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]
News, 18-25/06/03 (2) MOTHER OF ALL PARLIAMENTS * Cook doubts Saddam threat * Stop bleating about WMD and listen to how Nasir's mother was executed in a pit * Galloway Papers Deemed Forgeries * No, Mr Galloway, you're not in the clear yet PROGRESS OF THE PRETEXT * The Pentagon has sent the man at the heart of a 'fake documents' scandal to Iraq FREEDOM TO COMMIT WAR CRIMES WITH IMPUNITY * Belgium to lift threat of Bush war crimes trial * Officials: Hundreds of Iraqis Killed By Faulty Grenades MOTHER OF ALL PARLIAMENTS http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,979260,00.html * COOK DOUBTS SADDAM THREAT by Matthew Tempest, political correspondent The Guardian, 17th June Former foreign secretary Robin Cook today dealt a series of devastating blows to the government's case for a war against Iraq, saying that it was "now clear that Saddam Hussein did not represent a 'clear and serious threat'". Giving evidence to the foreign affairs select committee inquiry into the government's handling of the war - and the evidence used to back its case - Mr Cook cast doubt on both dossiers of evidence against the Iraqi leader, revealing that "Iraq was an appallingly difficult intelligence target to break". Directly afterwards, Clare Short - who, like Mr Cook, resigned from the government over the war on Iraq - gave evidence to the committee, calling Tony Blair's performance "an honourable deception". The detailed questioning of the prime minister's case for war will present a major embarrassment for Mr Blair, who is seeking to refocus the media's attention on domestic public service reform in a speech this afternoon. Mr Cook called last September's so-called "dodgy dossier" both a "red herring" and a "mistake", saying he had been "taken aback by how thin it was". He continued: "Neither of us [the UK and US spying agencies] had much intelligence inside Iraq. The US was drawing heavily on exiles." Mr Cook, who was leader of the Commons at the time of his resignation over Iraq, also revealed that the "dodgy dossier" had not been discussed at cabinet. He said that by the late 1990s the government was confident that Iraq did not have nuclear or long-range missiles, and that "containment worked better than we had hoped". And he urged the government not to "compound the error" by now not admitting their advice "was wrong at the time". Calling the intelligence material nothing much more than an "alphabet soup", Mr Cook said the government went to war with Iraq using information that was "highly suggestible" and intelligence that was selected to fit its position. Mr Cook, repeated that the government had scored a "spectacular own goal" in publishing its dossier about Saddam Hussein. Asked if intelligence had been "sexed up" to back the decision to go to war, Mr Cook said: "I think there was a selection of evidence to support the conclusion." He said he was "disappointed" by the quality of the intelligence in the September dossier as it did not provide "any recent and alarming" intelligence to suggest that Iraq was a current and serious threat. He told the committee that the "great majority" of the paper was "derivative" from 1991. "I do not see there is anything wrong with a representation of an academic study of Saddam Hussein but it should have been labelled as that - an academic study." He said it was "impossible" for him to defend the taking out of the phrase "opposition groups" and replacing it with the word "terrorist". In his statement to the MPs, Mr Cook restated his belief, outlined in his resignation speech, that Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction. He said: "This would now appear to be correct. Such weapons require substantial industrial plant and a large workforce. It is inconceivable that both could have been kept concealed for the two months we have been in occupation of Iraq. "I have never ruled out the possibility that we may unearth some old stock of biological toxins or chemical agents and it is possible that we may yet find some battlefield shells. "Nevertheless, this would not constitute weapons of mass destruction and would not justify the claim before the war that Iraq posed what the prime minister described as a 'current and serious threat'." Mr Cook also asked why UN inspectors were not allowed back into Iraq. He said: "I think that the reason could possibly be that they could confirm there was no immediate threat from credible weapons of mass destruction." Ms Short, in an appearance lasting over an hour, echoed many of Mr Cook's points, and added to the sense that the cabinet played very little part in the decisions on Iraq. The former international development secretary said that virtually all decisions had been taken by the prime minister's "entourage", while there were "no cabinet-level decisions on strategy or options" for the war. She claimed that the "decision-making had been sucked out of the Foreign Office", and that the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, had merely been "loyal" and "helpful" to Mr Blair's process. Ms Short claimed that all three government-produced dossiers on Iraq had been "shoddy pieces of work". And she stated explicitly: "Alastair Campbell is responsible for presenting government policy - and that soon becomes propaganda." She also restated her belief that Mr Blair had decided to go to war alongside the US president, George Bush, as early as last autumn. She said that after a meeting with Mr Bush in the US, Mr Blair returned to Britain to give a "very belligerent" press conference in Sedgefield. She also revealed that last September Mr Blair "said he didn't want it [Iraq] raised in cabinet and that he'd talk about it with me separately." Ms Short criticised attacks on the French president, Jacques Chirac, calling them a "figleaf" for "contradictory assurances" Mr Blair had given to President Bush on one hand, and parliament on the other. She claimed that Hans Blix, the UN chief weapons inspector, had not been given intelligence information, even when he asked for it to be passed on. Specifically, she said she had raised the issue of documents being transported to homes in Iraq, and asked that those houses be raided. According to Ms Short, Mr Blair promised this would happen, but it did not. Ms Short also suggested that Mr Blair's noticeable gauntness during the conflict was due to this tacit, or secret, agreement with President Bush. She told MPs: "I think the prime minister had said to President Bush 'we will be with you'. He hadn't laid down the conditions needed to bring Britain's influence to bear to temper the United States," she said. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-717360,00.html * STOP BLEATING ABOUT WMD AND LISTEN TO HOW NASIR'S MOTHER WAS EXECUTED IN A PIT by Ann Clwyd The Times, 18th June I never imagined when I wrote on this page in March about the plastic shredder used to kill in one of Saddam's prisons that I would, some months later, read in a chillingly meticulous record book that one of the methods of execution was "mincing". I had just finished a press conference in the still-shabby British Embassy in Baghdad, when a reporter from Fox TV told me that he had been handed for safekeeping by an Iraqi a 56 page record book from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. Later, at the Sheridan hotel, we scanned the horrific record of Saddam's sadism and brutality. The prison itself, really a vast concentration camp, is on the edge of a small town. Market traders sell fresh fruit and vegetables, children play ball in the dusty streets. The normality of life outside this ghastly place, where so many lives came to an end, is itself horrible, since many of the people probably would have worked in the prison. I walked around talking to groups of young boys messing around on their bikes. Two of them, not more than 16 years old, told me they had been guards. Just a few days before the Americans arrived, they said, the remaining prisoners had been killed; stood in trenches up to their waists and shot through the head. In the corridors there are murals of Saddam Hussein: Saddam with a hawk on his shoulder; Saddam with a rocket-launcher and a dove in the barrel; Saddam in a silk shirt with a cigar. His victims were taken from dark and overcrowded cells to the execution block with its ceiling hooks and levers that catapulted them to a grisly death in the pits below. Some were still alive. The guards then broke their necks by standing on them. The UN could have gone on passing resolutions and sending in inspectors and rapporteurs for the next 50 years, but in the end there was no realistic alternative to war. Those who bleat about weapons of mass destruction or question the legality of war should talk to the Iraqi people. They are irritated. They ask, "Don't they care about us? About mass graves? About torture?" Stand at the mass grave at al-Hillah where up to 15,000 people are buried, hands tied behind their backs, bullets through their brains. Examine the pitiful possessions found so far: a watch, a faded ID card, a comb, a ring, a clump of black hair. Watch the old woman in her black chador, tattoos on her gnarled hands, looking through the plastic bags on top of unidentified, reburied bodies, for something that will help her to find her son, who disappeared in 1991. Stand at the mass grave near Kirkuk, where huge mechanised trucks churn the earth in clouds of dust. Look at the skeletons now tenderly reburied in simple wooden coffins. Talk to Nasir al-Hussein, who was only 12 at the time of the 1991 mass arrests. He, his mother, uncle and cousins were piled on buses. They turned off on to a farm road and the executions started. People were thrown into a pit, machinegunned and then buried with a bulldozer. Nasir crawled out of the mass grave, leaving his dead relatives behind. The killing fields of al-Hillah and Kirkuk look unremarkable. Shepherds graze their sheep, children play on bikes. But also here are some of the hundreds and thousands of the perhaps 800,000 of the dead of this country. Saddam's victims: Shias, Kurds, Communists, the people of Iraq. Now the secrets of this evil and despotic regime are being revealed. How much more killing could there have been? A house in Baghdad, formerly the private home of one of Saddam's secret police, has been taken over by those who seek to put the record straight. Outside on the banks of the Tigris, hundreds of Shia men search through the records found so far. Dusty papers and old files fill every room. In one are three computers into which 150,000 names of the dead and where they died have been logged in just two weeks. In another room is some of the torture equipment: a chiropractor's couch wired to administer electric shocks, the weights and pulleys used to apply pain. All around are grieving relatives, women in black chadors clutching tearfully at my arm. They have waited 12 long years for news. They still wait. Saddam, like Hitler and Pol Pot, kept meticulous records of his crimes. At the same time, Baath party men are said to be buying up the files that implicate them in the crimes. The director of this self-help centre, Ibrahim al-Idrissi, was in prison eight times. Once they took off all his toenails. He shows me photographs of executions and the bloodied, battered body of a university lecturer from Basra, still alive, his sawn-off arm lying by his side. On the streets of Baghdad, WMD is not an issue. "Thanks to Bush and Blair," they cry. I ask what would have happened if they had spoken to me like this in the past on the streets of Baghdad. One man slowly drew his hand, palm down, across his throat. The author is an MP and special envoy on human rights in Iraq to the Prime Minister. NO URL * GALLOWAY PAPERS DEEMED FORGERIES The Christian Science Monitor, nd On April 25, 2003, this newspaper ran a story about documents obtained in Iraq that alleged Saddam Hussein's regime had paid a British member of Parliament, George Galloway, $10 million over 11 years to promote its interests in the West. An extensive Monitor investigation has subsequently determined that the six papers detailed in the April 25 piece are, in fact, almost certainly forgeries. These accompanying pages contain a detailed account of a Monitor story that turned out to contain false allegations. We believe the episode involves a number of important principles that deserve some explanation. We deemed the story itself important both because of its alleged substance and its timing. In the chaotic aftermath of the Iraq war, the abandoned files of Iraq's massive bureaucracies were suddenly open for looters, soldiers, and reporters to sort through at will. This was not a situation with established ground rules for journalists trying to obtain important and reliable information. Yet many of these documents opened new windows on the ways of the Hussein regime and its connections to the outside world. When a Monitor reporter obtained documents detailing one such connection - purported payment from Iraq to one of its most steadfast and outspoken supporters in the West - it was not the first such allegation. Documents asserting similar payments had already been discovered the same week by a British newspaper. And we deemed it important because opening these windows into the workings of the regime and its outside linkages matters to making sense of an important historical moment. Those goals go to the most basic purpose of this newspaper, founded by Mary Baker Eddy with a stated object to "Injure no man, but to bless all mankind." That is why we, on the basis of our assessment of information available at the time, went to press detailing the contents of six documents that described payouts to a British member of Parliament. However, journalism always involves a potential tension between speed and accuracy, and the decision on when to publish a story rests with the editors here in Boston. We view this episode as instructive on that point, and hindsight tells us we did not strike the perfect balance. When new information cast doubt on the documents, we conducted an extensive investigation of their authenticity which culminated this week in the virtual certainty that they were forged. We strive daily to be truth tellers. That is our way of blessing mankind. On this story, we erred. Our report said what we knew, honestly and carefully. With this