'ACTION AGAINST Iraq will be top of the agenda.' That's how Tony Blair's official spokesman sums up the meeting planned between Blair and George W Bush in six weeks time. Bush has made it clear he is eager to blast Iraq, and Blair is cheering on the plan.
Blair has even boasted to journalists about his support for the US president's war drive. Blair is Bush's 'global spin doctor cum ambassador,' says Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley.
Guardian columnist Hugo Young, after being briefed by a Downing Street spokesman, says Blair is seen as a 'reliable puppet' by the US According to the Observer, Blair claims that attacks on Bush are misplaced and the threat of action against Iraq is a good thing.
The New Labour government has also suddenly declared it has 'intelligence material' that Iraq has developed 'dirty' nuclear bombs. A Downing Street official told journalists that this is part of New Labour drumming up support for war against Iraq. Bush and Blair are plotting more war and destruction. They must be stopped.
Pressing for lies
DON'T BELIEVE stories that keep appearing in the press about 'terror cells', 'imminent attacks' or 'nuclear weapons stores'. Many are the work of a $10 billion propaganda unit set up by George Bush. The US Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) has been created to pump out stories designed to justify war.
We do not know whether the US lies department has been active in Britain. We do know that many false stories have appeared in British papers.
The Sunday Express reported in September that MI5 feared 'Saddam's spies were posing as refugees to smuggle germ weapons into the country'. A week later an Express headline screamed, 'They're Here'. Another report followed that there was a huge Al Qaida plot to blow up parts of London's Docklands.
On 16 December the Observer led its front page with 'Bin Laden In Plot To Bomb City'. It spoke of a record of 'meetings between Al Qaida's master bomb-maker and an English-speaking activist' to guide him into building a huge remote-controlled van bomb. No further evidence of this 'terror blueprint' was ever produced.
On 23 December the Observer's front page carried a report, 'Worldwide Hunt For 20 Roaming Terror Ships'. Along with every other paper it suggested that the MV Nisha, seized off the south coast of England, was part of 'Bin Laden's phantom fleet'. In fact its cargo was exactly what is was supposed to be-sugar cane. The supposed threat presented by the 'Al Qaida ships' has never been heard of again.
In January the Observer gave two pages to the 'terrorists' detained in Leicester. Not one of these nine people was ever charged with terrorist offences.
Legal bodies take up case of Camp X-Ray detainees
Two of the most respectable legal organisations in Britain have thrown their weight behind demands for access to prisoners in the US's Camp X-Ray in Cuba. The Law Society and Bar Council's human rights committee say the prisoners, who face the death penalty, have the right to see a lawyer.
The US has not given any evidence against the prisoners. It has deliberately classified them as 'unlawful combatants', which means they can be denied basic rights given to prisoners of war.
Yet Zumrati Juma, the mother of prisoner Feroz Abbasi, received a letter from her son last week on notepaper headed 'prisoner of war mail'. Human rights lawyer Louise Christian says the family will use the letterhead to add weight to the battle to get justice.
Some 2,000 people of Arab or South Asian origin in the US are now being held indefinitely without charge or trial. Government lawyers have refused to spell out what evidence there is against them.
Solidarity with the Palestinians
EACH MONTH the scale of the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians seems to have reached a peak. And yet the next month sees even more terrible assaults. Foreign secretary Jack Straw wrote an article in the Guardian on Tuesday which gave the impression that the Israeli state was facing waves of attacks from a hideously powerful Palestinian military machine.
In fact during the last ten days the death toll has seen four Palestinians killed for every Israeli death-in total around 50 Palestinians dead and 12 Israelis.
What does worry the US-backed Israeli state is that Palestinians have recently shown they can blow up a tank and ambush soldiers. They are taking these measures because it is the only way to defend themselves against the Israeli invasions and assaults.
Noura Shalhoub, a 15 year old girl, was shot dead on Monday after she attacked an Israeli checkpoint armed only with a knife. Imagine the scale of oppression and violence there must be to make a young person feel desperate enough to do that.
That is why many of those who will demonstrate on Saturday against the war will also be marching in solidarity with the Palestinian intifada.
Afghan bombing goes on
The US government is bombing people in Afghanistan who had nothing to do with Al Qaida or the Taliban. US aircraft last week attacked groups that are fighting forces loyal to the new Western-backed government.
The US military is bombing purely to decide who runs Afghanistan. Months after supposed 'victory' the country is in turmoil. The Financial Times reported on Monday that the new government 'looks increasingly beleaguered by violent clashes in Afghanistan's provinces as well as cabinet intrigues in Kabul.'
Families of 11 September victims speak out
'I WAS preparing to go to the memorial service for Craig when I learned our government had started bombing Afghanistan. I knew in the back of my mind that for other families that day was their 11 September. We went to Kabul in January and heard some of the families' stories. One was a 25 year old widow. She had lost her mother and seven other members of her family. The 11 September attacks should make us look more deeply at US policies that oppress people around the world.'
KELLY CAMPBELL, relative of Craig Amundson, who died in the 11 September attacks, speaking at a London rally last week
'One of the first things I felt after 11 September was the very close connection suddenly to all the people who suffer in the world under war and violence. There are 4,000-5,000 people dying in Iraq every month. After 11 September there was a meeting organised in the US for families of the victims. A Congressman came in and assured us, 'People will be eliminated.' Which people? It was scary. We felt compelled to speak out. We went on a walk for peace from Washington to New York under the banner 'Our grief is not a cry for war'.'
RYAN AMUNDSON, another or Craig's relatives
Kissinger's monster dead
One of Africa's most brutal warlords was killed last week. Jonas Savimbi of the right wing UNITA movement was the prime force in Angola's 25 years of civil war which claimed over a million lives.
Right through to the end of the Cold War Savimbi had the unflinching backing of apartheid South Africa and the United States. When Savimbi tried to start peace talks with the MPLA government in 1975, Henry Kissinger and the other 'strategic planners' in Washington stopped him.
Savimbi is now thankfully gone. But his backer Henry Kissinger is not, and will be coming to London on 24 April. We should ensure that war criminal gets the welcome he deserves.