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News, 9-16/3/02 (2) WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IN THE HANDS OF A ROGUE STATE * U.S. Works Up Plan for Using Nuclear Arms Military * Bunker bomb will bust test ban [This article gives names of the advocates of nuclear terrorism. They all seem to be called Stephenı.] * Itchy fingers on the trigger [More on the Stephens. One feels there is a phenomenon here which can only be understood in psychological terms. These people spend all their time working out the means of killing vast numbers of people. It is their job and it is on their mind all the time. The spectre haunts them to the point of paranoia. Eventually they convince themselves that its all about to happen and this causes them to precipitate the very catastrophe hey fear. Bear in mind that this is a generation whose brains have been softened by Arnold Schwarzenegger films, and films such as Independence Day. Culture counts for a lot as Marx didnıt say often enough.] BRITISH OPINION * British Cool on Using UK Troops in Iraq - Poll * Bush wants 25,000 UK Iraq force * The case against Iraq [Mr Neil doesnıt think that the British people have any business discussing the possibility of war on Iraq until the US have made up their minds on the matter. He gives a highly tendentious account of the old Muhammad Atta/al-Ani story. He says Atta travelled half way round the world to meet al-Ani. This is not at all known. What is known is that Atta spent one evening in Czechoslovakia. He came from neighbouring Germany. No-one knows what he did or who he met. It is thought that someone who looked like Atta met al-Ani on another occasion when, it is known, Atta was in the US; so, if it was him, but it might not have been, he would have had to travel half way round the world. There is no evidence of Attaıs coming to Prague at that time. Neil even drags out the fumbling story of the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman who knewı that they had met and what they discussed (bombing Radio Free Europe), a story he later retracted. The Czech President, a rather more substantial figure, said he was only 70% certain that any meeting took place (see, e.g. New Clue Fails to Explain Iraq Role in Sept. 11 Attack, NY Times, 16/12/01. See also Dubious Iraqi Linkı in Doubts and Queries below ). Neil reaches a paroxysm of absurdity when he tells us that that the evidence for Iraqıs possession of WMDs is so overwhelming it has even managed to convince so hardened a sceptic as ... Jack Straw! Finally, having delivered himself of this half-baked concoction of ancient rumours, he calls for a more grown-up, informed discussion than we have had so far.ı Axis of evil ... used chemical weapons against his own people ... You know. That sort of thing.] * Blair's just a Bush baby [On the naivety of the British establishmentıs notion that they are a moderating influence on the US regime.] * Britain Wants to Make Cyprus Forward Operating Base Against Iraq [Article from Greek Cypriot worried about the likely effect on the tourist industry. It seems they lost a lot through the Gulf War, though doubtless the UN Compensation Committee proved very understanding. But perhaps theyıre right to be worried, since what sort of compensation, we wonder, will be paid if Saddam is removed and an American proxy installed in his place?] * UK minister argues against attack on Iraq [Clare Short. Which is fine and courageous but CS et al must summon up the courage to say, or at least think, that WMDs are considerably less dangerous in the hands of SH than they are in the hands of GB (or of a TB following in GBıs footsteps.)] * Straw outlines Iraq's 'severe threat' [Strawıs evidence, followed by voices of caution, right and left, in the Commons, followed by an idiotic intervention from Ann Clwyd who says indicting Saddam would be better than bombing Iraq: as if there is any point in having an indictment if he canıt be brought before a court and how can he be brought before a court without bombing Iraq? Oh, I know. We could freeze his assets.] * Tough talk on Iraq [Guardian editorial opposing war, though more as a matter of convenience than of moral principle.] * If Saddam would fall, Bush should push him [Disappointing to see Simon Jenkins joining in the paranoia. It is also very odd. He blandly informs us that sanctionsı (that is to say, US and UK policy] have killed tens of thousands of Iraqis for no good reason; then he presents Saddam Hussein as if he is in some way more dangerous and villainous that Messrs Bush and Blair. Perhaps it is because he hasnıt understood (because no-one has taken the trouble to explain it to him) that there were REASONS for the evil things Saddam Hussein has done. They may have been evil, but unlike the evil things done by the Bushes, the Clintons and the Blairs, they werenıt gratuitous evil.] * Terror of Saddam's hidden arsenal [Extract giving what appears to be concrete in the article, from the Daily Telegraph,. But surely the government can come up with something better than this. Good title, though.] * 100 MPs back protest over strikes on Iraq [It is a matter of deep shame to the Conservative Party that there are no Toryı signatures. Has all independent thought stopped in that little world? The article goes on to smear tactics against G. Galloway. Which is a good sign that he is no longer seen as just a harmless eccentric.] WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION ... http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-030902bombs.story * U.S. WORKS UP PLAN FOR USING NUCLEAR ARMS MILITARY by Paul Richter Los Angeles Times, 9th March The Bush administration has directed the military to prepare contingency plans to use nuclear weapons against at least seven countries and to build smaller nuclear weapons for use in certain battlefield situations, according to a classified Pentagon report obtained by the Los Angeles Times. The secret report, which was provided to Congress on Jan. 8, says the Pentagon needs to be prepared to use nuclear weapons against China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria. It says the weapons could be used in three types of situations: against targets able to withstand nonnuclear attack; in retaliation for attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; or "in the event of surprising military developments." A copy of the report was obtained by defense analyst and Times contributor William Arkin. His column on the contents appears in Sunday's editions. Officials have long acknowledged that they had detailed nuclear plans for an attack on Russia. However, this "Nuclear Posture Review" apparently marks the first time that an official list of potential target countries has come to light, analysts said. Some predicted the disclosure would set off strong reactions from governments of the target countries. "This is dynamite," said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear arms expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "I can imagine what these countries are going to be saying at the U.N." Arms control advocates said the report's directives on development of smaller nuclear weapons could signal that the Bush administration is more willing to overlook a long standing taboo against the use of nuclear weapons except as a last resort. They warned that such moves could dangerously destabilize the world by encouraging other countries to believe that they, too, should develop weapons. "They're trying desperately to find new uses for nuclear weapons, when their uses should be limited to deterrence," said John Isaacs, president of the Council for a Livable World. "This is very, very dangerous talk . . . Dr. Strangelove is clearly still alive in the Pentagon." But some conservative analysts insisted that the Pentagon must prepare for all possible contingencies, especially now, when dozens of countries, and some terrorist groups, are