follow-up story Friday, we are continuing our effort to tell what we know, as fully and fairly as we can, to set the record straight. Ý The Arabic text of the papers is inconsistent with known examples of Baghdad bureaucratic writing, and is replete with problematic language, says a leading US-based expert on Iraqi government documents. Signature lines and other format elements differ from genuine procedure. Ý The two "oldest" documents - dated 1992 and 1993 - were actually written within the past few months, according to a chemical analysis of their ink. The newest document - dated 2003 - appears to have been written at approximately the same time. "At the time we published these documents, we felt they were newsworthy and appeared credible, although we did explicitly state in our article that we could not guarantee their authenticity," says Monitor editor Paul Van Slambrouck. "It is important to set the record straight: We are convinced the documents are bogus. We apologize to Mr. Galloway and to our readers." After the fall of Hussein's Baghdad government, stories based on internal Iraqi documents appeared in many news outlets. They detailed everything from mundane aspects of control used by local Baath Party cells to the high living of Saddam Hussein and his sons. The name "George Galloway" figured prominently in one of the most explosive of these stories. On April 22, London's Daily Telegraph reported that papers retrieved by their correspondent David Blair from the ruins of Iraq's Foreign Ministry described alleged government payoffs to Mr. Galloway, a Labour Party MP and longtime critic of the West's hardline toward Mr. Hussein. The Daily Telegraph report received widespread attention in the European press and throughout the world. On April 25, the Monitor ran its own piece about papers detailing Galloway's alleged ties to Baghdad. The documents were purported to have originated in the Special Security Section, run by Saddam's second son, Qusay. However, the Monitor's documents were different in many details from those of the Daily Telegraph, and came from a different source. Monitor contract reporter Philip Smucker obtained them from an Iraqi general, who in turn said he had captured them after his men shot their way into a home once used by Qusay Hussein. Galloway has emphatically denied that he was ever the recipient of Iraqi largess, a denial the Monitor reported in its original story. He has denounced all stories to that effect, and threatened to sue both the Daily Telegraph and the Monitor for libel. On May 11, a report in the British paper The Mail on Sunday disputed the authenticity of documents obtained from the same source as the Monitor's documents. The Mail's article said its writer had purchased other documents from the general alleging payoffs to Galloway. Those documents, unlike the Monitor's, included purported Galloway signatures. "Extensive examination of the documents by experts has proved they are fakes, bearing crude attempts to forge the MP's signature," said the Mail on Sunday's May 11 story. The Monitor did not identify the general in its April 25 story because he said he feared retribution from Qusay Hussein loyalists. The Mail on Sunday published his name: Gen. Salah Abdel Rasool. In light of this new information bearing on the credibility of the source of the Monitor's alleged Galloway papers, editors decided to consult document experts in the United States to see if the papers could be proved either false or genuine. The Monitor first consulted a Harvard graduate student in Arabic studies, Bruce Fudge, who had spent six months working on a Washington-based archive of captured Iraqi intelligence documents. Along with another graduate student, Omar Dewachi, an Iraqi who was a physician in Iraq until the late 1990s, Mr. Fudge could find no apparent problems with the documents. The offset-printed stationery of the oldest documents correctly reflected the pre 1993 Iraqi flag while the newer ones carried an emblem of the new flag. The rank of the signatories and the path of the documents through the bureaucracy seemed appropriate. The dates on two of the documents matched up to known visits of Galloway to Iraq. But these observations were not conclusive. The second to examine the papers was Gerald Richards, a forensics document examiner. A former chief of the document operations and research unit at the FBI, Mr. Richards is now an independent consultant based in Laurel, Md. Mr. Richards scanned the Galloway papers under ultraviolet and infrared light for obvious physical signs of forgery. In his tests, Richards found nothing untoward. Pen usage in the papers was consistent with standard bureaucratic procedure, he noted. For example, the pen used to sign the documents was different from the one that was used to write the date. That might indicate that an official signed the document, while an aide dated them. "There is nothing that would indicate to me they are forgeries," says Richards. "If they are, it's somebody who knows what he's doing." Richards cautioned that his type of examination is just one aspect of document forensics. Another, of equal or greater importance, is textual analysis. For that, Bruce Fudge directed the Monitor to Hassan Mneimneh. As head of the Iraq Research and Documentation Project in Washington, Mr. Mneimneh has custody of some 3.2 million Iraqi government documents captured by the US or its allies in the 1991 Gulf War. He and his analysts have been poring over this trove for years in an effort to learn more about Iraq's intelligence services, military, and bureaucratic operations. Mneimneh's first instinct was that something was not quite right about the Monitor's documents. "I have literally reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents, and these [are] by far the neatest, tidiest I have ever seen," he says. There is, for instance, the matter of the papers' handwritten dates. Purportedly, the documents as a whole cover a period starting in 1992 and ending in 2003. Yet the dates are written in nearly identical fashion - as if the same person were dashing them off all at once. According to their dates, each individual document moved remarkably quickly through the Iraqi bureaucracy. From initiation at the lowest level to approval at the top allegedly took two or three days. Also, there are no reference numbers next to the signatures of officials who allegedly reviewed them and passed them on to other departments, for example. The Iraqi bureaucracy typically included such numbers for filing purposes, this expert says. In addition, Mneimneh observes that signatures are followed by the official's name, written out, and then that person's rank, such as colonel, rather than the customary signature followed only by a title. Finally, this expert found the language in the Monitor's six documents to be suspiciously blunt. The papers describe specific amounts of money requested and paid out, and to whom. The Iraq Research and Documentation Project has many papers detailing payments to informers and government agents, and typically the language used in them is indirect. Invariably they do not name the person who is actually getting the money. "They usually