Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Stuffed Shirt"
As community members know (and drive-bys should), C.I. liked John Murtha a lot, respected him and considered him a trusted voice. I knew Murtha (and contributed to campaigns). He will be missed. But C.I. asked me to note something non-Murtha related that there wasn't time for in the snapshot.
"WITH A WHIMPER! Your country is dying, Krugman warns. KO keeps driving the process" (Bob Somerby, The Daily Howler):
How silly are Olbermann’sscreeching claims? As best we can tell, they aren’t being talked about at TPM. They aren’t being talked about by Steve Benen. They aren’t being talked about by Digby. And, of course, they aren’t being talked about anywhere in the actual press corps—except by Ceci Connolly, the greatest embarrassment of the past decade! By now, they’ve even buried this embarrassing headless turkey over at MSNBC’s web site, where the nonsense started.
Might we suggest a reason? These stories aren’t being talked about because they’re baldly inane. Because several of the things Olbermann says in those highlighted passages simply aren’t truthful or accurate.
Make no mistake: During the Clinton/Gore era, stories of equal inanity were widely, endlessly used to batter and defeat Big Democrats. Alas! We ourselves just spent the weekend (when we weren’t shoveling) re-researching the way a certain (inaccurate) claim finally emerged in 1999, rewarding eleven years of Republican effort: Al Gore grew up at the Ritz Carlton! Needless to say, Maureen Dowd played a key role in the process, way back in July 1992. (In this case, she even seems to have plagiarized her mewing, inaccurate quips.)
Inanity was used against Clinton, then Gore. Inane claims were adopted all over the pres corps; inane topics were discussed by the mainstream press corps for years. But people! The press corps will not adopt our side’s inane claims (nor should progressives want that). And your country will simply cease to exist if this process of dumbing-down continues much longer.
Could your country (essentially) cease to exist? If you don’t think so, read Krugman.
Please don’t make us waste our time walking through the inanity of Olbermann’s opening, or his later discussion with Richard Wolffe, puppet to the stars. Don’t make us detail his flat misstatements. You can track the whole mess from this pitiful report by MSNBC’s “investigative reporter,” Bill Dedman. You can click on Dedman’s links to read the e-mails which fueled his claims about the tanning bed and the airplane flight. After reading those e-mails, see if you have any idea where Dedman’s claims came from—or Olbermann’s. See if you have any idea how either one of these guys ever got a job in journalism.
Your nation is dying, Krugman said. He said it’s dying from broken procedures. But your nation has been also dying, for decades, from the disease of inanity. By at least the 1990s, this disease had spread from the talk-radio world and the RNC into the world of the “mainstream press.” In unison, pundits agreed to shriek ludicrous claims about flatly ridiculous topics.
Now, young liberals hear a big nut do the same thing many nights. But in fact, no one is talking about his stories—and it’s good that his stories don’t thrive.
No, Bob Somerby, you are mistaken. People are talking. At Politico, Karen Finney ("Democratic consultant, strategist and commentator") writes:
Frankly, the more we learn about and hear from Sarah Paln the more she sounds like a typical politician. As MSNBC revealed last week in various emails between Palin, her staff and her husband Todd, she is more than fine with, and frankly seems to feel entitled to abusing her power or the people's money on things like family trips and electricity for a tanning bed, or spending $65k of her PAC money to buy copies of her own book, not to mention the blatant hypocrisy of splitting hairs on the use of the word retarded by WH Chief of Staff vs. beloved right-winger Rush Limbaugh. If she were really the maverick she’d like us to think she is, she’d at least have had the courage to acknowledge that the use of the word in a derogatory manner is out of bounds no matter who says it, rather than cowing to Rush like every other GOP politician.
Yes, she is repeating lies and, yes, that says a great deal about her (a) knowledge and (b) ethics. This is the MSNBC effect and why we on the left never needed to try to ape the right-wing or create our own echo chamber. We needed to deal in facts. We were supposed to be the "reality based community," remember?
Instead, we repeat any lie and do so on Pacifica, MSNBC and you name it. It's hurting the left, it's destroying the left.
"TV: Living on the fringe" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Whether the left gas bags care or not, millions of ten and twelve-year-olds saw mass protests against the Iraq War. They're now young adults. They saw those protests. They grew up knowing the Iraq War was wrong and needed to end. And though some adults can fool themselves, the youth is not fooled and will not self-deceive. On campuses across this country, their critique of Barack Obama always includes the Iraq War. The ongoing Iraq War that the gas bag left -- including Michael Moore -- have forgotten.
