Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The truth will out

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The king of obfuscation is back - Jack Straw live on radio this morning

Jack Straw was back from holiday this morning and straight onto BBC Radio to spin the failed Iraqi constitutional process and try and plug the leak from his office on the link between the Iraq invasion and terrorism in London.

His attempted line of arguement was truely astounding:

- He agreed that mistakes had been made in Iraq

- He supported the contents of the leaked FCO letter (and had even been involved in the drafting!)

- He agreed that extremeist organisations were using the invasion as a recruiting tool

However, he said that we would of been a target for terrorism anyway so it really dosen't matter what happened in Iraq at all. Obviously, this man does not use the London metro!

Have your cake Jack, eat it, and then spit it out in our faces.

Blair knew of Iraq invasion and terror link for a year before 7/7

The Foreign Office's top official warned Downing Street that the Iraq war was fuelling Muslim extremism and making Britain a priority target a year before the London 7/7 attacks.

From Martin Bright writing in The Observer

"Despite repeated denials by Number 10 that the war made Britain a target for terrorists, a letter from Michael Jay, the Foreign Office permanent under-secretary, to the cabinet secretary, Sir Andrew Turnbull makes the connection clear.

The letter, dated 18 May 2004, says British foreign policy was a 'recurring theme' in the Muslim community, 'especially in the context of the Middle East peace process and Iraq'.

'Colleagues have flagged up some of the potential underlying causes of extremism that can affect the Muslim community, such as discrimination, disadvantage and exclusion,' the letter says. 'But another recurring theme is the issue of British foreign policy, especially in the context of the Middle East peace process and Iraq."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Three faces of America

As we continue to 'ride pillion' in America's 'war on terror' its good to keep an eye on where that great country is headed:

Lets start with the current and future of American foreign policy which based on recent evidence may better be known as:

aka global FUBAR
The current and future of American foreign policy - aka global FUBAR

An alternative view of the same
Traditional American values?

Making a point...
Click to link to One Mothers Stand

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Charles Clarke derides UN censure

An interesting quote from the Home Secretary in response to criticism from the UN Special Rappatour on Torture:

"The human rights of those people who were blown up on the Tube in London on 7 July are, to be quite frank, more important than the human rights of the people who committed those acts." - Charles Clarke, Home Secretary

The criminals who directly committed those dreadful acts are of course dead Mr Clarke, but don't let that bother you when it comes to a good piece of political rhetoric.

This is the Home Office list of "unacceptable behaviours" that will constitute grounds for exclusion or deportation from the United Kingdom:

• Fomenting, justifying or glorifying terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs;

• Seeking to provoke others to terrorist acts;

• Fomenting other serious criminal activity;

• Fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.

The actions it covers include:

• Writing, producing, publishing or distributing material;

• Public speaking, including preaching;

• Running a website;

• Using a position of responsibility, such as teacher and community or youth leader.

Missing, as all ways, from the deliberation is a clear definition of terrorism. You know it when you see it - or do we? When you engage in the debate it quickly emerges how politicaly motivated and ambigous the search for such a definition can be. However, without it the law will be left floundering in a sea of uncertainty that can be manipulated with ease by the politicians of the day.

See also: International Law and Suicide Bombing and
'Globilized World - Globilized War' from the July archive

The hunt for WMD is tough - its time for citizens to make a contribution!

It's no laughing matter but the hunt for WMD in Iraq turned out to be a real tough nut to crack. The good news however is that I have just discovered that we can all contribute to the efforts of our marvellous government here in London and make a lasting contribution to the global war against terror.

Click here to begin!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Uzbekistan in 20 seconds

As the 1st September approaches here is a short and punchy multimedia presentation on Uzbekistan by Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads. Watch it. Act on it.

Uzbekistan in 20 seconds

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Uzbekistan Meme

A blog campaign is taking place on the 1st September to focus attention on Uzbekistan

"Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, has called for sanctions to be imposed on Uzbek cotton in order to put pressure on the country's president Islam Karimov, a major violator of human rights."

"The idea behind this campaign is to use September 1st, Uzbekistan's independence day, to promote awareness of the situation there and of the call for sanctions."

Click here to read more about the meme...

Worried about the impact of possible sanctions? See this arguement and analysis.

