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Follow-Up Detail
The intensity of the blast can be seen from the damage to
the two government buildings. If these were car bombs,
then the explosives in them were military spec.





Cars tossed into the air by the power of the explosions lay piled on top of each other in ungainly piles of twisted wreckage. Burst pipes from the shattered facades of government buildings filled the streets with stagnant water that washed over charred and mangled corpses.

So intense was the heat generated by the bombs that firemen said that many of the dead were too hot to touch.




Last edited by Fintan on Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:58 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Pressure mounts over Iraq election law deadlock

By Prashant Rao (AFP) – 4 hours ago

BAGHDAD — Pressure mounted on Sunday as Iraqi leaders prepared to meet to try to end a deadlock over a stalled election law amid growing concerns that the country's January polls will have to be delayed.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned that postponing the elections would threaten the legitimacy of parliament and the government, while a top Iraqi general cautioned that a delay risked increasing instability.

As if to confirm Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan Majeed's warning, twin suicide car bombs in central Baghdad on Sunday morning killed at least 64 people and wounded more than 600......

The parliamentary impasse has triggered US concern that its troops may have to stay on in numbers into next year.

Michele Flournoy, US undersecretary of defence for policy, told lawmakers in Washington on Wednesday that failure to resolve the issue within the next week or so "might well have implications" for the American military drawdown.

As part of a Baghdad-Washington security agreement, US combat troops must leave Iraq by the end of August and all American forces must withdraw by the end of 2011. ... F2oSV_hljQ
The picture below is from YESTERDAY at the scene of the
previous August '09 bombings. It shows US envoy to the UN,
Susan Rice and the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.


U.S. envoy visits Baghdad bomb site

October 24, 2009 -- Updated 2006 GMT

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations visited Iraq for the first time this weekend, discussing how to help the country move on from debt and sanctions and expressing sympathy over massive bombings in August.

The envoy, Susan Rice, arrived Friday and met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. She held talks Saturday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari at the Foreign Ministry compound in Baghdad. While touring the ministry building, they surveyed damage from the August 19 bombing, one of six targets hit within an hour that day.

Later Saturday, about 100 miles north in Tikrit, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest detonated himself outside a political party headquarters, killing two people, police said.

Six other people were wounded in the afternoon attack, which occurred outside the National Unity headquarters, according to Salaheddin province police. National Unity is a Sunni political party.

During Rice's visit, the Iraqi foreign minister said his government has been asking for international help to investigate the August bombings, which also targeted the Finance Ministry. At least 100 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in the attacks.

"They were a turning point because these attacks were different than the others," Zebari said. "They were attacks at the heart of the government and institutions."

A suicide bomber driving a truck filled with four tons of explosives carried out the attack at the Foreign Ministry, Zebari has said. Large trucks are banned from the area, so Zebari said the attackers must have been collaborating with Iraqi security officers.

"We've been working, laboring very hard over the last two months to ask the [U.N.] secretary-general to designate an investigator or a senior official to come and assess the scale of the foreign intervention and the scale of the damage and the destruction," Zebari said.

Rice had "positive answers" and said the U.S. mission had been helping Iraq at the U.N. Security Council, for Zebari said.

In remarks afterward, Rice offered sympathy for the victims of the bombings and their families.

"We fully understand how devastating and painful such a heinous act of terrorism is," she said. "The United States stands with you, your colleagues and all of the people of Iraq in sorrow and in solidarity."

Rice didn't directly answer a question about the prospect of a U.N. investigation into the bombings, but said, "We've had good discussions here with our colleagues in Iraq, and of course in the United States, about the ways to best address this challenge, and we're going to continue to work together on that."

The two officials made good progress on issues of bankruptcy and sanctions, Zebari said. He said Iraq is "overburdened by over 73 Security Council resolutions" and wants to be relieved of the restricting sanctions.

"I think we are really very close to get Iraq back again to where it should be, to resume its full international and legal standing," Zebari said.

Zebari also spoke of the upcoming Iraqi elections, still scheduled for January 16 but in limbo because there is no law to govern the vote.