use a euphemism.... Then there is a file somewhere else where they correlate the euphemisms to actual names," Mneimneh says. After examining copies of two pages of the Daily Telegraph's documents linking Galloway with the Hussein regime, Mneimneh pronounces them consistent, unlike their Monitor counterparts, with authentic Iraqi documents he has seen. Moreover, a direct comparison of the language in the Monitor and Daily Telegraph document sets shows that they are somewhat contradictory. The papers in the Monitor's possession alleged that Galloway began receiving funds from Iraq in the early 1990s. One of the Daily Telegraph's, dated January 2000, alleges that Iraqi officials were just beginning their consideration of a financial relationship with Galloway. Of the Monitor's papers, he says, "My gut reaction to [these documents] is that they are extremely suspicious." With growing doubts about the authenticity of the Galloway documents, Monitor editors decided to have the age of the ink analyzed, as well as to revisit the source of the documents in Baghdad. Determining the age of a document by dating its ink is far from an exact science. Only a handful of US private labs do such work. Ink analysis generally isn't admissible in court. On the recommendation of several forensic experts the Monitor turned to Valery Aginsky, an ink chemist with Riley & Welch Associates, Forensic Document Examinations, Inc., in East Lansing, Mich. Dr. Aginsky first tested ink from the two alleged Galloway documents with the oldest dates - 1992 and 1993. He found that the ink components had not yet finished aging, a process that typically takes no more than two years. The documents tested simply could not have been prepared when their dates said they were, according to Aginsky. Aginsky then compared the ink from these older-dated documents with that from a document dated 2003. He determined that they were aging at the same rate - meaning that these papers had most likely been written at approximately the same time and not over a period of a decade, as their written dates claimed. "It is 90 percent probable that these documents have been prepared recently," he says. In Baghdad, Monitor reporter Ilene Prusher met with General Rasool, the source of the Monitor's documents. Rasool repeated most of the account he had earlier given Smucker. In April, the general had told Smucker that his whole family had been killed by the Hussein regime, and that he himself had served time in prison. When the Americans neared Baghdad, and the Baath Party melted away, Rasool said, he and some associates had stormed into a house used by Qusay Hussein. Rasool said that they were in pursuit of deeds to property stolen from him by Hussein's henchmen. While in the house, they carted off numerous sacks of official-looking paper, according to the general. As the discussion with Ms. Prusher progressed from there, a number of things became apparent: ‹ The general was offering other documents alleging malfeasance on the part of a wide array of foreign public figures noted for their support of the Hussein regime. (When Smucker met the general earlier, Rasool denied having documents dealing with any foreign politicians other than Galloway.) ‹ The papers from Qusay's house also "proved" that six of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers learned to fly in Iraq, according to the general. ‹ Rasool did not directly ask for money, but he described current negotiations to sell documents to other parties. After the Mail on Sunday published its May story questioning the veracity of documents from Rasool, and acknowledged paying for its own alleged Galloway papers, the Monitor published a short piece summarizing the Mail story and adding that "the Monitor did not pay for any of the Iraqi documents in its possession, nor was any payment ever discussed." In fact, it's now clear that statement was technically accurate but incomplete. There was no direct payment to the general. But he let Smucker carry off three boxes of files, including the Galloway papers, only after Smucker paid the general's neighbor $800 to translate the documents during the next two days. Smucker recalls that it was the general who brought up George Galloway's name first at their initial meeting. After the reporter indicated an interest, the general said he knew where those documents were, and that he could have them for Smucker in 24 hours. Smucker says Rasool told him that one of his neighbors, who left Baghdad to attend a Shiite pilgrimage in Karbala, held the documents. Upon Smucker's return the next day, the general showed him the Galloway documents as well as the boxes of others on various subjects. After hiring the neighbor, Smucker left with the boxes. "I had no knowledge that the general received any of the $800, though now that I know the documents are forgeries, I have my suspicions," says Smucker. "At the time I was operating on the premise that these were entirely authentic." Staff writers Faye Bowers in Washington and Ilene R. Prusher in Baghdad contributed to this report. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2003/06/21/do2101 .xml&sSheet=/news/2003/06/21/ixnewstop.html * NO, MR GALLOWAY, YOU'RE NOT IN THE CLEAR YET by Charles Moore The Daily Telegraph, 21st June "What's happening with George Galloway, then?" people ask me, and I find that many of them think that The Daily Telegraph has long since received a libel writ from the Labour MP. This is not surprising, for in the two months since we published official Iraqi documents purporting to show that Mr Galloway took large sums from Saddam Hussein's regime, the Labour backbencher has spoken repeatedly, excitedly and inaccurately about the case. He has talked of "black propaganda" and "intelligence hocus-pocus". He has even suggested that we might be in the business of churning out forgeries in Arabic to destroy him. He has spread scurrilous misrepresentations of our correspondent David Blair's account of how he found these documents. But he has failed to cast any doubt on their authenticity. And, no, he has not yet issued a libel writ. What Mr Galloway can now justifiably say is that an entirely different set of documents was doubtful. Yesterday the Christian Science Monitor in Boston confirmed that papers it published purporting to show that Mr Galloway accepted Iraqi largesse running into millions of dollars were "almost certainly" fakes. The Mail on Sunday has already exposed as crude forgeries further papers from the same source. These revelations have no bearing whatsoever on our story, but in telling Sky News yesterday how the Monitor's experts had unmasked their documents as forgeries, Mr Galloway promised that ours too would "meet the same fate". He was ignoring the fact that those experts went on to say they believed ours to be consistent with genuine Iraqi documents. "This tells you something," he hinted to BBC radio on Tuesday. "There is a market in forged documents about me." There may be a market, but The Daily Telegraph is not part of it: we paid nothing for our story, no one supplied it to us, and our documents are not forged. First, both sets of forged documents were produced by the same mysterious