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Germany's Left Party was expelled from the Bundestag yesterday after its members held up signs bearing the names of Afghan civilians killed in a German-ordered airstrike last September.
The protest came in the middle of a parliamentary debate on extending Germany’s nine-year military mission to Afghanistan by a further year.
Some 429 MPs voted for and 111 against the new mandate – 16 fewer votes in favour than last time – allowing troop numbers to be increased by 850 to 5,350.
The opposition Green Party abstained and, after being re-admitted, the Left Party MPs contributed to the 111 votes against the mandate.
“This was no routine vote, we reject the war in Afghanistan,” said Gesine Lötzsch, the Left Party’s designate co-leader, after MPs held up about 70 signs with names of victims. One read: “Ali Mohammad, farmer, 35 years old, nine children.
“This was a dignified way of remembering individual people with names and biographies who have died, deaths that have brought calamity on their families.”
The expulsion of the entire 76-member Left parliamentary party, a first for the Bundestag, underlined the controversy that still surrounds Germany’s first post-war military deployment outside Europe. The revised mandate will increase by five to 1,400 the number of Germans training Afghan soldiers. Read more.
Britain's top three judges plunged MI5 into crisis yesterday by releasing a devastating finding that its officers have a 'dubious record when it comes to human rights and coercive techniques'.
In issuing the judgment by Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, the Appeal Court faced down an unprecedented 'bullying' campaign by the Home and Foreign Secretaries demanding that the allegation be withdrawn.
Alan Johnson and David Miliband had dismissed as 'ludicrous lies' suggestions that MI5 had a 'culture of suppression' over torture.
Two weeks ago, they persuaded the Appeal Court to change a contentious draft paragraph written by Lord Neuberger which made that allegation in relation to the treatment of ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.
But yesterday, despite overwhelming pressure from Whitehall and MI5, the judges decided to release in full the original paragraph, known as 168. Read more.
With the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms expiring last December 5 and its successor held up almost three months in large part because of U.S. missile shield provocations in recent weeks, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is forging ahead with the formulation and implementation of a new Strategic Concept.
On February 5 Russia unveiled its new military doctrine, which identified further NATO expansion eastward to its frontier and American and NATO interceptor missile deployments on and near its borders as the "main external threats of war." 
On February 23 NATO held its fourth seminar on the new - 21st century - Strategic Concept decided upon at the sixtieth anniversary summit in April of 2009 in Strasbourg, France and Kehl, Germany. After previous meetings in Luxembourg, Slovenia and Norway, the final - and far most important - meeting was held in Washington, DC. Entitled Strategic Concept Seminar on Transformation and Capabilities, it was conducted at the National Defense University in the nation's capital.
The Strategic Concept endorses expansion of the bloc deeper into the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, broadening global partnerships outside the Euro-Atlantic zone and consolidating an interceptor missile system to cover all of Europe as a joint U.S. and NATO project.
Russian concerns and NATO designs are at complete loggerheads, which accounts for among other problems a new START agreement remaining in limbo. And for Russia's new military doctrine.
It's Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of the very libertarian Reason magazine:
To put it plainly, when free marketers warn that Democratic health care initiatives will make us more “like France,” a big part of me says, “I wish.” It’s not that I think it’s either feasible or advisable for the United States to adopt a single-payer, government-dominated system. But it’s instructive to confront the comparative advantages of one socialist system abroad to sharpen the arguments for more capitalism at home.
For a dozen years now I’ve led a dual life, spending more than 90 percent of my time and money in the U.S. while receiving 90 percent of my health care in my wife’s native France. On a personal level the comparison is no contest: I’ll take the French experience any day. ObamaCare opponents often warn that a new system will lead to long waiting times, mountains of paperwork, and less choice among doctors. Yet on all three of those counts the French system is significantly better, not worse, than what the U.S. has now. ...
In France, you are covered, period. It doesn’t depend on your job, it doesn’t depend on a health maintenance organization, and it doesn’t depend on whether you filled out the paperwork right. Those who (like me) oppose ObamaCare, need to understand (also like me, unfortunately) what it’s like to be serially rejected by insurance companies even though you’re perfectly healthy. It’s an enraging, anxiety-inducing, indelible experience, one that both softens the intellectual ground for increased government intervention and produces active resentment toward anyone who argues that the U.S. has “the best health care in the world.” Read more.
On February 22 two major developments occurred in the Americas south of the Rio Grande. The two-day Rio Group summit opened in Mexico and Great Britain started drilling for oil 60 miles north of the Falklands Islands, known as Las Malvinas to Argentina.
The meeting in Mexico was identified as a Unity Summit because for the first time the 24 members of the Rio Group (minus Honduras, not invited because of the illegitimacy of its post-coup regime) - Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela - were joined by the fifteen members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM): Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago. (Haiti, Jamaica and Suriname are members of both organizations.)
Ahead of the summit the Financial Times wrote, "The Mexican-led initiative, a clear sign of Latin America’s growing confidence as a region, will exclude both the US and Canada. Some observers believe it could even eventually rival the 35-member Organisation of American States (OAS), which includes the US and Canada and has been the principal forum for hemispheric issues during the past half century." 
In fact on the first day of the summit Bolivian President Evo Morales called for a "a new US-free OAS,"  stressing Washington's centuries-long history of perpetrating military coups, blackmail, looting of natural resources and, over the past generation, the scourge of neo-liberalism in the Americas.
Yanukovich Campaign Team Tied To Election Rigging Allegations In United States
Washington, DC: Ukrainian presidential candidate and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko last week alleged that over one million votes were stolen by opposition candidate Viktor Yanukovich in the February 7th presidential run off election. http://japantoday.com/category/world/view/tymoshenko-calls-ukraine-vote-... She has filed over 60 complaints with the Central Election Commission and has called the irregularities “shocking.”
In 2004, Mr. Yanukovich’s campaign was caught rigging the election after members of his election team were recorded discussing how to destroy evidence that showed tampering with the tabulation results. That revelation led to massive protests in the street, the Orange Revolution and a new vote which resulted in the election of Viktor Yushchenko.
By David Rovics
In a country with the kind of tumultuous history that Ireland has it's not surprising that a man being arrested and jailed for seven months would escape the notice of the media, at least outside of Ireland. What should hopefully pique some interest is that this is a man with a long history of being bullied, intimidated, arrested and treated roughly by the authorities for his nonviolent resistance against Shell Oil's construction of a gas pipeline, and now the judge is calling him a bully and jailing him for seven months on the extremely dubious charge of intimidating an officer.
To be sure, this is not Nigeria, where Shell regularly massacres those opposed to the oil drilling which is destroying the environment and the livelihoods of so much of the population. Shell doesn't run Ireland in the way it controls Nigeria. But at the same time, much like my own country, the Irish government has proven itself to be far from free of corruption.
Thousands of people have gathered in Dresden to block an annual neo-Nazi march commemorating the allied bombing of the German city during World War II.
The neo-Nazis gathered outside the Neustadt railway station to mark the anniversary of devastating bombing raids.
They planned to stage a "funeral march" after listening to a series of speeches but more than 15,000 counter-protestors blocked the rally.
"We have for the first time succeeded in preventing the biggest neo-Nazi march in Europe," Lena Roth, of the Dresden Without Nazis alliance, said.
Police reported "a few incidents" including attacks on officers by "violent demonstrators" who were not identified. But they later said the neo-Nazis were not able to stage the march.
Does this mean that Turkey is a nuclear power?
"Far from making Europe safer, and far from producing a less nuclear dependent Europe, [the policy] may well end up bringing more nuclear weapons into the European continent, and frustrating some of the attempts that are being made to get multilateral nuclear disarmament," (George Robertson, quoted in Global Security, February 10, 2010)
"'Is Italy capable of delivering a thermonuclear strike?...
Could the Belgians and the Dutch drop hydrogen bombs on enemy targets?...
Germany's air force couldn't possibly be training to deliver bombs 13 times more powerful than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, could it?...
Nuclear bombs are stored on air-force bases in Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands — and planes from each of those countries are capable of delivering them." ("What to Do About Europe's Secret Nukes." Time Magazine, December 2, 2009)
Top judge: Binyam Mohamed case shows MI5 to be devious, dishonest and complicit in torture
Legal defeat plunges Security Service into crisis over torture evidence, and it is revealed that judge removed damning verdict after Foreign Office QC's plea
By Richard Norton-Taylor and Ian Cobain | Guardian.co.UK
The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, wrote to the court after the Sumption letter came to light on Monday night. He said today: "It is good news that – after a challenge from the Guardian and other news organisations – the courts have finally ordered the government to reveal evidence of MI5 complicity in torture. This is a watershed in open justice in an area in which it is notoriously difficult to shine a light. But it was extremely disturbing that the government's lawyers made a successful last-ditch attempt to get the master of the rolls to rewrite his judgment."
