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• Hearing may come sooner than had been expected
• Falklands investigation could provide model
By Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian
David Miliband gave a strong hint yesterday that the long-awaited inquiry into the Iraq war will hear evidence in private when it is set up later this year.
Though the government had been expected to announce an inquiry for later this year, yesterday was the first time the foreign secretary had said it would not wait for all British troops to come home.
Speaking in a debate in the Commons, Miliband said that the inquiry would be set up after the majority of British combat troops depart from Iraq at the end of July, leaving fewer than 400 to take part in training.
Without giving details of the nature of the inquiry, he spoke of the "advantage" of having one conducted along the lines of the Franks inquiry set up after the Falklands war.
By George Galloway in the Guardian via SocialistWorker.org
is a British antiwar activist and Respect Party member of parliament for the London constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow.
A long-time champion of left-wing causes, in 2004, Galloway memorably came to the U.S. to appear before a Senate subcommittee to answer accusations of corruption relating to the United Nations oil-for-food program. But then-Sen. Norm Coleman, who was leading the attack on Galloway, got more than he bargained for when Galloway turned the tables, putting the U.S. actions in Iraq on trial and delivering "a blistering attack," in the words of CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
Recently, Galloway participated in the Viva Palestina aid convoy, which traveled from Britain, through Europe and North Africa, to bring humanitarian aid to residents of Gaza, suffering in the wake of Israel's recent brutal assault.
By Jan Tamas, Prague, Czech Republic
I am very happy to announce that the Czech government has fallen. The Parliament voted the no-confidence. For us it is a great victory: we knew that the only way to stop the installation of the US radar base was the fall of the government and we worked for more than 2 years in this direction with permanence and coherence.
A government that represented the interests of the US military industry has fallen.
Our work has been fundamental in encouraging the members of the Parliament who already were against the radar and to spread doubts in the ones who were in favor. And it was just the change of mind of some deputies that made the fall of the government possible.
From all over Belgium, by bus, bike, taxi, public transport and even by walking, hundreds of activists came to NATO's headquarters in Evere, Brussels. They tried non-violently to enter the NATO terrain and seal gates, windows and doors. At the same time, the NATO has been symbolically buried during a farewell ceremony. Today, this burial is still a symbolic act, but the will to turn this symbol into reality is very high.
Despite the massive presence of police forces equipped with water canons, helicopters, horses, kilometres of barb wire, ... several activists managed to enter the military base to seal gates, windows and doors. 450 peace activists have been arrested and showed clearly that Vredesactie and the Bombspotters do not let the NATO keep going with its business as usual.
• Government left 'paper trail' in build-up to war
• More facts still to come to light, says former envoy
By David Hencke, The Guardian
A former diplomat at the centre of events in the run-up to the Iraq war revealed yesterday that the government has a "paper trail" that could reveal new information about the legality of the invasion.
Carne Ross, who was a first secretary at the United Nations in New York for the Foreign Office until 2004, told MPs: "A lot of facts about the run-up to this war have yet to come to light which should come to light and which the public deserves to know." There were also assessments by the joint intelligence committee which had not been disclosed, Ross told the Commons public administration select committee.
by: Maya Schenwar, t r u t h o u t | Report
US veterans march from Philadelphia to Valley Forge before the Winter Solider hearings last March. (Photo: Susie Husted)
Last March, a group of soldiers and veterans gathered in Washington, DC, to recount their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. They spent three days testifying, confessing and mourning. They revealed atrocities never before spoken of - the brutal murders of civilians, the destruction of homes and villages, the rape and sexual assault of both civilians and US military women - and displayed photos and video footage to back up their claims. The event was titled "Winter Soldier," harkening back to the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation, in which veterans gathered in Detroit to give testimony about war crimes they had committed or witnessed in Vietnam. Both Winter Soldiers zeroed in on the US military policy's devastating effects, straight from the mouths of those charged with carrying out that policy.
On Saturday, March 14, a third Winter Soldier conference unfolded - this time, overseas. In the leadup to NATO's 60th summit next month in Strasbourg, Germany, Winter Soldier Europe took place in nearby Freiburg. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from Germany, the UK and the US testified, revealing the impact of the occupations on civilians and service members alike. The event was organized by the nonprofit Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), in an effort to amplify the voices of soldiers - voices that are often drowned out by military leadership and political commentators, according to Zack Baddorf, one of Winter Soldier Europe's organizers.
By Paul Waugh, Evening Standard
Intelligence experts explicitly warned Tony Blair's aides that Britain was not in "imminent danger of attack" from Saddam Hussein, a confidential memo revealed today.
The row over claims that the Government "spun" its way into war with Iraq is likely to be reignited after the release of the document by the Cabinet Office.
The memo, released after a long-running Freedom of Information battle, shows Mr Blair's officials knew seven years ago that the threat from Saddam was not immediate.
Despite the warning, the Government's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction included a claim that Baghdad was ready to launch an attack within "45 minutes".
Lord Hutton cleared the Government in 2004 of the charge that it tried to manipulate intelligence to pave the way for war.
YES WE CAN NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION
WEDNESDAY 1 APRIL: ASSEMBLE 2.0 PM
US EMBASSY, GROSVENOR SQUARE, W1A 1AE
The anti war movement will be marching from the US embassy on
Wednesday 1 April, the day Barack Obama and the other world
leaders arrive in London for the G20 Summit.
The march will be in support of Gaza and against the
occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and for the abolition of
nuclear weapons. It will assemble at 2 pm at the US Embassy,
Grosvenor Square, London.
Our message will be: YES WE CAN end the siege of Gaza and free
Palestine, get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, abolish
all nukes, create jobs not bombs and stop arming Israel.
We are calling for the biggest possible mobilisation for this
national demonstration. We are asking all local Stop the War
“TOTTERING STEPS ALONG THE RIM OF FASCISM AND REVOLUTION”
By Gaither Stewart
(Rome) ISTAT, Italy’s Statistical Office, has announced that for the first time the nation’s population has passed 60,000,000. The disconcerting reality behind the statistic is that while Italy ages and Italians produce less children, immigration is providing the growth of the nation that until a few decades ago was an emigration country and Italian workers spread over north Europe. Today, as usual, immigrants do what Italians don’t. Over 1,000,000 Romanians are in Italy today, followed closely by Albanians and Moroccans. Immigrants make front page news. Usually negative news. Not a day passes that foreigners (until the crisis immigrants were the manpower necessary for Italian industry), are not accused of nefarious crimes.
Release of Iraq war minutes vetoed
By Michael Savage, The Independent
Details of cabinet discussions held in the run-up to the Iraq war are to be kept secret after the Government decided to take the unprecedented step of vetoing their publication.
Campaigners had demanded to see the minutes of two meetings, on 13 and 17 March 2003, amid allegations that the Cabinet failed to discuss properly or challenge the decision to invade Iraq. The legality of the war was also discussed at the meetings.
The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, had ordered the release of the minutes, arguing that their publication was in the public interest. His decision was supported by an independent tribunal last month.
wikileaks Classified doc on CIA El-Masri kidnapping: Secrecy promise to US more important than German law
The ZIP Archive presents 4 documents from the questioning of the former German minister of the interior Otto Schily by the Munich prosecutor on the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen that was mistaken as an al-Qaida member, kidnapped by the CIA and brought to Afghanistan. When the mistake became clear, El-Masri was abandoned in an Albanian forrest.
The questioning of the prosectur had been initiated to clarify how much Schily knew about this kidnapping as minister of the interior at that time. The protocol was subsequently classified as "secret".
While Schily denies to answer most questions due to a restriction in his testimony permission, which was issued by Wolfgang Schaeuble, some of the answers raise questions. Never denying to have known about the El-Masri case, Schily's explanation for why he did not inform German officials is especially noteworthy: he felt bound by his promise of confidentiality to the US ambassador Coats.
By Stephanie Westbrook, U.S. Citizens for Peace and Justice – Rome
At a press conference on Friday, February 20, Italian Special Commissioner Paola Costa and U.S. Consul General from Milan, Daniel Weygandt, announced final approval for a new U.S. military base in Vicenza, Italy. The project, approved by a joint Italian-US Military Construction Committee working under the still-classified 1954 Bilateral Infrastructure Agreement, includes 25 new buildings with lodging for 1200 soldiers and multi-story car parks for over 800 vehicles.
Weygandt noted his satisfaction “that the entire process had been developed in full compliance and that we were able to arrive at this final result.” Costa said that while no environmental impact assessment would be carried out, he assured everyone that “this project is the best possible and based on the most stringent regulations in effect in Italy and the United States.”
Up to 120,000 protesters brought Dublin city centre to a standstill on Saturday over government austerity measures aimed at stabilising the once high-flying economy now wracked by recession.
The demonstration came a day after the global economic crisis led to another political casualty elsewhere in Europe, with Latvia's prime minister quitting as his country grapples with deepening recession.
Organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and featuring teachers, police, civil servants and others, the Irish protest was the "first step in a rolling campaign of action," ICTU general secretary David Begg said.
Police put the number of protesters at up to 120,000.
Marchers are particularly opposed to a pension levy on some 350,000 public servants which is designed to save about 1.4 billion euros (1.8 billion dollars) this year.
According to IMPACT, Ireland's biggest public sector trade union, the levy will cost low to middle-income earners between 1,500 euros and 2,800 euros a year.
Solidarity message from Japanese citizens
To friends in Europe who are against the Missile Defense system and the Space Shield
We are several citizen groups which are respectively committed in peaceful ways to movements of anti-MD system and anti-US Bases in Japan. We would like to convey, by this message, our solidarity with all who are against the deployment of the US MD system into the eastern Europe. We, who live with the various problems arising from many US bases occupying our homeland, always look enviously at the unified efforts in the anti-radar movement by citizens and the League of Mayors in Czech Republic. Your movement has encouraged us a lot and we thank you for that.
Japanese government introduced the MD system in Dec. 2003, and ever since, its deployment has been accelerated here along with the US’ deployment of its own MD system in Japan.
2009 is the 60th anniversary of NATO and the US-led alliance is planning big celebrations in Europe to promote their expanded global role as an extension of US foreign and military policy. In 1999, seeking to justify its existence after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, NATO acknowledged that it was seeking to orient itself according to a new fundamental strategic concept. From a narrow military defense alliance it was to become a broad-based alliance for the protection of the vital resource needs (oil/natural gas/etc) of its member states. Besides being mired in Afghanistan today, NATO is now expanding eastward as a tool in the aggressive US program to surround resource rich Russia. There are even discussions now within NATO to take the alliance into the Asian-Pacific to help the US militarily surround China.
Cageprisoners is deeply concerned by today’s House of Lords’ decision in the case of Abu Qatadah that deportation of foreign nationals to countries which practice torture was not a bar to their removal.
In reversing the decision of the Court of Appeal, the House of Lords has effectively sanctioned the deportation of Abu Qatadah and other foreign nationals to countries where the only evidence of wrongdoing against them has been obtained through torture. Both the Special Immigrations Appeal Commission ! (SIAC) and the Court of Appeal have accepted that the only evidence against Abu Qatadah has been extracted from the torture of his co-defendants in Jordan and that there is no other genuine evidence against him.
Cageprisoners view the decision as a major setback for human rights and the rule of law.
Cageprisoners spokesman, Moazzam Begg, stated:
The Czech Republic and Poland: US Trojan Horses to divide Europe?
Contact: Gerardo Femina (Prague, Czech Republic) email@example.com
Three buses filled with Czech Mayors from the League of Mayors against the Radar and activists from the Nonviolence Movement will travel to Brussels to meet Members of the European Parliament on Wednesday and to protest against the “Star wars” plan. They have been invited to attend a public hearing about the controversial US Missile Defense enlargement into the Czech Republic and Poland. While in Brussels they will meet with several MEPs, Belgian Senators and the Vice-president of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini. They will also attend a public rally against the radar held outside the European Parliament building.
With the expectation that President Obama may take a clear position, there is an air of uncertainty regarding the materialisation of the so-called Space Shield in Europe.
Nevertheless, our protest continues, and this has allowed that until today the Czech Government has been unable to definitively ratify the agreement with the USA. We thank everyone for the support received.
In Brussels, on the 18th of February 2009, there will be a meeting in the European Parliament among various MEPs and 20 Mayors of the Czech Republic, members of the League against the Radar, Giorgio Schultze (Europe for Peace), Jan Tamas (Czech Humanists against the bases) and delegations from various European countries.
Mayors of various Belgian cities will participate as well in the initiative in Brussels and messages of support will be handed in from many Italian Mayors expressing their solidarity with the protests in the Czech Republic.
A shoe was thrown at Israel s ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan, when
he was giving a speech at Stockholm University . The shoe hit its
target. It was followed by two books and a note pad, all hitting the the severely embarrassed ambassador.
Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, the legal charity and human rights group which acted for Mohamed, said last night: "The US is under a legal duty to investigate the crime of torture, not to suppress evidence that it happened ... For the foreign secretary to give in to these illegal demands by the Bush administration is capitulation to blackmail, pure and simple."
The government was accused last night of hiding behind claims of a threat to national security to suppress evidence of torture by the CIA on a prisoner still held in Guantánamo Bay.
An unprecedented high court ruling yesterday blamed the US, with British connivance, for keeping the "powerful evidence" secret, sparking criticism from lawyers, campaigners and MPs, who claimed the government had capitulated to American bullying.
By Mike Moore
William Lynn, President Barack Obama’s nominee for Deputy Secretary of Defense, vowed to make the Pentagon’s missile defense system “cost-effective” during his confirmation hearing earlier this month before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Indeed, missile defense strikes a lot of national security analysts as a frightful waste of money.
By Julio Godoy, IPS
BERLIN, Feb 2 (IPS) - Now that former U.S. president George W. Bush is an ordinary citizen again, many legal and human rights activists in Europe are demanding that he and high-ranking members of his government be brought before justice for crimes against humanity committed in the so-called war on terror.
"Judicial clarification of the crimes against international law the former U.S. government committed is one of the most delicate issues that the new U.S. president Barack Obama will have to deal with," Wolfgang Kaleck, general secretary of the European Centre for Human and Constitutional Rights told IPS.
U.S. justice will have to "deal with the turpitudes committed by the Bush government," says Kaleck, who has already tried unsuccessfully to sue the former U.S. authorities in European courts. "And, furthermore, the U.S. government will have to pay compensation to the innocent people who were victims of these crimes."
By Susanne Koelbl, Spiegel
The approach to combatting the drug mafia in Afghanistan has spurred an open rift inside NATO. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, top NATO commander John Craddock wants the alliance to kill opium dealers, without proof of connection to the insurgency. NATO commanders, however, do not want to follow the order.
A dispute has emerged among NATO High Command in Afghanistan regarding the conditions under which alliance troops can use deadly violence against those identified as insurgents. In a classified document, which SPIEGEL has obtained, NATO's top commander, US General John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" providing NATO troops with the authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan."
By Ray McGovern, www.consortiumnews.com
Editor’s Note: On Jan. 26, 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark, former Danish military intelligence officer Frank Grevil was given the Sam Adams award for integrity in intelligence. The following is an extended version of the introductory remarks by former CIA intelligence analyst Ray McGovern:
Thank you, one and all, for coming this evening at such short notice and in such encouraging numbers. Our first order of business this evening is the presenting of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award to former Danish intelligence officer, Maj. Frank Grevil.
You each have a handout explaining who former CIA analyst Sam Adams was, and why we, his former colleagues, created this movement in his memory.
Dear President Obama,
Please accept our sincere congratulations on your recent victory in the United States presidential election. As US Citizens and members of various peace and justice groups in Europe, we take this opportunity to write to you with a list of measures which we think warrants your immediate attention. As Americans living abroad, we are in a unique position to see the damaging consequences of irrational international policy and blatant disregard for international commitments. As you are well aware, critical issues have been neglected and abused during the past 8 years, issues that have greatly concerned our organization. We ask that you give priority to the following matters:
The Foreign Secretary attacked the legacy of George Bush yesterday, branding the outgoing President’s War on Terror a “misleading and mistaken” doctrine that had united extremists against the West.
Speaking in Mumbai, David Miliband said that the idea of a war on terror gave a false notion “of a unified, transnational enemy, embodied in the figure of Osama bin Laden and the organisation of al-Qaeda”.
He suggested that the phrase had “inadvertently sustained al-Qaeda’s propaganda” and risked magnifying the threats faced. “The more we lump terrorist groups together, the more we play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common,” he added.
From Ray McGovern:
By some quirk of fate, I've been asked to speak at Oxford Union debate on Jan. 22. The proposed motion is:
'THIS HOUSE BELIEVES GEORGE W. BUSH HAS MADE THE WORLD A SAFER PLACE'
A tough one. Any ideas? (Just kidding)
I am being "hosted in opposition."
Have just learned that Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, and recipient (in 2005) of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence, will also take part—I trust also "hosted in opposition."
towards the Israeli embassy in Kensington, in protest at Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip
By London Paper
AN anti-war demonstration ended in violence tonight as protesters clashed with riot police in l London.
The protest against Israel's attacks on Gaza saw one police officer knocked unconscious and two others receive facial injuries, a police spokesman said.
An initially peaceful demonstration ended with a group of protesters facing mounted riot police throwing missiles and smashing windows on Kensington High Street near the Israeli Embassy.
Riot officers from the Metropolitan Police force charged at the group of mainly young men.
Sticks and barriers were hurled at the officers by the group, many of whom were masked.
About 300 police in full riot gear had surrounded a similar-sized group of protesters pushing them up the street.