Friday, January 29, 2010

Isaiah, Iraq

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Wheel of Misfortune"

Wheel of Misfortune

That went up Thursday morning and, since I don't blog on Thursdays, I'm noting it now.

I really think those are strong likenesses. I knew immediately, without reading the comic what it was and I was not in front of the computer. I was getting a cup of coffee between sessions and walking past Sunny who pointed to her screen saying, "Look!"

I was probably five or so feet away from her desk and I knew it was the State of the Union. Pelosi. Isaiah captured her perfectly. Biden as well.

Did you catch any of the Iraq Inquiry today? We grabbed some highlights (streaming online) during lunch. Tony Blair was testifying today, if you didn't know that already. The former prime minister is a liar. He's a War Criminal and he's a liar. There's no excuse for his lies.

He even had the gall to lie about Iraqis today, to claim that -- thanks to his illegal war -- they now had this and that and things were great and blah, blah, blah.

"Iraqi inquiry: Blair testimony underwhelms Baghdad" (BBC News):
He complained of poor water and electricity supplies, rising unemployment, and a general lack of public services.
Indeed. The people of Iraq grapple with a long list of problems on a daily basis, not least the continuing violence which - despite security gains - still claims the lives of hundreds of people every month.
The 2003 invasion is regarded as an American adventure here first and foremost.

I think everyone's taken their eye off Iraq. I think a lot of people made a lot of money off the illegal war. Those are the Blairs and Bushes, the weapons makers and the ones who posed like they wanted to end the Iraq War. The war hasn't ended. Where are they?

Where's Amy Goodman? Danny Schechter's begging for money this week so today he suddenly discovers the Iraq Inquiry by reposting an article.

They both tried to profit from the war and posed like they wanted to end it.

But they don't do a damn thing.

Contrast that with C.I.

On her own money, she travels all over the country speaking out against the still ongoing illegal war. She started that in Feburary 2003. She does it still. She takes about a week off for holidays and about two to four weeks 'off' in th summer (she speaks in her local area during those weeks). She put everything on hold to do what she's doing.

She had a lot of money but she hasn't been working during all of this. (I say "had" because she has even more now. If you're a regular reader, you know I was very worried in 2006 about C.I.s' finances. Because she was giving to everyone. I don't worry now. She's made a ton of money off the stock market. With Wally there to buy and sell for her, she's using that amazing intuition on a daily basis and she's worth so much more now than she was two years ago.)

So she's put her career on hold, she's put her life on hold. That's why she's tired and ready to quit online. I don't blame her.

She's never missed a day in the nearly six years of The Common Ills. Every day she's written -- usually several times a day.

So I really don't have much sympathy for those who walked away from Iraq and want to still stick their hands out and beg for money.

I'm glad things are closing, I'm glad they're going down in flames. I saw the same thing happen when Jimmy Carter took office and, if you visit my archives, you'll see I told you this was going to happen. When 'independent activists' get a Democrat in office, they demonstrate that they're not really independent.

Again, I'm glad a number of outlets are shutting down.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, January 29, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Tony Blair -- a liar -- offers testimony on Iraq, protesters turn out calling for Blair to be tried for War Crimes, a gaggle of idiots appear on The Diane Rehm Show, and more.
Today the US military announced: "A United States Division-South Soldier died Jan. 28 of noncombat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .] The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings to 4375 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. ICCC hasd't updated to 4375 this morning and still haven't now (it is AP's count). While you ponder that, wonder why a site called "Iraq Coalition Casualty Count" has never once included the Iraq Inquiry (ongoing with public hearings since November) in their linked to headlines. Seems like if Iraq's your focus and you're providing links, you should be providing links to the BBC, the Guardian, the Times of London, etc. And now to the Inquiry.
Today the one-time prime minister who may have forever tained the Labour Party, the full-time War Criminal who should be behind bars, the forever poodle who spents years sniffing Bush's ass Tony Blair provided testimony to the Iraq Inquiry in London (here for transcript and video options). The various apologists for Blair are whining that the world is full of Blair Haters. First, the world was full of Nixon Haters. When you're a War Criminal, your reputation travels. But even more hilarious is when the idiots claim that Blair is unfairly being treated, unfairly being called a liar and more. Where there is stupidity, there is Alastair Campbell. The twit tweets on Twitter. He also blogs. And he wants the world to know they shouldn't call Tony Blair a "liar."
Tony Blair lies, that makes him a liar. We're not going to waste an entire snapshot fact checking that horrid liar. We'll note one example. Channel 4's Iraq Inquiry Blogger noted in live blogging the hearing: "Blair: Looks at infant mortality stats - down from 130 per year in 2001-2002 to 40 by 2010. You'll always find some unhappy Iraqis". Blair didn't cite sources. For the 40 he could be using anything from the CIA figures to UNICEF -- however both and other say 43.5, not 40. It's also true that neither organization has published 2010 figures -- how could they, Tony? UNICEF is dealing with 2007 figures, the CIA with 2008 -- and they are estimates in both cases and wilder estimates than normal due to the fact that you're using extrapolation from a sample (not uncommon) in a country where you're not honestly sure as how to representative the cluster sample is (and where you are limited in where you can take a random sample). In 2002, according to the CIA World Factbook, the infant mortality rate was 57.61.
Three days of around the clock coaching and the liar can't resist lying. He wants to create a higher infant mortality rate before the illegal war to 'prove' that he was right. He was wrong and he has the blood of millions on his hand. He's a liar, Alastair, because he lies and he lies so badly he's caught lying. He's a liar.
We'll come back to Blair, let's set the scene first. While Blair testified, people protested. A Morning Edition (NPR) report featured the chanting of the protesters. Featured? Past tense because what we heard on the air isn't what the audio provides. However the transcript of the piece is what aired (at least it currently is). Those who heard the segment this morning heard "Blair lied!" Philippe Naughton (Times of London) reports, "Several hundred demonstrators -- chanting 'Jail Tony' and 'Blair lied' -- gathered outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, although the former prime minister managed to slip in via a cordoned-off back entrance two hours before he was due to appear." CNN notes the protests took place "in the shadow of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament" and that Tony Blair had to arrive two hours early and use an alternative interest to arrive undected while 20-year-old Suad Mikar states, "I'm sure he can hear us. That's what matters, we don't need him to see us. He knows everyone's opinion about it." Sian Ruddick (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports, "The demonstration brought together school students, trade unionsits and activists in a show of anger against the war crimes Blair committed in Iraq. It began at 8am in central London. Protesters carried a coffin, symbolising the deaths of the over a million Iraqis in the war. Others wore Blair masks and covered their hands in fake blood. Police set up cordons to keep the demonstration away from the entrance of the Queen Elizabeth conference centre near the Houses of Parliament. This did not happen when any of the otehr witnesses came to give evidence."
Before we go further, I want to note some opening statements from John Chilcot today. He's the chair of the Inquiry and most reading the snapshots already know this but you'll see why we're going over it (again) before moving to the next section.
Chair John Chilcot: Today's hearing is, understandably, much anticipated, and in this circumstances, the Committee thinks it important to set out what this hearing will and will not cover. The UK's involvement in Iraq remains a divisive subject. It is one that provokes strong emotions, especially for those who have lost loved ones in Iraq, and some of them are here today. They and others are looking for answers as to why the UK committed to military action in Iraq and whether we did so on the best possible footing. Our questions aim to get to the heart of those issues. Now, the purpose of the Iraq Inquiry is to establish a reliable account of the UK's involvement in Iraq between 2001 and 2009 and to identify lessons for future governments facing similar circumstances. That is our remit. The Inquiry is not a trial. The Committee before you is independent and non-political. We come to our work with no preconceptions and we are committed to doing a thorough job based on the evidence. We aim to deliver our report around the end of this year. Now, this is the first time Mr Blair is appearing before us and we are currently holding our first round of public hearings. We shall be holding further hearings later in the year when we can return to subjects we wish to explore further. If necessary, we can speak to Mr Blair again. Today's session covers six years of events that were complex and controversial. It would be impossible to do them all justice in the time we have available today. The Committee has, therefore, made a decision to centre its questioning on a number of specific areas. If necessary, we shall come back to other issues at a later date. [. . .] I would like to begin the proceedings just by observing that the broad question by many people who have spoken and written to us so far is: why, really, did we invade Iraq, why Saddam, and why now in March 2003?
We should now all be on the same page regarding the Inquriy. And that makes us a million times more informed that the gaggle of idiots on today's second hour of The Diane Rehm Show on NPR today. The idiots: James Fallows (Atlantic Monthly), Tom Gjelten (NPR) and Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy). What do you do when you're asked about a subject you know nothing about? As anyone who's been to school knows, you bulls**t. "But what's the purpose of this Chilcot Inquiry about, Tom?" asks Diane. It's a basic question, one that should set up a lively segment. But that depends upon guests knowing their subjects.
Tom: Well . . . the-the-the-the British public is far more uh anti-war than-than the US public has been. And this has been something that has building -- been building for a long time in Great Britian and, you know, Tony Blair is-is really stained inthe-in the view of many -- much of the British population for having supported this war in a very -- at a very crucial time early on.
Tom has so much trouble speaking when he has no idea where he's headed. He's the student who didn't realize that he would be called upon. Completely unprepared and still playing with his early morning boner under the desk, he just wishes Diane would call on someone else and he stammers his way through until he thinks he has a concluding statement. What's the purpose, Diane asked him. Where in his reply (that's his entire reply) do you see an answer? You don't. She then asks Susan.
Susan: Well arguably this is also where foreign policy is at its most politicized even here in the US. I think if you look at the ongoing fights over national security -- look at --
No. Don't. Don't look at. How embarrassing. And I'm cutting her off before she embarrasses herself further.
The smartest thing anyone can ever say -- write this down, Suze -- is this phrase: "I don't know." Using that phrase when you don't know the answer will make you appear 10 times smarter than trying to bulls**t an 'answer' on a topic you know nothing about. Susan didn't know a damn thing and so decides, when asked about the Iraq Inquiry, to try to take it to another area. Hey, I did it all the time in Constitutional Law. If I was thrown a curve ball, I'd say, "Well it actually reminds me of another verdict . . ." And I'd b.s. my way through. But I was a college student. (And lucky.) Susan's supposed to be a journalist. If you're asked a question and you don't know the answer: Don't answer.
Wasn't that the whole point of the ridiculing of Sarah Palin for the Katie Couric interviews? Wasn't it that Sarah Palin gave responses that appeared to indicate she didn't know what she was talking about? Susan and Tom were brought on the show as 'informed' and 'experts.' They don't know what the hell they're talking about. It's embarrassing. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Next time, they should just say, "I am completely unprepared, I don't follow world events and I'm a stupid moron who can only give responses that I've been programmed to give." We're not forgetting James Fallows, don't worry. James kept saying In The Loop (a movie) and offered a Washington Post cartoon. He had nothing to share on the Inquiry because he didn't know a damn thing about an ongoing public inquiry into the Iraq War which began public hearings in November of last year. He's that out of touch, he's that stupid and he was brought on as an 'expert.'
James Fallows also insisted that Blair, unlike George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, has never waivered that the Iraq War was right. Excuse me? When the hell did Bully Boy Bush or Cheney waiver? They didn't. You don't know what you're talking about and you need to just apologize to all NPR listeners for that garbage. They'd expect it in a classroom but they're not supposed to have to listen to it on listener supported public radio.
"Let's move on," said Diane after only three minutes and normally I'd call her out on that; however, she rightly realized her guests didn't know a damn thing and had nothing to offer.
Now to Blair's testimony. He made like Lois running for mayor of Quahog on Seth MacFarlane Family Guy by invoking 9-11 repeatedly. How bad was it? Tony Blair's first sentence reference 9-11 twice ("up to September 11, after September 11"). From 1997 through 2001 (or, as he put it, "through 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001") Saddam Hussein (former leader of Iraq) "wasn't the top priority for us" but "at the very first meeting" with Bush ("February 2001") he, Bush and Colin Powell chatted up the topic. That must have been a free wheeling topic because, later in the hearing, Blair would talk about his phone call or calls to Iran's president and his fears over Iran. So Iraq wasn't top priority but they what? Spun a globe and took turns dissing other countries?
Tony Blair's grand standing on 9-11, a terrorist attack on US soil, was offensive enough but let's make the point that if you're going to grand stand, know your damn facts. Do not, for instance, declare, "over 3,000 people had been killed on the streets of New York" when that is incorrect. The death toll is 2,973 (I'm not counting the hijackers -- apparently Tony grieves for the hijackers) and it was New York, it was the Pentagon (not in NYC) and it was the Shanksville field in Pennsylvania. You want to grandstand on 9-11, Tony? Try getting the facts right. What an idiot. Three days of round the clock coaching and this is what he's left with?
For those who might foolishly cut Tony slack, he kept repeating the false figure and the false locations: "The point about this act in New York was that, had they been able to kill even more people than those 3,000, they would have" -- it's offensive.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne raised the issue of Blair's interview last month with the BBC's Fern Britten where Blair stated that even if he had known there was no WMD, "I would still have thought it right to remove him [Hussein]." Blair tried to walk the remark back by begging off with "even with all my experience in dealing with interviews, it sill indicates that I have got something to learn about it." He then tried to lie that the interview was actually taped prior to the creation of the Inquiry. Lyne didn't let him get away with that so Blair insisted it was taped before the Inquiry started their November public hearings.
We'll note this exchange.
Committee Member Usha Prashar: Your Chief of Staff told us that at Crawford and subsequently you did not set any conditions for Britian's support for the US, but that your approach was to say, "We are with you in terms of what you are trying to do, but this is a sensible way to do it. We are offering you a partnership to try and get to a wide coalition." But other witnesses who were also involved in the decision-making process have told us that you set a number of clear conditions for our support. Which was it?

