Monthly Archives: January 2010

Jack Straw’s Biggest Lie

I was a British Ambassador at the time of the events covered by the Iraq Inquiry. I know many of the witnesses and a great deal of the background. I can therefore see right through the smooth presentation. Jack Straw was the smoothest of all – but he told lie after lie.

Straw’s biggest and most important lie goes right to the heart of the question of whether the war was legal. Did UN Security Council Resolution 1441 provide a legal basis for the invasion, or would a second resolution specifically authorising military action have been required? The UK certainly put a massive amount of diplomatic effort into obtaining a second resolution.

Here is Straw’s argument that the invasion was legal without a second resolution:

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Then you make a point very strongly in your statement and this has been confirmed by Sir Jeremy Greenstock that you did not believe that

military action thereafter, in the event of noncompliance, would depend on a second resolution. It would be desirable but it wasn’t dependent on that. We are not, today, going into the legal arguments on that. Sir Jeremy’s basic contention was that he had got the Americans and British into a comparable position as before Desert Fox in December 1998. So I think that’s

quite important, that your understanding, at least of the position, was that it wasn’t absolutely essential to have a second resolution.

RT HON JACK STRAW: I was not in any doubt about that and neither was Jeremy Greenstock, and for very good reasons, which is that there had been talk by the French and Germans of a draft which would have required a second resolution, but they never tabled it. We tabled a draft, which, as I set out in this memorandum, and which Sir Jeremy Greenstock confirms in his memorandum, was aimed to be selfcontained, in the sense that, if very important conditions were met through failures by the Saddam regime, that of itself would provide sufficient authority for military action, and no doubt the next time we will get into the wording of the resolution, which, as I say in this memorandum, I can virtually recite in my sleep, but there are reasons why in OP12 we use the language that we do, and serious consequences are mentioned in OP13 and so on. For sure, we wanted a second resolution after that and well, again, I set out

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We will come on to that in a moment.

As Ambassador in an Islamic country, I was copied all or nearly all of the telegrams of instruction on the diplomatic efforts to secure a second resolution. I can tell you these facts as an eye-witness.

Straw argues that the proof that no second resolution was needed is that

I was not in any doubt about that and neither was Jeremy Greenstock, and for very good reasons, which is that there had been talk by the French and Germans of a draft which would have required a second resolution, but they never tabled it.

But they did not table it because we gave assurances to the French and Germans (and Russians and Chinese) that our draft of UNSCR 1441 did not authorise military action. The instructions were to inform those governments that UNSCR 1441 contained “no automatic trigger” which would lead to military action. I remember the phrase precisely “no automatic trigger”. Rod Lyne on the committee must remember it too, because he was one of the people, as Ambassador in Moscow, instructed to give that message.

It is the most perverse of lies by Straw to argue that the fact that the Germans and French did not table their draft proved that 1441 authorised war, when we had told them not to table their draft because 1441 did not authorise war.

I read with enormous care and in real time every single word of the scores of telegrams on the effort to secure the second resolution. Not one word gave any hint at all that a second resolution might not be necessary to authorise war. There was absolutely no mention in telegrams to Embassies of the notion that UNSCR 1441 was a sufficient basis for war, and no second resolution needed, until many weeks after 1441 was passed, just before the invasion.


In response to New Labour hacks questioning my word, I can offer you irrefutable evidence to back up my own evidence that all the FCO material at the time of the adoption of UNSCR 1441 and for weeks afterwards right up until March, took the view that UNSCR 1441 did not provide legal grounds for the invasion.

It is the resignation letter of Deputy FCO Legal Adviser Elizabeth Wilmshurst in which she stated:

“I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force against Iraq without a second Security Council resolution to revive the authorisation given in SCR 678. I do not need to set out my reasoning; you are aware of it.

My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of UN security council resolution 1441 and with what the attorney general gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March. (The view expressed in that letter has of course changed again into what is now the official line.) “

All FCO instructions in the period to which I refer would have had to be in line with the view expressed by FCO legal advisers at that time. That view was precisely as I have stated it above.

This part of Straw’s evidence is therefore a huge lie.

There were numerous other minor lies from Straw. It is completely untrue that we had persuaded the three African security council members to support a second resolution authorising war. Baroness’ Amos mission to Francophone states we had ignored for years was a miserable failure. That was clear from reporting telegrams from posts.

It’s a small point, but Straw’s lie that upset me most personally was:

I don’t in the least mind people disagreeing with me, indeed I encourage it, but I do ask them to be loyal, because, otherwise, you can’t operate any kind of governmental system.

I disagreed with Straw, over the issue of the use of torture to gain intelligence in the “War on Terror”. I was very loyal. I kep my disagreement entirely internal and argued it in top secret telegrams and internal policy meetings. As a result of my disagreeing, Straw attempted to have me framed on false charges, destroying my health in the process and leaking false accusations to the tabloids to ruin my reputation too. When my name was finally cleared, they had to give me six year’s salary to settle.

I defy anyone to read Murder in Samarkand and say Straw is not a liar.

View with comments

US and UK Troops Kill Muslims with Christian Inscribed Guns

US and UK soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are killing Muslims using guns with optical sights marked with Christian Gospel references, manufactured by Trijicon, an avowedly Christian Evangelical company in the US, which in the past also supplied South African special forces in breach of the international anti-apartheid embargo. Trijicon’s website states:

We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.

Peculiarly, having read the Gospels many times, I can’t recall Jesus advocating shooting people from a great distance.

Al Jazeera TV showed pictures today of Muslim Afghan commandos involved in fighting the Taliban in Kabul this week, carrying weapons inscribed with the Christian messages. This is highly reminiscent of the belief that bullet cartridges were greased with pig and cow grease, that was a major factor in leading British Indian troops to mutiny in 1857.

It is hard to imagine anything more calculated to upset Musim opinion, and is a vital reminder of exactly what kind of US nutters Blair allied us with.

View with comments

Another Stupid Rambling Nutcase

Rod Liddle. With an acknowledgement to Sunny for all his work, I like Will Straw’s post best for the simple isolation of Liddle’s acknowledged comments on Auschwitz. Just these crass statements alone are enough to put Liddle beyond the pale.

Liddle would be at home at the Independent. We get so dazzled by Fisk we forget the dross of the rest. Liddle would sit well with saloon bar bore Bruce Anderson or MI6 tool Dominic Lawson, not to mention the inane Mary Dejevsky.

View with comments

Stupid Rambling Old Nutcase

What do you make of the intellectual capabilities and mental state of the man who said this unedited passage in a speech to the diplomatic corps?

“To carry our reflection further, we must remember that the problem of the environment is complex; one might compare it to a multifaceted prism,”

“Creatures differ from one another and can be protected, or endangered, in different ways, as we know from daily experience. One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes,”

“I am thinking, for example, of certain countries in Europe or North and South America,”


It sounds like the obscure ramblings of a senile old fool, but actually it was worse than that. The Pope meant it as a calculated attack on legal equality for gay people.

Once a Nazi…

View with comments

47 – Nil, 47 – Nil, 47 – nil, 47 – nil, 47 – nil, 47 – nil

Been doing some filing. Thought you might like these statistics relating to legal threats received by this blog since it started five years ago. These figures also include letters from the Treasury Solicitors threatening action under the Official Secrets Act and other legislation.

Dedicated to Jack Straw, Alisher Usmanov, Tim Spicer, the Quilliam Foundation and nine other bad people with something to hide, who have wasted money trying to frighten this blog out of telling the truth:

Number of letters received from lawyers threatening legal action 47

Number of lawyers involved 11

Number of lawyers told to go ahead and sue or prosecute 11

Number of suits/prosecutions brought Nil

Number of apologies and retractions issued Nil

Damages Paid Nil

Number of flasehoods published Nil

Who says it is not fun running a blog?

Of course, some of these rich criminals and mercenary killers have succeeded in hindering me by legal bullying of other people. Alisher Usmanov had us closed down for three days when he got my webhost to close down the site by threatening legal action. (The Quilliam Foundation tried to pull the same trick but found I now have a much more robust webhost).

Ultra wealthy mercenary killer and war profiteer Tim Spicer threatened my publisher into preventing commercial publication of the Catholic Orangemen of Togo. But he backed down when I published it in full online.

Britian’s notorious libel laws are designed to inculcate fear in those who would publish the truth. But, as with most situations in life, a lack of fear makes things much less fraught.

View with comments

Iraq Inquiry – The Smoking Gun Moment

This is the moment when Jonathan Powell admitted that Downing St was set on war irrespective of whether Saddam had WMD or not. This admission contradicted all the carefully constructed lies of key war criminals David Manning, Alistair Campbell and Jonathan Powell himself.

The implications of this passage could not be more stark. The aim was war. Whether or not Iraq had WMD was irrelevant. There was no interest in knowing the truth about WMD. Indeed to know the truth would be negative.

A ten year old could understand the crucial importance of what Powell said here. But the hand picked committee of pro-war cronies failed completely to pick up on it.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I mean, Sir David Manning and

8 Sir Jeremy Greenstock both said, but differently, that

9 they would have liked to have had more time, but you

10 don’t agree with that?

11 MR JONATHAN POWELL: No, we asked for more time repeatedly

12 from January onwards of the President, and we got more

13 time in each case. Eventually, by the time we got to

14 midMarch, he wasn’t going to give us more time and the

15 French veto knocked any chance

16 SIR RODERIC LYNE: He wasn’t going to give us more time. If

17 we had had more time, if the inspectors had had longer,

18 there had been longer to build up the picture and you

19 had continued these extraordinary diplomatic efforts

20 that you described, would there not have been a chance,

21 at that stage, of actually gathering the international

22 support that we had not managed to gather by then?

23 MR JONATHAN POWELL: No. I mean, if you think about it,

24 Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. We were

25 wrong. The intelligence was wrong. So, no matter how


1 long you had carried the inspections on, they weren’t

2 going to find anything, and, from what we know of

3 Saddam, it is extremely unlikely that he would have

4 cooperated. So we would have been in exactly the same

5 situation for months and months and months. There would

6 have been no discovery of weapons of mass destruction,

7 but 8

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But one way or the other they might have

9 built up a more convincing picture, if they had had more

10 time.

11 MR JONATHAN POWELL: A convincing picture of what?

12 SIR RODERIC LYNE: Well, a picture to convince the people

13 who weren’t not convinced by our arguments in March.

14 MR JONATHAN POWELL: But if there weren’t weapons of mass

15 destruction, we wouldn’t have been able you are

16 asking me in retrospect, “Would we have had more time?”

17 The answer is more time would have achieved nothing.

18 SIR RODERIC LYNE: Thank you very much.

View with comments

Options for Tony Blair 29 January – Tips From an Ex Senior Civil Servant

I very much doubt that Blair will enter the Iraq Inquiry via the front door. He can get in to the QE2 Conference Centre from the back by passing through the Institute of Mechanical Engineers building. That seems pretty likely. A strong detachment armed with buckets of blood should watch that route.

Or he can arrive by an underground route using the spur to the QE2 conference centre from the old tunnel that connected Bomber Command (now known as The Citadel bunker) in Marsham St to the Cabinet Office and the MOD. As this tunnel network is an official secret I doubt they will want to risk him appearing mysteriously from nowhere, though.

View with comments

Cadbury’s Demise a Disaster for Ghana

Cadbury’s were using Fair Trade Cocoa for generations before the phrase was invented.

Cocoa in Ghana is a smallholding crop, with individual farmers having a hectare or two of mixed crops, including cocoa. It is not a plantation crop as it is in Brazil or Ivory Coast. That is why Ghanaian cocoa is of higher quality, and commands a premium on commodity markets. Cadbury’s chocolate in the UK uses 95% Ghanaian cocoa.

The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, p184

A major reason that Ghana is the most stable and successful of Sub-Saharan African countries, is that traditional landholding patterns were not broken up by colonial usurpation. (White men ?” and their cattle ?” died like flies in the climate here. Wheat wilted).

Cocoa farming has for well over a century provided the backbone of a thriving agrarian society in Ghana. That widespread economic base has in turn enabled the continuation of traditional chieftaincy institutions and other indigenous forms of government.

Colonial population displacement is the root cause of many of Africa’s conflicts. In Kenya and Zimbabwe, conflicts we dismiss as tribal or as the result of African bad governance, in fact come down to the long term consequences of tribes displaced from their land by the British, and being forced to settle in other tribes’ territory.

If you don’t understand that, you don’t know Africa. The idea that the land was desolate before whites came, or that African forms of agriculture are unproductive, is nonsense which I tackle in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo.

Displacement to form vast cocoa estates has been part of the cause of conflict in Ivory Coast. The estates are attended with other evils ?” erosion and devastation of soil nutrients caused by monoculture, widespread use of child labour, and the conversion of independent small farmers to landless day labourers. These are but some of the ill effects.

The estates also produce low quality cocoa. It seems a truth in agriculture that over-intensive monoculture produces tasteless food. Most British people realize that Cadbury’s chocolate tastes better, but don’t know why. The answer is in the cocoa.

What Cadbury’s use in the UK is from independent Ghanaian smallholders, and is the equivalent of wines from an ancient small chateau or boutique Californian estate. They pay extra for it, and their willingness to pay extra has been a key part of keeping the Ghanaian small farmer going.

Kraft on the other hand use the mass produced estate cocoa; the equivalent of soulless and tasteless wine from multiple fields and huge stainless steel tanks. They source mostly in Brazil ?” the World’s most tasteless cocoa ?” and Ivory Coast. The bad taste in the mouth from the cocoa is both real and metaphorical. The estates in both countries make massive use of child labour.

It is a fact that Cadbury’s practices in dealing fairly with small African farmers dated back directly to the ethical precepts of their Quaker founders. I had occasion to prepare a report for the British government on the Ghanaian cocoa industry, in response to concerns about the use of child labour on Ivory Coast estates. I visited numerous Ghanaian farmers and Cadbury’s headquarters in the process, and have met Cadbury’s buyers in the field in West Africa over twenty years.

I have no doubt that in order to rack up the return on their vast investment, Kraft will switch to the cheap and nasty cocoa they normally use. This could be the worst thing to hit the Ghanaian rural economy since blackpod disease.

I sympathise entirely with those concerned about the effects in the UK of this takeover ?” just the latest manifestation of the fact that our society knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

But try to spare a thought for the ill effects in Africa too.

View with comments

Iraq Inquiry Elides Key Evidence

The most revealing moment of the Iraq Inquiry so far – probably the most revealing moment we will ever get – occurred yesterday in the evidence of Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff. A stark sun ray of truth burst through for just a few seconds before the Committee allowed it to be closed over by the fog of chummy complicity that has characterised these evidence sessions.

Asked whether he agreed with Sir Jeremy Greenstock that more time for diplomacy would have been helpful before the invasion started. Powell bluntly disagreed. As there were in fact no Iraqi WMD, more time would have weakened, not strengthened the case for war. That would have been unhelpful.


Powell had just sliced clean through the mound of lies constructed by himself, Alistair Campbell and Sir David Manning (you can tell when Manning lies – his lips move). After a huge pile of verbiage claimimg that the War was only about WMD, Powell had just admitted that they were absolutely bent on war whether there were WMD or not – indeed WMD were a problem, as the lack of them weakened the case for war.

This is where any person of average intelligence on the committee would have siezed on what Powell had just said. He had just admitted they wanted war irrespective of whether Saddam might have any WMDs. But the committee failed completely to pick up on the point. They moved swiftly on. They allowed the clouds of obfuscation to roll swiftly back in.

That is because the entire committee at abse agree with Powell. They accept the premiss that the war was a good thing. The composition of the committee, entirely from known pro-war advocates, is a national disgrace.

That nobody should even put to Powell the thought that perhaps, as Iraq had no WMD, the war was not neceassary, is as revealing of the Committee’s guilt as it is of Powell’s. Similarly, Powell was permitted several times to refer to 9/11 as leading to the war in Iraq, without anybody on the Committee ever putting to him the lack of connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

No matter how stubborn the truth may be, it is not beyond the committee and the media to ignore it.

Which helps account for the quite astonishing fact that 32% of the electorate apparently think that Tony Blair genuinely believed in Iraqi WMD. It is a great pity that we don’t have any breakdown on the other social and political attitudes of these extraordinary people.

I am going to spend the next few weeks sitting on the tube wondering which third of the passengers is dull enough to buy that.

Powell, meantime, appears to have taken lessons from that other war criminal, Radzvan Karadzic, on image makeover.

View with comments

I Almost Feel Loathe to Post

…when everyone has been having so much fun in comments without me. On Friday the connection, which had been almost unusable for three days, failed completely, and the phone lines too. Vodafone blame Friday evening’s storm, but the problem had started long before that.

Fascinating comment from Sembe:

At 3kbps, you should be using a simplifying proxy server like For urgent communications, it might be best to set up a telnet service (using pine for email, lynx for web surfing).

Internet telephony services in Ghana are routed through the SAT-3/WASC cable, which is jointly owned by Ghana Telecom and 35 other telecoms. Local ISPs are assigned 2Mbps bandwidth, and supply it to subscribers at an average speed of 1kbps.

The common alternative is to use a VSAT satellite system, but this is more expensive and is rather clogged in West Africa. Additionally, MTN & Zain are now offering GSM or 3G mobile access.

Things are set to improve, though. Glo has just laid the Glo1 fibre optic cable from UK to Nigeria, which should be operational soon, and the Main One cable from Portugal should be installed by May 2010.

My emphasis.

The sad truth is that every advance in new technology leaves Africa falling further and further behind.

supply it to subscribers at an average speed of 1kbps

. Think about that.

We had a microwave link to a satellite provider which theoretically gave us dedicated 512 kbps – for about $4,000 a month. My UK connection is 20 times faster and 200 times cheaper – so costs 4,000 times less per kbps. In fact our “dedicated” capacity had been sold many times over by the satellite ISP, Zipnet, and speedtests usually showed about 30kbps. Corrked ISPs are part of the whole complex problem

Last night the phone lines came back and I rushed down to post something when the electricity went off. This had happened so often in the last few days that the generator had run out of diesel, while a UPS only survives a few months coping with a dozen outages a day – and that is with a $10,000 voltage stabiliser on the house. [This was written yesterday and attempts throughout the day to post it failed. So I got up at 6am this morning to do it].

All this is in “normal” circumstances. Imagine the logistic nightmare facing the aid agencies in Haiti, with the same kind of level of base infrastructure, and then most of that destroyed by an earthquake.

View with comments

Greek Orthodox Church Sells Palestinian Lands to Israel

I found this report very interesting. It probably isn’t news to many of my readers, but it is to me.

I have a very jaundiced view of the Greek Orthodox Church since my time working on the Cyprus dispute – in Cyprus the Church is a major player in money laundering and the international illegal arms trade. Is the Greek Orthodox Church the most corrupt major religious organisation in the world? Discuss.

View with comments

New Labour Steal From the Starving Millions

With thanks to Old Holborn via Subrosa Blonde.

In the past, my anger with DFID has been focused main;y on its channeling through CDC of funds to private companies benefiting senior New Labour hacks. But this news makes me even more angry.

Returning to CDC, I would like to think that the Tories will sort it out. My expectation, however, is that the companies it subsidises have already started recruiting senior Tories as directors.

View with comments

The Case of Dr Al-Balawi

There is a very great deal that we can learn from the case of Dr Al-Balawi, the suicide bomber who took out seven CIA agents in Afghanistan.

The first relates to intelligence. Dr Al Balawi had become a trusted CIA informant, believed by the CIA to be helping them to target al-Qaida elements on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Except that we now know he was a dedicated al-Qaida all along.

Presumably much of the intelligence he had been providing was deliberately false and misleading. This yet again illustrates the point I have made repeatedly about the unreliability of “humint” – intelligence gained from informants.

As British Ambassador, I saw in Uzbekistan a continued stream of intelligence from the Uxbek torture chambers, accepted by the CIA and MI6 but which, in many cases, I knew to be false. The Uzbek government wished to retain Western support and subsidies by exaggerating their role in fighting al-Qaida; that was their purpose in providing the false intelligence. The Western security services and governments wished to exaggerate the threat of al-Qaida for domestic political purposes: that was their purpose in accepting it.

Torture is not the only source of unreliable “Humint”. Double agents like Dr Al-Balawi are another, A very high proportion of this intelligence is bought for cash, and that is the most unreliable of all. The dirty dossier on Iraqi WMD was full of tall stories for which you and I as taxpayers paid dodgy informants millions of dollars.

Yet we used unreliable humint as the basis for a war in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands. We use it to take out wedding parties with bomb attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We use it to keep people detained without charge for years in Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, in Belmarsh, and we use it to deliver people up to torturers around the World.

We should know by now that the intelligence services and politicians no longer care if the intelligence is true: they want intelligence that justifies the actions they want to take anyway, and that keep on stream the mega profits that their friends are making from the War on Terror.

So Dr Al Balawi’s case gives us an invaluable insight into the world of intelligence.

But it does more than that. Why would a medical doctor, a happily married professional man with two children, become a “terrorist”. The answer is crystal clear.

Al-Balawi “started to change,” says his wife, after the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The failed underpants bomber was said by eye-witnesses to be shouting about Afghanistan: Dr Al-Balawi was motivated by our illegal invasion of Iraq. Violence begets violence – it is a truth as old as man.

Our unconscionable attacks on weaker nations, and our increasing complicity in the slow genocide of the Palestinians, are bound to provoke reaction, however weak that reaction may be compared to our own ability to kill en masse. The notion peddled by politicians and mainstream media, that we invade countries abroad to keep us safe at home, should be met with the derision it deserves.

View with comments