Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Israel attacks targets in Lebenon

Israeli warplanes have struck southern Lebanese targets in what Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz described as the largest-scale Israeli response to cross-border attacks by Lebanese fighters since 2000.

Mofaz spoke just hours after Israeli fighter jets attacked a command post of resistance group Hizb Allah in south Lebanon and army bulldozers entered Lebanon to demolish a Hizb Allah post just north of the community of Ghajar.

The Israeli military and Hizb Allah both denied an Israel Radio report that warplanes struck for a second time at midday on Tuesday, the resistance group saying an explosion heard in the area was caused by a previously unexploded artillery shell.

Monday's attack on Hizb Allah targets "was the largest-scale, most hostile since the departure of Israeli forces from Lebanon [in 2000]", Mofaz said in remarks broadcast on Israel Radio.

He added that the Israeli response "was the widest against attempts by Hizb Allah to escalate the situation".

Tuesday's air raid "targeted a position used by Hizb Allah to fire rockets and mortar shells at the north of Israel", an Israeli military spokesman said without giving further details.


Did Thatcher 'threaten to nuke Argentina'

Guardian Margaret Thatcher forced François Mitterrand to give her the codes to disable Argentina's deadly French-made missiles during the Falklands war by threatening to launch a nuclear warhead against Buenos Aires, according to a book.

Rendez-vous - the psychoanalysis of François Mitterrand, by Ali Magoudi, who met the late French president up to twice a week in secrecy at his Paris practice from 1982 to 1984, also reveals that Mr Mitterrand believed he would get his "revenge" by building a tunnel under the Channel which would forever destroy Britain's island status

The book, to be published on Friday, is one of several on France's first Socialist president to mark the 10th anniversary of his death on January 8 1996. Despite a now tarnished reputation, he remains a source of fascination for the French in general and the left in particular. Rendez-vous provides revealing insights into the man's mysterious character, complicated past, paranoia and power complex, but nothing as titillating as his remarks on the former British prime minister.

"Excuse me. I had a difference to settle with the Iron Lady. That Thatcher, what an impossible woman!" the president said as he arrived, more than 45 minutes late, on May 7 1982. "With her four nuclear submarines in the south Atlantic, she's threatening to unleash an atomic weapon against Argentina if I don't provide her with the secret codes that will make the missiles we sold the Argentinians deaf and blind." He reminded Mr Magoudi that on May 4 an Exocet missile had struck HMS Sheffield. "To make matters worse, it was fired from a Super-Etendard jet," he said. "All the matériel was French!"

In words that the psychoanalyst has sworn to the publisher, Meren Sell, are genuine, the president continued: "She's livid. She blames me personally for this new Trafalgar ... I was obliged to give in. She's got them now, the codes."

Mr Mitterrand - who once described Mrs Thatcher as "the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe" - went on: "One cannot win against the insular syndrome of an unbridled Englishwoman. Provoke a nuclear war for a few islands inhabited by three sheep as hairy as they are freezing! But it's a good job I gave way. Otherwise, I assure you, the Lady's metallic finger would have hit the button."

France, he insisted, would have the last word. "I'll build a tunnel under the Channel. I'll succeed where Napoleon III failed. And do you know why she'll accept my tunnel? I'll flatter her shopkeeper's spirit. I'll tell her it won't cost the Crown a penny "

Monday, November 21, 2005

Curveball : More evidence of the misuse of evidence

BERLIN -- The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush Aadministration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims before the Iraq war.

Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with the Los Angeles Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.

According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's claims in his pre-war presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

Curveball's German handlers for the last six years said his information was often vague, mostly second-hand and impossible to confirm.

"This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said."

The German authorities, speaking about the case for the first time, also said that their informant suffered from emotional and mental problems. "He is not a stable, psychologically stable guy," said a BND official who supervised the case. "He is not a completely normal person," agreed a BND analyst.

Curveball was the chief source of inaccurate pre-war U.S. claims that Baghdad had a biological weapons arsenal, a commission appointed by President Bush reported earlier this year. U.S. investigators did not interview Curveball, who still insists his story was true, or the German officials who handle his case.

The German account emerges as Washington is engaged in a political battle over pre-war intelligence. The White House lashed out last week at Senate Democrats and other critics who allege the administration manipulated intelligence to go to war. Democrats have forced the Senate intelligence committee to resume a long-stalled inquiry. Democrats in the House are calling for a similar inquiry.

An investigation by the Times based on interviews since May with about 30 current and former intelligence officials in the U.S., Germany, England, Iraq and the United Nations shows that U.S. bungling in the Curveball case was far worse than official reports have disclosed.

The White House, for example, ignored evidence that United Nations weapons inspectors disproved virtually all of Curveball's accounts before the war. President Bush and his aides issued increasingly dire warnings about Iraq's germ weapons as the invasion neared, even though intelligence from Curveball had not changed.

At the Central Intelligence Agency, senior officials embraced Curveball's claims even though they could not verify them or interview him until a year after the invasion. They ignored multiple warnings about his reliability, punished in-house critics who provided proof that he had lied and refused to admit error until May 2004, 14 months after invasion.

After the CIA vouched for Curveball's information, President Bush warned in his State of the Union Speech in January 2003 that Iraq had "mobile biological weapons labs" designed to produce "germ warfare agents." The next month, Bush said in a radio address and a statement that Iraq "has at least seven mobile factories" for germ warfare.

Curveball told his German handlers, however, that he had assembled equipment on only one truck and had heard second-hand about other sites. Moreover, he could not identify what the equipment was designed to produce.

"His information to us was very vague," said the senior German intelligence official. "He could not say if these things functioned, if they worked."

David Kay, who headed the CIA's post-invasion search for illicit weapons, said Curveball's accounts were maddeningly murky. "He was not in charge of trucks or production," Kay said. "He had nothing to do with actual production of biological agent. He never saw them actually produce agent."

Powell also highlighted Curveball's "eyewitness" account when he warned the U.N. Security Council on the eve of war that Iraq's trucks could brew enough weapons-grade microbes "in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people."

The BND supervisor said he was aghast when he watched Powell misstate Curveball's information as a justification for war.

"We were shocked," the German official said. "Mein Gott! We had always told them it was not proven. … It was not hard intelligence."

In a telephone interview, Powell said CIA director George J. Tenet and his top deputies personally assured him before the Feb. 5, 2003, speech that intelligence on the mobile labs was "solid." Since then, Powell said, the case "has totally blown up in our faces."

Powell said no one warned him that veterans in the CIA's clandestine division, including the European division chief, had voiced growing doubts to supervisors about Curveball's credibility.

continue reading the article Here

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Talabani offers talks with insurgents

Iraq's President Jalal Talabani has said he is willing to speak to insurgents if they want to talk to him. Addressing a national reconciliation conference in Cairo, he said he was "responsible for all Iraqis" and wanted to "listen... even to criminals".

But he said Saddam Hussein supporters and religious extremists had no role in the country's political process.

There have been reports of contacts between insurgents and the Iraqi government, which have been denied. Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said in June the US government regularly facilitated contacts between the Iraqi government and insurgents. Mr Talabani immediately denied it. "The Iraqi government has nothing to do with the negotiations with insurgents," he said at the time.

It was not immediately clear exactly what he was offering at the Arab League-sponsored conference on Sunday.

"If those who describe themselves as the Iraqi resistance want to contact me, they are welcome," he said. "I am committed to listen to them, even those who are criminals and on trial.But of course that does not mean I will accept what they say," the president told a news conference.

Government leaders have previously said they would talk to opposition forces who were willing to lay down their arms - but not those who are responsible for killing Iraqis.

There have been unconfirmed reports that Mr Talabani has met with representatives of the opposition during the conference in Cairo.

There is pressure from within Iraq and from the west to try to strike a deal that would ease, if not end, the violence in Iraq, the BBC's Ian Pannell in Cairo says.