Tony Blair: It was the former. Look, this is an alliance that we have with the United States of America. It is not a contract. It is not, "We do this for you, you do this for us". It is an alliance and it is an alliance, I say to very openly, I believe in passionately.
Committee Member Lawrence Freedman pressed him on WMD and 45 minutes (Blair had told the British people that Iraq had WMD that could be used to attack the UK within 45 minutes). Blair did allow that he might have needed to correct that after one paper headlined it (Freedman pointed out it was three newspapers) but that he answer over "5,000 oral questions" from September 2002 and May 2003 and no one ever asked him about that (Freedman points out that Jack Straw did so publicly in February 2003). Blair insisted that the 'error' was taking on "greater signifcance" after the fact. Freedman replied, "I think it has taken on that significance possibly because it is taken as an indication of how evidence that may be pointed was given even more point in the way that the dossier was written." Freedman also asked Blair about his January 2003 meeting with Bush and whether it was an effort to persuade Bush "that now it was necessary to get a second resolution" from the United Nations. Blair responds that is correct and that a second UN resolution (1441 only authorized inspectors to go into Iraq) would "make life a lot easier politcaly in every respect." The obvious question there was: "Politically? What about legally since every bit of advice you were receiving at that point -- including from Peter Goldsmith -- told you that if there was no second resolution a war would be illegal?" That didn't get asked.
Blair then declares that the US government didn't feel a second resolution was necessary but Bush's "view was that it wasn't necessary but he was prepared to work for one." In January 2003? No. Blair's lying. The US administration's position was that 1441 gave them the legal right to start a war. That was their position while 1441 was being negotiated in the fall of 2002 and when it was passed November 8th. The legal rationale the Bush administration was a joke but to argue it, they could not have a second resolution. They knew they didn't have the votes on the Security Council (both from feedback and, as has been reported, from wiretaps) and going back for a second resolution and being shot down destroys their legal argument that 1441 allows them to declare war. Blair's lying.
A key exchange, and one that the Inquiry will most likely build on when writing their report, took place between Lyne and Blair. Before that, let's not Lyne's summary of events.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Firstly, there wasn't a legal basis, as Lord Goldsmith repeated to us the day before yesterday, for regime change as an objective in itself. Secondly, lawers in the US administration favoured what was called the revival argument and that meant that the authorisation for the use of force during the first Gulf War, embodied in Resolution 687, was capable of being revived as it had been revived in 1993 and in 1998. However, the UK's lawyers did not consider that this argument was applicable without a fresh determination by the Security Council, and they felt that, not only because of the passage of time since resolutions 678 and 687, but also because, in 1993 and 11998, the Security Council had formed the view that there had been a sufficiently serious violation of the ceasefire conditions and also because the force that had been used then had been limited to ensuring Iraqi compliance with the ceasefire conditions. Even in 1998, the revival argument had been controversial and not very widely supported. So the British argument was that you needed a fresh determination of the Security Council. [. . .] So the UK and the USA went to the United Nations and obtained Security Council Resolution 1441, passed unanimously. However, in the words of Lord Goldsmith, that resolution wasn't crystal clear, and I think you, yourself, this morning referred to the fact that there were arguments. It didn't resolve the argument, I think was the way you put it. The ambiguous wording of that resolution immediately gave rise to different positions by different Security Council members on whether or not it of itself had provided authorisation without a further determination by the Security Council for the use of force. So up until early February of 2003, the Attorney General, again, as Lord Goldsmith told us in his evidence, was telling you that he remained of the view that Resolution 1441 did not authorise the use of force without a further determination by the Security Council that it was his position that a Council discussion -- the word "discussion" was used in the resolution -- would not be sufficient and that a further decision by the Council was required. [Blair agrees with the summary.] On 7 March, Lord Goldsmith submitted his formal advice to you, a document which is now in the public domain. In that he continued to argue that: "The safest legal course", would be a further resolution. But in contrast to his previous position and for reasons which he explained to us in his evidence, he now argued that, "a reasonable case" could be made, "that Resolution 1441 is capable in principle of reviving the authorisation in 678 without a further resolution." But at the same time he coupled this with a warning that, "a reasonable case does not mean that if the matter ever came before a court, I would be confident that the court would agree with this view." So at that point, Lord Goldsmith had, to a degree, parted company with the legal advisers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who have also given evidence to us through Sir Michael Wood and Ms Elizabeth Wilmshurst. They were continuing to argue that the invasion could only be lawful if the Security Council determined that a further material breach had been committed by Iraq. I emphasize the word "further", of course, because 1441 established that Iraq was already in breach, but then the argument was about the so-called firebreak and whether you had to have a determination of a further material breach. Lord Goldsmith told us that, when it became clear that we were not likely to get a second resolution, a further resolution, he was asked to give what he described as a "yes or no decision", especially because clarity was required by the armed forces, CDS had put this to him, and by other public servants. He had received also an intervention from a senior Treasury lawyer. So having given you that advice on 7 March, by 13 March, he had crucially decided -- and this is from a minute recording, a discussion between himself and his senior adviser, David Brummell, who has also given evidence to us and which is also on the public record -- he had decided that: "On balance, the better view was that the conditions for the operation of the revival argument were met in this case; ie, that there was a lawful basis for the use of force without a further resolution going beyond Resolution 1441." Now, there is one further stage in the process and then I will get to the end. This view now taken by the Attorney General still required a determination that Iraq was "in further material breach of its obligations." The legal advisers in the FCO considered that only the UN Security Council could make that determination, but the Attorney took the view that individual member states could make this determination and he asked you to provide your assurance that you had so concluded; ie, you had concluded that Iraq was in further material breach, and on 15 March, which is, what, five days before the action began, you officially gave the unequivocal view that Iraq is in further material breach of its obligations. So it was on that basis that the Attorney was able to give the green light for military action to you, to the armed forces, to the Civil Service, to the Cabinet and to Parliament. But i tremained the case, as Sir Michael Wood made clear in his evidence, that while the Attorney General's constitutional authority was, of course accepted by the government's Civil Service advisers on international law, headed by Sir Michael Wood -- although Ms Wilmshurst herself decided to resign at this point from government service -- they accepted his authority but they did not endorse the position in law which he had taken, and it remains to this day Sir Michael's position -- he said this in his witness statement -- that: "The use of force against Iraq is March 2003 was contrary to international law."
Tony Blair agreed the above was a "fair" summary of events. In great detail and at lenght, Lyne will establish (with Blair agreeing) that the legal issues were set aside in Blair's Cabinet despite the fact that "until 12 February, you were not being told by the Attorney [General Goldsmith] or the Foreign Office legal advisers that you had the option of not getting a futher decision out of the Security Council."
The issue here is the second resolution and Blair's portrayal of he and his Cabinet wanting one (and they were advised it was necessary for it to be legal). So if he wanted one (this is me, not Lyne), (a) where was the work done on a second resolution and (b) shouldn't that have been the entire focus since the war would start shortly?
Now for the exchange. Lyne asked "wasn't Number 10 saying to the White House in January and February, even into March, that it was essential, from the British perspective, because of our reading of the law to have a second resolution?"
Tony Blair: It was politically, we were saying --
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Not merely preferable, but essential.
Tony Blair: No. Politically, we were saying it was going to be very hard for us. Indeed, it was going to be very hard for us.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Weren't we saying it was legally necessary for us, because that was his advice?
Tony Blair: What we said was, legally, it resolves that question obviously beyond any dispute. On the other hand, for the reasons that I have given, Peter [Goldsmith] in the end, decided that actually a case could be made out for doing this without another resolution, and as I say, did so, I think, for perfectly good reasons.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Well, it must have been of considerable relief to you, on 13 March, when he told you that he had come to the better view that the revival argument worked, because, at that point, he had given you, subject to you making the determination, the clear legal grounds that you needed.
In an earlier round of questioning, Lyne had observed, "You said a moment or two ago that you had agreed with President Bush, not only on the ends but also on the means, but the Americans actually had a different view of the means, in that they were already planning military action, and they had an explicit policy of seeking regime change. Did you, at Crafword, actually have a complete identity of view with President Bush on how to deal with Saddam?" What he appears to be building on -- and he's creating a case, if you're paying attention -- is that a lot of work was done planning for war. A lot of time spent with Bush. When did the UK ever say, "Without a second resolution, we can't go to war?" Never. (Blair confirmed that in response to lengthier versions of that question, as we've noted above.) Some members of the Cabinet and the public were under the belief that Blair wanted a second resolution. But there was no work done for one. So the point being, Blair was given legal advice repeatedly that, barring a second resolution, the Iraq War would be illegal and, month after month, he ignored that advice. There was no push on Blair's part for a second resolution, there was no (by his own admission) pre-condition of a second resolution before he pledged to support Bush in the war.
Blair made up his mind to go to war and did so before he's admitting and the proof is in the fact that he ignored legal advice. He blew it off. He had months (from November to March) to work on a second resolution. That wasn't a priority. He's detailed what he worked on and what he tasked. And there's nothing on those lists that have to do with second resolution. Blair wanted to go to war and pressured and pressured Goldsmith to finally sign off on it days before the Iraq War started. That's the reality coming out of the Inquiry.
Some of the families of the fallen were present for Blair's testimony -- either in the main room or in an adjoining room. The Cambridge News reports the late Sgt. Bob O'Connor's sister Sarach Chapman noted Tony's "smug appearance." AFP quotes the late Gunner Lee Thornton's mother, Karen Thornton, stating, "It's a whitewash. 9/11 has got nothing to do with us." Paul Lewis and Vikram Dodd (Guardian) report the family found Blair highly disrespectful and notes, "One, Theresea Evans, asked the former prime minister to look her in the eye say sorry for the loss of her son. Evans, from Llandudno, North Wales -- whose 24-year-old son, Llywelyn, died in a Chinook helicopter crash in 2003 -- said: 'I would simply like Tony Blair to look me in the eye and say he was sorry. Instead, he is in there smirking'." The late Gordon Gentle's mother Rose Gentle tells the Press Association, "He had a smirk on his face which has made the families very angry. He has convinced himself that he was right, but it has emerged today that half the Cabinet were not given all the papers. It makes me so angry. [. . .] I will never forgive him and I believe he should stand trial. I will be angry with him for the rest of my life."
In his testimony, Tony Blair kept insisting that "Iraqis" were grateful, happy and their lives improved and that "talk to Iraqis" and you would see this to be the case. But Tony Blair's the one who needs to talk to Iraqis. Real ones, not the exile class that helped sell the war. (The exiles were the ones Blair met with the night of the largest global protest against the Iraq one month before it started.) Bllair never listened to the real Iraqis before, he's not listening now. Sabah Jawad (Iraqi Democrats Against the Occupation) offered his thoughts to Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

'Tony Blair should be tried for his crimes against Iraq -- and the legacy the war has left there.

A million Iraqis have died, leaving millions orphaned and widowed. The war and occupation have made as many as four million people into refugees.

The whole infrastructure of Iraq has been devastated by the occupation. Our heritage has been looted and destroyed, the environment has been poisoned and vital water sources have been lost.

Iraq used to be the breadbasket of the region -- now once fertile lands are in danger of being transformed into a desert. Children are growing up suffering from disease and deformities.

Sectarianism has been elevated to all state institutions and the country is dangerously fragmented. Corruption is rife -- government officials have been caught taking bribes of millions of dollars from foreign companies.

Iraq's precious oil resources have been auctioned off to the highest bidder. Meanwhile the profits of private security companies have soared.

Ordinary Iraqis who have suffered the most from the illegal war and occupation are left to cope with living under the threat of violence.

Unemployment now stands at 50 percent in a country where infrastructure has been shattered.

Yet despite everything the Iraqi people will continue with their determined struggle to reject the occupation and build a democratic, free Iraq.'

Are you listening, Tony Blair? Oliver August (Times of London) reports on Iraqi reaction to Blair:

Sunni Muslims are mostly hostile as they fared well under Saddam Hussein, a Sunni himself. Abu Ahmed, a retired government employee, said: "This war has brought us nothing but death and destruction and those like Tony Blair who took the decision to invade Iraq must be tried for their crimes."
Many of the opinions voiced by Sunnis about Mr Blair are unprintable, often involving violence towards his family.
Some Shias, too, are hostile towards the former British Prime Minister, even though their sect now holds power in Iraq. Majid Abu Yasin, the owner of a plumping supplies store, said: "It's not that the war wasn't legal. It was. The outcome is the problem.
"Blair said he wanted to liberate Iraq, but now we have nothing but fear, not the freedom he talked about. People steal, kill, block the street or do whatever they want. That's not what we wanted."
Are you listening, Tony Blair? Today the Liberal Democrats released the following:

"If Gordon Brown has nothing to hide then he should have no qualms making it crystal clear to Sir Gus that the Iraq Inquiry must have what it needs," said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Commenting on the Iraq Inquiry, Edward Davey said:
"Sir John Chilcot is absolutely right to demand detailed reasoning from the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell as to why he has rejected requests to make documents public.
"There is clearly growing pressure on the Cabinet Secretary to justify his actions in withholding publication of documents.
"If Gordon Brown has nothing to hide then he should have no qualms making it crystal clear to Sir Gus that the Iraq Inquiry must have what it needs.
"It is welcome news that Sir John may recall Tony Blair to the inquiry. The fact that Tony Blair cannot currently be questioned directly against these vital documents is totally unsatisfactory."

Con Coughlin (Telegraph of London) offers that the Inquiry must have Tony Blair's letters to George W. Bush to determine when Blair became "committeed to regime change" via war. The Telegraph of London notes Tony Blair's insisting that he didn't deceive the nation but if he was never serious about a second resolution, then he did just that. As Andrew Gilligan (Telegraph of London) explains, "The central charge against Blair is simple: that the decision to go to war was the beginning, not the end, of the process; that an agreement was made early, and secretly, with President Bush, despite the lack of a legal basis, factual justification and military planning -- all three of which were later twisted to fit the decision already taken." And deception also would include what Philippe Naughton (Times of London) observes, "Tony Blair opened himself up to a charge of misleading Parliament today when he told the Iraq inquiry that by any objective analysis the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons programme had not increased after 9/11." Of Blair's 9-11 claims, Gilligan points out:
First, of course, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and no links with al-Qaeda; Mr Blair was forced into a series of hypotheticals -- if Saddam had passed WMDs to terrorists, and so on? As one of the Chilcot panel, Sir Roderic Lyne, reminded him: "But it's these ifs, isn't it?"
Second, more importantly, it directly contradicts Mr Blair's key claim to Parliament before the war, where he insisted that the Iraq threat – the actual threat, not just the perception -- was "growing."
Asked by Sir Roderic: "Was the intelligence telling you it was growing?" Mr Blair referred to a Joint Intelligence Committee assessment saying not that the threat was growing, but that it was "continuing." His second piece of evidence of a "growing" threat was the alleged mobile biological weapons labs. But as the JIC assessment (quoted in full in Annex B of the Butler Report) says, this programme had been there since 1995.
Afua Hirsch (Guardian) observes that common phrases from Committee Members to Blair today included "just to clarify what you said" and "just to keep focus at the moment." The Financial Times of London live blogged the hearing here. Andrew Sparrow live blogged today's hearing for the Guardian. Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger live blogged at Twitter. Chris Ames fact checked at Iraq Inquiry Digest and here. Reuters is offering "highlights" by Michael Holden, Keith Ware and Sonya Hepinstall. Helene Mullholland and Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) offered a review of "the key points."
In Iraq today, Reuters reports 2 Iraqi soldiers were injured in a Mosul shooting and four were injured in a Baghdad roadside bombing.
Yesterday's snapshot covered the US Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. Kat covered it at her site and Wally covered it last night filling in for Rebecca.
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):

Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, in addition to leaving lives and
institutions in ruin, also exacerbated a much more common and lethal
emergency in Haiti: Dying during childbirth. Challenges in
transportation, education, and quality health care contribute to Haiti
having the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, a
national crisis even before the earthquake struck.

While great strides are being made with global health issues like
HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality figures worldwide have seen virtually no
improvement in 20 years. Worldwide, over 500,000 women die each year
during pregnancy.

