Bombshell: British Iraq inquiry in flames

March 5, 2015 at 11:29 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Bombshell: British Iraq inquiry in flames

 05.03.2015

If ever there was a geo-political bombshell, this is it. Twelve years after the illegal and inhumane invasion of Iraq based on lies, fabrication and downright arrogance, 6 years after the launch of the Chilcot inquiry, comes today the following allegation. 

For those who have followed the Iraq story, a must read.

HUMAN RIGHTS LAW RULES CHILCOT INQUIRY INVALID

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN IS NOT IMPARTIAL

To Sir Richard Ottaway,

Chair of Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee

House of Commons

SW1A OAA

28 FEB 2015

Dear Sir,

Following the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee on 4th Feb 2015 concerning the Chilcott Inquiry, which was unsatisfactory in not establishing a completion date, I shall be grateful if you will investigate a much graver matter concerning the validity of the Inquiry as a whole. That is its failure to be impartial within European Human Rights Law.

Sir Lawrence Freedman was appointed Privy Councilor as Adviser to PM Tony Blair on Foreign Affairs, in the period from 1997-2007. He has also formed a company with the MOD to train the military and businesses in military strategy. I contend that these positions are incompatible with his membership of the Chilcot Inquiry.

At 9 am on the 18th of January 2010, one hour before Jonathan Powell was due to give evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, Sir John Chilcot received the following letter from Sir Laurence Freedman,

“Jonathan Powell will be giving evidence today. I thought it would be helpful to set out, for the record, my involvement in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s speech, delivered to the Economic Club of Chicago on 24 April 1999 on ‘The doctrine of the International Community.

I was asked by Jonathan Powell to submit ideas for this speech on about 12 April 1999 and I submitted the attached memo on April 16th. I believe I discussed it with Jonathan Powell early the following week, but I made no more submissions.”

Now of these submissions there were, in fact, twelve paragraphs included in Blair’s speech verbatim.

One paragraph of the memo of the suggestions from Professor Freedman was as follows:-

“Many of our problems have been caused by two dangerous and ruthless men – Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevich. Both have been prepared to wage vicious campaigns against sections of their own community, and Saddam Hussein even occupied a neighboring country. As a result of these destructive policies both have brought calamity on their own peoples. Instead of enjoying its oil wealth Iraq has been reduced to poverty, with political life stultified through fear.”

The following are extracts from ‘THE BLAIR DOCTRINE’ delivered by Blair to the Chicago Economic Club on April 22 1999,

” Many of our problems have been caused by two dangerous and ruthless men – Saddam Hussein and Slobodan. Both have been prepared to wage vicious campaigns against sections of their own community, and Saddam Hussein even occupied a neighboring country. As a result of these destructive policies both have brought calamity on their own peoples. Instead of enjoying its oil wealth Iraq has been reduced to poverty, with political life stultified through fear.”

The wording, in turn, is reminiscent of statements two years earlier to be found in The Project for a New American Century, PNAC, written by Wolfowitz, Perle, Rumsfeld, Bolton, and Cheney. (All committed zionists, as is Freedman.) Freedman must have been aware of the PNAC, and may, as a war strategist, have met its authors and even contributed to its ideas, if not the actual words. Recently, in 2010, he did indeed share a conference platform with Richard Perle, again compromising his role as an impartial member of the Chilcot Inquiry during its progress from 20069 and 2015.

The Blair Doctrine was delivered by Blair in Chicago two years before Bush was elected as President, and eleven months before 9/11. Blair had of course been groomed in America as a young, charismatic, potential leader in the late 1980s and early 1990s with Fulbright International Travel Scholarships, along with Karzai and Gordon Brown.( Tony Benn was convinced Blair was a CIA instrument in smashing the Labour party.) The PNAC push to deal with Saddam Hussein had come long before Bush was elected President. As Sir Christopher Meyer said to the Chilcot Inquiry , Blair was ” a firm believer” in removing Saddam Hussein long before 9/11. In Blair’s own words …”I had a vision … greater than Iraq , greater than the American Alliance, greater than the greatness of our history.” There was no stopping him . ( cf ” A Journey “p 500 – 501).

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who gave evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on its second day, closed his remarks as he was leaving, ” in our conversations ( a clever word) I was surprised you did not mention Israel.” Certainly the PNAC authors were very concerned to stop Saddam paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, as was Freedman.

The second part of my letter deals with the possible deception by Chilcot himself, and, according to European Human Rights Law, the lack of validity of the Inquiry because it can not be considered impartial. This lack of validity will cause extreme distress for Military Families Against War, as it is contrary to the protection given by European Human Rights Law to enable those affected to be confident that they can obtain an unbiased hearing. Rose Gentle will be staggered that she will never obtain justice for her dead son because the Chilcot Inquiry is rubbish. Nor will all the Iraqis ever be compensated whose relatives and children have been killed, maimed and psychologically damaged in the wreckage of a country in civil war. The fact that the barbarian acts of Lindsey England with her cigarette pointing at the penises of naked Iraqis at Abu Ghraib or the sexual torture ( “work them hard”) in Camp Bread Basket will never be exposed in the International Criminal Court along with The Leaders of the war ( whose actions lead to all others), will be a stimulus to continuous violence in the future, as the Joint Intelligence Committee prophesied in the year 2000.

When in a letter of of 3 March 2011 I challenged Sir John about the Freedman Letter, his secretary replied that he had known about this “a long time before”. “and had full confidence in the balance of his team”.

But how long before ? (Cicero in a speech in praise of Pompey used this same legal ambiguity) Was it 24 hours before? Was it written in panic ?

Was it 2 months before? or at the commencement of his Inquiry in Nov 2009?

Now if it was at the commencement of the Inquiry how was Chilcot able to say, with a straight face, that :- “We come to this task with open minds and a commitment to review the evidence objectively. Each member of the committee is independent and non-partisan. We are determined to be thorough, rigorous, fair and frank to enable us to form impartial and evidence-based judgements on all aspects of the issues, including the arguments about the legality of the conflict.”

Sir John also made clear that the Inquiry team would be critical if they felt it necessary.

“The Inquiry is not a court of law and nobody is on trial,” he said. “But I want to make something absolutely clear. This Committee will not shy away from making criticism. If we find that mistakes were made, that there were issues which could have been dealt with better, we will say so frankly.”

“We are all committed to ensuring that our proceedings are as open as possible because we recognise that is one of the ways in which the public can have confidence in the integrity and independence of the inquiry process.

How was he able to allow the official Inquiry Biography of Freedman, (which I quote below) still to omit in 2009, and still go on omitting in 2015, without alteration, the fact that Sir Lawrence Freedman was Foreign Affairs Policy Adviser to Blair between 1997 and 2007.

Official Chilcot Inquiry Biography Freedman

Sir Lawrence Freedman has been Professor of War Studies at King’s College London since 1982. He became head of the School of Social Science and Public Policy at King’s in 2000 and was appointed Vice-Principal in 2003.

He was educated at Whitley Bay Grammar School and the Universities of Manchester, York and Oxford. Before joining King’s he held research appointments at Nuffield College Oxford, IISS and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. He was appointed Official Historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997.