Source BBC

Saturday, November 19, 2005

New wave of suicide attacks strike Iraq

More than 40 people have been killed and many more injured in a wave of bomb attacks across Iraq. In the latest incident, at least 30 people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a Shia funeral procession near Baquba.

Earlier, 13 people died in a car bomb attack on a crowded market in southern Baghdad. A suicide bomber later wounded at least four in the city centre.

The market bomb was hidden in a car near Diyala Bridge, a mostly Shia area. At least 20 people were injured.

Shortly afterwards, at least two police officers and two civilians were injured when a suicide bomber in a car attacked a police patrol.

Then, at about sunset, a suicide bomber drove into the crowd at a funeral procession in the village of Abu Saida, north of the capital. At least 40 people were also injured.

Source BBC

UN rejects Guantanamo visit offer

The UN has formally rejected a US invitation to visit the Guantanamo prison camp, saying it cannot accept the restrictions imposed by Washington. UN human rights experts said the US had refused to grant them the right to speak to detainees in private.

UN senior official Manfred Nowak said private interviews were a "totally non-negotiable pre-condition" for conducting the visit.

Some 500 terror suspects are being held at the US military camp.

Mr Nowak, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, told the BBC his team would accept nothing less than unfettered access. In front of prison guards they would never tell you the truth because of being afraid of reprisal

"If you want to hear from a detainee or know from a detainee whether he or she has been subjected to torture or ill treatment then you must be allowed to speak to this person in private," he said. "In front of prison guards they would never tell you the truth because of being afraid of reprisal.

"There are certain conditions which we feel are non-negotiable and unannounced visit to places of detention and private interviews with detainees is one of those totally non-negotiable pre-conditions."

Source BBC

Yet another double standard , The UN applies the same rules to every country they visit , and nobody refuses , well apart from the likes of this US adminsitration

Refusing the UN request will not just be a matter of "sorry" this will have consequences. They want Iran to comply with ALL international requests of inspections but refuse to comply with a basic (and standard) request placed on them

These guys have NO credibility left to spend


Iran gives 'nuclear weapon' documents to UN

Iran has passed on to United Nations inspectors documents on how to build a crucial part of a nuclear bomb, the UN's atomic agency says. Tehran says it got the information from the nuclear smuggling network run by disgraced Pakistani scientist AQ Khan, according to an agency report.

The Iranians say they neither requested the data from AQ Khan nor used it.

The agency concludes Iran has improved co-operation with its inspectors, but has yet to provide full transparency. The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said more openness was "indispensable and overdue".

Tehran insists its nuclear programme is for energy purposes only. But many board IAEA members are concerned about Iran's decision to resume uranium conversion - a precursor to enrichment.

Source : BBC


Baghdad (AKI) - The death toll from the two suicide attacks on mosques in the eastern Iraqi town of Khanaqin on Friday may be more than 100, according to a member of the local council, Ibrahim Ahmed, who made his assessment after seeing the destruction caused by the blasts and the bodies that were trapped in the rubble of the damaged structures. The blasts occurred when the two Shiite Muslim mosques were packed with people who were there for Friday prayers.

A French news agency quoted a provincial council leader as saying "two suicide bombers wearing explosive belts walked into the Greater and the Smaller Khanaqin mosques and blew themselves up, killing and injuring dozens of people."

The police have put the death toll at 41,(now 80), but warn that the figure could rise.

Earlier on Friday morning, six people were killed when two explosions occurred outside the Iraqi interior ministry building in Baghdad which is at the centre of the latest prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq. At least 40 people were injured in the blasts, which eyewitnesses said were caused by two suicide bombers who drove their vehicles at the ministry complex. The force of the explosions brought down nearby residential buildings, burying people in the rubble.

Cheney 'vice president for torture'

A former director of America's intelligence agency has branded the country's deputy leader a "vice president for torture". Admiral Stansfield Turner, who was in charge of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the 1970s, said Dick Cheney was overseeing torture policies of possible terrorist suspects and was damaging America's reputation by doing so.

President George Bush and other leading members of the his administration have consistently denied that detainees suspected of belonging to al Qaida were tortured for information.

But his opponents and human rights campaigners have claimed that many men taken captive in Iraq and Afghanistan by the US have been subjected to torture in order to extract information.

Speaking on ITV news Admiral Turner said: "We have crossed the line into dangerous territory. I am embarrassed that the USA has a vice president for torture. I think it is just reprehensible."

He added: "He (Mr Cheney) advocates torture, what else is it? I just don't understand how a man in that position can take such a stance."

Republican Senator John McCain has passed a provision to a defence Bill in the senate banning "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of all US detainees.

But the White House has apparently threatened to veto the measure if it is passed by the House of Representatives.

Source Scotsman

Venezuela's Chavez calls Bush 'killer', 'madman'

CARACAS (AFX) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lashed out at his US counterpart, George Bush, late yesterday, calling him a 'killer' and a 'madman' after a top US diplomat criticized Caracas.

'The planet's most serious danger is the government of the United States. ... The people of the United States are being governed by a killer, a genocidal murderer and a madman,' Chavez said at a meeting of Venezuelan and Brazilian business executives in Caracas.

The Venezuelan president criticized testimony to the US Congress by Washington's top diplomat for Latin America, Thomas Shannon, who said Venezuela was a 'threat to regional stability'.

Chavez accused the Bush administration of 'assuming the right to grossly intervene in any country'. Shannon's remarks, he told the executives, were part of a 'new offensive' by the White House, after its 'failure' at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Animation of the week

This weeks must watch animation . Spotted on the excellent Logical voice

The Adventures of Knuckles .

For the previous episode of Knuckles click here


Bush can't handle the truth

NYDaily In one of the most intellectually incoherent major speeches ever delivered by a minor President, George W. Bush last week blamed "some Democrats and anti-war critics" for changing their minds about the war in Iraq and now saying they were deceived. "It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began," the President said. Yes, sir, but it is even more deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how history was rewritten in the first place.

It is the failure to acknowledge this that is so troubling about Bush and others in his administration. Yes, the President is right: Foreign intelligence services also thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Saddam Hussein simply ignored more than a dozen UN resolutions demanding that he reopen his country to arms inspectors.

We can endlessly debate the facts. More important, though, is the mind-set of those in the administration, from the President on down, who had those facts - or, as we shall see, none at all - and mangled them in the cause of the war.

For example, the insistence that Saddam was somehow linked to 9/11 tells you that to Bush and his people, the facts did not matter. It did not matter that Mohamed Atta never met with Iraqis in Prague. It did not matter that Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was finding no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

None of that mattered to Vice President Cheney, a fibber without peer in the realm, who warned of a "reconstituted" nuclear weapons program, promoted the nonexistent Prague meeting and went after legitimate critics. "We will not hesitate to discredit you," Cheney told ElBaradei and Hans Blix, the other important UN inspector. ElBaradei recently won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The President's recent speech conflates all sorts of terrorist incidents - neglecting that they are specific to their regions and have nothing to do with Al Qaeda. Every bombing somehow becomes an attack on Western values.

Oh stop it! It would be nice, fitting and pretty close to sexually exciting if Bush somehow acknowledged his mistakes and said he had learned from them. But far more important is what this would mean in foreign policy from here on out. Repeatedly in his speech, Bush mentioned Syria, Iran and North Korea - Syria above all. If push comes to shove there, it would be nice to have confidence in American intelligence and the case for possibly widening the war. If we are to go to the mat with North Korea or the increasingly alarming Iran, then, once again, it would be wonderful to have the confidence we once had in the intelligence community. Is there or is there not a threatening nuclear weapons program on the horizon?