Iraqi who wished to be known only as "General S". By contrast, David Blair found our documents himself in a box file labelled "Britain" in the foreign ministry in Baghdad a few days after the fall of Saddam. No one steered him in that direction. No one else was involved, save for his Iraqi translator. Nothing about the way they were found was consistent with them having been planted. Second, General S claimed that his few sheets of paper had been torn out of an official file, but there was nothing to support this and no context within which to evaluate them. Our documents, by contrast, were found in a government office in the pale blue folders in which they remain, bound in both physically and contextually with hundreds of pages of routine papers whose authenticity has not been questioned. We were able to verify some of these other documents - notably letters from Sir Edward Heath and Canon Andrew White of Coventry Cathedral - with their authors. There was even a letter from Mr Galloway himself. Thirdly, General S only began touting his collection around British journalists in Baghdad after The Daily Telegraph's disclosures of April 22. If there was a market in forgeries about Mr Galloway, it appears to have been the result of our story. We know all this because General S's documents were also offered to The Daily Telegraph. Unable to be sure that they were genuine, we turned them down. One of the points that we checked was whether Mr Galloway was in Baghdad on the dates given in these papers. It appeared that he was not. The MP has since shown that he was speaking in the House of Commons on one of these dates. It is a different case with our documents. This week, Mr Galloway finally confirmed a fact that supports their credibility. One of the documents we published was a memorandum purporting to outline a meeting arranged by his "sole representative", Fawaz Zureikat, between Mr Galloway and an Iraqi intelligence agent on Boxing Day 1999. In his BBC interview on Tuesday, Mr Galloway admitted: "I was in Iraq on Boxing Day, 1999." It has taken Mr Galloway two months to make this simple disclosure. On Newsnight on April 22 he said he had forgotten where he spent the Boxing Day before the Millennium. "Well, I'm not entirely sure about that," he told Jeremy Paxman. He then disclosed that he had spent Christmas Day in Iraq in either 1999 or 2000. Later, he gleefully told one of our correspondents: "If, when I get home, I discover I was in Iraq in Christmas 2000, the Telegraph will come down in flames." Well, Mr Galloway has now "discovered" that the documents were right. This came as no surprise. When we were checking their authenticity, our first move was to establish that he was in Baghdad on the date given in the memorandum. We found him quoted in a Reuters report datelined Baghdad, December 27, 1999. Why has it taken Mr Galloway so long to extract this simple fact from his own diary? Instead, he has set about trying to undermine our good faith by alleging foul play. He has said that David Blair came upon the documents "miraculously" when he ventured inside what the MP chose to call a "burning, looted, destroyed building". This is a blatant distortion. There had been fires within the foreign ministry, but not for some days. It was not destroyed. It still stands, a white tower block in the heart of Baghdad. Mr Galloway can go and look at it. Yes, the building had been looted. But, unsurprisingly, the looters were not interested in paperwork, and tens of thousands of pages of documents had survived. Mr Galloway is now also reported as alleging that we were motivated by malice against him in publishing our stories. This is not so. We went to considerable lengths to track him down in Portugal and put to him everything the documents said about him. We then gave over almost the whole of our page three to his detailed response. In his interview with the BBC's On the Ropes on Tuesday, Mr Galloway claimed that he "did not have to prove anything" and the onus was on The Daily Telegraph. Were he serious about getting to the bottom of our documents and proving that he did not take Saddam's money, then, rather than attack us and threaten to sue for financial compensation, there are two constructive things he could do. First, he could address the question of where and with whom he was on Boxing Day, 1999 - the day after he now confirms he was in Baghdad. Did he indeed have a meeting arranged by Fawaz Zureikat, as the memo says? Did he meet another man who may (possibly without his knowledge) have been an Iraqi agent? Second, he could ask his representative Mr Zureikat to give us his recollection of his own whereabouts and communications with the regime at that time. If he and Mr Galloway were to accept the authenticity of the memo and set out how they believe it came to be written, we would be happy to publish what they say. Such positive steps would be more effective in resolving these issues than simply denouncing the memo as a forgery, accusing us of maliciously orchestrating it and threatening us with libel proceedings. It would also make interesting reading. We have complete confidence in our story, in the authenticity of the documents and in David Blair. PROGRESS OF THE PRETEXT http://www.tribune.atfreeweb.com/hughes13062003.htm * THE PENTAGON HAS SENT THE MAN AT THE HEART OF A 'FAKE DOCUMENTS' SCANDAL TO IRAQ by Solomon Hughes The Tribune, 23rd June IN 1995, the Sunday Times reported that Iraq was making atomic bombs. The newspaper made the claims in a series of stories printed over three consecutive weeks and based on documents it claimed came from an exiled Iraqi scientist. The documents were fakes. The Sunday Times passed them on to the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), but decided not to report its findings that the documents were "not authentic". The newspaper has never acknowledged using forgeries in its stories about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Khidir Hamza, the scientist claimed by the Sunday Times as the source of the fake documents, was sent by the Pentagon to Iraq last month to oversee the country's nuclear industry. Dr. Hamza worked in Iraq's nuclear programme, later claiming to have been "Saddam's bomb maker", before leaving the country in 1994. Some commentators notably former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter have accused Hamza of exaggerating his own importance in Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme. However, to date no British newspaper has reported the fact that the IAEA determined that documents supposedly passed on by him were fakes. I have obtained a hitherto unpublicised letter to the UN Security Council from the IAEA detailing the forgeries. Dated July 1995, the IAEA letter describes "two single-page documents, which were represented as official Iraqi correspondence generated in April/May 1994, suggesting the reconstitution of a nuclear weapons programme". There is also reference to " an additional set of three documents". According to the IAEA, "a detailed analysis of the form and content of the documents "found a large number of errors and inconsistencies" The UN weapons inspectors declared that as a result