Professor Freedman has written extensively on nuclear strategy and the cold war, as well as commentating regularly on contemporary security issues. Among his books are Kennedy’s Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam (2000), The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (3rd edition 2004), Deterrence (2005), the two volume Official History of the Falklands Campaign (second edition 2007) and an Adelphi Paper on The Transformation in Strategic Affairs (2004). A Choice of Enemies: America confronts the Middle East, won the 2009 Lionel Gelber Prize and Duke of Westminster Medal for Military Literature. His most recent book is Strategy: A History (2013).

If it was at the commencement in Nov 2009 that Chilcot knew of Freedman’s role in composing Blair’s 1999 speech, why was the Official website Biography not updated to read more accurately as follows :-

Sir Lawrence Freedman was appointed a Privy Councilor in 2009 on account of his services

as Foreign Affairs advisor to PM Tony Blair from 1997 to 2007. Freedman contributed twelve crucial paragraphs, including removing Saddam Hussein, to “The Blair Doctrine” delivered to The Chicago Economic Club in April 1999, a year and a half before 9/11.

Freedman is closely associated with the authors of the Project for the New American Century of 1998. He has also established a Company with the MOD to train military and businesses in military strategy

I understand that while the Chilcot Inquiry has been in progress Freedman has been Professor of War Studies at Kings College London and has recently supervised a Phd study at Exeter on Israeli counter terrorist strategy and IDF War strategy. He has written a number of Papers on Israeli IDF anti terrorist strategy. He has written papers on the value of nuclear deterrence. He has set up a private company Simulstat with close association with the MOD teaching strategy to military and business at Cranfield and Shrivenham.. Such a close association with the MOD would make it hard for him to be critical of the MOD .

As Professor of War Studies he must know the Nuremberg Protocols of 1946 and the 40 Blue Books produced from Courtroom 600 Nuremberg and that planning and executing an aggressive war was considered “the supreme international crime of all “punishable by death.

In a public hearing it would only be human that Sir Lawrence would wish to distance himself from his master Tony Blair and the strategy of regime change, which as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said “he had advised the Prime Minister on numerous occasions was palpably illegal”.

One begins to wonder if, in Sir Lawrence Freedman, one is not dealing with Mephistopheles himself . He has managed to inveigle himself into the position of being both Judge and Jury of his own actions, and to manipulate as a puppet a man less clever than himself. We will never know the truth of the first week of Shock and Awe, how little Ali’s burnt body came to be scarred with with charcoal flash marks like Hiroshima plutonium. We will never know of the mother in Fallujah staring at her beautiful child with a huge cancer on her face and of mothers, giving birth to babies with one eye, and their innards carried outside their bodies, whether the MOD knew all along that the munitions used with depleted uranium and plutonium would cause these tragedies, because Freedman himself was advocating the use of nuclear weapons and was himself negotiating with the MOD to form a company from which he would benefit. We do not know if Freedman himself copied terms such as Shock and Awe ( Sturm und Drang ) and |Storm Shadow Missiles” (Sturmtruppen ) |from Nazi Germany because the whole Inquiry is rotten to the core . We will not know if Freedman is in touch with Blair’s lawyers extending the maxwellisation Programe by deceit ad infinitum..

I therefore request that you investigate the impartiality of Sir Lawrence Freedman and whether the Chilcot Inquiry should quickly be brought to a close as not complying with European Human Rights Law. Maxwellisation could clearly go on for a very long time indeed without a conclusion. I suggest that on the morning of Jonathan Powell’s appearance Freedman must have been very worried indeed that the cat might have come out of the bag. Perhaps the Committee was instructed by Chilcot to steer clear of these speeches when questioning Powell.

I shall be pleased to forward to you copies of the many letters I have received from Sir John’s staff.

While writing this letter to you , Bassim an Iraqi Sheik, to whom I tried to teach English , lost his nephew and youngest brother who were killed in Baghdad. He has now lost all the male members of his family, since his brother was killed, while hooded, by the Americans , and his brother in law by the Shia Militia. You could never meet a kinder or more intelligent man than Bassim. I dedicate this letter to him.

Yours sincerely.

Nicholas Wood . Secretary to the Submission of 19 Nov 2009

Secretary to the Letter from Privy Councillor Tony Benn to Kofi Anan 2003

\Secretary to The Blair War Crimes Foundation.

cc Mrs Rose Gentle, Military Families Against War .

ccThe Editor Private Eye.

Blair-Bush letters ARE delaying Iraq report, says Chilcot: Head of inquiry admits records of conversations is an issue

May 14, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Blair-Bush letters ARE delaying Iraq report, says Chilcot: Head of inquiry admits records of conversations is an issue

  • Sir John Chilcot must wait for issue of ‘sensitive documents’ to be resolved
  • Home Office minister has accused former PM of ‘disgrace to democracy’
  • Iraq records have yet to be revealed almost a decade on from start of war

By JAMES CHAPMAN

Secrets: The Iraq report cannot be published until the issue of documents sent between Tony Blair and George Bush have been resolved by the involved parties

Secrets: The Iraq report cannot be published until the issue of documents sent between Tony Blair and George Bush have been resolved by the involved parties

Tony Blair was blamed yesterday for a delay in publishing an official report into the Iraq War.

Norman Baker, a Home Office minister, accused the former premier of trying to block the release of secret communications between him and George W Bush.

He has told Sir John Chilcot, who is heading the inquiry, of his deep concern at the length of time it is taking.

A letter from the former Whitehall mandarin – seen by the Daily Mail – shows that publication of notes sent by Mr Blair to former US president Bush, and records of their conversations, is an issue.

‘We continue to work toward delivering our report to the Prime Minister at the earliest possible date,’ he told Mr Baker, adding that discussions ‘about the disclosure of sensitive documents are not yet concluded’.

Mr Baker said he was dismayed by Sir John’s confirmation that Mr Blair’s messages to the White House are causing a delay.

‘The way the Blair government handled the Iraq war is perhaps the most shameful episode in the history of our democracy,’ he said. ‘The fact Tony Blair appears now to be holding up the proper release of information is a disgrace.

‘We need the Chilcot inquiry report now – we need it out before the general election.

‘Voters are entitled to know what was done in their name. Tony Blair should stop blocking the release of this information and Sir John should not allow the timetable in his inquiry to be dictated by the former prime minister.’

David Cameron said last year he hoped the difficulties surrounding publication of the conclusions would be ‘concluded as soon as possible’.

But the declassification of key documents – and the process that requires individuals criticised in a government-commissioned report to have a chance to comment – remain stalled.

In a letter to Sir John, Mr Baker said he was ‘very concerned that your final conclusions have yet to see the light of day’ and pointed out that it was ‘more than a decade since the Iraq war occurred and therefore operational sensitivities must be long gone’.

He added: ‘Given the huge controversy of the episode in British life, I think it is very important that all the facts are now made public and the potential for individual embarrassment should not be allowed to get in the way of this objective.’

The details of the decision to go to war have not been aired more than a decade after thousands protested

The details of the decision to go to war have not been aired more than a decade after thousands protested

Mr Baker asked if it was true, as has been claimed, that the delay centered around the release of correspondence between Mr Blair and Mr Bush.

Sir John said he was ‘able to confirm that the sensitive documents under discussion include notes send by Mr Blair to President Bush, and records of conversations between the UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States… I regret that I am unable to answer your question about the involvement of the former Prime Minister…’

Gordon Brown asked Sir John to investigate the conflict in 2009 and he last took evidence from a witness three years ago.

Tory defence minister Andrew Murrison warned last week that the report will not be ‘very kind’ to Mr Blair, saying he was ‘not clear why it hasn’t been published already’.

Mr Blair has firmly denied being responsible for the hold-up.

‘I’ve made it absolutely clear that when the report’s published is entirely up to them [the inquiry team].

‘It’s not my decision at all… it’s the responsibility of the people who run the inquiry,’ he said.

A spokesman said: ‘He has as much reason as anyone for wanting the report published.’

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2627608/Blair-Bush-letters-ARE-delaying-Iraq-report-says-Chilcot-Head-inquiry-admits-records-conversations-issue.html#ixzz31jFtY61K
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Secret pre-Iraq War talks between Blair and Bush to be published

January 1, 2014 at 4:07 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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  • Secret pre-Iraq War talks between Blair and Bush to be published
George W. Bush (R) and Tony Blair (L) (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)George W. Bush (R) and Tony Blair (L) (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

Tony Blair and George Bush exchanged voluminous correspondence prior to the start of military operations in Iraq. Now, the UK is moving to declassify details of the talks for an inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the conflict, British media reported.

The release, set for the upcoming year, is expected to include more than 100 documents, described as a collection of notes, records of 200 minutes of ministerial level talks, telephone conversations and private meetings between the British prime minister and American president, The Independent reported.

This will give the green light for the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry to publish an account of the conflict, where much attention will be given to decisions made by then Prime Minister Tony Blair. Indeed, the files could play a major part in determining Blair’s historical legacy, which critics say has been stained by the Iraq War.

Blair has been criticized for failing to challenge then-US President George W. Bush on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, specifically chemical and biological weapons, which a Joint Intelligence Committee report said in September 2002 “could be ready for firing in 45 minutes.”

The former Labour leader said he worked to restrain the Bush administration’s seeming determination for military involvement in Iraq, even as UN weapons inspectors on the ground failed to discover any chemical or biological stockpiles.

A senior government official predicted the results of the inquiry will not do Blair any favors: “In the new year it seems the Chilcot inquiry is going to be published. Everyone will be assuming: bad hair day for Tony Blair and Jack Straw.” Straw served as Blair’s secretary of state.

One noteworthy correspondence between Blair and Bush, contained in a note dated July 2002, suggests the then prime minister had pledged Britain’s support to the United States in a military operation to oust former Iraq President Saddam Hussein.

Blair told the inquiry: “In a sense what I was saying to America was: ‘Look’ – and by the way, I am absolutely sure this is how George Bush took it – ‘whatever the political heat, if I think this is the right thing to do I am going to be with you. I am not going to back out because the going gets tough. On the other hand, here are the difficulties and this is why I think the UN route is the right way to go.’”

British soldiers walk past a dead fighter around the parameters of Basra technical college, Iraq 03 April 2003. (AFP Photo / Odd Andersen)British soldiers walk past a dead fighter around the parameters of Basra technical college, Iraq 03 April 2003. (AFP Photo / Odd Andersen)

Meanwhile, a British government source on Sunday said officials were trying to declassify the records in a way that does not threaten national security.

“The intention is to be as open as possible,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying by The Independent. “There is an ongoing process of declassification, which is attempting to strike a careful balance to ensure that you are not setting a legal precedent that could oblige you to publish other documents in the future or damage national security.”

Aside from providing a public account of the government’s actions in the run-up to the Iraq War, publication of the documents will also allow individuals who come in for criticism in the report to explain their actions before hostilities in Iraq began.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman commented on Sunday: “The Government is currently engaged in discussions with the [Iraq] inquiry which the inquiry recognizes raises difficult issues, including legal and international relations issues.

“As the exchange of letters between government and the inquiry shows, these issues are being worked through in good faith and with a view to reaching a position as rapidly as possible. The inquiry should be allowed to publish its findings and we should not pre-empt the content of the report.”

There has been some speculation, however, as to how effective the Iraq Inquiry can hope to be in determining the British government’s – not to mention Tony Blair’s – position on jumping on board George W. Bush’s Iraq war bandwagon.
UK officials said their “intention is to be as open as possible,” yet the final decision on what will be released will be made by cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, the same individual who fought against publication of the Blair-Bush correspondence in the first place.

At the same time, another government source told The Independent, “There are likely to be some redactions – but only where absolutely necessary.”

The decision to invade Iraq, which led to a lengthy war that ran from March 2003 until December 15, 2011, attracted large protests around the world, and caused the United States to lose much of the global support it had received in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

In November 2003, Bush paid a visit to London where he pledged, amid large protests, that“democracy would succeed” in Iraq due to America’s military intervention in the country. One decade later, however, the country is experiencing regular episodes of violent acts, mostly in the form of terrorist bombings, a largely unheard of phenomenon before US troops invaded the country in 2003.

In Iraq, an estimated 8,955 people have died, making 2013 the deadliest year since 2008, according to the Iraq Body Count.

In September 2004, Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary General, expressed his views on the invasion, saying,“I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN Charter. From our point of view, from the Charter point of view, it was illegal.”

The Chilcot Inquiry, named after its chairman, Sir John Chilcot, who pushed for the release of the classified documents, is expected to be released by the end of 2014.

The Chilcot Inquiry. The British Government’s Role in the War on Iraq. Margaret Aldred and the Judicial Coverup

June 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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By Dr. C. Stephen Frost

Global Research, June 09, 2013
Introductory Note

The Chilcot Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot  was launched in 2009 by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with the mandate to inquire into role of British government in the Iraq War.

There have been five inquiries in the United Kingdom into the Iraq War: the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Hutton Inquiry, the Butler Inquiry and the Chilcot Inquiry (the Iraq Inquiry).  Not a single word of evidence at any of those inquiries has been heard under oath.  Sir John Chilcot, presently chairing the Chilcot Inquiry, has the unique distinction of sitting on two of those inquiries: the Butler Inquiry and the Chilcot Inquiry.  Does this not constitute a conflict of interests?

The person running the Chilcot Inquiry on behalf of Chilcot is one Margaret Aldred, an unelected civil servant, who, in my opinion and in the opinion of others, is not fit to be running any inquiry (she infamously ordered Carne Ross before he gave evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry not to mention Dr David Kelly and outlined the consequences if he did so), and certainly not the Chilcot Inquiry (because of an overwhelming conflict of interests, and other reasons, as carefully outlined below).

Margaret Aldred is fatally tainted by a huge conflict of interests

Stephen Frost


Elfyn Llwyd MP outlines in a Westminster Hall debate why Margaret Aldred should not be running the Chilcot Inquiry:

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?gid=2011-01-25b.52.1

Elfyn Llwyd (Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Plaid Cymru)

It is a great pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Williams, ably chairing this debate as always.

One of the vital prerequisites of a Government-initiated inquiry is that it should be utterly independent and devoid of any conflicts of interest that might undermine its credibility and the veracity of its conclusions and findings. I shall detail why I have grave misgivings about the independence of the Chilcot inquiry, and why I believe that the inquiry process may be flawed and even compromised from the beginning. I realise that those are grave allegations, but I do not make them lightly.

Before I detail the problems as I see them, I should mention that about three years ago, some documents were dispatched to my office from an unknown source, bearing a note saying that they were top secret. Some were British in origin; others may well have been from other intelligence sources. They showed that in 2001-02, active discussions were taking place on how to move in against Saddam Hussein using overwhelming military force. The term “regime change” appeared. The documents proved beyond doubt that the UK Government were on course for war even then.

Continue Reading The Chilcot Inquiry. The British Government’s Role in the War on Iraq. Margaret Aldred and the Judicial Coverup…

Revisiting Iraq in the light of new information

October 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Article published in THE INTERNATIONAL

October 1st, 2011

Excerpt

the picking of Songul Chapuk as a representative of the Turkoman population of the country. Carpenter explicitly stated that her incorporation into the council would help to “break the back of the ITF [Iraqi Turkoman Front],” a political group not seen favorably by the CPA, who were, according to Carpenter “a front for the Turkish government.” He adds to his interviewer that “all this is highly…off the record book.”

That she was not picked for her popularity among the Turkoman people appears to be well-demonstrated by reflections that Carpenter makes in his interview. He recalled, “We knew that she didn’t represent the Turkoman in a political sense but we didn’t think that that was all bad and we thought that the community would have to figure out a way to rally around Songul because whether they… whether they liked it or not, it was going to be their representative…there were howls from the Turkoman after she was selected but that was… that was how we came to select her.”

Revisiting Iraq in the light of new information

By Emanuel Stoakes

SATURDAY OCTOBER 01, 2011

The invasion of Iraq in March 2003 remains the more controversial of the two major military operations launched during the “global war on terror” by the United States and its coalition partners, chiefly the United Kingdom. The alleged weaknesses of the casus belli as argued by the leaders of the US and UK has been a primary issue of contention for critics of the war, as have been the claims that were made to support it.

A common allegation leveled at the governments of the United States and Britain regarding the motive for invading Iraq has been the desire to control Iraq’s oil reserves, which are among the world’s most vast. Such notions were dismissed by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on British television in February 2003. “The oil conspiracy theory is honestly… absurd,” he told Jeremy Paxman, a BBC journalist.

US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also denied such claims. On November 15, 2002 on a radio program for the broadcast network “Infinity Radio,” he dismissed the notion that oil was a motivation in discussions about possible military intervention to topple Saddam Hussein’s government, stating that plans for war had “literally nothing to do with oil.”

However, citing key documents that challenge the official narrative, The International identifies where newly-released evidence contradicts the public statements of major political and business actors in post-invasion Iraq.

The politics of oil

Important examples of this are demonstrated by statements made by oil industry and government figures in documents obtained by the British author Greg Muttitt and reported on in his book “Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq.” Muttitt, an oil expert who had been co-director of the charity Platform, accessed hundreds of internal documents about government discussions on Iraqi oil and other issues connected to the war through Freedom of Information requests.

One of the more significant discoveries was the apparently contrary public and private remarks of British minister of state for trade, Baroness Elizabeth Symons of Vernham Dean. The Baroness, a Labour party member, had publicly declared Iraqi oil to be “the patrimony of the people of Iraq, which should be used for their benefit, and for their benefit alone” in a speech in Westminster in April 2003, while in private, some months before, had spoken to major UK oil companies about their gaining access to Iraqi resources.

She is recorded in the notes of a meeting with BP and Shell on October 31, 2002, as saying “it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out inIraq… if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the [war] crisis.”

“In other words,” an analysis released with the documents states, Baroness Symons appears to be implying that “if British forces fight in a war then British companies should get a share of the spoils.”

If one is to accept this then the assertion that such a “view [as attributed to Symons] is clearly unethical, [and] is… arguably illegal, under the Fourth Hague Convention,” bears consideration. The implications are very serious in terms of how they reflect on UK conduct in the build-up to and after the invasion of Iraq.

What is also particularly remarkable about the latter statement is its timing; it was made on October 31, 2002, while members of both the American and UK governments were reassuring the public that there were no plans to invade as yet, and some months before her later Parliamentary declaration on the sovereignty of Iraq’s resources, which was stated just after the launch of military operations.

Baroness Symons was, at the time, a member of the British-American Project (BAP). The group consists of 600 members, drawn equally from both countries, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, and holds an annual conference at which everything that is said is officially off-the-record. BP actively sponsors the British-American Project.

It should be noted that after leaving the government, Baroness Symons worked for UK investment bank Merchant Bridge, “which has made millions from contracts in post-war Iraq,” according to a report by the British newspaper The Daily Mail in March this year. In February, she announced that she was the chairperson of the Arab-British Chambers of Commerce; Baroness Symons has also worked for the Libyan government before the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, at a time when BP were negotiating with Libya’s former leader over rights to develop oil fields.

Baroness Symons remains a member of the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the British Parliamentary system, which serves to scrutinize and amend proposed legislation from the the House of Commons. She was made a “life peer” in 1996 and thus has the right to retain her position permanently.

In another document obtained by Muttitt, the prevailing perception of Iraq by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and major UK-based energy companies Shell and BP is discussed. “Iraq is the big oil prospect,” began the minutes of a meeting in November 2002. “BP are desperate to get in there.”

Both BP and Shell denied that any meetings have taken place. As reported by the BBC on March 12, 2003, “Shell said a report in the Financial Times newspaper – suggesting that both groups had held talks with Downing Street and Whitehall officials on the subject – was ‘highly inaccurate’. BP also insisted that any mention of opportunities in Iraq had taken place ‘en passant’ and that no specific talks had taken place.”

Crude democracy

Muttitt’s perhaps most powerful claims are that the new political structure of Iraq was organized in order to suit Anglo-American goals for the country, including having a share of the enormous oil wealth of the nation.

In an interview with The International he averred that “the US consistently backed the politicians that had a sectarian outlook…they want politicians in place that serve their interests…there were concrete decisions of the occupation on how they wanted to control the country, their decision on what type of country they wanted to run…the single most important factor in creating the sectarian killing was the sectarianization of politics which took place in July 2003 [the American-led formation of the Iraqi Governing Council] and was a deliberate decision by the US and by Britain that politics would not be carried out on the basis of ideology, principle, policy, ideas…[but] on the basis of which ethnicity you claim to represent. It was a divide and rule attempt to control the country.”

In support of this claim, Muttitt referred to as-yet unpublished Pentagon memos that document “the attempt to control the country,” and forwarded The International previously unpublished interviews with senior US figures involved in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) —an interim governing body introduced to keep order after the invasion— including L. Paul Bremer, its head and the US Administrator of Iraq, and J. Scott Carpenter, the Director of the “governance group” within the CPA.

In an interview taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority historian Gordon Rudd, Carpenter describes the establishment of an interim governing body of Iraqis just after a “clean slate” was created by Bremer’s “De-Ba’athification” orders that entered into force after May 2003 and effectively removed all public servants, politicians and army members linked to Saddam Hussein from positions of power. He stated, “At the very highest levels of the US government it was decided that we were moving too quickly [in trying to hand over power to Iraqis]… too precipitously. We didn’t know enough people inside the country… things needed to slow down. We were not ready to hand over the keys to a government [to the Iraqi people]… Tommy Franks working with [General Jay] Garner had… put these guys together. They were all exiles…All of whom ended up being on the Governing Council.”

