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 Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.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.

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Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

http://www.sundayherald.com/35257

Sunday Herald

July 12, 2003

Blair rethink on weapons inquiry

Short tells PM it's time to go
Leading pollster warns lack of trust could cost Labour election

By James Cusick, Westminster Editor

Tony Blair is rethinking his hardline dismissal of an independent judicial inquiry into intelligence sources used in the run-up to war on Iraq, say senior Labour Party sources.

Some of the Prime Minister's advisers believe an inquiry will buy him time to cool down the controversy engulfing his government.

Blair has consistently ruled out a detailed judicial inquiry, insisting that the findings of the foreign affairs committee (FAC) and intelligence and security committee (ISC) would be sufficient . However, the sceptical response to the FAC's dismissal of claims that the government 'sexed up' intelligence material, and the public's perception that the ISC's behind-closed-doors examination could be a whitewash, has persuaded Downing Street to rethink .

Blair has been consistent in his belief that 'concrete evidence' of weapons of mass destruction will be found by the US-led Iraq Survey Group. An independent inquiry could give the government breathing space while the survey group delivered, and would also allow Blair to insist that nothing was being hidden.

Downing Street is also anxious to end what one source called 'the current open season on Tony Blair' from his backbench critics. This was a clear reference to the sustained attack by former Cabinet minister Clare Short, who this morning on GMTV advised Blair that there were 'two good years until the next general election' and that he should leave office 'before the situation got nastier'.

Although Short publicly attacked Blair's handling of the euro debate, claiming the Prime Minister had manufactured a 'great big division' between himself and the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, Downing Street knows Short's private attacks contain far more venom. One of her claims centres on an alleged attempt by Blair to renegotiate a deal between himself and the Chancellor about succession, involving an agreed date.

Yesterday Downing Street dispatched the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, to defend Blair. Blunkett focused on his despair over what he called the 'plot' to eject Blair from Number 10. He said Short was being 'typically self-indulgent' and added: 'I do not understand why people would plot to try and change the most successful leader in Labour's history.'

A Downing Street presentation last week by Labour strategist Philip Gould hammered home that Labour are losing the public's trust and that the Conservatives are capitalising on this weakness . The decline in trust has been detailed in numerous recent opinion polls, and is mainly being driven by fall-out over the war in Iraq.

With only a week left until parliament halts for the summer break, there is also unease in senior Labour circles that the Iraq question will re-appear with a vengeance during the autumn party conference in Bournemouth. One Labour source said: 'The damage looks to be out of our control, and we have to regain the initiative. An independent judicial review cannot be viewed as a risk if the government has nothing to hide.'

The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, was yesterday effectively forced to re-explain the involvement of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the dossier of evidence issued against Iraq by the government last September. In a letter to the FAC, Straw defended wording in the September dossier that claimed Iraq had sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Reports in the media have claimed the statement was contradicted by a CIA-backed report from a US envoy who visited Niger in early 2002. Straw admitted the CIA had raised concerns about the uranium claim being based on forged documentation, but said the decision to include the claim had been based on British intelligence. He said UK officials were confident the dossier statement was made on 'reliable intelligence which we had not shared with the US'.

The FAC's chairman, Donald Anderson, a Labour MP, said last night that Straw had given the committee 'a good reason' why the UK had decided not to share the Niger intelligence with Washington. However, Andrew Mackinlay, another of the FAC members and a fellow Labour MP, said he was not satisfied with the explanation.

Mackinlay said Straw had still not revealed when the US authorities had told the British of their concerns , and said the government should not believe the investigation being carried out by the ISC would assuage the public's concern. He said: 'The government should be pro-active and give full disclosure, rather than have it extracted from them or leaked in drips across the Atlantic.'

Michael Ancram, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said Straw's letter to the FAC did little to clarify the situation. 'Drip-feed of information by correspondence of this sort tends to confuse rather than clarify. We believe that an independent judicial inquiry is the most sensible way of establishing the facts,' he said.

 

Page created July 12, 2003 by Charlie Jenks