Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Downing Street Memo

What is it?: The Downing Street Memo, recently leaked, reveals that President George W. Bush decided to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in summer 2002 and - determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policies - 'fixed' the intelligence and facts relevent to WMD.

What has come to be known as the Downing Street 'Memo' is actually a document containing meeting minutes transcribed during the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23, 2002. This meeting was held a full 8 months PRIOR to the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. The Times of London printed the text of this document on Sunday, May 1, 2005. When asked about the document's validity, 'British officials did not dispute the document's authenticity.'

The contents of the memo are shocking. The minutes detail how our government did not believe Iraq was a greater threat than other nations; how intelligence was manipulated to sell the case for war to the American public; and how all the talk of "war as a last resort" was mere hollow pretense.
Text from the Memo:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action....

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change....

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Galloway and the mother of all invective

"Before the hearing began, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow even had some scorn left over to bestow generously upon the pro-war writer Christopher Hitchens. 'You're a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay,' Mr Galloway in formed him. 'Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink,' he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead."
Text of Galloway's Senate speech can be found here. You'll have to scroll, sorry no permalink.

US 'backed illegal Iraqi oil deals'

Guardian Unlimited Politics: "The United States administration turned a blind eye to extensive sanctions-busting in the prewar sale of Iraqi oil, according to a new Senate investigation.

A report released last night by Democratic staff on a Senate investigations committee presents documentary evidence that the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them....

In fact, the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together.

'The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions,' the report said. 'On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales.'"


"That is this government's particular problem: it has not proved very good at earning respect."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

our 'justice system' is about anything but justice

Take for example this case, where is sounds like a husband not only got away with murder but in which the authorities effectively framed and murdered another man for:
The New York Review of Books: The Right to Life: "The trial of Dobie Williams lasted one week, from selection of jury to guilty verdict to death sentence. Dobie was a Louisiana man, poor and black and with an IQ of sixty-five. He was convicted of the murder of a forty-three- year-old white woman who was stabbed to death in her bathroom. According to the prosecution, this lady called out helpfully, while being attacked, 'A black man has killed me,' and when her husband rushed into the bathroom, she indicated, while dying, that the black man had gone out through a window so small and high up that the family had never bothered to put a lock on it. Betty Williams, the mother of the accused, commented, 'That sounds like somebody in a murder mystery book.'

Dobie was on weekend leave from a detention center where he was serving a term for burglary. He seems to have been arrested because he was in the neighborhood. No motive was alleged for the crime, other than that Dobie had been drinking that evening. None of the blood of the dead woman was found on his person or his clothes. To explain this, the police suggested that Dobie had stripped naked to commit the murder. Because the victim's clothes were pulled down--she was, after all, in the bathroom--it was insinuated that the accused had been attempting rape, though the victim had not in fact been raped and no such charge was brought. But the insinuation may have contributed to the jury's speedy verdict.

Dobie was said to have confessed on tape, but the recording was missing by the time the case came to court, and the police officers who had overheard this 'confession' gave conflicting evidence about it. Dobie was defended by an attorney later disbarred for unethical conduct..."

Saturday, May 07, 2005

He's a loser, baby

Reid Calls Bush 'A Loser': "LAS VEGAS -- Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid called President Bush 'a loser' during a civics discussion with a group of teenagers at a high school on Friday.
'The man's father is a wonderful human being,' Reid, D-Nev., told students at Del Sol High School when asked about the president's policies. 'I think this guy is a loser.'"