On top of that base of discomfort is the economic layer. And the two are interrelated. Not only because the economy will continue to tank as long as the wars drain billions and billions each year but also because the country was lied into the Iraq War. Lied into that illegal war by an Oval Office occupant. That appalling lie is always there as an echo when Barack Obama speaks. If the Iraq War continues after Barack's out of office, it will float around the head of his successor.
That's reality. These are impressions on the character and soul of America and they go to the disgust so many feel with those currently in power. And they go to the disgust so many feel with the gas bag left. Instead of speaking to these people -- a large number of Americans all over the political spectrum -- the left gas bags think the 'smart' thing to do is to insult them. This is what MSNBC has truly birthed: A hatred for Americans, a disdain for the people. Unable to aim their fire where it belongs (at the powerful), they went for the public and their garbage has infected the rest of the gas bag left. The people they will need in the future are the very ones the gas bag left seems determined to drive off right now.
That is the MSNBC effect and it's killing the left. It's spitting on other citizens and thinking that accomplishes anything. It needs to stop but MSNBC needs to stop. Ava and C.I. outline it throughout their piece -- giving you multiple examples of 'progressives' laughing at the people. It's not pretty. It's also not helping anyone.
I'll cover Connect The Dots with Lila Garrett tomorrow.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, February 8, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, US House Rep John Murtha has died, the Iraq Inquiry learns of Jack Straw's phone calls to Colin Powell, Little Nouri stamps his feet and stages propaganda, and more.
In 2005, US House Rep John Murtha began leading the cry for withdrawal from Iraq -- for an immediate withdrawal -- in Congress. At the age of 77, he has passed away. US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released the following statement:
Today, with the passing of Jack Murtha, America lost a great patriot. He served our country on the battelfield winning two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star. He served the county in his community winning the hearts of his constituents and served in the Congress winning the respect of his colleagues.
On Saturday, he became the longest-serving Member of Congress from Pennsylvania, and one of the most distinguished. He is well-recognized as a champion of our national security; always putting the troops and their families first. He quietly and regulalry visited our men and women serving our country who were injured to assess their needs and offer them thanks and encouragement. As proud Marine, he was always Semper Fi.
The nation saw his courage writ large when he spoke out against the military engagement in Iraq -- winning him the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
Jack was also a hero in advancing scientific research to fight breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabets, and HIV/AIDS. He measured the strength of our country by our military might and also by the well-being of the American people.
San Francisco lost a good friend in Jack Murtha. His leadership as Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee was essential in turning the Presido from post to park.
Dedicated to God and country, and devoted to Joyce and their family. Jack Murtha was a giant. All who served with him were honored to call him colleague. I was privileged to call him friend.
I hope that is a comfort to Joyce; their children Donna Sue, John and Patrick; and their grandchildren that so many people mourn their loss and are praying for them at this very sad time.
Ed Rendell is the Governor of Pennsylvania and his office released the following:
Noting the passing today of U.S. Rep. John "Jack" Murtha, Governor Edward G. Rendell today said all Pennsylvanians should be sad at the loss of this "uber-congressman."
Pennsylvania has lost one of its greatest citizens," Governor Rendell said. "Congressman Murtha impacted the entire state, not just his congressional district, in ways that almost no individual has. He did so much for so many of us throughout the commonwealth.
"He was also the best friend and supporter of our military and the men and women who risk their lives for our country. He worked tirelessly to ensure that our military had the resources it needed to do its job effetively and that our service men and women had every piece of equipment necessary to protect them. He had the courage and the integrity to make sure the military was on the right track and he was not afraid to raise questions.
"He will be sorely missed by every citizen of the commonwealth," the Governor said. "Midge and I extend our deepest sympathy and support to the Murtha family."
Governor Rendell ordered all Pennsylvania and U.S. flags across the commonwealth to be flown at half-staff in memory of the late congressman.
"This is fitting because Jack Murtha was not just a wonderful congressman for his district, but for all of Pennsylvania," said Governor Rendell. "No matter what the issue was, Jack and Jack's office was the first call we would make. No matter where you were in Pennsylvania, and certainly for anyone sitting in this chair, he was the go-to-guy. He will be missed in countless ways."