of this investigation, they had "reached the conclusion that, on the basis of all evidence available, these documents are not authentic". Nuclear weapons inspector Maurizio Ferrero described one of the letters rather more bluntly as "a fake" After his endorsement by the Sunday Times in 1995, Hamza went on to be an important voice in the calls for war on Iraq. He argued tirelessly that Saddam was close to making a nuclear bomb and claimed the Iraqi regime had an advanced chemical and biological weapons programme. He also tried to show that Saddam's regime were linked to al Qaida. Hamza gave testimony to the United States Congress in 2002. References to his work appeared in George Bush's dossier on Iraq. Last September, he told The Times that Iraq was close to making a nuclear bomb. He made similar claims in the Daily Mirror and Daily Express. None of these newspapers nor his Congressional supporters revealed that, seven years previously, the IAEA concluded that documents linked to Hamza were crude facsimiles made by altering genuine Iraqi papers. According to the IAEA: "The documents reveal errors in construction, suggesting poor adaptation of authentic Iraqi documents". Only Radio Baghdad appears to have reported the finding at the time. Jon Swain, the journalist who produced the original stores about Hamza, still works for the Sunday Times. In the last of three articles on Hamza in April 1995, the Sunday Times allowed for the possibility that the documents were not genuine, noting that "some doubts remain about the Arabic text" and a possible "suspicion of forgery". However, despite reporting that the IAEA was going through a "line-by-line" analysis of the documents that formed the Sunday Times' scoop, the newspaper never reported the eventual findings. I approached the Sunday Times for an explanation, but it declined to comment. The Sunday Times also claimed Hamza had been abducted and possibly murdered by Saddam's agents in Greece. This was entirely untrue. Hamza was in Libya, not Greece, and had been neither kidnapped nor killed. He resurfaced in the US three years later. In 1998, Hamza denied any link to the Sunday Times story, claiming that an impostor had supplied the fake documents to the newspaper. In the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a small-circulation magazine, he suggested that the fake Hamza who supplied the papers came from a group of Iraq exiles. He argued that the story in the Sunday Times may have been concocted by an Iraqi opposition group to force him to surface from hiding in an Arab country. Hamza's elaborate story could simply be an attempt to distance himself from the forged documents: If he did admit to supplying them, then his credibility and with it his chance to be relocated to the US by the CIA were gone. If what Hamza says is true, then not only was the Sunday Times story based on counterfeit documents, it was also based on a counterfeit Hamza. Just as the Sunday Times did not acknowledge the IAEA's findings, so it ignored Hamza's denunciation of its original story. Even Hamza's convoluted explanation acknowledges the fact that Iraqi exile opposition groups used forged documents to exaggerate how far Saddam's weapons of mass destruction had been developed. The same opposition groups provided the American and British Governments with the basis for their most dramatic claims about Saddam's supposed chemical, biological and nuclear arms. Hamza's honesty was questioned in other documents published this year. He said that he worked for Saddam's son-in-law, General Kamal. Kamal, who ran Saddam's WMD programme, also defected from Iraq in 1995. He later returned to be assassinated by Saddam's forces. The notes of his interview with the UN weapons inspectors were leaked at the beginning of this year. In this, Kamal is disparaging about Hamza's technical ability, saying, "He worked with us, but he was useless and always looking for promotions. "He consulted with me, but could not deliver anything." Kamal describes Hamza as "a professional liar". In America, Hamza grew close to the hawks who became very influential after George Bush entered the White House. One, James Woolsey, said of Hamza: "I think highly of him and I have no reason to disbelieve the claims that he has made." Hamza became a member of the Iraqi National Congress and supplied the "office of special plans" with information on Iraq: This US Defence Department group supplied the evidence which "proved" Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and acted as a counterweight to the more sceptical CIA. Assistant Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is reported to have personally selected Hamza to join America's reconstruction team in Iraq. He is one of a group of Iraqi exiles who will advise the troubled Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), now headed by Paul Bremer since the summary dismissal of Jay Garner. The team of exiles, known as the Iraqi Reconstruction and Redevelopment Council, was chosen to add an Iraqi perspective to the American-led reconstruction efforts. This is even though its members have not lived in the country for some years and will be housed in sealed compounds protected by US troops. They work for the Pentagon, but are technically employees of a private firm, SAIC. One of the country's leading defence contractors, SAIC's board includes a number of former senior defence and military officials, including retired general Wayne Downing, a former head of counter-terrorism at the White House. While the Sunday Times would not respond to questions about Hamza, the Pentagon replied promptly to inquiries. Asked whether it was appropriate to send Hamza to Iraq after his association with forged documents, Pentagon spokesman Daniel Hetlage expressed confidence in his abilities. "Dr Hamza, who will be part of a team comprised of coalition partners, Americans and Iraqis, was selected for his extensive management experience in the nuclear field." According to the IAEA, Iraq has a fair sized civil atomic programme with radioactive sources used for many medical, engineering and agricultural sources. So there is a pressing need for the occupying powers to take control of Iraq 's nuclear facilities. The Al-Tuwaitha nuclear complex was looted in the post-war chaos, ironically releasing materials that could be used to create a "dirty bomb". The fake documents linked to Hamza also suggest whoever produced them has technical inadequacies. The IAEA found the "scientific validity" of the papers weak, saying "technical elements of the programme, inferred from the documents, have been assessed as unlikely by experts from nuclear weapon states." The forger did not have in-depth knowledge of Iraq's secret weapons programmes. The weapons inspectors stated: "Significant inaccuracies in qualifications, titles and names of individuals, as well as in technical and administrative organisational structures, have been clearly established". It is now difficult to say who did produce Hamza's fake letters, but they are not the last nuclear forgeries to be passed to the weapons inspectors. Just before the war on Iraq began, the IAEA revealed that documents suggesting that Saddam was buying