The group Carpenter is referring to was an initial bloc of seven political figures with ties to the US —Jalal Talabani, Ahmed Chalabi, Massoud Barzani, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, Adnan Pachachi, Iyad Allawi and Nasir Chadirji— and were expanded in to a group of twenty-five to form the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) on July 13, 2003.

Despite the formation of the group, Bremer retained the power of veto over the council’s proposals.

Two notable figures who developed leading political roles inIraqcame from this group of seven and had strong ties to US intelligence services. Ayad Allawi, an Iraqi exile from the early 1970s until the invasion, was described by the BBC as “well-connected in Washington and London…After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Mr Allawi co-founded the Iraqi National Accord (INA), which became known for… its close links with Western intelligence agencies.” Allawi went on to become the Prime Minister of Iraq.

Ahmed Chalabi, who later became heavily involved in the De Ba’athification committee, had extensive ties to the United States. In the build-up to the war in Iraq, Chalabi provided a large portion of information that the US used to allege Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction as well as ties to Al Qaeda.

Chalabi was supported in this by the lobbying firm BKSH & Associates. According to an article by MSNBC, “BKSH has long-standing ties to Chalabi that preceded the war. The firm was paid, initially, with funds from the Iraqi Liberation Act” [a bill passed under the Clinton administration in 1998 which defined US policy toward Saddam Hussein as desiring a regime change] and “was involved in promoting Chalabi’s cause as he pushed for the overthrow of Saddam.”

The report also notes that “over the years, Chalabi’s group received tens of millions of dollars from the CIA and the State Department.”

Announcing the formation of the IGC , the group was described by Bremer on Iraqi television on July 13, 2003 as representing “‘the diversity of Iraq.” He added, “whether you are Shiite or Sunni, Arab or Kurd, Baghdadi or Basrawi, man or woman, you will see yourself represented in this council.”

The group did roughly represent the ethnic make-up of Iraq, but, as is detailed further in Carpenter’s interview, strategic political considerations were fully involved in the selection process, as in the case of the picking of Songul Chapuk as a representative of the Turkoman population of the country. Carpenter explicitly stated that her incorporation into the council would help to “break the back of the ITF [Iraqi Turkoman Front],” a political group not seen favorably by the CPA, who were, according to Carpenter “a front for the Turkish government.” He adds to his interviewer that “all this is highly…off the record book.”

That she was not picked for her popularity among the Turkoman people appears to be well-demonstrated by reflections that Carpenter makes in his interview. He recalled, “We knew that she didn’t represent the Turkoman in a political sense but we didn’t think that that was all bad and we thought that the community would have to figure out a way to rally around Songul because whether they… whether they liked it or not, it was going to be their representative…there were howls from the Turkoman after she was selected but that was… that was how we came to select her.”

Such accounts do not sit well with President Bush’s claim in 2006, during his state of the Union address, that “[the Coalition is] helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased.”

The Coalition Provisional Authority and elections

Although granted power of administrative rule by United Nations resolution 1483, the Coalition Provisional Authority appeared to be keen to ensure American political control overIraqwas not marginalized by giving in to the pressure from some within the United States and Iraqi camps that called for early elections.

The RAND corporation, a well-established US think-tank recorded memos exchanged between Scott Carpenter and Paul Bremer in its “history of the [CPA]” that reference concerns with delaying voting until after the constitution was permanently signed into effect.

The RAND text, authored by James Dobbin, reports the Carpenter-Bremer correspondence as follows, “When discussing plans for creating local governance structures Carpenter argued that it was ‘critical that no Elections take place in the interim period prior to the ratification of an institutional framework by the Iraqi people. Elections could create a legitimate counter authority to the CPA, making its ability to govern more difficult.’ Another memo warned that local Elections would ‘largely sacrifice Coalition control over the outcome.’”

This concern was echoed by Rumsfeld in another declassified memo dated May 13, 2003 entitled “Principles for Iraq,” in which he wrote, “The Coalition will seek out and support Iraqis desiring to participate in their country’s future, to the extent they support the vision of a free Iraq. Those who do not will be opposed…Rushing elections could lead to tyranny of the majority…hands-on political reconstruction… consistently steer[ing] the process in ways that achieve stated U.S.objectives. The Coalition will not ‘let a thousand flowers bloom.’”

The connection between the CPA and Iraq’s political elite was on clear display as the leaders of the three most powerful parties in Iraq’s parliamentary elections in January 2005 were all former members of the Iraqi Governing Council, and all owed their political prominence largely to the Authority. The three were, namely, Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, Jalal Talabani and Iyad Allawi representing the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA], Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan (DPAK) and Iraqi List parties respectively.

The parties that gained power in that election formed the Iraqi Transitional Government, a political body that was granted a mandate to draft the “Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period,” abbreviated to TAL, a document that was a forerunner to Iraq’s permanent constitution.

Thereafter, the constitution was drafted later in 2005.

A hastily-drafted constitution

Muttitt notes the rushed schedule for the drafting of the constitution in his book, “The TAL had envisaged six months to draft the constitution…South Africa…took two years [to draft their constitution]…in more stable circumstances…Ukraine took four years. Afghanistan took fifteen months. But with two months of haggling over ministerial positions and policies, the Iraqi government was not formed until…April and the constitution drafting committee a month later…Further bargaining…brought Sunni members in…[the first committee meeting was on] 8 July. So it had five weeks.”

The constitution drafting committee chair, Humam Hamoudi, announced that he could not complete his task on time, so to expedite the process of completing the constitution, the leaders of the main political parties in Iraq discussed the contents of the text. Muttitt observes in his book that “In reality, only four leaders were invited [to take part in this]…Abdul Aziz al-Hakim…Ibrahim Ja’afari…Masoud Barzani…Jalal Talabani.” Three of the members of the quartet were included in the group of seven selected by the CPA to form the embryonic Iraqi Governing Council in 2003. “Negotiations,” Muttitt states, “took place in the private homes of Hakim, Barzani or Talabani, sometimes in the US Embassy.”

An anonymous British official recalled to the author how the negotiating team “pasted in the provisions of the TAL” into negotiated drafts of the constitution.

On August 12, 2005, the US Embassy actually published its own draft of the constitution to share with the committee, including proposed alterations.

In a Washington Post article published on August 13, 2005, an Iraqi contributor to the official constitution drafting committee, Mahmoud Othman reflected on American involvement in the drafting process. “The Americans say that they didn’t intervene, but they intervened deep,” the Kurdish MP is quoted as saying. “They gave us a detailed proposal, almost a full version of a constitution” from which to work from.

Othman further stated that he thought the US“tried to compromise the different opinions of all the political blocs. The U.S.officials are more interested in the Iraqi constitution than the Iraqis themselves.”

Othman’s opinion, if true, would denote an American attempt to interfere with Iraqi democratic  processes that arguably contravene any notions of the occupation acting merely as an “administrative” power, the role it was granted by UN resolution 1483 that sanctioned the authority of the CPA in 2003.

The constitution of Iraq, not unlike the constitution of the United States of America, is a primary text that dictates the rule of law and the role of the state above all others in Iraqi politics. Due to its enormous significance to the nature of Iraqi sovereignty and democratic functioning, the fact that key co-authors of the document had demonstrable ties to an occupying power raise profound questions of its legitimacy as an “Iraqi” document.

After a national referendum on the constitution had been held, a second round of parliamentary elections were held in order to elect the new government of Iraq.

