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[casi] News, 9-16/7/03 (4)

News, 9-16/7/03 (4)


*  Bush Defends War, Sidestepping Issue of Faulty Intelligence
*  White House 'lied about Saddam threat'
*  A question of guilt
*  Hans Blix: Blair made a fundamental mistake over '45 minutes to deploy'
*  20 Lies About the War
*  Political death of a usurper
*  Dug-Up Iraqi Parts' Potential Faces Doubt
*  Ex-Inspector's Book Attacks Bush


by Richard W. Stevenson
New York Times, 9th July

PRETORIA, South Africa, July 9  President Bush brushed aside questions
today about the accuracy of a piece of evidence he used to justify war with
Iraq, saying he was "absolutely confident" he made the right decision to use
military force to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

Speaking at a news conference here with President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa, Mr. Bush did not directly answer a question about whether he
regretted including in his State of the Union address this year a statement
that Iraq had tried to acquire uranium in Africa for use in a nuclear
weapons program. The White House acknowledged on Monday that the
intelligence behind the statement was incomplete and perhaps inaccurate,
drawing criticism from Democrats on Capitol Hill who said it raised doubts
about the administration's case for the war.

But Mr. Bush, in his first comments on the matter, made clear that the
specific piece of evidence in question did not make any difference to his
basic position that Mr. Hussein's government posed a threat to the United
States and the stability of the Middle East.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a threat to world
peace," Mr. Bush said. "And there's no doubt in my mind that the United
States, along with allies and friends, did the right thing in removing him
from power. And there's no doubt in my mind, when it's all said and done,
the facts will show the world the truth."

The administration's failure so far to find any substantial caches of
chemical or biological weapons and the weakening of its case that Mr.
Hussein was trying to rebuild his nuclear program have fed the longstanding
and deep skepticism among many opponents of the war that Iraq was as much of
a threat as Mr. Bush made it out to be.

Some Democrats have seized on the doubts about the accuracy of the
intelligence on the uranium as new justification for a full-scale
investigation, seeking to put Mr. Bush on the defensive over his handling of
the war at a time when his reelection campaign is stressing his role as
commander in chief of a continuing war against terrorism.

Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said the Bush administration was
being "forthright" in acknowledging that information that it received after
the State of the Union address led it to pull back the assertion that Iraq
had been trying to purchase uranium in Niger, in West Africa.

"This information should not have risen to the level of a presidential
speech," Mr. Fleischer said. "There was reporting, although it wasn't very
specific, about Iraq's seeking to obtain uranium from Africa."

But he also suggested that the White House continued to put some store in
the intelligence that was the basis of Mr. Bush's statement.

"Just because something didn't make it to the level where it should have
been included in a presidential speech, in hindsight, doesn't mean the
information was necessarily inaccurate," Mr. Fleischer said.

The White House has faced questions about Mr. Bush's assertion about the
uranium purchase for months, and they intensified this week after an article
was published on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times on Sunday by Joseph C.
Wilson 4th, a former ambassador who was sent last year to Niger to
investigate reports of the attempted purchase. Mr. Wilson, who said he was
dispatched after Vice President Dick Cheney's office took an interest in the
matter, reported back that the intelligence was likely fraudulent.

But Mr. Fleischer said Mr. Wilson's report was vague and did not
specifically address the main problem with the intelligence, that documents
purporting to document Iraq's efforts were almost certainly forged.

"He spent eight days in Niger and concluded that Niger denied the
allegation," Mr. Fleischer said. "Well, typically nations don't admit to
going around nuclear nonproliferation."

He said there had been "other reporting" beyond the apparently forged
documents about Mr. Hussein's efforts to acquire a lightly processed form of
uranium known as yellow cake, but did not specify what it was.

"I think the American people continue to express their support for ridding
the world of Saddam Hussein based on just cause, knowing that Saddam Hussein
had chemical and biological weapons that were unaccounted for that we're
still confident we'll find," Mr. Fleischer said. "I think the burden is on
those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell
the world where they are."

Mr. Bush said that the United States had underestimated how close Mr.
Hussein was to building a nuclear weapon in 1991, before the first Persian
Gulf war, and that there had long been evidence that Iraq was trying again.
He dismissed the criticism of his justification for war as "attempts to try
to rewrite history."

"Imagine a world in which this tyrant had a nuclear weapon," Mr. Bush said.,2763,995188,00.html

by Julian Borger in Washington
The Guardian, 10th July

A former US intelligence official who served under the Bush administration
in the build-up to the Iraq war accused the White House yesterday of lying
about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

The claims came as the Bush administration was fighting to shore up its
credibility among a series of anonymous government leaks over its distortion
of US intelligence to manufacture a case against Saddam.

This was the first time an administration official has put his name to
specific claims. The whistleblower, Gregory Thielmann, served as a director
in the state department's bureau of intelligence until his retirement in
September, and had access to the classified reports which formed the basis
for the US case against Saddam, spelled out by President Bush and his aides.

