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[casi] News titles, 6-13/8/03

News titles, 6-13/8/03

These news mailings have not done much to follow the story of Dr Kelly and
the Hutton Inquiry. I have been adopting a rather snobbish attitude towards
all that. The central argument advanced publicly to justify the invasion was
that Iraq posed a threat to the security of the United States (and Britain,
as if that matters). This was such a ludicrous proposition that no-one could
be taken in by it unless, for whatever reason, they wanted to be. So the
fact that the details of the case have turned out to be so weak is really a
very secondary matter. It is difficult to have any respect for the people
who swallowed the cake and now start whining about the quality of the icing.

However, the fact that the government - after winning such a mighty victory
which has, as we all know, brought health and happiness to millions of
ordinary Iraqis - is now looking and, we hope, feeling, sordid is of course
a very important and remarkable thing. And the man responsible seems to be,
not ourselves - not even Glen, though he got quite a lot of the distance -
but David Kelly. Who ought, really, to have been on the other side.

Dr Kelly was at the heart of UNSCOM. If UNSCOM has any credibility it is
largely because of him. Most of us probably think, as I do, that UNSCOM was
a bunch of US and British agents charged essentially with the job of
providing excuses to prolong the sanctions regime. The basic fact about
UNSCOM - which is not an obscure fact, it is clear public knowledge - is
that they never found any evidence of any functioning, post 1991, Iraqi
chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programme. The most they themselves
claim is that they established the existence of pre-1991 programmes the
Iraqis hadn't wanted to acknowledge. And that the Iraqis could have produced
more at that time than they said they had produced; and that not all of what
they said they produced was fully accounted for.

That was the feeble justification for the six years (until Oil for Food)
total blockade imposed on the Iraqi people which was responsible for, let us
put it modestly, the deaths of many thousands of people from starvation and
disease. This policy was largely justified on the authority of David Kelly.
Terence Taylor, one of the most consistent advocates of sanctions and of
war, admits to knowing nothing about the matter. He regarded David Kelly as
his 'mentor' (Taylor is famous for being an inspector. We are now told his
role was political. We used to be told that the inspectors were not
political - they were all supposed to be impersonal scientific observers
with no connection to their respective governments. Remember?).

But what if - I advance it as the merest hypothesis - Dr Kelly was in fact
'a Walter Mitty character'? What if, for five years, between 1991 and 1996,
he was living out a fantasy in which he took the role of, say, James Bond?
We have our notions about what UNSCOM was and what it did. We also have our
notions about what Porton Down, where Dr Kelly acquired his expertise, was
and what it did. Dr Kelly was intimately involved in both institutions. He
knew exactly what they were. And he has just killed himself.

The Hutton Inquiry is investigating the possibility that he killed himself
because his superior at the MoD spoke to him severely; because the man who
reduced 'Dr Germ' to tears had been intimidated by a rather spectacularly
incompetent parliamentary committee; because he was a creature of the
shadows and his name was now known to the public; because he hadn't had a
pay rise for three years. Its all quite possible but it seems very unlikely.
On the other hand, David Kelly knew a lot about a couple of institutions
which, if our instincts are right, were engaged in some pretty murky
business. Which is why I suggested a while ago that fear might have had
something to do with it.

But a couple of nights ago I saw, not for the first time, the great Russian
film, Solaris. The script included a line which, it struck me, might be
relevant to our present situation: 'It wasn't fear which drove Dr Gabaryan
to kill himself. It was shame.' And in case anyone thinks that is being
unkind to a dead man, the next line was to the effect that 'shame is the
only thing left that can help us restore our humanity.'

News, 6-13/8/03 (1)


*  Khomeini's grandson moves to Al-Najaf [to rejoice in the freedom brought
by the liberation of Iraq (and to meet famous people like Thomas Friedman)]
*  UNICEF won't work with clerics in Sadr City [Problems with the Dar
Al-Rahma (House of Mercy) orphanage]
*  Iraq's Governing Council to Have 25 Ministries ['six more than under the
previous regime of Saddam Hussein'. Of course it just happens that there are
25 members of the 'Governing Council']
*  Shiite divisions give the US breathing room [by Juan Cole]
*  Dinner with the Sayyids [Thomas Friedman finds 'real spiritual leaders'
in Iraq ready to lead their followers (if they have any) into the bright
lights of the New American Century]


*  Daughter of deposed Iraqi leader says Hussein's confidants betrayed him
[Good to see Raghad Hussein standing up for her father: '"The factor of
deadly jealousy was the source of the [Al-Bayjat] tribe's tragedy," she
said. "It is as if God distributed jealousy among humanity in two parts; he
gave half to the world and the other half to the Al-Bayjat" tribe.'. She
insists that President Hussein did NOT order the deaths of her husband and
brother in law]
*  Two-month standoff at Chinese Embassy ends [Ambassador Muwaffaq al-Ani,
against the wishes of other members of the staff, refuses to take orders
from the invaders]


*  Has Blair Sexed Up Saddam's Atrocities, Too? [John Laughland responds to
the Prime Minister's argument 'that the United Nations is claiming that some
300,000 bodies lie in mass graves in Iraq'. The claim doesn't come from the
UN but from Human Rights Watch, who are not in a position to know]
*  Insider fires a broadside at Rumsfeld's office [Air Force Lt Col Karen
Kwiatkowski reveals that the Office of the Secretary of Defense is much what
we all thought it was]
*  Career officer does eye-opening stint inside Pentagon [Kwiatkowski's
original article. Though it does have a bit of a 'now I realise I was
suckered by Saddam Hussein' feel to it]
*  How neo-cons influence the Pentagon ... [More details from Karen
Kwiatkowski. A roll call of villains]
*  Is Iraqi Intel Still Being Manipulated? [Iraqi nuclear scientist Mahdi
Obeidi hasn't delivered the goods so he won't get his reward]

AND, IN NEWS, 6-13/8/03 (2)


*  Looted and for sale in Iraq: the deadly core of nuclear weapons
*  Israeli firm wins public telephone contract in Iraq [Iridium Satellite
Israel, if the story's true]
*  Kidnap Gangs Add to Iraqis' Insecurity [Extracts from article on rash of
kidnappings mainly directed against Iraqi Christians]
*  Iraqi Central Bank head requests transfer of frozen funds [Is this theft?
or is it theft?]
*  Gold bars turn out to be copper [remember the $100 milion dollar
truckload of them? Seems it was a truckload of melted down shell casings]
*  President appoints Greenwich man to Iraq position [Old college chum and
election fundraiser for Mr Bush 'will be in charge of 200 state-owned
enterprises, including mining, chemical, cement and tobacco companies. Oil
production and two state-owned banks are the only industries that will not
be under his supervision, he said.']
*  UK forces seize ship smuggling Iraqi oil


*  Kurdistan Islamic Movement threatens U.S. forces after leader arrested
[The Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan, which, it seems, has its
stronghold in Halabja. Which may help to explain why, though Halabja was
milked for all its propaganda value, nothing was done for the actual victims
of the chemical attacks. The article also refers to the arrest of Abu Jihad
al-Nawawi, the deputy leader of the Higher Council for the Liberation of
Iraq. Which presumably isn't the same thing as SCIRI? Is it?]
*  Tribal leader reportedly assassinated in Mosul [Shaykh Sha'lan Munif
al-Faysal of the Shammar tribe]
*  Abu Ghurayb Prison gets face lift and new name [At present the facelift
consists of 'razor wire pens'. The new name is Baghdad Central Penitentiary.
The article refers to  the website of which 'noted
widespread reports of mass graves either within the perimeter or near the
prison, "but this is not apparent from imagery alone."']
*  11 killed in Baghdad bomb blast [outside the Jordanian Embassy. The
figure later rose to nineteen killed. And two US soldiers killed in a
firefight in Baghdad, 6th August. Not the same incident as in 'One Iraqi
killed ...' below]
*  New, improved and more lethal: son of napalm [It is a libel to say the US
used napalm in Iraq. They used 'a similar sticky, inflammable substance
known as 'fuel-gel mixture'']
*  One Iraqi killed, two US soldiers injured in Baghdad [Bomb blast,
Thursday 7th August.]     
*  US troops kill six Iraqis [in Tikrit, Friday, 8th August]
*  Ex-Gurkha killed in ambush as more riots flare in Basra [Weekend, 9-10
*  US detains Shiite cleric in flashpoint Iraqi town [Ali Abdul Karim Al
Madani, in Baquba]     
*  'Human shield' faces $10,000 fine
*  U.S. Soldier Dies in Bomb Attack West of Baghdad [In Ramadi, Tuesday 12th
August. In part of the article I haven't given we learn that we are now in
the middle of Operation Ivy Lightning]

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