grassrootspeace.org

November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.

Search site - New! Calendar - Calendar Archive
Contents - Archives - War Crimes - GI Special - Student Activism - Links

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

Dr. Glen Rangwala and Labour Against the War were right

Scott Ritter was right - there are no Iraqi WMD's

See also Bush Administration's 'WeaponsGate'

Blair on Hot Seat for British Version of Iraq 'Weaponsgate'

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee issues its first report -
See The Decision to go to War in Iraq - Conclusion and Recommendations

House of Commons hearings flawed by government's refusal to allow access to intelligence papers and personnel.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
calls for government to hold independent judicial inquiry or face litigation.
See CND Press Release.


July 9 - Is Niger Smoking Gun? Blair under fire

BBC - Blair Dismisses Iraq weapons doubts -
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats join call for independent judicial inquiry.
(Link to BBC)

BBC - Blair grilled: Point by Point (Link to BBC)

See The Phoney War - The Independent

See BBC story below.

See Channel 4 story below.


Is Niger the smoking gun?

Blair under fire as White House rejects British intelligence claiming Iraq tried to buy uranium

By Ben Russell and Andrew Buncombe in Washington

09 July 2003

The White House has dealt a devastating blow to Tony Blair by rejecting as flawed British claims that Saddam Hussein attempted to buy uranium from Africa to restart his nuclear weapons programme.

The Bush administration was in full retreat yesterday with officials admitting that the allegation should not have been included in President George Bush's State of the Union address. The American admission represented the first serious split between London and Washington over the case against Saddam and exploded into a full-scale row in Westminster as Mr Blair told senior MPs that the Government was standing by its story.

Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour backbenchers demanded that Mr Blair release the intelligence behind the allegation to an independent inquiry.

In his address to Congress in January, Mr Bush said: "The British government has learnt that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

But a statement approved by the White House on Monday said: "Knowing all that we know now, the reference to Iraq's attempt to acquire uranium from Africa should not have been included in the State of the Union speech. There is other reporting to suggest that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Africa. However, the information is not detailed or specific enough for us to be certain that attempts were in fact made."

"In other words," a White House official told The New York Times, "we couldn't prove it and it might in fact be wrong."

The White House climbdown followed a sceptical report from the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee and claims from the retired US ambassador Joseph Wilson that the allegations of a link between Niger and Saddam were false. He had been sent to Niger by the CIA to investigate possible links nine months before Mr Bush's address.

Mr Wilson first made his claims anonymously in The Independent on Sunday 10 days ago. He repeated the claims in The New York Times at the weekend in a signed article. "I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons programme was twisted,"he said.

Monday was the first time the US had admitted publicly that key "evidence" backing the claim that Iraq was trying to "reconstitute its nuclear weapons programme" was false. The threat of Saddam acquiring nuclear weapons became central to the British and American governments' case for war. Tony Blair told MPs in September that Saddam was "actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability".

Mr Blair said yesterday the intelligence services were standing by their allegation that Iraq had tried to acquire uranium, despite a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in March dismissing the claims as based on crude forgeries. Questioned on the Niger affair by the Commons Liaison Committee, Mr Blair said the claims were based on multiple sources and did not rely on the forged documents obtained by the IAEA.

He said: "There was an historic link between Niger and Iraq. In the 1980s Iraq purchased somewhere in the region of 200 tons of uranium from Niger. The evidence that we had that the Iraqi government had gone back to try to purchase further amounts of uranium from Niger did not come from these so-called forged documents. They came from separate intelligence."

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, renewed his call for an independent inquiry. He said: "Once again, the Prime Minister is making assertions about contested intelligence assessments. The Niger documents are known to have been falsified, yet Tony Blair continues to insist the intelligence was accurate. The Bush administration now appears to be backing away from these claims. Once again it raises the question: did we go to war on a false premise?"

Michael Ancram, the shadow Foreign Secretary, added: "The only way that Tony Blair can establish the veracity of such intelligence information ... is to allow it to be examined in the context of an independent judicial inquiry. Given the total distrust of anything the Prime Minister says, it is vital for the re-establishment of the credibility of the intelligence services that this process is now undertaken."

