Sunday, February 07, 2010


With no significant attention from Amy Goodman's Democracy Sometimes, the Iraq Inquiry continued in London. The witness the world press covered was Clare Short who appeared before the committee on Tuesday and became the first witness to be applauded at the end of testimony.

MP Clare Short: I noticed that Lord Goldsmith [in his testimony to the Inquiry] said he was excluded from lots of meetings. That is a form of pressure. Exclusion is a form of pressure. Then, that he was -- it was suggested to him that he go to the United States to get advice about the legal position. Now we have got the Bush administration, with very low respect for international law. It seems the most extraordinary place in the world to go and get advice about international law. To talk to Jeremy Greenstock, who -- I'm surprised by his advice. I think to interpret 1441 to say you have got to come back to the Security Council for an assessment of whether Saddam Hussein is complying, but there shouldn't be a decision in the Security Council, is extraordinarily Jesuitical. I have never understood it before, and I think that's nonsense, and it wasn't the understanding of the French and so on, because I saw the French Ambassador later. So I think all that was leaning on, sending him to America, excluding him and then including him, and I noticed the chief legal adviser in the Foreign Office said in his evidence that he had sent something and Number 10 wrote, "Why is this in writing?" I think that speaks volumes about the way they were closing down normal communication systems in Whitehall.

Short's testimony was powerful and explosive and pretty much ignored by most US outlets. For example, NPR's reporter apparently was too busy 'reporting' on the Abba display in London to file about Short's testimony. Certainly, speaking to two women about the video they were making with holograms of the group qualified as 'hard hitting' reporting, right? The Pacifica Evening News, airing on KPFA and KPFK from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. each Monday through Friday, has been covering the Inquiry and they did file on Short's testimony.
John Hamilton: Former British Minister Clare Short accused Tony Blair of lying over the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and stifling discussion in the Cabinet in the run up to the war. Short is a long time critic of Blair who served as International Development Secretary in his government. She disputed evidence the former prime minister gave last week to an inquiry into the war. Short voted of the 2003 invasion but quit Blair's government shortly afterwards because she said Blair had conned her into thinking the UN would play a lead war in post-war Iraq. Speaking today before the Chilcot Inquiry, which is examining Britain's role in the war and its aftermath, Short accused the former Attorney General Peter Goldsmith of not telling the Cabinet of his doubts about the illegality of the war nor that senior Foreign Office lawyers believed it would be illegal without a second UN resolution on Iraq.
Clare Short: I think for the Attorney General to come and say there's an unequivocal legal authority to go to war was misleading. And I must say, I never saw myself as a traditionalist but I was stunned by it because of what was in the media about the view of the international lawyers but I thought "This is the Attorney General coming just in the teeth of war, to the Cabinet, it must be right." And I think he was misleading us.
John Hamilton: Goldsmith has said he initially doubted the war's legality and only concluded it would be lawful without such a resolution a week before the invasion -- days before the Cabinet was briefed. Short told the Inquiry today she believed Goldsmith had been pressured by Blair -- something that both men deny -- but she had no direct evidence to back this up. Last Friday, Blair defended his decision to go to war telling the Inquiry that Saddam Hussein had posed a threat to the world and had to be disarmed or removed. He said there had been substantive discussions with senior ministers in the Cabinet but Short told the Inquiry that she had been excluded from talks and that Blair had not wanted Iraq discussed in the Cabinet because he was afraid of leaks to the media .

Clare Short: There was never a meeting that said: "What's the problem, what are we trying to achieve? What are our military, diplomatic options?" We never had that coherent discussion of what it is that the problem is and what it was that the government was trying to achieve and what our bottom lines were. Never.
John Hamilton: Short accused Blair of being frantic to support the United States and said claims the French would have vetoed any second UN resolution in authorizing military action had been untrue.
Outside of Short's testimony, the biggest news last week from the Inquiry came on Wednesday when the Chair, John Chilcot, declared, "We do hope very much to visit. We can't commit yet. To visit Iraq before our Inquiry is complete."


Wednesday was also the day an appeals court ruled that the banned candidates would be allowed to compete in the Iraq elections scheduled for March 7th. They were not cleared of the charges, the ruling said, but their guilt or innocence would be determined after the election. Though the US reacted favorably, others were less than pleased. Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation, offered an immediate assault on the verdict and is currently working overtime to have it overturned.

Maybe that effort allows him to ignore the massive violence taking place? Iraq was repeatedly slammed with deadly bombings last week.

Sunday 2 people were reported dead and 14 wounded; Monday 57 were reported dead and 126 wounded; Tuesday 3 were reported dead and 12 wounded; Wednesday 27 were killed and 183 wounded; Thursday 4 were reported dead and 8 wounded and Friday 44 were reported dead and 161 wounded plus 1 person kidnapped; and Saturday 1 US contractor was reported kidnapped. That's 137 reported dead and 495 wounded.
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