War in Iraq

Bliar and the Patsies

The Chilcot Inquiry was summed up for me ten minutes ago, when Tony Blair quoted an extraordinary passage – I believe from George Bush, but didn’t catch his attribution. The quote said that WMD were not things that had a physical existence, but rather existed in the minds of scientists who could create them, other than nuclear weapons, at very short notice.

This absurd expedition into metaphysical justification was greeted by Sir Roderic Lyne’s much vaunted forensic brain. Lyne commented:

“I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.”




It is absurd. Given that Blair had been issuing prophetic warnings against the Islamic menace which wants to kill hundreds of thousands, then the disconnect between the alleged lack of physical barriers to the creation of WMD, and the failure of terrorists to produce one in the decade of the “War on Terror”, is startling. Not to mention the need for delivery systems, which are hard to whip up in the kitchen.

What a farce. Another platform for Blair to spout his neo-con certainties of hate and bang the drum for war on Iran. In the first 90 seconds Blair had conflated Saddam Hussein and 9/11 and called for action – plainly meaning military action – against Iran. Meanwhile the establishment patsies look concerned and dance around small points, to give an air of spurious credibility to their pre-determined exoneration.

View with comments

Dandelion Salad on the Sam Adams Award

Quite a few internet articles have popped up, although absolutely nothing in the mainstream media. Here is one from Dandelion Salad:


Which leads me to an interesting observation. The Wikileaks press conference was attended by at least 30 TV crews and hundreds of journalists, from all over the world. But I did not see any other high profile bloggers there. Given that Wikileaks is in itself a prime example of the way that new media can get the truth out as mainstream media can’t, that was peculiar. Did Wikileaks not invite any bloggers?

View with comments

My Russia Today Interview on Wikileaks

As usual I did numerous interviews today for international media but was invited to none at all for the British media. Sky News have just farcically had a spokesman for the ultra-right Henry Jackson Foundation and a US army Colonel “debating” the Wikileaks release and both condemning it.

Anyway here is a piece I did for Russia Today. As you can probably tell, my earpiece was giving problems and I didn’t actually hear the first few questions!


View with comments

Julian Assange and Those Wikileaks Iraq Documents

I had the great pleasure today to present the Sam Adams Award for Integrity to Julian Assange at the big Wikileaks press conference in London.

I fear I did not do this very well. In fact I was merely trying to pass the award to Dan Ellsberg to present at the end of his talk, when he introduced me to make the presentation. I felt pretty shy at holding up a press conference being seen around the world, so I virtually threw the award candlestick at Julian and got off. The consequence of my lack of composure was that few people realised who I was or what had just been given.

Those who watched the full press conference on Sky or BBC red button will have seen me. Nadira said it just looked like some nutter had got up from the audience to give Julian a present. Oh well.

As for the Wikileaks document, the relentless detail of casual and routine torture and murder is chilling. But what I find most shocking is the fact that the military did in fact keep detailed and careful count of many tens of thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq – some 70,000 are detailed. Yet all the time it was claimed, again and again and again from Blair and Bush down, that there were no official figures on civilian deaths and no estimates could be given.

If there had been a tiny bit of honesty in the official version of events, there might be some reason to consider the British and American government’s claims that British and American troops are put at risk because people know the truth.

This does not put soldiers lives at risk. What it puts at risk is the reputation of lying politicians and bureaucrats who send soldiers to their deaths.

View with comments

US Kills 35 Women and Children in the Yemen

I remain grateful to emptywheel for the perception that the US defence of the Israeli killings is of a piece with its own claim to the right to murder anybody, anytime, anywhere.


This is starkly illustrated by the news that the US killed 35 women and children in a cluster bomb attack on the Yemen.


This policy is the apogee of what I named in “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo” the “Good Guy, Bad Guy” school of foreign policy analysis. In this view, conflicts are not born out of competition for resources or present or historical injustices, but simply by evil “bad guys”. Eliminate them, and the conflict goes away.

The tragedy is, of course, that the continued US massacre of civilians by these “targeted” attacks in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere will only make conflict more bitter, intense and of course longer. But then, that is good news if you are an arms manufacturer, mercenary, part of the security apparatus or a right wing politician. All of those people’s access to funds, resources and power is increased by continuing conflict.

