Sunday, 5 June 2011

Re-establishing democracy

Originally sent February 2010

The hanging of Chemical Ali must have sent a chill down the spine of some of those testifying before the current Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War.

I was impressed at the speed with which political analysts latched on to the implications of Tony Blair’s brilliant performance on January 29. I followed the morning session on radio and television, and the afternoon session on the Channel 4 website, and so could follow comments from journalists and the public alike.

Clare Short, who resigned as Blair’s minister for International Development and then wrote a book about it(‘An Honourable Deception? New Labour, Iraq and the Misuse of Power)described some of Tony Blair’s statements to the Chilcot inquiry as “ludicrous” on BBC television

‘Tony Blair Iraq inquiry evidence ludicrous, says Short’

She also said that Gordon Brown had been marginalised. As I write this, she is giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry. When she says that people were marginalised, that she was told to shut up, and that there was briefing against her, I know how she felt. We need Clare Shorts in all levels of society.

However, no-one seemed to pick up on the big strategic shift in defending the decision to invade Iraq. The case based on Weapons of Mass Destruction had collapsed, and the legal basis had been discredited, andso Tony Blair was forced to fall back on other arguments. Although other issues had always been stated as a factor, the emphasis in Blair’s justification shifted massively to events which were outside the scope of the Chilcot inquiry. That means that, if it is so minded, the Chilcot inquiry could conclude that Blair did believe that an invasion was necessary on the grounds of the previous history, and that his only sin had been to mislead the public as to the real cause of the invasion.That may let Blair off the hook, but would it let the Chilcot inquiry off the hook? I’m not so sure.

The terrorist events of September 11, 2001, changed everything, Blair told the inquiry. Yet nothing had changed on the ground in Iraq. The change was entirely to do with the calculus of risk. It was pointed out that other countries were developing Weapons of Mass Destruction, andsome were more advanced than Iraq. So why, Blair was asked, pick on Iraq. He replied that with Iraq they had the route. That route involved previous UN resolutions on Iraq, and the crimes committed by Saddam on his own people. That, of course, is outside the scope of the Chilcot inquiry, but if those crimes against his own people include the gassing of Kurds, for which Chemical Ali was recently hanged, then many people will be wondering who was complicit with Chemical Ali in supplying thosechemical weapons in the first place.

There was, of course, and still is, no evidence to link Saddam Hussein with 9/11, and it was even admitted that there was no direct evidence. They could therefore have used 9/11 as a pretext to invade any country in the world, provided they could find a route. Finding a route is another way of saying making out a propaganda case, and that takes us to Blair’s propaganda chief, Alistair Cambell, whom I was calling Comical Ali at the time of the invasion. He may now be recalled by the Chilcot inquiry.

Justification on the basis of the terrorist attacks of September 11th formed a substantial part of Blair’s response in the early part of his interrogation. It also featured on the very first day of the Chilcot inquiry. It is clear then, that 9/11 is pivotal in Blair’s justification of the invasion. The Chilcot inquiry must therefore deal with this issue. How much of what we were told by Blair on 9/11 was lies? Did Blair have good reason to link 9/11 with Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban, or did he not? We know that the case against Osama bin Laden was fabricated by politicians and not supported by the FBI. So where was Blair getting his information from? What was the position of MI6 on this? If the events of September 11are to be accepted in any shape or form as reasonable grounds for wanting to invade Iraq, then these questions must be tackled by the Chilcot inquiry.

One would-be key witness is the late government scientist David Kelly. It was revealed by The Mail on Sunday that following the Hutton inquiry,

Lord Hutton had secretly ordered that all medical reports, including the post-mortem findings and photographs of Dr Kelly’s body, remain classified information for 70 years.

The legality of this is questionable, and a week later, the Mail on Sunday reported that the ban may be lifted.

By denying access to the relevant documents, the authorities are admitting that there has to be something to hide. Documents would not normally be withheld unless there was a potential risk to national security, orpotential exposure of the activities of the security services. As I undertand it, the official version that Dr Kelly had committed suicide had nothing to do with national security. It would then appear that secrecy over the relevant documents could be taken as an implicit confession. This, too, is something that the Chilcot inquiry should look at.

Whatever the final outcome of the Chilcot inquiry, one result so far has been that it is now politically acceptable to suggest that Tony Blair be charged with war crimes. This is now being said, for instance, by members of the audience in Question Time programmes, and now even in the mainstream press. Guardian journalist George Monbiot has a reputation for defending the indefensible on 9/11, and of attacking 9/11 truthers as conspiracy theorists, yet even he is calling for Blair to be put on trial. He has set up a website, and is calling for donations, in order to give a reward to anyone who succeeds in issuing a citizens arrest of Blair for war crimes. According to Wikipedia, some people think he may be an opportunist, but even if he is, it shows that calling for Tony Blair to be put on trial is no longer a crazy idea being put forward by a few conspiracy theorists.

Perhaps one day soon, the mainstream media will pick up on the fact that, in theory, Tony Blair is already under investigation by the London Metropolitan Police. In 2008 a dossier was finally accepted by the London Metropolitan Police, making a case for Tony Blair to be investigated for war crimes in connection with the Iraq war. The background to this was then explained at a press conference, and a video was put up on YouTube:

As I watched Tony Blair at the Chilcot inquiry, I could not but wonder why he was not being interviewed by Scotland Yard. Where are the police on this?

Since the end of last year’s silly season, the mainstream media in the UK has been full of what used to be called ‘conspiracy theories’, but which have now become serious issues of public concern. There has been a whole range of matters concerning war, civil liberties and government propaganda. Recent research into climate change has shown that politicians lie more than previously thought. Even if the mainstream media had been minded to, it would have had difficulty in focusing on the underlying problem at this stage. The truthers are like tug boats,constantly pulling the huge ship of state. Momentum is being built up, though, in the right direction, but no huge shove by the truthers is going to make much immediate difference. What is making a difference is the constant tugging. Where I think we should be gently tugging public opinion towards are the underlying issues of 9/11, Gladio, false flag operations, state propaganda and the real reasons for conflict at home and abroad. We also need to know who is running the country.

There’s plenty of opportunity for truthers to gradually nudge public opinion on the issues that are catching the headlines in the mainstream media. I’ve been registering the occasional comment on mainstream media websites, raising some of the above concerns in connection with the Iraq war. Others may have their own ways of doing things. It’s all about establishing the democracy that most of us previously thought we already had.

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