engaged in secret weapon development programs. They argued that smaller weapons have an important deterrent role because many aggressors might not believe that the U.S. forces would use multi-kiloton weapons that would wreak devastation on surrounding territory and friendly populations. "We need to have a credible deterrence against regimes involved in international terrorism and development of weapons of mass destruction," said Jack Spencer, a defense analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington. He said the contents of the report did not surprise him and represent "the right way to develop a nuclear posture for a post-Cold War world." A spokesman for the Pentagon, Richard McGraw, declined to comment because the document is classified. Congress requested the reassessment of the U.S. nuclear posture in September 2000. The last such review was conducted in 1994 by the Clinton administration. The new report, signed by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, is now being used by the U.S. Strategic Command to prepare a nuclear war plan. Bush administration officials have publicly provided only sketchy details of the nuclear review. They have publicly emphasized the parts of the policy suggesting that the administration wants to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. Since the Clinton administration's review is also classified, no specific contrast can be drawn. However, analysts portrayed this report as representing a break with earlier policy. U.S. policymakers have generally indicated that the United States would not use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states unless they were allied with nuclear powers. They have left some ambiguity about whether the United States would use nuclear weapons in retaliation after strikes with chemical or nuclear weapons. The report says the Pentagon should be prepared to use nuclear weapons in an Arab-Israeli conflict, in a war between China and Taiwan, or in an attack from North Korea on the south. They might also become necessary in an attack by Iraq on Israel or another neighbor, it said. The report says Russia is no longer officially an "enemy." Yet it acknowledges that the huge Russian arsenal, which includes about 6,000 deployed warheads and perhaps 10,000 smaller "theater" nuclear weapons, remains of concern. Pentagon officials have said publicly that they were studying the need to develop theater nuclear weapons, designed for use against specific targets on a battlefield, but had not committed themselves to that course. Officials have often spoken of the advantages of using nuclear weapons to destroy the deep tunnel and cave complexes that many regimes have been building, especially since the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Nuclear weapons give off powerful shock waves that can crush structures deep in the Earth, they point out. Officials argue that large nuclear arms have so many destructive side effects, from blast to heat and radiation, that they become "self-deterring." They contend the Pentagon needs "full spectrum deterrence"--that is, a full range of weapons that potential enemies believe might be used against them. The Pentagon was actively involved in planning for use of tactical nuclear weapons as recently as the 1970s. But it has moved away from them in the last two decades. Analysts said the report's reference to "surprising military developments" referred to the Pentagon's fears that a rogue regime or terrorist group might suddenly unleash a wholly unknown weapon that was difficult to counter with the conventional U.S. arsenal. The administration has proposed cutting the offensive nuclear arsenal by about two-thirds, to between 1,700 and 2,200 missiles, within 10 years. Officials have also said they want to use precision guided conventional munitions in some missions that might have previously been accomplished with nuclear arms. But critics said the report contradicts suggestions the Bush administration wants to cut the nuclear role. "This clearly makes nuclear weapons a tool for fighting a war, rather than deterring them," said Cirincione. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,665345,00.html * BUNKER BOMB WILL BUST TEST BAN by Julian Borger The Guardian, 11th March Months before the September 11 attacks the Pentagon was formulating a nuclear posture review, part of a nuclear-weapons policy that is almost certain to collide with the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT). The review is the work of a group of radical defence strategists appointed in the early days of the Bush administration. They include Stephen Younger, a former head of weapons research at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratories who wrote a policy paper in 2000 advocating the development of a new generation of low-yield nuclear "bunker-busting bombs". On September 1 he was made director of the defence threat reduction agency, responsible for anticipating future dangers to national security. The other members of the team are Stephen Hadley, now deputy national security advisor, Steve Cambone, special assistant to the defence secretary, and Robert Joseph, senior director for proliferation strategy at the White House. They jointly wrote a National Institute for Public Policy paper last year which echoed Mr Younger's arguments, portraying a nuclear bunker-buster as an ideal weapon against the nuclear, chemical or biological weapons stockpiles of rogue nations such as Iraq. Under the tutelage of Donald Rumsfeld, the new strategists argue that such a weapon will not deter a rogue regime if it is so big that the enemy can be fairly sure that the US will not use it. As Mr Rumsfeld said last year, the US nuclear arsenal would not deter Saddam Hussein "because he knows a US president would not drop a 100-kilotonne bomb on Baghdad". Deterrence would only work, so the argument runs, if the US had "mini-nukes" it might actually consider using. The nuclear posture review calls for development of these weapons to begin as early as next month, bringing forward the day when one of the new generation of tactical nuclear weapons will have to be tested, in violation of the CTBT. Although the Senate refused to ratify the CTBT the US, which signed it six years ago, has abided by its principles. But Mr Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz have made it clear that they see such cold war treaties as unwanted burdens of another age, preventing new strategic thinking. "It is just a matter of time until they start testing again, and that's going to create an international firestorm," said Stephen Schwartz, publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Last year, the administration commissioned a study on how quickly mothballed nuclear test sites in the Nevada desert could be put back in action. General John Gordon, head of the national nuclear security administration promised he would work to improve their readiness. http://www.guardian.co.uk/analysis/story/0,3604,665855,00.html * ITCHY FINGERS ON THE TRIGGER by Richard Norton-Taylor The Guardian, 12th March [.....] US military planners and nuclear scientists developed new types of tactical nuclear bombs during the Clinton administration. In particular they designed the low-yield B61-11 bomb designed to penetrate underground bunkers, which have been deployed in Europe since 1997. Advocates of the use of such small nuclear weapons claim their environmental impact would be limited. Yet the Washington-based Project of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) says that an attack on Saddam Hussein's presidential bunker in Baghdad with a B61 11 bomb "could cause upwards of 20,000 deaths". Even Nato admits: "Any nuclear weapons use would be absolutely catastrophic in human and environmental terms... Such human cost would ensure an enormous political cost for any nation that chose to use nuclear weapons, particularly in a first strike." One keen advocate of small, precision-guided, low-yield, nuclear weapons is Stephen Younger, a former director of the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory and now head of America's Defence Threat Reduction Agency, responsible for "counter- proliferation" programmes. "Nuclear weapons pack an incredible destructive force into a small, deliverable package," Younger wrote last year in a paper entitled Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century. A report published last year by America's National Institute for Public Policy, a conservative thinktank, declared that "nuclear weapons can... be used in counter-force attacks that are intended to neutralise enemy military capabilities". Authors of the report include Stephen Cambone, now a senior Pentagon policy-making official, Stephen Hadley, Bush's deputy national security adviser, Robert Joseph, a member of the national security council, and William Schneider, one of Bush's defence advisers. Bush's advisers argue that by advocating the possible use of nuclear weapons, and abandoning the cold war concept of mutual assured destruction (Mad) - replacing it by the prospect of "unilateral assured destruction" - they are simply offering a more effective deterrence. Yet the blurring of the lines between nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, says the PSR, "provides the best incentive imaginable for a potential foe of the US to move to development of nuclear weapons, since they would suffer the same consequences for nuclear use as for a chemical or biological attack". Moreover, it adds, "nuclear weapons are likely to have a stronger deterrent effect on US action as the effects of nuclear use against US targets are likely to be far more serious than any other threat". Proponents of "war-fighting" nuclear weapons counter this argument by saying that they are much more difficult to acquire than biological or chemical weapons. Nevertheless, the Pentagon's policy shift can only encourage nuclear proliferation and undermine the non proliferation treaty, whose signatories, including the US, are pledged to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons (the US subsequently pledged not to use nuclear weapons against states that do not possess them). And the development of new nuclear weapons might well lead to a resumption of nuclear testing, finally sabotaging the comprehensive test ban treaty. "The US is desperately worried about the use of weapons of mass destruction against them," says Professor Paul Rogers, defence analyst at Bradford University. "If that ultimately means a pre-emptive strike, then they will do it." He adds: "If the US uses even a low-yield nuclear bomb in a crisis, that still breaks the threshold. The genie would be out of the bottle." And what are the implications of the Pentagon's review for Britain, in particular for the "sub strategic" role - as the government describes it - of its (American) Trident missile system? "It is not necessarily a question we would wish to answer," a British defence official said yesterday. BRITISH OPINION http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews&StoryID=681758 * BRITISH COOL ON USING UK TROOPS IN IRAQ - POLL Reuters, 9th March LONDON: Any move to use British troops to support U.S.-lead military action against Iraq's Saddam Hussein would meet stiff public opposition, a poll said on Sunday. The survey for the Mail on Sunday found that 27 percent of Britons would strongly oppose the use of troops in those circumstances, against only 17 percent who strongly supported the idea. The poll carried out by YouGov among more than 2,000 people also found large sections of the British public suspicious of America's international agenda. Asked if in general they trusted the United States to be the "world's policeman," only four percent said they trusted the U.S. a lot and 24 percent a fair amount. One-third said they trusted Washington only a little, while 38 percent said they trusted the U.S. not at all. [.....] http://observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,665083,00.html * BUSH WANTS 25,000 UK IRAQ FORCE by Kamal Ahmed, Jason Burke and Peter Beaumont The Observer, 10th March America has asked Britain to draw up plans for 25,000 of this country's troops to join a US task force to overthrow Saddam Hussein. In a move which reveals advanced US plans for the next phase of its war on terror, Government departments are considering the plans ahead of Vice-President Dick Cheney's meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow. Cheney will come to London armed with fresh evidence against the Iraqi dictator, and will tell Tony Blair that United Nations inspections of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons may not be enough to head off a new war in the Gulf. The request for such a large number of British troops shows the high stakes America is now playing for. It will alarm Cabinet doves, thought to include Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, and Robin Cook, the former Foreign Secretary and now Leader of the Commons. The Government is already facing a split on the issue of military action against Iraq. One Minister described those who had questioned Blair's policy of fully backing a US military campaign as 'appeasers'. 'At some point people have to realise that action has to be taken,' he said. The request for such a large number of troops is unprecedented in peacetime. It is one of three major options now being considered by the Government which has always insisted publicly that no final decisions have been made on military action against Saddam. British troops would be part of a 250,000-strong ground force to invade Iraq in an operation similar to Desert Storm in 1991. The second option is one where smaller special forces units would support opposition forces within Iraq, like the tactic used in Afghanistan, where the Northern Alliance was backed with air strikes and logistical support in its battle to overthrow the Taliban. The third option - thought to be preferred by the Foreign Office - is one of 'aggressive containment'. Under this plan, air strikes against Iraq would be intensified if Saddam did not agree to a comprehensive inspections agree ment. Cheney arrives in London ahead of a 10-day 'hearts and minds' tour of the Middle East which is seen as vital in shoring up the alliance against Iraq. After London he will visit Egypt, Israel, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Turkey. America is confident that with enough evidence against Saddam, the White House can persuade other Arab states to support military action. 'I think they all have legitimate concerns about the regime in Iraq, and they're aware that Saddam continues to represent a threat to the security and stability of the region,' said one White House official. 