At the moment, no one can have confidence in the Bush administration. Almost three years into the war, the world is not safer, the Middle East is less stable and Americans and others die for a mission that is not what it once was called: a fight for democracy. It would be nice, as well as important, to know how we got into this mess - nice for us, important for the President. It wasn't that he had the wrong facts. It was that the right ones didn't matter

Top Democrat urges Iraq pullout now

An influential Democratic congressman - who voted for the Iraq invasion in 2003 - has called for the immediate withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. John Murtha - a decorated Vietnam War veteran - said US troops had become "a catalyst for violence" in Iraq.

His comments followed attacks from the Bush administration on critics of its Iraq war policy and its handling of intelligence to invade Iraq.

Vice-President Dick Cheney said critics were spreading "cynical falsehoods".

"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency, they are united against US forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence," Mr Murtha said at an emotional news conference in Washington.

"US troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, the Saddamists, and the foreign jihadists... I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis," he said.

Mr Murtha - who is a member of a key House of Representatives panel that oversees defence spending - urged the White House to "immediately redeploy US troops consistent with the safety of US forces".

The congressman from Pennsylvania also said a "quick reaction force" should be created in the Middle East.

Source : BBC

Now those of you that come across this site from time to time will probably assume that i would be keen on the getting the troops out of Iraq .

My view is actually not that simple . I do feel that to carry on as we are will be a disater for the Iraqi people . but I also feel that to just remove the troops would also be a disaster for the people of Iraq

Some kind of peace keeping force needs to be in place to help the Iraqi people climb out of this mess . The problem i see is that the two best options for peace keeping would be blocked by the US government

My first choice would be a UN Peace keeping force made up purely of Muslims but the US would never allow the UN to take over , for this would be a clear sign of failure (which it has been but they would not want to admit it )

My second choice would be a peace keeping force made up from the neighbours of Iraq , But this would also never be allowed by the US . Syria and Iran "we keep being told" are also the enemy here and asking them for help would not even enter the US mindset

So I cant see what solution can be found . Iraq can not "stand up" without help and Iraq can not "stand up" whilst western forces are in the country

A lose-lose situation

Cartoon of the week

source Guardian

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Not guilty. The Israeli captain who put 17 bullets into a Palestinian schoolgirl

The Guardian An Israeli army officer who fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was acquitted on all charges by a military court yesterday.

The soldier, who has only been identified as "Captain R", was charged with relatively minor offences for the killing of Iman al-Hams who was shot 17 times as she ventured near an Israeli army post near Rafah refugee camp in Gaza a year ago.

The manner of Iman's killing, and the revelation of a tape recording in which the captain is warned that she was just a child who was "scared to death", made the shooting one of the most controversial since the Palestinian intifada erupted five years ago even though hundreds of other children have also died.

After the verdict, Iman's father, Samir al-Hams, said the army never intended to hold the soldier accountable.

"They did not charge him with Iman's murder, only with small offences, and now they say he is innocent of those even though he shot my daughter so many times," he said. "This was the cold-blooded murder of a girl. The soldier murdered her once and the court has murdered her again. What is the message? They are telling their soldiers to kill Palestinian children."

The military court cleared the soldier of illegal use of his weapon, conduct unbecoming an officer and perverting the course of justice by asking soldiers under his command to alter their accounts of the incident.

Capt R's lawyers argued that the "confirmation of the kill" after a suspect is shot was a standard Israeli military practice to eliminate terrorist threats.

Following the verdict, Capt R burst into tears, turned to the public benches and said: "I told you I was innocent."

The army's official account said that Iman was shot for crossing into a security zone carrying her schoolbag which soldiers feared might contain a bomb. It is still not known why the girl ventured into the area but witnesses described her as at least 100 yards from the military post which was in any case well protected.

A recording of radio exchanges between Capt R and his troops obtained by Israeli television revealed that from the beginning soldiers identified Iman as a child.

In the recording, a soldier in a watchtower radioed a colleague in the army post's operations room and describes Iman as "a little girl" who was "scared to death". After soldiers first opened fire, she dropped her schoolbag which was then hit by several bullets establishing that it did not contain explosive. At that point she was no longer carrying the bag and, the tape revealed, was heading away from the army post when she was shot.

Although the military speculated that Iman might have been trying to "lure" the soldiers out of their base so they could be attacked by accomplices, Capt R made the decision to lead some of his troops into the open. Shortly afterwards he can be heard on the recording saying that he has shot the girl and, believing her dead, then "confirmed the kill".

"I and another soldier ... are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill ... Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her ... I also confirmed the kill. Over," he said.

Palestinian witnesses said they saw the captain shoot Iman twice in the head, walk away, turn back and fire a stream of bullets into her body.

On the tape, Capt R then "clarifies" to the soldiers under his command why he killed Iman: "This is commander. Anything that's mobile, that moves in the [security] zone, even if it's a three-year-old, needs to be killed."

At no point did the Israeli troops come under attack.

The prosecution case was damaged when a soldier who initially said he had seen Capt R point his weapon at the girl's body and open fire later told the court he had fabricated the story.

Capt R claimed that he had not fired the shots at the girl but near her. However, Dr Mohammed al-Hams, who inspected the child's body at Rafah hospital, counted numerous wounds. "She has at least 17 bullets in several parts of the body, all along the chest, hands, arms, legs," he told the Guardian shortly afterwards. "The bullets were large and shot from a close distance. The most serious injuries were to her head. She had three bullets in the head. One bullet was shot from the right side of the face beside the ear. It had a big impact on the whole face."

The army's initial investigation concluded that the captain had "not acted unethically". But after some of the soldiers under his command went to the Israeli press to give a different version, the military police launched a separate investigation after which he was charged.

Capt R claimed that the soldiers under his command were out to get him because they are Jewish and he is Druze.

The transcript

The following is a recording of a three-way conversation that took place between a soldier in a watchtower, an army operations room and Capt R, who shot the girl

From the watchtower "It's a little girl. She's running defensively eastward." "Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?" "A girl about 10, she's behind the embankment, scared to death." "I think that one of the positions took her out." "I and another soldier ... are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill ... Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her ... I also confirmed the kill. Over."

From the operations room "Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?"

Watchtower "A girl about 10, she's behind the embankment, scared to death."

A few minutes later, Iman is shot from one of the army posts

Watchtower "I think that one of the positions took her out."

Captain R "I and another soldier ... are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill ... Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her ... I also confirmed the kill. Over."

Capt R then "clarifies" why he killed Iman

"This is commander. Anything that's mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it's a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over."

Falluja : Iraq Government to investigate WP claims

An Iraqi human rights team has gone to the city of Falluja to investigate the use of white phosphorus as a weapon by US forces ( The Investigation is being headed up by a member of the Iraqi cabinet)

Acting Human Rights Minister Narmin Uthman said her staff would examine the possible effects on civilians. The US has now admitted using white phosphorus as a weapon in Falluja last year, after earlier denying it.

The US initially said white phosphorus had been used only to illuminate enemy positions, but now admits it was used as a weapon. BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood says having to retract that denial is a public relations disaster for the US.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt Col Barry Venable, confirmed to the BBC the US had used white phosphorus "as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants" - though not against civilians, he said. He said earlier denials had been based on "poor information".

San Diego journalist Darrin Mortenson, who was embedded with US marines during the assault on Falluja, told the BBC's Today radio programme he had seen white phosphorous used "as an incendiary weapon" against insurgents.

White phosphorus is highly flammable and ignites on contact with oxygen. If the substance hits a person's body, it will burn until deprived of oxygen.

Globalsecurity.org, a defence website, says: "Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful... These weapons are particularly nasty because white phosphorus continues to burn until it disappears... it could burn right down to the bone."

Britain's Defence Secretary John Reid said UK forces had used white phosphorus in Iraq, but not as "anything other than a smokescreen to protect our troops when in action".

