Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blair Guilty As Hell; Prosecuting In Iceland, Palin Best Stay Away From Australia And California Legal System Turning Against Teachers Much Like New Jersey.

Blair Guilty As Hell; Prosecuting In Iceland, Palin Best Stay Away From Australia And California Legal System Turning Against Teachers Much Like New Jersey.

Iraq: 'Evidence For Criminal Case Against Blair' Says Expert

Click here to find out more!Tony Blair Wanted Gung-Ho Action Against Saddam Hussein's Regime

THE ex-PM pushed for “gung-ho” military action against Saddam a year before the ­invasion.

The Iraq Inquiry heard Mr Blair sent a private note to George Bush saying he was “up” for the war.

His comments contradict his claims at the time that military action was a last resort.

But a private memo by Mr Blair to his chief of staff Jonathan Powell in March 17, 2002 shows he was hell-bent on war.

The ­document says Britain should be “gung-ho on Saddam”. It continued:

“The persuasion job seems tough. My side are worried. From a centre-left perspective the case should be obvious. Saddam’s regime is a brutal, oppressive ­dictatorship.”

During his four-hour examination Mr Blair also lifted the lid on his private message to Mr Bush in July 2002 – six months before Britain and the USA invaded Iraq.

Mr Blair said: “What I said to President Bush was ‘you can count on us, we are going to be with you in ­tackling this’ but here are the ­difficulties.”

Tony Blair's evasions at the Chilcot inquiry continue to be an insult to the British public  : Henry Porter : The Observer, Sun 23 Jan 2011 00.07 GMT
A couple of weeks ago, the Canadian television presenter Richard Gizbert asked a panel at the Frontline Club in London what effect WikiLeaks' disclosure of American cables might have had during the run-up to the Iraq war. Would the kind of revelations we saw last year have made it impossible for Tony Blair and George Bush to invade Iraq on the basis of claims about weapons of mass destruction?

Obviously, publication would have made deceit and obfuscation vastly more difficult, because the more the public is made aware of what governments know and don't know, the more difficult it is for politicians to follow messianic crusades of their own. That is one of the crucial arguments in favor of publishing such material.

Contrast the clear shafts of light that spread from publication of the cables with the interminable ramblings of John Chilcot's committee of pensionable British worthies and you find yourself regretting that the maneuverings of Blair and Bush were not exposed to similar scrutiny in 2002 and 2003. Is it any wonder that the internet generation largely supports the dumping of raw information by whistleblowers on the web when they see figures from the 20th-century British establishment like Chilcot forlornly apply to make public two letters from Blair to Bush, only to be refused on the grounds that prime ministers and presidents have a right to keep their correspondence private?

The request was passed by the cabinet secretary Gus O'Donnell to Tony Blair, who naturally declined to give his consent, the same reaction no doubt as Richard Nixon would have given if he had been asked, rather than forced, to allow the Watergate tapes to be played in public. But the moral possession of these letters does not lie with Blair, the state or even the historians of the future, but to the British people of today – the public who paid for his Iraq adventure in money and lives. The confidences between statesmen are as nothing compared with the public's right to know what went on in the lead-up to war.

When Blair won the battle of the letters, he was halfway home and that was before he even set foot in the inquiry last week. Plenty was revealed, but he never looked discomfited during his appearance and any admission of failure only served the self-portrait of an agonized leader who was merely trying to do right by his country.

 He has an impressive armory of tricks designed to draw sympathy from his audience or at least to stall his interrogators – the dramatic hesitation as he recalls those difficult months, the empty concessions to the views of opponents, the frequent use of "in respect of", "look" and "I have to say", all of which serve to evoke a reasonableness which is wholly bogus.

When he was being ever-so-gently pressed on the question of why the attorney general Lord Goldsmith was not involved in discussions in the months between October 2002 and January 2003, he came out with a contorted explanation about keeping the Americans in ignorance of the doubt of his cabinet and the government's chief legal officer. "I had to hold that line – very uncomfortably by the way," he said with a familiar dash of self pity.