'I expect they'll all want to talk about it.' America has already begun a discreet military build-up in preparation for a ground war in Iraq. US special forces are training Iraqi militia to be ready for a strike against Saddam in the coming months. Teams of instructors drawn from American elite regiments have been arriving in Kurdish held areas in the north of Iraq in recent weeks, targeting the semi-autonomous areas run by the Kurdish Democratic Party. The instructors are improving local fighters' tactical and weapons skills and teaching them how to exploit chaos caused by American air strikes. They are also drawing up lists of potential targets, a vital prerequisite to any ground offensive. Defence sources say a battalion of 24 Longbow Apache attack helicopters also recently arrived in Kuwait. The helicopters, capable of operating up to 250 kilometres behind enemy lines, could be used to attack air defence sites and Iraqi armour in the opening air phase of any war. In a separate development sources say more than 5,000 US fighting vehicles, mothballed in Kuwait since the end of the Gulf War, have quietly been overhauled. http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=269872002 * THE CASE AGAINST IRAQ by ANDREW NEIL The Scotsman, 10th March THE Daily Telegraph and the Sun are (naturally) gung-ho, the Guardian and Independent are (obviously) full of foreboding, left-wing Labour backbenchers are revolting (no change there) and there is loose talk of Cabinet ministers resigning (we shall see). Outsiders dipping into British politics could be forgiven for thinking that the invasion of Iraq was already under way and that the Blair government was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Bush administration in a military campaign to depose Saddam Hussein. London is jumping the gun, its politicians and pundits getting ahead of themselves. The consensus in Washington is that action against Iraq is on the cards, but it is not certain, it will not be soon (ie before the summer) and its nature is far from determined. There is still dangerous work to do in Afghanistan, as last weekıs US fatalities grimly illustrate and there are active al-Qaeda cells to be rooted out in places as far apart as Somalia and the Philippines. Even more immediately, Israelis and Palestinians are effectively at war. Saddam can wait. The Bush administration wants him to be in no doubt, however, that he is in its sights: the warlike words emanating from Washington are designed to discourage him from any foolhardy, adventurous actions while America ponders its options and makes its plans. So the debate raging in London is somewhat premature - and sometimes ludicrous. The usual anti-American suspects are rushing to the ramparts to declare their opposition to any kind of British-backed American invasion of Iraq. Wild talk of 100,000-strong invasion forces is everywhere in the public prints and airwaves, with well-worn Vietnam analogies being regularly trotted out yet again, despite their very recent failure to be a useful predictor of events in Afghanistan. It is all so much hot air. A full-frontal Anglo-American invasion of Iraq is the least likely military option. Far more probable is a substantial and sustained air attack on Saddamıs military assets followed by the incision of special forces in the north and south of the country to galvanise local opposition. This is a sophisticated military operation that will require a great deal of planing and there are many imponderables. It is by no means clear, for example, if either the Kurds in the north or the Marsh Arabs in the south have the will or capability of taking the seminal role played by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. The Americans are in the process of finding out and the early indications are not encouraging. It is equally unclear if the combination of US air power and an uprising of dissidents far from Baghdad would be enough to encourage anti-Saddam forces to mount a coup in the capital. Neither Washington nor London has ever been much impressed by the calibre or commitment of the Iraqi opposition. These are not reasons for inaction but they counsel caution and careful planning. Public opinion in Britain will also have to be prepared. This should not be difficult because the arguments of the anti-war party are even weaker than they were when deployed against intervention in Afghanistan. Last week, a senior Labour backbencher encapsulated for me the dissidentsı case: there is no evidence that Saddam was involved in September 11; and it has not been proved that he has weapons of mass destruction at his disposal. The case for military action to depose Saddam is not predicated on his involvement in September 11; it is to act while we still can to foreclose an attack much worse than September 11. Even so, Saddamıs hands as a sponsor of Islamic terrorism are not as clean as his apologists make out. Nobody can doubt that Saddam would use weapons of mass destruction if he had themı There is still the mystery of why Mohamed Atta, the leader of the September 11 gang, flew halfway across the world to meet Colonel Ibrahim al-Ani, a senior Iraqi agent with a track record in sabotage, terrorism and murder, in Prague last April, five months before piloting his hijacked plane into the World Trade Center. The Czech prime minister has confirmed this meeting and says they met specifically to discuss a bombing, though he believes they were plotting to blow up Radio Free Europe. Either way, it hardly suggests Iraq has no interest in terrorism, especially when the CIA also believes that at least two other senior members of the September 11 hijack teams - part of Attaıs Hamburg cell - met senior Iraqi intelligence agents. Then there is the little matter of Salman Pak, Saddamıs comprehensive school for terrorists south of Baghdad. This camp has been training terrorists since the early Nineties. According to Iraqi defectors and intelligence reports, its southern quarter is exclusively for foreigners, mostly Islamic fanatics, including many Saudis from the same extremist sect as Osama bin Laden - in other words the sort of nihilists who carried out September 11. The foreignersı compound comes under Saddamıs direct control and the training includes hijacking aircraft in groups of four or five, using only knives and bare hands - the preferred method on September 11; there is even the fuselage of a Boeing 707 at Salman Pak in which to practise their techniques. None of this is proof positive that Iraq was involved in September 11. But at the very least it suggests that the Baghdad regime has strong links with Islamic fanatics and that Saddam is responsible for training the sort of terrorists who were behind September 11. Even if that was not true there would still be a compelling reason for acting against him: his penchant for weapons of mass destruction and the efforts he is making to acquire them. The evidence for this has already convinced one of the cabinetıs wobblers, Jack Straw. In an article for the Times last week, based on intelligence reports, the foreign secretary wrote that Saddam had re-established his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programme, that he was developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering these weapons over great distances, that most of the weapons facilities destroyed by allied bombing had been repaired and that he was going to great lengths to procure "nuclear-related material and technology". There is substantial evidence that North Korea has been selling its sophisticated long-range missile technology to Iraq and Iran (hence President Bushıs inclusion of all three in his "axis of evil"). At an army day parade last year it displayed new mobile launchers for upgraded medium-range missiles. Last week the US presented the UN with intelligence reports showing that Iraq had converted trucks into mobile missile launchers. Much of this evidence will appear shortly in an Anglo-American dossier which will give us all the chance to assess its strength and debate what our response should be. It will provide the basis for a more grown up, informed discussion than we have had so far. Nobody can doubt, given his record, that Saddam would be prepared to use weapons of mass destruction if he had them. The purpose of the war against terrorism is not just to root out those responsible for September 11. It is to stop such an atrocity, or one much worse, from ever happening again. That is the case for acting against Saddam now - while we still can. http://observer.co.uk/comment/story/0,6903,664843,00.html * BLAIR'S JUST A BUSH BABY by Nick Cohen The Observer, 10th March The Prime Minister gives every appearance of being willing to risk the lives of British troops in a war he believed should not be fought. His Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary didn't believe it was justified either. His generals have warned against it as noisily as serving officers can. His diplomats and spies have found no excuse for it. But if and when America tells Britain to send its soldiers into Iraq, Tony Blair will comply with alacrity. What is there left to say about such a man? Ministers used to explode when you said that subservience to America after 11 September had made Britain an international joke. By standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Bush, Britain gained 'influence', they explained to me with varying degrees of patience. 