The UK Ministry of Defence said its use was permitted in battle in cases where there were no civilians near the target area. But Professor Paul Rogers, of the University of Bradford's department of peace studies, said white phosphorus could be considered a chemical weapon if deliberately aimed at civilians.

He told the BBC: "It is not counted under the chemical weapons convention in its normal use but, although it is a matter of legal niceties, it probably does fall into the category of chemical weapons if it is used for this kind of purpose directly against people."

source : BBC

All italics are my comments and not to be attributed to the owner of this article .

well it seems Narmin Uthman is a member of the Iraqi government and it is her job to look after the Human rights of the country , so the Iraqi's are taking this as a genuine and serious concern. This story is going keep growing of that you can be sure

It seems Saddam , the US and the Shia all have something in common. Torture !

The Times UP TO 200 starving Iraqis bearing signs of torture have been found in an apparently secret jail in Baghdad in circumstances reminiscent of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The detainees were found when American troops surrounded and took control of an Interior Ministry building in the Jadriya neighbourhood of Baghdad on Sunday night. The raid was carried out after reports that detainees were being illegally held and tortured there.

When US forces arrived, officials said that only 40 detainees were being held. But as troops moved through the building, opening door after door, they found scores of prisoners, many in very poor health. The Americans had apparently been tipped off to the prison’s existence by relatives of those being detained there.

It appears to be the country’s new Abu Ghraib, the notorious Baghdad prison where Iraqis were pictured being humiliated by American soldiers.

The discovery came as Republican leaders in the Senate called on President Bush yesterday to set out a strategy allowing for a withdrawal of 160,000 US troops from Iraq. It is seen as a clear sign that the increasingly unpopular war is unnerving the President’s own party.

The Senate’s Republican leadership, usually loyal to the White House, demanded that 2006 be a “significant transition” year in which Iraqi forces took the lead in securing their country, so that US troops could begin a phased withdrawal. The proposal by Bill Frist, the Republican Senate Leader, and John Warner, the veteran Virginian Republican and chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, was passed by 79 votes to 19.

Official announcement of the secret jail’s discovery came a day after a damning United Nations report into the brutal conditions and lack of access to legal counsel in Iraq’s overcrowded prisons.

The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq expressed concern about the large number of detainees being held in the country’s prisons and suggested that Iraqi police and special forces had abused the human rights of suspects during security sweeps.

But the discovery of an apparently illegal detention centre has raised even more questions over the behaviour of the security forces in Iraq, which are being primed to take over duties from a withdrawing coalition force.

It also revived memories of how the security forces behaved under Saddam Hussein, who routinely had people arrested and tortured at secret prisons and detention centres around the city, many of which were not discovered until after his regime had fallen.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Prime Minister, said that there would be an investigation into allegations that Interior Ministry officials had tortured detainees held in the basement prison in connection with the mostly Sunni insurgency.

“I was informed that there were 173 detainees held at an Interior Ministry prison and they appear to be malnourished,” Mr al-Jaafari said. “There is also some talk that they were subjected to some kind of torture.”

He said that the detainees had been moved to another location and were receiving medical care. American military officials refused last night to comment on their role in bringing the secret prison to light, referring all questions to the Interior Ministry.

Major General Hussein Kamal, the Interior Ministry’s under-secretary for security, confirmed that the raid on the building had taken place but said that all those being held in the facility were “terrorists”.

However, during a chance street encounter, Brigadier General Karl Horst, who commanded the troops that carried out the raid, said that US forces now planned to raid all known detention facilities in the capital. “We’re going to hit every single one of them,” he told the Los Angeles Times. The raid was among the first known instances in which American forces in Baghdad have stepped in to protect prisoners being held in Iraqi detention.

The discovery will do nothing to calm relations between the country’s warring ethnic groups. Most of the prisoners discovered in the jail were Sunni Arabs, members of the minority ethnic group dominant under Saddam but who make up the backbone of the insurgency fighting the military occupation and the US-backed Government.

The Interior Ministry, controlled by Shias, the oppressed majority under Saddam, has been accused of using its security forces to detain, torture and kill hundreds of Sunnis because of their religious affiliation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

9/11 'Evidence for the explosive-demolition hypothesis'

It often suprises me how the genuinly absurd claims about 9/11 such as Saddam and Iraq were working with Osama and Al-qaeda on that tragic day are still widely believed even though there is zero credible evidence to support such failings in logic

But when a genuine non partisan scientist comes forward and says "hey i think you should look at this" the ripping apart and the full scale attack starts in an instant .This is one such credible claim .

By Steven E. Jones, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Brigham Young University. Provo, UT 84604

In writing this paper, I call for a serious investigation of the hypothesis that WTC 7 and the Twin Towers were brought down, not just by damage and fires, but through the use of pre-positioned explosives. I consider the official FEMA, NIST, and 9-11 Commission reports that fires plus damage alone caused complete collapses of all three buildings. And I present evidence for the explosive-demolition hypothesis, which is suggested by the available data, testable and falsifiable, and yet has not been analyzed in any of the reports funded by the US government. Read the report in full

Watch a video Courtesy of Daily Dissent Here

watch the towers colapse Video 1 - Video 2

Now this is a credited scientist who has brought forward a non partisan hypothesis but i am sure that people will try to discredit this is by using the old political phrase book

Words such as "moonbat theory" and "conspiracy nut" will fly around i am sure , but remember , this is a hypothesis , not a fact and it seems that his physics are sound , so how do you proove this wrong ?

Well not by shouting "moonbat" at people but by looking at his paper and finding the scientific flaw in his work

I am not claiming (neither is the scientist ) that this is exactly how it happened , but when someone with this kind of background and knowledge makes this kind of claim then you would be a fool not to listen .So rather then just dismiss it as false , why not find out why it is false , we would all like to know if this has any factual errors in its calculations .

I post this with the hope that others will look at it and either push it up the agenda or find the correct "scientific" reason for its fallacy

More information about Mr Jones and his qualification to make this hyothesis can be found

my sources
ICH and Daily Dissent

'I treated people who had their skin melted'

The Independent Abu Sabah knew he had witnessed something unusual. Sitting in November last year in a refugee camp in the grounds of Baghdad University, set up for the families who fled or were driven from Fallujah, this resident of the city's Jolan district told me how he had witnessed some of the battle's heaviest fighting.

"They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud," he said. He had seen "pieces of these bombs explode into large fires that (WARNING images are very graphic) continued to burn on the skin even after people dumped water on the burns".

As an unembedded journalist, I spent hours talking to residents forced out of the city. A doctor from Fallujah working in Saqlawiyah, on the outskirts of Fallujah, described treating victims during the siege "who had their skin melted".

He asked to be referred to simply as Dr Ahmed because of fears of reprisals for speaking out.

"The people and bodies I have seen were definitely hit by fire weapons and had no other shrapnel wounds," he said.

Burhan Fasa'a, a freelance cameraman working for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), witnessed the first eight days of the fighting. "I saw cluster bombs everywhere and so many bodies that were burnt, dead with no bullets in them," he said. "So they definitely used fire weapons, especially in Jolan district."

Mr Fasa'a said that while he sold a few of his clips to Reuters, LBC would not show tapes he submitted to them. He had smuggled some tapes out of the city before his gear was taken from him by US soldiers.

Some saw what they thought were attempts by the military to conceal the use of incendiary shells. "The Americans were dropping some of the bodies into the Euphrates near Fallujah," said one ousted resident, Abdul Razaq Ismail.

Dr Ahmed, who worked in Fallujah until December 2004, said: "In the centre of the Jolan quarter they were removing entire homes which have been bombed, meanwhile most of the homes that were bombed are left as they were."

He said he saw bulldozers push soil into piles and load it on to trucks to carry away. In certain areas where the military used "special munitions" he said 200 sq m of soil was being removed from each blast site.

The author is an unembedded journalist reporting from Fallujah

I reported yesterday in much more detail the words of Dahr Jamail Here and as one of the few "unembedded" journalists his words and evidence deserve serious consideration

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

UN calls for 'immediate action' over Iraq mass arrests

The United Nations mission in Iraq (Unami) has expressed concern over mass arrests by US-led coalition troops "without adequate judicial oversight". In a report, the mission called for immediate action, saying the number of such inmates was rising.

It said data by the Iraqi ministry of human rights last month showed that 1,559 out of 23,394 detainees were held by coalition troops.

The US military says Iraqi inmates are having their cases promptly reviewed.

It says all the necessary steps are being taken either through referral to Iraqi courts or through a special US-Iraqi prisoner board set up in 2004 to speed up the review of individual cases.

The latest report by the UN mission covered the period from 1 September to 31 October 2005.

It said that "the overall number of detainees continued to increase due to mass arrests carried out during security and military operations" in Iraq.

The report said "the vast majority" of those held were individuals picked up by the US-led forces for "imperative reasons of security". It said that the US-Iraqi board was reviewing up to 250 cases a week, "resulting in some releases".

But it said the board's standards violated both Iraqi and international laws governing the treatment of civilians.

"There is an urgent need to provide remedy to lengthy internment for reasons of security without adequate judicial oversight," the report said.

The UN has repeatedly expressed concerns about the large number of detainees being held in Iraq without apparent due process.

It has also alleged that thousands are being kept in custody for long periods without charges.

source : BBC

now is this more meddling from the UN or is this showing disrespect for the only lawfull authortity for actually being in the country in the first place , as shown by the desperation the coalition went through to get the UN to renew its authority before the christmas deadline to pull out , well that depends on your perspective .

To some of us International law is a wonderfull guidline that helps to keep all countries in check and allows us to see the good from the bad and gives the world authrority to deal with nasty regimes . To others International law is only to give us justification to attack countries such as Iraq or Iran and does not apply to the big countries who can do as they please

Spain to investigate 'secret CIA flights'

Spain is launching an investigation into claims that CIA planes carrying terror suspects made secret stopovers on Spanish soil. Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso made the announcement on Spanish television on Tuesday.

He said that if proven, such activities could damage relations between the Spanish and US governments.

According to Spanish press reports, the CIA is suspected of having used Majorca for such prisoner transfers.

"If it were confirmed as true, we would, of course, be looking at very serious cases," Mr Alonso told the private channel Telecinco.

The suspect flights - 10 in total - came to light in a report submitted by Spain's Civil Guard to the prosecutor's office of the Balearics Supreme Court in June, Spain's El Pais newspaper reported.

The first flight allegedly landed in Palma, on the island of Majorca, on 22 January 2004.

The suspect flights - by two Boeing 747s and two Gulfstream jets - allegedly continued until 17 January 2005.

Source : BBC

Fallujah Revisited

By Dahr Jamail

Nearly a year after they occurred, a few of the war crimes committed in Fallujah by members of the US military have gained the attention of some major media outlets (excluding, of course, any of the corporate media outlets in the US).

Back on November 26, 2004, in a story I wrote for the Inter Press Service titled 'Unusual Weapons' Used in Fallujah', refugees from that city described, in detail, various odd weapons used in Fallujah. In addition, they provided detailed descriptions such as “pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt the skin even when water was thrown on the burns.”

This was also mentioned in a web log I’d penned nine days before, on November 17, 2004, named Slash and Burn where one of the descriptions of these same weapons by the same refugee from Fallujah said, “These exploded on the ground with large fires that burnt for half an hour. They used these near the train tracks. You could hear these dropped from a large airplane and the bombs were the size of a tank. When anyone touched those fires, their body burned for hours.”

On December 9th of 2004 I posted a gallery of photos , many of which are included in the new RAI television documentary about incendiary weapons having been used in Fallujah.

Like the torture “scandal” of Abu Ghraib that for people in the west didn’t become “real” until late April of 2004, Iraqis and journalists in Iraq who engaged in actual reporting knew that US and British forces were torturing Iraqis from nearly the beginning of the occupation, and continue to do so to this day.

All of this makes me wonder how much longer it will take for other atrocities to come to light. Even just discussing Fallujah, there are many we can choose from. While I’m not the only journalist to have reported on these, let me draw your attention to just a few things that I’ve recorded which took place in Fallujah during the November, 2004 massacre.

In my story “Fallujah Refugees Tell of Life and Death in the Kill Zone” published on December 3, 2004 there are many instances of war crimes which will, hopefully, be granted the attention they deserve.

Burhan Fasa’a, an Iraqi journalist who worked for the Lebanese satellite TV station, LBC and who was in Fallujah for nine days during the most intense combat, said Americans grew easily frustrated with Iraqis who could not speak English.

“Americans did not have interpreters with them,” Fasa’a said, “so they entered houses and killed people because they didn’t speak English. They entered the house where I was with 26 people, and [they] shot people because [the people] didn’t obey [the soldiers’] orders, even just because the people couldn’t understand a word of English.” He also added, “Soldiers thought the people were rejecting their orders, so they shot them. But the people just couldn’t understand them.

” A man named Khalil, who asked not to use his last name for fear of reprisals, said he had witnessed the shooting of civilians who were waving white flags while they tried to escape the city.

“I watched them roll over wounded people in the street with tanks,” said Kassem Mohammed Ahmed, a resident of Fallujah. “This happened so many times.”

Other refugees recounted similar stories. “I saw so many civilians killed there, and I saw several tanks roll over the wounded in the streets,” said Aziz Abdulla, 27 years old, who fled the fighting last November. Another resident, Abu Aziz, said he also witnessed American armored vehicles crushing people he believes were alive.

Abdul Razaq Ismail, another resident who fled Fallujah, said: “I saw dead bodies on the ground and nobody could bury them because of the American snipers. The Americans were dropping some of the bodies into the Euphrates near Fallujah.”

A man called Abu Hammad said he witnessed US troops throwing Iraqi bodies into the Euphrates River. Abu Hammed and others also said they saw Americans shooting unarmed Iraqis who waved white flags.

Believing that American and Iraqi forces were bent on killing anyone who stayed in Fallujah, Hammad said he watched people attempt to swim across the Euphrates to escape the siege.

“Even then the Americans shot them with rifles from the shore,” he said. “Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot.”

Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein reported witnessing similar events. After running out of basic necessities and deciding to flee the city at the height of the US-led assault, Hussein ran to the Euphrates.

“I decided to swim,” Hussein told colleagues at the AP, who wrote up the photographer’s harrowing story, “but I changed my mind after seeing US helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river.

” Hussein said he saw soldiers kill a family of five as they tried to traverse the Euphrates, before he buried a man by the riverbank with his bare hands.

“I kept walking along the river for two hours and I could still see some US snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim,” Hussein recounted. “I quit the idea of crossing the river and walked for about five hours through orchards.”

Khalil, who asked not to use his last name for fear of reprisals, said he had witnessed the shooting of civilians who were waving white flags while they tried to escape the city. “They shot women and old men in the streets,” he said. “Then they shot anyone who tried to get their bodies.”

“There are bodies the Americans threw in the river,” Khalil continued, noting that he personally witnessed US troops using the Euphrates to dispose of Iraqi dead. “And anyone who stayed thought they would be killed by the Americans, so they tried to swim across the river. Even people who couldn’t swim tried to cross the river.

They drowned rather than staying to be killed by the Americans,” said Khalil.

Why should blatant lying from the military come as a surprise? Even back in November of 2003, I wrote about how US forces claimed to have been attacked by, and then killed 48 Fedayin Saddam in Samarra. Then magically, overnight, they raised the number to 54. Upon investigation of this, I found that 8 civilians had been killed in the city, and wrote about it here and posted photos of it here .

However, why should any of us be surprised at this? When we have an administration which led the country into an illegal war of aggression and continues to lie about it, events like torturing and the use of incendiary weapons on civilians are small change.