The most powerful parties in the December elections were the UIA and DPAK, headed by the same leaders as in January, both of them former members of the IGC. UIA and DPAK received approximately 41% and 22% of the vote, nearly two thirds, between them. Both the UIA and DPAK were both largely sectarian parties: UIA representing the Shi’a majority, and DPAK the Kurds, predominantly concentrated in the Northern regions of the country.

Foreign Direct Investment and UK interests: compatible with Iraqi sovereignty?

Returning to oil, planning for Iraq after the January 2005 election, an internal government email entitled “Energy Strategy for Iraq” sent from an address whose contact details are “[redacted], Economic Section, Iraq Policy Unit” of the Foreign Office on September 9, 2004, seems to be outlining British intentions in terms of driving Iraqi oil policy in a direction that would compatible with UK interests. A document attached to the email called “Oil Policy.doc” explictly states that in order to meet British “[energy-related] objectives [regarding Iraq] the principal challenge for Iraq’s oil industry will be to institute the necessary structural, fiscal and regulatory reform needed to attract foreign direct investment (FDI)…Iraq is extremely important to the UK’s objectives on energy security.”

The above quote is followed in the next sentence of the document by a remarkably candid account of how figures in the British government planned to help attract foreign investment in order to advance their agenda. The memo continues, “The idea that Iraq’s energy development needs are best served through FDI will be politically sensitive, both in Iraq- touching on issues of sovereignty- and internationally…We will wish to push the message on FDI to the Iraqis in private, but it will require careful handling to avoid the impression that we are trying to push the Iraqis down one particular path.”

Reading the above, it is challenging not to get the impression that the authors of the oil policy wanted to “push” Iraqis in a direction that suited British interests.

Rumaila

In 2005, BP moved closer to obtaining an oil contract in the Rumaila oil field, Iraq’s biggest, by being rewarded a ‘study’ contract to explore the area. This was helped by the British Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Chaplin, having lobbied the Iraqi oil minister to achieve this. An email dated September 14, 2004, written by Chaplin to Tony Renton, a senior figure at BP, includes an account written by the ambassador of his doing so. Chaplin tells Renton that he had met Thamer Ghadban, a former member of the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council and “raised the Rumaila bid” with him. Renton responds in a later email by asking Sir Jeremy Greenstock to “nudge [BP’s] proposal with Oil Minister Thamer Ghadban and Mr. Alawi [sic],” adding that “we have offered to fund a very large proportion of the study that is likely to cost more than $10 million over the next few years.”

Also in September 2004, Greenstock, who had previously held the roles of UK ambassador to the United Nations and UK’s Special Representative to Iraqand was a member of the CPA, lobbied Allawi on behalf of BP. In an internal BP email authored by someone whose signature read “Richard” (any email addresses were redacted) it was mentioned that Greenstock met Prime Minister Allawi with BP CEO John Browne and BP Middle East President Mike Daly. The author of the email observed that “BP wanted a ‘private’ meeting” between the four men, adding, “I believe that they pushed BP’s willingness to be involved in Iraq (which conflicts with Lord Browne’s public statements) in general and the study in Rumaila in particular.”

The relationship between Greenstock, a former UK diplomat with influential connections garnered from his public service, and the Iraqi Prime Minister, largely empowered by a coalition authority that Greenstock was previously working with, suggests nepotism in that the BP lobbyist’s commission was to win lucrative oil contracts for the British oil company and his access to the prime minister stemmed from his previous associations with Allawi through the official work of the UK government.

Greenstock had started working for BP directly after having left his former post as UKambassador to Iraq in 2004. He has never been asked about lobbying for BP, or the role of oil in Britain’s decision to invade in any government inquiry, despite having been questioned on other matters twice in the UKgovernment-ordered Chilcot Inquiry.

In an email exchange between BP and the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) dated April 5, 2006, the Director of International Policy and Oil Energy Markets Unit at the DTI describes how Greenstock facilitated high-level contacts between BP and the UK government. He states, “Greenstock convened a small and flexible group of senior people” to discuss “long-term international energy strategy” with the DTI. The author of the email further advises that a senior company figure and member of the UK House of Lords, Baron John Browne, “would be available to brief the PM, if required, of course.”

In an attachment sent by a UK government department with the first email from the exchange, a document transparently outlines British policy on a convergence of industry-government interests. The file, called “senior officials note on energy sector follow-up,” states, “UK companies are engaging actively with the Iraqis. We need to support their activities as a matter of priority” and also that “Iraq needs to be factored into thinking…on long-term global energy security.” It continues, “HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] needs to engage pro-actively on two tracks: with UK oil companies on support for their activities in Iraq, and with the Iraqi government on a range of strategic policy issues.”

The emails appear to indicate that major British energy companies such as BP were supported by departments in the UKgovernment that wanted to see British interests achieved inIraq, and that the latter would “engage” with the Iraqi government to this end.

In the months prior to the Iraqi government’s final decision on awarding the Rumaila contract, BP had received a group of Iraqi visitors from the “Development and Training Directorate” of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil who received advice on how to meet their training needs. A letter written by BP to Iraq’s Ministry of Oil stated that BP would assist with “up to date relevant commercial and negotiating skills” and many other areas of training.

Later in the year, the Rumaila oil contract was eventually auctioned to BP at an ostensibly low rate of financial reward for the company, with BP signing a deal that yielded a remuneration of between $1.15 and $5.50 per barrel. The manner in which the oil contract was negotiated was lauded by the then Oil Minister Husain al-Shahristani, who, in December 2009 declared that he “[prides] [him]self that the deals in the first bid round and the second bid round have been more transparent than any other deals I am aware of in any of the other OPEC member countries. As a matter of fact, we have set the standard for transparency.”

However, the original contract was privately renegotiated with the Iraqi government by BP for months after the initial deal. The final contract, which was leaked to the charity Platform, has several key amendments to its predecessor.

Both the original contract and the second version were “service contracts’’ between BP and the Iraqis. A service contract is an agreement whereby the oil company is contracted to develop the oil resources of the contractor in return for a share of the profits.

The terms of the service contract agreed between the parties in this case protect BP from future changes in Iraqi law, guaranteeing profits for at least twenty years.

Furthermore, in the event that Iraqi oil production is restrained by a future OPEC quota, the Iraqi government would pay BP the same rate as it would otherwise, despite the decrease in commercially viable production. Under the former contract, the losses or costs involved with complying with any such quotas would have been borne in equal measure.

Parsing the consequences of these changes, Platform stated that the “effect of these changes is to transfer the most significant risks from BP… to the Iraqi government.” Adding that, “As a result of the enhanced compensation provisions, the Iraqi government could find itself paying BP…. even when it is not earning oil revenues to offset those payments. Meanwhile, the changes undermine the Iraqi ability to ensure that it achieves value for money, and that oil is developed in the national interest.”

New doubts about the transparency of the war aims for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 are particularly significant given that President Bush stated at the outset of war that “we have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.”

Given that the United States not only appears to have been heavily involved in the introduction of highly influential political figures into the Iraqi political landscape, and, whilst acting as the occupying power, were apparently proposing alterations to the nation’s constitution, it is difficult not to question the image of America acting disinterestedly in the country. Such an impression is increased by the enormous amount of money spent on the war: an estimated four trillion dollars in total.