If you want to sign up and commit to this idea then see this page at the Pledge Bank.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Downing Street Vigil for de Menezes today

Mr Menezes' cousin, Alessandro Pereira, is to give a letter to Mr Blair Supporters of the family of Jean Charles de Menezes have called for Ian Blair, Britain's most senior policeman, to resign.

They will be holding a vigil on Monday evening outside 10 Downing Street. Yasmin Khan, from the Jean Charles de Menezes' Family Campaign has urged supporters to attend the vigil at 1800 BST (1700 GMT) on Monday.

They will also deliver a letter to the Prime Minister's office asking for a public inquiry into the death, exactly a month after the shooting.

The two senior Brazilian investigators who have been dispatched by their goverment to look into the killing are also due to arrive in London today.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The killing of de Menezes - the story that won't go away...


The police withheld critical information regarding the possible murder of Jean Charles de Menezes.

He wasn't running...
He didn't jump the ticket barrier...
He wasn't wearing a heavy coat...
The CCTC cameras were working...

These facts are emerging tonight via leaked documents from the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It looks like a very clumsy attempt at a cover up is being prempted. One question for the Met and SO19 - WHY?


Pressure is starting to mount for the resignation of Ian Blair, head of the metropolitan police for his role in the apparent cover up and, as reported on Channel 4 news tonight, for his attempts to delay the start of the IPCC investigation by writing to the Home Office.


The Brazilian government is sending its own investigation team to London after continued doubts about the integrity if the Metropolitan police handling of the incident. IPCC yesterday claimed 'victory' in being able to run an investigation at all!

According to the right wing Telegraph, Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, is facing a career-threatening crisis over the disastrous police operation while the Times reports that the operational commander gave orders for de Menezes to be taken alive.

Relatives of the Brazilian man killed by police on the Tube have demanded the resignation of London's top officer and the prosecution of those responsible. They accused Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair of lying about aspects of the shooting, and of attempting a cover-up.


Shoot to kill policy remains intact. London's Metropolitan Police said Saturday that it has reviewed the use of deadly force against suspected terrorists following the killing of an innocent man, but has made only minor changes. "There has been a review. The police have reviewed the strategy and we have made one or two small changes, but the operation remains essentially the same,'' said a police spokeswoman.


It is revealed Scotland Yard offered £15,000 compensation to the family of Mr de Menezes. The Met police apparently originally denied making the offer but the offer letter was seen by a BBC corespondent, Mr Gibb, in Brazil. It is not clear whether this offer really was an interim offer, as claimed by the Met, or an attempt at a locally mediated low cost buy out designed to by pass the London lawyers acting for the family.

Many of the Sunday papers focus on the de Menezes story and the call to 'Tell us the truth' if the police are to re-earn public trust.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Blair to be called to give evidence on the Iraq war in court?

Tony Blair ponders the political and legal hazards of neo-colonialismTony Blair could be forced to give evidence under oath after families of 17 soldiers killed in Iraq began a legal bid yesterday to secure an independent inquiry into the lawfulness of the 2003 conflict.

Lawyers have lodged papers at the High Court seeking a judicial review and the first three defendants named on the papers are the prime minister, the defense secretary at the time, Geoff Hoon, and the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.

It is hoped that the inquiry will be held within six months. Could this be the start of a return to legality and a strategically effective foreign policy that so many British people have been demanding? Because, as long as Blair remains in power there seems little chance of either.

BBC: Iraq families launch inquiry bid

Guardian: Families of dead troops hope to see Blair in court

The campaign site of British families who have been paying the price: Military Families Against the War

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Preliminary judicial findings favour disclosure of Abu Ghraib torture images

Statements made yesterday by the New York judge hearing the case raise the hope of rapid disclousure

A judge said he generally ruled in favor of public disclosure of pictures and videotapes of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. US District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein made the statement in open court after meeting in a closed session with lawyers for the government and the American Civil Liberties Union, which is seeking release of the pictures and tapes.

He said his rulings pertained to arguments by Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and Ronald Schlicher, deputy assistant secretary and coordinator for Iraq in the Department of State's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. "By and large, I ruled in favor of public disclosure," he said. He gave U.S. Attorney David Kelley, who argued the case, time to appeal the rulings.

The judge scheduled arguments on the question of whether the photographs and videos should be released for August 30, saying a speedy decision is important so the public's right to know isn't compromised.

