrawal. We can't continue to squander our resources on the worst foreign policy mistake in our country's history. Leaving will be complicated, but staying only continues the tragic loss of our soldiers, Iraqi citizens, and almost unthinkable amounts of money.
Now that she is in office and traveling to the Pentagon beachheads, the tune is different. In a story in today's Bangor Daily News--"Pingree returns to U.S. after Middle East visit" (apparently not yet on line, follow-up to this one), Pingree is quoted saying that she is "closer to understanding what U.S. forces need to do to achieve victory in Iraq" and that "U.S. military and reconstruction campaign in Iraq has achieved some success."
These lines could have been written for George W. Bush.
What about the prospects for the "immediate withdrawal" she ran on? According to the BDN story, "She said it is too soon to tell, however, whether democracy will stand on its own there after American forces withdraw. 'That was one of the key questions that we asked over and over again: What is going to slide back when we leave, and what can we achieve with our limited resources? ... I don't think I came to a final answer on this, but I got a lot of information that is going to help make a final decision."
Again, this isn't much of an anti-war position. No longer is there mention of "tragic loss of our soldiers, Iraqi citizens." In fact, it is extremely disheartening that Pingree could return from Iraq and fail to communicate concern about the devastation of the Iraqi people and looting of Iraqi and reconstruction resources under U.S. occupation, preferring instead to use the Bush-McCain frame of military "victory."
It's not like she never makes such comments about the failure of military solutions, as reported HERE: "If there's one thing we've learned, it's that we can't do this all by military force, ... brutalizing people with weapons isn't going to repair what's going on," Pingree said.
But I think she is going to have to do a lot better than adopting the jingoism and paternalism implicit in these American military adventures.
Posted by The Owl on Feb 21 at 15:44. Filed under: Iraq
A 'fraud' bigger than Madoff Senior US soldiers investigated over missing Iraq reconstruction billions
By Patrick Cockburn in Sulaimaniyah, Northern Iraq - Monday, 16 February 2009
In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125bn (?88bn) in a US -directed effort to reconstruct Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff's notorious Ponzi scheme. ...
Despite the vast sums expended on rebuilding by the US since 2003, there have been no cranes visible on the Baghdad skyline except those at work building a new US embassy and others rusting beside a half-built giant mosque that Saddam was constructing when he was overthrown.
Last year I wondered how the U.S. embassy in Baghdad -- "empire's architecture" -- "doesn't look like a huge insult and provocation to every decent Iraqi."
Posted by The Owl on Feb 17 at 15:59. Filed under: Iraq
New York Times now interested in war "graft" and "bribes" as military heads (slowly) begin to roll
It's been over five years since I began covering how a major objective of the U.S. occupation has been to steal Iraq's money and also that of the U.S. taxpayer. In fact, the "privatization" (theft) program for Iraq was the topic of my second-ever blog post.
Indeed the occupation was set up for theft through legal immunity. This allowed, during 2003 and 2004, $20 billion of Iraqi oil revenue, including billions left in the coffers by Saddam Hussein, to be flat out misappropriated and disappeared after the U.S. gained legal control of the country's government through U.N. Security Counsel resolution 1483 in May 2003.
Firms like Custer-Battles long have been under scrutiny, first by only a handful of Democratic lawmakers. At that time during late 2004 and early 2005, laughable hysteria about the U.N. Oil-for-Food program was the faux raison d'etre of Republican "investigations" of the day.
The horrid loser Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota working under the animated full-committee leadership of Maine's Susan Collins operated a subcommittee more interested in proven-phony reports on Kofi Annan and British politician George Galloway than the American criminals operating right under their noses. Despite pleas from leading Democrats, Collins actively refused to investigate, failing to see the irony in her indignation over the by-comparison puny issues of corruption in the Oil-for-Food program during the then in-the-past Saddam Hussein period.
