Posts Tagged ‘invasion of Iraq’

Iraq – What was done in our name?

January 14, 2012

Phil Shiner, one of the UK’s leading human rights lawyers, argues we shouldn’t forget that everything the world community abhors about US military actions, from Guantanamo Bay to this week’s US Marines video scandal, is of a piece with UK policies and practices in Iraq, including, as he documents, the abuse, torture of killing of detainees.

Phil Shiner, Ceasefire Magazine,  Jan 13, 2012

Baha Mousa, 26, with his wife and two children. He was detained by the British army for 36 hours and died on 15 September 2003 (Photograph: Reuters)

Two million people marched in London against an invasion of Iraq on 15 February 2003. I doubt if any of the protesters could have imagined in their wildest dreams the serious human rights violations about to be committed by UK Armed Forces and intelligence personnel in our name. Our worst nightmares might have included the use of cluster munitions causing indiscriminate deaths of Iraqi civilians, or disproportionate bombardments of civilian areas, or even the use of depleted uranium, but not what actually happened.

The UK’s detention and interrogation policies in Iraq were not only completely unlawful but outrageously contaminated by the fact that our co-author in this illegal war, soon to become our Joint Co-Occupier subsequently, was the United States. Everything the world community associates with US practices and techniques, whether at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base, Abu Ghraib, secret sites or rendition is of a piece with UK policies and practices in Iraq. This is not my subjective opinion or idle speculation. It is a matter of publicly available evidence.

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The Unchallenged Power of the Israel Lobby in America

July 14, 2010

On Being Led By the Nose

By James  Abourezk, Counterpunch, July 12, 2010

I picked up a copy of a memoir written by the long-gone CIA Director, George Tenet.   On the first page of the book’s preface, Mr. Tenet described what it was like on the day after the World Trade Towers had exploded as a result of the terrorists’ actions on 9-11-01.

I quote Mr. Tenet here:

“All this weighed heavy on my mind as I walked beneath the awning that leads to the West Wing and saw Richard Perle exiting the building just as I was about to enter.  Perle is one of the godfathers of the neoconservative movement and, at the time, was head of the Defense Policy Board, an independent advisory group attached to the Secretary of Defense.  Ours was little more than a passing acquaintance.  As the doors closed behind him, we made eye contact and nodded.  I had just reached the door myself when Perle turned to me and said, ‘Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday.  ‘They bear responsibility.’ (Italics added).

“I was stunned but said nothing.  Eighteen hours earlier, I had scanned passenger manifests for the four hijacked airplanes  that showed beyond a doubt that al-Qa’ida was behind the attacks.  Over the months and years to follow, we would carefully examine the potential of a collaborative role for state sponsors.  The intelligence then and now, however, showed no evidence of Iraqi complicity.”

The idea that George W. Bush’s neocon advisers–Perle included–convinced him that the U.S. should invade Iraq received some attention after the Iraqi war started.  But to my knowledge, no one, either in politics or the media, pressed the case too hard, lest they discover that those who wanted to invade Iraq had, not America’s interest, but Israel’s interest in mind.

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USA: Thousands rally on anniversary of invasion of Iraq

March 21, 2010

By MATTHEW BARAKAT (Associated Press Writer)

The Washington Post,  March 21, 2010

WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters – many directing their anger squarely at President Barack Obama – marched through the nation’s capital Saturday to urge immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

At least eight people, including activist Cindy Sheehan, were arrested by U.S. Park Police at the end of the march, after laying coffins at a fence outside the White House. Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

“Arrest that war criminal!” Sheehan shouted outside the White House before her arrest, referring to Obama.

At a rally before the march, Sheehan asked whether “the honeymoon was over with that war criminal in the White House” – an apparent reference to Obama – prompting moderate applause.

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Don’t Stand By as the Wars ‘Drone’ On

March 19, 2010

by Ann Wright, CommonDreams.org, March 19, 2010

Seven years ago today I resigned from the U.S. government in opposition to the Bush administration’s war on Iraq.

I had worked for the State Department for sixteen years and had been in the Army and Army Reserves for 29 years.  I was one of three U.S. diplomats who resigned over the Bush administration’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq and one of tens if not hundreds of thousands of government employees that knew the war on Iraq would jeopardize our national security, not improve it.

While I was in the process of making my decision to resign, millions of Americans and tens of millions of people from around the world took to the streets to protest the pending invasion and occupation of Iraq and the inevitable deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Tomorrow I will be marching in Washington, DC and will join with hundreds of thousands of Americans all over our country to protest the continuation of Bush’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan by the Obama administration.

Seven years in Afghanistan

Looking our country’s history of invasions and occupations, I guess I should not be surprised that seven years later, over 100,000 U.S. military and 100,000 U.S. contractors would remain in Iraq and that a new president, elected by many to end the wars, would be following lockstep the old president’s blueprint on the wars and on so many other issues.

President Obama, who professed to having been opposed to the Iraq war, has not speeded up the removal of U.S. military forces from Iraq.  Bush’s plan for leaving a force of 50,000 U.S. military until the end of 2011 is being implemented with little variation by Obama.  These “non-combat” 50,000 forces will actually be combat troops renamed as trainers and advisors to Iraqi security forces and quick reaction forces to continue to combat operations when needed.

No one of the Obama administration will state how many private security contractors will remain in Iraq.  Private security contractors serve as extensions of combat military forces and, if any administration was honest about in counting U.S. combat power, should be added to the military numbers.

By the Bush-Obama timetable, all U.S. military troops are to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, but whether the 100,000 U.S. contractors will remain is conveniently unclear.

If you thought this Iraq timetable was too long under Bush, then one would hope that you think it is too long under Obama also.

Eight and one-half years in Afghanistan

This month marks eight and one-half years the U.S. military has been an occupying force in Afghanistan.  Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has increased dramatically U.S. military operations in Afghanistan with an increase of 30,000 troops.  Now over 100,000 U.S. military are in Afghanistan with the number of U.S. contractors topping 75,000 and scheduled to increase even further.

The Obama administration has increased enormously the use of assassination drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a major increase in civilian deaths from drone attacks. Large scale combat operations in sparsely populated areas of Afghanistan are underway.  We are told the operations are for clearing Taliban, but in reality they seem to be consolidating power in the area for Afghan President Karzai’s brother Walid who is reported by many to be involved in Afghanistan’s huge drug trade and extending U.S. military occupation of greater regions of the country.

Show your concerns tomorrow and every day-jobs, schools, healthcare-not more war and other criminal acts by our own government!

There are many reasons to be on the streets tomorrow. Protesting wars of aggression, accountability for government officials violating our own laws as well as domestic laws, is another reason.

Despite claims that he would close Guantanamo within his first year, President Obama continues the imprisonment policies of Bush and looks like he will fold to right-wing Republican pressure to continue to use the tainted military commissions to try prisoners with “evidence” obtained by torture.

Ominously, the Obama administration is refusing to hold accountable key officials in the Bush administration who violated U.S. and international law which makes torture illegal.  The names of these officials are well-known–John Yoo, Jay Bybee (now a federal court judge), Alberto Gonzalez, David Addington.  And former Vice-President Cheney still makes public statements that torture is fine and that water boarding is appropriate and legal.

Many citizens believe that there must be accountability for the Bush administration otherwise future administrations, including the Obama administration, may attempt to conduct criminal action while in office with impunity.  Today I join hundreds who will protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, John Yoo’s freedom while he sentenced thousands to be tortured by his legal opinions under as justification for torture by the Bush administration.

Greed from huge corporate war profits and from financial system profits that miraculously rebounded in record time with our tax bailout while millions of Americans are out of work, schools in America close and healthcare costs skyrocket should move millions of us to be visibly and vocally challenging both political parties who share the blame in the dangerous situation America is in.

After spending most of my adult life in either the U.S. military or the U.S. diplomatic corps, I strongly believe we must let our officials know of our displeasure and anger, and I hope you will join your friends and neighbors on the streets tomorrow, March 20, to challenge war and business as usual in America.

Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.  She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia.  In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.  She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”  (www.voicesofconscience.com)

Blair warned in 2000 Iraq war was illegal

March 3, 2010

Secret papers withheld by Chilcot inquiry reveal Foreign Office fears over invasion

By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent, The independent/UK, March 2, 2010

Tony Blair gives evidence to the Iraq Inquiry in Westminster on 29  January
REUTERS

Tony Blair gives evidence to the Iraq Inquiry in Westminster on 29 January

An invasion of Iraq was discussed within the Government more than two years before military action was taken – with Foreign Office mandarins warning that an invasion would be illegal, that it would claim “considerable casualties” and could lead to the breakdown of Iraq, The Independent can reveal.The extent of Whitehall opposition to the policy eventually backed by Tony Blair emerges just three days before Gordon Brown will appear at the Iraq Inquiry, where he will be asked to explain his role in the Government’s decision to invade.

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The WMD evidence Blair ignored

December 22, 2009
Morning Star Online, Monday 21 December 2009
David Lowry

Tony Blair’s self-serving assertion that he would have found a pretext to invade Iraq even if he had known Saddam Hussein had not possessed WMD is another example of the ex-PM distorting the truth over Iraq.

Blair knew Saddam had no WMD at least six years before he colluded with George Bush to illegally invade Iraq.

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Saddam’s lawyers seek Blair prosecution over Iraq war

December 13, 2009
Middle East Online, Dec 13, 2009


Blair would have backed the Iraq invasion even if he knew that it had no WMDs

Lawyers claim ex-British PM’s new admission reveals violation of offences within Geneva Conventions Act 1957.

LONDON – Lawyers for the overthrown Iraqi leadership have asked England’s attorney general for consent to prosecute Tony Blair, claiming a new interview revealed offences contrary to the Geneva Conventions.

Giovanni di Stefano, representing former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz, wrote to the British government’s chief legal adviser on Saturday with a “request for consent to prosecute” former British prime minister Blair.

Di Stefano’s Studio Legale Internazionale law firm represented Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who was deposed by the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Britain, under Blair, backed the invasion.

In comments released from a BBC television interview due out Sunday, Blair said he would have backed the invasion of Iraq even if he knew that it had no weapons of mass destruction, the main justification at the time.

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Tony Blair Admits: I would have invaded Iraq anyway

December 12, 2009

WMD were not vital for war says ex-PM ahead of appearance at Chilcot inquiry

by Riazat Butt and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian/UK, Dec 12, 2009

Tony Blair has said he would have invaded Iraq even without evidence of weapons of mass destruction and would have found a way to justify the war to parliament and the public.

[Tony Blair told Fern Britton, in an interview to be broadcast on BBC1, that he would have found a way to justify the Iraq invasion. (Photograph: BBC)]
Tony Blair told Fern Britton, in an interview to be broadcast on BBC1, that he would have found a way to justify the Iraq invasion. (Photograph: BBC)

The former prime minister made the confession during an interview with Fern Britton, to be broadcast on Sunday on BBC1, in which he said he would still have thought it right to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

“If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?” Blair was asked. He replied: “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”.

Significantly, Blair added: “I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat.” He continued: “I can’t really think we’d be better with him and his two sons in charge, but it’s incredibly difficult. That’s why I sympathise with the people who were against it [the war] for perfectly good reasons and are against it now, but for me, in the end I had to take the decision.”

He explained it was “the notion of him as a threat to the region” because Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against his own people.

“This was obviously the thing that was uppermost in my mind. The threat to the region. Also the fact of how that region was going to change and how in the end it was going to evolve as a region and whilst he was there, I thought and actually still think, it would have been very difficult to have changed it in the right way.”

Though Blair has always argued that Iraq would be better off without Saddam Hussein, to parliament and the public, he always justified military action on the grounds that the Iraqi dictator was in breach of UN-backed demands that he abandon his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme.

It is possible that Blair has shifted his ground in anticipation of his appearance early next year before the Chilcot inquiry. The inquiry has heard that Blair made clear to President George Bush at a meeting in Texas 11 months before the Iraq invasion that he would be prepared to join the US in toppling Saddam.

Blair was “absolutely prepared to say he was willing to contemplate regime change if [UN-backed measures] did not work”, Sir David Manning, Blair’s former foreign policy adviser, told the inquiry. If it proved impossible to pursue the UN route, then Blair would be “willing to use force”, Manning emphasised.

The Chilcot inquiry has seen a number of previously leaked Whitehall documents which suggest Blair was in favour of regime change although he was warned by Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, in July 2002, eight months before the invasion, that “the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action”.

Manning told Blair in March that year that he had underlined Britain’s position to Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s national security adviser.

“I said you [Blair] would not budge in your support for regime change, but you had to manage a press, a parliament, and a public opinion which is very different than anything in the States,” Manning wrote, according to a leaked Whitehall document. A Cabinet Office document also seen by the Chilcot inquiry, dated July 2002, stated: “When the prime minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford [his Texas ranch] in April, he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change provided that certain conditions were met: efforts had been made to construct a coalition/shape public opinion …”

Now Blair appears to be openly admitting that evidence of WMD – the purpose behind the now discredited weapons dossier he ordered to be published with the help of MI6 and Whitehall’s joint intelligence committee – was not needed to invade Iraq, and he could have found other arguments to justify it.

Blair did say in a speech to Labour party conference in 2004, over a year after the invasion: “I can apologise for the information [about WMDs] that turned out to be wrong, but I can’t, sincerely at least, apologise for removing Saddam.

“The world is a better place with Saddam in prison not in power.”

Blair told the former This Morning presenter how his religious beliefs helped him in the invasion’s immediate aftermath.

“When it comes to a decision like that, I think it is important that you take that decision as it were on the basis of what is right, because that is the only way to do it,” he said.

“I think sometimes people think my religious faith played a direct part in some of these decisions. It really didn’t. It gives you strength if you come to a decision, to hold to that decision. That’s how it supports your character in a situation of difficulty.”

Most “really hard” decisions involved a “downside and an upside either way”, he added.

Sir John Sawers, Blair’s former chief foreign policy adviser and now head of MI6, told the Chilcot inquiry on Thursday that Iraq was one of several countries where Britain would have liked regime change. Discussions took place on “political” actions to undermine Saddam, including indicting him for war crimes, Sawers said. There was no talk in 2001 in Whitehall of military action, he added.

“There are a lot of countries … where we would like to see a change of regime. That doesn’t mean one pursues active policies in that direction.”

Pilger: Normalising the Crime of the Century

December 10, 2009

By John Pilger, Information Clearing House, Dec 9, 2009

I tried to contact Mark Higson the other day only to learn he had died nine years ago. He was just 40, an honourable man. We met soon after he had resigned from the Foreign Office in 1991 and I asked him if the government knew that Hawk fighter-bombers sold to Indonesia were being used against civilians in East Timor.

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The truth of UK’s guilt over Iraq

November 30, 2009

Until Chilcot hears UN weapons inspectors’ testimony, the fiction of Britain honestly seeking a WMD smoking gun prevails

Scott Ritter, The Guardian/UK, Nov27, 2009

With its troops no longer engaged in military operations inside Iraq, Great Britain has been liberated politically to conduct a postmortem of that conflict, including the sensitive issue of the primary justification used by then Prime Minister Tony Blair for going to war, namely Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or WMD.

The failure to find any WMD in Iraq following the March 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of that country by US and British troops continues to haunt those who were involved in making the decision for war. The issue of Iraqi WMD, and the role it played in influencing the decision for war, is at the centre of the ongoing Iraq war inquiry being conducted by Sir John Chilcot.

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