The Lying Aggressors

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In
the wake of the Hutton fiasco, one truth remains unassailed: Tony
Blair ordered an unprovoked invasion of another country on a totally
false pretext, and that lies and deceptions manufactured in London
and Washington caused the deaths of up to 55,000 Iraqis, including
9,600 civilians.

Consider
for a moment those who have paid the price for Blair’s and Bush’s
actions, who are rarely mentioned in the current media coverage.
Deaths and injury of young children from unexploded British and
American cluster bombs are put at 1,000 a month. The effect of uranium
weapons used by Anglo-American forces — a weapon of mass destruction
— is such that readings taken from Iraqi tanks destroyed by
the British are so high that a British Army survey team wore white,
full-body radiation suits, face masks and gloves. Iraqi children
play on and around these tanks. British troops, says the Ministry
of Defence, "will have access to biological monitoring."

Iraqis
have no such access and no expert medical help; and thousands are
now suffering from a related catalogue of miscarriages and hair
loss, horrific eye, skin and respiratory problems.

Neither
Britain nor America counts its Iraqi victims, and the fact, let
alone the extent of the human carnage and material devastation is
not even acknowledged by a government that says it is "vindicated"
by Lord Hutton, whose report most British people clearly regard
as a parody worthy of the Prime Minister’s resignation.

Blair
has now announced an inquiry into the "failure of intelligence"
that has mysteriously denied him evidence of weapons of mass destruction,
which he repeatedly said were his "aim" in attacking Iraq.
Just as the brawl with the BBC and the Hutton inquiry were quite
deliberate distractions, so this latest inquiry is another panic
measure. It is clear that George W Bush, as one American journalist
put it, "is now hanging Tony Blair out to dry."

Blair
has, as ever, followed Bush. In announcing at the weekend his own
inquiry into an "intelligence failure," Bush hopes to
cast himself as an innocent, aggrieved member of the public wanting
to know why America’s numerous spy agencies did not alert the nation
to the fact, now confirmed by Bush’s own weapons inspector, David
Kay, that there were no weapons of mass destruction and probably
weren’t any since before the 1991 Gulf War, and that the premise
for going to war was "almost all wrong." "It was,"
Ray McGovern told me, "95 per cent charade." McGovern
is a former high-ranking CIA analyst and one of a group of ex-senior
intelligence officers, several of whom have described how the Bush
administration demanded that intelligence be shaped to comply with
political objectives, and the role of Britain in the charade.

"It
was intelligence that was crap," a former intelligence officer
told the New Yorker, "…but the brits wanted to plant
stories in England and around the world." He described how
"inactionable" (unreliable) intelligence reports were
passed on to British intelligence, which then fed them to newspapers.

Former
chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter says this false information
was spread systematically by British intelligence. The clue to this
secret operation was given by the weapons expert David Kelly the
day before his suicide and which Hutton later ignored. Kelly told
the Prime Minister’s intelligence and security committee: "I
liaise with the Rockingham cell."

As
Ritter reveals, this referred to the top secret "Operation
Rockingham" set up within British intelligence to "cherry
pick" information that might be distorted as "proof"
of the existence of a weapons arsenal in Iraq. It was an entirely
political operation, whose misinformation, says Ritter, led him
and his inspectors "to a suspected ballistic missile site.
We…found nothing. However, our act of searching allowed the US
and the UK to say that the missiles existed."

Ritter
says Operation Rockingham’s bogus intelligence would have been fed
to the Joint Intelligence Committee. The committee was behind the
two "dossiers" in which Blair government claimed Saddam
Hussein was a threat. Ritter says that Rockingham officers were
acting on political orders "from the very highest levels."

How
high? Right up to Blair himself? It was Blair, after all, who made
such a personal "mission" of finding weapons of mass destruction.
The question of how high needs urgently to be answered. Will Scott
Ritter be called to Blair’s inquiry? And will Blair explain to the
inquiry why the February 2003 British "arms dossier,"
which Hutton chose to ignore, was so bogus that it plagiarised an
American student’s theses, lifting it word for word including the
spelling mistakes?

The
truth is that the Blair government has known, almost from the day
it came to office in 1997, that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction
were almost certainly destroyed following the 1991 Gulf War —
just as Bush’s weapons expert, David Kay, has now confirmed.

What
else did Blair know?

In
February last year, a transcript of a leaked United Nations debriefing
of Iraqi general Hussein Kamel, revealed that both the US and British
governments must have known that Saddam Hussein no longer had weapons
of mass destruction. General Kamel was no ordinary defector; he
was Bush and Blair’s star witness in their governments’ case against
Saddam. A son-in-law of the dictator, he had overall authority for
Iraq’s weapons’ programmes, and defected with crates of documents.

When
Secretary of State Colin Powell made the Anglo-American case for
an attack on Iraq before the UN Security Council, he relied on and
paid tribute to the reliability of General Kamel’s evidence. What
he did not reveal, as the transcript of the general’s debriefing
reveals, was this categorical statement by Kamel: "I ordered
destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons — biological, chemical,
missile, nuclear — were destroyed."

The
CIA and Britain’s MI6 of course knew about this; and it beggars
belief that Bush and Blair were not told. But neither of them let
on — just as Colin Powell suppressed his informant’s most sensational
information, which would have contradicted all his spurious claims.
General Kamel (who was later murdered by Saddam Hussein) corroborated
Scott Ritter’s statement that Iraq had been disarmed "90 to
95 per cent."

Iraq
was attacked so that the United States and Britain could claim its
oil and its assets. Only Mary Poppins would believe otherwise. For
the latest in a catalogue of evidence, turn to the Wall Street
Journal, the paper of America’s ruling elite, which has obtained
copies of the Bush administration’s secret plan to privatise the
country by selling off its assets to western corporations while
establishing vast military bases.

The
plan was drafted in February last year, just as Tony Blair was assuring
the British people that the only reason was Saddam Hussein’s "threat."

The
Bush/Blair attack on Iraq has brought death, destruction and great
bitterness to Iraq. Every indication is that most Iraqis now regard
their lives as immeasurably worse than during Saddam Hussein’s rule.
More than 13,000 people are held in concentration camps in their
own country.

This
is many more than were incarcerated in Saddam’s political prisons
in recent years. None has been charged; most cannot see their families;
the allegations of torture and brutality by the occupiers grow by
the day. As the US-based Human Rights Watch reported last week,
the worst atrocities were in the 1980s — when he was backed
by America and Britain.

The
uprising in Iraq has accelerated and almost certainly strengthened
since the capture of Saddam. Drawn from 12 different groups, including
those that were always anti-Saddam, the resistance is well organised
and will not stop until the "coalition" leaves. The setting
up of a puppet "democracy" will merely increase the number
of targets. As Blair’s knowledge of imperial history will tell him,
this is precisely what happened in Britain’s other colonies before
they threw out their occupiers, and in Vietnam.

One
piece of intelligence which was true and which we know Blair received
is a report that warned him that an attack on Iraq would only increase
worldwide terrorism, especially against British interests and citizens.
He chose to ignore it.

Two
weeks ago a panel of jurists called on the International Criminal
Court to investigate the British government for war crimes in Iraq.
Whether or not that succeeds, it is clear the Prime Minister will
need to find another Hutton, and quickly.

February
4, 2004

John
Pilger
was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been
a war correspondent, filmmaker and playwright. Based in London,
he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s
highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his
work in Vietnam and Cambodia. This article originally appeared in
The Mirror.

©
John Pilger 2004

John
Pilger Archives

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