uranium from Niger central to Tony Blair 's dossier on Iraq were "crude forgeries" FREEDOM TO COMMIT WAR CRIMES WITH IMPUNITY http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=418451 * BELGIUM TO LIFT THREAT OF BUSH WAR CRIMES TRIAL by Stephen Castle in Brussels The Independent, 24th June Belgium is to amend war crimes laws used to target George Bush and the commander of American forces in Iraq, General Tommy Franks, after a threat from Washington to boycott meetings at Nato's headquarters in Brussels. The move would ensure that cases could only be mounted if the defendant or the victim is a Belgian national or resident. The changes were outlined by Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian Prime Minister, who has been repeatedly embarrassed by the law, and are expected to be approved by the Belgian parliament by 21 July. The climbdown follows a direct threat by the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who said earlier this month that the United States might not be able to attend Nato meetings in Belgium. Mr Rumsfeld also threatened to block any new requests for cash for Nato's new multimillion-pound headquarters in Brussels. Belgium had already watered down its universal competence law to ensure that cases against foreigners were referred first to their national courts. Washington deemed that unacceptable, fearing that those accused might face legal bills to get the charges thrown out of American courts. A further suggestion last week by Belgian leaders that diplomatic immunity would be granted to foreign officials visiting international organisations in Belgium also appears to have failed to satisfy US demands. The latest move was attacked by human rights groups. Reed Brody, of Human Rights Watch, said: "It is regrettable that under irrational pressure from the United States the Belgian government is renouncing fundamental principles." However, most senior Belgian politicians have viewed the law as a growing embarrassment and even supporters acknowledge that a change is inevitable. One of the latest to receive a writ is the Belgian Foreign Minister, Louis Michel, who has been accused over arms sales to Nepal. Others include Mr Bush, General Franks and Tony Blair over Iraq; Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, over the Sabra and Chatila refugee camp massacres in 1982, and the former US president George Bush Snr over the 1991 Gulf war. Under the law, which was passed in 1993 and used in 2001 to convict two Rwandan nuns for their role in the slaughter of up to 7,000 Tutsis, charges can be laid in a Belgian court against foreigners for alleged war crimes committed outside Belgian jurisdiction. Mr Verhofstadt said the reason for the changes was "not US pressure", but "because we want to keep the law". Nato officials reacted cautiously, saying US legal experts would examine the text after it had cleared the Belgian parliament. If the changes were deemed satisfactory, US officials would make it known that they were relaxing their threat to block more Nato spending. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0623-01.htm * OFFICIALS: HUNDREDS OF IRAQIS KILLED BY FAULTY GRENADES by Thomas Frank Associated Press, 23rd June WASHINGTON: Hundreds and possibly thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed or maimed by outdated, defective U.S. cluster weapons that lack a safety feature other countries have added, according to observers, news reports and officials. U.S. cluster weapons fired during the war in March and April dispersed thousands of small grenades on battlefields and in civilian neighborhoods to destroy Iraqi troops and weapons systems. But some types of the grenades fail to explode on impact as much as 16 percent of the time, according to official military figures. Battlefield commanders have reported failure rates as high as 40 percent. Unexploded grenades remain potentially lethal for weeks and months after landing on the ground, where civilians can unwittingly pick them up or step on them. Many victims are children such as Ali Mustafa, 4, whose eyes were blown out when a grenade he played with near his Baghdad home in April exploded in his face. The "dud rate" for cluster grenades can be reduced to less than 1 percent by installing secondary fuses that blow up or neutralize grenades that fail to explode on impact, according to defense contractors. In early 2001, the Pentagon said it would achieve that goal, but not until 2005. In the meantime, the military continues to use a vast arsenal of cluster grenades that fail to meet the new standard. Former military officials and defense experts say the effort to improve the grenades was given a low priority and little funding. "The Army is behind, and the Army is moving very slowly," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Davison, now president of the U.S. division of Israel Military Industries, which has made 60 million grenades with secondary fuses. "It's a sorry situation that we didn't have secondary fuses on the artillery submunitions that were fired in the last several wars." Britain, which joined the United States in the fight to oust Saddam Hussein, fired 2,000 artillery cluster weapons in the war. All were equipped with Israeli-made grenades with secondary fuses and a 2 percent dud rate, the British Defense Ministry said. The United States fired cluster weapons as bombs, rockets and artillery shells, which open like a clam to scatter hundreds of grenades over an area as large as several city blocks. Almost all of the U.S. grenades had one standard fuse, according to military records and officials. A notable exception was a type of cluster bomb carrying newly designed -- and expensive -- grenades with infrared sensors that seek armored vehicles and self-destruct if none is found. As small as medicine bottles and often draped with short ribbons, unexploded grenades attract children who mistake them for toys. On the April day when Ali Mustafa lost his eyes -- an explosion that injured his brother and friend -- the three were taken to a Baghdad hospital where two other youths were being treated for cluster grenade wounds. Ali Hamed, 10, of Baghdad, had his stomach ripped open and bowel perforated when a grenade that he and friends were playing with blew up. Shrapnel ripped into the buttocks of Saef Sulaiman, 17, after his younger brother brought a live grenade into their Baghdad home. Sulaiman said his 8-month-old sister, who had been resting on the living-room floor, was killed in the explosion. Ali Hamed's mother said two friends of her son's were killed when Ali was hurt. Another Iraqi child who picked up a grenade survived when Army Sgt. Troy Jenkins took it from her. The grenade then exploded. Jenkins was killed. The military has not said how many troops have been killed or injured by unexploded grenades. But the 1991 Gulf War revealed their danger. A congressional report found that grenade duds killed 22 U.S. troops -- 6 percent of the total American fatalities -- and injured 58 as forces swept the Iraqi military out of areas in Kuwait's desert that the Americans had just shelled. The Army said in a post-war report that "the large number of dud U.S. submunitions ... significantly impeded operations." A U.S. mine-clearance company found 118,000 unexploded cluster grenades in just one of the seven Kuwaiti battlefield sectors, according to the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative agency. Military documents and officials estimated the dud rate at 8 percent to 40 percent. The total number of unexploded grenades in the region was estimated at 1.2 million by Human Rights Watch, which opposes cluster weapons. It estimated fatalities at 1,220 Kuwaitis and 400 Iraqi civilians. Forced to confront the problem of unexploded cluster grenades, the military focused on training U.S. troops to clear them and avoid them in the battlefield instead of making improvements to reduce their number, defense experts said. "We didn't do a whole lot that cost a whole lot of money," said Richard Johnson, a defense consultant and retired Army colonel who spent 30 years working in ammunition acquisition programs. The Pentagon acknowledged in a 2000 report on cluster weapons that "a significant percentage of these submunitions may not detonate reliably." The report said "corrective measures are under way" but said the Pentagon would not retrofit the cluster grenade inventory, which an earlier report said numbered 1 billion. Retrofitting the entire grenade stockpile was deemed too costly, at $11 billion to $12 billion, according to a 1996 Army report. But the report also noted that cleaning up dud grenades was so costly that in certain limited conflicts "costs for retrofit of our ammunition might be recovered from the elimination of future cleanup costs." The military has been trying to improve grenade reliability, but technological problems and the complexity of cluster weapons have caused delays. "I don't think anybody is happy with the current fusing," one Army official said. Two people close to the Navy said recently that reports of civilian casualties have reignited what they called a stalled Navy effort to modify one type of grenade considered notoriously unreliable by experts. A military report indicates 36,179 such grenades were used in Iraq. Lt. Col. Stephen Lee, who manages an Army program to upgrade cluster-weapon safety, said, "There have been major improvements; it's just that they're not fielded yet." Speaking about a type of grenade used widely in Iraq, Lee said, "There really is no difference in terms of the dud rate between the first Gulf War and the most recent conflict in Iraq." Experts say the military has focused on building new precision weapons systems. "Safety and collateral damage are not as high a priority as mission effectiveness," said David Ochmanek, a RAND Corp. defense analyst who was a deputy assistant defense secretary in the Clinton administration. The Defense Department defended its recent use of cluster weapons in Iraq. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, blamed the civilian casualties on Hussein for deliberately placing Iraqi weapons in populated areas where they would draw return fire. "War is not a tidy affair. It's a very ugly affair," Myers said in April. "And this enemy had no second thoughts about putting its own people at risk." The U.S. military has known about the dangers of the unexploded grenades for decades, since the Vietnam War, when Viet Cong fighters used unexploded grenades as land mines against the U.S. forces that fired them by the millions. In the three decades since, the duds have killed thousands in Laos, says the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Red Cross, human rights groups and the European Parliament have campaigned to ban cluster-weapon use until nations agree to improve grenade reliability, avoid firing them in populated areas and regulate their cleanup. The United States did little in the 1970s and 1980s to improve the reliability of the grenades, said Darold Griffin, former deputy director for research and development in the Army Material Command. "Some felt duds were an asset on the battlefield. You fire them into an area where an enemy is, and having some duds decreases his freedom of movement," he said. Countries that have fought wars on their own soil, most notably Israel, have made improvements, out of fear that duds would harm their own civilians and under public pressure. Israeli-made grenades now have a dud rate of less than 1 percent, said Davison, the Israeli Military Industries official. The company has sold tens of millions of grenades to Britain, Germany, Denmark and Finland, and to Switzerland, which has proposed international standards to improve grenade reliability. Sweden also requires its cluster grenades to have secondary fuses, said Lt. Col. Olof Carelius of the Swedish Armed Forces. Grenades fail to detonate mostly when their landing impact is lessened, because they fall on a soft surface or sloped terrain, or they collide in midair and lose speed. The Pentagon says many grenades fail only 2 percent of the time but acknowledges dud rates are difficult to ascertain and vary widely depending on conditions. It says the weapons are ideal for hitting spread-out targets like troop formations and tank columns. But the consequences of failure rates are magnified by the numbers of grenades used: To destroy one air-defense system covering 100 square yards requires 75 rockets, each carrying 644 grenades -- a total of 48,300. The 16 percent failure rate listed by the Pentagon produces 7,728 unexploded grenades, scattering them over 600 square yards. Bonnie Docherty, part of a Human Rights Watch team that recently spent a month surveying battle damage throughout Iraq, said she "saw evidence of thousands of submunitions in or near populated areas." Cluster-weapon use was "significantly more extensive than in Afghanistan," where the United States dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 grenades in a six-month span, according to Human Rights Watch. A report by the Air Force in late April said U.S. aircraft over Iraq dropped 1,714 cluster bombs containing about 275,000 grenades. No report is available on the number of ground fired cluster weapons, but throughout the war launchers could be seen firing grenade carrying rockets. Efforts to improve grenades stalled when an Army contractor, KDI Precision Products Inc. of Cincinnati, proved unable to mass-produce a secondary fuse for new grenades. A contract signed in 1987 was canceled in 2000. "It's not an easy technical problem to solve," KDI president Eric Guerrazzi said. He and others say the program might have succeeded with more funding, perhaps to pay a competing firm to work as well on developing the fuses. Spending on munitions research and procurement dropped from $18 billion a year during the 1980s to about $6 billion a year after the Cold War. "The funding for R and D [research and development] in the Army was minimal, and fusing was the last on the list," said Bruce Mueller, a former Army lieutenant colonel who managed the fuse program for defense contractor Raytheon. "They develop weapons, then they develop munitions, and after they develop munitions, the last thing they worry about is how to fuse them." _______________________________________________ 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