Friday, November 27, 2009

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

Do you like detective movies? Like The Late Show and LA Confidential? I do and we saw one yesterday that we had not seen before.

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.

It came out in 2005. The stars are Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmber. I don't like Downey in most movies, to be honest. But this was so good, I wished there was a sequel.

Val Kilmer is wonderful in the film and he's just a gorgeous man anyway. (He's also a brave one. Alone among the 2000 celebrity crew endorsing Ralph Nader, Val stood by him in 2008. I do not forget that. As someone who voted for Ralph in 2000, 2004 and 2008, I do not forget that.)

Val's a detective. He's also gay. Robert's a con-artist. He poses as a detective. He's in love with an old high school girlfriend who generally doesn't know he exists (amazingly played by Michelle Monaghan). The film is so involving and so wonderful.

If you've never seen it, you really should. It's gory. A lot of shootings, a lot of blood. But it will repeatedly surprise you and ykeep you on the edge of your seat. The script is by Shane Black who also directs. He's the guy who created Lethal Weapon. But this is a much better film. I like Danny Glover in Lethal and I like Darlene Love (who plays Danny's wife) but I'm not a big fan of those films. They're kind of obvious and there's no real mystery. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang is a great movie.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, November 27, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces a death, the Iraq inquiry continues in England and covers many topics including Bush's teleprompter mishap, no solution yet for the Iraq's national elections (but possibilities), and more.
Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died, Nov. 27, of non-combat 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 at 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 the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4366.
Meanwhile, I wasn't aware Thanksgiving was an Iraqi holiday but apparently it is. That would explain all the outlets off today and unable to report especially on any violence. The US military hypes, "Two cultures come together at a table. The hosts, strangers in an exotic land, welcome native guests with a rich history stretching back thousands of years.
This scene, reminiscent of the historic celebration at Plymouth, took place here on Forward Operating Base Falcon, Nov. 26, as dozens of Iraqi tribal, civil and military leaders and their families were guests of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team for Thanksgiving dinner." Reminscent of the historic celebration at Plymouth? Did they really just say that? And then they want to act shocked when accused of attempting to colonize Iraq. Also suprisingly unhelpful is US Maj Marty Reigher who declares, "Iraqi culture is built on trust and a man's word." It's disgusting how the US military continues to do their part and then some to make life more difficult for Iraqi women. Not only was an American officer stupid enough to say it, someone was stupid enough to include it in a write up.
But at least the one writing up the hype worked today. More than you can say for those who should be reporting on violence. (No, there's no chance in hell that there was no violence in Iraq today.) Yesterday AFP reported that a Mosul "church and a convent were struck by bombings" -- the Church of St. Ephrem and St. Theresa Convent of Dominican Nuns -- and quoted Father Yousif Thomas Mirkis stating, "These attacks are aimed at forcing Christians to leave the contry."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left ten people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left another person injured, a second Baghdad sticky bombing left one person injured, a third Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left three people injured, 2 Babil market bombings which claimed 2 lives and left twenty-eight people injured.
Turning to the issue of Iraq's 'intended' January elections and Iraq as Groundhog Day. It's apparently November 8th or a few days prior all over again. Anthony Shadid and Nada Bakri (Washington Post) reported Thursday that a proposal has emerged which may or may not have backing in the Parliament and which may or may not pit Sunni against Kurd and, "Even with the agreement, which must now be approved by the Iraqi electoral commission, election officials said it would be almost impossible to hold the election in January as originally planned. Mid- to late February was more likely, since a major Shiite Muslim holiday will not end until Feb. 10." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) explains, "A compromise, however, did not appear likely to be reached before next week, as Iraqis began to celebrate the Islamic holiday Id al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, which lasts until Tuesday. One of Iraq's two vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, released several statements suggesting that he was open to a compromise. At the same time, he threatened to veto a new election law, as he did last week, raising the specter of a political and constitutional crisis." Shadid and Barki reported this afternoon that while Tariq al-Hashimi has called the proposal "good news" he has also stated, "It's still early to talk about ratifying the law, because we are awaiting the electoral commission's interpretation of the agreement." In addition, the reporters explain the Kurds have yet to indicate where they stand on the proposal. Liz Sly and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report that even though the country's "constitution stipulates that the poll must be held by January," it does not appear to be likely that January elections will be held "so a delay will require some constitutional tinkering, which could set a dangerous precedent." AFP quotes Speaker Iyad al-Samarrai stating, "The (election) commission announced it would be held on January 16th, this is not possible anymore because there is no law. I believe that the election will be held in March."
In England, the Iraq Inquiry continues. Those needing audio can't turn to Pacifica Radio because, despite all those "Thanksgiving is abomination!" 'reports' they inflict on listeners, the holiday rolls around and everyone needs off for Thursday and Friday so programs such as Free Speech Radio News and Democracy Now! offer canned 'news' programming. Not unlike KPFA's infamous New Year's Eve Special on December 31, 2006 that was, in fact, not live despite being presented on air as live. For audio on the hearing, the Guardian's podcast this week features Anne Perkins and Polly Toynbee discussing the inquiry. Thursday the inquiry heard from Christopher Meyer on the topic of Transatlantic Relationship and Jeremy Greenstock offered testimony today on the topic of Developments in the United Nations [links go to video and transcript options for the testimony of each witness]. Chris Ames (Guardian) observes of Meyer's testimony:
At the Iraq inquiry this morning, Sir Christopher Meyer has let so many cats out of the bag that it is hard to keep up with them all. He has confirmed that by the time Tony Blair met George Bush at Crawford, Texas in April 2002, Blair had already agreed to regime change. Meyer and others had told the US administration about this change of heart in March 2002. The "UN route" was a way to justify the war but the inspectors were never given the chance to do their job.
Or did we know all that already? Ever since the war, there has been a massive gulf between what various leaked documents have shown and the official version. Previous inquiries have failed to close that gap. Now Meyer, who was the UK ambassador to Washington at the time, has done exactly that.
The government's version of events was always that it was taking action to deal with the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Leaked documents, most notably the
Downing Street documents, show that the policy was to go along with the US desire for regime change and use weapons of mass destruction as a pretext. This version of events was confirmed by what Meyer said this morning. I don't think it could be more explosive.
We'll pick up where Meyer is discussing the 2002 meet-up between Bush and Blair.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: That brings me to my last question before I hand over to Sir Roderic Lyne, and it brings me to Crawford in April 2002. What I would like to ask you is this: to what extent did American and British policy towards Iraq merge in April 2002 along the lines that you suggested during that weekend at the Crawford ranch, in particular Bush's commitment at that time, as he put it, to put Saddam on the spot by following the UN inspectors' route and also by constructing and international coalition, which was the Prime Minister's strong input? How do you feel about the convergance of policy at that time?
Christopher Meyer: It took a while for policy to converge -- sorry, if we are talking about Americans, the President accepting, for realpolitik reasons, it would be better to go through the United Nations than not, which was a repudiation of where his Vice-President stood. It took a while to get there, probably until August of that year. I said in my briefing telegram to Tony Blair, before Crawford, a copy of which, again, I couldn't get hold of in the archive -- and by that time there had been a couple of months, maybe more, maybe three months, in which contingency discussion of, "If it came to war in Iraq, how would you do it?" It was all very -- it was all vey embryonic. Of course, while regime change was the formal policy of the United States of America, it didn't necessarily mean an armed invasion, at that time, of Iraq and it may sound like a difference without a distinction or a distinction without a difference, but it wasn't, not at that time, and so I said -- I think as I remember I said to Tony Blair, "There are three things you really need to focus on when you get to Crawford. One is how to garner international support for a policy of regime change, if that is what it turns out to be. If it involves removing Saddam Hussein, how do you do it and when do you do it?" And the last thing I said, which became a kind of theme of virtually all the reporting I sent back to London in that year was, "Above all" -- I think I used the phrase "above all" -- "get them to focus on the aftermath, because, if it comes to war and Saddam Hussein is removed, and then . . .?" The other thing at that time, Sir Martin, which people tend to forget is actually what was blazing hot at the time and a far more immediate problem -- and it wasn't Iraq, it was the Middle East, because the Intifada had blown up, hideous things were going on in the West Bank, the Israeli army were in the West Bank and we had prevailed on the Americans, as one example of British influence working that year, to put out a really tough statement before Tony Blair arrived in Crawford telling the Israelis in summary that they needed to withdraw from the West Bank towns and withdraw soon. Now, let me be quite frank about this. Crawford was a meeting at the President's ranch. I took no part in any of the discussions, and there was a large chunk of that time when no adviser was there, I think -- I don't know whether David Manning has been before you yet, but when he coomes before you, he will tell you, I think, that he went there with Jonathan Powell for a discussion of Arab/Israel and the Intifada. I think it was at that meeting that there was a kind of joint decision between Bush and Blair that Colin Powell should go to the region and get it sorted. I believe that, after that, the two men were alone in the ranch until dinner on Saturday night were all the advisers, including myself, turned up. So I'm not entirely clear to this day -- I know what the Cabinet Office says were the results of the meeting, but, to this day, I'm not entirely clear what degree of convergence was, if you like, signed in blood, at the Crawford ranch. There are clues in the speech which Tony Blair gave the next day at College Station, which is one of his best foreign policy speeches, a very fine piece of work.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: How do you assess the balance in that speech between, as it were, potential pre-emption and the UN rule in Iraq?
Christopher Meyer: There were lots of interesting things in those speeches. It sort of repays a kind of criminological analysis. To the best of my knowledge, but I may be wrong, this was the first time that Tony Blair has said in public "regime change". I mean, he didn't only deal with Iraq, he mentioned other issues as well. But he -- I think what he was trying to do was draw the lessons of 9/11 and apply them to the situation in Iraq, which led, I think, not inadvertently, but deliberately, to a conflation of the threat by Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It also drew in spirit on the 1999 Chicago speech on humanitarian intervention.
In one of the more interesting bits of the testimony, he recounted when the Bully of England met the Bully of the US with George W. Bush saying, "Hello, Tony. May I cally ou Tony? Welcome to Camp David," and Tony Blair responding, "Hello, George. May I call you George? Great to be here. What are we going to talk about?" Oh, there's nothing more heart warming than two dithering idiots bonding. He went on to declare that "I remember Condoleeza Rice saying to me, 'The President has just got back and he said the only human being he felt he could talk to was Tony, the rest of them were like creatures from outer space'. or some such phrase."
Moving on to today, John Chilcot is the Chair of the inquiry and he explained this morning, "The objective of this session is to help us build a picture of developments at the United Natins on policy towards Iraq in 2001 to the beginning of the military action in March 2003." Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) reports of Greenstock's testimony:

Sir Jeremy told the inquiry panel: "I regarded our invasion of Iraq as legal but of questionable legitimacy, in that it didn't have the democratically observable backing of the great majority of member states or even, perhaps, of a majority of people inside the UK.
"So there was a failure to establish legitimacy, although I think we successfully established legality in the Security Council for our actions in March 2003 in that we were never challenged in the Secuity Council or in the International Court of Justice for these actions."
Sir Jeremy regarded it as essential for the UN to pass a resolution in 2002 establishing the case for war, and threatened to resign if no resolution was passed.

Alex Barker (Financial Times of London) adds, "Addressing the issue of whether weapons inspectors should have been given more time, Sir Jeremy told the inquiry: 'It seemed to me that the option of invading Iraq in, say, October 2003 deserved much greater consideration. But the momentum for earlier action in the United States was much too strong for us to counter'." Though some may cheer that statement, they shouldn't. In the construct of the response, he argues for war, just wanting it to wait until "say, October 2003." No where does he allow that the inspectors being allowed to complete their jobs could argue that there was no case for war. James Meikle (Guardian) reports, "Earlier, Greenstock told the inquiry that he had threatened to resign if the UN security council failed to pass a resolution on Iraq in the lead-up to the invasion." In other words, empty threats are part of the weakingly's make up. And to be clear, Greenstock claims that he was satisfied by the November 2002 resolution (1441) which really just allowed the weapons inspectors back into Iraq. It did not authorize a war. Greenstock failed to make clear why something as serious as starting a war didn't require a resolution or why he himself didn't feel that was grounds for resigning -- and, no, he can't (as he tries to do) push that off on Bush. Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal, no question. He had no authority over Greenstock and none over Tony Blair. Greenstock needs to take some accountability for his own actions and stop trying to hide behind Bush.
We'll drop in on the issue of 1441 for an interesting factoid.
Committee Member Usha Prashar: But was it your view throughout the negotiations of 1441 on whether or not a second resolution would be needed?
Jeremy Greenstock: There are two different sorts of second resolution and this my explain why President Bush used the plural when he was ad libbing, when his teleprompter gave him the penultimate American text and not the text he had agreed to, by a mistake of his staff. He ad libbed the words, "And we shall come to the UN for the necessary resolutions" from his memory. It wasn't that the telepromprter broke down, he saw that it was the wrong text on the teleprompter, as I understood the story. There was, as part of the lead-up to the negotiation of 1441, the idea that there should be a pair of resolutions, not a single one in 1441 that should have the inspectors' conditions in one part and in the second resolution the consequences for Iraq on what would happen if they didn't comply with the the first one. There was the possibility of passing those resolutions either together and simultaneously or sequentially in time. As it happened, in 1441 we built those two elements into a single text and it was successfully negotiated and passed unanimously on 8 November as a single text.
Andrew Grice (Independent of London) adds, "He said the 'whole saga', in terms of UK policy, was driven by the belief that Iraq had WMD and any talk from the United States of other motivations for war, such as regime change, were 'unhelpful'. UK policy was solely focused on disarming Iraq, he insisted. The failure to secure another UN resolution had been damaging in terms of public perceptions of the reasons for going to war." Really? That's what Greenstock's going to go with? That England "was driven by the belief that Iraq had WMD"? In the US, Bush used many lies to push for war on Iraq and the most infamous one might be that 'Saddam Hussein attempted to aquire yellow cake uranium from Africa'. In England, Blair was fond of the fanciful boast that Iraq had the capability to attack England with WMD within 45 minutes. David Brown and Francis Elliott (Times of London) highlighted this important aspect of Wednesday's testimony, "Intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have access to weapons of mass destruction was received by the Government ten days before Tony Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq, the inquiry into the war was told yesterday." Meanwhile Channel 4 continues to offer their live blog by Iraq Inquiry Blogger whose observations today included:

A final thought: while Meyer's book (you just may have picked up yesterday that he'd written a book) became a best-seller, Greenstock's The Costs of War never even made it to the bookshops. It was blocked by the FCO and Number 10, apparently because he'd quoted confidential diplomatic exchanges.
Thursday the Liberal Democrat Party issued a press release noting their leaders questioning of the current prime minister of England, Gordon Brown, on the issue of the Iraq Inquiry:

Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats yesterday challenged the Prime Minister on the government's ' culture of secrecy' with regards to the Iraq Inquiry.

The full text of nick's questions:

Mr. Nick Clegg (Sheffield, Hallam) (LD): I would obviously like to add my own expressions of sympathy and condolence to the family and friends of Sergeant Robert Loughran-Dickson of the Royal Military Police, who tragically died serving in Afghanistan last week. I also add my tribute to PC Bill Barker, who lost his life in the line of duty dealing with the terrible floods in Cumbria. Our hearts go out to his wife and four children. At such times we all remember that it is the brave men and women of our emergency services who keep us safe when it really counts. We thank them for it.

It is vital that the Iraq inquiry, which started its work this week, is able to reveal the full truth about the decisions leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Will the Prime Minister therefore confirm that when Sir John Chilcot and his colleagues come to publish their final report, they will able to publish all information available to them, with the sole exception of information essential to national security?

The Prime Minister: I have set out a remit and brought it to the House of Commons. Sir John Chilcot has been given the freedom to conduct his inquiry as he wants. He has chosen to invite people to give evidence, and he will choose how to bring his final report to the public. That is a matter for the inquiry.

Mr. Clegg: As I think the Prime Minister must know, the matter is not just for the inquiry, because his Government have just issued a protocol-I have it here-to members of the inquiry, governing the publication of material in the final report. If he reads it, he will see that it includes nine separate reasons why information can be suppressed, most of which have nothing to do with national security. Outrageously, it gives Whitehall Departments individual rights of veto over the information in the final report. Why did the Prime Minister not tell us about that before? How on earth will we, and the whole country, hear the full truth of the decisions leading up to the invasion of Iraq if the inquiry is suffocated on day one by his Government's shameful culture of secrecy?

The Prime Minister: That is not what Sir John Chilcot has said. The issues affecting the inquiry that would cause people to be careful are national security and international relations. As I understand it, those are the issues referred to in the protocol. I believe that Sir John Chilcot and his team are happy with how they are being asked to conduct the inquiry.

Wednesday Cedric's "Little girls love to play dress-up" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HE REALLY IS BUSH'S TWIN!" emphasized that Barack plans to use West Point as a studio set to show boat on with his Afghanistan War announcement while other community sites explored the topic of Black Friday: Betty's "Yes," Mike's "To shop or not and the Iraq Inquiry," Rebecca's "the sport of the shop," Stan's "No to Black Friday," Elaine's "Comfort zone," Ruth's "Pre-shopping questions," Marcia's "To shop or not?," Trina's "Shopping kit and more ," Ann's "No to shopping (except for kids)" and Kat's "No on the shopping proposition." And yesterday Mike offered "Thanksgiving."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No to shopping (except for kids)

We're doing another theme post tonight and it's on whether to take part in the shopping frenzy on Friday.

I am going to come down on the side of "no."

My reasons for that are personal. Cedric and I are both working. But we can't say that everyone in our two families. A number of family members have been laid off due to the miserable economy.

If I can talk about the economy for a moment, Barack Obama's tanking because of it and he can try to blame Bush all he wants but the reality is that we all remember this time last year and tightening the belts. But this year is even worse and Barack Obama is in the White House. Barack Obama has gone around the world several times over since being sworn in. He has tried to ram through his Big Money Giveaway to Insurance Companies and Drug Makers. He has had 'beer summits.' He has posed for multiple magazine covers. He has sat down with Jay Leno and every other TV interviewer. He has even taped promos for George Lopez' basic cable talk show. He has done everything but work on the economy.

And there is no excuse for that and there is no pushing the blame off onto George Bush. In January, Barack was sworn in. It is now November. The economy is worse than it was -- and don't give me stocks up or this up or that up. We judge the economy by how we experience it. The economy is tanking. It is worse. And Barack's done nothing to make it better. He's made time for everything else including to stick his big nose into a Cambridge arrest that he had no business sticking his nose in. He's wasted all of our time and did so with that weird, mechanical smile.

So it is his economy and he's destroyed it. And that poll this week where 90% of African-Americans support him? I was shocked at work because my boss was tearing into him Wednesday morning. She's African-American and a huge Barack supporter. But she's had it with him and that's true of most people I work with (my work place is predominately African-American). It's also true of my family. I don't know what's going on with the polling. Maybe they asked too soon, maybe they need to get African-Americans to ask the questions during the polling? But there is not 90% support in the African-American community for Barack at this point. If there were, you'd see calls for attacks on John Conyers after Conyers' remarks last week (I agree with Conyers' remarks). There have been no such calls.

So with people in our families struggling especially, we've decided to tone down Christmas. This was addressed earlier this year when yet another family member lost their job. Those of us who can afford the usual Christmas asked what was wanted and the consensus was that we should buy for kids and that anything to do with a gift card to the super market was fine but that those struggling really didn't want to take part in a big Christmas. And I understand that and would probably feel the same way if it was me.

So what we're doing is gift cards for grocery stores. We're taking care of children and teenagers but otherwise we're just doing grocery gift cards.

A few years ago, in the midst of the Iraq War, the laughable FAIR staged a gala that didn't even acknowledge the war. I thought it was tacky and senseless for a supposed left organization to stage a gala during this time of war. And I really think it could be seen as insensitive to treat this Christmas like the economy hasn't tanked even worse than last year.