Iraq's parliament failed this week to reach agreement on a new electoral law, so the issue now goes to the Political Council for National Security, which will take up the law Sunday. If the council agrees on a proposal for a new law, parliament can vote on it Monday, in time for the election to go ahead in January, parliament Speaker Ayad al-Samarrai has said.

But Zebari disagreed with al-Samarrai and others on why the law failed to pass. They said members of parliament disagreed on the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, where Arabs and Turkmens complain that many more Kurds have moved into the area than were displaced under Saddam Hussein, a situation they said gives Kurds an unfair advantage in any voting.

Zebari called that "an easy, comfortable excuse" and a "lie" to hide the real reasons lawmakers disagree on the new law.

"The key issue -- many people are not telling the truth -- is about the nature of the election: Should it be conducted on the basis of an open list or a closed list?" Zebari told CNN. "Publicly, many of them -- many of the politicians -- embrace the open list. But deep down in their hearts actually, they are the strongest supporter of a closed list."

Open lists would name candidates and their parties; closed lists would name only parties. Existing law, used in the 2005 election, mandates a closed list. If a new law isn't adopted, the government may have to come up with a new election date.

The United Nations and United States have expressed concerns about any delay in the election, fearing a wave of violence across the country. A secure environment and political stability during and after the vote will be key as the United States looks to withdraw combat troops by next August.

Zebari said he is concerned that any election delay could affect plans for U.S. troop withdrawals.

"I hope it would not, and [that] the troop redeployment will go smoothly, but logically speaking, practically speaking, it will have an impact," he said.

"If the situation deteriorates, if violence will come back, if terrorism will raise its head again, what's the point of -- I mean, you withdraw your troops since you left behind a peaceful stable country but if violence, God forbid, will return, then in my view it will have an impact. Let's not kid ourselves." ...
Major Attacks in Iraq This Year

Major attacks in Iraq since Jan. 1, when a
new U.S.-Iraqi security pact took effect:

_ Oct. 25 — Two powerful car bombs explode in downtown Baghdad, killing at least 75 people in an apparent attempt to target the fragile city's government offices.

_ Aug. 19 — A double truck bombing in Baghdad kills 65 at the Foreign Ministry and 28 at the Finance Ministry. Two other bombs, including one near the Health Ministry, kill 8. More than 500 are wounded in the attacks.

_ Aug. 7 — A suicide truck bomb targets a Shiite mosque in a northern suburb of Mosul, flattening the mosque and killing at least 44 people. The attack also injures more than 200 people. Bombings against Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad kill seven.

_ June 24 — Bomb rips through crowded market in Baghdad's Sadr City, killing 78.

_ May 20 — A parked car bomb explodes near several restaurants in northwest Baghdad, killing 41.

_April 29 — Twin car bombing in a popular shopping area in Sadr City, the biggest Shiite district in Baghdad, kills 51 people.

_ April 24 — Back-to-back female suicide bombings kill 71 people outside the most important Shiite shrine in Baghdad in Kazimiyah.

_ April 23 — Suicide bomber strikes restaurant in Muqdadiyah, kills at least 53, including 44 Iranian pilgrims, three Iraqis and six burned beyond recognition bodies.

_ March 10 — Suicide bomber targets tribal leaders at market in Abu Ghraib, killing 33.

_ March 8 — Suicide bomber strikes police academy in Baghdad, killing at least 30.

_ Feb. 13 — Female suicide bomber targets Shiite pilgrims in Musayyib, killing 40.

_ Jan. 4 — Female suicide bomber strikes Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad, killing 38.
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At least 127 killed as explosions rock Baghdad

About 450 people also are wounded as four car bombs
within 30 minutes gut portions of the city.

By Ned Parker and Raheem Salman

December 8, 2009 | 6:40 a.m.

ImageReporting from Baghdad - Car bombs exploded amid busy streets and official buildings in Baghdad this morning, killing at least 127 people and wounding 450 more, in the latest assault on the Iraqi government by militants, according to police officials.

Four car bombs shook the city on its eastern and western sides in the span of about 30 minutes, starting around 10:10 am, police officials said. One blast gutted portions of the city's main courthouse on the western side of the Tigris River; another lay waste to a street in front of makeshift offices for the Iraqi finance ministry, which had been forced to move employees after a powerful bombing in August; a third car bomb exploded at a busy intersection as a U.S. convoy passed by; and a fourth car bomb ripped a main street in the mostly Sunni district of Dura.

It was the third major assault on Baghdad's state institutions since August, when a pair of car bombs rocked the foreign and finance ministries, killing at least 100; in late October, a pair of car bombs hammered Iraq's ministry of justice, the ministry of municipality and Baghdad's provincial council -- all three buildings located within the span of a city block -- and claimed the lives of at least 155 people.

Those attacks sabotaged the workings of the government, with some ministries forced to move employees to temporary facilities, and robbed the government of credibility that security had returned to Baghdad. Today's blasts came barely a day after the Iraqi parliament approved a law to hold national elections and marred the day's announcement by the Iraqi government that the national vote will be held March 6.

Previous attacks in August and October have been blamed by government officials on both the late dictator Saddam Husssein's Baath party and Al Qaeda in Iraq. But it is virtually impossible to know who really is to blame. The government arrested army and police officers after the previous attacks, accusing them of carelessness or even collaboration with those behind the explosions.

Survivors today expressed shock. "I never felt so scared in my life. I lived through wars and served in the military, but today was so terrifying. Many people were killed and wounded. Men, women, police and children who sell things, all were killed and injured," said Abu Haidar, a shopkeeper in the crowded Shurja district, where the finance ministry's offices were targeted......

Last edited by Fintan on Tue Dec 08, 2009 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Suck the Surge

2 Big questions

Is this part of a new campaign and if so is it in anyway connected to "Obamas Surge" in Afghanistan?

If the Mujahideen is organized enough to be Wiping the floor with NATO then what better tactic than to open up another front - sucking precious resources to another "Hole in the Dyke" so to speak.

At the end of the day if it "kicks off again big time" Obamas surge will not even be enough to quell serious disorder in Bagdad.

Its a big old city and a few groups of IED making Iraqi Sunnis with local knowledge sent back from Helmand could make one helluva lot of noise..
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Cue Hillary, and have her point out the "desperation" behind these new attacks.

We all have to accept the fact that "these things will happen" in a war situation. In fact, let's "get comfortable" with these attacks. Let's even realize that we can learn to welcome them, as a "sign of progress."

Because any time "less fortunates" (socio-economic losers) die, it's a sign to the chosen elite, that God (or reasonable cosmic facsimile) is "on our side."

History is littered with these "carcasses of progress." It's the natural (NW) order of things.

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So basically MI5 & MI6 were depending on the the very same UN weapons inspections team to provide them with intelligence to use as a basis for war, while at the same time discrediting and undermining them in their inspections
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Was Iraqi cabbie the source of the dodgy dossier? MP's report claims 'intelligence' on Saddam's WMDs came from back of a taxi
Last updated at 11:29 PM on 08th December 2009
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Revelations: Adam Holloway said senior officials told him a cabbie claimed Saddam had long-range missiles
The Iraq inquiry will probe in secret claims that an Iraqi taxi driver who peddled false gossip was one of Britain's top spies before the war.
Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot said the Daily Mail's revelation yesterday that the cabbie may have been the source of claims that Saddam Hussein could fire chemical weapons at British targets in 45 minutes was 'relevant to' his work.
But he refused to quiz Sir John Scarlett about the claims, made in a report by Tory MP Adam Holloway, on grounds of national security.
Instead the Chilcot Inquiry will hold further hearings on the issue in private in the new year.
The revelation comes as the death toll of British troops in Afghanistan reaches 100 this year alone following the shooting of a member of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in a gun battle with the Taliban.

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Blair 'was told Iraq had disarmed - but still went to war'
Sir John Scarlett tells inquiry of pre-war intelligence doubts

By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent
Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Tony Blair was aware of last-minute intelligence revealing that Saddam Hussein had probably dismantled his chemical and biological weaponry, a key adviser has said.

Sir John Scarlett, who was the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee in the run-up to the war, said that two reports received in March 2003, which suggested that Iraq's weaponry had been taken to pieces, were sent directly to the former prime minister. He also said that Mr Blair was made aware of doubts over Saddam's access to the warheads needed to deliver them.

