IN WASHINGTON, London and Canberra, government leaders who backed
Bush’s drive to invade Iraq on the basis of lies about weapons of mass destruction,
have been under mounting attack.
And in New Delhi, the Indian government is seeking clarification on the mandate of the “stabilisation force” in Iraq, as the United States put pressure on India to consider contributing its troops.
The imperialist robber’s lies are coming home to roost.
In London, former Cabinet minister Robin Cook and Clare Short spoke to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is investigating the intelligence evidence on alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Both said that they had been told by MI6 in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein did not have any weapons of mass destruction capable of posing a threat to British security.
And Clare Short reported that senior intelligence officers had told her that Tony Blair had made a secret agreement with George Bush to invade Iraq in February or March, come what may.
She would not identify her informers but said that Blair had actively deceived the country into persuading them of the need to go to war. This of course makes her own vacillating role, eventually supporting Blair at a critical Commons vote on the war, all the more dishonourable.
Ms Short reported to the committee that Blair had “used a series of half-truths, exaggerations, reassurances that were not the case to get us into conflict by the spring.”
And she said that Blair had told Bush, “We will be with you”, without laying down conditions to temper American ambitions.
She made excuses for Blair, saying that he obviously thought going to war was the right thing and had told lies in order to manipulate his government colleagues to do what he though was right. “For him, I think it was an honourable deception,” she claimed.
Robin Cook did not tell the committee that Blair actually lied but said that intelligence material was chosen selectively to fit a pre-determined policy.
“I think it would be fair to say there was a selection of evidence to support a conclusion,” he said. “I fear we got into a position in which the intelligence was not being used to inform and shape policy but to shape policy that was already settled.”
He said that his own briefing by MI6 confirmed his belief that Iraq did not have chemical weapons capable of being fired within 45 minutes – as Blair had claimed.
But he said the Blair had a “burning fixation” with weapons of mass destruction.
Clare Short also reported a breakdown of normal Government procedure, with a small, unelected entourage in Downing Street making decisions without minutes, proper options papers or any written material.
Both Cook and Short told the committee that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was a weak man who simply “went along” with Blair’s wishes while the real decision-making was “sucked out” of the Foreign Office.
Clare Short said that as International Development Secretary she had access to intelligence and had seen all the material on Iraq – but only after she had “made a fuss”.
She declared that the raw intelligence she saw was “droplets of information”, “bits and pieces” that “didn’t say anything clear”.
And she described the dossiers published by Downing Street on the alleged weapons of mass destruction as “shoddy pieces of work”.
She said she had been horrified at the Government’s inclusion of a student’s PhD thesis to help back its claims that Saddam posed an urgent threat. She called his a “shocking and shameful piece of work”.
This of course begs the question as to why she did not speak out earlier.
Robin Cook described the dossier, which claimed Iraq has weapons of mass destruction that could be fired in 45 minutes, as “very thin” and said that his experience at the Foreign Office confirmed that neither Britain nor America had much intelligence at all about what was happening in Iraq.
He added: “The absence of intelligence is a bloody thin ground on which to go to war In Australia, the Howard government has come under attack from its opposition and minor parties over the deception practised by the warmongers over weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile in Washington, US Senator Carl Levin has accused the CIA of deliberately withholding crucial information about the alleged weapons of mass destruction from the United Nations inspectors.
He suggested they had withheld flimsy evidence so as not to undermine the Bush administration’s policy of portraying Iraq as an immediate threat.
But he added that more importantly they had undermined the CIA’s credibility.
Carl Levin is the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee and is calling for a bi-partisan inquiry into the objectivity, reliability and veracity of US intelligence before the war and the use of such intelligence.
He said there was going to be less confidence in US intelligence at home and abroad among Washington’s allies in the so-called war on terrorism and this was going to make the nation less secure.
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