Mr Thielmannn said yesterday: "I believe the Bush administration did not
provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat
posed by Iraq."

He conceded that part of the problem lay with US intelligence, but added:
"Most of it lies with the way senior officials misused the information they
were provided."

As Democrats demanded a congressional enquiry, the administration sharply
changed tack. The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, told the Senate the US
had not gone to war against Iraq because of fresh evidence of weapons of
mass destruction but because Washington saw what evidence there was prior to
2001 "in a dramatic new light" after September 11.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Thielmann said that, as of March 2003,
when the US began military operations, "Iraq posed no imminent threat to
either its neighbours or to the United States".

In one example, Mr Thielmann said a fierce debate inside the White House
about the purpose of aluminium tubes bought by Baghdad had been "cloaked in

While some CIA analysts thought they could be used for gas centrifuges to
enrich uranium, the best experts at the energy department disagreed. But the
national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, said publicly that they could
only be used for centrifuges.

Mr Thielmann also said there was no significant pattern of cooperation
between Iraq and al Qaida. He added: "This administration has had a
faith-based intelligence attitude ... 'We know the answers - give us the
intelligence to support those answers'."

Responding to claims of deliberate distortions, Mr Bush accused his critics
of "trying to rewrite history" and insisted "there is no doubt in my mind"
that Saddam "was a threat to world peace".,6903,997209,00.html

by Nick Cohen
The Observer, 13th July

How many Iraqis has Robin Cook killed? Not by the favoured Baath Party means
of feeding them into plastic shredders or gassing them in their villages,
but indirectly through the policies he endorsed? It's hard to be precise -
the body counters in Saddam's Iraq always needed more time - but the death
toll must run into five figures and hits six if you believe the more
gruesome claims about the effects of the sanctions he enforced.

Like many other opponents of the Iraq war, Cook shows no trace of self-doubt
or any inkling that he may be required to answer hard questions. In an
article in the Independent last week, he was certain that the only person
who must explain himself was the Prime Minister. Tony Blair 'owes the
country answers to some troubling questions,' he wrote.

The failure to find chemical and biological weapons had made the
Government's justification for war 'palpably absurd'. The war was
unnecessary, he implied; a capricious campaign mounted by a lying Prime
Minister whose sole aim was to fawn before the Great Satan, George W. Bush.

Cook was right in one respect: we could have carried on following the
policies he advocated when he was Foreign Secretary. There was no pressing
reason to upset the status quo, beyond the fact that the status quo was
barbaric. The world's refusal to support the attempted Iraqi revolution of
1991 had left the country in the worst of all possible worlds: ravaged by
the consequences of Saddam's 'pre-emptive' wars against Iran and Kuwait;
stuck with Saddam and his torture chambers; and crippled by sanctions.

How many were killed isn't as easy to judge as it appears. In August 1999,
Unicef said that 'if the substantial reduction in child mortality throughout
Iraq during the 1980s had continued through the 1990s, there would have been
half-a-million fewer deaths of children under-five in the country as a whole
during the eight-year period 1991 to 1998'.

Denis Halliday, the UN's humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq, resigned in
1998, saying: 'We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is
as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.' To their
evidence must be added the human cost of leaving Saddam in place: the tens
of thousands he massacred in 1991; the 100,000 Kurds and Turks ethnically
cleansed between 1991 and 2003; and the routine rape, mutilation and
execution of political opponents.

Then there was the bombing. There are many questions Cook isn't asked by the
BBC. Are you pleased Saddam's gone? is my favourite, but there's also: what
do you feel when you see the mass graves being opened up? How would you
explain your effective support for the continuation of the regime to its
victims? Good follow ups would be: why did you join with the Clinton
administration in launching a vicious and pointless bombing campaign against
Iraq in 1998 without international agreement, and the bombing of Kosovo
without UN agreement? Why did you support freedom for the peoples of
Yugoslavia but not the peoples of Iraq?

The strikes of 1998 were merely the most spectacular attacks. The aimless
bombing of Iraq continued on a smaller scale throughout Cook's time as
Foreign Secretary. No one knows how many Iraqis were killed, but it's
fanciful to imagine that the raids were bloodless.

Add these figures together and the price of containment was about 600,000
lives. The last estimate I saw for civilian deaths in the war was 2,500,
although, again, precision is impossible. The case against containment and
for overthrowing Saddam - or against Cook and for Blair - appears

The uncertainty is in the formulation 'sanctions have killed half-a-million
children', which ignored the culpability of the tyrant of Iraq for the state
of the tyranny of Iraq (a Stalinist refusal to look a murderer in the eye,
which was born on the far Left in the 1990s, and had spread just about
everywhere by the spring of this year).

