Saturday, June 18

DSM - Take it to the Courts

Y'know what the problem with (some) Democrats is? They still expect other people to do the important things that need being done for them.

It's time for that to stop.

This weeks Downing Street Hearing was a great thing, but exactly how much of a groundswell it's going to start with the media remains an open question. We can't wait for government to do something here. (Even if their were impeachment hearings now, there's no way they'd be effective under a Republican Controlled Congress) and we can't wait for the media to finally begin taking this story seriously. Neo-Conartist Republicans control the White House, Congress and a significant portion of the press, so we have to attack using the one vehicle that they don't completely or significantly control.

The Courts.

Title 18, Section 1001 of the U.S. Codes states the following:

Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

The ACLU has already shown us the way on the issue of tortue, and has sued Donald Rumsfeld - like them if we really want the truth about how the U.S. entered the war on Iraq, if we want to find the matching U.S. meeting minutes and notes to the Downing Street Documents, we're going to have to sue the Bush Administration to get them using the Freedom of Information Act.

First, If both British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Intelligence Chief Sir Richard Dearlove felt that U.S. Officials had given them the impression that War with Iraq was inevitable, as they both stated in the Downing Street Minutes, there have to be matching American documents which either confirm or invalidate this view. If Dearlove did in fact meet with George Tenet and Condoleeza Rice just prior to the meeting which generated the DSM, as was alleged during the Downing hearing, there has to be a paper trail. If so, it is simply not a reasonable expectation that the Bush Administration would divulge this information unless it was forced to by subpoena or court order. With a Republican Congress, we aren't going to have any subpoenas, nor is an Special Prosecutor likely to be appointed, however neither of these is required during the discovery phase of a class-action lawsuit. Documents and evidence can be subpoenaed by the court and depositions can be taken, even the President can be deposed. (And if Clinton had a problem with "Is Is", you can just imagine what kind of Perjury trap can be set of George W.)


(Cindy Sheehan at the Downing Street Hearing)
Clearly there is precedent for his action: During the Clinton years, the Supreme Court ruled that a sitting President could be sued, and in recent years the Congress has passed laws which require Class-Action suits to be handled by Federal Court.

Second, Every Father and Mother like Cindy Sheehan, who has lost a loved one to this illegal war and feels the need to find redress, should join together and file suit against this President and his subordinates for wrongful death, siting his willfully false and misleading statments leading to the unneccesary War with Iraq, supported by Downing Street Documents and further information obtained via FOIA.




(Explosives left behind at Al Qaqaa)
Third, A second wrongful-death suit should be filed against Donald Rumseld by the family of any soldier who was killed or injured as a result of insuffiencient or "Hillbilly" armor. Despite his claims that we "Go to war with the armor we have", it seems to me and many that Rumsfeld has had this armor for five years now, and although the suppliers are fully capable of providing the materials, our soldiers are still not fully protected. There is no excuse for this.

Forth, the families of civilian contractors who've been killed by IED's that were contructed from explosives taken from Al QaQaa should sue Donald Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense of contributory negligence.

There's only so much our Democratic leaders can do, particular if they can't even have a meeting in an genuine hearing room. We have to take responsibility for holding this government accountable ourselves, first in the courts and secondly - at the polls in 06.

If a silly hick like Paula Jones could bring down Clinton (no offense intended to all our proud Democrat and Liberal "red-necks" out there fighting the good fight deep in the heart of Dixie), we should be able to crush George W. to powder.

Vyan

Thursday, June 16

NY Times on DSM Meeting


New York Times: Antiwar Group Says Leaked British Memo Shows Bush Misled Public on His War Plans
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Published: June 17, 2005

At a forum in Washington on Thursday, seated from left, Joseph Wilson, an ex-ambassador; Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq; Ray McGovern, an ex-C.I.A. analyst; and John Bonifaz, an antiwar activist.

WASHINGTON, June 16 - Opponents of the war in Iraq held an unofficial hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday to draw attention to a leaked British government document that they say proves their case that President Bush misled the public about his war plans in 2002 and distorted intelligence to support his policy.

In a jammed room in the basement of the Capitol, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, presided as witnesses asserted that the "Downing Street memo" - minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top security officials - vindicated their view that Mr. Bush made the decision to topple Saddam Hussein long before he has admitted.