View with comments

Brown at Chilcot

I can’t be bothered watching Brown at Chilcot any more. Mildly interesting but unsurprising that Blair kept him out of the loop on dealings with Bush,

Brown’s primary concern is to deny that Treasury constraints cost British soldiers’ lives. He has therefore said six times in the first half hour that, as far as the Treasury were concerned, cost was never an issue.

It bloody well should have been. To all those unemployed and steeped in debt, does this feel like a country that had £100 billion to throw away on a totally needless aggressive war?

Gordon Brown. Unquestioning writer of cheques for a psychotic warmongerer.

What a tosser.

View with comments

Jack Straw Forgets His Lies

Lovely moment from an unpublished interview by Matt Kennard here, dating from 2006, in which Jack Straw forgets the particular lies he is supposed to be telling and dissolves into incoherence a la George W Bush:

MK: I was going to ask you about Craig Murray and Uzbekistan ?” the situation there. I was reading about you allegedly were trying to suppress his memoir. Is that correct?

JS: We were trying to get him to obey the rules. You need to get the lines off John on that if you don’t mind. But if you’re a diplomat you’re expected to abide by your responsibilities which include… you accept, again, privileged position, good money, access to all sorts of confidences, you got to… yeah, that’s the issue there.


Fascinating interview all in all. No wonder the student journalist, Matt Kennard, did not end up in the UK mainstream media – he’s much too good.

View with comments

Straw Back At Chilcott

Straw has just been questioned on precisely the point I made about the huge gap between his evidence and what was said in the contemporary Foreign Office telegrams.


This relates to Security Council Resolution 1441 and what it means. Straw is holding the line that if the Security Council were to meet again “to consider” rather than “to decide”, that meant it was OK to ignore them and invade anyway.

Apart from the logical strangeness of the argument, the committee are suffering from an anglophone blindness that those of us who have negotiated at the UN know to avoid. “To consider” is indeed weaker than “to decide”. But the French language text is equally valid, and the verb there is se prononcer. As in prononcer un jugement – or, in English, to pronounce judgement. The committee should not ignore the other language texts.

I once, incidentally, spent four weeks of my life at a UN Commission arguing on whether to use should, ought to, has to, is to, or must to, in order to convey a duty to register a deep seabed mining concession with the appropriate international authority. That it would be “devoir” in French was agreed on day 1. As it was February in Jamaica it wasn’t a horrible four weeks.

View with comments

Alistair Campbell Snivels

I was watching the Andrew Marr show when Alistair Campbell broke down, apparently overcome that anybody could doubt the integrity of Tony Blair.

A minute later Andrew Marr asked him if he were not troubled by the 800.000 deaths following the invasion of Iraq, and Campbell snapped back:

“You can’t prove that”.

It was a very revealing riposte. Not only did it contradict the tearful innocent demeanour, it revealed the mindset of the guilty. Innocent people in the throes of deep emotion shout out “That’s not true”. They don’t shout out “You can’t prove that”.

“You can’t prove that” is the riposte of the criminal who thinks he is too clever to be caught. It actually answered the question perfectly – no, Campbell never thinks about the Iraqis whose deaths he helped to cause.

Marr’s estimate was pretty conservative, but that’s not the point. The point is that Campbell was intimately involved in the policy decision not to estimate or comment upon any estimates of civilian casualties in Iraq, precisely to give the “You can’t prove that” defence.

Marr’s question was exactly the one the Chilcot committee failed to ask Blair. They allowed him to witter on about how much better Iraq is now than it was under Saddam. Nobody asked if it was better for the million dead, the four million maimed, the four million refugees, the tens of thousands of new babies with birth defects.

Blair was allowed to get away with a whole stream of top end estimates of Saddam’s atrocities using the phrade “On some accounts”. “On some accounts” 50,000 were gassed, “on some accounts” 1 million Iraqis died in the Iran Iraq war.

Nobody put it to Blair that “On some accounts” 1.4 million died as a result of the invasion he launched on a basis of lies.

One day, perhaps Alistair Campbell can try the waterworks technique on the judges in the Hague.

View with comments

Blair Getting Away With Murder

Blair just said “You would be hard pressed to find anyone who in September 2002 doubted that Saddam had WMD”.