'Solidarity in public: candour in private' was their motto. The old magic of the special relationship was charming naïve Washington. Historians would find that Blair had pushed Bush away from Donald Rumsfeld and the other total-war intellectuals, and persuaded the President to listen to Colin Powell and concentrate on fighting Islamic fanaticism. Using the massacres in New York and Washington as an excuse to go for Iraq never made sense. Saddam is a secular tyrant who prefers Stalin to Muhammad. An alliance between Baghdad and an al-Qaeda whose members would cheerfully have killed Saddam seemed unlikely, even to those who understood the 'my enemy's enemy' principle. A story that Mohamed Atta met an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague before crashing into the Twin Towers played into Rumsfeld's hands and swept round the world. It was quietly put out of its misery in January when the Czech police admitted they had no evidence that Atta had talked to the Iraqi Embassy. Perhaps one day we will know whether the newspapers which 'revealed' the 'Prague connection' were the victims of a cock-up or black propaganda. Britain's opposition to extending the war was relayed in private to privileged journalists. When the privilege was granted so promiscuously that Lefty hacks received it, the secret was in plain view. New Labour hinted in public that it thought the Rumsfeld faction was dan gerously boneheaded. When John Negroponte, Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, said in October that America reserved the right to attack other states, Jack Straw dismissed him as a Beltway chatterer. 'There are always statements coming out of Washington,' he said breezily. 'Washington is a very large place but this military coalition is about action in respect of targets in Afghanistan.' The Foreign Secretary's confidence that Britain and Powell had persuaded Bush to limit the war couldn't have been more misplaced. If he now thinks invading Iraq won't set the Middle East on fire, he should explain what apart from a desire to get in line behind Bush has made him change his mind. Geoff Hoon was blunter. The drubbing of the Taliban would be enough to teach 'rogue states' not to promote terrorism, he said. 'I believe very strongly that the signals we are sending to Afghanistan and around the world will be sufficient to encourage other countries to recognise that they can no longer support international terrorism.' Whenever he was asked, he repeated the line that there were no known links between Iraq and Islamic fundamentalism. He was quite right. The CIA and MI6 have searched for them for six months and found nothing. Hoon will be in charge of British forces if war comes, nominally at any rate. If they are going to be endangered, courtesy and honest leadership demand he tells them why and when he realised he was wrong. Blair, as you would expect, is harder to pin down. But Downing Street advisers told journalists he worried that an assault on Iraq would destabilise his friends in the Middle East. More telling than the whispers of anonymous spinners was Blair's decision to allow Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, the Chief of the Defence Staff, to lay into the Washington hawks with real contempt. Britain should be wary of following 'the United States' single-minded determination' to wage war on a broad front with 'hi-tech, wild west' operations, he said in December. International law must be respected; Arab opinion must not be provoked; the hearts and minds of Muslims must be won. Sir Michael didn't mention Iraq. But then he didn't have to. Every British account of diplomacy after 11 September says Blair lobbied against America attacking Iraq. (The reconstructions of American journalists scarcely mention him.) The greatest defeat of British foreign policy is the loss of the illusion that London influences Washington, a fantasy which afflicts the media as severely as the PM. Anyone who has met the leaders of the US Right should know that they have a self-confident and coherent world view which has been buoyed by extraordinary military power. The principles Blair professed after 11 September may have been far better. But it was absurd to imagine that Republicans were going to slap their foreheads and shout, 'damn it, you're right, Tony, we should pour aid into the Third World and abandon the double-standard on the West Bank.' The second defeat is almost as humiliating. Britain did what America wanted throughout the 1990s and contained Iraq by enforcing sanctions. Bush's declaration of war against the axis of evil was a declaration that Washington now saw all that loyal service as a risible failure. There are ironies in this for the remnants of the Left. I look forward to seeing how Noam Chomsky and John Pilger manage to oppose a war which would end the sanctions they claim have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of children who otherwise would have had happy, healthy lives in a prison state (don't fret, they'll get there). But the humbling of the men who said sanctions were the best and only way will be greater. It is hard for the deluded to admit they've fooled themselves more than others. Whitehall's latest dream is that America's talk of war is a bluff. Saddam will let United Nations weapons inspectors back in, Powell will edge out Rumsfeld, the conflict will be cancelled and nobody will be hurt. My predictions are as useless as Downing Street's. But I should point out Republicans are ready to assert that Saddam can never be trusted. They would dismiss the readmission of the UN as a feint. These gentlemen want another war, and will get one if they can. Blair might reply that America doesn't need the support of Britain's over-stretched forces. He might add that he signed up to tackling al-Qaeda, and now realises that he cannot be distracted from the work he must do against fundamentalism in his own cities. He might hope that the tyrant fell quickly and with a minimum of civilian casualties and leave it there. He won't because he can't bring himself to admit that a roaring, uncontrollable America sees him as an ornamental extra: nice to have, but inessential. [.....] http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-03/10/content_309676.htm * BRITAIN WANTS TO MAKE CYPRUS FORWARD OPERATING BASE AGAINST IRAQ NICOSIA, March 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Britain wants to make the Mediterranean island state Cyprus its forward operating base, which could be used in case of war against Iraq, according to Sunday's issue of the Greek Cypriot English newspaper Sunday Mail. The intention was unveiled during a routine three-day visit by Lieutenant General John Reith, Chief of Joint Operations at the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood, England, to the British bases in Cyprus. During the visit, Reith confirmed plans were being discussed to make the island "more useful than it is now" and "developing Cyprus into a forward operating base," the newspaper quoted the British general as saying. Cyprus officials, however, do not hesitate to express worry that such a move could pose a threat to the island's tourism, the man industry of the country, given the short distance between Cyprus and the Middle East and growing concerns of a new military campaign against Iraq. "I believe the effect would be very, very negative, coming in the aftermath of Afghanistan, adding to the problems we have faced in the past six months and