The Iraq Inquiry

Imperialists clean their stables

‘The general leaning towards barbarity acquires a certain method, immorality becomes a system, lawlessness gets its law givers and club law its law books.’ Karl Marx.

It was noted that the four politicians who took Britain to war against Iraq – Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Lord Falconer and Lord Goldsmith – were all lawyers (Henry Porter, The Guardian 28 January 2010). For them the law is their personal property or it is an obstruction to be shoved aside.

The terms of reference of the Chilcot Inquiry were decided by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and agreed by the House of Commons. Since the 2005 Inquiries Act government ministers and not judges control public inquiry proceedings, set the terms of reference, determine public access and access to evidence submitted to the inquiry. If ministers do not like the direction an inquiry is taking they can withdraw funding. If ministers do not like the content of the resulting report they can withhold part or all of the publication. The Inquiries Act was passed in response to a demand that there be a public inquiry into Royal Ulster Constabulary and British intelligence collusion in the loyalist murder of Irish solicitor Pat Finucane. During the parliamentary debate on the legislation it was hardly mentioned that the Finucane case was the motive for the bill.

 

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Iraq, oil and the war suspended

FRFI 142 April / May 1998

hat the USA and Britain did not unleash the threatened bombardment of Iraq in February was due to growing tensions between the imperialist powers and US calculation that its regional position would be harmed rather than strengthened by going ahead with the attack. There can be no doubt that the contentions over oil, the Gulf, Middle East and Caspian regions will be resolved by force and that the USA must use violence, sooner rather than later, if its position as dominant imperial power is not to be undermined. TREVOR RAYNE reports on the context of the latest confrontation in the Gulf.

The Middle East contains 66.4 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves and 'the Gulf is the world's hydrocarbon heartland'. Control over oil and the Middle East not only secures fantastic profits but whoever wields that control exerts tremendous power over potential rivals dependent on oil. Germany and Japan lack domestic oil supplies and China, the world's sixth biggest oil producer, became a net importer of oil in 1993 and by 2010 is expected to be the world's biggest oil importer.

 

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Labour conceals truth about Iraq invasion

In February, the so-called Justice Minister Jack Straw decided that we must not know why the Labour government agreed to attack Iraq. Minutes of the Cabinet meetings on 13 and 17 March 2003 are to be kept secret, even though the Information Commissioner Richard Thomas ordered their release. Ironically, Straw used Section 53 of the Freedom of Information Act to justify his decision – a further example of how Labour has legislated to attack civil liberties. It follows an earlier Labour government decision to refuse an official inquiry into the Iraq war at least so long as British troops remain, despite 72% of the population wanting such an inquiry. Then, on 25 March, Foreign Secretary Miliband said that an inquiry would be approved ‘as soon as practicable’. However, the inquiry would be held in private because confidentiality is ‘very, very important for all of our troops’.

 

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If they do this to their own, what are they doing to the Iraqis

Since 1990 1,800 soldiers – more than two a week – in or around military bases in Britain have died of ‘non-natural’ causes. It is true that over 170 First Gulf War veterans have committed suicide – five times as many as were killed in combat – but the majority of the deaths involve teenage recruits, serving in rear echelon units.

There are harrowing allegations of murder, rape, racism and torture inflicted upon youngsters, not by an enemy force, but by their own non-commissioned officer (NCO) instructors.

Thirteen soldiers are alleged to have killed themselves at Catterick, Yorkshire, since 1996. Lance Corporal Derek McGregor, it is said, killed himself in 2002. He had been beaten senseless by military police just prior to his death and the post mortem revealed black eyes, cuts to his stomach and bruising to his legs and scrotum.

 

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The Hutton Inquiry: The empire strikes back

FRFI 177 February / March 2004

Months late, the Hutton Inquiry has reported and surprised most commentators by the completeness of the whitewash in the government’s favour. Most thought that a few minor heads in government would roll. But, true to form, the British government is arrogant in its cover-up and aggressive in demanding its pound of flesh. The BBC is being prepared for a carve-up. The press have minutely analysed the report and its background exhaustively, so here Carol Brickley offers a ‘constitutional review’.

In times of crisis it pays to know something about a country’s constitution. Contrary to popular belief the British state does have a constitution, even though it is not written down. The British state is the result of a settlement between the Executive (the government acting as the ‘Crown’), the Legislature (Parliament), and the Rule of Law (the courts and the judges). Of course, like everything to do with government in Britain, even this is a bit of a fiction: the sovereignty of Parliament and the rule of law are very much subject to the dictates of the political party in power – the government.

 

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‘The dogs have barked... the caravan moves on’

FRFI 175 October / November 2003

The death of Dr David Kelly
‘The dogs have barked... the caravan moves on’

After six weeks of evidence, the publication of more than 900 documents and several millions of pounds spent on fees and expenses, all we can say of the Hutton Inquiry so far is that nothing adds up. Everyone, with the probable exception of the dead scientist’s widow and family, has been ‘spinning’ – ‘spinning’ is the spin-word for lying. The inquiry into the circumstances of Kelly’s death is now over and Hutton has retired to write his report. No one will be shocked by its recommendations when it finally appears in a few weeks time.


It is blatantly obvious why Dr David Kelly died. He made the mistake of talking to the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan about his criticisms of the government’s September dossier on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He compounded his mistake by owning up and then lying about it. His employers, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, the government and Gilligan all added to the pressure. A number of questions, however, do require answers, but the Hutton report is unlikely to provide them.

 

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The incidental death of a weapons inspector

FRFI 174 August / September 2003

On 7 July the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FASC) published its report on ‘The decision to go to war in Iraq’. Commissioned by Parliament, the FASC had inquired into ‘whether the Foreign Office had presented accurate and complete information to Parliament in the period leading up to the decision to go to war in Iraq.’ This is what passes, in the British Parliament, for in-depth investigation into the farrago of lies which constituted the government’s ‘intelligence reports’ leading to war with Iraq. The FASC reached its lamentable conclusions by a whisker of the chairman’s casting vote: that neither the Foreign Secretary, nor the Prime Minister, nor his ‘Special Adviser’ Alastair Campbell (nor indeed anyone now or ever associated with the Labour Party) had ever misled Parliament. Everyone else was deeply sceptical. The questions looked set to run and run...until a decoy was introduced. Meet Dr David Kelly.

That may be the last you will hear in the media of the FASC’s Ninth Report of the Session 2002-3. But its conclusions, fudged though they are, are very revealing of government turpitude. The government only published two ‘intelligence’ dossiers in the lead up to the war in Iraq: both of them deserving the ‘dodgy’ epithet attached to them. Most people would think such a history of ‘dodginess’ significant.

 

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Iraq in crisis as protests against corruption mount

Iraq

On 30 April thousands of protesters broke through the barriers of the ‘Green Zone’ government compound in central Baghdad, unopposed by police and security forces. For 24 hours the protesters, led by supporters of the Shia cleric and political leader Muqtada Al Sadr, occupied the Iraqi Parliament and surrounding areas, chanting against the corruption of the government and US and foreign involvement in the country. The protesters demanded that the government of Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi deliver on promises for reforms to appoint a technocratic government free from corruption and reject the practice of appointing positions and government jobs based on sectarian quotas. A state of emergency was declared in the capital and all gates to the city were closed. This is another step towards the breakdown of the authority of the government in a country in crisis.

 

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