The story of just who was responsible for this American culture of stealing is being filled in now years later. It doesn't look good for the U.S. military and those who were charged to supervise the occupation:
Inquiry on Graft in Iraq Focuses on U.S. Officers By JAMES GLANZ, C.J. CHIVERS and WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
Published: February 14, 2009
Federal authorities examining the early, chaotic days of the $125 billion American-led effort to rebuild Iraq have significantly broadened their inquiry to include senior American military officers who oversaw the program, according to interviews with senior government officials and court documents. ...
Former American officials describe payments to local contractors from huge sums of cash dumped onto tables and stuffed into sacks as if it were Halloween candy. ...
The story is full of shady characters, suicide, and murder on the highways of Iraq. "An extraordinary element of the current investigation is a voice from beyond the grave."
The Times produces a quote from associates of the killed man describing the "clandestine delivery of bribes" as "a classic New York scenario." I bet you didn't know we sent Pauley Walnuts to occupy the oil-rich country.
And Collins? She's naked on this issue. But you wouldn't know it from the way she is allowed in local media to "dismiss" criticism of her performance as "political gamesmanship."
Posted by The Owl on Feb 15 at 02:41. Filed under: Iraq
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice trotted out to help President Bush obscure his transgressions in Iraq today on Sunday talk. The "mistaken premises" pain her, and,
Rice: I'd give anything to go back and know precisely what we were going to find when we were there. But that isn't the way that these things work. I still believe that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein is going to turn out to be a great strategic achievement, not just for the Bush administration, but for the United States of America.
She also told George Stephanopoulos on ABC that during the war run-up in 2002 and 2003 within the White House, "we talked a lot about dissenting views," while largely dismissing the importance of strong contemporaneous dissent from within the State Department (that Rice would come to lead in 2005). This State Department dissent took the form of charging Bush & then Prime Minister Tony Blair of "distorting" the Iraq intelligence!
Bush and Blair 'distorted' Iraqi threat, says US weapons expert By Paul Waugh and Anne Penketh
Friday, 30 January 2004
Colin Powell's former chief weapons expert has accused Tony Blair and George Bush of failing to give an accurate picture of British and American intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
Colin Powell's former chief weapons expert has accused Tony Blair and George Bush of failing to give an accurate picture of British and American intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
Greg Thielman, a senior figure in the State Department until last year, told The Independent yesterday that the "political leadership" in both countries was responsible for the "distorted" impression given of the Iraqi threat. ...
In the only moment Stephanopoulos seemed to step back from the unflinching credulity he afforded Rice, he asked, "So, you think we would have gone anyway," in reply to Rice drawing a sketch of the "murderous" Saddam. To that, Rice makes a throw-away crack about not having a "luxury."
There is plenty Wallace and Stephanopoulos could have brought up if they had the desire and wherewithal to do so, including,
State Dept. dissent to intentional distortion, as noted above
Breathlessly inflammatory reports on mobile bioweapons labs, called "Hell on wheels" and "Winnebagos of Death" in America news, then presented with earnest mendacity at the U.N. by Colin Powell, but even before the war began were revealed by the weapons inspectors to not exist, and then a year later properly were attributed to a liar named "Curveball"
Endless false rhetorical juxtaposition of Iraq and al Qaeda used by officials, while the "defectors" carrying the evidence later were found to be put-up jobs care of the INC, the Iraqi National Congress, run by "The Manipulator," Ahmed Chalabi
The bottom line message throughout is the distortion of Iraq intelligence was intentional. The notion of "everybody agreed" is a canard.
Obviously this history will live in public consciousness in a manner far from the truth if the likes of Secretary Rice are allowed to be the only authors. Interviewers on ABC & Fox News are unlikely to provide any substantial corrective.
Posted by The Owl on Dec 07 at 18:14. Filed under: Iraq
This makes a fine pair from a couple of nights ago on Rachel Maddow and The Daily Show. Certainly it is confounding to hear Bush prevaricate about his "regrets" about "bad intelligence" on Iraq. Gerald laid that out well earlier in the week:
BUSH: I don't know -- the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that's not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.
Obviously, Bush gives a false impression of how the PR worked to game the war. The story is told in many places, including in Maine Owl HERE, and HERE where evidence Bush knew there were no WMD two months before the war is offered.