worsening the recession," Cyprus' Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis has said. British has retained two sovereign military bases on the island since it granted Cyprus independence from its colonial rule in 1960. It also maintains the right to use land outside the sovereign bases for military exercises. The British bases in Cyprus played a crucial staging post role during the 1991 air strikes against Iraq. Many tourists subsequently stayed away from the island and the country's tourism industry plunged into serious recession. It is believed that the change into a forward operating base would mean that Britain could use Cyprus again to prepare troops for actual operations. Reports said that Nicosia sees a considerable difference between its status as a transit point and a role as launching pad for military action against Iraq that could make it a target for retaliatory attacks. The Cypriot government is concerned that because the bases are sovereign British territory, Whitehall is not obliged to ask permission from it. "It will be a blow if it happens," said Rolandis, fearing that any war against Iraq would wipe out the expected upturn in tourist arrivals during the second and busiest half of the year. http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3E22B7NYC&liv e=true&tagid=ZZZPB7GUA0C&subheading=UK * UK MINISTER ARGUES AGAINST ATTACK ON IRAQ by Brian Groom Financial Times, 10th March Cabinet tensions on Iraq burst to the surface when Clare Short, international development secretary, said Britain should shun any all-out attack that would inflict further suffering on civilians. Ms Short, a leading government dove, on Sunday accepted that Saddam Hussein's weapons programme was a threat that must be dealt with, but argued for pressure on Baghdad to readmit United Nations weapons inspectors, rather than mass attacks. Her remarks, on the eve of a visit to London by Dick Cheney, US vice-president, underlined Labour pressure on Tony Blair to be cautious about backing US action. Mr Cheney will hold talks at Downing Street with Mr Blair, John Prescott, deputy prime minister, and Jack Straw, foreign secretary. Apart from Iraq, they will discuss the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and the campaign against terrorism, and the environment. Mr Blair has hinted at backing for US attacks on Iraq, but faces widespread concern in his party. Donald Andersen, Labour chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, said military action must be a last resort and warned of "reckless elements" of the Pentagon who were "on a roll". Ms Short, who resigned from the shadow cabinet over the Gulf war in 1991, told the BBC that failing to address Iraq's weapons of mass destruction "could bring disaster to the world". However, she went on: "But the assumption that some sort of all-out military attack is the answer to that, which is where the press are, is of course not at all sensible. We need to deal with the problem of Saddam Hussein, we don't need to inflict further suffering on the people of Iraq...The best possible thing is to let the UN inspectors back in, that is where we should exert all our pressure."' She said the government would produce a summary of the evidence about Mr Saddam's determination to produce chemical and biological weapons. Asked whether she would support British involvement with any US military action, she replied: "It depends what the action is. I would absolutely support, if it is possible legally, Saddam Hussein's regime being brought down and the people of Iraq being freed from the suffering he has inflicted." She added: "Military action covers a multitude of sins. I would not support any mass attacks on the poor old Iraqi people that would not do any harm to Saddam Hussein. So there is a million things in between." The US is thought to be weighing three options: air strikes; use of special forces to back the Iraqi opposition; or invasion. Downing Street denied reports that the US had asked Britain to draw up plans to provide 25,000 soldiers. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk_politics/newsid_1869000/1869282.stm * STRAW OUTLINES IRAQ'S 'SEVERE THREAT' BBC, 12th March [.....] That evidence included: Large quantities of chemical warfare agents, including nerve gas Production of biological agents, such as anthrax 4,000 tonnes of chemicals used in weapons production unaccounted for 610 tonnes of chemicals used to make nerve gas unaccounted for. Conservative shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said those details showed Saddam Hussein possessed a "vast arsenal" of weapons of mass destruction. It had to be an overriding to decommission those weapons and stop Iraq using them or selling them to anyone else, said Mr Ancram. Earlier, former Conservative Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd warned America would not get Arab support for a military strike on Iraq unless the bloodshed in the Middle East was stopped. That concern was echoed in the Commons by Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell. Mr Campbell said there was a strong sense in Arab states that UN resolutions were being applied inconsistently. Armed action against Iraq should come only once all other options had been explored, he argued. Another Lib Dem MP, David Heath, went further, saying "massive military confrontation" with Iraq was not inevitable and would currently be "foolhardy". Mr Heath argued the coalition against terrorism would disintegrate and both Iraq and Kurdish separatists would mobilise their forces. There was pressure from former Conservative cabinet minister Douglas Hogg for MPs to be given a vote before any decisions were taken on military action. Mr Straw said he welcomed debate on this matter but highlighted the convention which means the cabinet, rather than the House of Commons, decides military action. The foreign secretary faced pressure from his own backbenches, including from Labour MP Ann Clwyd. Ms Clwyd condemned the "most awful human rights abuses" committed by the Iraqi regime. But she said Indict, a human rights group she headed, had two years ago given the British attorney-general evidence of such crimes that could be tried in UK courts. Ms Clwyd asked: "Why has the attorney-general kicked it into the long grass by sending it to Scotland Yard? "Surely this is a better option for dealing with the Iraqi regime than some of the options that are now being considered?" Mr Straw promised to take up the issue with the attorney-general and arrange a meeting with Ms Clwyd. Later, the foreign secretary held a meeting with Labour backbenchers to try to allay fears over possible military action. About 50 MPs went to the meeting, which Mr Straw described as "cordial", with about a dozen of them expressing their concerns. After the meeting, Labour MP Derek Foster said: "I think there is anxiety that we are going along with what a right wing American president is seeking to do." http://www.guardian.co.uk/leaders/story/0,3604,665853,00.html * TOUGH TALK ON IRAQ The Guardian (editorial), 12th March Seen from Baghdad, the intensifying western debate about enforced "regime change" in Iraq must seem a trifle odd, even surreal. After all, the Americans have been talking about overthrowing Saddam Hussein since August 1990. Yet 12 years on, President George Bush is still constrained by the same unpromising options that confounded his father. Any attempt to conquer Iraq by force would involve upwards of 250,000 ground troops, could quickly escalate into a regional conflict sucking in Israel, may involve chemical or biological weapons, and will certainly bring yet more civilian casualties. According to US contingency plans, it may even lead to use of battlefield nuclear bombs. One alternative, hiring proxy forces as in Afghanistan, has already been tried. The divided Kurds have proved unreliable allies while Saddam's repressive grip on the southern