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail. All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://dahrjamailiraq.com/ website.

Now i am not stating that i believe every single world written by Dahr above is true , neither am i saying that every word is false , what i am saying is we have witnesses , we have photographs , we have alleged war crimes

So why are we not having an investigation ?

If as a very small minority seem to believe the alleged war crimes commited in Falluja are untrue then why would they not want to get this out in the open and put those accused on trial ?

Of course you know that will never happen , which tends to point in the direction of Dahr's claims being more fact then fiction

something i will remember the next time the US accuses anyone else of war crimes

Who knows on Padilla

Newsday The world has known many nations where soldiers could jack people off the streets and dump them into a black hole of incarceration without charges or trials. It has seen woeful places where people could be branded traitors and denied an opportunity to fight the accusation that officials need never prove. Proudly, for 226 years the United States wasn't one of those nations. Now it is.

The country tumbled into that legal abyss on June 9, 2002. That's when President George W. Bush declared U.S. citizen Jose Padilla an enemy combatant and had him hustled into a military brig. Seized in Chicago, Padilla has been behind bars ever since, with no criminal charges, no trial and no chance to be heard. Congress should summon the will to rein Bush in or, failing that, the Supreme Court should lay down the limits of presidential authority and make them stick.

Padilla may be a terrorist. But the government's allegations have repeatedly changed. First he was accused of a plot to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb." Then it was a plan to use conventional explosives to level apartment buildings. The latest is that Padilla took up arms against the United States in Afghanistan and then re-entered the states, a terrorist in waiting. Is any of it true? Who knows. Washington hasn't been required to present any evidence, and Padilla's version of events has never been heard.

Bush insists that he alone controls Padilla's fate as long as the nation is at war. He has based that assertion, in large part, on the authorization for the use of military force that Congress passed in 2001. If Congress intended to hand Bush such extraordinary control over the lives of ordinary Americans, it should unambiguously reaffirm that intent. That would be a mistake of historic proportions. But it would at least be clear. If Congress didn't intend to give Bush such sweeping power, it should make that clear.

If Congress won't step up, then the courts must. The Supreme Court ruled last year in the case of Yaser Hamdi, a U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan, that citizens designated enemy combatants can be detained, but must be allowed a fair chance to challenge that designation. The ruling didn't resolve Padilla's situation, the court said, because a petition on his behalf was filed in the wrong jurisdiction.

A new request for Supreme Court intervention, filed Oct. 25, poses a simple question: How long is too long for the government to keep a citizen behind bars without criminal charges or a day in court? Bush says he can hold Padilla until the war on terror ends. The court should answer that three and a half years is too long. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Monday, November 14, 2005

This isn't the real America

By Jimmy Carter
Los Angeles Times IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.

Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.

These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.

Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need.

It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years.

Methodist Bishops Repent Iraq War 'Complicity'

Fox News Ninety-five bishops from President Bush's church said Thursday they repent their "complicity" in the "unjust and immoral" invasion and occupation of Iraq. "In the face of the United States administration's rush toward military action based on misleading information, too many of us were silent," said a statement of conscience signed by more than half of the 164 retired and active United Methodist bishops worldwide.

President Bush is a member of the United Methodist Church, according to various published biographies. The White House did not return a request for comment on the bishops' statement.

Although United Methodist leadership has opposed the Iraq war in the past, this is the first time that individual bishops have confessed to a personal failure to publicly challenge the buildup to the war.

The signatures were also an instrument for retired bishops to make their views known, said bishop Joseph H. Yeakel, who served in the Baltimore-Washington area from 1984 to 1996. The current bishop for the Baltimore-Washington area, John R. Schol, also signed the statement.

The statement avoids making accusations, said retired Bishop Kenneth L. Carder, instructor at Duke University's divinity school and an author of the document.

"We would have made the statement regardless of who the president was. It was not meant to be either partisan or to single out any one person," Carder said. "It was the recognition that we are all part of the decision and we are all part of a democratic society. We all bear responsibility."

Stith, who spent more than three years after his retirement working in East Africa -- including with Rwandan refugees -- said going to war over the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks did not solve the real problems behind them.

The real issues are that much of the world lives in poverty, desperation and depression, he said, while an affluent minority of the world often oppresses them. Americans need to take responsibility for their world, Stith said.

"To ignore things and to assume that persons in the government have all knowledge is to reject our franchise and our democracy," Stith said.

About six weeks ago, Carder discussed the idea of a public statement with other colleagues who "had concerns" about the war, and the idea just grew, Carder said.

Last week, the statement circulated during a biannual meeting of the Council of Bishops, "and before the week was out, we had 95 bishops," Carder said.

In their statement, the bishops pledged to pray daily for the end of the war, for its American and Iraqi victims and for American leaders to find "truth, humility and policies of peace through justice."

"We confess our preoccupation with institutional enhancement and limited agendas while American men and women are sent to Iraq to kill and be killed, while thousands of Iraqi people needlessly suffer and die, while poverty increases and preventable diseases go untreated," the statement said.

UK : Blair faces new inquiry into Iraq war

MPs organising the campaign to impeach Tony Blair believe they have enough support to force a highly damaging Commons investigation into the Prime Minister’s pre-war conduct.A renewed attempt to impeach Blair over claims he misled parlia ment in making his case for war against Iraq, will be made in the Commons within the next two weeks.

The impeachment process effectively stalled last year when just 23 MPs signed a Commons motion. But the scale of the government’s defeat on its anti-terror legislation last week – where 49 Labour MPs rebelled – has galvanised the momentum for proceedings to be invoked.

Organisers say they are expecting 200 cross-party signatures, including those of former government ministers, to force the Commons to set up a Privy Council investigation that would examine in detail the case for impeachment against Blair.

The size of the Labour revolt, allied to unified opposition benches, is said to have changed the climate inside the Commons.

SNP leader, Alex Salmond, one of the key figures in the impeachment campaign, said he now believed that the cross-party attempt to bring the government to account over the Iraq war “would become more urgent than predicted problems associated with social legislation in England and Wales”.

Following the Commons defeat, it was predicted that future flashpoints for Blair would include a new education reform bill, likely to be presented next spring and new legislation to broaden reform inside the NHS with greater competition from the private sector.

Potential backbench revolts are also predicted if Blair makes any move to update the Trident nuclear programme or tries to introduce a new era of nuclear-generated energy.

Next month, a Green Paper on welfare reform, expected to include moves to cut incapacity benefit, was expected to be the first attack point for Labour dissidents.

However, any parliamentary success on the matter of impeachment is likely to over-shadow other issues.

If the promised signatures materialise, and a vote on the impeachment process is taken, the opportunity to deliver a substantial knock-down blow to Blair is not likely to be passed up by Labour rebels and opposition alike.

One MP last night: “This would be a golden opportunity. It would be pay-back time for Blair over the way he manipulated parliament before the Iraq war in 2003.

“Last week’s defeat changed the atmosphere in the Commons. The hunt is on, as they say.”

Although the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has remained publicly loyal to Blair since the defeat, last night, one of Brown’s closest parliamentary allies disobeyed his call to back the Prime Minister unquestioningly.

The former Treasury minister, Geoffrey Robinson, insisted the Prime Minister had to allow his successor sufficient time to win a fourth term. The comment effectively challenges Blair’s claim that he will serve out a “full third term”.

Blair has acknowledged how difficult the task ahead of him now is. He said in a newspaper interview this weekend that he now faced “a rough ride” to push through his reform agenda. But he insisted there would be no spectacular U-turn, saying he was still determined to “continue doing what was right, not what is easy”.

An organiser of the impeachment campaign told the Sunday Herald : “We have been promised 200 signatures and are now hopeful this process will go ahead as it should have last year. There will be a vote and an investigation will be set up. Does this have the potential to finish Tony Blair? Yes it does.”