Full story at Newsday

Monday, August 15, 2005

The new Abu Ghraib images - freedom of information?

The US government is currently trying to suppress the release of new images of torture and prisoner abuse from Abu Ghraib. In a recent article the BBC talk about what General Richard Myers submitted to the US courts:

It is "probable that al-Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill," the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen Richard Myers, argues in court papers. Releasing the images could also incite violence against US troops, he says. And he says the images would be detrimental to the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan. Gen Myers' arguments were contained in court documents filed on 21 July but only recently unsealed.

These must be very bad indeed...

Bloggerheads provides an animated guide to what we know so far about the nightmare of Abu Ghraib.

Click here to go to animation

Go here for details about the American Civil Liberties Unions legal case to get the images released and bring those responsible at the highest level to justice.

Still no US apology for Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Casualties of the Hiroshima atomic bomb - click to find out more The US attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be viewed as two of the largest acts of terrorism the world has so far seen

The horrows unleashed on the world by the Japanese military around the period of the second world war were indeed dreadful. China, Korea, and many other countries and peoples suffered horribly and the defeat inflicted on Japan by the US and its allies brought those horrors to a end. I think we are almost all in agreement together so far... Now for the hard bit.

The atomic bombs that US military forces dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are estimated to have killed more than 200,000 Japanese people, including women and children. There is no convincing argument that these two cities were targeted because of some special military purpose. They were targeted to kill a large portion of the Japanese civilian population in the hope of bringing about a quick surrender by the Japanese government.

For more than 50 years US government officials have justified the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by saying that the bombings shortened the wars and saved the lives of tens of thousands of American troops. But by making these statements they are merely condemning themselves time and time again. The intentional killing of defenseless women and children and other non combatants in order to save the lives of military personnel is cowardice and a undisputable war crime.

Indeed, the US attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki can also be viewed as two of the largest acts of terrorism the world has so far seen. Yet still today, on the anniversary of VJ there was not the merest hint of an apology from the US as a country or a government. The history books are usually written by the winners and justice is always dispensed by them but surely now, after so long, can't the US start to face the truth over its actions? If the elimination of global terrorism is really an objective of the US administration then admitting its own previous transgressions is a prerequisite for acheiving global consensus.

Friday, August 05, 2005

What MI5 (and George Galloway) say about Iraq and terrorism...

MI5 HQ, London. Click image for more information on the organisation.
George Galloway was on Radio 4 this morning and, in a style only he can muster, he defended the comments made on his recent speaking tour in the middle east. Whatever you may fell about the colour of his language there is no escaping some of the basic truth. Anyway lets not get into personalities and media profiling - lets ask the experts.

Note that all the attacks against British interests mentioned below occurred after March 2003...

From the MI5 official www site

"The bombings in London on 7 July were the first successful attacks in the UK by individuals thought to be associated with international terrorism since the US attacks of 11 September 2001. UK interests have, however, specifically been attacked overseas since then. Al Qaida's car bomb attack on the British Consulate and HSBC in Istanbul in November 2003 killed five people. Al Qaida also claimed responsibility for the shooting of a British national in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in September 2004, Kenneth Bigley was murdered in October 2004 in Iraq by a group that has been linked to Al Qaida and a British national was killed by a suicide bomb outside the Doha Players' Theatre in the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar in March 2005.Some of the terrorists have received military and specialist terrorist training in camps overseas, for example in Afghanistan. Relationships forged in these training camps form the basis of loose networks of terrorists who can operate outside structured organisations. Though they have a range of aspirations and "causes", Iraq is a dominant issue for a range of extremist groups and individuals in the UK and Europe. Some individuals who support the insurgency are known to have travelled to Iraq in order to fight against coalition forces. In the longer term, it is possible that they may later return to the UK and consider mounting attacks here."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Al Quaeda video threatens further attacks on London

Video statement by Ayman al-Zawahri of Al Quaeda An Al Queada video threatening further attacks on London has just been broadcast by Al Jazeera.

The main points of the message given by the second in command of the organisation, Ayman al-Zawahri, are that the foreign policies of Prime Minister Tony Blair will lead to further destruction, i.e. attempted attacks, and that Britton appears to be a very high priority target in their current strategy. While this statement does not prove or disprove any Al Qaeda link to 7/7 or 21/7, coming after exactly after 4 weeks it cerainly does little to calm the atmosphere here in London.