Shia is formidable. Exiled opposition forces also lack credibility. The other most frequently discussed option, a CIA-backed coup, or variants thereof, to topple Saddam from within, has become a bad joke. Mr Bush's speech yesterday marking September 11 did not mention Iraq. But his vow to treat as enemies states he believes to be developing weapons of mass destruction, regardless of their proven links to terrorism, clearly presages a new attempt on Saddam. Yet neither he nor his over-loud backing chorus in London seem to have any fresh ideas about how this might be done. Even stranger, as this dangerous scenario unfolds, is the apparent assumption that Saddam will conveniently sit back and wait to be attacked. All previous experience suggests, on the contrary, that he will tease out negotiations at the UN, possibly letting weapons inspectors return at the last minute, and play for sympathy in the Arab world. Yesterday, for example, he increased Iraq's financial aid to the Palestinians. He will appeal as before to Russia's and China's self-interest in restraining the US and will bribe others with contracts and oil. He will threaten his Saudi and Kuwaiti neighbours and may try to suborn Kurdish leaders with offers of autonomy, especially if Turkey shows signs of assisting the US. He will warn of apocalyptic destruction should Iraq be attacked, (while denying possession of WMD), stir up anti-war and anti-American sentiment in Europe, and try to hoodwink and exploit the western media. At the same time, Saddam will ostentatiously draw attention to a still considerable Iraqi conventional military capability that includes a 375,000-strong army, six Republican Guard divisions, up to 2,200 main battle tanks and (if US intelligence is correct) numerous mobile short-range missiles. If all else fails, he will hide behind his own people, fighting as before from schools, hospitals and milk factories. It is worth recalling at this point that Saddam is utterly ruthless. That is how he has survived. Mr Bush has so far failed to develop a credible plan to beat him. Crucially, he has also failed to show why yet another American war should be supported in the first place. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,482-234345,00.html * IF SADDAM WOULD FALL, BUSH SHOULD PUSH HIM by Simon Jenkins The Times, 13th March Many people in Europe, many of them in high places, think Washington has gone mad. Drunk on bomber power, its leaders are seen as roaming the globe looking for rogue states to ³blow away². September 11 plus any abstract noun will do as an excuse. The paranoia of McCarthyism is reborn. He who is not with me against terror, says George Bush, is soft on terrorism. In response, Britons should first remember history. Twenty years ago, Britain and the United States also fell out over an enemy. Britain claimed that a brutal tyrant, General Galtieri, had assaulted its territory in the South Atlantic. He had to be defeated and aggression taught a lesson. America advised against overreaction. Let us negotiate and keep calm, said Washington, since Galtieri was ³our friend². An outraged Britain invoked the old alliance. America compromised. It would not fight shoulder to shoulder against aggression, but it would send gasoline and missiles. Thus was the Falklands war won. Now America is the fundamentalist and Britain the restrainer. Despite Afghanistan, America still feels threatened by al-Qaeda and sees Iraqıs President Saddam Hussein as its next sponsor. It wants to prevent him from mobilising huge and illegal arsenals, reportedly replenished from Russian stocks. Like the Taleban, he must be toppled. America does not need support and cares not who agrees with it or what international law might say. Those days are over. Solitary might is right. But it would like Britain at the party. It feels more comfortable that way. Iraq is not Afghanistan. The Taleban were flaky fanatics. I believe that with determined diplomacy, covert action and proper arm-twisting the Saudis would have sprung Osama bin Laden by now, and probably felled the Taleban as well. Iraq, on the other hand, is a big country under a single mad dictator. He exterminates his enemies and wipes whole tribes off the map. His treatment of the Kurds and Marsh Arabs transcends any claim to sovereign invulnerability. His illegal chemical and biological weapons are described by innumerable defectors as capable of widespread dissemination. Whether or not Saddam can deliver a nuclear device, his recruitment of Russian scientists indicates that he wants to try. He has reportedly spent $10 billion building a nuclear weapons capability. He has Scuds and missile launchers. The Taleban offered house room to a bunch of demented criminals, whom the Westıs inept security allowed to pull off a coup. Saddam runs a terror state of a wholly different order. It would be eccentric not to see him as a serious menace. The Westıs policy towards Iraq before and after the Gulf War has been cynical. He was armed and financed by the West before 1990. After the war he was not toppled, rightly because it would have been illegal and would have broken the coalition formed to evict him from Kuwait. Since then, all attempts to dislodge him have been cosmetic and counterproductive, especially the ³Monica² bombing of 1998. Saddam has been bombed, off and on, for a decade. Sanctions have killed tens of thousands of his people. These measures were known to be propping up his regime and enriching Saddam and his clique, making him allegedly the sixth wealthiest man in the world. His family finances were left open at European banks. British law officers still obstruct any attempt to indict him for war crimes. Yet cynicism is the default mode of foreign policy. It in no way affects the present threat. Afghanistan was crude and punitive lynch-law that has failed to hang a single person guilty of September 11. Removing Saddam might be considered an act of preventive policing. Communist oligarchies during the Cold War could be relied on to negotiate rationally and assess risk. Saddam could go crazy with his weapons anywhere, any time. Is it likely? Possibly not. Possibly it is the more likely the more President Bush taunts him and pumps up his status in the Arab world. But I am not the policeman here. America is. Whatever the circumstance that has made him as dangerous as he is, he is dangerous, and dangerous beyond his borders. In this respect Saddam is quite different from others in the ³axis of evil². Britainıs response to Americaıs implied request for help is hard to calibrate. The only guide to British foreign policy at present is a speech that Mr Blair gave in April 1999 in Chicago. (His own Parliament was presumably thought too parochial for his oratory.) The Prime Minister laid down five conditions for military intervention in the affairs of ³undemocratic and barbarous² states. These conditions, he said, were certainty of a just cause, British interests being at stake, diplomacy being exhausted, military feasibility and a readiness for ³the long term², to finish the job. Mr Blair thoughtfully added a sixth, that there should be a framework of international law and order, with ³the UN as the central pillar². Only one of these tests, military feasibility, applied in Afghanistan. Almost all apply in Iraq. Saddam flouts every convention on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and massacres his subservient peoples. There are clear Western interests at stake in oil and trade. Diplomacy has been exhausted, including the charade of weapons inspection. There is no security in the region as long as Saddam controls this pivotal state. What of military feasibility? Both Mr Blair and Mr Bush talk of ³eliminating the threat of Saddam Hussein². But does that involve eliminating him, or only his ³threat² as evidenced in his weapons arsenals. If America knows what and where they are, as it claims to do, then why not