It is clear there was never any question in his mind that he wanted to take the country to war; what he in fact admitted in this exchange was the subtlety – some would say cunning – with which he manipulated the public and political discourses towards that end. When asked why he had ignored Goldsmith's unambiguous advice that UN resolution 1441 was not enough to go to war in a speech to the House of Commons, he made the truly baffling distinction between a political and a legal speech, as though the first somehow gave him license to say anything he wanted, whereas a legally informed statement would be more constrained.

I have no proof, but suspect that Blair was not conscious of the difference at the time. He can be remarkably hazy about the law and once stated in these pages that the Human Rights Act does allow the courts to strike down the act of our "sovereign parliament", which it most certainly does not.

His passing admissions underline this intellectual laxity, though you would not know it from the reaction of the five members of the inquiry. As an aside, Blair revealed that only 14 of 28 meetings with key figures to discuss the possibility of war were actually minuted; no record exists of who was there or what was said at half of these meetings.

Chilcot's purpose is to write a report, not create a courtroom drama for television. The questioning is respectful, sometimes over-elaborate but rarely forensic, which is a pity because on these issues the public does need to see political leaders visibly held to account, even if that means impolitely forcing them to answer difficult questions.

According to a US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks in December, the British government promised to protect American interests during the inquiry, which may account for the suppression of the Bush correspondence. One cannot help feeling that the entire process is far too gentlemanly and that Blair will now return unscathed to his life as a quasi-financial, quasi-political, quasi-religious entrepreneur, not unlike the character described in Robert Harris's novel The Ghost.

A report will eventually be extruded by the Chilcot committee, by which time most people will have long since given up caring about Iraq. It will no doubt make sensible mandarin points about the law, proper procedures and good government, but as with the other inquiries into Iraq, the British public has been deprived of proper satisfaction. We don't need a show trial, just a sense that penitence of a genuine sort or an admission of guilt has been wrung out of some of the Chilcot's witnesses, especially Tony Blair.

But maybe this is not our way. There are already important lessons to be learned about our recent history and the dictatorial way Blair ran the government at the height of his power – how easily checks on him were bypassed, opposition thwarted, intelligence skewed, lawyers and obstructive colleagues sidelined, all in the mortifying attempt to earn the favor of the US and pursue a policy of "liberal intervention" that was, by the way, in part developed by Chilcot committee member Sir Lawrence Freedman.

The thing is that we don't have to wait for the report to understand what happened; it has been plain for the last six or seven years. But imagine how things would be if we had known then what we know now. Real-time disclosure makes deception very hard.

The BIG (biased) Question – War Crimes & 'The Downing Street One ...
By keeptonyblairforpm
In the past I have objected to studio guests on the BBC casually misusing such language to mean “I disagree with the war”. Now the BBC itself has forgotten that “war crime” actually means something, including: ...
Tony Blair -

A Biased Question | John Rentoul | Independent Eagle Eye Blogs
By John Rentoul
War crimes were clearly committed by members of allied forces in Iraq, in some cases documented by the criminals themselves, as in Abu Ghraib. The more relevant question is whether a charge of war crimes would stick to Teflon Tony?| -

'Blair should be tried for war crimes'
Press TV
A war crimes tribunal because he still has some years to go. And he is a menace to the international community if he is allowed to get away with it. ...See all stories on this topic »

Desert Storm Turns Twenty: What Really Happened in 1991, and Why it Matters, Part I of II

 It's been twenty years since we went to war in Iraq for the first time. The years have been kind to Desert Storm, which is now remembered as an unalloyed triumph. But was it? The way Desert Storm was shaped, fought and finished revealed tremendous indecision in Washington, half measures on the battlefield, and an inconclusive war termination that sowed the poison seeds of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990 in large part to extricate himself from the debts of the Iran-Iraq War, which had raged from 1980 to 1988. The Americans, Japanese and Europeans had loaned Saddam about $35 billion, the Saudis $31 billion, Kuwait $14 billion and the U.A.E. $8 billion. The war had cost Iraq at least half a trillion dollars, and Iraq had little hope of repaying its external debt with oil prices sliding down to $13 a barrel as the war petered out and supply picked up.