Some of us are going to Toys R Us tomorrow night. At midnight, they're opening. But other than that, we're not taking part in Black Friday.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraq Inquiry continues in England, the Liberal Democrats call out Gordon Brown's attempts to short-circuit the inquiry, another inquiry waits in the wings -- one into British forces possible abuse and murder of Iraqis, and more.
Today in London, the Iraq Inquiry continued its public hearings. Janet Stobart (Los Angeles Times) explains, "The six-member panel is looking into the decision of former Prime Minister Tony Blair's government to join the U.S.-led war that brought down the Iraqi dictator in 2003. It will interview policymakers, secret service chiefs, military commanders and relatives of soldiers who died in the war. Blair is scheduled to appear in January. " The day's focus was WMDs. John Chilcot heads the Inquiry.
Chair John Chilcot: Good morning. Our objective today is to look at the issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This will take us from the time of the first Gulf War and the inspections that followed it right up to the final report of the Iraq Survey Group, the organisation with responsibility for providing an account of Saddam's weapons' programmes after the Iraq conflict. Several reports have already been published on issues relating to weapons of mass destruction. We do not propose in this session to go in detail into areas which have already been examined closely before by other investigations, but what we do hope to do is to elict communities' concern about Saddam's weapons, the development of the government's policy on this issue, the threat that the government believed that Iraq's weapons posed, and what was found after the conflict. I would like to recall that the Inquiry has access to literally thousands of government papers, including the most highly classified for the period we are considering and we are developing a picture of the policy debates and the decision-making process.
Unless attributed to a news outlet, all quotes from today's hearings are from the [PDF format warning] rush transcript provided by the Inquiry (which they note may change) or from the videos of the hearing provided by the Inquiry. Emma Alberici (Australia's ABC and link has text and audio) summarizes, "The Chilcot inquiry has now heard two days of evidence from the most senior Foreign Office officials who received and analysed intelligence on Iraq for two years before the war and in the year after the invasion. It has emerged that Britain's Foreign Office also told former prime minister Tony Blair that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction had been dismantled, 10 days before Britain invaded Iraq." Tim Dowse and William Ehrman were today's witnesses. Channel 4's Iraqi Inquiry Blogger observes, "One thing I'll remember about today's hearing was watching two career diplomats relive the moments that must surely be the absolute nadir of their professional lives. I'm talking about the weeks and months following the Iraq War when the weapons their department had so confidently assessed would be found failed to turn up." And it is apparently difficult for some liars to ever get honest. From today's hearing:
Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: So in terms of your concerns over this period, you mentioned Iran, you mentioned North Korea, you mentioned Libya, you mentioned Pakistan, at least through AQ Khan, and you mentioned Iraq, but in terms of rank ordering again, where would Iraq come on that list, in terms of the most threatening in proliferation terms?
Tim Dowse: It wasn't top of the list. I think in terms of -- my concerns on coming into the job in 2001, I would say, we would have put Libya and Iran ahead of Iraq.
William Ehrman: I would like to add to that. In terms of nuclear and missiles, I think Iran, North Korea and Libya were probably of greater concern than Iraq. In terms of chemical and biological, particularly through the spring and summer of 2002, we were getting intelligence, much of which was subsequently withdrawan as invalid, but at the time it was seen as valid, that gave us cause for concern, but I think there is one other thing that you need to recall about Iraq, which was different in a sense from some of the other countries. First of all, they were in breach of a great many Security Council Resolutions. Secondly, as Tim Dowse has mentioned, Iraq had used chemical weapons bother internally against its own people and externally against Iran. Thirdly, it had started a war against Iran and it had invaded Kuwait and it had also fired missiles to Iran, Kuwait, Israel and Saudi Arabia. So in that sense in terms of use and in terms of -- ignoring a great many Security Council Resolutions, Iraq was unique.
Was Iraq the big threat in 2001 or 2002? No. Dowse says other countries ranked ahead of it. Ehrman can't have that and it's time for him to lie and confuse the issue. He does that by bringing a number of areas which, pay attention, were offered as reasons . . . for . . . the . . . FIRST GULF WAR. It is equivalent to the US and England declaring World War II based on the 1914 assassination of Franz Ferdinand.
Ehrman also appears to have been snoozing (or hoping everyone else was) only minutes prior when Dowse had addressed the issue of missiles and noted that they "are not weapons of mass destruction in themselves". Now let's go to do Dowse addressing what they saw as real concerns prior to the start of the Iraq War (March, 2003).
Tim Dowse: Could I maybe illustrate that with regard to some of the countries concerned? Take Libya as one example. Between 1998 and 2003, the assessments that were being carried out painted a picture of steady progress on Libya's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. It had been identified by 2003 as a prime customer of AQ Khan network. We were also concerned about activity in the chemical weapons field and about work at research sites on dual-use potential to support biological weapons-related work. With Iran, Iran had used ballistic missiles in the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980s. It had aquired Scud B missiles from Syira and from North Korea and after -- it also produced Scud C sllightly longer-range missiles. After the war, North Korea sold to Iran production technology for Scud B and Scud C and in the mid-1990s, it brought a few examples of North Korean No-Dong 1 missiles. These were long-range and, from that, it devloped its own missile, the Shahab 3, of 1300 kilometres. Iran's nuclear fuel activities had developed steadily over more than two decades by 2001 to 2003. It had announced, or the IAEA had reported, a large Iranian conversion facility at Isfahan; a large facility for gas centrifuge fuel enrichment; it had indigenous facilities to manufacture centrifuge components; it had obtained P2 centrifuges; it had got technical drawings, whose origin the IAEA had concluded was AQ Khan. So we were considerably worried about the development in Iran. As for North Korea --
Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: I think you have made your point that there are a vareity of different stages and the example you have given us from Iran is quite interesting perhaps as a comparative with what was thought to be the case with Iraq. Can we move on to Iraq itself? You have mentioned all the things before that Iraq was known to have done, but these were all prior to 1991 in terms of attacking its neighbours and actually using these weapons. So, since 1991, do you believe that it had been effectively contained?
Tim Dowse: I would say we regarded the effect of the -- certainly with WMD, the weapons inspectors, UNSCOM's activities, the IAEA's activities through the 1990s, until 1998, as effectively disarming Iraq. There were quite a large number of unaswered questions, things that we were unsure about.
While Dowse appeared to be making some effort towards answering questions, William Ehrman could not stop spinning. There was no evidence of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda but Ehrman could not let go of that lie and repeated it throughout his testimony. One example, "But there was also the fact that he was supporting terrorist groups, Palestinian terrorist groups, and although we never found any evidence linking him closely to AQ Khan and we did not -- sorry, to Al-Qaeda, and we did not belive that he was behing, in any way, the 9/11 bombings, he had given support to Palestinian terrorist groups and also to a group called the MEK, which was a terrorist group directed against Iran." There is no linke, NON, to al Qaeda but Ehrman repeatedly worked it in and then would walk it back as though it was an accident. He seemed to feel he was Mr. Subliminal and the Inquiry should have told him to stop making the linkage. As for the MEK, the Inquiry should have asked Ehrman which country he thought he was working for in the lead up to the Iraq War? Did England classify the MEK as a terrorist organization in 2002? Then why is Ehrman blathering on about them?
While Ehrman repeatedly (and falsely) attempted to link Iraq to al Qaeda (and then rush back a qualifier), there was no link. CBC's report makes that clear and notes that Dowse testified there was no link and that, "After 9/11 we concluded that Iraq actually stepped further back. They did not want to be associated with al-Qaeda. They weren't natural allies."
For perspective, in the US, George W. Bush started the illegal war and he's a Republican (Democratic Barack Obama continues it). In Australia, then-Prime Minister John Howard started the Iraq War and he is a member of his country's Liberal Party. He was replaced by Kevin Rudd of the Labor Party who has ended Australia's miltiary presence in Iraq with "the last 12 Australian soldiers" still in Iraq departing at the end of July. Of the three major countries pushing for the illegal war, only England has seen the original pimp replaced with a member of the same party. Tony Blair was replaced as prime minister by Gordon Brown and both men are members of the Labour Party. Not only are Blair and Brown members of the same party and also of the New Labour segment of the party, they have a relationship which goes back decades and Blair's ascendancy to the top of his party took place with the promise that Brown would be his successor. Brown supported Blair on every major policy decision including the Iraq War. Bully Boy Bush lied about 'programs' and 'yellow cake' and pretty much everything including, most likely, his own choking (allegedly on a pretzel). In England, the lie was that Iraq had the capabilities to launch a WMD attack on England in less than one hour. Rob Welham (Xinhua) observes, "The intelligence about Iraq's military capability, set out in the so-called "dodgy dossier", proved to be wrong, and the decision to go to war became one of the most controversial foreign policy decisions in living memory." Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) addresses that false claim in his report:
Asked about suggestions that the Blair government's 45-minute deployment claim had referred to weapons of mass destruction usable by Iraq to strike another nation, Dowse said: "I don't think we ever said that it was for use in a ballistic missile in that way." The inquiry panel member Sir Lawrence Freedman pointed out: "But you didn't say it wasn't."
Liberal Democrat Party MP and chief of staff Edward Davey issued the following statement today: "It is becoming ever more clear that the case for war was nothing more than sophistry and deception. The threat that Saddam could deploy WMD within 45 minutes was fundamental to the Government's arugment that Iraq presented an imminent danger. Yet this new evidence shows that the intelligence was, if anything, pointing towards Iraq becoming less of a threat. A leader of courage and conviction would have used such evidence to halt the drumbeat for war, but Blair just turned a blind eye to intelligence that contradicted his case. This evidence proves what has long been suspected, that intelligence was cherry-picked or dismissed to support the case the Government wanted to make. It is becoming ever more clear that the case for war was nothing more than sophistry and deception flying in the face of the latest and best intelligence." David Brown (Times of London) emphasizes, "Intelligence information that Saddam Hussein had dismantled his weapons of mass destruction programme was received by the Foreign Office days before Tony Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq, an inquiry into the war heard today." Ben Macintyre (Times of London) revisits MP Robin Cook's decision to leave Blair's cabinet in 2003 and his calling out the rush to illegal war:
With delicate ferocity, he presented the case against war: "Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction ... Neither the international community nor the British people is persuaded there is an urgent and compelling reason for this action in Iraq."
He warned that a dangerous sense of Muslim injustice was building, that Britain was being dragged into conflict by a far more powerful ally, and that the deep misgivings of voters were being ignored: "The prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain."
Above all, Cook insisted that Britain must not be taken to war without a vote in Parliament. "From the start of this present crisis, I have insisted on the right of this place to vote on whether Britain should go to war," he said in his resignation statement. Two days later, the government motion supporting the use of British forces in Iraq passed by 412 to 149.
To listen to politicians speak today, one might imagine that the consensus in 2003 was opposed to war, and Blair and his inner circle the sole drum-beaters. Parliament backed the war. The majority of MPs voted for it. The Cabinet supported it and remained in their jobs with the exception of Cook and, eventually, Clare Short. The media were broadly supportive of military action.
Tony Blair continued to make the claim that Iraq could launch an attack on England in less than an hour. A false claim. Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) reports on that aspect and notes Ehrman testifying, ""On March 10 we got a report saying that the chemical weapons might have remained disassembled and that Saddam hadn't yet ordered their re-assembly and he might lack warheads capable of effective dispersal of agents." Mark Stone (Sky News) offers this observation of today's hearing:
One thing bugged me though. The Inquiry committee appeared not to follow up some points with obvious questions. An example. One of the panel, Sir Roderic Lyle, referring to a statement Blair made in 2003, asked the following pertinent question:
"Would you regard the Prime Minister's statement in December 2003 that 'the Iraq Study Group [tasked with finding WMD after the invasion] has already found massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories' as corresponding to advice you were giving to ministers?"
The response from Tim Dowse was, somewhat sheepishly: "I did not advise him to use those words."
But then... nothing from the panel! They did not ask whether the advisors told the PM to back off from words which appeared clearly to be out of kilter with the advice they were giving him.
None of what was said today will make Mr Blair feel very comfortable as he prepares for his appearance. We have to wait until January for that though.
Simon Carr in the Independent wasted no time; "The Chilcot Inquiry looks set to be boring, miasmic and faintly dishonest.
"This is a panel that the toadiest of Blair toadies would have chosen. Why Brown agreed to it is a mystery."
The Daily Mail was scarcely more optimistic for the Inquiry's prospects, John Kampfner writing that as the Inquiry began "one conclusion could be drawn before a single person had said a single word: Tony Blair will get away with it. Again."
On only the second day of the public hearing, Nico Hines and David Brown (Times of London) reported the accusations that England's current prime minister, Gordon Brown, was attempting to derail the inquiry, "When the Prime Minister announced the inquiry, he claimed that national security would be the only legitimate barrier to full disclosure in Sir John Chilcot's report into the Iraq war. A set of protocols published on the Cabinet Office website, however, indicates that a tranche of additional restrictions have been imposed. The guidelines issued to Sir John and his team set out nine extra restrictions, including commercial and economic interests, that would allow a government agency or department to remove a section from the report." BBC News (link has text and video) reports the Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg has stated, "This protocol includes nine seperate reasons why information can be suppressed" and acts as "rights of veto" to keep, at best, embarrassing moments from the public: "How on earth are we, and is the whole country, going to hear about the full truth of the decisions leading up to the invasion of Iraq if the inquiry is being suffocated on day one by his government's shameful culture of secrecy?" Sian Ruddick (Great Britian's Socialist Worker) declares, "Only by declaring Tony Blair guilty of war crimes will it help to bring justice for those millions of Iraqis who have paid with their lives for a bloody, pointless war."
In other Iraq news out of England, BBC reports that former-Justice Thayne Forbes has been appointed to head the investigation into the inquiry into whether British forces killed 20 Iraqis and abused nine others in 2004 and the BBC's Caroline Hawley explains, "
An internal army document says a Red Cross doctor believed that facial injuries to the Iraqis suggested 'that when the injuries were received the person had either been held down or defenceless.' It is because the MoD failed to produce these documents when required by the High Court that the government has had to agree to this inquiry." CNN adds, "The release of a photo published in British media and obtained by CNN about the incident shows an armed soldier standing near four people face down on the ground with their hands bound behind their backs and their faces covered. Attorneys for the men say they were beaten and evidence shows a breach of the Geneva Conventions prohibiting humiliating and degrading treatment of prisoners. But, the defence ministry disputes that." Simon Basketter (Great Britian's Socialist Worker) reports, "Evidence of torture includes close-range bullet wounds, the removal of eyes and stab wounds. The death certificates described how the Iraqis died: 'Several gunshot wounds to body -- severance of sexual organs.' 'Gunshot to head.' 'Gunshot in face, pulling out of the eye, breaking the jaw, gunshot to the chest'."
Today in Iraq, Michael Christie and Mark Trevelyan (Reuters) report an assault in Tarmiya in which 6 family members were murdered by males "wearing [Iraqi] army uniforms . . . The women had their throats cut while the men were shot in the head". Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) adds that three females had thie throats slit -- two adults and one "13-year-old girl" and that "It is not known in either case whether the attackers were soldiers or were masquerading as Iraqi service members." Lin Zhi (Xinhua) adds, "The attacker left alive a woman and her child, who were relatives of the victims visiting the family when the attack occurred, the source said." Marc Santora (New York Times) observes this is the second such attack in recent days and notes, "One theory about the motivation for the attacks is that militants are posing as members of the Army in order to foment distrust among Sunnis, turning them against government troops and thereby making it easier to establish safe havens. However, the government has provided no evidence to this effect and the theory is based on little more than speculation voiced by local security officials, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity."
In other reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded one person, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four people, a Nineveh Province roadside bombing which injured two Iraqi soldiers and one person, a Baquba roadside bombing which left three police officers injured, a Kirkuk sticky bombing which injured one police officer and a Karbala roadsdie bombing and motorcylce bombing -- one after the other -- which claimed the lives of 13 people and left twenty-six more injured.
Turning to the US, like Bush, Barack loves land mines. Cedric's "Princess Di died for his sins" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HE'S A MORON!" covered that last night. In addition, other community sites did theme posts on TV shows you can't stand last night, Betty's "Somerby and the awful 7th Heaven," Mike's "Mammograms, V," Rebecca's "hawaii oh-no," Stan's "The awful Democracy Now!," "TV show you loathe" (Law & Order franchise), Ruth's "Perfect Strangers," Marcia's "The Office," Trina's "Worst TV show" (Andy Griffith Show), Ann's "Download Carly's new album for just $5.00" (The Jamie Foxx Show) and Kat's "24 -- ugh."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Download Carly's new album for just $5.00


Carly Simon's latest album is Never Been Gone and it is only $5.00 at Amazon to download right now. Limited time offer. Don't miss it. I love this album and I think "You Belong To Me" is my favorite track. I think all the tracks find a new way of doing the songs and that they're all enjoyable for differing reasons. But I dare you to listen to the new version of "You Belong To Me" and not believe it's better than the original.

Alright, we're doing theme posts tonight and we're supposed to pick a TV show that we found hideous. For me it's The Jamie Foxx Show. Even the Steve Harvey Show had a good cast. Steve's show could suck. It could be like you were watching an old episode of What's Happening. (I like What's Happening but my point is that what happened on Steve's show was usually what you'd seen over and over on TV many times before.) But they had a good cast (including Steve) and they could at least make you get through the episode.

Jamie Foxx is a talented actor and he's a good looking man. But that show?

It's shows like that that make me happy UPN is no more. It was so insulting. It was supposed to be a show for adults but it was so dumb and so stupid and made so cheaply that it was like watching Clarissa Explains It All or some other lame Nick at Night show. And those are cheaply made shows and can get away with it because 'tweeners' are desparate to see themselves on TV.

So what does that say about us?

We're so desparate to see ourselves onscreen that we'll put up with crap like Jamie Foxx's show? How stupid did the writers think we were? And were they African-American? I seriously doubt it. I doubt that we would be that insulting to ourselves. But maybe I'm wrong.

I just know that a show starring Jamie Foxx should have been worth watching and instead we got served an embarrassment week after week.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraq Inquiry in London begins hearing public testimony, a former British ambassador calls the inquiry out as a sham, the January elections in Iraq may take place in February, and more.
This morning Al Jazeera reported that, "The storm clouds are already gathering over this Inquiry being held among high security in London." That is the Iraq Inquiry chaired by John Chilcot. Ruth Barnett (Sky News -- link has text and video) reports that Chilcot used his opening remarks this morning to insist that the inquiry would be "fair and frank." Since the announcement that it would start this year (and continue next year with former prime minister Tony Blair expected to testify after England holds elections), there has been much speculation that the inquiry would be a farce. We'll note the following from Chilcot's opening statement:
Welcome to the Iraq Inquiry's first day of public hearings. For those of you who do not know me, I am Sir John Chilcot chairman of the Iraq Inquiry. I am joined by my colleagues Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor Sir Martin Gilbert, Sir Roderic Lyne and Baroness Usha Prashar. Together we form the Iraq Inquiry Committee. Next to me is Margaret Aldred who is the Secretary to the Inquiry.
The Iraq Inquiry was set up to identify the lessons that should be learned from the UK's involvement in Iraq to help future governments who may face similar situations.
To do this, we need to establish what happened. We are piecing this together from the evidence we are collecting from documents or from those who have first hand experience. We will then need to evaluate what went well and what didn't -- and, crucially, why.
My colleagues and I come to this task with open minds. We are apolitical and independent of any political party. We want to examine the evidence. We will approach our task in a way that is thorough, rigorous, fair and frank.
The Committee and I are also committed to openness and are determined to conduct as much of our proceedings in public as possible. I welcome those members of the public who join us here today -- thank you for taking the time and effort to travel here this morning. I also welcome the media present here at the QEII. For those not physically present, I am pleased that the Inquiry proceedings are available for broadcast and are being streamed on the internet.
These public hearings are the activity which will attract the most publicity but they form only one part of our work.
Ben Quinn (Christian Science Monitor -- text and audio) offers that no one may be pleased with the outcome, "Critics of the war probably won't get what they most want from the government-appointed panel – a public drubbing of unpopular former Prime Minister Tony Blair for leading the nation to war in the mistaken belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And supporters of the war are unlikely to get a clear declaration that Britain's participation in the invasion was the right thing to do." Quinn goes on to note that many critics of the inquiry point out that the "six member panel [. . .] includes not a single lawyer or judge" leading people to doubt the inquiry's ability to determine the legality of the war. From the audio.
Pat Murphy: Ben, first off, can you tell us a little bit about these people that are making up this British board of inquiry?
Ben Quinn: Yes, Pat. Well there are six members on the panel. They were appointed by the prime minister, by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The chair is Sir John Chilcot, a British civil servant. He's a Whitehall mandarin -- Whitehall being the headquarters of the British civil service. He has the unenviable task of chairing this panel. He has come into criticism in the past from, uh, various commentators who feel that he has taken a soft-touch to questioning in previous probes. So he'll be eagerly watched in terms of his handling of this inquiry. There are five others on the panel. Perhaps one of the more interesting figures is Sir Lawrence Friedman who is a distinguished academic. Now he's, he's been a professor of war at King's College in London since 1982 but notably he's credited with writing a large part of Tony Blair's famous -- infamous, perhaps -- some would say -- 1992 Chicago speech where he basically made the case for liberal military intervention.
Gideon Rachman (Financial Times of London) refrains from making any predictions while reminding that there were expectations on past British inquiries into Iraq: the Hutton inquiry which people thought "would destroy Tony Blair" instead whitewashed everything and falsely attacked the press (that's my call on the Hutton inquiry, not Rachman's) and the Bulter inquiry which Rachman feels wasn't a whitewash. John F. Burns and Alan Cowell (New York Times) feel reflective and observe, "The unpopularity of the war — and its impact on Mr. Blair's once glittery image among British voters -- contributed to his ouster by Prime Minister Gordon Brown two years ago." Of course, Gordon Brown was Tony's lap dog, his hand picked successor and the one who has carried out every one of Tony's policies (including refusing to release the files on John Lennon and citing 'national security' as a reason). As Gordon's stock continued to plummet, he finally yieled to public pressure this summer and announced he'd do what he had promised several years ago: Launch an inquiry into the Iraq War. Rose Gentle's song Gordon Gentle died serving in Iraq June 28, 2004. He is one of the 179 British forces who were killed in the Iraq War (ongoing Iraq War -- and ongoing for the British which expects to keep 200 service members in Iraq for the foreseeable future.) ITV News speaks with her (link is video) and she tells them, "I just hope the committee stuck to their word because they promised us that they'd look inside and outside and if there were mistakes made, the fingers would get pointed at the person making mistakes." Rose Gentle is a member of Military Families Against the War. Yesterday Julia Reid (Sky News -- link has text and video) spoke with Geoff Dunsmore, father of Chris Dunsmore who died serving in Iraq (July 19, 2007). He speaks of the Iraq Inquiry due to start this week in London, "The nation needs to know why we went to Iraq, clearly and concisely. We need to know why it cost money, but the biggest thing is why it cost a lot of lives -- my son's as one of them. I hope the inquiry will help the families that are struggling and trying to get some sense out of all this." Back in June Independent Labour MP Clare Short explained why she felt a real inquiry was necessary:
We need an inquiry that forces all parties and the public to face up to the fact that we got involved in Iraq because George Bush and the neo-conservatives wanted to overthrow the unpopular regime of Saddam Hussein -- regime change -- and establish a friendly power in Iraq, so that they could relocate American bases in the middle east, dominate the Gulf and have close relations with a country that contained a large proportion of the world's remaining oil. As has been said, all of that is laid out for all to read in the documents published by the Project for the New American Century, which many of those who became senior figures in the Bush Administration had signed up to.
Of course, the US expected the invasion of Iraq to be popular with Iraqis and therefore thought that it would help to stabilise the middle east. The only problem was that international law, laid down after the second world war under the leadership of President Roosevelt and with the support of Prime Minister Churchill, did not permit that, and thus the lying became necessary in order to do what the neo-conservatives thought to be right.
I did not know that Tony Blair had the published documents of the Project for the New American Century drawn to his attention -- they were certainly not drawn to the attention of the Cabinet -- but I think that he was desperate to be close to George Bush and worried that he would not be because of the closeness of his relationship with President Clinton, and that he therefore gave his word early on that Britain would be with him in the planned invasion of Iraq. From that, it all flows: the exaggeration of the threat from weapons of mass destruction to give an excuse for war, because regime change is not legal.
The Butler report and the various leaks from our intelligence agencies have shown that the intelligence was being fixed around the policy. Hans Blix started out believing that there were WMD in Iraq, but when he found and reported that there were not -- he reported to the Security Council what he had found, and also achieved the dismantling of large numbers of ballistic missiles -- he was briefed against and smeared because his truthful findings were obstructing the excuse for war.
Clare Short resigned from Tony Blair's cabinet May 12, 2003 declaring, "I am afraid that the assurances you [Tony Blair] gave me about the need for a UN mandate to establish a legitimate Iraqi government have been breached. The security council resolution that you and Jack have so secretly negotiated contradicts the assurances I have given in the House of Commons and elsewhere about the legal authority of the occupying powers, and the need for a UN-led process to establish a legitimate Iraqi government. This makes my position impossible."
Andrew Gilligan live blogged the first day of the inquiry for the Guardian. He calls attention to several moments in the hearing including, on the issue of the panel itself, this on the day's three witnesses (Peter Ricketts, Simon Webb and William Patey):
This is interesting. Webb also says that, during the time in question, he received a promotion in the MoD after going through a selection process that involved two members of the inquiry assessing candidates - Lady Prashar, who, as First Civil Service Commissioner, was involved in senior appointments of this kind and Sir Lawrence Freedman, who I presume was on the panel as a member of the "great and the good". This disclosure does rather reinforce the impression that the inquiry represents the establishment interrogating itself.
Nicholas Witchell (BBC News) offers a video report of today's hearing. Nico Hines (Times of London) offers up "best of the evidence. The Telegraph of London reports a witness has stated that Bush and Blair were planning the Iraq War two years before it began:

Sir Peter Ricketts, who was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee in 2001, said there was concern in both London and Washington that the strategy of ''containment'' of Saddam Hussain was ''failing''.
Giving evidence at the first public hearings of the inquiry, he said a review of the Iraq policy was already under way in Whitehall in anticipation of the arrival of the new Bush administration.
He said that, in discussions with Secretary of State Colin Powell, it appeared the Americans were ''thinking very much on the same lines''.
He added, however, that others in Washington were already thinking further ahead.

A second report from the Telegraph offers a second witness testifying that the US was planning the Iraq War back in 2001:

Sir William Patey, then head of Middle East policy at Foreign Office said that in February 2001, the UK knew that some in the new US administration wanted to topple Saddam
He said: "We were aware of the drum beats from Washington."
However, he said that Britain was not then willing to engage in regime change in Baghdad. "Our policy was to stay away from that."

David Brown and Nico Hines (Times of London) add of Ricketts, "He said a review of the Iraq policy was already under way in Whitehall in anticipation of the arrival of the new Bush Administration." On Monday, Chris Ames (Guardian) explained that Andrew Gilligan was unearthing a great deal and his scoops "are perhaps as significant for what they tell us about Sir John Chilcot's Iraq inquiry. They are a humiliation for the inquiry, which -- as I write -- has not put a single piece of new evidence into the public domain. [. . .] The Telegraph, on the other hand, is putting a lot of new information into the public domain. It has published extracts from two of the papers on which it has based its stories. It does have to be said that the first of these, 'Stability Operations in Iraq', was published last year on Wikileaks, but the whole effect of what Gilligan has done is to add to the sum of public knowledge." Sunday Gilligan summarized "hundreds of pages of secret Government reports" regarding the Iraq War:

Tony Blair, the former prime minister, misled MPs and the public throughout 2002 when he claimed that Britain's objective was "disarmament, not regime change" and that there had been no planning for military action. In fact, British military planning for a full invasion and regime change began in February 2002.
The need to conceal this from Parliament and all but "very small numbers" of officials "constrained" the planning process. The result was a "rushed"operation "lacking in coherence and resources" which caused "significant risk" to troops and "critical failure" in the post-war period.
Operations were so under-resourced that some troops went into action with only five bullets each. Others had to deploy to war on civilian airlines, taking their equipment as hand luggage. Some troops had weapons confiscated by airport security.
Commanders reported that the Army's main radio system "tended to drop out at around noon each day because of the heat". One described the supply chain as "absolutely appalling", saying: "I know for a fact that there was one container full of skis in the desert."
The Foreign Office unit to plan for postwar Iraq was set up only in late February, 2003, three weeks before the war started.
The plans "contained no detail once Baghdad had fallen", causing a "notable loss of momentum" which was exploited by insurgents. Field commanders raged at Whitehall's "appalling" and "horrifying" lack of support for reconstruction, with one top officer saying that the Government "missed a golden opportunity" to win Iraqi support. Another commander said: "It was not unlike 1750s colonialism where the military had to do everything ourselves."

In another report, Gilligan explains, "In the papers, the British chief of staff in Iraq, Colonel J.K.Tanner, described his US military counterparts as 'a group of Martians' for whom 'dialogue is alien,' saying: 'Despite our so-called "special relationship," I reckon we were treated no differently to the Portuguese'." Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) adds:

Fresh evidence has emerged about how Blair misled MPs by claiming in 2002 that the goal was "disarmament, not regime change". Documents show the government wanted to hide its true intentions by informing only "very small numbers" of officials.
The documents, leaked to the Sunday Telegraph, are "post-operational reports" and "lessons learned" papers compiled by the army and its field commanders. They refer to a "rushed" operation that caused "significant risk" to troops and "critical failure" in the postwar period.

Norton-Taylor has come up with a list of five questions that the inquiry must answer to be seen as genuine. We'll note his first one:
1 What assurances did Tony Blair give George Bush about Britain's involvement in the war with Iraq?
The overriding factor that took Britain into war is a crucial secret the Chilcot inquiry could unlock. Key could be what assurances Tony Blair gave George Bush in a series of bilateral meetings, notably at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. One leaked classified document reveals that two months later, Whitehall officials noted: "When the prime minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April, he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change." But asked in July 2002 about whether the government was preparing for military action, Blair told MPs: "No. There are no decisions which have been taken about military action."
Lyne: in terms of a military threat was Saddam and his regime in a cage? Patey: Yes.

" Among the issues explored today were [PDF format warning] the No Fly Zone. Evidence submitted to the committee on this was largely historical (beginning with Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait -- for any wondering, nothing in the evidence acknowledges that the administration of George H.W. Bush gave the go ahead for that assault). The No Fly Zone began April 1991 and it ended "formally on 1 May 2003."
The hearing continues to hear testimony this week: tomorrow with Tim Dowse and William Ehrman scheduled to speak on Weapons of Mass Destruction, on Thursday with Christopher Meyer scheduled to testify on the Transatlantic Relationship and on Friday with Jeremy Greenstock to offer testimony on the Developments in the United Nations.
Sir John Chilcot was just ten minutes in to the first public session of the Iraq Inquiry when he told the first big lie -- and a lie which, when examined, exposes the entire charade.
"My colleagues and I come to this inquiry with an open mind."
That is demonstrably untrue. Three of the five members -- Rod Lyne, Martin Gilbert and Lawrence Freedman -- are prominent proponents of the Iraq war. By contrast, nobody on the committee was in public against the invasion of Iraq. How can it be fine to pack the committee with supporters of the invasion, when anyone against the invasion was excluded?
Mehdi Hasan (New Statesman) is also unimpressed with the inquiry and offers "Five reasons to be cynical." Thomas Penny and Kitty Donaldson (Bloomberg News) note that this is the fifth inquiry into the Iraq War. Yesterday, Stan weighed in on the inquiry and pointed out that "you'll notice that in the US we still don't have an Iraq inquiry. In England, Gordon Brown is Labour and he replaced Tony Blair as Prime Minister. They are both Labour and Brown was Blair's chosen successor. And yet they get an inquiry." The BBC tries to call US Senate papers and a daft committee (Iraq Study Group -- Baker and Hamilton, not Mike's group that he started) inquiries. As the world's eyes turn to London, Sami Ramadani (Guardian) looks to Iraq:

The attitude of those in Baghdad who are invited to comment on the inquiry swiftly changes from expressions of pain and sadness to that of anger and strong denunciation of the war and its architects, George Bush and Tony Blair. It is striking that the one common thought that comes to the fore is that Bush and Blair have escaped justice and "got away with murder".
They certainly don't have any confidence that the outcome of the inquiry will lead to Blair appearing before a legal tribunal to account for his role in engineering and launching the illegal war.
The terms of the debate in Iraq are very different from those here in Britain. For while here people are seeking to establish beyond much doubt who did what, when and why, people in Iraq regard it as an open and shut case: US policymakers, followed meekly by most of the British political and establishment notables, planned the invasion and "destruction" of Iraq many years before 2003. They cite the 13 years of murderous sanctions from 1991 to 2003 as a prelude for the occupation of the country. They stress that Saddam Hussein's 35-year dictatorship and non-existent WMD were "used as a pretext" for the war.
Yesterday in Iraq, the Parliament passed election law amendments. Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) explain "The amendments did not offer any extra seats to Iraqi refugees, who include many Sunnis, and therefore did not adress the complaint that prompted Vice President Tariq Hashimi to veto the original law last week."
Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) explains, "The three-member Presidency Council, which includes Mr. Hashimi, President Jalal Talabani, and a second vice president, Adel Abdul Mahdi, now has 10 days to approve or veto the law." CNN walks through on the Constitutional powers, "According to Iraq's constitution, the presidency council -- made up of Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi and al-Hashimi -- must unanimously approve a bill for it to become law." That was so confusing to so many last week -- or they pretended it was. The Constitution is very clear that the council has the power to veto and everything passed by the Parliament has gone to the council -- though most outlets only paid attention to this aspect when the SOFA went to the council last year. CNN adds that if the council offers a veto, it would require a 2/3 vote from the majority of the MPs to push the legislation forward. Aamer Madhaniand Ahmed Fadaam (USA Today) quotes Iraqi Accordance Front spokesperson Salim Abdullah stating, "What has happened today represents a setback" and states Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission believes the election will be pushed back to February. Nada Bakri (Washington Post) also notes the latter point, "Faraj al-Haidari, the head of the electoral commission, suggested that the elections would be held in February, although he said he was waiting for Hashimi's decision." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports the commission head Faraj al-Haidari declared today, "In all cases the possibility of holding the vote in January is over." Warren P. Strobel and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) explore the election climate, "Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, a Shiite, has launched a campaign warning that forces loyal to Saddam are trying to regain power. On Sunday, his government put on television three suspects it said were behind Oct. 25 bombings, which killed more than 150 people in Baghdad; they said remnants of Saddam's Baath party were behind the attacks."
Also in Iraq, Ahmed Rasheed, Alex Lawler, Michael Christie and William Hardy (Reuters) report that Iraq's pipeling to Turkey is not functioning following it being bombed over the weekend and that it is expected to take at least "four more days to fix". Staying with violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded three people, a second one which wounded two people, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left three people injured, and, dropping back to Monday, a Nasriyah roadside bombing which left four Iraqi police officers injured, a Falluja sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 Imam and left three of his relatives wounded and a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 Imam, 1 person traveling with him and injured a third person.
Yesterday's snapshot included this: " Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an assassination attempt on Ayad Allawi that injured two of his body guards (Allawi is the former Iraqi Prime Minister and also a rival of Nouri al-Maliki's) and an assassination attempt on journalist Emad al-Abadi in which he was shot 'in the head, neck and shoulder' and is now in critical condition." Raheem Salman and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) report, "Baghdad is buzzing about the shooting Monday night of a prominent TV commentator who regularly criticized the government on his show 'Without Fences' on the privately owned Al-Diyar TV station." They offer an alternative spelling of Imad Abadi and quote the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory's Ziad Ajili stating, "For sure it is the politicians who are responsible. He was very brave in exposing corruption and he is one of the most prominent journalists who are criticizing the political parties."
Turning to the US, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee is chaired by Senator Byron Dorgan and has done some strong work gathering testimony on the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. This month, Chair Dorgan has released a video where he discusses progress regarding the US government's approach to al Qaeda. In addition, they've released the following report.
U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Chairman, Senate Democratic Policy Committee

A new policy paper released by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee outlines progress the Obama Administration's new strategy is making in the fight against al Qaeda.
The Obama administration has opted for a different strategy -- an aggressive, comprehensive, and integrated approach to combating the terrorist network. The result is a significantly disrupted and weakened al Qaeda.
In its first ten months, this new strategy has:

• Disrupted the most serious terrorist threat against the United States since 9/11, and others;

• Killed the top leader of Pakistan's Taliban insurgents, Baitullah Mehsud; and

• Killed other key terrorist leaders around the world, including the most important terrorist leaders in East Africa and Indonesia

At the heart of this progress lies the following:

• A proactive and aggressive counterterrorism approach at home based on effective and efficient coordination between the federal government and state and local law enforcement.

• Intelligence collection and skillful analysis, combined with efficient coordination between the federal government and state and local partners.

• An increase in cooperation from foreign governments and intelligence services due to the new image and outreach the Obama Administration has put forth to the global community, particularly its renewed commitment to diplomacy and international law.

• Refocusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan, in order to combat the threat of al Qaeda, Taliban, and affiliated terrorists. .

The results are encouraging. Today, many of al Qaeda's top leaders are no longer in place, replaced instead with less experienced and less capable individuals. The organization finds it more difficult to finance its terrorism. Its operations are more often detected and disrupted.
While we continue to face significant threats from al Qaeda and affiliated terrorists, the Obama Administration's tough and smart strategy and the courageous work of law enforcement, military, and diplomatic officials across the country and throughout the world are making real progress in our efforts to defeat terrorist threats at home and around the globe.
In the US, Thursday is Thanksgiving and, as a result, many outlets will be in repeats and many programs will either air repeats or not air. NOW on PBS will offer a new program this weekend (begins airing Friday on most PBS stations, check your local listings):
The Maldives, a nation of roughly 1200 low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean, could be underwater by the end of this century if climate change causes ocean levels to rise. On the eve of the big climate summit in Copenhagen, the country's president, Mohamed Nasheed, is warning of a massive exodus from the Maldives if drastic global action is not taken. On Friday, November 27 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW on PBS talks with President Nasheed about the climate crisis and why he compares it to genocide.
And because music is so frequently all that we can count on, let's note Carly Simon's latest album is Never Been Gone (Kat sang its praises here) and this week only you can download the entire album at Amazon for $5.00. That's all 12 tracks. Never Been Gone finds Carly revisiting her songwriting canon to re-imagine some of her best loved hits including "You're So Vain," "Anticipation," "Let The River Run," "Coming Around Again," "The Right Thing To Do," "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" and "You Belong To Me." Today Carly Will be at J&R Music World in New York (23 Park Row) signing copies of Never Been Gone beginning at 6:00 pm. Carly will be on Greater Boston (WGBH) Wednesday and Thursday (Thanksgiving day) she'll be performing in the Macy's Parade on the Care Bear's Float as well as be on Extra for part-two of her interview. And if you're on the fence about downloading the album, Kat pointed out that if the issue is needing to know the credits for each track, that's covered in "For those about to download . . ." -- and I'd be surprised if the credits weren't either up or soon to be up at Carly's website. One more thing, Rebecca's been covering the assault on women's health and women's rights in both the US House and Senate, she's been covering that topic for over two weeks now. Last night, she utilized Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" to explain what's happened:
late last night, i heard the screen door slam,
and a democratically controlled congress took away all i am.
don't it always seem to go
that you don't know who you can trust
until after you voted
they paved paradise
and took away all my rights.
they paved paradise
and took away all my rights.
Trina, Betty, Stan, Ann and Ruth have also covered this issue -- to be sure and give credit where it's due -- but I think Rebecca's the only one that's covered in every one of her posts.