It wouldn’t have been that hard. If he had asked members of the Near East and North Africa Department of the FCO, the Middle East experts in the FCO’s Research Analysts, or in the Defence Intelligence Service, he would have found absolutely no shortage of people who doubted it, whatever position No 10 was forcing on their institutions.

One of the many failures of this Inquiry has been a failure to ask individual witnesses before it whether they personally had believed in the existence of any significant Iraqi WMD programme. I know for certain that would have drawn some extremely enlightening answers from among the FCO and probably MOD participants.

Sir Martin Gilbert allowed Blair to conflate Iran, Iraq, Al-Qaida, WMD and terrorism in a completely unjustified way. When Straw tried exactly the same trick, Rod Lyne did not allow him to get away with it.

A further stark contrast with Straw is that both Blair and Straw were asked about the failure of the UK to secure movement in the Middle East peace process by using our role in Iraq to influence the USA. A major, detailed and fascinating part of Straw’s answer was that Israel’s – and specifically Netanyahu’s – political influence in the USA had prevented progress.

By contrast, Blair did not even mention Israel in response to the questions on the failure to achieve progress in the Middle East. He solely blamed the Palestinian Intafada. He has been anxious to widen the discussion beyond Iraq at every opportunity, and frequently referred to destabilising factors in the Middle East, and again and again pointed to a growing threat from Iran and Iranian sponsorship of terrorism, and to Palestinian terrorism (including Saddam Hussein’s past sponsorship of it).

He has made not one single comment about Israel’s behaviour as a contributing factor in Middle East instability. Given Blair’s official position as Middle East envoy, this lack of any bare pretence at impartiality is most revealing.

View with comments

Blair’s Demeanour

I am astonished that Blair had not prepared a convincing answer to the question of why he told Fern Britton that, if he had known there were no WMD, he would have found another argument “to temove” Saddam. Blair blustered, failed to finish several sentences and then concluded that he had not used the words “regime change”. So “to remove” Saddam from the local knitting circle, then.

I have no hopes rhe ultimate report will be anything but a whitewash. However the body language is fascinating. Baroness Ushar is not a good forensic questioner but is looking at him with great disataste. Blair has lost his smoothness in lying. When pushed on the details of Crawford Blair varies between stumbling and gabbling too quickly for the stenographer. When he manages to get off subject, for example on to Clinton and Kosovo, his whole demeanour changes and he is his old fluent self – but only when he wriggles off subject.

“I would not have done Iraq if I had not thought it was right” he just said. Nobody doubts that. I think Hitler could have honestly said the same too. There is nothing more dangerous than a sociopath who thinks he is right.

View with comments

The Partiality of Lord Goldsmith



One of these two was an honest man. The other one caused his death.

Lord Goldsmith is partial to war. He likes to sit his well-padded bottom on comfortable leather chairs in expensive offices, and be flattered into agreeing that a bit of war would not be a bad idea.

Baha Mosua was a very quiet man, not partial to war at all. Unfortunately he is the one who got killed.

I have a policy of not using atrocity photos, not even on the issue of torture and extraordinary rendition. But the contrast between the easy glibness of Goldsmith and the consequences of his actions needs to be rammed home. The media seems imprssed by his 248 pages of well rehearsed verbiage. I am not.


To call Lord Goldsmith’s evidence yesterday “Partial” would be ludicrously polite. It turned on the crucial period in March, when he changed his advice to the view that UNSCR 1441 did indeed give, in itself, sufficient grounds to invade. With no personal experience of ever having negotiated a Security Council Resolution, Goldsmith did this in the teeth of fierce opposition from the FCO Legal Adviser Sir Michael Wood, a world renowned eminence in the subject of use of force and the security council, who had also served for four years in our mission to the United Nations.

Goldsmith’s change of mind was based on the notion that the negotiating history of UNSCR 1441 revealed intentions which were not plain from the text – a text which Goldsmith was at pains to characterise as extremely unclear, when actually it isn’t. He also took the view that the negotiating history should have more weight than the formal explanations of vote given in public.