Equally, it appears that key players in the British government and the world of business certainly wanted to gain access toIraq’s oil, and may have advanced their agenda directly or through the agency of political contacts with ties to the UK.

If an overriding coalition strategy in Iraq was to simply “restore control of [the] country to its own people,” it appears that the process of doing so involved manoeuvres that were undemocratic, and, crucially, acted in such a way as to defy international conventions and the United Nations resolutions that had originally sanctioned the administrative role of the occupying powers.

The documents explored here only throw into relief some aspects of internal thinking during both wars and do not explain the “backstory” behind various memorandums and emails; as a result they do not constitute irrefutable evidence of intent on the part of the parties implicated by them. However, they help to inform the understanding of the public as to some of the thinking of major actors and raise urgent questions about coalition handling of the two wars that have not been fully addressed by governmental inquiries.

This Fall, it is expected that the Chilcot Inquiry will publish its investigation into Britain’s part in the Iraq war. The investigation has never questioned government figures on the role of oil in the invasion, nor has any US inquiry revisited the behavior and policy of the United States government in its announcement and execution of the period of the “global war on terror.”

It is likely that, without a searching and impartial investigation into US and UK behavior in occupied Iraq, the impression that self-interested machinations by politicians and businessmen from the two countries will remain, fairly or unfairly, fuelled by the questions that are prompted by the discrepancies between public statements and the documentary record.

A way to counter such impressions is for key actors to increase transparency on the issues explored in this article, and elsewhere. This can be achieved by releasing relevant documents that establish a contrapuntal account of dealings with Iraqi politicians and resources. Such a move would help both to better inform the public about the events under scrutiny and potentially improve the public image of the institutions providing such a response.

As it stands, questions remain.

http://www.theinternational.org/articles/165-revisiting-iraq-in-the-light-of-new-infor#

Chilcot Inquiry – Fresh accusations of Iraq War cover-up

July 26, 2010 at 2:39 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Fresh accusations of Iraq war cover-up

by Louise Nousratpour

morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/93237

July 25, 2010A former diplomat has accused the government of “covering up” key information from the Iraq inquiry to hide mistakes.

Carne Ross, who quit the Foreign Office in 2004 after criticising Britain’s involvement in the war, said he had been denied access to key material before his recent appearance.

The former Iraq expert at the United Nations also claimed he had been subjected to “subtle intimidation” from Whitehall to drop references to a classified memo warning of inaccuracies in a paper prepared for Labour MPs.

Giving evidence to Sir John Chilcot’s panel earlier this month, Mr Ross complained about a “culture of unaccountability and sometimes dishonesty” in government.

In a hard-hitting article published in a Sunday paper, Mr Ross renewed a call for all but a few of the “most secret” documents related to the 2003 invasion to be made public.

“Though profoundly embarrassing, there is little here that damages national security, except in the hysterical assessment of officials protecting their own reputation,” he wrote.

Mr Ross said “most” of the key documents he had requested to see were missing from large files sent to him to look through before his inquiry appearance.

He was told certain records, including those related to a visit to Syria by then prime minister Tony Blair, could not be found – something he said was “simply not plausible.”

Mr Ross warned that the inquiry was being given a “very one-sided account” to the panel that military action was “more or less unavoidable” because sanctions and containment were failing.

“The government is covering up its mistakes and denying access to critical documents,” the ex-diplomat claimed. The true story is there to be seen in the documents.”

 

Chilcot inquiry: French ambassador contradicts Labour ministers’ evidence

June 1, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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 Chilcot inquiry: French ambassador contradicts Labour ministers’ evidence

Maurice Gourdault-Montagne says Jacques Chirac’s 2003 remarks on a new UN resolution were ‘misinterpreted’

 

Jack Straw giving evidence to the Chilcot Iraq war inquiry. Photograph: EPA

Key evidence given to the Chilcot inquiry by Labour ministers about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq was contradicted head-on by a top French government official at the Hay festival today.

Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, the French ambassador to Britain, also said there was no hard evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction at the time of the 2003 invasion and had therefore failed to comply with earlier United Nations security council demands.

Tony Blair repeatedly blamed Jacques Chirac, then French president, for the failure to get a second security council resolution – something most senior government lawyers, including at first the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, agreed was needed if the invasion was to be lawful.

The claim was reiterated in evidence to Chilcot, notably by Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time of the invasion. Straw pointed to a television interview Chirac gave on 10 March 2003, less than two weeks before the war.

Straw claimed Chirac had made it clear France would not back a fresh UN resolution “whatever the circumstances”. Straw added: “I don’t think there was any ambiguity.”

However, Gourdault-Montagne said Chirac’s comments had been “misinterpreted”. Chirac had made it clear that he meant France could not have supported a new UN resolution at that time as it would have triggered an invasion despite the lack of evidence that Iraq possessed WMD.

The ambassador, who was Chirac’s chief foreign policy adviser, was being interviewed at the Hay festival by international lawyer and academic Philippe Sands QC.

“We cannot be satisfied with flimsy evidence about WMD,” he said. The argument for the use of force was based on the issue of “non-compliance” with past UN disarmament resolutions, he added. “[We] never, any of us, had the real evidence.”

The ambassador, who has testified in private to the Chilcot inquiry, continued: “What Chirac said was misinterpreted.”

Chirac’s remarks were used by Blair and his ministers as a central justification for an invasion that was not backed by the UN security council.

“[The earlier UN resolution] 1441 was not enough to go to war,” the ambassador added, further contradicting the position of the then British government. He said France opposed a second UN resolution at the time because it could have triggered a war. That would have amounted to “unacceptable automaticity”.

The ambassador commented on a meeting he had with Condoleezza Rice, President George Bush’s national security adviser, in early January 2003, two months before the war, that America’s “credibility” was at stake.

However, the French ambassador insisted Chirac did not bear “grievances” against the way his remarks were used by the British government.

“Politics is politics,” he said. “It was very difficult to understand each other at the time. There were prejudices against each other,” he said referring to the relationship between Chirac and Blair.

Britain’s Chilcot inquiry: A whitewash of war crimes and Iraq war

March 17, 2010 at 10:21 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Britain’s Chilcot inquiry: A whitewash of war crimes and Iraq war

Robert Stevens

WSWS, March 2010The inquiry into the war in Iraq, headed by Chairman Sir John Chilcot, has halted its proceedings until after the expected May 6 British general election.

Its hearings, however, have confirmed that the fundamental purpose for which it was convened was to ensure that those responsible for waging an illegal war of aggression are not held to account. Instead, the inquiry has been utilised to legitimise the invasion of Iraq and affirm the basis on which it was carried out—the US doctrine of pre-emptive war.

The Chilcot inquiry is wholly a creature of the government and has no real independence. It was announced last June by Labour Party Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with the limited remit of establishing the “lessons that can be learned” regarding British involvement in the US-led war.

It was stressed that there would be no assigning of responsibility to any politician, civil servant, diplomat or military figure for their role in the events leading to the war, the military slaughter itself, or its aftermath. Those testifying were also assured that no prosecutions or legal proceedings would arise from their appearances.

Witnesses are not required to speak under oath and none are properly cross-examined. On more than one occasion, including when former Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared, Chilcot reminded everyone, “This is not a trial.”

Along with Blair, all the major British figures involved in the planning and conduct of the war have already appeared, including then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, then-Defence Minister Geoff Hoon, Blair’s director of communications, Alastair Campbell, former UK Ambassador to the United Nations Jeremy Greenstock, and then-Chancellor Gordon Brown. Not a single probing or critical question has been asked of any of them.

All of the inquiry’s personnel were chosen by Brown from members of the Privy Council, a body appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister.

Chilcot himself sat on the 2004 Butler inquiry into the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war, which refused to hold Blair or anyone else accountable for the “dodgy dossier” culled from old Internet reports and false claims, such as the assertion that Iraq had weapons that it could deploy against Britain within 45 minutes. Inquiry member Sir Lawrence Freedman was a foreign policy adviser to Blair and a staunch advocate of the Iraq war. The historian Sir Martin Gilbert supported the war. Sir Roderic Lyne was British ambassador to the Russian Federation and is an adviser to JP Morgan Chase, which operates the Trade Bank of Iraq. He was also a special adviser to the oil conglomerate BP.

Under the inquiry’s terms, the government has the final say on which documents can be made public and even which documents can be handed over to it. The final decision on the publication of any disputed documents will be made by the cabinet secretary and head of the Home Civil Service, Sir Gus O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s close relationship to Brown goes back to 2002, when he was made permanent secretary at the Treasury. The terms further stipulate that if the Cabinet Office and the inquiry team fail to reach an agreement, “the Inquiry shall not release that information into the public domain”.

An example of what is being concealed was provided when the Independent published a Foreign Office internal paper from 2000 that proved that the British government was discussing the invasion of Iraq more than two years earlier than previously stated. The Independent was able to obtain the document only after a Freedom of Information request was initially rejected, and the newspaper demanded an internal review. The released document was heavily redacted by the Foreign Office.

Even the publication of Chilcot’s final report will be approved by the government beforehand. Brown stated in announcing the inquiry that it cannot disclose matters “essential to our national security.”

Nor can it publish material deemed “likely” to “cause harm” to “defence interests or international relations.” In October, Brown’s Cabinet Office issued a further nine protocols imposing restrictions on what is allowed to be disclosed, up to and including the final report, including the barring of material that would impact “commercial and economic interests.” The restrictions also allow any government agency or department to veto and remove any sections from the final report that they wish.

These restrictions have enabled many of those called to testify to make a defence of the Iraq war and the policy of pre-emptive war elaborated by the Bush administration in the United States.

Blair’s communications director, Alastair Campbell, for example, declared baldly, “I think that Britain as a country should feel incredibly proud” of its part in the Iraq war.

Brown stated that the invasion of Iraq was “the right decision for the right reasons,” and that “everything that Mr. Blair did during this period, he did properly.” Turning reality on its head, he went on to call Iraq a “serial violator” of international law and an “aggressor state” that had refused “to obey the laws of the international community.”

Commenting on the questioning of Brown, Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins pointed out: “Nobody asked the obvious rejoinder, that the Iraq invasion was made in defiance of the international community. It ignored UN principles on regime-change and pre-empted the weapons inspecting regime. It was not sanctioned by the UN and was opposed by most of Europe. Small wonder Brown began smiling, a lot.”

Blair’s own testimony was the most politically revealing. He alluded to his belief that regime-change was required in Iraq, whether or not Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. If there was a “danger” or a “possibility” of Saddam Hussein “reconstituting” a weapons programme, then war was legitimate—a clear endorsement of the doctrine of pre-emptive war. “There is,” he said, “a danger of making a binary distinction between regime-change and WMD.”

More significant still, Blair repeatedly drew a comparison between Iraq and the danger supposedly posed by Iran, stating that there were “very similar issues.” Because of the precedent set and the action taken against Iraq, Britain was in a “far better place” to deal with Iran now, he claimed.

The utilisation of Chilcot to defend the Iraq war is a warning. For the British ruling elite, far more is involved than mere historical revision or even an attempt by those involved to cover for their crimes.

At the outset of the inquiry, Chilcot stated that it would “help ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country.”

Such “similar situations” are either underway or in an advanced state of preparation. Events since 2003 have made clear that Iraq was only a bloody episode in a period of escalating militarism that continues today in Afghanistan.

To accept in any way that the Iraq war was wrong, let alone illegal, would be to call into question the essential strategic interests of British imperialism and a foreign policy based upon riding Washington’s military coat-tails in Afghanistan, Iran and wherever else aggressive wars will be waged to secure domination of strategic resources such as oil and gas.

Robert Stevens

Tony Blair at the Chilcot inquiry

January 29, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Tony Blair at the Chilcot inquiry

Seumas Milne

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/29/tony-blair-chilcot-iraq-inquiry1

Once again, the chance to hold Tony Blair to account is being squandered by questioning that has has ranged from the feeble to the shamefully complicit. Faced with such embarrassing cosiness (Lawrence Freedman plumbed the lowest depths), the former prime minister quickly overcame his initial nervousness. Far from conceding any ground over the aggression against Iraq, he repeatedly argued that the same “calculus of risk” now demanded similar action against Iran. The fact that he remains the Quartet’s man in the Middle East should be cause for the deepest alarm.

It’s been classic Blair: the lawyerly evasions over the wording of the September 2002 dossier, the self-deprecating asides over his Fern Britton interview gaffe, the deliberation conflation of the 9/11 attacks and Iraq’s weapons programmes, real or imagined.

His defence of the claim that the intelligence showed it was “beyond doubt” Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons was rendered risible by the fact that it was prefaced with the words “I believe”, but that was duly allowed to pass by the assembled trusties – as was his entirely false insistence that you’d have been “hard pushed” to find anyone who didn’t believe Iraq had WMD before the invasion demonstrated it hadn’t.

Put Scott Ritter and Robin Cook on one side; both Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac said in the run-up to war that they had seen no evidence of a continuing Iraqi WMD programme.

Most outrageous, though, was his repeated and so far barely challenged assertion that Iraq was in “material breach” of repeated UN resolutions. In reality, the fact that Iraq had destroyed its WMD stocks in the 1990s means that it was not in significant breach of the resolutions at all. Even Blair’s repeated claims that Iraq was failling to comply with resolution 1441 over inspectors’ right to interview officials is simply not supported by Hans Blix’s reports of the time.

Watch this afternoon to see whether any inquiry member picks up on one new piece of information Blair did let drop this morning: that there were “conversations” with Israelis during the infamous Crawford meeting with George Bush in April 2002.

Whistleblower: Foreign Office officials thought war ‘illegal’

January 24, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the Foreign Office lawyer who resigned on principle on the eve of the Iraq war

Chilcot inquiry will be told Lord Goldsmith’s top lawyer advised invasion was against the law

 By Brian Brady, Whitehall Editor

 Sunday, 24 January 2010

 A senior Foreign Office lawyer who quit in protest at the invasion of Iraq will this week lay bare the sharp divisions within the Blair administration and its Whitehall advisers as Britain careered towards war in 2003.

 On Tuesday, three days before Tony Blair faces the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, Elizabeth Wilmshurst will make perhaps the most explosive contribution to date by revealing the confusion and infighting between officials and ministers over the legality of deposing Saddam Hussein without United Nations support.

  Continue Reading Whistleblower: Foreign Office officials thought war ‘illegal’…

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