'We Do Not Torture' and Other Funny Stories

By Frank Rich The New York Times If it weren't tragic it would be a New Yorker cartoon. The president of the United States, in the final stop of his forlorn Latin America tour last week, told the world, "We do not torture." Even as he spoke, the administration's flagrant embrace of torture was as hard to escape as publicity for Anderson Cooper

The vice president, not satisfied that the C.I.A. had already been implicated in four detainee deaths, was busy lobbying Congress to give the agency a green light to commit torture in the future. Dana Priest of The Washington Post, having first uncovered secret C.I.A. prisons two years ago, was uncovering new "black sites" in Eastern Europe, where ghost detainees are subjected to unknown interrogation methods redolent of the region's Stalinist past. Before heading south, Mr. Bush had been doing his own bit for torture by threatening to cast the first veto of his presidency if Congress didn't scrap a spending bill amendment, written by John McCain and passed 90 to 9 by the Senate, banning the "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of prisoners.

So when you watch the president stand there with a straight face and say, "We do not torture" - a full year and a half after the first photos from Abu Ghraib - you have to wonder how we arrived at this ludicrous moment. The answer is not complicated. When people in power get away with telling bigger and bigger lies, they naturally think they can keep getting away with it. And for a long time, Mr. Bush and his cronies did. Not anymore.

The fallout from the Scooter Libby indictment reveals that the administration's credibility, having passed the tipping point with Katrina, is flat-lining. For two weeks, the White House's talking-point monkeys in the press and Congress had been dismissing Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation as much ado about nothing except politics and as an exoneration of everyone except Mr. Libby. Now the American people have rendered their verdict: they're not buying it. Last week two major polls came up with the identical finding, that roughly 8 in 10 Americans regard the leak case as a serious matter. One of the polls (The Wall Street Journal/NBC News) also found that 57 percent of Americans believe that Mr. Bush deliberately misled the country into war in Iraq and that only 33 percent now find him "honest and straightforward," down from 50 percent in January.

The Bush loyalists' push to discredit the Libby indictment failed because Americans don't see it as a stand-alone scandal but as the petri dish for a wider culture of lying that becomes more visible every day. The last-ditch argument rolled out by Mr. Bush on Veterans Day in his latest stay-the-course speech - that Democrats, too, endorsed dead-wrong W.M.D. intelligence - is more of the same. Sure, many Democrats (and others) did believe that Saddam had an arsenal before the war, but only the White House hyped selective evidence for nuclear weapons, the most ominous of all of Iraq's supposed W.M.D.'s, to whip up public fears of an imminent doomsday.

There was also an entire other set of lies in the administration's prewar propaganda blitzkrieg that had nothing to do with W.M.D.'s, African uranium or the Wilsons. To get the country to redirect its finite resources to wage war against Saddam Hussein rather than keep its focus on the war against radical Islamic terrorists, the White House had to cook up not only the fiction that Iraq was about to attack us, but also the fiction that Iraq had already attacked us, on 9/11. Thanks to the Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, who last weekend released a previously classified intelligence document, we now have conclusive evidence that the administration's disinformation campaign implying a link connecting Saddam to Al Qaeda and 9/11 was even more duplicitous and manipulative than its relentless flogging of nuclear Armageddon.

Senator Levin's smoking gun is a widely circulated Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002 that was probably seen by the National Security Council. It warned that a captured Qaeda terrorist in American custody was in all likelihood "intentionally misleading" interrogators when he claimed that Iraq had trained Qaeda members to use illicit weapons. The report also made the point that an Iraq-Qaeda collaboration was absurd on its face: "Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements." But just like any other evidence that disputed the administration's fictional story lines, this intelligence was promptly disregarded.

So much so that eight months later - in October 2002, as the White House was officially rolling out its new war and Congress was on the eve of authorizing it - Mr. Bush gave a major address in Cincinnati intermingling the usual mushroom clouds with information from that discredited, "intentionally misleading" Qaeda informant. "We've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases," he said. It was the most important, if hardly the only, example of repeated semantic sleights of hand that the administration used to conflate 9/11 with Iraq. Dick Cheney was fond of brandishing a nonexistent April 2001 "meeting" between Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague long after Czech and American intelligence analysts had dismissed it.

The power of these lies was considerable. In a CBS News/New York Times poll released on Sept. 25, 2001, 60 percent of Americans thought Osama bin Laden had been the culprit in the attacks of two weeks earlier, either alone or in league with unnamed "others" or with the Taliban; only 6 percent thought bin Laden had collaborated with Saddam; and only 2 percent thought Saddam had been the sole instigator. By the time we invaded Iraq in 2003, however, CBS News found that 53 percent believed Saddam had been "personally involved" in 9/11; other polls showed that a similar percentage of Americans had even convinced themselves that the hijackers were Iraqis.

There is still much more to learn about our government's duplicity in the run-up to the war, just as there is much more to learn about what has gone on since, whether with torture or billions of Iraq reconstruction dollars. That is why the White House and its allies, having failed to discredit the Fitzgerald investigation, are now so desperate to slow or block every other inquiry. Exhibit A is the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose Republican chairman, Pat Roberts, is proving a major farceur with his efforts to sidestep any serious investigation of White House prewar subterfuge. Last Sunday, the same day that newspapers reported Carl Levin's revelation about the "intentionally misleading" Qaeda informant, Senator Roberts could be found on "Face the Nation" saying he had found no evidence of "political manipulation or pressure" in the use of prewar intelligence.

His brazenness is not anomalous. After more than two years of looking into the forged documents used by the White House to help support its bogus claims of Saddam's Niger uranium, the F.B.I. ended its investigation without resolving the identity of the forgers. Last week, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker reported that an investigation into the November 2003 death of an Abu Ghraib detainee, labeled a homicide by the U.S. government, has been, in the words of a lawyer familiar with the case, "lying kind of fallow." The Wall Street Journal similarly reported that 17 months after Condoleezza Rice promised a full investigation into Ahmad Chalabi's alleged leaking of American intelligence to Iran, F.B.I. investigators had yet to interview Mr. Chalabi - who was being welcomed in Washington last week as an honored guest by none other than Ms. Rice.

The Times, meanwhile, discovered that Mr. Libby had set up a legal defense fund to be underwritten by donors who don't have to be publicly disclosed but who may well have a vested interest in the direction of his defense. It's all too eerily reminiscent of the secret fund set up by Richard Nixon's personal lawyer, Herbert Kalmbach, to pay the legal fees of Watergate defendants.

There's so much to stonewall at the White House that last week Scott McClellan was reduced to beating up on the octogenarian Helen Thomas. "You don't want the American people to hear what the facts are, Helen," he said, "and I'm going to tell them the facts." Coming from the press secretary who vowed that neither Mr. Libby nor Karl Rove had any involvement in the C.I.A. leak, this scene was almost as funny as his boss's "We do not torture" charade.

Not that it matters now. The facts the American people are listening to at this point come not from an administration that they no longer find credible, but from the far more reality-based theater of war. The Qaeda suicide bombings of three hotels in Amman on 11/9, like the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London before them, speak louder than anything else of the price we are paying for the lies that diverted us from the war against the suicide bombers of 9/11 to the war in Iraq.

CIA hid evidence of Iraqi detainee's torture and murder

WASHINGTON (AFX) - CIA interrogators apparently tried to cover up the death of an Iraqi 'ghost detainee' who died while being interrogated at Abu Ghraib prison, Time magazine reported today, after obtaining hundreds of pages of documents, including an autopsy report, about the case.

The death of secret detainee Manadel al-Jamadi was ruled a homicide in a Defense Department autopsy, Time reported, adding that documents it recently obtained included photographs of his battered body, which had been kept on ice to keep it from decomposing, apparently to conceal the circumstances of his death.