That might be because the UK explanation of vote said this:

We heard loud and clear during the negotiations the concerns about “automaticity” and “hidden triggers” — the concern that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action; that on a decision so crucial any Iraqi violations should be discussed by the Council. Let me be equally clear in response… There is no “automaticity” in this resolution. If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the Council for discussion as required in paragraph 12. We would expect the Security Council then to meet its responsibilities.

As I have posted before, as a British Ambassador I saw at the time the telegrams of instruction go out from the FCO. The matter was so grave that not only was 1441 being negotiated for in New York, we were lobbying for it in capitals as well, and the instructions were clearly to stress that 1441 contained “No automatic triggers.”

Indeed, our original draft did authorise “all necessary means” – the accepted formula for force – but we dropped it in negotiation. That part of the negotiating history was something that Goldsmith did not volunteer at all. He repeated the Jack Straw line that UNSCR 1441 must authorise force because France and Germany had dropped wording making specific that it did not do so. But we dropped our wording too. That didn’t count in his Lordship’s mind.

Where he was really partial was the “Mr Goldsmith goes to Washington episode”, He met the Americans, listened to their legal interpretation, and crucially listened to their version of the negotiations with the French. But as Michael Wood had pointed out, these negotiations were private meetings, some literally in corridors, of which no records were taken and which are disputed.

Goldsmith absolutely gave himself away in the contempt with which he greeted Rod Lyne’s suggestion that he might have asked the French for their version of events – what happened in the negotiating history and what they believed the resolution meant. There is an important point here, United Nations documents are produced in five languages, all equally valid.

Personally, I believe with Sir Michael Wood that for Goldsmith to put so much weight on the negotiating history, in order to give 1441 a meaning which is not apparent in the text or in the public explanations of vote on the text, is very dubious. But if you are going to rely on the negotiating history, it is ludicrously partial to rely only on the assertions of one party – the Americans – and they being the party known to have the most extreme position on the issue.

Goldsmith accepted the US account that in negotiations, though not in their explanation of vote, the French had accepted 1441 provided a basis for the use of force. This exchange is highly revealing:

SIR RODERIC LYNE: What evidence did they give you that the French had acknowledged this?

RT HON LORD GOLDSMITH QC: I wish that they had presented me with more. That was one of the difficulties.

That Goldsmith point blank refused in these circumstances to ask the French, is evidence that he was partial. he was firmly committed to the US, and to the invasion. He had chosen sides. His legal advice was going to back his mate Tony. All this pretence of his careful legal consideration is a transparent sham.

View with comments

The 9/11 Post

Having complained of people posting off topic, it seems a reasonable solution to give an opportunity for people to discuss the topics I am banning from other threads – of which 9/11 seems the most popular.

I do not believe that the US government, or any of its agencies, were responsible for 9/11. It would just need too many people to be involved. Someone would have objected. There are some strange and dangerous people in America, but not in sufficient concentration for this one. They couldn’t even keep Watergate quiet, and that was a small group. Any group I can think of – even Blackwater – would contain operatives with scruples about blowing up New York. They may be sadly ready to kill people in poor countries, but Americans en masse? Somebody would say it wasn’t a good idea.

I asked a friend in the construction industry what it would take to demolish the twin towers. He replied nine months, 80 men, and 12 miles of cabling. The notion that a small team at night could plant sufficient explosives embedded at key points, is laughable.

The forces of the aircraft impacts must have been amazingly high. I have no difficulty imagining they would bring down the building. As for WTC 7, again the kinetic energy of the collapse of the twin towers must be immense.

I admit to a private speculation about WTC7. Unfortunately in construction it is extremely common for contractors not to fix or install properly all the expensive girders, ties and rebar that are supposed to be enclosed in the concrete. Supervising contractors and municipal inspectors can be corrupt. I recall vividly that in London some years ago a tragedy occurred when a simple gas oven explosion brought down the whole side of a tower block.

The inquiry found that the building contractor had simply omitted the ties that bound the girders at the corners, all encased in concrete. If a gas oven had not blown up, nobody would have found out. Buildings I strongly suspect are very often not as strong as they are supposed to be, with contractors skimping on apparently redundant protection. The sort of sordid thing you might not want too deeply investigated in the event of a national tragedy.