Sir John, who was responsible for the Government's dossier that claimed Saddam had weapons that could be used within 45 minutes, denied that he had come under pressure to "sex up" the document. However, he admitted for the first time that a crucial part of the dossier was not clear about the threat posed by Saddam, meaning that the seriousness of the claim that the Iraqi leader could launch an attack was "lost in translation".

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He told the Iraq inquiry that the document should have made clear |that the 45-minute claim was only meant to refer to battlefield weapons and not those that could be used to attack other countries. "The matter would not have been lost in translation, if it had been spelt out in the dossier that the word was ‘munitions' not ‘weapons'," Sir John said. "There was absolutely no conscious intention to manipulate the language or obfuscate or create a misunderstanding as to what they might refer to."

He said the dossier had been based on "reliable and authoritative" intelligence, received at the start of September, that was "sufficiently authoritative to firm up whether or not Iraq did currently possess chemical and biological agents".

However, he distanced himself from Mr Blair's foreword to the document, published in September 2002, which claimed that intelligence information meant that it was "beyond doubt" that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Though Sir John admitted he had seen the foreword, and even made several alterations to it, he concluded that it was "quite separate" from the contents of the dossier. "The foreword was an overtly political statement by the Prime Minister so it was his wording and his comments throughout," he said.

On 7 March, less than two weeks before the invasion, Sir John confirmed that new evidence suggested that "Iraq had no missiles that could reach Israel and none that could carry germ or biological weapons". A second piece of intelligence on 17 March, and discussed at a meeting on the day before the invasion, said "chemical weapons had been disassembled and dispersed and would be difficult to reassemble".

A report in December 2002 had already reported Iraq may not have warheads to deliver chemical and biological weapons. "That was the picture that was being presented both through the reporting and through the updates," he said. "Those reports, I understand, went directly to the Prime Minister's office. The updates were certainly available to him, too. This information was definitely known."

The new evidence was not acted upon because intelligence forces believed Saddam had dismantled his weapons as a ploy to avoid detection. Nevertheless, Sir John said it was made clear to ministers that the policy would "have consequences on [Iraq's] ability to deploy chemical and biological warheads".

Ed Davey, foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, attacked the inquiry team after it was revealed Sir John would be giving more evidence in private. He also said that the former MI6 chief's claim that there were no attempts to manipulate the September dossier "stretched credibility".

"John Scarlett was a central figure in the intelligence claims that were made to support the illegal invasion of Iraq," he said. "The cursory level of questioning undertaken in public – and the announcement that further appearances will be behind closed doors - is deeply disappointing. It looks like the Chilcot Inquiry may have failed its first test on transparency." ... 36775.html
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Fintan wrote:

In a seemingly unrelated development, the band Radiohead last year
went straight to the market with their last album, cutting the corporate
monopolist EMI out of the profit picture. It's a single example of an
internet-driven process of atomization of the marketplace.
So too did Nine Inch Nails:

atm :P
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Behind the trickery how many people have really been killed in Iraq?

Survey results from the ORB Group concluded that over 1.3 million Iraqi’s had died, as a result of the war, by August 2007! (3)

That survey is controversial, but it corroborates a study by The Lancet that estimated there had been 654,865 deaths 14 months earlier, in June of 2006. (4) Regardless of the actual figure, it is disgustingly high. Most of these people were not terrorists, Ba’athists or insurgents; they were just normal Iraqis living under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. It’s certainly good he’s gone, but given Iraq had no WMD, nor a connection to Al-Qaeda, the cost has proven to be unbearably high.

The official number of U.S. casualties is 4335. (5) Now, this is an accurate statistic, it represents the number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq since the war started. However, it is very misleading because soldiers are not the only one’s to have died and Iraq is not the only place they have died.

Let’s start with the location. George Bush repeatedly referred to Iraq as part of the “War on Terror.” If that is the case, then why aren’t we including the deaths in Afghanistan as part of the total? During World War II, the United States fought two separate enemies: Germany and Japan. Yet, it was considered a war against fascism and the total deaths from both theaters—just over 400,000—were given as a whole. This is not the case with Afghanistan. So far, 802 American soldiers and a further 538 coalition troops have died there. (6) It was difficult to find estimates for the civilian casualties in Afghanistan, but the official numbers are in the tens of thousands. (7)
Barack Obama has thankfully dropped the term “War on Terror,” (how exactly do you launch a war on a tactic?), so perhaps separating the war casualties makes some sense now. However, his behavior has been extremely Bush-ian. His anti-war campaign rhetoric has given way to either dishonesty or cowardice, as he’s operating in Iraq under what amounts to the agreement Bush negotiated with Iraq prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki before he left office and Obama is actually increasing our military presence in Afghanistan.

The next major segment overlooked by the statistics is American contractors. The United States military has privatized much of its non-military operations, things it used to do itself. For example, soldiers used to handle food services, now that is contracted out to companies like Halliburton. The United States has had well over 100,000 contractors in Iraq at any given time since the wildly premature declaration of “Mission Accomplished.” So far, 1395 contractors have been killed in Iraq. Many of these would have been American soldiers in previous wars, but regardless, they’re still people. Furthermore, 331 journalists and 423 academics have died in Iraq as well (although many of these journalists and academics were not American citizens). (8)

When we combine the wars and add the contractors, (we’ll leave out the journalists and academics, since most weren’t American) we come to a total of 6532, over 50% higher than the official tally. Add in the journalists and academics and the total comes to 7281, almost 70% higher.

This still doesn’t represent the total human cost, unfortunately. While the Pentagon officially counts any soldier who dies from their wounds as a war casualty, regardless of when and where, this is hard to do in practice. If a soldier is wounded, comes home, has a brain hemorrhage and dies, did his injuries cause his death? In spite of the inherent difficulties in measuring this, it appears Pentagon tallies have been done sloppily or possibly dishonestly. In 2004, released a report that revealed that during the Vietnam War, the Department of Defense defined a war death as “all those occurring within the designated combat areas and those deaths occurring anywhere as the result or aftermath of an initial casualty occurring in a combat area.” (9) However, the current DOD Instructions (1300.18) are silent on this matter. The report continued by summing up the situation in Iraq as follows:

“It is somewhat difficult to imagine that nearly 15,000 people were sufficiently sick or injured to require evacuation from the theater, but that only ten of them subsequently succumbed to the condition that required their evacuation. Overall, the ratio between wounded to killed-in-action is running about ten to one — about 7,000 wounded in action with over 700 killed in action. The ratio of those evacuated due to combat wounds [over 1,500 as of 01 August 2004] to those who died subsequent to evacuation [eight reported], presents a ratio on the order of two-hundred to one, which is puzzling. It is also puzzling that over 4,000 were evacuated due to non-battle injuries, but only two subsequently died and that over 7,000 were evacuated due to disease, but that none of them died.” (10)

John Rutherford of NBC News asked the Pentagon why five specific deaths were not counted in the statistics, to which the Pentagon replied: “The Army has reviewed the deaths of these soldiers and determined that they did not die as the result of wounds suffered supporting OIF [Iraq] or OEF [Afghanistan].” Here’s the description of one of them, what do you think?

“Army Sgt. Gerald Cassidy of Indiana suffered brain injuries in a roadside bombing in Iraq in June 2006. He arrived at Fort Knox, Ky., with blinding headaches, memory and hearing loss, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He was found dead in his room on Sept. 21, 2007. He may have been unconscious for days before his body was discovered.” (11)

So far the official tally of wounded soldiers is 31,469 (although some estimates place it at over 100,000. (12) Many of their wounds are extremely serious, including some so severe that they are brain dead. These men are also NOT included in the death toll, despite their lives, for all intents and purposes, being over. (13) Many of the wounded who have fared better will still live the rest of their lives with brain damage, skin burns, amputated arms or legs, lost eyes or ears, as well as an assortment of other grotesque injuries. And many of those who don’t count as wounded still have to face the terrible psychological effects of combat.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study which found that while 5-9.4% of U.S. veterans had post traumatic stress disorder, (depending on the strictness of the definition), before deployment, 6.2-19.9% had PTSD after deployment; a difference of 10.5% under the broad definition of PTSD. (14) This has possibly led to a disturbingly large number of suicides among U.S. military veterans.