According to a translation given on the Sky News www site the statement includes the following:

"Blair's policies will bring more destruction to Britons after the London explosions. Blair has brought to you destruction in central London, and he will bring more of that, God willing."

Referring to the Western nations who have contributed troops to the US-led multinational force in Iraq, he said: "As to the nations of the crusader alliance, we have offered you a truce if you leave the land of Islam. Hasn't Sheik Osama bin Laden told you that you will not dream of security before there is security in Palestine and before all the infidel armies withdraw from the land of Muhammed."

Attacking the US, he said: "What you have seen in New York, Washington and Afghanistan, are only the initial losses and if you (United States) continue the same hostile policies you will see what will make you forget those horrors."

"Our message to you is clear, strong and final: There will be no salvation until you withdraw from our land, stop stealing our oil and resources and end support for infidel (Arab) rulers."

Thursday 4th August - London Lives

Well, 14 days since.... and 28 days since....London Lives - click to play the song
Time for a song. Sorry about the gif, triviality triumphed today. The song, however, is really worth a listen and was writtn by a colleague in response to the London attacks.

To find out more about the artist go here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Talking to Terrorists

Talking to Terrorists Last night I went to see 'Talking with terrorists', a play by Robin Soans and directed by Max Stafford Clark, surely one of the most thought provoking and intelligent discussions of terrorism in any media since 9/11, or the London 7/7 attacks for that matter. A series of real interviews, with people involved or affected by terrorism, are woven together to produce an enthralling mosaic of human experience. A must see for people interested in understanding the phenomena.

The play runs at the Royal Court Theatre until 6th August.
A full review can be found here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Ignore the marchers - ignite the murderers

Democracy was alive and well in 2002/2003.
We all know the governments response...
We are all living with the consequencs...

The British Government ignored the will of the people, invaded Iraq, and now tries to escape the consequences by re-writing history

On Radio 4 Today this morning Hazel Blears, the Home Office Minister talked about the series of nationwide meetings she is embarking on with representatives of the Muslim community. One of her objectives she said she was to look for ways in which to engage Muslims in the democratic process. Perhaps she has forgotten just how involved they were? Two million people, including a vast number of British Muslims, took to the streets against the invasion of Iraq. Blair preferred to ignore the will of British people, 60% of whom still opposed the war in mid March 2003, and embraced the White House. As eloquently described in a recent article by Andrew Murray, if you ignore democracy you risk igniting extreme alternatives.

The occupation of Iraq remains one of the main drivers for terrorism. If the alternative to terrorism is democracy, then it is time the people of Britain and Iraq alike were listened to and the occupation ended. For anyone who belives the Iraqi people want the coalition troops to remain you had better start reading the evidence. Oxford Research International is currently undertaking the 5th survey of Iraqi perceptions - the results will be even more fascinating and timely than ever.

Mouth gags and megaphones - Exclusion zone protest I

The protest against the Goverment's exclusion zone went off yesterday in central London, just outside the houses of parliment. For a write up of the event see Kitty Killer or Bloggerheads.

More to come on this one me thinks!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Captured bomber confirms political motivation for London attacks

According to a report in the Observer, one of the men accused of taking part in the failed terror attacks in London on 21 July has claimed the bomb plot was directly inspired by Britain's involvement in the Iraq war. In a remarkable insight into the motives behind the alleged would-be bombers, Hussain Osman, arrested in Rome on Friday, has revealed how the suspects watched hours of TV footage showing grief-stricken Iraqi widows and children alongside images of civilians killed in the conflict. He is alleged to have told prosecutors that after watching the footage: 'There was a feeling of hatred and a conviction that it was necessary to give a signal - to do something.'

Osman allegedly said: 'More than praying we discussed work, politics, the war in Iraq ... we always had new films of the war in Iraq ... more than anything else those in which you could see Iraqi women and children who had been killed by US and UK soldiers.'

Elsewhere, there is much talk of how large the threat still is, despite the arrests of last week. A Metropolitan Police firearms officer is quoted as saying that the arrests so far were "just the tip of the iceberg". "There is some big stuff coming in the next few months. There's a big network that's got to be cracked."

This coming Thursday will be rather less than relaxed for those of us who have to commute into the city...