The Iraqis had been claiming Kuwait ever since the British amputated its territory from the Ottoman province of Basra in 1899. Iraqis defiantly referred to Kuwait as their "19th province" and coveted its hoard of petrodollars and deep reserves of oil. In July 1990, Saddam shaped a pretext for war, when he defined Kuwait's refusal to cede territory to Iraq, cut its oil production, and forgive its Iraqi war debts as "military aggression."

In Baghdad, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie pressed for a clarification of Iraqi intentions. Her work became more urgent in the third week of July when Iraqi Republican Guard units began deploying to Basra in preparation for what satellite imagery suggested could only be an invasion of Kuwait. She counseled patience.

Bush's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, was as hesitant as Glaspie. His military options to retake Kuwait, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft groused, "had not seemed designed by anyone eager to undertake the task." The Powell Doctrine, conceived after Reagan's disastrous intervention in Lebanon, still prevailed in 1990: U.S. forces would only be introduced into conflicts with clear, achievable aims, a visible exit, and strong popular and congressional support. Powell considered that none of those criteria were fulfilled in the case of Iraq's takeover of Kuwait. He proposed a different strategy: "grind down" Saddam through "a policy of containment or strangulation."

April Glaspie met with Saddam on July 25, 1990. She believed wholeheartedly in the Bush plan to "moderate" Saddam Hussein and make him a U.S. ally. She took as her brief a memo that had arrived from Secretary of State James Baker the previous day. Baker had condemned Iraqi efforts to bully the weaker Gulf states and had noted the peril "of having oil production and pricing policy in the Gulf determined and enforced by Iraqi guns." But Baker also affected "to take no position on the border delineation issue raised by Iraq with respect to Kuwait."

Imprecision like that had caused the Korean War forty years earlier, when Secretary of State Dean Acheson had neglected to include South Korea in America's East Asian security perimeter. The North Koreans had interpreted that omission as license to invade the south. In 1990, Saddam saw an opening in Baker's apparent indifference on the border issue. What if he left Kuwait largely intact, but seized the Rumaila oil field and one or two of Kuwait's islands? Perhaps the Bush administration would permit that. The Bush administration itself had no idea what it would do if Saddam invaded Kuwait. Instead of facing the question squarely, President Bush and his key deputies kicked the can down the road, and merely hoped that "moderation" would work.

"Do not push us to [invade Kuwait]," Saddam growled to Ambassador Glaspie. "Do not make it the only option left with which we can protect our dignity." After the meeting, Glaspie cabled Baker and urged him to "ease off on public criticism of Iraq" until Saddam had been given the chance to negotiate with the Kuwaitis at a Saudi-arranged conference in Jedda. At the Pentagon, hawkish deputies like Paul Wolfowitz were disturbed by the defeatist tone of Glaspie's cable, but the actual presidential letter to Saddam drafted for Bush's signature by his N.S.C. ran in a Glaspian vein. Saddam's saber-rattling, his accumulation of weapons of mass destruction, his brutal police state, and anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric were resolutely downplayed -- "certain Iraqi policies and activities" -- and Bush pronounced himself "pleased" with Saddam's willingness to attend the Jedda conference that Saddam himself had convened at the point of a gun. 

Although Bush was about to announce a 25 percent reduction in U.S. armed forces -- the post-Cold War "peace dividend" -- no cuts had yet been made. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney's top deputies at the Pentagon recommended a stern rewrite explicitly warning Saddam not to attack Kuwait, but the shilly-shallying N.S.C. letter went out over Bush's signature. Nothing was done to reinforce the Kuwaitis, or to open Saudi bases to U.S. forces. A 2,000-man Marine Expeditionary Unit remained in the Philippines; no B-52s were sent to Diego Garcia, and there was not even a Navy carrier in the Gulf or the North Arabian Sea. The nearest U.S. carrier, the Independence, was four days away.  1  2  3  Next  Last »

Desert Storm Turns Twenty: What Really Happened in 1991, and Why it Matters, Part II of II

Having rebuffed American and U.N. demands that he leave Iraq, Saddam watched the U.N. deadline -- January 15, 1991 -- come and go. Baker had threatened at Geneva that "midnight of January 15th is a very real date," and indeed it was. The next day, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm. Desert Storm began in January with a massive air campaign -- Operation Instant Thunder -- whose name was chosen to distinguish it from the pin-pricking Lyndon Johnson air campaign in Vietnam -- Rolling Thunder -- which had gradually increased pressure. Instant Thunder was front-loaded: 100,000 sorties that dropped 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq immediately. The ground offensive kicked off a month later.

A problem arose: it now seemed clear that the U.S. coalition would win; the revised war aim was to grind down the Iraqi military and destroy the WMD facilities. But the Iraqis were running away. Could the coalition destroy the bulk of the Iraqi army and annihilate the Republican Guards before they crossed back into Iraq and appealed for a cease-fire? Could they maintain any leverage over the Iraqis if Saddam simply abandoned Kuwait?

The most heavily-trafficked line of retreat was the principal Iraq-Kuwait highway, which filled with Iraqi infantry columns and vehicles trying to reverse out of Kuwait. Saddam knew that the Arab members of the coalition would not join any attacks on Iraqi units once they had left Kuwait, and suspected that other coalition partners like the French would follow suit. Allied forces, racing to hit the Iraqis before they could cross the Euphrates River, pounced on the traffic jams along Highway 8 and slaughtered them. General Barry McCaffrey called the Iraqi units -- infantry and armor alike -- "tethered goats." Neither the troops nor the officers exhibited any initiative.

Alerted by juiced-up pilots who spoke excitedly about their easy kills along the Iraqi lines of retreat, the press began referring to American strikes on Highway 8 as "the turkey shoot," the route itself as the "Highway of Death." "Anything with wings and a bomb rack" was sent aloft to participate in the slaughter. Saddam milked the images of death -- burnt-out passenger buses, private cars, and even scorched baby carriages -- for all they were worth in trying to wring sympathy from the Arab street and world opinion. "The victimizer had become the victim," two historians noted. Coalition forces lurched after the blundering, bleeding Iraqis, Schwarzkopf screaming into the telephone to speed Franks up.

The Air Force stopped bombing the coastal highway running north from Kuwait City through Basra and over the causeway that bridged the Euphrates. That was a grave error exploited by the Iraqis, who poured up the road and out of Kuwait unscathed. It was a signal failure of jointness and "air-land battle," and attributable to the growing problem of "friendly fire" -- far more dangerous to the coalition than Iraqi fire -- and to fears in Washington that a second "highway of death" would be politically calamitous for America's image. Bush fretted that he would be accused of "butchering the Iraqis" and "shooting them in the back." He conceded a cease-fire after just 100 hours of combat on February 27.

The critical meeting in the Bush White House took place at 1 pm on February 27. Bush, Scowcroft, Cheney, Powell, Robert Gates and British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd agreed that they needed to force terms on Saddam, and not wait for him to request a cease-fire on his own terms. The allies agreed -- mistakenly -- that they had destroyed Iraq's WMD capabilities in the air campaign. Although the Air Force pronounced itself capable of bombing Iraq "until they're down to two stone axes and a pushcart" and coalition ground units were within striking distance of the Iraqi capital -- the 101st Airborne Division sat astride Highway 8 just 150 miles from Baghdad -- the coalition was losing the will to go on. Thatcher, who might have argued for a drive on to Baghdad to remove Saddam, had left office in November 1990, and been replaced by John Major, who evinced a desire to end the war quickly.

Bush called for a "clean end." The main thing, Bush insisted, was to avoid "charges of brutalization," of piling on just to kill Iraqis in the war's last hours. Secretary of State Baker concurred: "We have done the job. We can stop. We have achieved our aims. We have gotten them out of Kuwait." But, like everyone else in the room, Baker worried about "unfinished business." What would become of the Saddam Hussein regime? Would the Americans give it a shove, or let it stand? In Riyadh, Schwarzkopf was declaring victory at the Hyatt Hotel -- "the gates are closed ... we almost completely destroyed the offensive capability of the Iraqi forces" -- and assuring the press that going to Baghdad was not in the cards. That ingenuous revelation prompted a startled protest from Paul Wolfowitz in the Pentagon, who agreed that the allies probably weren't going to Baghdad, but considered it foolhardy to tell that to the Iraqis. Wolfowitz and the other "Washington hawks" -- the future neo-cons -- were still hoping for a coup, and wanted to keep pressure on Saddam.

In Riyadh, the deputy Centcom commander, General Calvin Waller, also expressed amazement at Washington's hasty, charitable concession of a cease-fire, when only about half of the Republican Guard's equipment had been destroyed, and before the last bridges over the Euphrates had been demolished, effectively bottling up the Iraqi army, most of which was still south of Basra, squarely in the sights of the U.S. forces. American planners had planned to disarm and dismount the Iraqis and then send them streaming back into Iraq on foot. 

That was the kind of image that would humiliate Saddam and rock his regime. "You have got to be shitting me. Why a cease-fire now?" Waller expostulated. "One hundred hours has a nice ring," Schwarzkopf chuckled. "That's bullshit," Waller said. "Then you go argue with them," Schwarzkopf said. "Them" was the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, and the Bush White House. Schwarzkopf had never squared off against Powell and was not about to begin now. Powell set the tone in the J.C.S., and talked the other chiefs into an early end to the war. Desert Storm had evicted Saddam from Kuwait and erased the stain of Vietnam, so why fight on?

Air Force Chief of Staff General Merrill McPeak privately protested the "merciful clemency" offered Saddam, but publicly supported Powell. President Bush too wanted to quit while he was ahead. In Washington, the analogy on everyone's mind was not Vietnam, but Korea, where a limited American war -- to evict the North Koreans from the south -- had slipped (under MacArthur's gung-ho influence) into an unlimited struggle to destroy the North Korean communists that had dragged on bloodily and inconclusively for three years and then left American troops as a permanent fixture in South Korea. Few wanted to risk this easy victory and expand American liabilities by rolling the dice and pushing north to Baghdad.

Powell ridiculed the notion: it was not as if "a lot of little Jeffersonian democrats would have popped up to run for office" in Baghdad on America's coattails. Still, Bush felt tension and incompleteness everywhere. "Why do I not feel elated?" President Bush asked aloud. He knew why. The instigator of the war had survived to fight another day, and there was little that Bush could do to change that outcome. In his diary, Bush wrote of his anger at seeing Baghdad Radio broadcasting victory even as U.S. forces trounced the Iraqis. 

But the coalition would not support continued combat in Iraq or Kuwait merely to "destroy Iraqi forces," nor would many Americans. The war was not cheap either; 390 Americans had died in combat, and the bill for the war stood at about $620 billion. "We need to have an end. People want that. They are going to want to know that we won and that the kids can come home. We don't want to screw this up with a sloppy, muddled ending." Within a year, two-thirds of Americans would come to believe that President Bush had terminated the war too soon, and the unresolved issue would contribute to Bush's defeat in the elections of 1992.