In 2007, CBS News investigated suicide among U.S. military veterans and determined that in 2005 alone, 6256 committed suicide! (15) The war has now been going for almost six and half years; if that number were held constant, (something we cannot assume), the total would now be over 40,000. Overall, the investigation showed the suicide rate for veterans, adjusted for age and gender, (young men are the most likely to commit suicide), was about twice as high as for non-veterans. A study by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health corroborated these findings. (16)

It is important to recognize that these studies involved all military veterans, not just those of Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, correlation does not equal causation. Other factors, such as gun availability, may be involved. Needless to say, given the high rates of PTSD among veterans and the despicably poor care veterans have received at military hospitals, such as Walter Reed, it is highly probable that many of these suicides can trace their way back to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is also needless to say that the casualty figures tossed out by the Pentagon dreadfully understates the real toll of war. Thus, it is even more unfortunate that the anti-war movement seems to have come to a complete halt now that Barack Obama is in office, despite the fact he hasn’t changed much of anything regarding foreign policy. Given the extraordinary and underreported human cost as well as the fact the U.S. is basically bankrupt and we’ve done exactly what Osama Bin Laden said he wanted us to do, the very least we could do is get those protests going again. ... asualties/
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Shades of Iraq in Afghan surge
Fred Hiatt

NO wonder conservatives are unhappy with the president. Imagine undermining an announced escalation of troops by simultaneously laying out a schedule for them to step back — and suggesting that the mission will end if the government that America is trying to help doesn’t shape up.
But wait — it wasn’t only President Barack Obama who did those things but also President George W. Bush, in announcing his Iraq surge in January 2007. Those who say that Obama doomed his Afghan strategy with his promise to begin withdrawing in 18 months — and who remember Bush’s strategy as nothing but a clarion call for unambiguous victory — should go back and read the speech.
No, Bush did not specify a date for beginning to pull out, as did Obama at West Point. And unlike Obama, Bush did talk about “victory.”
But he warned that victory “will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony.” More to the point, his announced surge — of 24,000 troops, smaller than Obama’s pledge to Afghanistan — was hedged with benchmarks and conditions.
“I have made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq’s other leaders that America’s commitment is not open-ended,” Bush warned in his televised address from the White House Library. “If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people. . . . America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.”
Bush declared that US forces would cede primary responsibility for security in every Iraqi province by November — a mere 10 months after his speech. The surge would not even begin, administration officials made clear, until Iraq fulfilled a commitment to deploy more troops to Baghdad.
Robert Gates, then as now defense secretary, was even more circumscribing when he testified before the House Armed Services Committee a day after Bush’s speech. Asked how long the surge would last, Gates replied, “We’re thinking of it as a matter of months, not 18 months or two years.” In the end, as Gates pointed out in testimony last week, the Iraq surge lasted 14 months.
Like Obama last week, Bush had to deliver different, even contradictory, messages to multiple audiences. He wanted both to assure Iraq’s leaders of US steadfastness and prod them to actions that were politically painful. He sought to reassure US troops of his commitment and warn America’s enemies of his steadfastness. Yet he also had to convince a skeptical domestic audience that the US mission would be limited in scope and duration. ... Column.php
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Normalising the crime of the century
9 Dec 2009
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the lonely death of an honourable man, a whistleblower, as striking contrast to those British politicians and official now running for cover from the part they played in the invasion of Iraq, the crime of the 21st century.

I tried to contact Mark Higson the other day only to learn he had died nine years ago. He was just 40, an honourable man. We met soon after he had resigned from the Foreign Office in 1991 and I asked him if the government knew that Hawk fighter-bombers sold to Indonesia were being used against civilians in East Timor.

“Everyone knows,” he said, “except parliament and the public.”

“And the media?”

“The media – the big names – have been invited to King Charles Street (the Foreign Office) and flattered and briefed with lies. They are no trouble.”

As Iraq desk officer at the Foreign Office, he had drafted letters for ministers reassuring MPs and the public that the British Government was not arming Saddam Hussein. “This was a downright lie”, he said. “I couldn’t bear it”.

Giving evidence before the arms-to-Iraq enquiry, Higson was the only British official commended by Lord Justice Scott for telling the truth. The price he paid was the loss of his health and marriage and constant surveillance by spooks. He ended up living on benefits in a Birmingham bedsitter where he suffered a seizure, struck his head and died alone. Whistleblowers are often heroes; he was one.

He came to mind when I saw a picture in the paper of another Foreign Office official, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was Tony Blair’s ambassador to the United Nations in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. More than anyone, it was Sir Jeremy who tried every trick to find a UN cover for the bloodbath to come. Indeed, this was his boast to the Chilcot enquiry on 27 November, where he described the invasion as “legal but of questionable legitimacy”. How clever. In the picture he wore a smirk.

Under international law, “questionable legitimacy” does not exist. An attack on a sovereign state is a crime. This was made clear by Britain’s chief law officer, Attorney General Peter Goldsmith, before his arm was twisted, and by the Foreign Office’s own legal advisers and subsequently by the secretary-general of the United Nations. The invasion is the crime of the 21st century. During 17 years of assault on a defenceless civilian population, veiled with weasel monikers like “sanctions” and “no fly zones” and “building democracy”, more people have died in Iraq than during the peak years of the slave trade. Set that against Sir Jeremy’s skin-saving revisionism about American “noises” that were “decidedly unhelpful to what I was trying to do [at the UN] in New York”. Moreover, “I myself warned the Foreign Office... that I might have to consider my own position...”.

It wasn’t me, guv.

The purpose of the Chilcot inquiry is to normalise an epic crime by providing enough of a theatre of guilt to satisfy the media so that the only issue that matters, that of prosecution, is never raised. When he appears in January, Blair will play this part to odious perfection, dutifully absorbing the hisses and boos. All “inquiries” into state crimes are neutered in this way. In 1996, Lord Justice Scott’s arms-to-Iraq report obfuscated the crimes his investigations and voluminous evidence had revealed.

At that time, I interviewed Tim Laxton, who had attended every day of the inquiry as auditor of companies taken over by MI6 and other secret agencies as vehicles for the illegal arms trade with Saddam Hussein. Had there been a full and open criminal investigation, Laxton told me, “hundreds” would have faced prosecution. “They would include,” he said, “top political figures, very senior civil servants from right throughout Whitehall … the top echelon of government.”

That is why Chilcot is advised by the likes of Sir Martin Gilbert, who compared Blair with Churchill and Roosevelt. That is why the inquiry will not demand the release of documents that would illuminate the role of the entire Blair gang, notably Blair’s 2003 cabinet, long silent. Who remembers the threat of the thuggish Geoff Hoon, Blair’s “defence secretary”, to use nuclear weapons against Iraq?

In February, Jack Straw, one of Blair’s principal accomplices, the man who let the mass murderer General Pinochet escape justice and the current “justice secretary”, overruled the Information Commissioner who had ordered the government to publish Cabinet minutes during the period Lord Goldsmith was pressured into changing his judgement that the invasion was illegal. How they fear exposure, and worse.

The media has granted itself immunity. On 27 November, Scott Ritter, the former UN chief weapons inspector, wrote that the invasion “was made far easier given the role of useful idiot played by much of the mainstream media in the US and Britain.” More than four years before the invasion, Ritter, in interviews with myself and others, left not a shred of doubt that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had been disabled, yet he was made a non-person. In 2002, when the Bush/Blair lies were in full echo across the media, the Guardian and Observer mentioned Iraq in more than 3,000 articles, of which 49 referred to Ritter and his truth that could have saved thousands of lives.

What has changed? On 30 November, the Independent published a pristine piece of propaganda from its embedded man in Afghanistan. “Troops fear defeat at home,” said the headline. Britain, said the report, “is at serious risk of losing its way in Afghanistan because rising defeatism at home is demoralising the troops on the front line, military commanders have warned.” In fact, public disgust with the disaster in Afghanistan is mirrored among many serving troops and their families; and this frightens the warmongers. So “defeatism” and “demoralising the troops” are added to the weasel lexicon. Good try. Unfortunately, like Iraq, Afghanistan is a crime. Period.
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War is unforeseeable

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