Questioned in the Commons yesterday, Jack Straw said: "The information which was included in the dossier and assessed as reliable relating to the purchase of uranium - not that they had purchased it but Iraq had sought to purchase it - was based on sources quite separate than those based on the forged documents."

Mystery still surrounds the original source of the claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. Foreign Office officials have admitted that it was passed on by a foreign intelligence service but insist that it fitted a pattern of evidence that Saddam was trying to revive his nuclear weapons programme.

Ministers have confirmed that they have not passed information on Niger to the IAEA, despite a commitment to co-operate with the nuclear weapons inspectorate.

The Government received a boost in its dispute with the BBC over a report claiming Downing Street "sexed up" its dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction with a claim that they could be deployed within 45 minutes. An official at the Ministry of Defence admitted meeting the BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan a week before the claim was broadcast but denied making any comment on No 10's involvement.


The phoney war

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=422729

The Independent

Reports by Andrew Grice and Ben Russell

08 July 2003

1. Iraq's weapons

Serious doubts were raised yesterday about whether Saddam Hussein possessed the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on which Tony Blair and George Bush rested their case for war in Iraq.

In a damaging finding for Mr Blair, an inquiry by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee concluded that "the jury is still out" on the accuracy of the Government's dossier on Iraq's weapons, issued last September.

The MPs warned: "Continuing disquiet and unease about the claims made in the September dossier are unlikely to be dispelled unless more evidence of Iraq's WMD programmes comes to light."

The committee challenged the Government, which must respond in detail to the report in two months, to say whether it still believed the document was accurate "in the light of subsequent events" - the failure yet to find WMD.

Although Mr Blair believes evidence that Saddam possessed WMD will be found, senior MPs warned that time was running out. Sir John Stanley, a Tory member of the committee, said: "The longer the period during which no WMD are found on the scale indicated in that September dossier, the longer the period when there is also no evidence that such weapons have been destroyed, the greater is going to be the concern - not only in this committee and in Parliament but also among the British people."

Writing in The Independent today, Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, says the Government's alarmist claims in the run-up to the war now appear in conflict with post-war reality. He says: "We have not found any of the chemical weapons factories which we were assured were rebuilt. We have not traced the nuclear weapons programme which we were assured had been restarted. And we have not uncovered any weapons of mass destruction, never mind any within a 45-minute drive of the artillery units."

Mr Cook warns the Government not to make the security services the "fall guys" for the failure to find WMD by blaming poor intelligence. He says: "It was not the intelligence agencies who took the decision to go to war. The decision was that of the Prime Minister and it was he who used intelligence to justify the case for war."

Yesterday, a Ministry of Defence report on the early lessons from the Iraq conflict admitted that Saddam's regime was "a very difficult intelligence target with few sources of information".

The MPs' committee also raised doubts about the quality of intelligence material, saying: "It appears likely that there was only limited access to reliable human intelligence in Iraq, and ... the UK may have been heavily reliant on US intelligence, on defectors and on exiles with an agenda of their own."

Q: How long can we wait for evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? And if none is found, will the Government admit the basis for war was flawed?

2. Alastair Campbell and the BBC

Many Labour MPs believe that the war of words between the Government and the BBC diverted the Foreign Affairs Select Committee's inquiry - and the media coverage of it - away from the "real issue" of whether Iraq possessed WMD.

By persuading Tony Blair to allow him to give evidence to the MPs, Alastair Campbell, the director of strategy and communications, pictured, became the focus of the inquiry, and the dispute became the most serious between the BBC and a government. Without the row, yesterday's report by the MPs would have been seen as critical of the Government.

Graham Allen, a Labour MP, said: "Alastair Campbell brilliantly diverted MPs and the media by throwing the media pack the bone of the BBC. Now everyone must try to get back to the real agenda and pursue the big questions - why did the UK go to war?"

The committee said too much prominence was given to the warning in the Government's dossier issued in September that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes. But it cleared Mr Campbell of the allegation made by Andrew Gilligan, above right, the BBC's defence correspondent, that he "sexed up" the dossier. It found Mr Campbell "did not play any role in the inclusion of the 45-minutes claim" and "did not exert or seek to exert improper influence" on the September dossier.

