THE FATHER of a British soldier killed at a police station north of Basra in Iraq told anti-war protesters last week, 'I am with you.' Reg Keys's son, Thomas, was killed in June last year with five other British military policemen. Mr Keys has no doubt who is to blame for his death:
'My son was betrayed by the government. Tony Blair lied to me, he lied to the nation, he lied to my son. I feel angry at being betrayed and at losing my son to a war which was based on lies. I'll fight for justice on this to my dying day.
I waved Tom goodbye at Birmingham station, and off he went to a war which I believed was for a just cause-that this country was imminently at threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But that was a load of old tosh. It was George Bush's agenda, and Tony Blair went along with it for his own political kudos. To my mind my son and his colleagues died for an unjust war. I think the bottom line is oil. I supported the war.
I thought this man needed to be brought to account. I was duped. If your son is going off to war you have to support him. You can't be anti-war. Tom had no choice but to go. He needed to know his father supported him. But I respected the point of view of the people marching against it. Tony Blair has changed his rhetoric now. They are talking about humanitarian reasons and if that's the case why didn't we go to sort Idi Amin out, or Pol Pot, or Mugabe?
Because there was no oil there. I'm all for the marchers now and have plans for my own kind of protest in the future. There is no closure over my son's death. I need to get to the bottom of it and find the truth.'
Fourteen British soldiers were injured this week when hundreds of Iraqis in Basra threw stones and petrol bombs during a protest about job shortages.
US anti-terror chief's evidence ignored
DONALD RUMSFELD pleaded to be allowed to bomb Iraq days after the 11 September attacks. The US secretary of defence was not interested in whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or links with terrorism. Richard Clarke was then the White House counter-terrorism coordinator. He now says that US officials were certain Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks, but Rumsfeld wouldn't accept it.
'We all said, 'No, no, Al Qaida is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan.' 'And Rumsfeld complained, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.' 'I said, 'There are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq has nothing to do with it.' 'The president dragged me into a room with couple of others, shut the door and said, 'I want to find if Iraq did this.'
'He never said 'Make it up', but the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did it. 'I wrote a report cleared by the CIA and the FBI saying there was no link between Saddam and 9/11. 'Bush's advisers told me, 'Wrong answer, do it again.' 'After we did it again, we came to the same conclusion.'
Clarke also says, 'Nothing the US could have done would have provided Al Qaida with a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country.' Colin Powell made a last-minute visit to Iraq last Friday, hoping to highlight how well the occupation is going.
His press conference was wrecked when 30 Iraqi and Arab journalists staged a walkout. They were protesting against the shooting dead of two Arab journalists by US troops.
War costs soaring monthly
THE GOVERNMENT'S war chest is set to run out within three months. Gordon Brown set aside £3.8 billion for the Iraq war but there is only £300 million left, according to figures sneaked out on budget day. Brown insisted Britain could afford its 'ongoing and additional commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism'.
He will 'find' another £1 billion next year and £2 billion the year after, all money that could be spent on hospitals, schools and other public services. The National Audit Office figures suggest that spending on war and military interventions is running at £125 million a month.