The Hundred Hour War ground to an equivocal close, over Paul Wolfowitz's recondite objection that "100-hour war" would be a politically disastrous term since it would evoke memories of the 100-hour Franco-British-Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956. ("Would 99-hour war be better?" Cheney joked.) Bush had confidently predicted that the Iraqi "troops will straggle home with no armor, beaten up, 50,000," but they were more numerous than that, and they had extricated lots of armor. American surveillance photos of southern Iraq revealed the depressing news that Saddam had pulled one-quarter of his tanks and half of his APCs from Kuwait. Worse, the tanks that escaped were largely Republican Guard. Indeed the Republican Guard divisions in Kuwait had pulled off a desert Dunkirk, extricating 80,000 troops with large numbers of tanks, helicopters, and heavy guns.

"The end game: it was bad," McCaffrey recalled. "First of all, there was confusion. The objectives were unclear. And the sequence was wrong." Ordinary Iraqis expressed wonderment at Saddam's continued hold on power. Retreating troops fired their AK-47s into the portraits and murals of Saddam that lined their routes home. An Iraqi cement worker muttered: "Kuwait destroyed by Saddam. Iraq destroyed by combined forces. But Saddam is still in his chair." The Shiites of southern Iraq, who had begun to seethe even before the ground war, exploded into rebellion after the cease-fire. Saddam was weakened and discredited. The moment to rise up had arrived. In northern Iraq, the Kurds made the same calculation. They took President Bush's awkward March 1 declaration as a call to action: "In my own view, I've always said it would be - that the Iraqi people should put him aside and that would facilitate the resolution of all these problems that exist, and would certainly facilitate the acceptance of Iraq back into the family of peace-loving nations."

But even as he incited the Iraqis to rebel, Bush rejected any push to Baghdad and conceded Saddam the use of armed helicopters on his side of the border. Saddam promptly exploited the American concession not to hop-scotch over shattered roads and bridges but to blast his rebellious subjects from the air. Bush 41 expressed again his mixed feelings about Desert Storm, this time to a (startled) White House press conference: "You know, to be very honest with you, I haven't yet felt this wonderfully euphoric feeling that many of the American people feel." The father's doubts would sow the son's resolve to, as Bush 41 concluded, "cross the last 't' and dot the last 'i.'"  1  2  3  Next  Last »

Tunisian Police Join Protesters

166 Real News Videos

Iceland’s special prosecutor into the banking crisis has confirmed that raids have taken place today and that arrests have been made. The Central Bank of Iceland is among the institutions under investigation.

Now we’re talking.  Investigations into the banking crisis, and they’re actually going to lock up some banksters?

Now that’s progress. 

Speaking of progress, has anyone paid attention to the labor force participation rate in Iceland lately, or the change in unemployment, or the change in imports and exports?

I wouldn’t say their economy is “booming”, but it sure looks pretty good compared to a lot of others, having told the banksters who wrote a bunch of bogus paper they couldn’t cover to go stuff it instead of bailing them out!
I wonder if this had anything to do with Iceland’s willingness to “do the right thing”?

In a Facebook post in December, Sarah Palin wrote that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be "pursued with the same urgency as al-Qaida and Taliban leaders." Robert Stary, an Australian lawyer for Assange, tells National Public Radio he'll pursue a "private prosecution" of Palin if she ever sets foot on Aussie soil. Her remark is essentially a call for Assange's execution, Stary says.

"Our main concern is really the possible extradition [of Assange] to the U.S. We've been troubled by the sort of rhetoric that has come out of various commentators and principally Republican politicians - Sarah Palin and the like - saying Mr. Assange should be executed, assassinated."

Anyone who incites others to commit violence against his client, even outside Australia, Stary says, is violating Australian law and can be held accountable for it. "Certainly if Sarah Palin or any of those other politicians come to Australia, for whatever purpose, then we can initiate a private prosecution, and that's what we intend to do," Stary said.

One of these days both the Teachers and citizens of this nation are going to wake up to a surprising fact. Teachers represent the only group in America that has folks, friends, relatives and supporters in every Precinct etc. in this nation and pushed far enough they can coalesce and take control of the entire electoral machinery of this nation. Add to them an aroused union movement fighting back for existence and you have the base for a Paradigm shift in American politics.

What Happened To The Anti-War Movement?

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