O'DONNELL: Well, blame the CIA is step number one. Blame the CIA for that slam-dunk that George Tenet said about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You have pointed out the problem with that strategy. The president has said, not just on video but also in-depth to Bob Woodward, and he said this many times that knowing what he knows now, he still would have invaded Iraq, knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction.
So, this is going to be an ongoing struggle over the decades. And there are many reasons why the president can't pull away from that position. One of them is very personal. And this comes out in the work of Woodward and others. He has had close encounters in military hospitals with families of soldiers who are wounded and, you know, hurt for life. He's met with the families of the dead. He cannot bring himself to say to them-we went to war for a mistake, if that mistake had not been made, your son would be alive today. [emphasis added]
The only quibble I have is that it wasn't a "mistake," it was an intentional taking of Iraq--one of the greatest transgressions of world history--a fact Bush will spend the rest of his life obscuring.
The Daily Show covers the same ground in a way only The Daily Show can. They're the only ones who can make a "puppy chipper" funny.
Posted by The Owl on Dec 05 at 11:54. Filed under: Iraq
Fascinating, "The administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes."
If I read this correctly, it seems the U.S. intends fully to continue to operate covertly in Iraq for an indefinite period, and somehow weasel its way into using the country to launch attacks on others, as it arrogantly and brazenly did in Syria a few weeks ago.
Also, if anyone wants to read the Treaty"Agreement," McClatchy does have it. Raed Jarrar had posted a translation a couple of weeks ago.
For his part, Obama has decided that Robert Gates is just the guy for managing the continuity at the Pentagon.
I may have to rip up my "I Voted for Change" stickers from three weeks ago. Except the little devils are wicked difficult to tear off the jacket I wore during canvassing.
Posted by The Owl on Nov 26 at 13:52. Filed under: Iraq
Status of forces agreement seen by "progressives" as a U.S. "blink"
Last night, Rachel Maddow had THIS interview with a McClatchy reporter who yesterday filed a story, "Why the U.S. blinked on its troop agreement with Iraq."
The idea is that "U.S. negotiators had failed to understand how the two countries' political timetables would force the U.S. to make major concessions that relinquish much of the control over U.S. forces in Iraq."
I just read THIS from an interesting "progressive" site that I've never heard of before:
Did the Bush Administration blink when negotiating the Iraq SOFA? November 20, 2:37 PM - by Jay McDonough, Progressive Politics Examiner
Did the U.S. get the best deal with the recently completed status of forces agreement (SOFA) with Iraq? The agreement has been finalized and accepted by Prime Minister Maliki's cabinet and is now being debated in Iraq's Parliament. But some U.S. military personnel are privately criticizing the Bush Administration for giving Iraq too much control over U.S. forces.
This SOFA, once approved, will provide Iraq authority over Iraqi airspace, give Iraq potential authority over U.S. military operations and intelligence activities in Iraq, forbid the U.S. from using Iraq as a launchpad to attack Iraq's neighbors, and allow Iraq jurisdiction over U.S. troops for crimes committed outside the U.S. bases.
This is a radically different SOFA from the one the U.S. pressed for at the onset of the negotiations. At that time, the U.S. had wanted an open ended agreement that would allow U.S. forces in Iraq for an indefinite period, the establishment of semi-permanent U.S. military bases, U.S. control of Iraq's airspace and no Iraqi jurisdiction over American military forces or subcontractors.
So, how did the U.S. get so snookered?
I think "blinked" or "snookered" are the wrong terms. It's more like cutting losses. The U.S. did not receive the earlier brazenly arrogant terms first floated because its power over the Iraqi political process is much diminished. Also, go to afsc.org HERE and read Raed Jarrar's translation of the actual thing. While it does contain hedge language that the U.S. could use to try to extend its stay or challenge Iraqi jurisdiction, the Iraqis have managed to set forth a 3-year timetable for complete withdrawal.
"Complete" is key for the Iraqis, who are fearful of U.S. continuing covert control. Patrick Cockburn has been writing consistently about how the Iraqis are driving that hard bargain out of these genuine concerns, especially about intelligence forces. See THIS recent Cockburn piece for more.
Can you blame the Iraqis for driving a tough bargain after almost six years of their doors being kicked in, millions killed or displaced, their sewers flowing in the streets, and their country in general being laid to waste?
Posted by The Owl on Nov 21 at 11:49. Filed under: Iraq
"Postponed" on November 11, 2003 but never actually canceled, the original agenda still is posted HERE! We're still waiting for a new date for the Conference.
More than any other event around which we have organized against the Iraq invasion, conquest, and occupation, none hit home harder than the University of Maine School of Business / Iraq Business Alliance conference which was scheduled for Scarborough, Maine on November 13, 2003.
It's agenda was extremely revealing of reasons for the invasion other than "weapons of mass destruction." The keynote speaker was to have been the late Casper Weinberger Sr., the former Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration. Rumors flew that the Dark Lord himself, Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney, would drop in for a secret slot on the agenda. This is a partial listing of people and presentations that were to be included.
The Future of Economic Development for Iraq
Moderator: Ambassador Frank Wisner, Vice Chairman, AIG
Panel: Mr. Ross J. Connelly, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of OPIC; Mr. Don DeMarino, National Chairman of the U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce, and Member of Executive Committee and Founding Director of U.S.-Iraq Business Alliance; Mr. Rubar Sandi, Chairman of Corporate Bank, Chairman of Al Katin Group, and Founding Director of U.S.-Iraq Business Alliance; Mr. Richard Greco Jr., Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Special Projects, Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance
Priority Sectors for Development Moderator: Ambassador William Walker, Managing Director of Millenium Capital Consultants
Panel: Mr. Don DeMarino ? Banking; Mr. Dennis A. Sokol ? Healthcare; Mr. Rubar Sandi ? Development Construction; Mr. Bob Barnett ? Communications...
So what went wrong that stopped all these serious people from having their Conference? First, Iraqis objected and an insurgency was just getting into full swing. Evidently, some Iraqis felt that the program these business people had in mind represented plunder of their country, and they were not having any of it. I believe that to be one of two real reasons the Conference did not happen.
The second was that the plan for "rapid" privatization of Iraq's economy and Iraqi industry (including oil) ran seriously afoul of 100 years of international law. Of course concepts like limits on "usurfruct rights" meant absolutely nothing in the Cheney system. A Mount Desert Island resident and close friend of the late Mr. Weinberger, Denis Sokol, put this unconcern for international law on full display in an interview with the Bangor Daily News, published in a front-page article, provocatively titled "Gold Rush," on November 1, 2003.
Because this piece is no longer available online, I have posted it in its entirety below the jump. It's a stunning piece of capitalist arrogance that should be a key chapter in the book of failures of the Bush Administration.
A few days after the Conference was "postponed," the Americans totally shifted gears and instituted the new "sovereignty" plan, about which at the time I posted very extensively in the original Deep Blade Journal, still in the archives HERE. The horrors that followed are almost too terrible to reflect on right now.
Here are archive links on this period that reveal crucial history of the real reasons behind the invasion of Iraq and the role played by the University of Maine along with how our protest of the business conference put that truth into sharp focus.
Contemporaneous blog postings in the original Deep Blade Journal: HERE.
My Reference Article containing many links for original documents and news stories, HERE.
Our November 8, 2003 op-ed in the Bangor Daily News, U Maine and war profiteering, HERE.
Post discussing what the BDN Sokol interview reveals about secret pre-war decisions and planning during mid 2002, in light of the contents of the "Downing Street memo" first publicly seen in May 2005, HERE.
Below is the November 1, 2003 article from the BDN, "Gold Rush."
Maine Owl is a news, comment & nature photography blog. The Owl is proprietor. He is a long-time peace & justice activist now residing in the Bangor, Maine area. Ms. Owl occasionally blogs here as Tammy. Our team also is enhanced by Gerald, formerly of Turn Maine Blue and now of the smashing blog Dirigo Blue.