On Friday, January 29 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), a NOW team that
had been working in Haiti during the earthquake reports on this deadly
but correctable trend. They meet members of the Haitian Health
Foundation (HHF), which operates a network of health agents in more than
100 villages, engaging in pre-natal visits, education, and emergency
ambulance runs for pregnant women.
Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Peter Baker (New York Times), Dan Balz (Washington Post), Gloria Borger (CNN) and John Harris (Politico). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes NOrton, Tara Setmayer and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Quiet Professionals
In a rare chance to show America's elite Special Forces up close, "60 Minutes" spent over two months with a Green Beret unit as they trained a group of Afghan soldiers and then went into battle with them against the Taliban. Lara Logan reports. | Watch Video

White Hot
U.S. Snowboarder Shaun White, who took home the gold at the last Winter Olympics, is still the guy to beat as he shows Bob Simon some of the tricks he'll use next month in Vancouver. | Watch Video

Steve Kroft profiles the superstar singer on the road and backstage where she explains what makes her one of the world's most successful entertainers. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

CBS stands for?

Following up on yesterday's "Our airwaves ourselves," I am including this video from Women's Media Center and nothing else because I hope you watch it. (I'm including C.I.'s snapshot, but nothing from me other than this video.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, January 27, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Ali al-Lami is not Ahmed Chalabi's lover (or that's the claim), the Iraq Inquiry hears from Peter Goldsmith who confesses to way more than he realizes, an Iraqi who died on Monday is remembered by those who knew him, and more.

Today the
Iraq Inquiry in London heard from the former Attorney General Peter Goldsmith who apparently had trouble with timelines (link goes to video and transcript options). Ruth Barnett and Andy Jack (Sky News) report, "There was no evidence of an 'imminent threat' from Iraq to justify a war in self defence, Lord Goldsmith has told an inquiry." That was early in the morning. The hearing got more interesting as it went along. Goldsmith would explain the US never wanted a second resolution and if Goldsmith knew that, Tony Blair did which means Blair most likely never wanted a second resolution despite remarks to the British public as well as the Parliament in the lead up to the Iraq War. In addition, Goldsmith revealed that when he finally decided to flip on his own advice (he'd stated the Iraq War was legal without a second UN resolution), he did so not based on the law but based on whose side he wanted to be on -- as if a war is a game of dodge ball.

Before we get to the sorry excuse for a lawyer and human being that Goldsmith is, let's note that the
Liberal Democrats issued a release today:Following Sir John Chilcot's admission today of 'frustration' over the Government's unwillingness to declassify certain information, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has called for key documents to be published before Tony Blair's hearing on Friday. The documents, which must be made public if the Blair hearing is to be effective, include correspondence between the then-Prime Minister and George W Bush which has already been discussed, but so far remains unseen. Commenting, Nick Clegg said: "Despite Gordon Brown's claim that he has 'nothing to hide' this has all the hallmarks of a cover up. Just as Liberal Democrats warned, the protocol on the release of documents is being used to gag the inquiry. "To restore trust in the inquiry the Government must immediately declassify certain key documents ahead of Tony Blair's hearing -- the memo from Sir David Manning to Tony Blair dated January 31, 2003 and the letter from Tony Blair to George W Bush sent July 2002. "Labour are leaving themselves open to charges of outright sabotage of Chilcot's work to save their own political skins. If Tony Blair gets through on the nod due to the withholding of key documents, the public will rightly dismiss this inquiry as a whitewash. "This will not go away. The Government must understand that the truth about this illegal war must and will emerge eventually, and that the time to come clean is now."

Now let's jump in to the hearing and if you're lost in the timeline, consider the confusion to be Goldsmith's fault. He will apparently identify an event, a trip, in February 2003 as having taken place in February 2002. Follow down the rabbit hole if you can.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: When did you actually give the Prime Minister your first advice?

Peter Goldsmith: Well, my advice remained preliminary until July -- I'm so sorry, until February. It remained preliminary until February, because I was still conducting my enquiries and researches. On, I think, 27 February, I met in Downing Street with, again, the Prime Minister's advisers and I told them then that, in the light of the further enquiries I had made, following my visit to the United States, following discussions with Jeremy Greenstock, following my investigation of the negotiating history, I was of the view that a reasonable case could be made -- I'm sorry, there was a reasonable case that a second resolution was not necessary, and that that was, on past precedent, sufficient to constitute a green light.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: You have moved ahead to 27 February.

Peter Goldsmith: Yes.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: We were hearing yesterday in discussion with Ms Wilmshurst, about presentation of draft advice by you in the middle of January to the Prime Minister.

Peter Goldsmith: Yes.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Advice that she said that she had, I think, seen unofficially.

Peter Goldsmith: She wasn't involved. Ms. Wilmshurst wasn't --

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Let's not personalise it and her. I think she was speaking for the FCO legal advisers collectively then. The question I wished to ask you is: what did you present to the Prime Minister, and how and when, in January?

Peter Godlsmith: As I said, I presented a sort of draft provisional advice as a basis for understanding what the response was to some of my concers, particularly drawing attention to the need to understand what was meant by "for assessment" in operational paragraph 4.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Was this in sort of fleshed-out form?

Peter Goldsmith: Yes.

Commitee Member Roderic Lyne: Was it quite a lengthy document?

Peter Goldsmith: Because the whole point was there were a number of textual arguments that were being raised. You couldn't explain those in a ten-second conversation.

Goldsmith then explained he met with Tony Blair, then prime minister, to discuss a draft of his findings. The draft also made it to Jeremy Greenstock and others but Goldsmith only provided it to Tony Blair. January 23, 2003, he met with Greenstock to discuss the findings. Greenstock told him that a resolution from the United Nations' Security Council authorizing the Iraq War was unnecessary. The issue of the first resolution (the one allowing UN inspectors into Iraq) was raised.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: In one of the early drafts of that resolution, that the United Kingdom and the United States, I think, showed to the French on 25 September 2003 -- and I appreciate that you were not being consulted on the drafting process, so let me quote from that: "We were bidding to include the following words in the resolution, that the Security Council", I quote: ". . . decides that false statements or omissions in the declaration and failure by Iraq to comply shall constitute a further material breach, and that such breach authorises member states to use all necessary means to restore international peace and security in the area." Now, presumably, if we had succeeded in getting those words into the resolution, there would have been no need for a second decision at all?

Peter Goldsmith: Quite right.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: But we do not succeed in getting those words into the resolution. So in order to achieve a resolution, we had to give ground.

Peter Goldsmith: Well, the ground that was given particularly was to concede some second stage. The difficult question is whether the second stage was a Council discussion, where they would consider the discussion, or a Council discussion where they would decide what would happen next.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: We conceded that we had not been able to achieve a clear statement in this resolution that authorised member states to use all necessary means, ie to use force?

Goldsmith then goes off topic and Lyne tries to bring him back. Whenever Goldsmith goes off topic -- especially to avoid answering a question -- he ends up giving away much more than he realizes. He's not on topic but we'll jump in here anyway.

Peter Goldsmith: The United States, as everyone has said -- Sir Michael said it, I have said throughout, it is apparent on 7 March -- didn't believe they needed an United Nations Resolution at all. They believed they were able themselves to make the determination that Iraq was in material breach, and, therefore, they didn't need -- they didn't need 1441. Mr. Blair had -- and I said, I think to his credit -- had got President Bush to the UN table.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: I think, with respect, that's a separate point. We have gone past that point already.

Peter Goldsmith: With respect, may I make the point? Because it is important, and it is one of the things that came across very clearly in the meetings I had in February with the UN. Because the United States didn't need 1441 -- we did because we took the view that there had to be a determination of material breach. The United States didn't need it. They could have walked away from 1441 and said, "Well, we have been to the United Nations, they haven't given us the resolution we want, we can now take force." The only red line I was told by the State Department, legal adviser, the only red line that the negotiators had was that they must not concede a further decision of the Security Council because they took the view they could move in any event.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Yes.

Peter Goldsmith: Therefore, if they had agreed to a decision which said the Security Council must decide, they would have then lost that freedom.

Do you find Peter Goldsmith to be believable? That's a person call and people will have to make it on their own. But the above exchange -- an exchange Goldsmith offered willingly (in an attempt to avoid Lyne's questions) is rather explosive and people seem to be missing that.

Think for a moment what the Iraq Inquiry has been told. You've got, yes, one group that declares that England had 1441 and didn't need another resolution for the war to be legal and then you have the legal experts who say of course England needed a resolution authorizing the war. But back that up. Forget for a moment whether it was needed or not. We are told, over and over, that Tony Blair thought he could get a second one or thought that a second one would be sought. But Goldsmith has just revealed the US government's position -- after 1441 -- was that NO other resolution from the Security Council would be sought.

Because of wasting time? No.

The US government's position, according to Goldsmith, was that if a second resolution was passed it might limit the US' actions. Goldsmith (leaving out Lyne's "yes"): "The only red line I was told by the State Department, legal adviser, the only red line that the negotiators had was that they must not concede a further decision of the Security Council because they took the view they could move in any event. [. . .] Therefore, if they [the US] had agreed to a decision which said the Security Council must decide, they would have then lost that freedom."

That's rather important. Not because of the US administration's legal 'strategy' (or 'legal' 'strategy') but because if that was the US position and it was conveyed to Goldsmith then we've heard a lot of liars in this Inquiry insist that Blair was trying for a second resolution. Tony Blair was attached to George W. Bush at the hip and Bush was saying that a second resolution could restrain US actions so the US didn't want a second resolution, you better believe Tony Blair wasn't attempting a second resolution.

If you find Goldsmith believable, then the above is explosive because it reveals that witnesses have lied to the Inquiry (some may have been misinformed -- it would go to how high up they were) and it means Tony Blair has lied to the British people because the US position would have been in place before 1441 passed. When they saw the language emerging for 1441, the US position would have been in place and it would be, according to Goldsmith, "Fine. That's our resolution. We won't go back for another because it might hem us in."

The Inquiry should ask Tony Blair Friday to explain his understanding of the US position on a second resolution and when he became aware that they felt a second resolution might hem them in? At what point did Blair decide to go along with no second resolution? He should then be asked if he was sincere in his talk (during the lead up) about a second resolution? It does not add up, it does not make sense. Clearly, by March, it was too late to talk of a second resolution for Blair (because the date was already set for the war and Blair knew it). So at what point was Blair stringing along the public (and possibly his Cabinet members)?

In January 2003, as Blair prepared to meet with Bush at the end of the month, Goldsmith testified he again informed Blair a second resolution was necessary for the war to be legal. In February 2003, Goldsmith states he changed his mind about that. Repeated attempts by Committee Member Usha Prashar to determine why that was were met with Goldsmith doing everything but answering her questions.

February 10, 2003, Goldsmith went to DC. Please note, he is asked and he says it is February 10, 2002 (page 108 of the transcript, lines 21 through 25). That does not appear to be correct. He was in DC February 10, 2003. He was at the White House on Feburary 11, 2003 according to the official records. If indeed he visited in 2002 -- as he seems to think he did, that would mean that the US government and the British government defrauded the UN as well as the citizens of the world. 1441 is passed November 8, 2002. For Goldsmith's timeline to be correct -- maybe it is -- they would have had to have planned in February 2002, nine months before seeking the resolution, how they would not go for a second one. Again, I can get a confirmation on the February 2003 visit. I can't find out anything on a February 2002 visit. If I'm wrong and he did visit in February 2002 and that what follows took place then, there are some additional issues of fraud to the ones US House Rep John Conyers once noted.

Goldsmith testified he spoke with Will Taft IV of the US State Dept., he states he spoke to the legal adviser for the National Security Council, to Condi Rice, to "Colin Powell's people," to "Judge Gonzalez" (that's Alberto Gonzalez) and with John Ashcroft who was then the US Attorney General.
Peter Goldsmith: On one point, they were absolutely speaking with one voice, which is they were very clear that what mattered to them, what mattered to President Bush is whether they would, as they put it, concede a veto -- I need to explain that -- and that the red line was that they shouldn't do that, and they were confident that they had not conceded a veto. The point about conceding a veto was that the reg light was, "We believe" -- they were saying "that we have a right to go without this resolution. We have been persuaded to come to the United Nations" -- plainly some in the administration disagreed with that, you know that very well, "but the one thing that musn't happen is that by going this route, we then find we lose the freedom of action we think we now have", and if the resolution had said there must be a further decision by the Seucrity Council, that's what it would have done, and the United States would have been tied into that. They were all very, very clear that was the most important point to them and that they hadn't conceded that, and they were very clear that the French understood that, that they said that they had told -- discussed this with other members of the Security Council as well and they all understood that was the position.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: So they were very clear that the French had acknowledged, presumably in private, that there wasn't any need for a second decision?

Peter Godlsmith: Yes, in the discussions that they had had. They were very clear -- they were very clear that they had been adamant that this was key to them and that they had stuck to their guns and they had therefore conceded the discussion, the French acknowledged that, and discussion and no more.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: What evidence did they give you that the French had acknowledged this?

Peter Goldsmith: I wish they had presented me with more. That was one of the difficulties, and I make reference to this, that, at the end of the day, we were sort of dependent upon their view in relation to that. But I had seen -- certainly I had seen -- I looked very carefully at all the negotiating telegrams and I had seen that there were some acknowledgements of that, acknowledgments that the French understood the United States' position, at least, in telegrams that I had seen, and I was told of occasions when this had been clearly stated to the French.

To repeat, all the above describes what he would have encountered in February 2003 but he is saying it was February 2002.

In one of the more laughable moments, he explains he did not confirm the French government's position. He merely took the word of the Americans (and of people in his own government). Why? Because he insists he couldn't speak to the French government. It gets more crazy: He insists no British official could speak to the French. He couldn't place a call and no one could attempt to go through diplomatic channels.


He says because there were hard feelings between the US and France at that time and England was partners with the US and, golly, if the US saw Britian standing with France behind the gym, smoking a cigarette, the US might not invite Britain to the big party Friday. At "golly," I'm satirizing but it was his position and that's laughable. Even the Chair, John Chilcot, expressed surprise and asked of diplomatic channels which Goldsmith insisted couldn't be used.

Lyne asks Goldsmith what a court of law would say if he presented this? You have the official, public record of France's position. And if Goldsmith presented this hearsay of France's position (provided second hand by the US), what would a court say? A court would rule against it (it's hearsay) and Goldsmith knows that so he gets nervous (and gives away more than he realizes) and changes the topic. Asked what a court of law would say about that, he replies:

Well, can I answer this way, and I know I'm moving forward, but at that point that I took the view -- and I'll explain why -- that I had actually to come down on one side of the argument or other, I used a test which I quite frequently use when I'm having to advise on difficult matters, which is to say "Which side of the argument would you prefer to be on?" and I took the view I would prefer to be on the side of the argument that said a second resolution wasn't necessary.


That's not what a lawyer does. A lawyer does not say, "Do I want to be on A or B side?" An attorney looks at the law. The law is the law. You can interpret it, you can argue for grey areas, but the law is the law. You do not say, "___ is guilty or innocent. Which side do I want to be on?" You look at the evidence. You look at the facts. You go to precedents and you make a call. But Goldsmith has confessed to the Inquiry that when Tony Blair and Jack Straw didn't want a second resolution -- even though Goldsmith had been insisting the war would be illegal without a second resolution -- Goldsmith decided he'd rather be on Tony Blair's side. (He testified he decided that in March . . . and he testified he kind of decided that in January. We'll just say "March" and leave it at that.) It's not about sides, it's about the law.

Goldsmith is a joke and should be disbarred. He is saying he decided on a position -- not based on the law -- and then cherry picked through various things to back up the position. He should be disbarred and the UK should make him return his salary because that's not practicing the law.

Nico Hines live blogs the hearing for the Times of London. Andrew Sparrow live blogs the hearing for the Guardian. Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger live blogs at Twitter. Chris Ames will blog and fact check at Iraq Inquiry Digest.

If you've ever wondered what it's like in the committee hearing room,
Andy Beckett (Guardian) provides a detailed picture, he also sketches out each committee member and we'll note one section of his report:

As soon as I sat down and took out my notebook, a woman in a neighbouring seat with an intense air introduced herself. "I am from one of the bereaved families," she said. "My sister was kidnapped and died in Iraq."
Margaret Hassan was a British aid worker murdered during the Baghdad insurgency in 2004. Her family saw video footage of her captivity and death. Hassan's sister, Deirdre Manchanda, was contemptuous about the inquiry: "Sir John Chilcot," she said, with heavy sarcasm, "I wish he was my grandfather. When he consulted the bereaved families [before the hearings], I said, 'This is a huge conference ­centre, get another room for when Tony Blair appears. Or can the --bereaved families have reserved seats that day?'"
Manchanda went on: "I wouldn't shake Tony Blair's hand. But like other people here from the bereaved families, I haven't thrown eggs. We have ­conducted ourselves in a dignified way. Chilcot wrote back very politely, but not one proposal I put was agreed to."

And for the reaction of another person who lost a loved one in Iraq, we'll note Peter Brierly (father of Shaun Brierley) from "
Tony Blair is guilty of mass murder" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

'We've been saying what has now come out of the Chilcot inquiry for the last six years. The decision to go to war was made years before it was announced, it was illegal, and it was to depose Saddam Hussein.
They denied it all this time, and now it's out.
But that isn't enough. The only acceptable outcome is for Tony Blair to face investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
When he gives evidence Blair will deny these things. Unless they put charges to Blair, the inquiry is in disrepute.
The Iraqi people should have a voice too, to come and give evidence. It wasn't just people who were killed -- a whole country was destroyed.
Every other day there seems to be a bombing or something similar in Baghdad.
The violence only exists because of the instability war has created.
We went and met with John Chilcot along with other military families before the inquiry started.
I met him individually and he said that if anything illegal came out in the inquiry he wouldn't hesitate to pass it on.
Well now it has come out of their own mouths that it was for regime change.
Since I refused to shake Blair's hand, he seems a bit different.
People used to say you'll never get what you want, but he's looking less cocky now, less confident.
We won't stop until we get him -- and until we get justice.'

There is more to "
Tony Blair is guilty of mass murder" but we don't have the room in today's snapshot, we'll note the other half tomorrow. Great Britain's Socialist Worker's coverage on this topic also includes:

Blair and Brown have blood on their hands » Afghanistan: Conference will not stabilise the 'good war' gone bad » Chilcot whitewash brings out the dirt » Attempt to ban protest outside Tony Blair's appearance at Iraq inquiry

Friday, one-time prime minister and forever poodle Tony Blair will appear before the
Iraq Inquiry. A major protest is expected to take place outside as War Criminal Tony testifies. From Stop The War Coalition's "Protest on Tony Blair's Judgement Day: 29 January from 8am:"
Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE On Friday 29 January, Tony Blair will try to explain to the Iraq Inquiry
the lies he used to take Britain into an illegal war.
Writers, musicians, relatives of the dead, Iraqi refugees, poets, human rights lawyers, comedians, actors, MPs and ordinary citizens will join
a day of protest outside the Inquiry to demand that this should be Tony Blair's judgement day.
There will be naming the dead ceremonies for the hundreds of thousands slaughtered in Blair's war. Military families who lost loved ones in Iraq will read the names of the 179 British soldiers killed.Join us from 8.0am onwards.

Yesterday's hearing remained in the news today due to Jack Straw. For recap, Jason Beattie (Daily Mirror) reports, "In dramatic evidence that suggested Mr Straw was pushing for invasion, Sir Michael revealed he sent the Foreign Secretary memos to say the "UK could not lawfully use force" and needed a second UN resolution. Sir Michael and his deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst also revealed all the department's legal experts regarded the invasion as unlawful." Richard Ford (Times of London) reports: "Jack Straw today defended his decision to ignore the legal advice of two senior Foreign Office lawyers in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The Justice Secretary rejected claims that he had ignored crucial advice over the legality of military action." BBC News reports Straw told them today that he was "reluctant" about the Iraq War "but in the event I made my decision and I stand by it." Then why the attempts at damange control?

Turning to some of today's reported violence in Iraq today.

Reuters notes 1 man shot dead in Zummar -- after which his vest exploded leaving three Iraqi police officers and 1 US soldier injured, a Mosul suicide bomber has taken his own life and left five people injured (four were police officers) and 2 people have been shot dead in Mosul in separate incidents. In addition Aseel Kami, Michael Christie and Ralph Boulton (Reuters) report a Baghdad assault on two buses containing Iranians making a pilgrimage to the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim with at least 2 people dead (an Iraqi bus driver and an Iranian woman).

Monday, Baghdad was slammed with bombings and the death toll has risen to at least 41 with over seventy wounded. Among the dead was Yasser, an Iraqi man who acted as a driver for various reporters. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR's Morning Edition. link has text and transcript) remembers him:

He was fearless and saved my life many times. On one terrifying occassion, he swerved the car away from a knife-wielding attacker who wanted to steal the vehicle. In Iraq, the people you work with hold your life in their hands. Yasser took that role extremely seriously. He was loyal, devout, kind and curious. We became close. I met his family, ate at their home, traveled with him across the country on assignments. I often spent more time with him than with my own family. And over the many years I lived in Iraq, he was a steady presence in the almost unimaginable chaos.

James Hider (Times of London) remembers Yasser:

He joined the newspaper pretty much the same week I did, and toether we worked through the bloddiest periods of the war. Yasser -- whose surname I cannot put in print, even now, because of the danger to his brother, who also works as a Times driver -- was one of the thousands of Iraqis who have made the media coverage of the war possible: uncredited, unsung heroes of a war most people would rather forget.
He had survived some terrifying episodes, from being "ethnically cleansed" with his family by Sunni insurgents from their home in 2006, when they moved into our hotel but did not stop working, to blocking the road with his car as a vehicle full of armed kidnappers tried to abduct a Times reporter one evening near the Tigris river. He saved my life and the lives of colleagues at the risk of his own, only to step out of The Times office at exactly the wrong moment on Monday, the moment when a suicide car bomber fought his way into the compound and blew himself up.

Back to Lourdes Garcia-Navarro:The Iraq War is slowly fading from American newspapers and consiousness. Military men and politicians say it's better here now and indeed, these days there is less death. But people are still being killed. On Monday, I happened to know one of them. The legacy of the Iraq War is measured in these losses. The people who have died here cannot be forgotten. And I will not forget my friend, Yasser.

Moving over to the subject of oil, like Harold Ford Junior on the floor of Congress, getting in a female member of Congress' face and screaming, "Say it to Murtha!" a number of dumb asses have insisted they know something when they know nothing. We're referring to the stupid, the liars and the whores who want to insist that the US is shut out of Iraqi oil and therefor the Iraq War had nothing to do with oil. First off, as already noted, "multi-national." Multi-national companies (plus China's state oil) have won contracts -- multinationals with Americans serving on their boards. Second of all, the
World Tribune reports: "Iraq's Oil Ministry has signed a deal with Italy's Eni and the U.S. firm Occidental Petroleum to enhance the Zubair oil field, with an estimated reserve of 4.2 billion barrels." Third of all, Monica Hatcher (Houston Chronicle) reports, "Chad Deaton, CEO of Houston-based Baker Hughes, said in an earnings call Tuesday that his company has submitted a contract bid to a potential customer and could begin work on the ground by as early as the end of the first quarter. And Weatherford International chief Bernard Duroc-Danner said Weatherford expects to have eight rigs working in Iraq by the end of the first quarter and a ninth by July. The company is based in Switzerland but maintains a regional office in Houston. The heads of sector giants Schlumberger and Halliburton said in the past week that they also see business ramping up in the coming year." Surely the New York Times and all the other outlets that pimped the lie are now readying updates to their stories, right? (Don't hold your breath.)

Speaking of dumb, is there anyone worse than Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq as long as he has a lifecoach along for the ride?
Hill spoke to Lindsay Wise (Houston Chronicle) and those paying attention to his first response may grasp he didn't learn a damn thing since his confirmation hearing. (de-Ba'athification was confusing to him even then.) But it takes a special kind of stupid to produce this exchange.

Lindsay Wise: There were recent rumors of a military coup in Iraq. The U.K.'s ambassador to Iraq, John Jenkins, has been quoted saying a coup in Iraq is a real possibility in the future, that a democracy here is "not a done deal." What do you think?

Chris Hill: As I understand [it], the ambassador to her majesty's government explained that he was quoted out of context.

What? "Her majesty's government"? Chris Hill, who are you serving? That's (a). (b)? Jenkins said it. He said it in public. He was not misquoted. And if the US government is so pathetic (Chris Hill certainly is -- let's hope he's not representative) that they can't determine what someone said in public, then no wonder there is one "intelligence failure" after another. Where did Jenkins make that statement?

The Iraq Inquiry.
Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) did not misquote Jenkins. Alex Barker (Financial Times of London) did not misquote Jeninks and we didn't in the January 8th snapshot. Here's what Jenkins said:

If you look at the history of Iraq and the history of military coups in Iraq, you have to think that is always a possibility, a real possibility in the future, but I think where we are at the moment is -- it is much better than we thought it was going to be back in 2004/2005.

That's at the end of his remarks (refer to that day's snapshot for his remarks before it and the question before it). Jenkins was not misquoted nor, pay attention Chris Hill, was he asked of a military coup. Jenkins floated that all on his own. And because Chris Hill never stops finding new levels to stupidity,
we'll encourage him to click here for the video and transcript options for Jenkins testimony. You can lead a dunce to water, but you cannot make him think.

Or float. Vying for the title of Idiot of the Week, Hill has competition!, is
Ali al-Lami who insists to Asharq Al-Awsat that he is not controlled by Iran. The fresh from prison al-Lami heads the extra-legal Accountability and Justice Commission. And certainly, if you were released from prison mere months ago, you too would be heading a government commission because that's what cronyism is all about, right, Ali? Don't call him Ahmed Chalabi's lover because they insist they are just friends. With no benefits. Or none they admit to. But Ali explains that he's cracked down on the media and they've figured out their place and "calmed down" because he's threatened them with "lawsuits". He's a little bully. Let's hope he and Ahmed are lovers, they certainly deserve one another. (And, to look at them, it's obvious no one else would have them.)

TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):

Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, in addition to leaving lives andinstitutions in ruin, also exacerbated a much more common and lethalemergency in Haiti: Dying during childbirth. Challenges intransportation, education, and quality health care contribute to Haitihaving the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, anational crisis even before the earthquake struck. While great strides are being made with global health issues likeHIV/AIDS, maternal mortality figures worldwide have seen virtually noimprovement in 20 years. Worldwide, over 500,000 women die each yearduring pregnancy. On Friday, January 29 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), a NOW team thathad been working in Haiti during the earthquake reports on this deadlybut correctable trend. They meet members of the Haitian HealthFoundation (HHF), which operates a network of health agents in more than100 villages, engaging in pre-natal visits, education, and emergencyambulance runs for pregnant women.

reutersaseel kamimichael christieralph boulton
the guardian richard norton-taylor
nprmorning editionlourdes garcia-navarro
james hider
the times of londonrichard fordnico hines
andrew sparrow
the daily mirrorjason beattie
sky newsruth barnettandy jack
channel 4 newsiraq inquiry bloggeriraq inquiry digestchris ames
the socialist worker
now on pbs

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our airwaves ourselves

Explain it to me.

"MoveOn knocked out of Super Bowl" (Michelle Goldberg, Salon):
Jan 16, 2004 | Every so often clients call Richard Laermer, CEO of the entertainment and public interest P.R. film RLM, with what they think is a brilliant and novel idea. "I can't tell you how many times somebody has called me and said, 'Hey, I've got a great idea for a media attack. I want to put a naked person in an ad and try to run it in the New York Times, and they're going to turn it down and I'll release that they turned it down,'" he says. Censorship, Laermer has learned, can be its own kind of publicity.
If so, might reap its dubious benefits. On Thursday, CBS rejected the winner of MoveOn's "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad contest. The online advocacy group was trying to buy airtime to run the commercial, which criticizes the Bush administration's run-up of federal debt, during the Super Bowl, a Feb. 1 event expected to draw 90 million viewers. The ad will run around 30 times on CNN from Jan. 17-21.

[. . .]

Clearly, MoveOn has upset many on the right. But as Ad Age's Washington bureau chief Ira Teinowitz reported, CBS said it wasn't controversy that made it turn down MoveOn's commercial, and its $1.6 million. Instead, the network said the spot violates its policy against running any political issue ads at all.

Yet . . .

The spot, funded by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, is expected to tell the story of Pam Tebow, who became ill during her pregnancy with Tim but refused doctor recommendations to have an abortion. Pro-choice groups are calling for Super Bowl broadcaster CBS to reject the spot, but the network is standing firm, according to CBS News. In fact, producers said they would consider accepting any other "responsibly produced" advocacy ads for broadcast.

So they don't do advocacy ads . . . except when they do. They don't run issue ads, they insist in 2004 . . . but when it comes to abortion, suddenly they will run an ad . . .

If it's against abortion.

This is CBS we're talking about. I'm sure most people are aware of what that network did to a planned episode -- actually two planned episodes -- of Cagney & Lacey dealing with abortion? In one, they refused to allow Gloria Steinem to have a cameo because she was 'too political.' Grasp that, Gloria Steinem was 'too political' to appear in an episode of the show (because of feminism and being pro-choice). In the other, Cagney exploring her options was trashed and they were forced to instead turn it into a morality play where she wasn't pregnant but did get scolded by Lacey that she needed to be more careful.

That's CBS for you.

The same CBS that killed off the following shows starring women:

Touched By An Angel
Murder She Wrote
Murphy Brown
The Nanny

There are others. But they killed the above off by taking hit shows and moving them elsewhere on the schedule. It's a trick they pull whenever they want to get rid of a show starring a woman.

They have a long, long history of sexism.

(If you're late to the party on this issue, see Ava and C.I.'s "TV: All just a bit of (CBS) history repeating" for starters.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, January 26, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Baghdad again slammed with a bombing, the Iraq Inquiry hears that Blair and Cabinet were informed the Iraq War was illegal barring a second UN resolution, and more.

Committee Member Usha Prashar: Can I just then confirm, what were your views of the legal position on the use of force against Iraq before the Security Council Resolution 1441?

Elizabeth Wilmshurst: They were the same as described by Sir Michael Wood this morning, that it would be necessary to have a resolution of the Security Council, if force against Iraq were to be lawful, that the other lawful reasons for the use of force were not present at that time.

Commitee Member Usha Prashar: But there was a consistent view of all the law officers with the FCO [British Foreign & Commonwealth Office]?

Elizabeth Wilmshurst: Of all of the legal advisers within the FCO, yes.

Committee Member: Was the Foreign Secretary [Jack Straw] aware of your advice?

The illegal war. In London today, the
Iraq Inquiry heard there was no legal basis for the Iraq War. Today's witnesses were Michael Wood (Legal Adviser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2001 - 2006), David Brummel (Legal Secretary to the Law Officers, 2001 -2004), Elizabeth Wilmshurts (Deputy Legal Adviser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2001 - 2003) and Margaret Beckett (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, May 2006 - June 2007) (link goes to transcript and video option). John Chilcot is the chair of the Inquiry and he noted this morning that the testimonies would focus on legal issue and, "It is important also to recall we shall be raising legal issues with Jack Straw when he appears again on 8 February and with Mr [Tony] Blair on Friday." The first witness was, Michael Wood who explained, "I was the chief legal adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1999, the end of 1999, until February 2006 when I retired. I was the head of a group of lawyers."

Usha Prashar: Sir Michael, thank you for your statement. What I want to cover is the legal position on the use of force before the Security Council 1441 and also what happened in terms of practical advice giving and the concerns you might have raised, but I think it would be very helpful if youc an just tell us whether you were ever asked to advise on the provisions of international law relevant specifically to regime change in Iraq, and who asked you, and when was this, and what advice did you give?

Michael Wood: It was such an obvious point that kept on coming up and we just stuck in the sentence: "Regime change is not a legal basis for the use of force." It wasn't really controversial, so -- I can't remember if and when I presonally put that sentence in, but it went constantly into documents and was not, as far as I can recall, challenged by anyone.

Usha Prashar: So you can't remember when you were specifically asked that question and by whom?

Michael Wood: I can't. I can remember when we were first -- at least, I think I can remember, having refreshed my memory with the papers -- when we first looked at the general question of the legal basis for the use of force prior to the adoption of 1441, if you would like me to set that out.

Committee member Usha Prashar: I would actually. That was my next point. I really wanted you to briefly give your view on the legal position of the use of force before.

Michael Wood: I think the legal position was pretty straightforward and pretty uncontroversial. The first possible basis would be self-defence, and it was clear to all the lawyers concerned that there was no -- a factual basis for self-defence was not present, unless circumstances changed, because there was not -- Iraq was not engaged in an armed attack, nor was there an imminent armed attack on us or its neighbours or anybody else. So self-defence was ruled out. The second possibility would have been the exceptional right to use force in the case of an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe. This was the Kosovo argument, the argument we used in 1999, and also used for the No Fly Zones. Apart from the No Fly Zones, it was clear that there was no basis, using that rather controversial argument, for the use of force, in 2001/2002. So that left the third basis, possible basis, which was with authorisation by the Security Council. There, of course, we had a series of resolutions culminating in 1205 of 1998, which was seen as the basis for Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, and so there was a slight question whether that finding of a breach, a serious breach, was still -- still had some force. But I think all the lawyers who looked at it were pretty -- was very clearly of the view that it was not, and that if we sought to rely on that resolution of some years before, we wouldn't have had a leg to stand on. So the advice that was given was that there was no basis for the use of force in late 2001, when it first arose, I think, in 2002, without a further Security Council decision. There was one point that kept on coming up. Occassionally ministers, people, would say, "Well, Kosovo, we can do what we did in Kosovo. We didn't need a Security Council Resolution there". They remembered that we hadn't had a resolution, but, of course, Kosovo was very specific. It was based on the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe, the hundreds of thousands of Kosovans being driven from their homes and their country.

Committee Member Usha Prashar: You made that very clear --

Michael Wood: We made it very clear throughout and I don't think it was very controversial. Occassionally, you would get ministers saying the wrong things, or the Prime Minister [Tony Blair] saying the wrong thing privately, and I would just jump in and remind people of this basic position, but the basic position was set out by one of my colleagues as early as November 2001, when I think President Bush made some kind of statement which made it look as though fource might be used. So we set out the position immediately. It was repeated in a document that was attached to repeated documents that went to that famous meeting on 23 July [Crawford, Texas meet up between Blair and Bush at Bush's ranch]. These, I think, are --

Committee Member Usha Prashar: What you are saying is that you and your colleagues were consistent in the advice you were giving prior to this period?

Michael Wood: We were, and I'm sure the Attorney was aware of what we were saying and agreed with it. It just wasn't really a controversial business at that stage.

Committee Member Usha Prashar: During this period, nobody challenged you, nobody disagreed with you.

Michael Wood: That's correct.

Committee Member Usha Prashar: This was the consistent view of you and your colleagues?

Michael Wood: Yes.

Committee Member Usha Prashar: I think this morning we have actually published notes that you sent to the Foreign Secretary on 26 Mrach, which is a -- records the Secretary of State's conversation with Colin Powell.

Michael Wood: Yes.

Committee Member Usha Prashar: I mean, were you concerned what he said, that he felt entirely comfortable making a case for military action to deal with Iraq's WMD? What were your concerns and why did he choose to write in this way?

Michael Wood: I was obviously quite concerned by what I saw him saying. I mean, often reports are not accurate. They are summaries, they are short. He may well not have said it in quite the form it came out in the telegram, but whenever I saw something like that, whether from the Foreign Secretary or from the Prime Minister or from officials, less often perhaps, I would do a note just to make sure they understood the legal position.

UN Security Council Resolution 1441 was passed by the Security Council on November 8, 2002. It did not declare war. It allowed for inspections. The inspection process was ended when Bush announced Saddam could leave or the invasion would start. There was not a resolution for the invasion. The committee has heard some witnesses admit they would have liked a second resolution, some state that it was not needed and a few delicately question the war itself without a second resolution. Today the committee heard that the Iraq War was illegal without a second resolution and that the cabinet -- including the Prime Minister Tony Blair -- knew of that before the start of the Iraq War.

Wood testifed about a January 24, 2003 letter (which the committee made public) to Jack Straw written as a result of a meeting Straw and Dick Cheney (the US' then president of vice) had in DC where Straw insisted a second UN resolution was only a preference and the war was still a go "if we tried and failed" to get a second resolution. Wood stated of his letter, "That was so completely wrong, from a legal point of view, that I felt it was important to draw that to his attention." Elizabeth Wilmshurst testified in the afternoon.

Chair John Chilcot: Did it make a difference that Jack Straw himself is a qualified lawyer?

Elizabeth Wilmshurst: He is not an international lawyer.

Emma Alberici (Australia's ABC News) notes of the above exchange, "Even Sir John Chilcot could not resist but laugh." Jeremy Greenstock had earlier testified and noted that he didn't believe the Iraq War was "legitimate" but he would not weigh in on the legality.

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: You are saying that's actually part and parcel of the legal problem as well? That you don't necessarily see this distinction between legality and legitimacy?

Elizabeth Wilmshurst: In the case of Resolution 1441, he seemed to be saying that it was all right if we trod a very narrow line of textual interpretation, with which I didn't agree, of course, but he had a narrow textual argument, but which didn't have regard to what he said the majority of the Security Council believed. I was saying that, in this particular case, actually the whole question is: whose is the decision, the Security Council's or individual member states'? So that what in this case he was calling "legitimacy", I would call "legality". I would treat it as part of the legality argument. I do not know that I would make a wider proposition of it.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne used his questioning to, among other things, establish that the legal advice from the Foreign Office and the Attorney General's opinion was the same (illegal without a second resolution) and that it was the same "throughout 2002, before and after the adoption of Resolution 1441, and up until the point of the Attorney General's advice of 7 March 2003". That is when the divergence comes, days before the start of the Iraq War. It should also be noted that
as last year drew to a close, Tony Blair told the BBC that even without WMD, the Iraq War was still justifiable on the grounds of regime change. That argument/defense was rejected by government attorneys as Blair damn well knew.

Will Stone (Morning Star) quotes Lindsey German, Stop The War, reacting to today's testimonies, "We all knew that the war was illegal but it's a disgrace that Mr Straw ignored legal advice. When you hear that legal advisers had doubts abou tthe war and were being ignored you realise that this is not just about Tony Blair but a whole host of people who all went along with it." Brian Haw tells Stone, "Nobody will accept responsbility for the war even though international law was thrown clean out the window. That's what they hung the Nazis in Nuremberg for." James Chapman (Daily Mail) emphasizes this from today's hearing, "Astonishingly, Downing Street asked lawyers to assess what the consequences would be if Britain toppled Saddam Hussein without legal authority. When they received the lawyers' memo, No.10 demanded: 'Why has this been put in writing?'"

Andrew Sparrow live blogged today's hearings for the Guardian. Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger live blogged at Twitter. Chris Ames fact checked at Iraq Inquiry Digest. At the Guardian, Chris Ames gives the backstory on the previous efforts to hide the legal advice and the disregarding of that advice:

Last year, the information tribunal ordered the government to release the minutes of the cabinet meetings of 13 and 17 March but
Straw -- for the first time ever -- used the veto that he had himself put in the freedom of act to block publication. It had emerged during the tribunal hearing that there was considered to be insufficient discussion of the legal issues at the second meeting. It has since been admitted during the inquiry that all that happened at that meeting was that Goldsmith's very short legal advice was tabled and that a request by Clare Short for a discussion was rejected by the majority of the cabinet.
This lack of discussion is one of the key political and constitutional issues around the war. Should the cabinet have discussed the legality of a decision for which they were constitutionally collectively responsible?

Friday, one-time prime minister and forever poodle Tony Blair will appear before the
Iraq Inquiry in London. A major protest is expected to take place outside as War Criminal Tony testifies. From Stop The War Coalition's "Protest on Tony Blair's Judgement Day: 29 January from 8am:"
Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, BroadSanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EEOn Friday 29 January, Tony Blair will try to explain to the Iraq Inquiry
the lies he used to take Britain into an illegal war.
Writers, musicians, relatives of the dead, Iraqi refugees, poets, human rights lawyers, comedians, actors, MPs and ordinary citizens will join
a day of protest outside the Inquiry to demand that this should be Tony Blair's judgement day.
There will be naming the dead ceremonies for the hundreds of thousands slaughtered in Blair's war. Military families who lost loved ones in Iraq will read the names of the 179 British soldiers killed.Join us from 8.0am onwards.

Paul Lewis and Vikram Dodd (Guardian) report, "Anti-war campaigners planning to protest when Tony Blair appears before the Iraq inquiry on Friday said today they had been barred from going near the building where he is giving evidence. Up to 1,000 protesters are expected to rally outside the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in Westminster."

Turning to Iraq where Baghdad was again slammed today with a major bombing.
Jenny Booth (Times of London) reports a Baghdad suicide car bombing has targeted the police forensic service. Booth notes many dead and "Around 80 people were injured in today's attack. Hospitals in the Iraqi capital reported receiving a surge of wounded people and dead bodies." Yousif Bassil (CNN) counts 18 dead in addition to the eighty wounded. Al Jazeera explains the forensic services were part of the Interior Ministry and adds "Five of the dead and 25 of those injured worked in the interior ministry building." John Leland and Anthony Shadid (New York Times) add, "The bombing set cars ablaze and sprayed glass through the assortment of nearby restaurants and shops, wounding several people, according to news reports, and rescuers picked through the rubble of the damaged forensics department building, looking for anyone buried in the blast." [Note, the Times report has been revised and now only carries Shadid's byline. It also now omits other violence that took place yesterday.] Saad Shalash, Khalid al-Ansary, Michael Christie, Missy Ryan and Noah Barkin (Reuters) quote eye witness Hassan al-Saidi stating, "I've heard many explosions in the past, but nothing like this." Liz Sly and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report the death toll has reached 21 and that "The bomb pulverized blast walls intended to protect the facility, caused extensive damage to the building and shattered windows for hundreds of yards around."

In other violence,
Reuters notes today that Monday saw 2 police officers shot dead in Baghdad, two Baghdad roadside bombing which injured five people and a Baghdad grenade attack which left nine people injured.

Yesterday Baghdad was slammed by bombings and, if you doubted the news value, you missed the network evening news. (
Jenny Booth reports the death toll of Monday's bombings has risen to 41.) All three US networks noted the bombings. NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams provided the most time to the story:

Brian Williams: Overseas tonight, the situation in Iraq is suddenly back in the news today with a reminder that safety there can vanish in an instant. A series of bombings in downtown Baghdad, places frequented by Americans and other Westerners. Our own chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel who has spent so many years in Iraq is tonight with us in our New York studios. Richard what happened and what's the larger meaning do you think?

Richard Engel: First of all, the larger meaning is that the war in Iraq is not over and don't think that for a minute. They were three coordinated attacks on hotels used mostely by Western contractors and journalists. In one of the attacks, security cameras caught the white mini-van that was full of explosives as it was navigating through a security barrier, then it exploded. Why now? US troops are mostly staying on their bases, they're not patrolling nearly as much and it's a particularly volatile time. There are elections in Iraq in just six weeks and insurgents are trying to restart the civil war

Brian Williams: And also today, the death by hanging of a man we all came to know by a fiendish nickname

Richard Engel: Chemical Ali. One of the most hated men in Iraqi history, one of Saddam Hussein's chief henchman, responsible for killing by most accounts more than 5,000 Kurds in the -- during the Iran-Iraq War . He was put to death by the same tribunal that ultimately tried Saddam Hussein.

Brian Williams: Well perhaps some of the attention now shifts back to Iraq.

Click here for video of the above. ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer provided the least time:

Diane Sawyer: Baghdad, Iraq was rocked today by three bomb blasts at hotels which are popular with Westerners and journalists. At least three dozen people were killed and more than 100 injured. And in related news, the Iraqi prime minister called for a fraud investigation into bomb testing equipment supplied by the British which reportedly doesn't do the job.

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric offered a summary (as did ABC) but paired it with a report on the 'bomb detectors':

In Baghdad today, suicide bombers attacked three hotels killing at least 37 Iraqis. Officials blamed Saddam loyalists out to undermine the government. That government has invested heavily in bomb detectors to try to prevent such attacks but as Richard Roth tells us, there's new evidence they don't work. .

Richard Roth: If you think the pictures in this promotional video are dramatic, just look at the claims made for the device it promotes. The ADE651 is a metal antenna on a plastic handle sold as a bomb dector that uses no batteries or electronics. According to its British distributor, it can point to hidden drugs, guns or explosives and it will work underwater, underground or in the air. According to the US military, it's completely useless.

Retired Lt Col Hal Bidlack: I can think of no practical application for this device beyond party entertainment.

Richard Roth: Yet the Iraqi government spent at least $85 million for about 2,000 of the so-called bomb detectors and a training program that teaches troops to shuffle their feet to generate static electricity to make the things work. Now Britian has just banned export of the devices and arrested the businessman who's made a fortune selling them. Jim Mccormack, a former police man, is accused of fraud but the ADE651s are defended by Iraqi officials who backed their purchase and they're still in use.

Retired Lt Col Hal Bidlack: They're fine for fooling a four-year-old at a birthday party but they're immoral if they're trying to supposedly save lives at a checkpoint.

Richard Roth: And they're also at checkpoints in Beirut and Amman, Jordan where the bomb detector guards are using it at this five star hotel, may provide no more security than a magic wand. RIchard Roth, CBS News, London.

For video of Roth's report
click here and for text click here. The NewsHour (PBS) offered the following:

Hari Sreenivasan: In Iraq, Baghdad was hit by a series of bombings on the same day that a notorious henchman of Saddam Hussein was executed. We have a report narrated by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

Lindsey Hilsum: Three suicide car bombs in Baghdad today, all targeted at hotels where foreigners stay. The bombers didn't get right inside, but still managed to kill more than 30 people and injure seventy others. Neighboring houses were blown apart, firefighters helping survivors to safety. As Iraq heads towards elections in early March, such attacks are expected to continue or increase. The Americans say the perpetrators are probably al-Qaida in Iraq, a largely Sunni group supported by some members of Saddam Hussein's now banned Ba'ath Party. [. . .] Today's explosions show that Iraq is still volatile, maybe more so since the predominantly Shiite government barred many Sunni candidates from standing in the coming elections.

"[. . .]" is when Hilsum begins reporting on an execution. We noted it in yesterday's snapshot, Richard Engel's already been quoted noting it in this snapshot.
The NewsHour isn't just an hourly news program aired on PBS from Mondays through Friday -- I say doing my part to appease PBS friends -- it's also a web experience. The NewsHour is increasing their online presence and they have a news blog which I've supposedly never mentioned before. (That may be true.) But we will note it now because Gwen Ifill interviewed New York Times' Anthony Shadid yesterday about the bombings (link is audio).

Gwen Ifill: Tell us what you can, the latest you know about today's bombings.

Anthony Shadid: There were 3 bombings today in Baghdad. They were detonated about 9 minutes apart. And they struck landmark hotels in the capital. It's part of the campaign that's been going on basically since last August, aimed at undermining the sense of government control in Baghdad. In the past, they've struck ministries, government offiices, a courthouse, a bank, colleges and this seemed to open up a new front in that campaign in some sense by striking landmark hotels that pretty much everyone knows in Baghdad and that also cater to foreigners -- foregin reporters businessmen and, in time, election observers for the vote on March 7th for a new parliament.

Gwen Ifill: Has anyone taken responsibility?

Anthony Shadid: No one's taken responsibilty yet. But that's not unusual in these type of attacks. Claims of responsibilty often come days later. Government officials have so far been blaming the same people they've blamed in the past which is al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and Ba'athists. Now the government contends that they're working in concert -- al Qaeda and the Ba'ath Party or followers of the Ba'ath Party. The US military has maintained throughout this campaign, since last August, that al Qaeda alone is responsible for-for these attacks.

Gwen Ifill, in addition to NewsHour duties, also hosts
Washington Week. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro and Quil Lawrence filed on the spot reports and this NPR page (Mark Memmot's) (scroll down) has multiple links to their audio reports as well as to photos of the bombings. For text reports of yesterday's bombings, see an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy at Inside Iraq, Leila Fadel (Washington Post) first-hand report:Liz Sly blow-by-blow for the Los Angeles Times: and the Times of London's Oliver August.

TV notes.

Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, in addition to leaving lives andinstitutions in ruin, also exacerbated a much more common and lethalemergency in Haiti: Dying during childbirth. Challenges intransportation, education, and quality health care contribute to Haitihaving the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, anational crisis even before the earthquake struck. While great strides are being made with global health issues likeHIV/AIDS, maternal mortality figures worldwide have seen virtually noimprovement in 20 years. Worldwide, over 500,000 women die each yearduring pregnancy. On Friday, January 29 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), a NOW team thathad been working in Haiti during the earthquake reports on this deadlybut correctable trend. They meet members of the Haitian HealthFoundation (HHF), which operates a network of health agents in more than100 villages, engaging in pre-natal visits, education, and emergencyambulance runs for pregnant women.

Media Channel (home of Danny Schechter) is in need of funds:

NOTHING LASTS FOREVER So we are being forced to conclude that it may be time to declare victory and phase MediaChannel out. If we do, we will do it with pride of what we have accomplished overt the last decade. On the other hand, it's never over until it is. There is a small hope that other media sites that share our values may agree to some kind of consolidation, or a merger. Perhaps we can save ourselves if we work together. We know that collaboration is one of those values everyone supports in principle, but it's hard to give up our competitive instincts.
Your ideas and financial support are welcome and needed. We have been fighting for years to keep going and are now thinking about other options and initiatives if we cannot. Clearly, we are better hell raisers than fundraisers. Our costs are not that high, but there are costs, for a Webmaster, technology, distribution etc.. One deep pockets funder could write a check to keep us going, but we can't count on it. And it doesn't look like we can count solely on our readers either. Perhaps we have gone to "the well" one time too many times. We are sure those who never wished us well, the hackers and wreckers will celebrate. So what? As we consider the options, we would like you to consider ideas, contacts, connections and interest you may have to help sustain our work or tell us that its time to move on. We need help in reaching out for partners, a merger, or sale. [Email for suggestions.]

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