That allowed Mr Campbell to claim victory, but it was not total. The MPs were split on party lines, with three Tories, one Liberal Democrat and one Labour MP saying the committee should not reach a verdict on the BBC dispute.

Although Downing Street sought to lower the temperature last night, the BBC rejected Mr Campbell's demand for it to say its original claim was wrong. The MPs' criticism of the "45-minute" claim justified the story, it said. The MPs also challenged the Government to say if it still believed the claim was justified.

The report failed to break the deadlock between the two sides. Although the Government will be relieved at the findings, the dispute has left a bitter taste for some. John Grogan, Labour MP for Selby and chairman of the all-party parliamentary BBC group, has called on the Government to stop pursuing the issue. "This row is now doing far more harm to the Government than it is to the BBC," he said.

Q: What was the basis for the claim that Saddam could deploy weapons "within 45 minutes"? And did Alastair Campbell pick a fight with the BBC as a diversionary tactic?

3. Niger and the 'sale of uranium'

Tony Blair was under increasing pressure last night to justify the Government's controversial claim that Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain uranium from the African state of Niger.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee said that it was "puzzled" by the Government's insistence that it stood by the claims, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) dismissed the allegations as based on crude forgeries. Previously undisclosed documents from the Foreign Office, handed to the Commons inquiry, acknowledged that some of the documents passed to the IAEA were forgeries but said that they had not originated in Britain.

Questioned about the claim in the Commons a month ago, Mr Blair replied: "Until we investigate properly, we are simply not in a position to say whether that is so."

Yesterday the Government stuck to its line that its September dossier was accurate, with the Foreign Office insisting that its information came from more than one source, and was received after the visit of a former United States diplomat to Niger to investigate the claims.

But Joseph Wilson, who was asked by the CIA to investigate sales of uranium from Niger to Iraq, said on Sunday it was almost certain that British and American leaders knew they were circulating false reports.

"That information was erroneous and they knew about it well ahead both of the publication of the White Paper and the President's State of the Union address," Mr Wilson told NBC television.

Yesterday the committee of MPs said it was "very odd indeed" that ministers were still reviewing the evidence about Saddam's alleged dealings with Niger despite the Government's insistence that it did not base its claims on documents now known to be false.

The MPs challenged the Government to explain the evidence for its allegations, and declare whether it still believed the claims to be accurate.

Q: As the Government still maintains that Saddam was seeking uranium from Niger, when will it produce the evidence to support the allegations?

4. The dossier

Iain Duncan Smith increased the pressure on Tony Blair last night to apologise for misleading Parliament over the provenance of the "dodgy dossier".

The Conservative leader called on Mr Blair to make an urgent statement to correct his claim to MPs that the February dossier represented "further intelligence".

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee heavily criticised Mr Blair, saying he "misrepresented" the dossier, which was largely plagiarised from academic articles on the internet. Alastair Campbell was attacked for not asking vital questions on the origins of the document.

It was revealed during their inquiry that 90 per cent of the document had been lifted from published papers, a mistake condemned as "wholly unacceptable".

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has acknowledged the affair was a "complete Horlicks", while Downing Street and Mr Campbell have admitted that mistakes were made. Mr Duncan Smith told Mr Blair in a letter: "The select committee report is clear and explicit in stating that when referring to the dossier you 'misrepresented its status'. Consequently, you gave an inaccurate impression of the dossier to both Parliament and the British people."

He called for an independent inquiry into the affair. He added: "It is in your interest to clear up the confusion and immediately take the appropriate action against those persons responsible for you committing the serious mistake of misinterpreting intelligence in Parliament."

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, also called for Mr Blair to apologise for "unwittingly" misleading Parliament.

Q: Will Tony Blair now apologise for the "dodgy" dossier? And, as this was the first time Britain has gone to war on the basis of intelligence, will there now be a judicial inquiry?

5. The legal basis for war

Tony Blair, senior ministers and loyal backbenchers have deployed a host of reasons to justify the war alongside the prime case for disarming Saddam Hussein.

Mr Blair used the failing authority of the United Nations as a key argument for taking action to prevent Saddam's defiance of weapons inspectors.

However, he was left a severe political and legal problem when he failed to obtain a second resolution finally and unequivocally authorising force.

The Attorney General provided the ultimate legal basis for British involvement in the war in advice to the Cabinet in March. His advice was crucial after the threatened French veto ended hopes of gaining full international backing for war.

Lord Goldsmith based his advice to the Cabinet on the force of successive UN Security Council resolutions, based on the terms of the ceasefire after the 1991 Gulf War.

His one-page legal opinion argued that Saddam was in material breach of Security Council resolution 1441 because he failed to co-operate with weapons inspectors. That, he said, triggered the justification for the use of force passed in Security Council resolution 687 after the 1991 Gulf War.

Despite widespread suspicions that regime change was the ultimate aim of the growing confrontation with Iraq, Mr Blair consistently shied away from advocating the toppling of Saddam as a major war aim, except if it was necessary to secure disarmament. The distinction was crucial, because while acting in self-defence to neutralise a threat or imposing the will of the UN could be declared legal, simply intervening to topple a foreign leader could not.

Mr Blair insisted that he was acting through the UN to preserve the unity of the international community. However, Clare Short, the former secretary of state for international development, challenged that claim, accusing the Prime Minister of agreeing a secret pact with George Bush to go to war by the spring.

But Mr Blair linked Saddam with the threat of terrorism and suggested links with al-Qa'ida before the war. Mr Blair told Labour's Welsh conference in February: "I tell you it is fear, not the fear that Saddam is about to launch a strike on a British town or city ... but the fear that one day these new threats of weapons of mass destruction, rogue states and international terrorism combine to deliver a catastrophe."

In March he told MPs: "Do not be in any doubt at all - Iraq has been supporting terrorist groups. For example, Iraq is offering money to the families of suicide bombers whose purpose is to wreck any chance of progress in the Middle East."

Before and after the war, ministers stressed the human rights abuses and tyrannical nature of the regime. The Government's publication of a dossier on Saddam's human rights abuses was widely condemned as opportunistic. But the Government encouraged the work of the Labour backbencher Ann Clwyd, who has been a staunch campaigner against human rights abuses in Iraq. She was instrumental in briefing Labour MPs before the vote on war in March.

Last week Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, pointed to the removal of Saddam and his regime's support for Palestinian terrorism as a significant encouragement to the Middle East peace protest.

A group of 16 senior Labour backbenchers also justified backing war by declaring that "removing Saddam Hussein was not only morally justified, it has also provided an opportunity to resolve some of the most intractable problems of the Middle East."

Q: Was Mr Blair's primary aim regime change? Did he use WMD 'evidence' as an 'honourable deception' as Clare Short says? So was this war illegal? If so, will Tony Blair resign?


Channel 4 News

http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/07/week_2/07_wmd.html

Corralling the debate

Published:æ07-Jul-2003 By:æElinor Goodman

Two months after the war in Iraq officially ended, the Foreign Affairs Committee today concluded the "jury is still out" on whether there was justification for the conflict in the first place.

Although it cleared the Government, and in particular Alistair Campbell, of any politically inspired meddling to exaggerate the existence of weapons of mass destruction - the committee also found the claim that such weapons could be deployed within forty five minutes was given undue prominence.

But as to who gave it such undue prominence, the committee has no answers.

What this report was meant to be about was whether the intelligence justified going to war or whether the Prime Minister used it as smokescreen to justify following the Americans.

In the swirl of allegations, the underlying question for the committee was whether the intelligence assessment as a whole, produced with the full authority of the joint intelligence committee in September was accurate.

Because of the row with the BBC, this has focused on the warning that Iraq could use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

Overall the committee concluded ïthe language used in the September dossier was in places more assertive than that traditionally used in intelligence documents', but it accepted the GovernmentÍs case that the 'claims were in all probability well-founded on the basis of the intelligence then available' though the committee was split down party lines.

As for the 45 minute claim that '...did not warrant the prominence given to it in the dossier, because it was based on a single, uncorroborated source.'

So not so much sexed up, but puffed up for popular consumption by the JIC itself.

The Conservatives claim that Alastair Campbell used the row with the BBC as a smokescreen because he thought he would win on the narrow point that he personally sexed-up the evidence.

The majority on the committee accepted the point made by Alastair Campbell on Channel Four News that he didnÍt insist on the 45-minute warning being inserted in the document: "The answer to the question."

On the casting vote of the chairman they agreed '...on the basis of the evidence available to us, Alastair Campbell did not exert or seek to exert improper influence in the drafting of the September dossier'.

But one Labour MP went along with the opposition members of the committee who said there wasnÍt enough evidence either to clear him or substantiate otherwise, the claims made by the BBC journalist, Andrew Gilligan sitting at the back of the committee.

However there was more agreement in criticising Alistair CampellÍs position as chairman of the Iraq Information group, and in particular his role in overseeing the production of the dodgy dossier, exposed by Channel Four News in February as composed largely of a 10-year-old PhD thesis.

The committee concluded that it was on the February or 'dodgy' dossier... '...wholly counter-productive, undermined the credibility of their case for war..wholly unacceptable for the Government to plagiarise work..'

Because the committee was divided, this report wonÍt draw a line under things in the way the Government had hoped. Nor will it change the mind of many with entrenched positions on war.

As the committee said, the jury is still out on whether the war was justified by the intelligence. And until some weapons are found, the jury in the shape of the electorate may decide it hasnÍt been shown evidence that it was justified.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3053314.stm

BBC News

Blair faces Iraq grilling

Mr Blair is likely to mount a robust defence The prime minister is expected to face further questions about the handling of intelligence in the run up to the Iraq war when he appears before the Commons Liaison Committee on Tuesday.

It comes as the Conservatives call for Mr Blair to apologise for inadvertently misrepresenting the status of February's so-called "dodgy dossier" to Parliament.

On Monday, the all-party foreign affairs committee (FAC) said that "the jury is still out" on whether the government's assessment of the threat from Iraq in an earlier dossier was accurate.

The FAC said a suggestion in that dossier that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes should not have been given such prominence by the government.

But the MPs - in a split decision - cleared the prime minister's spokesman Alastair Campbell adding the 45 minutes claim.

It was a BBC report containing allegations that the dossier had been made "sexier" which prompted a row between the broadcaster and Downing Street

In another finding upon which the committee were divided, the report says ministers did not mislead parliament over Iraq's weapons.

But the Tories are calling for a judicial inquiry and say Mr Blair should apologise to Parliament over the "dodgy dossier" which had largely come from a student thesis but which was presented to the House as "intelligence".

The call is being backed by the chairman of the committee - the Labour veteran Donald Anderson.

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said Mr Blair had to explain to MPs why he gave an "inaccurate impression" of the second dossier, published in February, in the Commons.

In a letter to the prime minister, Mr Duncan Smith said: "You must apologise for misleading - albeit inadvertently - the House of Commons and the British people by 'misinterpreting' the dossier in Parliament."

Reaction to influential Commons committee's report on Iraq weapons row. In pictures That call was backed up by Mr Anderson, who said: "I think he should have come to Parliament way back in February and put the record straight."

In their 54-page verdict on how ministers made the case for war in Iraq, the MPs said the second dossier was "almost wholly counter-productive" and it was "fundamentally wrong" for it to have been referred to by Mr Blair in the Commons.

The dossier contained an unattributed academic paper and such plagiarism was "wholly unacceptable" said the committee.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said an independent judicial inquiry should be held into the affair.

The rulings came as a poll in the Times found public support for the war in Iraq had fallen sharply over the past month.

Split decision

Their survey suggested support had dropped to 47% from 58% last month and 64% at its peak in April.

The all-party foreign affairs committee also concluded - in a split decision - that government media chief Alastair Campbell did not make changes to the September dossier on Iraq's weapons, as alleged in a BBC report.

n another finding upon which the committee were divided, the report said ministers did not mislead parliament over Iraq's weapons.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw immediately repeated calls for the BBC to apologise for its report and "acknowledge that it got it wrong".

Mr Campbell said he was pleased the MPs had found the BBC reports "are untrue" but said he was "saddened that... they (the BBC) still refuse to admit that the allegations they broadcast were false".

But the BBC's director of news, Richard Sambrook, said the committee's report justified the decision to run the original report about the 45 minutes claim on Radio 4's Today programme.

The MPs accuse ministers of "hampering" their inquiry by refusing to allow them access to intelligence papers and security services personnel.


 

 

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