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[casi] News, 9-16/3/02 (2)

News, 9-16/3/02  (2)


*  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 ŒStephenı.]
*  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 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 Œknewı 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. ŒNew Clue Fails to Explain Iraq Role
in Sept. 11 Attack, NY Times, 16/12/01. See also ŒDubious 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 Œmore 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 Œsanctionsı (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 ŒToryı 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.]


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.,3604,665345,00.html

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

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.,3604,665855,00.html

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

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.


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.


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

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

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

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.
ŒNobody 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

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

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.,6903,664843,00.html

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

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

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.



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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

 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

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.",3604,665853,00.html

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.,,482-234345,00.html

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

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

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.

by Anton La Guardia
Daily Telegraph, 13th March


Saddam's weapons of mass destruction

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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?"

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