‘scrabbling for the smoking gun…’

November 28, 2009

Some serious shit: “Tony Blair and George Bush at Camp David in February 2001 where they discovered they both used Colgate toothpaste.”

And they loved war games, much to the peril of the planet.

These two terrifying clowns are together again — part-and-parcel of an UK inquiry into British shenanigans in the US-led nefarious run-up to the Iraq war.
Despite some nasty, back-stabbing testimony this week, news of the hearings have been downplayed in the US, if reported at all.

(Illustration found here).

On Thursday, the former British ambassador to Washington related how so intense the preparations for the invasion (in early 2002), the UN weapons inspectors couldn’t do the proper job and were forced to find evidence, any kind of evidence:

Sir Christopher Meyer said the “unforgiving nature” of the build-up after American forces had been told to prepare for war meant that “we found ourselves scrabbling for the smoking gun”.
He added: “It was another way of saying ‘it’s not that Saddam has to prove that he’s innocent, we’ve now bloody well got to try and prove he’s guilty.’
And we — the Americans, the British — have never really recovered from that because of course there was no smoking gun.”

Asked about Tony Blair’s meeting with Bush at Crawford, Texas, in April 2002, where, some observers believe, the decision to go to war was made, Meyer said: “To this day I’m not entirely clear what degree of convergence was signed in blood at the Texas range.”

On 9/11 Condoleezza Rice, then the US national security adviser, told Meyer she was in “no doubt: it was an al-Qaida operation.”
The following weekend Bush and his key advisers met at Camp David and contacts later told Meyer there had been a “big ding-dong” about Iraq and Saddam.

And Meyer expressed the idea Margaret Thatcher would have done a better job than Twisted-Tony Blair:

Sir Christopher said that he was “not making a party political point,” but Lady Thatcher had been much tougher on the “special relationship” with the Americans.
He expressed frustration over the failure of the allies to agree a diplomatic strategy to overthrow Saddam or to prepare properly for victory, which would have prevented the country’s descent into chaos.
“Quite often I think what would Margaret Thatcher have done,” Sir Christopher told the inquiry.
“I think she would have insisted on a clear, coherent political-diplomatic strategy. I think she would have demanded the greatest clarity about what the heck happened if, and when, we removed Saddam Hussein.”

And the ever-so-delightful Dick Cheney:

“I remember saying to London ‘This may be the most powerful Vice-President ever.’
I mean, his institutional opposite number was the Deputy Prime Minister,” said Sir Christopher. “This was an unbalanced relationship and probably didn’t reap the dividends that we might have expected.”

And on Wednesday, senior officials within UK’s Foreign Office told the inquiry Iraq’s WMD was known to be non-existent, even early on in pre-war planning:

The inquiry was told how officials within the Foreign Office had become convinced that the regime in Baghdad was developing chemical and biological weapons.
When it received intelligence contradicting the claim in March 2003, this was discounted.
“There was contradictory intelligence, so I don’t think it invalidated the point about what weapons [Saddam] had,” Sir William (Ehrman, a senior official within the Foreign Office) said. “It was more about their use. Even if they were disassembled the [chemical or biological] agents still existed.”
It also emerged that a secret paper drawn up in the summer of 2002, which pointed to Iraq as a potential threat, was based almost entirely on uncorroborated and outdated assumptions.
Tim Dowse, the former head of counter-proliferation at the Foreign Office, said the document was based on information obtained before weapons inspectors were thrown out of the country in 1998.
“We had got ourselves in a particular mindset,” Mr Dowse said.
Nevertheless, there were repeated warnings to ministers about the reliability of the intelligence on Iraq.
In April 2000, intelligence was said to be “limited to chemical weapons.”
By May 2001, knowledge of major weapons programmes was described as “patchy;” by March 2002 it was “sporadic and patchy.”
Advisers admitted in August they knew “very little” about Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, while intelligence information “remained limited” by September.

In June 2008, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report: “Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,” (chairman of the Committee John D.) Rockefeller said. “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”

Meanwhile back at the UK hearings last week, Jeremy Greenstock, the Brit’s former ambassador to the UN, testified George Jr. was “hell bent on the use of force” in Iraq and was not going to be stymied:

As diplomats frantically attempted in early 2003 to agree upon a U.N. resolution approving a military offensive, Bush’s key aides grew impatient — criticizing the process as an unnecessary distraction, he said.
Grumbling from Washington “included noises about ‘this is a waste of time, what we need is regime change, why are we bothering with this, we must sweep this aside and do what’s going to have to be done anyway — and deal with this with the use of force,'” Greenstock testified before the inquiry into the Iraq war.

And on the Crawford, Texas, pow-wow between George Jr. and Twisted-Tony, there was this:

Greenstock said following the Crawford meeting, he realized Britain “was being drawn into quite a different discussion.”
But, like Meyer, he said the talks were secretive and the conversation between the two leaders was not disclosed to officials.

Read more on the inquiry here and here.
And read about what end the inquiry — according to the UK’s Independent, which will be nothing except some good headlines (in the UK, of course, not the US) and another whitewash.

A shame and disgrace that such public hearings won’t be held in the US as President Obama has made it fairly clear there won’t be any Iraq-war criminal investigations, despite all indications to the contrary.
From the Center for Public Integrity in January 2008:

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

People should be scrabbling for a real-life legal gun.

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