Socialist Worker

How Blair lied to justify this horror

Tony Blair lied to start a war. Now his stories are unravelling

Issue No. 1854

IT IS not anti-war campaigners who are piling up the evidence that Tony Blair lied to the world, to people in Britain, to parliament and even to his own cabinet.

It is MI6 spy chiefs and army top brass who see the disaster engulfing Iraq and want to show it was Blair who drove through the decision to unleash it. The CIA is also exposing how it was US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon who pushed the war lies. There is now not the slightest excuse for those Labour MPs (the majority) who voted with Blair for the slaughter.

Clare Short was one of them. She now says she was duped. She says Blair agreed with Bush in September to go to war, come what may. He then doctored documents to falsely claim there was a threat from weapons of mass destruction. By Tuesday of this week, 55 days after the fall of Baghdad, no weapons had been found.

Two 'mobile biological weapons labs' have turned out not to have the slightest trace of biological agents. They also have canvas sides - making them totally unsuitable for making dangerous germs. Blair told parliament in September that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could be deployed within '45 minutes'.

Blair repeated the '45 minutes' claim as an undisputable fact several times. It was a lie. A senior government minister told the Sunday Telegraph, 'It was Blair gilding the lily as usual. He asked for an estimation of how long it could take Saddam to arm those missiles and was told - theoretically - 45 minutes. But it was an extrapolation.'

But the claim was inserted into a dossier, presented by Blair in September, on the insistence of Blair's spin doctor, Alastair Campbell. A leaked memo last weekend showed Campbell pressured the chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee (which brings together various spy agencies) into endorsing key parts of the dossier.

Even MI6 thought there was no evidence for them. The 45 minutes claim came from one Iraqi defector who is part of the Iraqi National Congress. This ultra-hawkish outfit is backed by US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon. Junior British defence minister Adam Ingram was forced to admit on Radio 4 last week that there was no corroboration for the claim - making it, according to spy chiefs, worthless.

The CIA also says the information is fake. Vince Cannistraro, former chief of the CIA's counter-terrorism operations, says serving officers say claims about weapons were based on 'fraudulent' intelligence.


US slaughters wedding guests

US SOLDIERS opened fire on a wedding party in the small town of Samarra in Iraq on Monday of last week. When the shooting was over, the floor of a truck carrying mainly children to the wedding was awash with blood. Four people were killed and nine injured.

Although these horrific incidents are not splashed on the front pages of the papers, this killing and brutality is happening every day in occupied Iraq. This exposes Tony Blair's other big lie - that the war and occupation has liberated Iraqis.

Armed forces minister Adam Ingram was forced to admit on Radio 4's Today programme last week that Britain has used cluster bombs in built-up areas. He knew that using the weapons, each of which leaves hundreds of unexploded bomblets that act as mines, in civilian areas, is banned under the Geneva convention.

He wrote a letter, on behalf of Tony Blair, to an anti-landmine charity saying as much in April. The scale of the use of this weapon of mass destruction was revealed in a map passed to the Observer. Dated 13 May, it shows unexploded munitions covering large populated areas of Iraq. Up to 10,000 bomblets could be lying in cities, on farmland and on main roads.


Resistance to the occupiers

IT IS no wonder that Iraqis are beginning to resist the brutality of the US and British occupation. Six US soldiers were killed last week. Two were killed in a rocket attack on their base in Fallujah.

Mayor Taha Badawi Alwani says Fallujah was never particularly pro Saddam Hussein. But neither do its inhabitants want to see US fighting vehicles. He estimated that 80 percent of the city's population, frustrated with living conditions, want the Americans to leave.

Abdul Wahid, head of the city's education department, told US reporters: 'No security. No salaries. Not any services. Our country may be the only one in the world to export petroleum and not have enough gas for our cars. Tell your nation that Bush did nothing to keep his promises.' On Thursday US occupation forces were driven out of the town of Hit after residents protested at house to house searches.

Riots erupted in the town of just 20,000 people when US forces continued to invade homes despite earlier peaceful protests calling on them to stop. The riots were fuelled by fury at worsening living conditions. The price of petrol has risen 20-fold since the occupation began. Teacher Saleh Dayeh said, 'Petrol is the property of the Iraqi people, but now the Americans are stealing it.'

Over 500 Shia Muslims marched in Baghdad on Thursday of last week to protest against the arrest of clerics by US forces.


Occupation watch

The biggest killer

THE BIGGEST weapon of mass destruction in Iraq was inflicted by the US and Britain on its people. Twelve years of sanctions killed over one million people, according to former UN officials. And it was Britain and the US that maintained those sanctions when other states on the UN Security Council wanted them lifted.

From July last year $5.4 billion in humanitarian supplies were held back from the Iraqi people at the insistence of the US and Britain - the UN had approved all of it. Professor Karol Sikora, head of the World Health Organisation's cancer programme, told journalist John Pilger: 'The excuse that certain drugs can be converted into weapons of mass destruction is ludicrous. 'I even saw wards where dying people were denied painkillers.'

Democracy ditched

PROMISED DEMOCRACY for the people of Iraq is evaporating. The US's overseer, Paul Bremer, has ditched plans for a 300-plus national conference which was supposed to take place next month. Instead he is to appoint a 25-30 member advisory council which will leave power firmly in the hands of the US and British forces.

In Basra Britain's attempt to set up an administration collapsed at the weekend. A committee of 30 Iraqi technocrats walked out when the British army insisted on chairing the body.

Peddling 'bullshit'

FOREIGN SECRETARY Jack Straw denies he held a secret meeting with his US counterpart Colin Powell where they complained at the lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

But the minutes of the meeting are circulating around the governments of NATO countries. The pair met in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York just before Powell gave his performance at the UN waving a mock vial of anthrax. They agreed to pull some of the most fantastic claims cooked up by Rumsfeld's Pentagon.

Powell had an earlier four-day meeting in which he ripped out large chunks of the document Bush had told him to present saying, 'This is bullshit.'

Recycled 'facts'

BLAIR TOLD parliament two days before the war began that, according to the inspectors, Iraq 'had far-reaching plans to weaponise' VX nerve gas. But he did not say this came from a background document referring to Iraq's policy before 1991.

Bush and Blair claimed Iraq had 'stockpiles' of biological weapons. They repeatedly referred to a UN inspectors' estimate that Iraq produced 1.5 tonnes of VX nerve gas in 1990.

In March this year inspectors reported that Iraq's production methods meant that the nerve agent lasted only six to eight weeks.


Families

'Blair should be put on trial'

THE MOTHER of one of the British soldiers killed in Iraq says Tony Blair should be prosecuted as a war criminal if no weapons of mass destruction are found. Ann Nichol lost her Royal Marine son John Cecil when the helicopter he was travelling in crashed in Kuwait.

She now says of the reason given for the war, 'If this turns out to be a lie then Tony Blair should resign. 'He should also be prosecuted under international law as a war criminal. 'If they don't find any weapons of mass destruction then this war has been based on a pack of lies and they have put all of our sons and daughters lives on the line for a lie.'

'Was Ian's death in vain?'

THE WIDOW of another British soldier killed in the Gulf has also slammed Blair. Lianne Seymour says, 'I have to justify to myself why my husband's not at home with me and at home with his son. The fact that there might not be these weapons of mass destruction - I will feel even more misled if that's possible. I don't want to think my husband's sacrifice has been in a vain attempt to improve Mr Blair's political career.'


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News
Sat 7 Jun 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1854
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