Iraq: Desperate measures for desperate times

30 June 2003

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, will clear ‘Ali’ Campbell and the government of ‘exaggerating’ or deceiving the country over the reasons for the invasion of Iraq. After all, the committee is ‘stacked’ in favour of the government, 4 to 3.

Is there no end to the government’s duplicity? Apparently not. On this morning’s (30/06/03) BBC Today programme, the Foreign Minister Jack Straw rolled out yet another ‘reason’, stating that the agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis (the ‘road map’) would almost certainly have not gone ahead, indeed it would have been ‘sabotaged’ by Saddam Hussein were he still in power. So is the reason for the invasion now based on resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict?

Of course the ‘logic’ of the UK government’s position is absolutely clear, as it is in lock-step with US strategy. Indeed, were the government to be forced to admit that it lied to us over the reasons for the invasion, this would increase the pressure for the investigations that are gathering pace in the US. It’s also yet another admission of the increasing desperation on the part of the government, to find anything, no matter how vague and remote, that will somehow bolster their crumbling rationale for the invasion.

More unraveling The Sunday Independent’s lead story (29/06/03) quoted an unnamed former US ambassador as saying that the UK government ‘must have been aware’ that the Niger uranium documents were ‘fakes’.

Then today (30/06/03), the British Ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock comes out with the statement that:

‘There is good and unforged evidence that Iraqs ought materials from Niger’

And what is the source of this ‘unforged evidence?’ ‘There is…perfectly usable evidence on that — evidence apart from the forged document,’ says Sir Jeremy, yet he doesn’t state what this evidence is or where it came from. And even more importantly, how does Greenstock square his statement with that of the former US Ambassador, who:

‘had been approached by the CIA in February 2002 to carry out a ‘discreet’ task: to investigate whether it was possible that Iraq was buying uranium [yellow cake] from Niger.’

And the result of this ‘discreet’ investigation?

‘It was impossible for Iraq to have been buying the quantities of uranium alleged.’

The results of his investigation were distributed to Defense Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Justice Department, the FBI and the office of the vice-president in early March 2002. The former US ambassador further states that:

‘It is hard for me to fathom, that…we did not share [with the UK] intelligence of this nature.’

And how does Greenstock’s statement today, square with the IAEA’s statement back in March?

‘The IAEA asked the U.S. and Britain if they had any other evidence backing the claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium. The answer was no.

IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei informed the U.N. Security Council in early March that the Niger proof was fake and that three months with 218 inspections at 141 sites had produced ‘no evidence or plausible indication’ Iraq had a nuclear program.’

U.N. Official: Fake Iraq Nuke Papers Were Crude By Louis Charbonneau, Reuters, Wednesday 26 March 2003There is a serious contradiction in Greenstock’s statement, as both the CIA and Jack Straw have stated that the forged documents came from an Italian source (who claim to have gotten it from an African diplomat) who passed the forged documents onto British intelligence, who then passed them onto their US counterparts. When the documents finally reached the IAEA, no other supporting evidence was submitted to back up the claims contained in the documents despite there being ‘separate sources’ according to Jack Straw.

Revolving door
What is obvious however, is that Greenstock’s statement is designed to back up Jack Straw’s statement that the UK government had ‘separate sources’ on the Niger connection. More ‘revolving door evidence’ of the kind that has been the hallmark of the entire disinformation campaign, where the parties quote each other as ‘proof’ of this or that event.

Greenstock’s statement that the, ‘forged document was never seen by British intelligence. I don’t know where it came from. We didn’t know. We never know where it came from and we never examined it’ simply doesn’t stand up under examination.

Ever since the publication of the September 9, 2002 ‘dossier’, no other ‘evidence’ other than the forged Niger documents has ever been produced or even alluded to, until now that is.

Straw claims to have other ‘evidence’ that was submitted to a private session of the Select Committee last Friday (27/06/03) but will we ever see this ‘evidence’? And according to the Tory member of the committee Sir John Stanley, who has seen the ‘evidence’, he is reported to have told Straw that he ‘didn’t believe him.’

Wheels within wheels
It’s like peeling an onion. First the 45 minute plant, for which absolutely no evidence of any kind has been submitted by anybody and the resulting red herring of who leaked what to whom, and was it the intelligence services or the spin doctors who inserted it in the September dossier? This sent the media off on the first wild goose chase, with Ali Campbell being used as a decoy.

The vicious attack on the BBC, with John Reid, minister for health being dragged into the fray, to pour yet more scorn on the BBC, challenging the BBC to admit that its source within the intelligence services deceived them. Yet of course, how can the BBC admit that they were deceived and on what basis? The journalist in question, Andrew Gilligan, at the time of the ‘leak’ went to great lengths to validate the source, knowing full well, that unless he had a solid basis for the information, he was in deep trouble.

Now it’s the turn of the Niger fakes, with the same kind of wheels within wheels deception being used but instead of using Campbell, the government has dragged in Greenstock, who is by the way, the UK government’s new man in Iraq, alongside Gauleiter Bremer.

The government’s future at stake
T
he centre of this struggle over the question of whether or not the government ‘exaggerated,’ ‘deceived’ or lied its way into the war, is the basic issue here. That this was a war that the great majority of the British public didn’t want, nor believed there was any valid reason for. And the government’s position is made all the more shaky because, in playing the ‘patriot’ card, it set great store on the issue of the lives of British troops, arguing that there was no way they would send them into battle on the basis of having already decided that the invasion would take place regardless of the ‘evidence’. This makes the government doubly vulnerable, one for deceiving the public and two for risking the lives of British troops. A lot is at stake. Exposure means that the Labour government will never be trusted again over anything it ever says, clearly an untenable position that could spell the end of a Labour government at the next election.

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