Flags will remain at half-staff through interment.
Murtha consistently called for an end to a war that now continues after he has passed. The Daily Herald notes, "More than 3,000 soldiers in the National Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment will be dispatched overseas, affecting 45 cities from east to west Tennessee." WDAM reports there was a send-off ceremony at Camp Shelby on Friday and that the 278 lost 14 members on their earlier Iraq deployment. As the illegal war continues, Ryan Jaroncyk (California Independent Voter Network) notes the new silence:
During the Bush administration, millions of anti-war protestors voiced their passionate dissent over the massive cost, in blood and treasure, of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Largely composed of disaffected Democrats, the anti-war movement vigorously challenged the Bush-Cheney war policies through hundreds of well-orchestrated rallies across the nation. But suddenly, the movement has gone strangely silent despite President Obama's intensification of the war effort.
[. . .]
Over 100,000 soldiers are still on the ground in Iraq, despite campaign pledges to commence a fairly rapid drawdown. In addition, a significant spike in sectarian violence has occured in Iraq over the last six months, arousing new worries of yet another delay.
[. . .]
If the anti-war movement wants to regain its credibility, it will need to start holding President Obama accountable, just as it did President Bush.
Linda Greene (Bloominton Alternative) explains there is an upcoming action:
On Feb. 1 President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve a record $708 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2011. The budget calls for a 3.4 percent increase in the Pentagon's base budget to $549 billion, plus $159 billion to fund the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. But citizens aren't sitting by while the Pentagon's budget balloons. On March 20, just after the seventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, protestors will march on Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco. On Friday evening, March 19, at least 55 Hoosiers and Kentucky residents will board a bus bound for Washington, D.C., for the second peace march since President Obama was elected. Participants will demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.Sponsored by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.) coalition and more than 1,000 other organizations and individuals, the march has as its rallying cries, "No Colonial-type Wars and Occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Haiti," "No War or Sanctions Against Iran" and "No War for Empire Anywhere." Instead of war, the protestors will demand funding for jobs, free and universal health care, decent schools and affordable housing.
The illegal war continues and Saturday's news included the League of Righteous announcing that they had kidnapped 60-year-old American citizen Issa T. Salomi. Washington Post's Ernesto Londono and Leila Fadel (via Hindustan Times) observe, "The case marks the first reported kidnapping of an American citizen in Iraq in more than 18 months." Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed and Michael Christie (Reuters) reported that the Shi'ite milita group League of Righteous (Asaib al-Haq) has kidnapped a US contractor. Ernesto Londono and Leila Fadel (Washington Post) added the man was Issa T. Salomi and that he was working for the US military who "has been missing since Jan. 23". BBC News posted video of Issa speaking while flanked by his kidnappers. For those late to the party we'll drop back to the June 9th snapshot:
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."
In other news of violence, Reuters reports a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 lfie while another left one person injured.
And the illegal war continues. March 7th, elections are supposed to take place in Iraq. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Everything's in doubt -- despite Jack Straw proclaiming democracy today in London. At this point everything's up in the air except for one candidate who will not be running. That candidate is Suha Abdul Jarallah. AFP reports she was shot dead tonight outside a relative's Mosul home. Death is the ultimate 'ban' in Iraqi elections. She was a member of the National Dialogue Party -- a non-sectarian political party promoting a nationalist Iraq which has been targeted with bannings. The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Ad Melkert, stated today, "Campaign violence in Iraq must not be allowed to intimidate candidates or interfere with the right of every Iraqi to exercise their vote." She was a member of the National Dialogue Party -- a non-sectarian political party promoting a nationalist Iraq which has been targeted with bannings.Wednesday an Iraqi appeals court ruled that the 500 plus candidates being banned by Iran via the extra-legal Accountability and Justice Committee would be allowed to run. This did not sit well with the thug of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. As one of the many chicken exiles who pulled the world into a war they were too cowardly to fight on their own, Nouri knows a thing or two about perception management even if Reuters doesn't. Helen Long (Reuters) plays fool or whore -- you decide in a video 'report' on 'thousands' of Shi'ite protesters 'offended' that suspected Ba'athists were running. Helen hopes you don't get your information from anywhere else. Especially not Germany's DPA which tells you what Helen refused to: "Thousands of supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawaa Party demonstrated outside the house of parliament in Baghdad on Sunday, to call for the exclusion of 'Baathist' candidates from the March polls." Who were these 'typical' protestors? The governor of Baghdad was among them. Helen whores it and prays the whole world is stupid and doesn't catch on. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports, "Tensions over the dispute flared elswhere, as thousand of protesters attended anti-Baathist rallies in Baghdad and Basra organized by Mr. Maliki's political oranization, the Dawa Party. The Baghdad rally was broadcast at length on state television, showing Mr. Maliki's aides denoucning those sympathetic to the Baath Party".