Infant mortality in the Kurdish independent statelet in northern Iraq, which
was protected from Saddam by the RAF and USAF, was half the rate of the rest
of Iraq, even though it had to cope with the same UN sanctions. The Baathist
elite could live very well on the proceeds of smuggling oil and stealing
bread from the mouths of the starving. As General Tommy Franks said when his
troops broke into Saddam's apartments, the UN wasn't running an oil for-food
programme in Iraq, but an oil-for-palaces programme.

But the ease with which Saddam survived and prospered under sanctions makes
the disaster of containment all the grimmer. The peaceful alternatives were
to drop sanctions and, presumably, the air cover offered to the Kurds and
Shia, and pretend that Iraq was a normal country, or have 'smart sanctions'
which caused fewer deaths.

Beyond the obvious difficulty that both these options would have left the
Baathist secret police forces free to go about their business lies the
record of the Clinton administration Cook and Blair followed in New Labour's
first term. It showed no desire to take Iraq off the rack. If the chads in
Florida had hung differently, and Al Gore was in the White House, sanctions
and Saddam would still be in place, and Cook would, presumably, be happy.

During the war, I heard many a bishop say that violent means don't justify
noble ends. None addressed the greater evil of means without an end;
perpetual torment without the possibility of relief.

The war has exposed a parochialism among many right-thinking, Left-leaning
people. We've seen passionate opponents of the smallest infringement of
human rights in Britain evading slaughter in Iraq; left-wingers who count
themselves the friends of the oppressed abandoning their Kurdish and Iraqi
comrades; and the British cheerleaders of Baathism treated as dissidents who
deserve fraternal protection from fascist New Labour. At the root of all
such casuistry is the inability of the comfortable inhabitants of the
developed world to realise how bad the worst can be.

I suspect the reason journalists aren't asking Cook if he is finding the air
on the moral high ground too rarefied for his leathery lungs is that the
liberal-minded can't come to terms with the miserable history of sanctions
against Iraq. Not so long ago, sanctions were the favoured tool of the Left.
They were the best weapon in the arsenal of 'soft diplomacy'; a means of
applying pressure without resorting to war. They worked against South Africa
but not against Iraq because, in the end, the South African ruling class
preferred democracy to being cut off from the global economy. Saddam's sole
motivation was to keep himself in power. If tens, or hundreds, of thousands
of Iraqis starved, if Iraq's trade was wrecked, how did that harm him?

In short, Iraq was worse than South Africa, whatever Nelson Mandela says.
Hundreds of thousands had died in failed uprisings since 1975. There wasn't
a half-free press or quarter free judiciary or single independent element of
civil society from which opposition could grow, which is why the Americans
are having such trouble rebuilding the country.

The options for dealing with so thoroughgoing a tyranny were pathetically
limited. You could have left it alone, continued with sanctions or invaded.
Blair's critics include many who are fond of beginning the answer to any
question with: 'It's more complicated than you think.'

In the case of Iraq, it wasn't: the choices were brutally and terribly
simple. The desire not to face them explains the evident relief with which
the media class has turned to discussing who said what to Andrew Gilligan or
the sexing up of dossiers. These are satisfyingly small issues which confirm
prejudices - 'Alastair Campbell's a bastard!' 'You can't trust Tony Blair!'
- rather than confront them.

You'd never guess from the papers and television of the past month that the
British Army controls a third of Iraq and that Britain will have a large
voice in its future governance. With the honourable exception of a few
Labour backbenchers, whose number, I should say in fairness, includes Robin
Cook, no one has been pressing Blair on the nature of the postwar

Readers may object that Britain went to war to destroy weapons of mass
destruction rather than to bring an end to despotism, and those weapons
haven't been found. All I can say in reply is: so what? The consequence of
the war was an end to despotism and, for a few weeks, the British Army was
the armed wing of Amnesty International, whether it knew it or not.

After noting all the valid objections to war, I suspect historians may still
look back with amazement at a British centre-Left which put up with
everything Tony Blair did for years, but couldn't forgive him for his part
in the downfall of the worst tyrant on the planet.

by Paul Lashmar
The Independent, 13th July

Tony Blair made "a fundamental mistake" in claiming that Saddam Hussein
could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, says Hans Blix,
former head of the United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq.

Asked whether he thought the Prime Minister was wrong about the "45-minute"
claim, made in the Government's WMD dossier last September and repeated by
the Prime Minister when he presented the document in the House of Commons,
Dr Blix told The Independent on Sunday: "I think that was a fundamental
mistake. I don't know exactly how they calculated this figure of 45 minutes
in the dossier of September last year. That seems pretty far off the mark to

Dr Blix retired last month as head of Unmovic, the UN weapons inspectorate.
His inspectors returned to Iraq last November after a four-year gap, but
quit again in March with their task incomplete as American and British
forces prepared to invade. The Swedish ex diplomat is now chairman of an
international fund building a new shield at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, scene
of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

Interviewed at Chernobyl, Dr Blix said Mr Blair was "strongly convinced"
about the existence of WMD. "I talked to him several times, and I never had
any other impression. In fact, I was the one who was sceptical and critical,
and said that I didn't think that the evidence was so strong, and said so to
the Security Council."

Did he think the Prime Minister had relied on flawed intelligence, or
misinterpreted what intelligence there was? "They overinterpreted the
intelligence they had," the former Unmovic chief replied.

On the "45 minutes" claim, Dr Blix said it was theoretically possible to
switch in an instant from producing vaccines to producing biological
weapons. "But a weapon is ... also about a means of delivery, and it seems
to me highly unlikely that there were any means of delivering biological or
chemical weapons within 45 minutes."

The American and British occupation authorities in Iraq have refused to
allow the UN inspectors to resume their work. Instead they have set up the
Iraq Survey Group to search for evidence of WMD. Dr Blix did not doubt the
competence or sincerity of the British and American experts, but said there
would be "greater credibility in having international inspectors rather than
national ones ... It's more about the perception from the other side". He
did not elaborate, but was clearly referring to Iraqis, the Arab world and a
large section of opinion in the West.

Even if the inspectors were allowed back, was not there a date by which the
physical or documentary evidence of unconventional weapons could no longer
be viable? "No, if they have VX or mustard gas or anything like sarin, if it
exists somewhere it should be possible to find it," he said. "But the Iraqis
themselves, remember, claimed that it had been destroyed in the summer of
1991. Apart from that which they have indicated is existing in some of their
sites, it should have been destroyed."

The absence of documentation of such destruction is the key question.
"That's what we were so dissatisfied about, that they could not show any
documentation. But towards the end of our stay there they produced a large
number of names of people who they claim had participated in the
transportation and destruction of the different kinds of weapons. If we had
stayed, we would have interviewed these people. That might have provided
rather a different dossier of information. But Iraq was still under a
dictatorship, and interviews under such a dictatorship have some

As for rumours that Iraq spirited away some of its weapons of mass
destruction to countries such as Syria or Iran, Dr Blix refused to comment,
saying: "That's just a lot of speculation."

So where are the weapons of mass destruction? Their conspicuous absence
three months after the invasion of Iraq continues to prey on the Prime
Minister's credibility. We know Saddam Hussein did have them - for many
years he operated a procurement operation nuclear that enabled him to make ,
biological and chemical weapons, and he used gas on his own subjects, the
Kurds, killing 5,000 in the mid-1980s. There are a number of theories about
what happened to the WMD.

The first is that Saddam destroyed or dispersed them shortly before the
invasion. Certainly the British and American military expected the Iraqis to
use chemical and biological weapons. The suggestion that the Iraqis could
deploy WMD in 45 minutes has now passed into political legend.

When WMD were not used against coalition forces, the Government intimated it
was just a matter of time until the hiding places were uncovered. As
recently as a month ago Whitehall sources were still suggesting that British
intelligence would soon be in a position to provide evidence of WMD. That
bullishness seems to have evaporated, as Americans comb Iraq for a hint of

In fairness there is a possibility that the much-debated 45 minutes claim
could have applied only to chemical weapons. Ron Manley, a former UN weapons
inspector, said this week that there remains one grey area, which could have
justified the claim. He says it is possible Iraq stored the binary materials
that can produce sarin and cyclosarin when mixed. "The precursor chemicals
for these agents could be mixed together to produce the toxic chemical
agent." Iraq would still, though, have required a means of delivering the

The theory that WMD were destroyed just before the invasion is, however,
unlikely. The Iraqis did not seem capable of the organised destruction,
which would have been no small task. Places where such destruction would
have taken place show no sign of recent use.

Theory number two was put forward for the first time in the pages of the
Independent on Sunday last week. Professor Richard Shultz, one of the US's
top intelligence experts, told us that a picture was beginning to emerge
from accounts from scientists in Iraq that the strategy was changed some
time before 2000. "I think we will find that the Iraqis dismantled their WMD
programmes so that they could get sanctions lifted. Once sanctions were
lifted they intended to reinstate their WMD research capability."

It was almost certain that Saddam ordered the weapons dismantled or
destroyed in the late 1990s, he said. Meanwhile they dispersed the research
and programme capability and the scientists. The plan was that it could all
be reinstated once the UN inspectors had given the all-clear and sanctions
lifted. But then bin Laden got in the way. "After 9/11 the Bush
administration turned their attention firmly to Iraq," said Professor

Theory number three is based on evidence given to UN inspectors by Hussein
Kamel, the son-in-law of Saddam, who defected to Jordan in August 1995. The
former director of Iraq's Military Industrialisation Corporation claimed to
have carried out Saddam's orders to destroy all WMD after defeat in the 1991
Gulf War.

His story was not necessarily believed, as he did not provide hard evidence.
Mr Kamel eventually returned to Iraq where Saddam had him executed.

Nobody seriously believes Saddam had a nuclear capability for at least a
decade before the invasion. There is slightly more evidence of biological
weapons activity in recent years and even more evidence for chemical weapons
research. But whether the Iraqis made any such weapons after 1991 still has
to be proved. For what it is worth, if I were a betting man, I would place
my money on theory number two.

by Glen Rangwala
The Independent, 13th July

1 Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks

A supposed meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, leader of the 11
September hijackers, and an Iraqi intelligence official was the main basis
for this claim, but Czech intelligence later conceded that the Iraqi's
contact could not have been Atta. This did not stop the constant stream of
assertions that Iraq was involved in 9/11, which was so successful that at
one stage opinion polls showed that two-thirds of Americans believed the
hand of Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks. Almost as many believed Iraqi
hijackers were aboard the crashed airliners; in fact there were none.

2 Iraq and al-Qa'ida were working together

Persistent claims by US and British leaders that Saddam and Osama bin Laden
were in league with each other were contradicted by a leaked British Defence
Intelligence Staff report, which said there were no current links between
them. Mr Bin Laden's "aims are in ideological conflict with present-day
Iraq", it added.

Another strand to the claims was that al-Qa'ida members were being sheltered
in Iraq, and had set up a poisons training camp. When US troops reached the
camp, they found no chemical or biological traces.

3 Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a "reconstituted" nuclear weapons

The head of the CIA has now admitted that documents purporting to show that
Iraq tried to import uranium from Niger in west Africa were forged, and that
the claim should never have been in President Bush's State of the Union
address. Britain sticks by the claim, insisting it has "separate
intelligence". The Foreign Office conceded last week that this information
is now "under review".

4 Iraq was trying to import aluminium tubes to develop nuclear weapons

The US persistently alleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength aluminum
tubes whose only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium
for nuclear weapons. Equally persistently, the International Atomic Energy
Agency said the tubes were being used for artillery rockets. The head of the
IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, told the UN Security Council in January that the
tubes were not even suitable for centrifuges.

5 Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the
first Gulf War

Iraq possessed enough dangerous substances to kill the whole world, it was
alleged more than once. It had pilotless aircraft which could be smuggled
into the US and used to spray chemical and biological toxins. Experts
pointed out that apart from mustard gas, Iraq never had the technology to
produce materials with a shelf-life of 12 years, the time between the two
wars. All such agents would have deteriorated to the point of uselessness
years ago.

6 Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could carry chemical or biological
warheads, with a range which would threaten British forces in Cyprus

Apart from the fact that there has been no sign of these missiles since the
invasion, Britain downplayed the risk of there being any such weapons in
Iraq once the fighting began. It was also revealed that chemical protection
equipment was removed from British bases in Cyprus last year, indicating
that the Government did not take its own claims seriously.

7 Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop smallpox

This allegation was made by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his
address to the UN Security Council in February. The following month the UN
said there was nothing to support it.

8 US and British claims were supported by the inspectors

According to Jack Straw, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix "pointed out"
that Iraq had 10,000 litres of anthrax. Tony Blair said Iraq's chemical,
biological and "indeed the nuclear weapons programme" had been well
documented by the UN. Mr Blix's reply? "This is not the same as saying there
are weapons of mass destruction," he said last September. "If I had solid
evidence that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction or were constructing
such weapons, I would take it to the Security Council." In May this year he
added: "I am obviously very interested in the question of whether or not
there were weapons of mass destruction, and I am beginning to suspect there
possibly were not."

9 Previous weapons inspections had failed

Tony Blair told this newspaper in March that the UN had "tried
unsuccessfully for 12 years to get Saddam to disarm peacefully". But in 1999
a Security Council panel concluded: "Although important elements still have
to be resolved, the bulk of Iraq's proscribed weapons programmes has been
eliminated." Mr Blair also claimed UN inspectors "found no trace at all of
Saddam's offensive biological weapons programme" until his son-in-law
defected. In fact the UN got the regime to admit to its biological weapons
programme more than a month before the defection.

10 Iraq was obstructing the inspectors

Britain's February "dodgy dossier" claimed inspectors' escorts were "trained
to start long arguments" with other Iraqi officials while evidence was being
hidden, and inspectors' journeys were monitored and notified ahead to remove
surprise. Dr Blix said in February that the UN had conducted more than 400
inspections, all without notice, covering more than 300 sites. "We note that
access to sites has so far been without problems," he said. : "In no case
have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew that the
inspectors were coming."

11 Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes

This now-notorious claim was based on a single source, said to be a serving
Iraqi military officer. This individual has not been produced since the war,
but in any case Tony Blair contradicted the claim in April. He said Iraq had
begun to conceal its weapons in May 2002, which meant that they could not
have been used within 45 minutes.

12 The "dodgy dossier"

Mr Blair told the Commons in February, when the dossier was issued: "We
issued further intelligence over the weekend about the infrastructure of
concealment. It is obviously difficult when we publish intelligence
reports." It soon emerged that most of it was cribbed without attribution
from three articles on the internet. Last month Alastair Campbell took
responsibility for the plagiarism committed by his staff, but stood by the
dossier's accuracy, even though it confused two Iraqi intelligence
organisations, and said one moved to new headquarters in 1990, two years
before it was created.

13 War would be easy

Public fears of war in the US and Britain were assuaged by assurances that
oppressed Iraqis would welcome the invading forces; that "demolishing Saddam
Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk", in the
words of Kenneth Adelman, a senior Pentagon official in two previous
Republican administrations. Resistance was patchy, but stiffer than
expected, mainly from irregular forces fighting in civilian clothes. "This
wasn't the enemy we war-gamed against," one general complained.

14 Umm Qasr

The fall of Iraq's southernmost city and only port was announced several
times before Anglo-American forces gained full control - by Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others, and by Admiral Michael Boyce, chief
of Britain's defence staff. "Umm Qasr has been overwhelmed by the US Marines
and is now in coalition hands," the Admiral announced, somewhat prematurely.

15 Basra rebellion

Claims that the Shia Muslim population of Basra, Iraq's second city, had
risen against their oppressors were repeated for days, long after it became
clear to those there that this was little more than wishful thinking. The
defeat of a supposed breakout by Iraqi armour was also announced by military
spokesman in no position to know the truth.

16 The "rescue" of Private Jessica Lynch

Private Jessica Lynch's "rescue" from a hospital in Nasiriya by American
special forces was presented as the major "feel-good" story of the war. She
was said to have fired back at Iraqi troops until her ammunition ran out,
and was taken to hospital suffering bullet and stab wounds. It has since
emerged that all her injuries were sustained in a vehicle crash, which left
her incapable of firing any shot. Local medical staff had tried to return
her to the Americans after Iraqi forces pulled out of the hospital, but the
doctors had to turn back when US troops opened fire on them. The special
forces encountered no resistance, but made sure the whole episode was

17 Troops would face chemical and biological weapons

As US forces approached Baghdad, there was a rash of reports that they would
cross a "red line", within which Republican Guard units were authorised to
use chemical weapons. But Lieutenant General James Conway, the leading US
marine general in Iraq, conceded afterwards that intelligence reports that
chemical weapons had been deployed around Baghdad before the war were wrong.

"It was a surprise to me ... that we have not uncovered weapons ... in some
of the forward dispersal sites," he said. "We've been to virtually every
ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're
simply not there. We were simply wrong. Whether or not we're wrong at the
national level, I think still very much remains to be seen."

18 Interrogation of scientists would yield the location of WMD

"I have got absolutely no doubt that those weapons are there ... once we
have the co operation of the scientists and the experts, I have got no doubt
that we will find them," Tony Blair said in April. Numerous similar
assurances were issued by other leading figures, who said interrogations
would provide the WMD discoveries that searches had failed to supply. But
almost all Iraq's leading scientists are in custody, and claims that
lingering fears of Saddam Hussein are stilling their tongues are beginning
to wear thin.

19 Iraq's oil money would go to Iraqis

Tony Blair complained in Parliament that "people falsely claim that we want
to seize" Iraq's oil revenues, adding that they should be put in a trust
fund for the Iraqi people administered through the UN. Britain should seek a
Security Council resolution that would affirm "the use of all oil revenues
for the benefit of the Iraqi people".

Instead Britain co-sponsored a Security Council resolution that gave the US
and UK control over Iraq's oil revenues. There is no UN-administered trust

Far from "all oil revenues" being used for the Iraqi people, the resolution
continues to make deductions from Iraq's oil earnings to pay in compensation
for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

20 WMD were found

After repeated false sightings, both Tony Blair and George Bush proclaimed
on 30 May that two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological
laboratories. "We have already found two trailers, both of which we believe
were used for the production of biological weapons," said Mr Blair. Mr Bush
went further: "Those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing
devices or banned weapons - they're wrong. We found them." It is now almost
certain that the vehicles were for the production of hydrogen for weather
balloons, just as the Iraqis claimed - and that they were exported by

by George Galloway
The Guardian, 14th July

"Now does he feel/ his secret murders sticking on his hands;/ now minutely
revolts upbraid his faith-breach;/ those he commands move only in command,/
nothing in love: now does he feel his title/ hang loose about him, like a
giant's robe/ upon a dwarfish thief." Thus Angus spoke of the Scottish
usurper Macbeth, whose ambition led him deep into a river of blood. Less
poetically, Clare Short, Mo Mowlem and Robin Cook are saying much the same
of their former cabinet colleague. I predicted before the war that Iraq
would be the political death of Tony Blair, and it is now almost
Shakespearean how the pain from his self-inflicted wounds is written across
his face. It is as if he is physically diminishing before our eyes as his
authority bleeds into the sands of Iraq.

Each new day brings another stab at Blair's credibility: former cabinet
members in public, current ministers in private, using the round of summer
parties to distance themselves from the fading king. From Hans Blix, the BBC
and the press, from two former heads of the joint intelligence committee and
now, perhaps fatally, from across the Atlantic, fall blow after hammer blow.
Suddenly, comparing the two main war leaders to wolves - which has got me
into such difficulty with the Labour hierarchy - seems very tame indeed.

Always travelling light on ideological baggage, never having won or wanted
the affection of the Labour clan, Blair's main asset was his "Trust me, I'm
a regular guy" reputation. Now it is gone and will never be recovered.

That Iraq was lynched by Bush and Blair has become plain as a pikestaff.
Take the saving of Private Jessica. Said at first to have been shot and held
hostage by Iraqi doctors, and now revealed to have been in their care after
a road traffic accident, her story serves as a metaphor for the mendacity so
deep and treacly-black it might be an oil sump: from the 45 minute warning
to the banks of the Niger and the sweepings of the internet floor.

In their occupation of Iraq, the US and British armies have entered the
gates of hell. Soon it will be 100 degrees at midnight in Baghdad, but there
will be no respite from the need for full body armour. In two weeks, armed
attacks on coalition forces have nearly doubled to 25 per day. More than 200
have been wounded and over 40 killed in combat since "victory" was declared
by President Bush. Morale among US forces is dropping towards Vietnam-type
levels, with heavy drug consumption, and commanders turning a blind eye to
the prostituting of Iraqi women. No doubt the spectre of troops "fragging"
overly strict officers is on their minds.

So hot is the welcome to these "liberators" that the US has now evacuated
its forces from both the vast campus of Baghdad University and from the hub
of the sharpest armed action, in Fallujah. The latter gives the lie to the
repeated calumny that those fighting the occupation are merely "Saddamist
remnants". In truth, Fallujah is the heartland of the Jubbur tribe,
arch-enemies of Saddam whose leaders were purged by the Takriti Ba'ath party
bosses more than a decade ago.

No fighting in this area could take place without the Jubbur, so it must be
more than nostalgia for the old regime that is fuelling it. Throughout the
Calvary of Vietnam, resistance was routinely described as coming from
unrepresentative "hardline elements" or outside the country's borders. The
deeper Johnson and Nixon sank into the quagmire, the more they spread the
war, to neighbouring Cambodia and new killing fields. Look out for "hot
pursuit" operations in the months to come into Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia
and Iran.

In Vietnam, the Americans installed a succession of puppet governments in
whose name they could claim to be fighting. Though as bereft of electoral
legitimacy as a Jeb Bush Floridian plebiscite, the Vietnamese juntas had a
social base. Yesterday's jokers, the "Iraqi Governing Council" - handpicked
by Iraq's US governor, Paul Bremer - make South Vietnam's General Thieu look
like an authentic national leader. Without hundreds of thousands of foreign
troops, they would be swept away in a gale of derision.

Iraqis want Britain and America out of their country, that much is
abundantly clear. Only independently supervised elections to a constituent
assembly can produce Iraqi leaders fit to face the outside world and rebuild
their country.

Tony Blair can run around the world on grand diplomatic tours. He can bask
in the adulation of the Republican right in the US Congress. But he cannot
hide from the fact that he has lost the plot at home. He has entered that
twilight which saw the departure in tears of Mrs Thatcher in a taxi from the
Downing Street she once bestrode like a colossus.

The foreign affairs select committee was wrong when it said the jury was out
on the Blair war. Both the public and the Labour movement jury has already
returned its verdict of guilty. Mr Blair will soon exit the political stage;
it would be better t'were done quickly.

by Charles J. Hanley
Yahoo, 14th July

VIENNA, Austria (AP): A top U.N. weapons hunter says it would have been
"virtually impossible" for Iraq to revive a nuclear bomb program with
equipment recently dug up from a Baghdad backyard, as the Bush
administration contends.

Jacques Baute said the long-term monitoring of Iraq's nuclear establishment
planned by the U.N. Security Council would have stifled any attempt to build
a huge uranium-enrichment plant for making bomb material.

"This is a mistake people are making," Baute said. Such contentions ignore
the fact that Iraq would have operated for years under international
controls had the U.N. plan not been aborted by war, he said.

Baute also said in an interview with The Associated Press that it appears
the unearthed cache of uranium enrichment parts, surrendered by an Iraqi
scientist last month, lacked critical components, and its accompanying
blueprints were marred by errors.

Baute, a French nuclear physicist, led the International Atomic Energy
Agency inspection teams that  until the U.S.-British invasion in March 
crisscrossed Iraq in search of banned weapons.

His assessment of the hidden equipment came as a furor grew in Washington
over President Bush's use of an earlier allegation  that Baghdad sought
uranium from Niger  to bolster the White House case for war.

It was Baute's investigation last February that unmasked as forgeries the
documents that underpinned the claims about Niger.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is holding to the Niger story,
noting that the British government now says other, unspecified intelligence
supports the uranium allegation. But London hasn't supplied Washington with
any such information, Rice acknowledged.

Likewise, Baute's office has received nothing from the British three weeks
after asking for the purported independent evidence, said sources at IAEA
headquarters in Vienna, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.N. agency's experts believe all reports of a Niger connection stem
from the same bogus documents.

Eliminating Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction was the main reason
given by Bush for invading the Arab country. But three months of searching
by the U.S. military has found no banned arms, just as some 700 inspections
by U.N. teams from November to March also uncovered no signs of nuclear,
chemical or biological weapons programs.

Before the war, Baghdad said all its chemical and biological weapons had
been destroyed during U.N. inspections in the 1990s.

However, President Bush said Monday he remained convinced that Saddam
Hussein was trying to develop a weapons program that threatened the world
and justified the United States going to war. "Our country made the right
decision," Bush said.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher had no comment when asked about
Baute's statements. But he told reporters: "I think the findings in Iraq
demonstrate that Iraq had not abandoned its intentions on nuclear programs.
Just buried them. Maybe more. We'll see. We'll find the full extent of that
as time goes on."

Iraq never had nuclear arms but was making progress building sophisticated
centrifuges to produce enriched uranium for bombs when the 1991 Gulf War
intervened. Inspectors dismantled the program.

In early June, the centrifuge program chief, Mahdi Shukur Obeidi, turned
over to U.S. authorities equipment and documents he said he buried in his
garden in 1991, when he said Iraqi leaders told him to hold the parts to
revive the program.

The IAEA notes that Obeidi's account tends to undercut one White House
contention: that Saddam's government had secretly resumed its nuclear
program in recent years.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer has instead now focused on the
Obeidi cache's potential, saying it would have allowed Iraq to rebuild
weapons facilities "once sanctions were ended."

But Baute, in the interview Friday, pointed out that once U.N. economic
sanctions were ended, after inspectors certified Baghdad's weapons work had
ceased, the Security Council was to have imposed an Ongoing Monitoring and
Verification regime on Iraq  controls short-circuited by the U.S.-British

Inspectors, with unhindered access under U.N. resolutions, would have kept
close watch on Iraq's military-industrial complex, aided by air and water
sampling technology, satellite and aerial surveillance, and monitoring of
Iraq's imports.

An enrichment plant, a vast array of thousands of centrifuges, would have
been easily detected, said Baute, who once helped build French nuclear

"To have turned it into a full-blown enrichment program while OMV was in
place would have been virtually impossible," he said of the Obeidi

Although U.S. officials have not shared their Obeidi data with the IAEA,
Baute's experts closely examined available photos of the components and
found they included one critical part, the bottom bearing assembly.

But other vital elements apparently are lacking, Baute said, including the
advanced carbon fiber rotor, the spinning tube in which uranium gas is

"It is far, far from being a complete set," he said.

He also noted the Iraqis would have had to expose themselves by searching
for foreign manufacturers to duplicate complex components.

As for Obeidi's documents, they appear to be copies of centrifuge drawings
and papers seized by IAEA inspectors in 1995, Baute said.

"These Iraqi drawings seem to contain mistakes," he said. German engineers
who secretly assisted the centrifuge program apparently didn't leave their
hosts finished designs, and the Iraqis erred at times in filling in gaps.


by Edith M. Lederer
Associated Press, 15th July

UNITED NATIONS - Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter released a new
book, accusing President Bush of illegally attacking Iraq and calling for
"regime change" in the United States at the next election.

Ritter criticized key figures caught up in the U.S.-led war at Monday's U.N.
news conference. He said Bush lied to the American people and Congress about
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction; U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan lacked
courage; former chief weapons inspector Hans Blix was "a moral and
intellectual coward."

Ritter, a former U.S. Marine, was a weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to
1998. He has been a vocal critical of the Bush administration's policy on

Ritter said he wrote "Frontier Justice, Weapons of Mass Destruction and the
Bushwacking of America" to educate people. The 209-page paperback, published
by Context Books, has on its cover a picture of Bush in jeans and a cowboy
hat, behind the wheel of a truck.

In the book, Ritter notes that the Bush administration's stated reason for
launching the war was to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. The book
argues that there is no evidence that Iraq possesses, produces or concealed
nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Therefore, Ritter argues that "the
United States carried out an illegal war of aggression."

Bush, responding Monday to similar charges about the lack of evidence of
illegal Iraqi weapons, insisted: "When it's all said and done, the people of
the United States and the world will realize that Saddam Hussein had a
weapons program."

Ritter said Bush's real goal was to get rid of Saddam Hussein's regime.
"What is needed in America is regime change," Ritter writes. "Anything but
Bush and (Vice President Dick) Cheney."

At the news conference, Ritter accused France and Germany of failing to get
a Security Council or General Assembly resolution calling the war illegal
and demanding a U.S. withdrawal.

Ritter had kind words for Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International
Atomic Energy Agency. He said ElBaradei was "much more honest" than Blix
about appraising Iraq's nuclear weapons and the threat they posed.

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