"Thanks to the Downing Street minutes, we now know the truth," said Ray McGovern, a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years who helped organize a group of other retired intelligence officers to oppose the war.

The memo said Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of British intelligence, had said in the meeting that Mr. Bush had already decided on war, "but the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Cindy Sheehan, mother of a 24-year-old soldier killed in Iraq last year, said the memo "confirms what I already suspected: the leadership of this country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence."

The White House has maintained that Mr. Bush decided to invade Iraq only after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made the administration's case in a lengthy presentation to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003. His argument focused on intelligence demonstrating that Iraq had illicit weapons. No weapons, however, have been found.

Asked about the memo last week, President Bush said: "Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It's the last option." He added, "We worked hard to see if we could figure out how to do this peacefully."

conyers01.jpg
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) delivers 540,000 signatures to the White House.
After the hearing, Mr. Conyers and a dozen Congressional colleagues delivered to the White House bundles that they said contained the names of more than 560,000 Americans gathered on the Internet who had endorsed his letter to the president demanding answers to questions raised by the British memo. Some 122 members of Congress also signed the letter.

Asked about Mr. Conyers's letter and the British memo, Scott McClellan, the president's chief spokesman, described the congressman as "an individual who voted against the war in the first place and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed."

"And our focus is not on the past," Mr. McClellan said. "It's on the future and working to make sure we succeed in Iraq."

The hearing and other events Thursday reflected antiwar sentiment re-energized both by publication of the British memo and by evidence that Congressional and public opinion has shifted significantly against the president's conduct of the war.

A bipartisan group of House members introduced a resolution calling on the administration to announce by the end of the year a plan for the withdrawal of American forces, and more than 40 legislators announced the formation of an "Out of Iraq" Congressional caucus led by Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat.

Also, a New York Times/CBS News poll being published Friday found that 37 percent of Americans questioned approve of how Mr. Bush is dealing with Iraq, down from 45 percent in February.

At an antiwar rally across the street from the White House after Mr. Conyers's hearing, speakers roused a crowd of several hundred people with calls to bring the troops home and to impeach Mr. Bush. The protesters, organized by a group called After Downing Street, called the British memo the "smoking gun" proving their case against the administration.

The Downing Street memo, so named because the meeting was at the prime minister's London residence, was published in The Sunday Times of London on May 1.

It is one of seven prewar documents leaked since September to Michael Smith, a reporter for The Daily Telegraph before he began working for The Sunday Times. One, written in preparation for the July 23 meeting and published Sunday by The Sunday Times, warned that "a postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise" in which "Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."

Activists have accused mainstream news organizations of playing down the document's significance, even as antiwar bloggers have seized upon it as evidence.

David Swanson, a Democratic activist and one of the founders of After Downing Street, criticized those defenders of President Bush and journalists who have called the memo "old news" because the president's war preparations were widely reported by mid-2002.

"It's not old news to most Americans," Mr. Swanson said.

Wednesday, June 15

Bush World : Faith before Fact

Tommorrow may be a Historic Day, and then again it may not.

At 2:30 pm Eastern, a hearing on the Downing Street Minutes, by the Democratic members of the House questioning when the Bush Administration decided to begin the Iraq War and on what basis, will be convened. Expectations from both sides of the political spectrum are quite extreme. The "Far-Left", including those who hate the very idea of George W. Bush in the White House may be hoping that this will be the first serious salvo in the march toward eventual impeachment hearings - while those with a right-ward bent are sure to insist that this is just another example of how those "whiny Loser-crats" refuse to accept that their defeats in the 2000/2004 elections, and simply can't resist blaming everyone else but themselves.

As usual, my position is toward the Center as I suspect that both sets of expetations will fall far short of the reality.

Did President Bush Lie us into a War? I think not. At least - not exactly. Was the President merely the innocent victim of a broken intelligence apparatas that failed to warn us of 9/11, and then continued to fail when it came to Iraq's involvment in the event, ties to al-Qaeda and possession of WMD's? Again, I think, not exactly.

I think if you look at the facts honestly and squarely, you will begin to see a pattern that has led us to where we are now - and it's not neccesarily a pattern of deliberate deception, it's a pattern of paradigm, a pattern of received wisdom, and fervent belief. A pattern of faith before fact.

In 1998, the often noted PNAC (Project of the New American Century) penned it's letter to then President Clinton urging that he commit American energy and forces to removing Saddam Hussein as leader of Iraq. Signatories on this letter including Donald Rumseld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, William Bennet, Richard Armatage, Dick Cheney and others. This document outlines a strategy which would, thought it's authors, lead to greater world security and a new renaissance of Democracy in the Arab world and beyond. It was clear that Saddam was our enemy, although many of the left often gloss over it, Saddam's Intelligence Agency did conspire to assasinate President George H.W. Bush with a car-bomb in Kuwait in 1993. The plan failed, but the animous lingered - at least among many who felt that President Clinton by bombing the Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters, simply didn't do enough.

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat. We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

...

We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.

I see little reason to assume that those who penned this letter, didn't believe thier own words - in fact I feel confident that they absolutely and devoutly believed every sentence, as they've done nothing if not remained true to the goals outlined then. And there in, lies the beginning of our saga and the problem we find ourself living in today.

After the 2000 Election, there was a not just a change in the Chief Executive, there was also a major shift among key positions througout the Administration. Besides Dick Cheney as Vice-President, many other PNAC supporters and signatories - people who hold an ideological fervor the likes of which this country has rarely seen - were given Deputy and Undersecratary positions in Defense (Wolfowitz), the State Department (Bolton) and others. For example, Bush's Deputy in the Labor Department is Eugene Scalia, son of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and a former business lobbyist against workers compensation claims. Mr. Scalia has been known to claim that Repetitve Motion Injuries are simply "Junk Science" being used as an excuse for lazy workers to soak their employers. This person is now the Socitor of Labor, the primary legal representative for workers in the United States. A rather sad irony some would say.

The question on Downing Street has been framed as how much did the President and Administration know about Iraq WMD's and when did they know it? But the question should be, knowing that they believed Saddam himself was an imminent threat what did they do to verify that belief and most importantly did they ignore or downplay evidence which defied that belief?

The record is repleat with examples.

Following 9/11, the fear of international terrorism was at a fever pitch. It's clear that Saddam did at one time possess significant stockpiles of WMD's. He had used them against Iran and had used them against the Kurds following the first Gulf War in 1991. According to Richard Clarke's "Against all Enemies", contrary to credible evidence Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz continued to posit theories of Iraqi involvement not only in 9/11, but also in the first World Trace Center Bombing in 1993. Some of the lastest Post-Downing British Memos that have been released also confirm this view of Wolfowitz's. Against all evidence, Saddam was still the ultimate Boogey Man.

As it stands now, there have been several investigations into the Iraq WMD intelligence and indeed many failures have been found, but none have found that the intelligence was "fixed around [a specific] policy" - but that may be simply because one of these investigations were never tasked with answering that question. The 9/11 Committee didn't addressed the issue. The President's Robb-Silberman Commision on WMD's didn't bring the subject up.

"(W)e were not authorized to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence Community
The Senate Intelligence Committee Investigation was split into two sections, the second which was to address Administration influence on intelligence has be indefinately postponed. Senator Harry Reid responded to the announcement in a Press Release:

Last year, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee committed to investigate whether Bush Administration officials misused intelligence. The failure of the report issued today to examine this important issue only serves to increase the need for the chairman to keep that commitment.”
All of which indicates all the more need for the core question to be answered - how did America screw up this badly?

Some would argue that there was no evidence against the presumption of guilt by Saddam, and of course, it's better "safe than sorry". That's all well and good, except for the fact that there was quite a bit of evidence indicating that Saddam had no more WMD's, and that this information may indeed have been systematically ignored by those with a shared fervent belief - including the PNAC Deputies - who then proceeded to block positive news about Saddam from their bosses, Rumfeld, Powell and by extension, the President.

When the U.S. Energy Commision stated that the aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq were the wrong type for Uranium enrichment, this information didn't reach Colin Powell before he testified before the UN. When his own State Department's intelligence service stated that they had doubts about Saddam's continued possess of WMD's. Those doubts were ignored, many strongly suspect, by well position Deputies such as John Bolton - who himself already had a reputation for intimidating and threatening analyists who he felt were understating the dangers of WMD's in Cuba.

When Joe Wilson went to Niger to investigate whether Iraq could find a way to aquire Uranium, he returned stating that it simply wasn't possible - and was promptly trashed by a Robert Novak, who reported based info from a unamed Adminstration source (someone in the "middle"?) stating that his wife, CIA Operative Valarie Plame, had been instrumental in his being sent to Africa. A year ago the Washington Post reported that Wilson's claims that Plame "had nothing to do with" his trip were contradicted by a Senate Intelligence Report, even with this blow to his credibility his core claim that Iraq didn't have Uranium remains strong as it is clearly supported by the Dulfer Report.

ISG has not found evidence to show that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991 or renewed indigenous production of such material—activities that we believe would have constituted an Iraqi effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.

The other key factor that the Dulfer Report showed, was that many key allegations of WMD activity by Saddam all came from a single source, code-named Curveball. A source that his own German intelligence handlers found "not credible", yet his claims of mobile laboratories and imminent mushroom clouds still managed to find their way into Presidential Speeches and public comments by Secretary Powell, then-NSA Chief Condoleeza Rice and even Clinton Admin hold-over George Tenet, Director of the CIA.

Subordinates have claimed that they passed information up the chain concerning Curveball's lack of credibility, yet Tenet, for one, continues to state they he was unaware of this:
"It is deeply troubling to me that there was information apparently available within CIA as of late September or October of 2002 indicating that Curveball may have been a fabricator," Tenet said in a detailed seven-page rebuttal. "There is nothing more serious or galvanizing in the intelligence business than associating the word fabricator with a human source.
Once again, the failure wasn't at the analyst level - the inteligence wasn't "Dead Wrong" - nor was it (allegedly) with the leadership (Tenet, Powell) - the disconnect was apparently somewhere in the middle. Somewhere among the middle management or at the Administration appointed deputy level were PNACers such as Wolfowitz and Bolton who in all likelhood, simply refused to believe or to promote ideas and facts that deviated from their predetermined agenda.

This view is further supported by information and experience provided by Lt. Col Karen Kwaitkowski, a former Aide to the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, who has been quite outspoken and direct concerning on this issue. In her experience working directly with high-level Bush appointees during the lead-up to the Iraq War she has written that "the pressure of the intelligence community to conform, the rejection of it when it failed to produce intelligence suitable for supporting the 'Iraq is an imminent threat to the United States' agenda, and the amazing things I was hearing in both Bush and Cheney speeches told me that not only do neoconservatives hold a theory based on ideas not embraced by the American mainstream, but they also have a collective contempt for fact." Particularly, it seems when those facts are inconviently opposed to their shared beliefs.

For these Deputies and Undersecretaries, it's not simply a matter of them deliberately lying to their superiors - it's an issue of which facts did they choose to highlight in their reports, and which did they choose to de-emphasize or omit? This might mean that the longed-for independant investigation of President Bush may find that he was simply the victim of misguided and overzealous aids, not a deliberate prefabricator or liar per se.

Or then again, was he a willing victim of this paradigmatic group-think?

The most telling answer to this question comes from former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who said the Bush was like ""a blind man in a room full of deaf people", and that he whole-heartedly belives his decisions are the right ones, regardless of all nay-sayers and in many cases - clear and raw evidence to the contrary.
This is why he [Bush] dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts," Bartlett [a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance] went on to say. "He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.
This reliance on belief and conviction over fact, may indeed be a common trait among the PNAC/neo-conservative movement, and has gradually influenced the President. Where once he opening took input from many source, according to a extensive report by Ron Suskind for the New York Times, today he has closed himself into the tightest circle of "happy-talking" insiders and confidents of any President in modern history.

To lie is to state as fact, something that you yourself don't believe is true - but I strongly suspect that the aswer to the perennial question of "How did we get here?" may be something both far greater and far smaller than simply a set of repeated lies, it may indeed involve quite a bit of blind self-deception as well.

If the nation is to truly learn something valuable from this process, it will not be achieved simply by toppling the Bush Adminstration in the midst a highly-partisan conflagration in the rush to the third impeachment trial in our nation's history. We need to learn what really did and what did not occur in our intelligence assesment process, and what may be continuing to occur in all of our government decision making in order to truly prevent anything like this from happening again.

And if we fail in this, we ensure - whether the right remains in power, or the left regains it - that we remain quite ilkely, if not certain, to repeat this type of failure sometime in future.

It may happen later rather than sooner, with luck, but it's clear that without genuine understanding and a national commitment to a true paradigm shift away from pure belief to verifiable fact in governing - we will again ask and wonder in frustration, "How did we get here?"

Vyan

Tuesday, June 14

Highlights of Deception

From Democratic Underground.com - a quick chronology of deception highlights (on Iraq):

  • In January 1998, leaders of the neo-con Project for the New American Century - a Hard Right think-tank that included such key figures as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Jeb Bush, Jim Woolsey, et al. - wrote a letter to President Clinton urging that he invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein. (Clinton declined; he was going after bin Laden.) Later that year, when musing about a run for President in 2000 and how he would approach Iraq, Bush told his ghostwriter: "If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it."

  • The first Bush Administration cabinet meetings in January 2001, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill reported, focused on finding ways to attack Iraq. Later that year, Bush directed Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to begin considering military options for Saddam's removal. Even after being told by his intelligence analysts that 9/11 was the work of Al Qaida and not Iraq, Rumsfeld began badgering his intelligence crew to try to include Saddam Hussein in retaliation plans. Bush himself cornered anti-terrorism chief Richard Clarke and strongly suggested that he find a way to include Saddam in the mix.

  • In March of 2002, Time Magazine reported that Bush told several senators visiting the White House: "Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out."

  • In July of 2002, without going to Congress for permission, Bush took $700 million from funds Congress authorized for the Afghanistan war against Al Qaida/Taliban forces and diverted them to the coming Iraq War. Meanwhile, of course, Bush was telling the American people that he hadn't made up his mind about attacking Iraq.

  • The recently-revealed, top-secret Downing Street Memo, dated July 23, 2002, which talks about a just-concluded meeting between U.K. and Administration leaders at the Bush ranch in Texas, said that the "intelligence and facts" to justify the Iraq invasion to the public were to be "fixed around the policy." "Terrorism and WMD" would be the basis, the memo reported. Later, Paul Wolfowitz admitted that the Administration was having trouble agreeing on a rationale that would be seen morally acceptable and thus gain wide public support, so they finally settled on WMD - which they were sure would work. And it did, despite the fact that there were no stockpiles of those banned weapons.

  • In the second top-secret Downing Street Memo, released by the Times of London just a few days ago, the briefing paper for that Blair-Bush meeting of July 23, 2002, reveals that the British were worried about the illegality of the war action and that both the U.S. and Britain were anxious to find some legal excuse for their pending attack. They conceived of ways to lure Saddam Hussein into doing something belligerent that would make an attack more acceptable in the U.S. and U.N.; bombing runs by U.S. jets went on for months before the invasion, to try to provoke just such a response. But Saddam, aware of what game was being played, didn't react to the bait. Blair and Bush tried another ruse at the United Nations: they believed Saddam would object to allowing U.N. weapons inspectors back in, and thus create a casus belli, but, surprise, the Iraqi leader said the inspectors could return. Their preliminary work indicated that there were no stockpiles of WMD.

  • The U.N. inspections were cut off abruptly. The "shock and awe" bombing and land invasion began in March of 2003, nearly one year to the date from when Bush told the senators that Saddam was a goner, "we're taking him out."

Monday, June 13

Jack Straw on the Axis of Evil

From RawStory.com : A month after the 'axis of evil:' British foreign secretary Straw says case for Iraq is weak

RAW STORY

The following was penned by the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw--the U.S. equivalent of Secretary of State--on Mar. 25, 2002 concerning a looming war in Iraq. Straw indicates the case for war is weak; that the Iraq situation has remained unchanged; and that the United States would not have gone to war without the events of September 11. PDF file at end of text.

This document is reproduced exactly from the PDF copies released by the British press.

SECRET AND PERSONAL / PM/02/019 /PRIME MINISTER

CRAWFORD/IRAQ

1 The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few. The risks are high, both for you and for the Government. I judge that there is at present no majority inside the PLP for any military action against Iraq, (alongside a greater readiness in the PLP to surface their concerns). Colleagues know that Saddam and the Iraqi regime are bad. Making that case is easy. But we have a long way to go to convince them as to:

(a) the scale of the threat from Iraq and why this has got worse recently;

(b) what distinguishes the Iraqi threat from that eg Iran and North Korea so as to justify military action;

(c) the justification for any military action in terms of international law; and

(d) whether the consequence of military action really would be a compliant, law abiding replacement government.

2 The whole exercise is made much more difficult to handle as long as conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is so acute.

THE SCALE OF THE THREAT

3 The Iraqi regime plainly poses a most serious threat to its neighbours, and therefore to international security. However, in the documents so far presented it has been hard to glean whether the threat from Iraq is so significantly

SECRET AND PERSONAL

(Page Two)

SECRET AND PERSONAL

different from that of Iran and North Korea as to justify military action (see below).

WHAT IS WORSE NOW?

4 If 11 September had not happened, it is doubtful that the US would now be considering military action against Iraq. In addition, there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL and Al Qaida. Objectively, the threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of 11 September. What has however changed is the tolerance of the international community (especially that of the US), the world having witnesses on September 11 just what determined evil people can these days perpetuate.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IRAQ, IRAN AND NORTH KOREA

5 By linking these countries together in this “axis of evil” speech, President Bush implied an identity between them not only in terms of their threat, but also in terms of the action necessary to deal with the threat. A lot of work will now need to be done to delink the three, and to show why military action against Iraq is so much more justified than against Iran and North Korea. The heart of this case — that Iraq poses a unique and present danger — rests on the fact that it:

  • invaded a neighbour;
  • has used WMD, and would use them again;

  • is in breach of nine UNSCRS.

THE POSITION IN INTERNATIONAL LAW

6 That Iraq is in flagrant breach of international legal obligations imposed on it by the UNSC provides us with the core of a strategy, and one which is based on international law. Indeed if the argument is to be won, the whol [sic] case

SECRET AND PERSONAL

(Page Three)

SECRET AND PERSONAL

against Iraq and in favour (if necessary) of military action, needs to be narrated with reference to the international rule of law.

7 We also have better to sequence the explanation of what we are doing and why. Specifically, we need to concentrate in the early stages on:

  • making operational the sanctions regime foreshadowed by UNSCR 1382;

  • demanding the readmission of weapons inspectors, but this time to operate in a free and unfettered way (a similar formula to that which Cheney used at your joint press conference, as I recall).

8 I know there are those who say that an attack on Iraq would be justified whether or not weapons inspectors were readmitted. But I believe that a demand for the unfettered readmission of weapons inspectors is essential, in terms of public explanation, and in terms of legal sanction for any subsequent military action.

9 Legally there are two potential elephant traps:

(i) regime change per se is no justification for military action; it could form part of the method of any strategy, but not a goal. Of course, we may want credibly to assert that regime change is an essential part of the strategy by which we have to achieve our ends - that of the elimination of Iraq’s WMD capacity: but the latter has to be the goal;

(ii) on whether any military action would require a fresh UNSC mandate (Desert Fox did not). The US are likely to oppose any idea of a fresh mandate. On the other side, the weight of legal advice here is that a fresh mandate

SECRET AND PERSONAL

(Page Four)

SECRET AND PERSONAL

may well be required. There is no doubt that a new UNSCR would transform the climate in the PLP. Whilst that (a new mandate) is very unlikely, given the US’s position, a draft resolution against military action with 13 in favour (or handsitting) and two vetoes against could play very badly here.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF MILITARY ACTION

10 A legal justification is a necessary but far from sufficient precondition for military action. We have also to answer the big question - what will this action achieve? There seems to be a larger hole in this than in anything. Most of the assessments from the US have assumed regime change as a means of eliminating Iraq’s WMD threat. But none has satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured, and how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better.

11 Iraq has NO history of democracy so no-one has this habit or experience.

(JACK STRAW)

Foreign and Commonwealth Office 25 March 2002

#

Read the PDF file.

In this document, UNSC refers to the United Nations Security Council; UNSCR refers to UN Security Council Resolution. Such resolutions are considering binding international law. UBL refers to [U]sama Bin Laden. PLP refers to the Progressive Labour Party, the party of Blair's government, including Straw.