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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #5 - 3 msgs

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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" <>
To: "casi news" <>
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
> 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


Message: 2
From: "cafe-uni" <>
To: "casi news" <>
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
January 5, 2004

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
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

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
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

The deadline is February 28 for agreement on these and other
questions, due to be codified in the recently renamed
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
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
post-occupation government. But no compromise has been
reached - leaving the
legitimacy of the process in doubt, US and Iraqi officials

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
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

Repeatedly burned at the United Nations on Iraq, Washington
wants the Iraqis
to make their own case to the UN this time, US officials

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

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Message: 3
From: "cafe-uni" <>
To: "casi news" <>
Subject: Scott Ritter The search for Iraqi WMD has become a public joke
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 12:43:15 -0000
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

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
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

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

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
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

=A9 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

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