MI5 faced an unprecedented and damaging crisis tonight after one of the country's most senior judges found that the Security Service had failed to respect human rights, deliberately misled parliament, and had a "culture of suppression" that undermined government assurances about its conduct.
The condemnation, by Lord Neuberger, the master of the rolls, was drafted shortly before the foreign secretary, David Miliband, lost his long legal battle to suppress a seven-paragraph court document showing that MI5 officers were involved in the ill-treatment of a British resident, Binyam Mohamed.
Amid mounting calls for an independent inquiry into the affair, three of the country's most senior judges – Lord Judge, the lord chief justice, Sir Anthony May, president of the Queen's Bench Division, and Lord Neuberger – disclosed evidence of MI5's complicity in Mohamed's torture and unlawful interrogation by the US.
So severe were Neuberger's criticisms of MI5 that the government's leading lawyer in the case, Jonathan Sumption QC, privately wrote to the court asking him to reconsider his draft judgment before it was handed down.
The judges agreed but Sumption's letter, which refers to Neuberger's original comments, was made public after lawyers for Mohamed and media organisations, including the Guardian, intervened. Read more.
The EU Parliament voted today–by big margins–to end the temporary deal allowing the US access to data from SWIFT.
The European Parliament on Thursday broadly rejected an agreement with the United States on sharing information on bank transfers that was aimed at tracking suspected terrorists through their finances.The vote in Strasbourg, France, underlined differences between the United States and the European Union over how to balance guarantees of personal privacy with concerns about national and international security.
A resolution to reject the deal passed 378-196, with 31 abstentions. The vote means that the agreement, which provisionally went into force at the beginning of February, cannot be used as planned.
The agreement would have freed the United States from having to seek bank data on a country-by-country basis. But Washington still could press for access to the data through such avenues.
Remember, this deal would have given European citizens more protections than Americans currently get from their banks (because it would have allowed them to check whether their data had been accessed). Read more.
By the BBC
The foreign secretary has lost an Appeal Court bid to stop the disclosure of secret information relating to the alleged torture of a UK resident.
Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed says UK authorities knew he was tortured at the behest of US authorities during seven years of captivity.
Judges ruled redacted paragraphs, which say his treatment was "cruel, inhuman and degrading", should be released.
David Miliband said the ruling was "not evidence that the system is broken".
The judgement was delivered by the three most senior Court of Appeal judges in England and Wales.
Commenting on the case, the prime minister's spokesman said the government stood firmly against torture and cruel and inhumane treatment.
By Charlotte Dennett
One of the most remarkable things about England’s ongoing “Iraq War Inquiry” is how little has been written about it in the U.S. Though many Britons believe the so-called Chilcot inquiry is a whitewash, there are important facts to glean from the testimony of high level officials who led Great Britain to the war in Iraq, facts which reveal contradictions in their official stories and bear comparison with the U.S. government’s version of what happened.
The open and shut case against Tony Blair
If Blair cannot give satisfactory answers to the questions below, there is only one conclusion: he should stand trial for war crimes.
By By Philippe Sands QC, Professor of law, University College, London | Stop the War
Here are the key questions to think about in assessing Mr Blair's performance, and that of the inquiry:
The case for war – "regime change"
Early on Mr Blair was told that military action for regime change would be illegal under international law. The inquiry has heard that he therefore justified action as disarmament and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). However, Alastair Campbell's diary entry for 2 April 2002 confirms that participants at one meeting "discussed whether the central aim was WMD or regime change" and that "TB felt it was regime change". So was regime change one of your aims?
"Solidly with the president"
Mr Blair claims no decision on war was taken until after parliament had voted on 18 March 2003. Yet evidence shows he communicated his unconditional support for regime change much earlier, in spring 2002. In January 2003 Mr Blair met President Bush at the White House. Sir David Manning, his foreign policy adviser, records the president telling Mr Blair that military action would be taken with or without a second Security Council resolution and the bombing would begin in mid-March 2003. The note records the reaction: "The prime minister said he was solidly with the president." Why didn't you tell the Cabinet or parliament that you were "solidly with the president" about military action with or without a second UN Resolution, when you reported on your meeting with President Bush on 3 February 2002?
In September 2002 the government published a dossier. Mr Blair's foreword said the intelligence established "beyond doubt" that Saddam was producing WMD and continuing efforts to develop nuclear weapons; we now know doubts were expressed. On 24 September 2002 Mr Blair told parliament that the intelligence was "extensive, detailed and authoritative"; we now know the intelligence was patchy and old. He also told parliament that Saddam night acquire a usable nuclear weapon in "a year or two"; no substantive intelligence supported that claim. How do you account for these misleading statements?
Legality Read more
This is the resistance to our empire that is sweeping the globe, unbeknownst to most of us in the United States:
This is footage from today in Vicenza, Italy, where 50 women and men entered the construction site of the proposed mammoth new US military base in a location called "Dal Molin". They chained themselves to cranes and other machines.
The campaign we need to support: http://www.nodalmolin.it
What Americans can do: http://peaceoftheaction.org
"European security is, not only to the individual nations, but to the world. It is, after all, more than a collection of countries linked by history and geography. It is a model for the transformative power of reconciliation, cooperation, and community"....However, "much important work remains unfinished. The transition to democracy is incomplete in parts of Europe and Eurasia."...
To elite trans-Atlantic policy makers the above paragraphs' meaning is indisputable: The use of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military bloc - the true foundation of the "transatlantic partnership" - in waging war in and effectively colonizing the Balkans and in expanding into Eastern Europe, incorporating twelve new nations including former Warsaw Pact members and Soviet republics, is the worldwide paradigm for the West in the 21st century.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was busy in London and Paris last week advancing the new Euro-Atlantic agenda for the world.
As the top foreign policy official of what her commander-in-chief Barack Obama touted as being the world's sole military superpower on December 10, she is no ordinary foreign minister. Her position is rather some composite of several ones from previous historical epochs: Viceroy, proconsul, imperial nuncio.
When a U.S. secretary of state speaks the world pays heed. Any nation that doesn't will suffer the consequences of that inattention, that disrespect toward the imperatrix mundi.
On January 27 she was in London for a conference on Yemen and the following day she attended the International Conference on Afghanistan in the same city.
Also on the 28th she and two-thirds of her NATO quad counterparts, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (along with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton), pronounced a joint verdict on the state of democracy in Nigeria, Britain's former colonial possession.
Afterwards she crossed the English channel and delivered an address called Remarks on the Future of European Security at L'Ecole Militaire in Paris on January 29. That presentation was the most substantive component of her three-day European junket and the only one that dealt mainly with the continent itself, her previous comments relating to what are viewed by the United States and its Western European NATO partners as backwards, "ungovernable" international badlands. That is, the rest of the world.
Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin, warned on Friday that his country will not passively watch the deployment of a U.S. Patriot missile battery in Poland.
The US will supply the Patriots and 100 troops in Poland this year, to be stationed not far from the Russian Kaliningrad border.
"Do they really think that we will calmly watch the location of a rocket system, at a distance of 60 km from Kaliningrad?", the Russian diplomat said Friday.
Rogozin refused to clarify what the response of the Russian side would be to the deployment. "It is a matter for the military," is all he would say. Read more.
US Threatens Venezuela: Netherlands Has Granted US Military Use Of Its Islands In The Caribbean
by Vonk Netherlands and Hands off Venezuela | Global Research | Map
The government of the Netherlands recently granted the US military use of its islands in the Caribbean, with the excuse that this is to help in the “war against drugs”. In reality, this is a direct threat to the Chavez government in Venezuela.
In the Dutch media articles have appeared about the “war-mongering” president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, who is “preparing a war against Colombia”. Now Chávez has accused the Netherlands of supporting aggression against Venezuela, because the Netherlands has given permission to the American armed forces to use the military bases on the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curaçao.
In the media Hugo Chávez, as always, has been presented like some “crazy populist”, and of course the “civilised Netherlands” are presented as being totally innocent.
Later Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, said the American military were on Aruba and Curaçao, as part of the “war against drugs”. He remains silent about what is really happening on Aruba and Curaçao.
Authors such as Noam Chomsky and Eva Golinger have pointed out in different articles that the so-called “war against drugs” has nothing to do with any battle against drug smuggling, but has been used for other causes such as fighting against guerrilla movements and the spying of other countries. Since the start of the “war against drugs” there has only been more smuggling and consumption of drugs.
The fact that the Netherlands are participating in this is quite normal, because the Dutch government has a tradition of supporting American imperialism. After Britain the Netherlands are the biggest ally of the U.S. in Western Europe. The cabinet of Prime Minister Balkenende gave political support to the invasion of Iraq that was based completely on lies. Now the Netherlands have troops in Afghanistan, officially to rebuild the country, but in practice to prop up the corrupt regime of Karzai.
The bases on Aruba and Curaçao
In 1999 the Netherlands and the U.S. signed an agreement for the establishment of Forward Operating Locations (FOLs). This meant that the American military could use air force bases on Aruba and Curaçao. While the bases were originally used for operations against drug smuggling and the Colombian guerrilla movement FARC, this changed with the election of George Bush. Venezuela was seen as a threat by then, because it was a beacon of hope for the poor and working people of Latin America. In 2002 there was a CIA-backed coup attempt against the democratically elected Hugo Chávez. Since then there have only been more intrigues against Venezuela. Read more.
MADRID — Spain's top investigating judge Baltasar Garzon is to probe suspected torture and ill-treatment of inmates at the US prison of Guantanamo Bay, a judical source said Saturday.
The judge will be acting on complaints lodged by a number of associations, focussing on one prisoner, Ahmed Abderraman Hamed, who has Spanish nationality, the source added, confirming a report published in daily El Pais
Three other detainees, Moroccan Lahcen Ikasrrien, Palestinian Jamiel Abdulatif al-Banna and Libyan Omar Deghayes would also be concerned as they had links with Spain.
In 2005 Spain declared itself competent to investigate any crime committed abroad, but after diplomatic problems the scope of the inquiries was reduced in 2009.
Spanish courts can now deal only with cases that have a clear link with Spain, or cases that are not being investigated in countries where the offences are alleged to have been committed.
Twelve months ago a new U.S. administration entered the White House as the world entered a new year.
Two and a half weeks later the nation's new vice president, Joseph Biden, spoke at the annual Munich Security Conference and said "it's time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should be working together with Russia."
Incongruously to any who expected a change in tact if not substance regarding strained U.S.-Russian relations, in the same speech Biden emphasized that, using the "New World Order" shibboleth of the past generation at the end, "Two months from now, the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will gather to celebrate the 60th year of this Alliance. This Alliance has been the cornerstone of our common security since the end of World War II. It has anchored the United States in Europe and helped forge a Europe whole and free." 
Six months before, while Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he rushed to the nation of Georgia five days after the end of the country's five-day war with Russia as an emissary for the George W. Bush administration, and pledged $1 billion in assistance to the beleaguered regime of former U.S. resident Mikheil Saakashvili.
To demonstrate how serious Biden and the government he represented were about rhetorical gimmicks like reset buttons, four months after his Munich address Biden visited Ukraine and Georgia to shore up their "color revolution"-bred heads of state (outgoing Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is married to a Chicagoan and former Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush official) in their anti-Russian and pro-NATO stances.
While back in Georgia he insisted "We understand that Georgia aspires to join NATO. We fully support that aspiration."
In Ukraine he said "As we reset the relationship with Russia, we reaffirm our commitment to an independent Ukraine, and we recognize no sphere of influence or no ability of any other nation to veto the choices an independent nation makes,"  also in reference to joining the U.S.-dominated military bloc. Biden's grammar may have been murky, but his message was unmistakeably clear.
Upon his return home Biden gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal, the contents of which were indicated by the title the newspaper gave its account of them - "Biden Says Weakened Russia Will Bend to U.S." - and which were characterized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies as "the most critical statements from a senior administration official to date vis-a-vis Russia." 
Vincezans Appeal for International Support To Preserve Invaluable Archaeological Heritage From Destruction By US Military
To the associations, to the movements, to everyone who, in these years, have put effort and struggle to preserve the landscape, the history and the cultural traditions of our territory we are asking for an extraordinary mobilization to protect the archaeological findings in the Dal Molin area.
The excavations for the construction of the US military base are actually progressing at full speed and in addition to the destruction of one of the last oasis of green and trees of the city and putting under serious risks our groundwater resources, are now endangering even the finding and the salvage of a new archaeological site on the origin of our “veneto” heritage.
The artifacts and the findings so far discovered give shape to the existence of a palaeo-veneto village dating back to a period (8000 years B.C.) preceding by several centuries the one considered as the original first site in Vicenza area.
The risk that all this invaluable heritage will end up buried and destroyed forever under the foundation of a US military outlet is very high!
We are simply asking for the formal inspection of the value and consistence of such findings, through the channel and procedure which normally apply to the Italian archaeological sites: that is to stop the works and the intervention of the “Sovraintendenza dei beni Architettonici del Veneto”.
We are asking to do this with transparency, making the results of the inspection available to the citizens. We think that this is a necessary procedure, but we think that without a mobilization of the city even this request will be ignored, as happened before for the denied referendum for the construction of the Dal Molin site and the demand for the investigation on the environmental impact of the new base.
Vicenza can not forget that in the 70s Querini park, the most beautiful park in town, was saved from cement thanks to the mobilization of the citizens, of the associations and the movements.
For the Dal Molin matter, Vicenza can not accept to compromise its future, insult its present and destroy its past to do a favor to a foreign power.
That’s the reason why we invite everybody, citizens, associations and movements who care for the city and its artistic and environmental heritage, to gather in this fundamental and binding demand for truth.
German govt. proposes compromise on troop increase
By Elsa Rassbach
Prior to the Afghanistan Conference in London on Thursday (Jan. 28th), the German government has today announced that it will sending "up to" 500 additional German troops to Afghanistan and also "freeing up" 350 more soldiers as a "flexible reserve." The German troops are to pursue a more "defensive approach" that will focus on protecting civilians and training the local security forces.
The German troop increase is far less than the Pentagon wanted. According to today's Reuters article: "The United States and NATO had pressed Berlin to bolster its military presence in Afghanistan by up to 2,500 troops."
The war in Iraq had "no basis in international law", a Dutch inquiry found today, in the first ever independent legal assessment of the decision to invade.
In a series of damning findings, a seven-member panel in the Netherlands concluded that the war, which was supported by the Dutch government following intelligence from Britain and the US, had not been justified in law.
"The Dutch government lent its political support to a war whose purpose was not consistent with Dutch government policy," the inquiry in the Hague concluded. "The military action had no sound mandate in international law."
In a further twist, it emerged that the UK government refused to disclose a key document requested by the Dutch panel.
The document – allegedly a letter from Tony Blair asking for the support of the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende – was handed over in a breach of diplomatic protocol and on the basis that it was for Balkenende's eyes only, an inquiry official told the Guardian.
"It was a surprise for our committee when we discovered information about this letter," said Rob Sebes, a spokesman for the Dutch inquiry. "It was not sent with a normal procedure between countries – instead it was a personal message from Tony Blair to our prime minister Jan Peter Balkanende, and had to be returned and not stored in our archives. Read more.
We are shocked at suggestions by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Ivan Lewis and foreign secretary David Miliband that Britain may consider changing its laws to avoid any future attempts to prosecute suspected war criminals, Israeli or otherwise. The UK must not renege on its international treaty obligations, particularly those under the fourth Geneva convention to seek out and prosecute persons suspected of war crimes wherever and whoever they are, whatever their status, rank or influence, against whom good prima facie evidence has been laid. We reject any attempt to undermine the judiciary's independence and integrity. A judge who finds sufficient evidence of a war crime must have power to order the arrest of a suspect, subject to the usual rights to bail and appeal.
The power to arrest individuals reasonably suspected of war crimes anywhere in the world should they set foot on UK soil is an efficient and necessary resource in the struggle against war crimes, and must not be interfered with (Report, 6 January). Nor should the government succumb to pressure from any foreign power to alter this crucial aspect of the judicial process. We urge the government to state clearly that it will not alter the law on universal jurisdiction and will continue to allow victims of war crimes to seek justice in British courts.
Revealed: Jack Straw’s secret warning to Tony Blair on Iraq
By Michael Smith | Times Online
Straw said Iraq posed no greater threat to the UK than it had done previously. The letter said there was “no credible evidence” linking Iraq to Al-Qaeda and that the “threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of 11 September”.
Implying Blair was already seeking an excuse for war, it warned of two legal “elephant traps”. It states “regime change per se is no justification for military action” and “the weight of legal advice here is that a fresh [UN] mandate may well be required”.
A “SECRET and personal” letter from Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary, to Tony Blair reveals damning doubts at the heart of government about Blair’s plans for Iraq a year before war started.
The letter, a copy of which is published for the first time today, warned the prime minister that the case for military action in Iraq was of dubious legality and would be no guarantee of a better future for Iraq even if Saddam Hussein were removed.
It was sent 10 days before Blair met George Bush, then the US president, in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. The document clearly implies that Blair was already planning for military action even though he continued to insist to the British public for almost another year that no decision had been made.
The letter will be a key piece of evidence at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war when it questions Straw this week. Read more.
Almost a quarter of voters (23%) believe Tony Blair deliberately misled MPs over the Iraq war and should face war crimes charges, an opinion poll has found.
Most people also think the former PM, who is due to give evidence to the official inquiry into the war within weeks, knew Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
The YouGov survey for the Sunday Times found less than a third (32%) accepted that Mr Blair "genuinely believed in the threat" which he used to publicly justify sending UK troops, while 52% thought he had "deliberately misled" the country. Read more.
THE PEOPLE'S DOSSIER VERSUS THE DODGY DOSSIER | Stop The War | Press Release
Have you submitted your question to Tony Blair for the People's Dossier, which Stop the War will be presenting to the Iraq Inquiry? Hundreds of questions have been sent in, including contributions from Hans von Sponeck, the former UN coordinater in Iraq, musician Brian Eno and a number of military families.
Sami Ramadani, from Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation, has sent in this question:
Mr Blair, you have often said that you "strongly believed" you were doing "the right thing" when you sent British troops to invade and occupy Iraq. Considering that Hitler and other war criminals strongly believed that what they were doing was right, do you think that strongly believing in something makes it right, or pardonable if it proved to be terribly wrong?
Last week Alistair Campbell told the Iraq Inquiry he defends "every single word" of the dossier presented to parliament in September 2002. Blair wrote in the forward that it showed "beyond doubt" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, when both he and Campbell knew full well that the intelligence had not produced any evidence that they existed.
The second "dodgy" dossier" published in February 2003 was an even more blatant fabrication intended to justify war crimes.
If you haven't sent in your question yet, please do so now. Blair will be appearing at the Iraq Inquiry within the next three weeks and we want the People's Dossier to be representative of everyone who protested in such vast numbers against his warmongering under the slogan "not in our name".
HOW TO SEND YOUR QUESTION
"Whereas Israel's geopolitical location could offer an 'external base' for the defence of the West, NATO's military and economic status could provide added security and economic benefits for the host state.
"In a rapidly changing strategic environment, Israeli policy makers are recognising definite advantages, especially in security affairs, in developing closer ties with NATO. The present Israeli government's enthusiasm for this project can be seen in an ambitious set of proposals submitted to the Alliance," which included "joint military training [and] future joint development of weapons systems." 
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is pressuring its 28 member states and dozens of partnership affiliates on five continents to contribute more troops for the war in Afghanistan, the Jerusalem Post reported on January 13 that "Israel is launching a diplomatic initiative in an effort to influence the outcome of NATO's new Strategic Concept which is currently under review by a team of experts led by former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright." 
NATO is crafting its updated Strategic Concept to replace that last formulated in 1999, the year of the military bloc's expansion into Eastern Europe and its first full-fledged war, the 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.
Madeleine Albright, arguably the individual most publicly identified with orchestrating both NATO's absorption of three former Warsaw Pact members, including her native Czech Republic, and in launching Operation Allied Force, co-chairs NATO's Group of Experts with Jeroen van der Veer, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell until June of 2009.
Brown pressed to appear at inquiry before the election
By Patrick Wintour | Guardian.co.UK
Gordon Brown was today facing intense pressure to give evidence to the Iraq inquiry before the general election, on the basis that voters have a right to be informed about his role in the lead-up to the war.
The prime minister tried to sidestep the issue in the Commons by saying he was happy to give evidence, but adding that Sir John Chilcot's inquiry had ruled he should not do so before the election.
The demand for Brown to give evidence was initially made by the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, but was later backed by the Conservatives. It adds to the impression that Labour is in danger of finding that the decision to invade Iraq is going to dog the government in the 2010 election, if not as much as it did in 2005.
Many senior Blairites are privately contemptuous that Brown agreed to hold the inquiry in the run-up to the election, and then conceded it should hold public sessions. Read more.