destroy them again? America claimed to have done so with bombs in the 1990s. Given the precision weaponry of which the Pentagon constantly boasts, why not destroy them at once, eliminating the threat without all the sabre-rattling and talk of war? America, or at least some Americans, protest that this is no longer enough. If bombed again, Saddam may retaliate ³dirtily² against Israel and persuade other Arabs states to join him in a jihad against America-Israel. He remains the only Arab leader who sent no condolences after September 11. He is sponsor of last resort for every world terrorist, the new Libya. He, and not just his weapons, must go. I have no problem with this, provided Saddam can indeed be removed and not propped up in office for another decade, as he was by John Major, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Yet removing him is now taxing the minds of strategic Washington with a naivety reminiscent of the early Vietnam War. Thus there is the ³Northern Alliance² strategy, using Kurdish irregulars to advance from the north. This is widely rubbished as unfeasible. There is the Marsh Arab strategy to seize the southern oilfields. This too is rubbished. A plan leaves Saddam in Baghdad but deprives him of his oil. So what? Another seeks a land invasion from Jordan, albeit over King Abdullahıs body. Everyone proposes bombs raining down on command-and-control and ³infrastructure². Saddamıs Republican Guard are alternately as ³flaky² as the Taleban or as ³feared² as al Qaeda. In other words, Mr Blairıs test of military feasibility is as yet unmet. But America might argue that Iraq is to be George Bushıs just war, as Kosovo was Mr Blairıs. A strategy will be forged and loyalty requires an ally, eventually, to give support. As for Mr Blairıs worry about the long term, Washington is likely to be just as brusque. The West is not out to establish democracy in Baghdad, any more than it was in Kabul. That was just Blair-talk. The task is to topple a rogue, as Voltaire said, ³to encourage the rest². The last thing Americans want to do is stay to get shot. Saddam was in part a monster of the Westıs creation. Unlike other ³terrorist² leaders, in Syria, Libya and Iran, he refuses to mellow or respect the compromises by which he might re enter the community of nations. He has rearmed himself with dangerous and illegal weapons. Removing him is a task which the United Nations should support and law recognise. I do not think America is mad. As the only global policeman, it has cornered a dangerous criminal. That Washington should be arguing, furiously and in public, over how to deal with him is reasonable. It is also reassuring. http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/03/13/wirq113.x ml&sSheet=/news/2002/03/13/ixnewstop.html * TERROR OF SADDAM'S HIDDEN ARSENAL by Anton La Guardia Daily Telegraph, 13th March [.....] Saddam's weapons of mass destruction Nuclear Allied bombing and international inspectors dismantled Iraq's nuclear programme. But Baghdad has resumed research, and has tried to smuggle fissile material. Britain says it could build bomb within 5 years. Chemical UN says it cannot reconcile figures for thousands of chemical munitions. In particular, it cannot account for 6,000 chemical aerial bombs, 550 artillery shells filled with mustard gas and about 500 R-400 bombs filled with chemical or biological weapons. Britain says that since end of inspections, Iraq has resumed industrial production of chemical weapons. Biological The area of greatest concern. UN does not believe Iraq's claim to have destroyed completely its biological weapons. It assumes Iraq has much larger stocks than the 20,000 litres of botulinum, 8,500 litres of anthrax and 2,200 litres of aflatoxin. http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/03/15/nirq15.xm l&sSheet=/news/2002/03/15/ixnewstop.html * 100 MPS BACK PROTEST OVER STRIKES ON IRAQ by Andy McSmith Daily Telegraph, 15th March MORE than 100 MPs have sided with the growing Left-wing opposition to the prospect of British troops being used in a war between the United States and Iraq. The speed with which the campaign has been picking up support is a sign of the dilemma facing Tony Blair if America attacks Iraq. At least two Labour MPs have said privately that they would resign the whip and sit as independents if Britain was drawn into war. The list of signatories to a motion expressing "deep unease" about Mr Blair's apparent willingness to support a military strike had reached 107 yesterday morning, with more expected to be added during the day. It was made up of 95 Labour MPs, including four ex-ministers, three Liberal Democrats and all nine Scottish and Welsh nationalist MPs. Alice Mahon, who has been organising the rebels, said: "The Prime Minister has failed to make a case for military action. He is unable to answer the growing number of questions that Labour backbenchers are asking. "Briefing by ministers are pathetic - lightweight statements of belief with no facts. Tony is seeking to shift the terrain of debate over Iraq away from whether we should attack to when." Another rebel, George Galloway, told Radio 4's Today programme: "The opposition to the proposed American war in the Middle East has crystallised a lot of nascent opposition to the current drift of policy and management inside the Parliamentary Labour Party - not hitherto a revolutionary body of men and women. "For the first time in eight years there was in the tea room the other night talk amongst people whose names I don't even know, so far from the list of usual suspects they are, about the urgent need for a reshuffle." However, Mr Galloway's judgment has been questioned because of his close contacts with Arab radicals. His entry in the register of members' interests shows that he has visited Iraq six times in two years, and has been on 12 other trips abroad funded by the Miriam Appeal, named after an Iraqi girl whom Mr Galloway brought to Britain for medical treatment, or by groups opposed to sanctions on Iraq. John Sweeney, a journalist working for BBC Five Live, unearthed the fact that an Arab from whom Mr Galloway received thousands of pounds in cash for expenses in the 1990s was the same man who was named in an American court as the purchaser of a satellite telephone used by al-Qa'eda in Afghanistan. Five years ago, Mr Galloway was investigated by the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee over his financial relationship with Saad Al Fagih, a London based dissident Saudi politician. During the inquiry Mr Galloway identified more than £5,000-worth of items on his credit card bill that had been paid by Mr Fagih. He said that all were out-of-pocket expenses. He also said that he had been given £1,800 to hand over to foreign nationals living in political exile in Britain, but refused to say who they were. Sir George Downey, then Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, said he had "no grounds for challenging Mr Galloway's version of events". Evidence presented at the New York trial of four Arabs accused of involvement in the bombings showed that the satellite telephone was shipped to Mr Fagih, whose name appeared on a docket under the heading "payment portion". Mr Fagih has refused to say why his name appeared, but he denied having any link with the al-Qa'eda network. He said that the document had been known to the authorities in London since it was seized in a police raid three years ago. When Mr Galloway was asked whether he had second thoughts about accepting money from Mr Fagih, he replied: "I am not responsible for anyone else's views on Osama Bin Laden other than my own, which are as I expressed in the House after September 11, to wit, that I despised him, always had even when the British and American governments were giving him guns and money and that I considered him an obscurantist savage. Strong enough?" _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk