The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] The Bush administration last week found itself standing before an open door, unwilling to step inside because crossing that threshold could prove baseless its claims that Iraq is a mortal threat to the world. Saddam Hussein opened that door when he notified the United Nations that inspectors might return to Iraq and resume the search for weapons of mass destruction supposedly interrupted in 1998 by and American missile attack on Baghdad. "Supposedly" is the appropriate word because the UNSCOM inspectors under Richard Butler had, by 1998, become an intelligence arm of the United States, a fact neither disputed nor acknowledged by the promoters of a terminal war on Iraq. What was, in fact, interrupted was an intelligence-gathering operation conducted by the toady Butler at the direction of his handlers in Washington. Colin Powell, his brief rebellion at an end and fully on board with the War Party, bellows that the issue is not inspections, but disarmament, as if there could be disarmament without inspections. He and the WP are on the same page. On the proper page but not quite in tune is Britain's Tony Blair who has incensed Washington by saying that regime change is beyond the U.N.'s authority despite Saddam Hussein's being "loathsome." The issue for Blair is inspections anytime, anyplace, any pretext. In this, Blair is no better than the SWAT team thugs who kick in American doors without warning, often blazing away at everything that moves and chaining anything left alive, all too frequently having come to the wrong address. Those who know the history of UNSCOM understand that Iraq, having opened the door to resumed inspections, asks no more than an American citizen asks when the police propose to search his home. That expectation is embodied in the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The text reads: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. In recent years, certainly since the serial wars on drugs began, the Fourth Amendment has been shredded by ambitious and mendacious officials and indifferent judges, but its meaning is intact and is as applicable to a sovereign nation as it is to a citizen, sovereign in his home. In American law a valid search warrant must be issued by a neutral judge, which is to say a party whose detachment guarantees that probable cause exists. Inasmuch as nations and international institutions have to some extent bought the majority point of view, no neutral judge is available. The judge is the highly conflicted United Nations Secretary-General. The terms of his employment prevent his saying what he undoubtedly knows to be true: that Iraq, weakened by the devastation of 1991 and 11 years of impoverishing sanctions, has not had the means to create the doomsday machines that over-excited editors say must be there somewhere. No matter: let the fears of the majority rule, and let us concede a probable cause for searching Iraq. A majority of the American people, incurious and tending to gullibility, believe that Iraq does possess the dreaded ABC: atomic, biological, and chemical weapons. Their president and their anchormen say it's so. A great many politicians and molders of public opinion, which is to say men and women of flexible principle, say they also believe it. A doubting few ask vainly for evidence of weapons, deliverability, and intent to use. What remains after probable cause is conceded are the final fifteen words of the amendment. In the American tradition they are the citizen's safeguard against the general, open-ended searches often called fishing expeditions. For example, a policeman decides that Jones' house should be searched. He knows not what he expects to find, if anything, but he does know that whatever he finds may be useful either in putting Jones into prison, or in so terrifying Jones's neighbors that they will comport themselves according to the preferences of the inquisitive policeman. And if nothing is found, the policeman may say that this proves the skill of Jones in hiding the mcguffin. Or, as some magistrates have discovered to their horror, policeman sometimes enhance the search scene on the theory that Jones, a demonstrably evil person, must be put away at any cost. American law does not permit this kind of general ransacking, although it does happen in some jurisdictions. It should not happen in Iraq because to allow a general, non-specific, open-ended rummaging through every structure, every house, and every enclosed space in Iraq violates sovereignty and privacy. But - more important in this twelfth year of brutal and murderous sanctions - an endless search for evidence, the likelihood of whose existence diminishes daily, guarantees the pointless deaths of more of that country's most vulnerable inhabitants. The importance of the principle that a citizen of a republic is sovereign in his home cannot be overstated. The importance of the principle that nations large and small are sovereign cannot be overstated. Abandon this principle in the former instance and you lose the republic. Abandon it in the latter instance and you admit that 350 years of evolution of international law has been for nothing; the strong will rule and the weak will tremble. And the rules that serve us all, including those that may be empires today and has-beens tomorrow, will have no force. Let there be inspectors, but let them be disinterested, competent seekers after the truth, not spies. Let the inspectors say at the start what they are looking for and where they expect to find it. Let the inspections be thorough so that at the end the inspectors can say: We looked and we found nothing, or, alternatively, what we found was of little consequence And when all is said and done, let the sanctions end so that the babies born in Iraq have a chance to live long lives in something like safety and prosperity. That is what we hope for our babies. Why should we begrudge a people six thousand miles from our shores as much? _______________________________________________ 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