The details about his death emerge as US officials continue to debate congressional legislation to ban torture of foreign detainees by US troops overseas, and efforts by the George W. Bush administration to obtain an exemption for the CIA from any future torture ban.

Jamadi was abducted by US Navy Seals on November 4, 2003, on suspicion of harbouring explosives and involvement in the bombing of a Red Cross centre in Baghdad that killed 12 people, and was placed in Abu Ghraib as an unregistered detainee.

After some 90 minutes of interrogation by CIA officials, he died of 'blunt force injuries' and 'asphyxiation', according to the autopsy documents obtained by Time. A forensic scientist who later reviewed the autopsy report told Time that the most likely cause of Jamadi's death was suffocation, which would have occurred when an empty sandbag was placed over his head while his arms were secured up and behind his back, in a crucifixion-like pose.

Blood was mopped up with a chlorine solution before the interrogation scene could be examined by an investigator, Time wrote, adding that after Jamadi's death, a bloodstained hood that had covered his head had disappeared. Photos of grinning US soldiers crouching over Jamadi's corpse were among the disturbing images that emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in 2004, prompting international outrage and internal US military investigations.

Last week, the New Yorker magazine reported that the US government's policies on interrogating terrorist suspects may preclude the prosecution of CIA agents who commit abuses or even kill detainees, and said the CIA had been implicated in the death of at least four detainees.

Mark Swanner, the CIA agent who interrogated Jamadi, has not been charged with a crime and continues to work for the agency. He told investigators that he did not harm Jamadi, Time wrote.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bin Laden dead ........ Again

A Pakistani newspaper claims the founder of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, died in June in a village near the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar in the south of Afghanistan. The Awsaf newspaper, based in the city of Multan, reports that the Saudi terror leader fell ill in Bamiyan, the region to the west of the capital Kabul where the Taliban blew up two huge 1,500-year-old Buddha statues in 2001. His protectors then took him back to the Kandahar region, where he died and was buried in a graveyard in the shadow of a mountain, the newspaper says.

Awsaf says the news of bin Laden's death is supported by the fact that it is a year since the last video of the al-Qaeda leader was released. The last audio message attributed to him was issued in December last year, after the attack on the US consulate in the Saudi city of Jeddah, and nothing more has been heard from him for some time.

However, Egyptian lawyer Muntasar al-Zaiyat, who is well-known for his integralist Islamic views, does not believe that bin Laden really is dead. Interviewed by the Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Zaiyat claims that bin Laden is still alive, but, for security reasons, he prefers not to appear on video so as not to risk being found, leaving this task to his deputy, Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has issued several video messages in the last few months, commenting on the London bombings in July and, more recently, calling on Muslims to help the victims of the 8 October earthquake which devastated Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

It is not the first time there has been speculation that bin Laden may be dead. Last week an Indian newspaper claimed that the terror leader was among the victims of the earthquake.

The US has offered a 25 million dollar reward for information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden, who suffers from kidney disease, which means he must received dialysis treatment several times a week. If not, he would die in within a few days.

Well the death of Bin laden must come as quite a shock to those who went to his Funeral in december 2001 . Still just like the movies i am sure he will make a few more comebacks yet.

Todays last throws in Iraq : November 10th

Nov 10 (Reuters) - Following are security incidents reported in Iraq on Thursday, Nov. 10, as of 1500 GMT.

KUT - Iraqi troops found 27 bodies near Jassan, a town between Kut and the Iranian border in southern Iraq. The victims, blindfolded and with their hands bound, had been shot, army sources and a Reuters photographer who saw the bodies said.

BASRA - The Iraqi Islamic Party, one of the main Sunni political parties, said one of its officials and his bodyguard were wounded by a roadside bomb in Basra, in southern Iraq.

MOSUL - Two police officers were killed by gunmen in the northern city of Mosul, police said.

TIKRIT - Ten people were killed and 20 wounded when a car bomb exploded outside a recruiting centre in Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, hospital sources and police said.
BAGHDAD - Two Iraqi policemen were wounded when a car bomb exploded near an Iraqi police patrol in eastern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - Three civilians were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, police said. The target of the bomb was not clear.

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest blew himself up in a crowded Baghdad restaurant frequented by the security forces during breakfast, killing 35 people and wounding 25 more, police said. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed the attack.

KIRKUK - Police said the brother of parliamentary speaker Hajem al-Hassani was abducted on Tuesday in the northern city of Kirkuk.

BAGHDAD - A man and a women working for the city council were killed by gunmen in the western Ghazaliya district of the capital, police said. The married couple were on their way to work when they were attacked.

BAGHDAD - Four policemen were injured when they were attacked by gunmen in southern Baghdad, police said.

BASRA - An intelligence officer was killed by gunmen in the southern city of Basra, intelligence officials said.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Falluja : A name that lives in infamy

One year ago this week, US-led occupying forces launched a devastating assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja. The mood was set by Lt Col Gary Brandl: "The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He's in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him."

The assault was preceded by eight weeks of aerial bombardment. US troops cut off the city's water, power and food supplies, condemned as a violation of the Geneva convention by a UN special rapporteur, who accused occupying forces of "using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population". Two-thirds of the city's 300,000 residents fled, many to squatters' camps without basic facilities.

As the siege tightened, the Red Cross, Red Crescent and the media were kept out, while males between the ages of 15 and 55 were kept in. US sources claimed between 600 and 6,000 insurgents were holed up inside the city - which means that the vast majority of the remaining inhabitants were non-combatants.

On November 8, 10,000 US troops, supported by 2,000 Iraqi recruits, equipped with artillery and tanks, supported from the air by bombers and helicopter gunships, blasted their way into a city the size of Leicester. It took a week to establish control of the main roads; another two before victory was claimed.

The city's main hospital was selected as the first target, the New York Times reported, "because the US military believed it was the source of rumours about heavy casualties". An AP photographer described US helicopters killing a family of five trying to ford a river to safety. "There were American snipers on top of the hospital shooting everyone," said Burhan Fasa'am, a photographer with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation. "With no medical supplies, people died from their wounds. Everyone in the street was a target for the Americans."

The US also deployed incendiary weapons, including white phosphorous. "Usually we keep the gloves on," Captain Erik Krivda said, but "for this operation, we took the gloves off". By the end of operations, the city lay in ruins. Falluja's compensation commissioner has reported that 36,000 of the city's 50,000 homes were destroyed, along with 60 schools and 65 mosques and shrines.

The US claims that 2,000 died, most of them fighters. Other sources disagree. When medical teams arrived in January they collected more than 700 bodies in only one third of the city. Iraqi NGOs and medical workers estimate between 4,000 and 6,000 dead, mostly civilians - a proportionately higher death rate than in Coventry and London during the blitz.

The collective punishment inflicted on Falluja - with logistical and political support from Britain - was largely masked by the US and British media, which relied on reporters embedded with US troops. The BBC, in particular, offered a sanitised version of the assault: civilian suffering was minimised and the ethics and strategic logic of the attack largely unscrutinised.

Falluja proved to be yet another of the war's phantom turning points. Violent resistance spread to other cities. In the last two months, Tal-Afar, Haditha, Husaybah - all alleged terrorist havens heavily populated by civilians - have come under the hammer. Falluja is still so heavily patrolled that visitors have described it as "a giant prison". Only a fraction of the promised reconstruction and compensation has materialised.

Like Jallianwallah Bagh, Guernica, My Lai, Halabja and Grozny, Falluja is a place name that has become a symbol of unconscionable brutality. As the war in Iraq claims more lives, we need to ensure that this atrocity - so recent, so easily erased from public memory - is recognised as an example of the barbarism of nations that call themselves civilised.

In a few years the atrocity commited in Falluja will rank along side the crimes of Saddam . Imagine if this was your City , your family , your children .

source : the Guardian