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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] This is an automated compilation of submissions to email@example.com Articles for inclusion in this daily news mailing should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a full reference to the source of the article. Today's Topics: 1. Blair's Visit to Troops Choreographed Ahead of Hutton Report (cafe-uni) 2. Washington begins handover without firm plan (cafe-uni) 3. Scott Ritter The search for Iraqi WMD has become a public joke (cafe-uni) --__--__-- Message: 1 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "casi news" <email@example.com> Subject: Blair's Visit to Troops Choreographed Ahead of Hutton Report Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 12:42:27 -0000 > PA News > 1:46pm (UK) > Blair's Visit to Troops Choreographed Ahead of Hutton Report > http://www.news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3D2370952 > By Jon Smith, Political Editor, PA News in Basra. > > Prime Minister Tony Blair today made his second visit to Iraq since the end > of the controversial conflict there - declaring his "passionate" belief that > the war was justified. > > But with Lord Hutton's report into events surrounding the death of weapons > expert Dr David Kelly expected to be published within the next two weeks, > the Premier may need more than his self-belief to ride out the storm of > controversy it is bound to unleash. > > Today's whistle-stop 10-hour visit was shrouded in secrecy and sprung as a > surprise to reporters ferried to Egypt before travelling to Basra with Mr > Blair from the holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. > > Carefully choreographed TV pictures of him addressing British troops and > being whisked to meetings by helicopter around the British zone of > responsibility will inevitably be seen as footage of the Premier getting his > retaliation in first ahead of the Hutton report. > > The stress Mr Blair laid today on "21st Century soldiering" and the need to > bolster the Iraqi civil authorities with schemes such as the new police > training academy he visited this morning will be used by Downing Street to > justify Britain's continued presence in Iraq, with 10,000 troops still > stationed there. > > The Prime Minister also used today's visit to shift the argument over > whether the war against Saddam Hussein was justified away from the threat > posed by weapons of mass destruction to the grounds that failure to act > against Saddam would have made it impossible to deal with other rogue > regimes. > > "If we had backed away from that we would never have been able to confront > this threat in the other countries where it exists," Mr Blair told 600 > service men and women at Shaibah Logistics HQ, a former RAF base outside > Basra vacated in 1953. > > Mr Blair, dressed in a dark blue jacket, light blue open necked shirt and > dark blue denim jeans, looked tanned and relaxed after his Christmas break. > > And although Downing Street officials ordered reporters to wear body armour > to accompany Mr Blair, the Premier was never seen wearing it in public. > > Number 10 will be hoping he can dodge the flak from the Hutton Inquiry with > the same slick public relations. > > =A92004 Scotsman.com > --__--__-- Message: 2 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "casi news" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Washington begins handover without firm plan Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 12:43:01 -0000 Washington begins handover without firm plan By Robin Wright, Rajiv Chandrasekaran Washington January 5, 2004 http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/01/04/1073151210958.h tml After eight months of debate and delay, the United States will formally launch the handover of power to Iraq this week with the final plan still not fully in place. Washington begins the complicated political, economic and security transfer with a general framework and a June 30 deadline for completion. But critical details are still being negotiated between the Iraqis and US administrator Paul Bremer. "We're open to refinement, and we're waiting to hear what people have suggested or will suggest," Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview. Besides deciding who will rule in Saddam Hussein's wake, Iraqis over the next two months will have to answer a host of deferred and potentially divisive questions. What kind of government will Iraq have? What will be the role of Islam? How much local rule will ethnic, tribal or religious groups have? The deadline is February 28 for agreement on these and other basic questions, due to be codified in the recently renamed Transitional Administration Law, the precursor to a constitution. A month later, Iraqis have to determine their relationship with US troops - and therefore the US - after the handover. One of the thorniest issues will be giving US troops immunity from prosecution for any action they may take, a standard US demand when it deploys troops overseas. Iraqis are already worried, and predicting problems. "This is the decisive period - and we will probably go to the brink a few times before we make those decisions," a prominent politician said. US officials say Washington plans to resolve many of these remaining questions in negotiation with the Iraqi Governing Council, whose initial incompetence precipitated the delays that forced the US to design the November 15 agreement. The accord outlines the multiphase process, centred on provincial caucuses, to select a provisional government. Seven weeks after the accord, however, the council has been unable to close the wide differences of opinion among rival Iraqi leaders, ranging from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to the Sunni community once protected by Saddam. Ayatollah Sistani, a Shiite Muslim cleric who has a larger public following than any other Iraqi, has demanded elections to pick Baghdad's post-occupation government. But no compromise has been reached - leaving the legitimacy of the process in doubt, US and Iraqi officials say. As the effort to turn over power begins in earnest, symbolic actions are planned: town halls to launch a nationwide political dialogue, graduation of an Iraqi army battalion, completion of the new currency exchange, the first mobile phone system. Washington wants to begin transferring specific duties to Baghdad so that inexperienced Iraqis do not suddenly find themselves assuming total responsibility in six months. In a step pivotal to the transition, Iraq will also once again be the focus of debate at the UN Security Council on January 19, when the Iraqi council will appeal for the world body to return. But senior members of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority may not attend the meeting, despite a personal summons by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Repeatedly burned at the United Nations on Iraq, Washington wants the Iraqis to make their own case to the UN this time, US officials say. Copyright =A9 2004. The Age Company Ltd "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead This e-mail (and any attachments) is confidential. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete it from your system, do not use, copy or disclose the information in any way nor act in reliance on it. ************************************************************ *********************************** --__--__-- Message: 3 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "casi news" <email@example.com> Subject: Scott Ritter The search for Iraqi WMD has become a public joke Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 12:43:15 -0000 http://argument.independent.co.uk/commentators/story.jsp?sto ry=3D477860 04 January 2004 President George Bush, in his State of the Union address in January last year, told the world that Saddam Hussein had promised he would disarm his weapons of mass destruction, and that this promise had not been fulfilled. Bush spoke of the Iraqi president retaining massive stocks of chemical and biological agent, as well as an ongoing nuclear weapons programme. On 20 March 2003, Bush ordered American military forces, accompanied by the armed forces of Great Britain, to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. In hiding since the fall of Baghdad, Saddam was finally run to ground in December. On his capture, he is reported to have said that WMD was an issue created by George Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq. This is a claim that has increasing validity. Tony Blair had already been embarrassed by a growing recognition that his own intelligence-based estimates regarding Iraqi WMD were every bit as cooked up as the American president's. He faced further ignominy when Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, publicly mocked his assertions that David Kay, the former UN weapons inspector turned CIA agent who headed the so-far futile search for WMD in occupied Iraq, had found "massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories". Dismissed by Bremer as a "red herring", Blair's discredited comments only underscore the sad fact that the issue of Iraqi WMD, and the entire concept of disarmament, has become a public joke. The misrepresentation and distortion of fact carried out by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair is no joke, but rather represent an assault on the very fabric of the concept of a free and democratic society which they espouse to serve. The people of the United States are still waiting for a heavily divided Congress to break free of partisan politics and launch a genuine investigation. This should certainly look at the massive intelligence failure surrounding the gross distortion of the Iraqi WMD threat put forward by the US intelligence community. But perhaps more importantly, the investigation should focus on the actions of the White House in shaping the intelligence estimates so that they dovetailed nicely with the political goals and objectives of the Bush administration's Iraq policy-makers. Many in Great Britain might take some pride in knowing that their democracy, at least, has had an airing of the pre-war Iraq intelligence which has been denied their American cousins. The Hutton inquiry has been viewed by many as an investigation into the politicisation, or "sexing up", of intelligence information by the British government to help strengthen its case for war. It stopped far short of any real investigation into the abysmal abuse of power that occurred when Blair's government lied to Parliament, and the electorate, about the threat posed by Iraq's WMD. There was no effort to dig deep into the systematic politicisation of the British intelligence system, to untangle the web of deceit and misinformation concerning Iraq peddled over the years by the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and British intelligence. The damage done goes well beyond the borders of the US and Britain. One must also calculate the irreparable harm done to the precepts of international law, the viability of multilateral organisations such as the United Nations, and the concepts of diplomacy and arms control which kept the world from destroying itself during the last century. Iran, faced with 130,000 American soldiers on its border, has opened its nuclear facilities to inspection. North Korea has done the same. Libya, in a surprise move, has traded in its own overblown WMD aspirations in exchange for diplomatic recognition and economic interaction with the West. But none of these moves, as welcome as they are, have the depth and reach to compare with the decision by South Africa or the former republics of the Soviet Union to get rid of their respective nuclear weapons. The latter represented actions taken freely, wrapped in the principles of international law. The former are merely coerced concessions, given more as a means of buying time than through any spirit of true co-operation. Sold by George Bush and Tony Blair as diplomatic triumphs derived from the Iraq experience, the sad reality is that these steps towards disarmament are every bit as illusory as Saddam's WMD arsenal. They are all the more dangerous, too, because the safety net of international law that the world could once have turned to when these compelled concessions inevitably collapse no longer exists. Scott Ritter was a UN weapons inspector from 1991-98. He is the author of 'Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America' =A9 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd End of casi-news Digest _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk