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Crossing Interests 24.09.2003 [15:57] Pre-War Claims Continue to Unravel The current debacle in Iraq was predicted by thousands of political scientists, historians, economists, United Nations officials, human rights organizations, journalists, priests, imams, and ordinary anti- war pundits who had the foresight to realize what the invasion of Iraq really meant However, many in the US refused to listen, blinded by the post-9/11 web of paranoia and a media that simply caved in to the whims of a neoconservative agenda. Many in the US continued to believe that Iraq perpetrated the attacks in New York and Virginia. Many believed that Saddam could strike the US with a nuclear bomb, a radioactive “dirty” bomb, or supply terrorists like Al-Qaeda with the technology to do it themselves. Within the next few weeks, David Kay, the American lead man seeking proof of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and former head of UNSCOM, the UN weapons inspection regime, is expected to brief the world on his findings. Reports coming out of Washington indicate that the Kay report may indeed be postponed for undetermined reasons. Despite the dwindling likelihood of finding anything substantial to report after five months, many regional experts expect Kay to continue his long repertoire of embellishing the context – much in the same way in the months leading up to the Iraq war when he claimed he was confident Iraqi weapons would be found. In the four months since Saddam’s statue was toppled, the claims of Iraq’s weapons, imminent threat, and arsenal, have slowly started to unravel. Claim #1 – US President George Bush repeated claims that Iraq was in possession of aerial drones fitted with chemical weapons delivery systems. This was also the basis of US Secretary of State Powell’s UN “evidence against Iraq” presentation. Proven Fact - Subsequent intelligence and analysis from Iraq indicate the drones could not have possibly been designed except for reconnaissance missions. No chemical delivery systems were found. The Associated Press would later report that “Huddled over a fleet of abandoned Iraqi drones, US weapons experts in Baghdad came to one conclusion: Despite the Bush administration’s public assertions, these unmanned aerial vehicles weren’t designed to dispense biological or chemical weapons”. Claim #2 – UN weapons inspectors are unable to find chemical weapons because the Iraqis have been adept at hiding them in mobile labs. This assertion was used by both President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was also the basis of Powell’s UN presentation. Proven Fact - The Observer (Guardian Unlimited) reported in early June that British intelligence “has established that it is increasingly likely that the units were designed to be used for hydrogen production to fill artillery balloons, part of a system originally sold to Saddam by Britain in 1987.” Claim #3 – PM Tony Blair told Parliament as early as September of last year that Iraq had the capability to mobilize its chemical weapons within 45 minutes and strike. A British Government dossier published last year (September 2002) to justify an invasion of Iraq made notable mention of Blair’s claim. Proven Fact – The Blair claim has caused quite a flap in British domestic politics. A government weapons adviser, David Kelly, who had disagreed with Blair’s statement, as well as the level of Iraq’s threat to the world, was later found dead – an apparent suicide. According to BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, Kelly believed that the British government tried to sex up the dossier in order to make a better sell to the public and justify an invasion of Iraq. Furthermore, “Blair's headline-grabbing claim that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order to do so was based on hearsay information,” The Guardian reported in mid-July. In July, an 11-member House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee investigated Blair’s statements and the British dossier. Their consequent report said that Blair “misrepresented” the information he was given and, by presenting it to Parliament, had “inadvertently made a bad situation worse.” Addressing evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the report stated, “We further conclude that the jury is still out on the accuracy of the September dossier until substantial evidence of Iraq’s WMD, or of their destruction, is found.” An entire conflict was initiated and continues to rage because “the jury is still out on” the very evidence that justified the conflict. (The entire report, known as the Ninth Report of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/ cmfaff/813/81302.htm Claim #4 – In January of this year, President Bush used the State of the Union Address to firmly tell Congress and the American nation that Iraq was a threat to peace in the world, and, specifically, a threat to US shores. President Bush cited evidence of Iraqi efforts to procure enriched uranium: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The claim was repeated by several senior members of the Bush administration, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was later circulated that documents were in Coalition hands implicating that Niger was the country providing the uranium to Iraq. Proven Fact – Subsequent research by the CIA, MI-6, UN weapons inspectors, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have revealed that Bush’s claim was simply unfounded. The documents linking Niger to Iraq were third-rate forgeries, according to the IAEA. On July 6, Joseph Wilson, US ambassador to Gabon (1992-1995) wrote a scathing editorial in The New York Times berating the Bush administration for “twist[ing] to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” Wilson, who was able to determine that the Niger-Iraq connection was a fabrication and the documents forgeries, said: “Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report also criticized the Bush claim and called on the British government to conduct an investigation as to how the Niger claim was allowed into the Blair September 2002 dossier. Claim #5 – When UN weapons inspectors came up empty in their search for chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, the Bush administration affirmed the belief that these weapons would be found by US forces once Iraq was “liberated.” Richard Perle, head of the US Defence Department policy board, told the BBC in January of this year that “we must assume that what is unaccounted for is hidden.” The US position at the time was that even if weapons inspectors came up empty, it was impossible to give Iraq a clean bill of health. Proven Fact – There are currently more than 2,000 inspectors, agents, Special Forces teams, FBI investigators, CIA personnel, and scientists scouring Iraq. After more than four months they have found close to nothing to suggest Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The BBC’s Andrew Marr recently told BBC Television “Senior government sources are telling me that they no longer believe that physical weapons of mass destruction are actually going to be found in Iraq.” As the effort to find weapons of mass destruction began to seem fruitless, the Bush administration quickly offered a plethora of reasons why, and in some cases, pointed to Saddam’s human rights record as adequate justification for an invasion of Iraq. “In his weekly radio address yesterday, Mr Bush was forced to produce a new explanation of why the US has not found Iraq’s alleged chemical and biological weapons. He told listeners that suspect sites had been looted in the closing days of Saddam Hussein’s regime,” said The Independent, June 24. In late September 2003, intelligence sources, scientists, and international weapons inspectors provided mounting evidence that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction nor the programs to assist in procuring such illicit weaponry. Political leaders in the US continued to call on President George Bush to explain how the CIA, NSA and FBI continued to believe that Iraq had those weapons and why the weapons inspectors were not given enough time to conclude their UN mandate. North American media has started to insinuate that the threat Iraq posed to the world was exaggerated and manipulated post 9/11 to convince a fearful public to wage war. The 9/11 connection to Iraq began to wane and weaken as both President Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that they had never claimed Iraqi President Saddam was connected to the terrorist attacks. In the UK, PM Tony Blair faced increasing calls for his resignation amid the controversial Hutton Inquiry, established to determine whether the government “sexed-up” evidence against Iraq. So, how did a war come about? What factors or parties proved instrumental in paving the way to war? In September 2000, as the Palestinian Intifadha raged, a blueprint for US foreign policy and strategy was drawn up by a prominent US think-tank. The blueprint, titled Rebuilding America’s Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, went largely unreported in US media, but is available online. The report was drafted for Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush (President George Bush’s brother and current Florida governor), Paul Wolfowitz, and Lewis Libby (then Cheney’s chief of staff) before the 2000 US elections. Today, Cheney is US Vice-President; Wolfowitz is Deputy-Secretary of Defence to Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defence. Together, the three pushed, labored, and stressed the necessity to pursue an invasion of Iraq. The invasion of Iraq, and control of the Arab Gulf region, is clearly defined as a central strategy in the report: The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein. The report pinpointed the UK as “the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership,” playing a vital role in the “fight” to “decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars;” and it sees the UN as a weak, bureaucratic offset of America’s political will: peace-keeping missions are “demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations.” The report further stressed that US strategic interests required that “even should Saddam pass from the scene,” bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently - despite domestic opposition in the Gulf regimes to the stationing of US troops - as “Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has.” The report also forecast the emerging unity of European markets as a liable threat against US interests; subsequently, all industrial nations must be discouraged from rivalling or challenging the US. Consequently, the US public was (and continues to be) fed massive misinformation by a right-wing conservative, ultra-unilateralist faction that is obsessed with: 1) Ensuring that the majority of the world’s energy supplies are under their dominance, 2) Ensuring that Russian oil companies stay out of Iraq, and more recently, Kuwait, where Russian Lukoil had been in negotiations with Kuwaiti oil companies, 3) Solving the Palestinian problem by “asking the Palestinians to leave” and declaring a homeland in Jordan, or possibly western Iraq, by 2004, 4) Dividing the oil fields of Iraq with Israel and the United Kingdom (the possibility that the latter may be stiffed is quite high), 5) Surrounding Iran by setting up military advance vanguard bases in Iraq, the former Soviet Republics, and Afghanistan, 6) Applying sufficient military, economic, and diplomatic pressures leading to the division of Saudi Arabia into four sectors, 7) Going after any irritant to Israel, including Hizbollah and Syrian- backed factions. A quick read of recent various Washington-based think tanks reveals a deep animosity towards Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. The non-ethic of pre-emption is a means to an end, or several ends as listed above. Much effort has gone into achieving the above goals, but the overwhelmingly pivotal first step was the invasion and occupation of Iraq, with the other pieces to follow like the domino effect. The invasion of Iraq required a massive disinformation and propaganda effort not seen since the Third Reich brainwashed its own people into believing that the Jews were to be eradicated in a Final Solution and that all of Europe was to fall under German Aryan subjugation. In the modern era the Final Solution is for the Iraqis in the small scale; the Arabs who get out of line, in the greater scale. The disinformation initiative began well before September 11, 2001, with carefully selected articles making their way into mainstream media. The proponents of this initiative included CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The National Review, and a bevy of syndicated columnists, such as Ann Coulter (“let’s invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity”), Charles Krauthammer and William Safire, as well as political heavies like Richard Perle, Henry Kissinger, and former CIA chief William Woolsey. The list also included various “experts,” military personnel, and Iraqi dissidents residing in the US who believed supporting the Bush Administration would make their lives easier in the New World. British Member of Parliament George Galloway publicly called these Iraqi dissidents as “bought and paid for by the Americans” (BBC - September 24, 2002). The disinformation was perpetuated through the guise of a “free press.” Unfortunately, North American free press is about as free as the press in Myanmar (formerly Burma). No one in North American media questions the official line; rather, they tout it hook, line and sinker. Firas Al-Atraqchi is a Canadian journalist of Iraqi heritage. Holding an MA in Journalism and Mass Communication, he has eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org Firas Al-Atraqchi/Columnist – Canada, IslamOnline.net Mark Parkinson Bodmin Cornwall _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk