Posts Tagged ‘Iraq invasion’

Lisbon Treaty: Will War Criminal Tony Blair become President of the European Union?

October 4, 2009
by James Corbett, Global Research, Oct 3, 2009

Major media outlets from the BBC in Britain to RTE in Ireland are now reporting that the Yes side scored a resounding victory in Ireland’s vote Friday on the EU Lisbon Treaty. With the treaty’s ratification, the obstacles preventing the total federalization of the EU superstate are now removed.

As the Daily Mail reported earlier this week, one of the first orders of business for the post-Lisbon EU will be to appoint Tony Blair as the first President of the European Union. This move has been fully expected ever since Tony Blair’s highly suspect conversion to Catholocism two years ago. Of course, the many laudatory pieces (and even the adversarial ones) we are likely to read about Mr. Blair in the coming weeks will signally fail to mention that he has been accused of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity including:

– Continuing economic sanctions imposed on Iraq from 1990 until its invasion at the hands of his government in 2003 that resulted in the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

– Conspiracy to join with another power in a war of aggression (the supreme international war crime).

– High treason in manufacturing a case for war (including the infamous Downing Street Memo).

– Participating in a political and military coalition with the U.S. in Iraq that deployed controvened weapons like white phosphorus.

Continues >>

Nancy Pelosi: A Hawk in Donkey’s Clothing

June 26, 2009

Pelosi has been a major force for keeping the Dems in a pro-war stance, even though the Chronicle endlessly promotes her and her SF constituents remain in denial.

by Stephen Zunes | Tikkun Mazagine, June 26, 2009

Congressional approval to continue funding of the ongoing war in Iraq, a major segment of the $90 billion supplemental appropriate package, passed on Tuesday thanks to heavy-handed pressure by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., against anti-war Democrats.

This has led to great consternation here in her home district in San Francisco, where anti-war sentiment remains stronger than ever. The timing of the measure is particularly upsetting given that California’s record budget deficit has resulting in the layoffs of tens of thousands of teachers, the incipient closure of almost all of our state parks and draconian cuts in health care, housing, public transportation,the environment, social services and other critical programs. While unwilling or unable to get Congress to provide some financial support for the crisis here at home, our most powerful member of Congress was quite willing to work hard to insure continued financial support for war.

What few people outside of San Francisco realize is that despite representing one of the most liberal congressional districts in the country, Pelosi has been a strong supporter of the Iraq war for most of past seven years.

In 2002, public opinion polls showed that the only reason most Americans would support a U.S. invasion of Iraq was if they were convinced that Iraq was somehow a threat to the United States, such as possessing “weapons of mass destruction.” Unfortunately for those supporting a U.S. takeover of that oil-rich country, independent strategic analysts were arguing that the evidence strongly suggested that Iraq had rid itself of its chemical and biological weapons some years earlier.

In an apparent effort to discredit those of us who — correctly, as it turned out — were insisting that Iraq had in all likelihood already disarmed, Pelosi categorically declared on NBC’s Meet the Press in December 2002 that “Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There’s no question about that.”

By giving bipartisan credence to the Bush administration’s unprincipled use of such scare tactics to gain support for the U.S. takeover of that oil-rich country, she negated a potential advantage the Democrats would have otherwise had in the 2004 campaign. After it became apparent that administration claims about Iraq’s alleged military threat were false, the Democrats were unable to attack the Republicans for misleading the American public since their congressional leadership had also falsely claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

During the first twelve weeks of 2003, there were a series of large demonstrations against the war here in Pelosi’s district, including one on Feb. 16 that brought out a half-million people. While Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee — congresswomen from a neighboring districts — spoke at the rally, Pelosi was notably absent.

On the day the war began the following month, San Francisco’s downtown business district was shut down by thousands of anti-war protesters in a spontaneous act of massive civil disobedience. In response, Pelosi denounced the protesters and rushed to the defense of President George W. Bush, voting in favor of a resolution declaring the House of Representatives’ “unequivocal support and appreciation to the president … for his firm leadership and decisive action.” She personally pressed a number of skeptical Democratic lawmakers to support the resolution as well.

Pelosi also sought to discredit those who argued that Iraq was not a threat to the United States and that United Nations inspectors — which had returned to Iraq a couple of months earlier and were engaged in unfettered inspections — should have been allowed to complete their mission to confirm that Iraq had disarmed as required. She joined her Republican colleagues going on record claiming that “reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone” could not “adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

As a counter to those who argued that the war was a diversion of critical personnel, money, intelligence and other resources from the important battle against al-Qaida terrorists, Pelosi tried to link the secular regime of Saddam Hussein with that Islamist terrorist network by declaring that the Iraq invasion was “part of the ongoing global war on terrorism.”

Furthermore, despite a CIA report that al-Qaida terrorist Abu Musab al-Zaqarwi had not received sanctuary or any other support from the former Iraqi regime, Pelosi went on record claiming that, under Saddam “the al-Zarqawi terror network used Baghdad as a base of operations to coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies.”

In the race for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, Pelosi helped lead an effort to undermine the anti-war candidacy of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, insisting that Americans must “raise our voices against all forms of terrorism” and that “this is not the time to be sending mixed messages.”

Instead, she endorsed the hawkish Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., who co-sponsored the House resolution authorizing Bush to invade Iraq at the time and circumstances of his choosing. When Gephardt dropped out of the race, Pelosi threw her support to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who was also among the minority of Democrats on Capitol Hill who had voted to authorize Bush’s war.

Pelosi’s assertions that the Iraq war was part of the “war on terror” proved costly to the Democrats in the 2004 election, which the Democrats had been expected to win, as exit polls showed that 80 percent of those who did believe that the war in Iraq was part of the war on terrorism voted to re-elect Bush and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress.

In response to the consensus of disarmament experts that the U.S. invasion of Iraq hurt the cause of nuclear nonproliferation, Pelosi voted in favor of a Republican-sponsored amendment that claimed that the elimination of Libya’s nuclear program in late 2003 “would not have been possible if not for … the liberation of Iraq by United States and coalition forces.” Her support for this Republican-sponsored measure came despite testimony by U.S. negotiators who took part in British-initiated talks with the Muammar Qaddafi regime that the outline of the deal had come prior to the invasion and that the war played no role whatsoever in the agreement.

As the armed resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq grew in the wake of the invasion, Pelosi dismissed the growing consensus that it was part of a popular nationalist reaction to foreign occupation and instead went on record insisting that it is simply the work of “former regime elements, foreign and Iraqi terrorists and other criminals.”

As far back as 2004, the voters of San Francisco, in a citywide referendum, voted by a nearly 2-to-1 margin calling on the United States government to withdraw all troops from Iraq. Pelosi, however, insisted on ignoring her constituents and continued to support Bush’s policies.

By 2005, as Bay Area Reps. Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee, Pete Stark and Sam Farr joined Democratic colleagues from across the country in signing a letter to Bush calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, Pelosi was notably absent from the list of signatories.

By this point, even prominent Republicans like James Baker and Gen. Brent Scowcroft were calling for the withdrawal of American forces, yet Pelosi held firm in her support of the war. Back in 1990, Pelosi had been an outspoken liberal critic of the George H.W. Bush administration’s militaristic policy toward Iraq. Fifteen years later, however, she was taking a position to the right of his secretary of state and national security adviser.

Defenders of Pelosi pointed out that, as assistant minority leader in October 2002, she was the only member of the Democratic leadership in either house of Congress to vote against authorizing the invasion. Furthermore, they noted how she subsequently raised some concerns regarding how the Bush administration had handled the occupation, such as not adequately preparing for the aftermath of the invasion, failing to utilize enough troops, not providing adequate training or body armor for U.S. forces and for backing such dubious exile figures as Ahmad Chalabi.

However, Pelosi refused to acknowledge that the United States should have never invaded Iraq in the first place, which had been acknowledged by religious leaders from around the globe. Nor did she ever acknowledge that the invasion was a direct violation of the United Nations Charter, which the United States — as a party to such binding international treaties — is legally required to uphold.

Historically, opposition leaders in Congress have helped expose the lies and counterproductive policies of the incumbent administration. Pelosi, however, to her party’s detriment, decided instead to defend them.

By the end of 2005, as protesters met her at virtually every public event in her district and even conservative colleagues in the House Democratic leadership, such as Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, began calling for a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, Pelosi finally spoke out in favor of an end to the war.

She continued to support unconditional funding for the war effort, however, for the next two fiscal years. It was only on the vote for last year’s fiscal budget, as anti-war sentiment in her district was reaching a fever pitch and fears of a serious challenge to her seat in the Democratic primary and/or from the Green Party nominee in November, did she finally vote against war funding.

Now, however, as public attention on the Iraq war has faded, she has reverted to her previous pro-war position. Along with her support for Israel’s wars on the Gaza Strip and on Lebanon, her backing of the Iraq war is demonstrative of her willingness to ally herself with the former Bush administration in pushing policies based on the premise that instability and extremism can be best addressed through brute military force regardless of international legal norms or high civilian casualties.

Despite all this, much of the mainstream media and leading political pundits identify Pelosi as a prominent liberal. It is but one example of how far to the right political discourse in American has gone.

© 2009 Tikkun Magazine

Stephen Zunes is Middle East editor for Foreign Policy In Focus. He is a professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003.)

New evidence suggests Ron Suskind is right

August 9, 2008

What was an Iraqi politician doing at CIA headquarters just days before he distributed a fake memo incriminating Saddam Hussein in 9/11?

By Joe Conason |

Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Vice President Cheney and President Bush at a White House press conference on Dec. 14, 2007.

Aug. 8, 2008 | If Ron Suskind’s sensational charge that the White House and CIA colluded in forging evidence to justify the Iraq invasion isn’t proved conclusively in his new book, “The Way of the World,” then the sorry record of the Bush administration offers no basis to dismiss his allegation. Setting aside the relative credibility of the author and the government, the relevant question is whether the available facts demand a full investigation by a congressional committee, with testimony under oath.

When we look back at the events surrounding the emergence of the faked letter that is at the center of this controversy, a strong circumstantial case certainly can be made in support of Suskind’s story.

That story begins during the final weeks of 2003, when everyone in the White House was suffering severe embarrassment over both the origins and the consequences of the invasion of Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. No evidence of significant connections between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the al-Qaida terrorist organization had been discovered there either. Nothing in this costly misadventure was turning out as advertised by the Bush administration.

According to Suskind, the administration’s highest officials — presumably meaning President Bush and Vice President Cheney — solved this problem by ordering the CIA to manufacture a document “proving” that Saddam had indeed been trying to build nuclear weapons and that he was also working with al-Qaida. The reported product of that order was a fake memorandum from Tahir Jalil Habbush, then chief of Saddam’s intelligence service, to the dictator himself, dated July 1, 2001. The memo not only explicitly confirmed that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had received training in Baghdad for “attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy” but also carefully noted the arrival of a “shipment” from Niger via Libya, presumably of uranium yellowcake, the sole export of that impoverished African country.

Very incriminating, very convenient and not very believable. Indeed, it may be hard to imagine that even the CIA at its bumbling worst would concoct such a blatant counterfeit. But there are a few reasons to believe that, too.

On Dec. 14, 2003, the Sunday Telegraph hyped the phony Habbush memo as a front-page exclusive over the byline of Con Coughlin, the paper’s foreign editor and chief Mideast correspondent, who has earned a reputation for promoting neoconservative claptrap. As I explained in a Salon blog post on Dec. 18, the story’s sudden appearance in London was the harbinger of a disinformation campaign that quickly blew back to the United States — where it was cited by William Safire on the New York Times Op-Ed page. Ignoring the bizarre Niger yellowcake reference, which practically screamed bullshit, Safire seized on Coughlin’s story as proof of his own cherished theory about Saddam’s sponsorship of 9/11.

Soon enough, however, the Habbush memo was discredited in Newsweek and elsewhere as a forgery for many reasons, notably including its contradiction of established facts concerning Atta’s travels during 2001.

But the credulous Telegraph coverage is still significant now, because Coughlin identified the source of his amazing scoop as Ayad Allawi. For those who have forgotten the ambitious Allawi, he is a former Baathist who rebelled against Saddam, formed the Iraqi National Accord movement to fight the dictator, and was appointed to Iraq’s interim Governing Council by the U.S. occupation authorities after the invasion.

Although Coughlin quoted Allawi at some length, neither he nor his source revealed how the Habbush memo had fallen into the hands of the Iraqi politician. But the Safire column made an allusion that now seems crucial, describing Allawi as “an Iraqi leader long considered reliable by intelligence agencies.”

Specifically, Allawi was a longtime asset of the Central Intelligence Agency, which had funded his struggle against Saddam for years prior to the invasion. His CIA sponsorship is noted in nearly every news article about Allawi, usually contrasted with the Pentagon sponsorship of his political rival, Ahmed Chalabi, the infamous fabricator of WMD intelligence (and suspected double agent for Iran).

Obviously, Allawi’s relationship with the CIA is worth reconsidering today in light of the charges in Suskind’s book, even though by itself that relationship proves nothing. There is more, however.

On Dec. 11, 2003 — three days before the Telegraph launched its “exclusive” on the Habbush memo — the Washington Post published an article by Dana Priest and Robin Wright headlined “Iraq Spy Service Planned by U.S. to Stem Attacks.” Buried inside on Page A41, their story outlined the CIA’s efforts to create a new Iraqi intelligence agency:

“The new service will be trained, financed and equipped largely by the CIA with help from Jordan. Initially the agency will be headed by Iraqi Interior Minister Nouri Badran, a secular Shiite and activist in the Jordan-based Iraqi National Accord, a former exile group that includes former Baath Party military and intelligence officials.

“Badran and Ayad Allawi, leader of the INA, are spending much of this week at CIA headquarters in Langley to work out the details of the new program. Both men have worked closely with the CIA over the past decade in unsuccessful efforts to incite coups against Saddam Hussein.” (The Web link to the full story is broken but it can be found on Nexis.)

So Allawi was at the CIA during the week before Coughlin got that wonderful scoop. That may not be proof of anything, either, but a picture is beginning to form.

That picture becomes sharper in the months that followed Allawi’s release of the Habbush forgery, when he suddenly returned to favor in Baghdad and eclipsed Chalabi, at least for a while. Five months later, in May 2004, the Iraqi Governing Council elected Allawi as his country’s interim prime minister, reportedly under pressure from the American authorities. Combining subservience to the occupiers with iron-fisted tactics, he quickly squandered any popularity he might have enjoyed, and his INA party placed a humiliating third in the 2005 national elections.

That was the end of Allawi as a politician, yet perhaps he had already served his purpose. And it might be very interesting to hear what he would say today about the Habbush forgery — and his broader relationship to the CIA and the Bush White House — especially if he were to tell his story in a congressional hearing.

Until then there is much more to learn from Suskind’s reporting, including new evidence that Bush and other officials knew there were no WMD in Iraq. Read an excerpt from “The Way of the World” here (where you can also sign up to receive a copy for $1 from Progressive Book Club, which happens to be run by my wife, Elizabeth Wagley).

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