You get the idea that, given the chance, Helen Long would insist to you that the April 2003 US PSY-OPS operation in Firdos Square where the US military brought down the statue of Hussein amidst a small group of exiles just brought back into the country (by the US) (as well as marines and 'reporters') was a 'legitimate' and 'real' protest by Iraqis. Helen really hopes you're as stupid as she believes you are and that you don't notice -- in the video she narrates!, for example, that these 'average Iraqi protestors' are carrying handmade flags . . . Iraqi flags? No, like any 'normal' and 'average' Iraq, they're carrying home made US flags. Yeah, that's believable. (Also note that the women are covered from head to toe but the men were track suits, dress suits, pullover shirts, etc. while few sport any kind of a bear let alone one would that would demonstrate devout religious beliefs -- translation, Nouri stands for more even more suppression of women's rights.) For those who have miss and long for the combined 'reporting' of Michael Gordon and Judith Miller, breathe easy, Helen Long is on the scene.Following Wednesday's ruling, Nouri started huffing and puffing that the courts should decide it, that the presidency council should (on Saturday) and that the Parliament should (today). Xinhua reports of the planned Parliament session, "The session was to be held at 4:00 p.m. (1300 GMT) Sunday at the request of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, but the parliament decided to delay its session to Monday afternoon, speaker Ayad al- Samarrai told reporters during a news conference in Baghdad on Sunday." It was Florida 2000 all over again thanks to 'reporters' like Helen Long. In the US, the Republican Party flew outsiders into Florida to threaten violence and shut down the recounts. Nouri's staged 'protests' -- broadcast non-stop on state-TV -- had the intended effect, intimidating the appeals court. Muhanad Mohammed, Suadad al-Sahly, Ahmed Rasheed, Aseel Kami, Aref Mohammed, Michael Christie and Jack Kimball (Reuters) report they have backed down from Wednesday's decision, they've reinstated the ban. James Hider (Times of London) observed Friday, "Iraq's elections next month are a major fork in the road of the country's post-election development. One way leads towards increasing stability and political freedom; the other marks the route back to sectarianism and violence." But of course, you never install a thug if you really would like to see democracy take root and, of course, a bunch of exiles too cowardly to fight for their country can never really represent it -- even when installed into power by a foreign country. Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) picks it up there on Little Nouri's tantrums:
Another of Maliki's aides called for the expulsion of US Ambassador Christopher Hill, who reportedly lobbied behind the scenes to get the ban lifted. And Maliki himself blasted Hill: "We will not allow American Ambassador Christopher Hill to go beyond his diplomatic mission." Maliki began working with leaders of his coalition, members of parliament, and the top court to ensure that the Chalabi-imposed ban remains.
The US intervention in Iraqi politics reveals that, despite the presence of more than 100,000 US troops, America's influence in Iraq is fading fast -- and Iran's is growing. There isn't much that the United States can do about that. As soon as George W. Bush made the fateful decision to sweep away the Iraqi government and install pro-Iranian exiles in Baghdad, the die was cast. President Obama has no choice but to pack up and leave.
And yet the Iraq War continues. Mohammed Abbas, Michael Christie and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) report, "Iyad Allawi, who leads the Iraqiya list into the March 7 vote, said the ban could trigger a resurgence in sectarian attacks, reversing a fall in violence in the last two years that has allowed U.S. forces to eye a 2011 withdrawal date and Iraq to sign major oil deals." And still the illegal war continues.
In London, the Iraq Inquiry continued today and among the witnesses will be Jack Straw who will be providing testimony for the second time. Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) live blogged Straw's testimony. Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger live blogged at Twitter. Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) live blogged and fact checked. Sky News live blogged it here. Along with Straw, the committee heard from Gen John McColl (link goes to transcript and video options). Straw danced and dodged and was, in fact, as dodgy as the Iraq dossier. We'll note this exchange.
Committee Member Usha Prashar: Thank you very much. Mr Straw, thank you for your supplementary memorandum. I want to look at the question of the relationship with the Foreign Office legal advisers. Sir Michael Wood told us that there were a number of occasions when he was concerned that what you or the Prime Minister said publicly, or your US counterparts, on the possible legal basis of military action was inconsistent with the legal advice that he had given. He said, and I quote: "It certainly was not my impression that the Foreign Secretary really minsunderstood the legal position at this stage. If thatw as the case, why did your public statements and conversations not reflect the advice that you had been given?
Jack Straw: Baroness Prashar, the final decision on the legal advice, the final decision on the lawfulness or otherwise of military action was one that was going to be taken by the Attorney General alone. There were, as Sir Michael Wood himself accepted, always two views, in his words, about the interpretation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441.
Committee Member Usha Prashar: May I interrupt you at this stage, if I may?
Jack Straw: Please.
Committee Member Usha Prashar: This is actually before that, because there were two occasions, one I think was in March, 26 March, and in October, when I think it was following your conversation with Colin Powell, and then it was when he had read the transcript of the evidence that you gave to the Foreign Affairs Committee that he had to write and correct you.
Jack Straw: Yes, I think you are referring to 26 March --
Committee Member Usha Prashar: 2002.
Jack Straw: -- 2002. What we were seeking to do -- that was just before Crawford -- was to persaude the Americans to go down the UN route. There were still a number of views about whether or not 678 and 687 could "revive" the authority for military action. As is [. . .]
Prashar would then bring up Straw's negating Wood's advice by dismissing it (to Wood) with the claim that international law was a vague or "uncertain field." Prashar knew what she was asking and Straw appeared to be willfully kidding himself in thinking he was managing to run the committee in circles without their knowledge. David Brown (Times of London) reports, "Mr Straw, the former Foreign Secretary, said he would check records of his conversations with the US Secretary of State after it was suggested he had been warned that President George Bush would invade Iraq even if Saddam Hussein complied with United Nations weapons inspectors." At the Guardian, Chris Ames explains:
Once again, the inquiry has used a witness session with a key decisionmaker to tell the public -- perhaps more directly than ever -- what is in the documents that they have seen but are not allowed to publish. At the end, Sir John Chilcot said that, however revealing the sessions have been, the great bulk of the evidence, telling us "what really went on behind the scenes", is in the documents. This is not entirely satisfactory, but it is the best we will get for now.
What we appear to have learnt this afternoon is that US Secretary of State Colin Powell told Straw in early 2003 that the US was going to go to war come what may, that UN security council members were reluctant to back a second resolution, having gained this impression, and that Britain knew very well that France was not threatening to veto any such resolution but that Tony Blair and George Bush decided to blame the French anyway.
Straw, the man who backed the war but wants us to believe he was against it, tried to have it both ways at once, but eventually the weight of his contradictions caught up with him. Although most predictions were that Straw would be put under pressure over the legal issues, he was in most difficulty over the endgame: the failed attempt to get a second UN resolution to back the war -- sorry, to secure Iraqi disarmament.There was Inquiry drama over the weekend. In an attempt at a distraction -- and because having the blood of Dr. David Kelly on his hands is 'fun' for him -- Alastair Campbell's returned to show his ass in public. Andrew Grice (Independent of London) reports Drama Queen Alastair went on the BBC and 'became' choked up at one point as he insisted to Andrew Marr that the BBC had an "agenda" -- "Forgive for me this, I've . . . I've been through a lot of this, Andrew. And I've been through a lot of that inquiry . . . and, er . . . Tony Blair, I think is a totally honourable man." What a load of crap from the drama queen. The hot (and possibly tastless) joke making the rounds of London's left side goes like this, "Memo to M16, if Alastair turned up dead in the woods, no one would request an inquest, no one would even ask a question. Just saying." And wearing so much make up he should have been taking part in a drag show, Tony Blair appeared on Fox News yesterday. Nico Hines (Times of London -- link has text and a video snippet of the interview) reports St Tony of the Fan Rags "dismissed the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war as part of Britain's obsession with conspiracy and scandal." There's no hidden conspiracy, Tones, just a criminal one and maybe Cherie will represent you before the Hague. Then again, she might make you first promise to stay out of her make up.
But none could top Straw as an international embarrassment as he declared today -- apparently too busy to even read the headlines, "But you have got the beginnings of a properly functioning democracy." John Chilcot is the chair of the committee and we'll note his closing statements.
Chair John Chilcot: Today we are almost at the end of the Iraq Inquiry's first round of public hearings. We will hear from the current Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary and International Development Secretary in a few weeks' time, but given the considerable interest in the Inquiry and its approach, and to prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings, my colleagues and I have decided to set out the current position as the Inquiry sees it. We are here to establish a reliable account of the United Kingdom's involvement in Iraq, based on all the evidence, and identify lessons for governments facing similar circumstances in future. Now, we are committed to being open and transparent about how we are approaching our task and the information we are receiving. This is the first Inquiry of its kind in this country to have hearings broadcast on television and streamed on the internet, and tens of thousands of people have been watching the evidence sessions on our website. So far there have been nearly three quarters of a million hits on the website and people have access to more than 150 hours of video recordings, as well as thousands of pages of transcripts of the evidence, as well as the documents that have been declassified during the hearings. The initial hearings served two purposes. The first phase, largely before Christmas, set out to establish the narrative account of the United Kingdom's involvement in Iraq. In the last four weeks we have focused much more on the major decision-makers, politicians and senior officials, military and civilian, to examine why and how they made their decisions. Conducting the Inquiry in this way has allowed us to hear a range of different perspectives about the same events. The evidence we have been given so far has provided a much more detailed account of the United Kingdom's military action against Iraq and subsequent commitments than has previously been brought together in public. But these public hearings are only the most perhaps obvious aspect of our work; they are only one element of our Inquiry, though they are an essential one, and the great bulk of our evidence is in tens of thousands of government documents, many of them highly classified. They allow us to shine a bright light into seldom-seen corners of the government maching, revealing what really went on behind the scenes before, during and after the Iraq conflict, and they form the central core of this Inquiry's work. The Inquiry is still receiving more documents every week and we have no reason to believe that any material is being deliberately withheld. We have published a small number of those documents during the hearings but I should emphasise, and I want to emphasise: our access to the documents is unrestricted. Publishing a limited number of them is a separate matter. Over the next few months we shall examine all the evidence we have received, including those documents. They will enable us to see where the evidence joins together and where there are gaps, if there are, and only then can we decide what further evidence we need, the issues and points which need to be clarified and the identity of witnesses we may wish to question in the next round of public hearings in the summer. In the meantime, we will be holding a number of meetings and seminars with a range of individuals, British and non-British, who, we believe, will be able to provide relevant information and insights, and these could include, for exmaple, veterans from Iraq, the campaign, officials from the former American administration. We also hope to visit Iraq later in the year. Now, we cannot take formal evidence as such from foreign nationals but we can, of course, and will have discussions with them. We shall also need a limited number of private hearings, to get to the heart of some very sensitive issues which are essential for our understanding, and the terms under which we shall hold hearings in private have been published on our website, and we will in due course publish as much of that evidence as we can. Now, the Inquiry has broken new ground and a great deal has been achieved since the launch at the end of July. We aim to complete our report, if at all possible, by the end of the year. I would like to thank all those members of the public who have taken the time to be present at the hearings and I would also like to thank the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre for hosting us so well, to Bowtie for ensuring that our proceedings are filmed and transmitted, and lastly but by no means least to our tireless stenographer and editor from Merrill Legal Solutions. You have worked so hard to keep up with the witnesses and the committee each day and provide complete transcriptions for publication each evening. And with those words of thanks, most sincerely meant, I would like to draw this hearing to an end. Thank you all very much.
Presumably, they will approach US administration officials such as Colin Powell. Paul Bremer -- the most mentioned American official in testimony -- even mentioned more than Bush -- has told at least two people in the US that he would like to speak to the committee. He feels his actions have been distorted by testimony to the committee -- according to the two he's spoken to.
The Iraq Inquiry was the topic of the latest Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera) which began airing Friday. Jasim al-Azawi was joined by Stop the War Coaltion's Lindsey German, professor Gbenga Odunton (University of Kent) and David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near Est Policy).
Jasim al-Azawi: David Pollock, let me start with you and let us go to the very heart of the matter and really, once I ask the question, I don't know which way this episode is going to go for. This war was deemed illegal by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary General. Recently the Dutch government issued a report says this war was illegal. Let us start by that premise and we go forward. Do you agree with that indictment?
David Pollock: No, I disagree totally with that idea. It's a fantasy. The United Nations charter explicitly reserves the right for individual and and collective self-defense for every member of the United Nations. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, was the same man who said famously that he "could do business" with Saddam Huseein -- a murderous, aggressive dictator if ever there was one. And so his views about the illegality of the Iraq War are totally irrelevant. Likewise, whatever citation you're offering from the Dutch. It was not, in my view in question at any time, the legality of the war. It's wisdom and the way in wich the war was conducted, those are legitimate questions for inquiry and I think the Chilcort [That's what the fat ass said. "Chilcort"] is a tribute to the government and the people of Great Britain in the way in which they are conducting a balanced and fair investigation of this episode. I wish that Arab governments would do likewise. And in fact when so many Arab governments quietly and privately supported the war against Saddam Hussein, it seems to me quite hypocritical, even ridiculous, for the Arab media, including, I'm sorry to say, Al Jazeera to be talking in such a loaded and tendentious fashion.about that war.
Jasim al-Azawi: Let us bring in, in that case, a professor of law, Gbenga Odunton. When you hear such dismissal, such a blanket dismissal by David Pollock and many others -- not to mention Tony Blair and his testimony to the Chilcot Inquiry that this war is justified on several grounds, not to mention the law, when you dismiss Kofi Annan as the top legal mind or top representative of national security and then you say "This war is legal," where do we go from here when it comes to international law then?
Gbenga Oduntan: Well I think we have to return to international law itself, something which seems to have been in the background for most of the commentary in relation to this politics-led war against Iraq. International law is quite clear on the issue of use of international force. I have listened carefully to what my friend, Pollock, has said and he has not said anything different from what any apologist of the war would say. So therefore the first thing to do is to consider the charter of the United Nations. The charter of the United Nations which is the Grundnorm for the use of force -- indeed the organization for the international community since 1945 -- is quite clear, philosophically, textually, in all possible ways that the use of force is forbidden in international relations. I would start with Article II, Paragraph IV of the charter which requests that members of the United Nations, member states of the United Nations should refrain from the use of force, the threat of the use of force and acts against the independence and territorial integrity of member states. And I think n other state has provided as good an example of what happens when you do this than Iraq itself. When Iraq invaded --
Jasim al-Azawi: Kuwait.
Gbenga Oduntan: Kwuwait. Early in the 90s. Article II, Paragraph IV showed clearly that Iraq had done something wrong. And the consequences of that were several United Nations resolutions.
Jasim al-Azawi: That brings me to, to the point to bring Lindsey German in your coalition of Stop the War, you must have been disheartened at listening to Tony Blair even before his testimony to the Inquiry saying the following: "Even if I knew then what I know now" that is Iraq didn't have WMD "I would still go for the war." When you have such attitude, when you have such cavalier attitude towards war in which more than a million Iraqi died, what do you think?
Lindsey German: Well I think that many, many people were quite disgusted by Blair's -- Blair's evidence after all there was a poll done just two days later by the Mail on Sunday which showed that 80% of the people in Britain thought he was lying at the Chilcot Inquiry and more than a third of them think he should be tried as a War Criminal. And I take issue with your guest from Washington because when he says that there's nothing illegal about it, the truth is that Britian wasn't under threat from Saddam Hussein nor was the United States. Blair repeatedly in his evidence tried to link the war in Iraq with 9-11. There is absolutely no evidence of any link between Iraq and 9-11. And, of course, Blair showed that not only is he not sorry about the Iraq War but he wants future wars because he mentioned Iran 58 times in his evidence --
Jasim al-Azawi: Let me stop you just for a second, Lindsey German, because since you mentioned 9-11, it has been revealed by the Independent newspaper that Blair's government ministers, they were drawing plans to oust Saddam, this is five months before 9-11 -- this is something in April and May of 2001.
Lindsey German: Well we know that the Bush administration was keen to attack Iraq from day one of his administration so as you quite rightly say there was talk in the administration that they wanted to do so and now it appears that Blair himself was complicit in this. He denied that he did a deal with Bush in 2002 but frankly that is simply not credible when you look at much of the evidence around his visit to the Crawford ranch. So I think people are very, very -- they're not surprised but they are quite appalled at Blair's evidence. And I think that's why people like Clare Short got a much better response because people felt that she was much closer to telling the truth.
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