Precisely what happened at the Pentagon I am less sure. There is not the conclusive film and photographic evidence that there is for New York. I am particularly puzzled by the much more skilled feat of flying that would be required to hit a building virtually at ground level, in an urban area, after a lamppost clipping route – very hard to see how a non-professional pilot did that. But I can think of a number of possible scenarios where the official explanation is not quite the whole truth on the Pentagon, but which do not necessitate a belief that the US government or Dick Cheney was behind the attack.

In my view the real scandal of 9/11 was that it was blowback – the product of a malignant terrorist agency whose origins lay in CIA funding and provision. Also blowback in a more general sense that it was spawned in the nasty theocratic dictatorship of Saudi Arabia which is so close to the US and to the Bush dynasty in particular. As with almost all terrorist activity, I do not rule out any point on the whole spectrum of surveillance, penetration and agent provocateur activity by any number of possible actors.

But was 9/11 false flag and controlled demolition? No, I think not.

(Now I have given full opportunity to discuss 9/11 here, any further references on other threads will be instantly deleted).

View with comments

Lord Goldsmith’s Demeanour

Fascinating to watch Lord Goldsmith this morning. A great contrast in demeanour. Wood and Wilmshurst sounded open, painstakingly careful to be accurate, and honest. Goldsmith, by contrast sounds slick and extremely well rehearsed. The stream of verbiage never halts and he hardly seems to draw breath.


View with comments

God, I Didn’t Know


Feeling much better now. Many thanks for the many kind – and often very wise – comments. I know why I can’t sleep, why can’t you lot?

I hate being away from Nadira for lengthy periods and am not well equipped to pass the small hours alone. Still feeling an immense frustration that truly evil men like Blair prosper, but that has been part of the human condition forever. Oh well – really must try and get some sleep now, it’s 5am here,.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a manic depressive and sometimes feel almost suicidal, Don’t worry, I have three wonderful children and I am not going to leave them. But I feel so weak this evening. compared to the strength of the forces of evil, if you describe evil as illegal war and the massive profits to be made from waging it, and the sunsequent looting of resources.

I hope that those who saw Sir Michael Wood’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry today, and who have also read Murder in Samarkand, feel that I painted an accurate pen-portrait of my once friend.

I felt that Michael had stabbed me in the back by refusing to back me in saying unequivocally that intelligence from torture was illegal.

I did not know that, exactly at that time, he was engaged in a heroic struggle to try to stop the war in Iraq on legal grounds, and that he had drawn the full fury of Blair and Straw. He could not afford to open a second front on extraordinary rendition.

I have been struggling ever since to come to terms with what I saw as his going along with torture. I misjudged him.

But the way that the evil people like Blair and Straw manage to split decent people like Michael and me, is the lesson to avoid in future. Why is it that people like Michael, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Bill Patey and I never managed to get together? (Bill Patey was the head of the FCO geographical department which included Iraq, and he, like very many others in the system, never believed the “Evidence” on Iraqi WMD.)

I am feeling so sad because different ways of trying to resist took us down different paths, and perhaps I am sad because I was harsher on some than they deserved.

But I am most sad because hundreds of thousands died so Blair and Straw could earn their lucrative standing in the USA. I feel nothing but despair.

View with comments

Government Ban Protest Outside Blair Iraq Hearing

Not content with spending ?250,000 on “security” for the war criminal Tony Blair’s appearance on the Iraq Inquiry, the government have banned protestors from areas where Blair will see them. This from Stop The War:

Negotiations between the police and Stop the War broke down

today when it became clear that the government is trying to

hide our legitimate peaceful protest from Tony Blair when he

gives evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on Friday.

After days in which we were told by the police that they would

try to facilitate our protest, Stop the War has been told we

will not be allowed to protest on the grass outside the QEII

Conference Centre.

This is a denial of our democratic rights and Stop the War

will now call for the widest possible mobilisation, not just

to express the majority view in this country that Tony Blair

should be held to account for war crimes, but in defence of

the right to protest.

Why should the public be denied the right to peaceful protest,

particularly when the latest evidence given to the Chilcot

Committee shows beyond doubt that Tony Blair knew he was

taking Britain into an illegal war, and that he doctored legal

advice to deceive his Cabinet, Parliament and the British


Stop the War is calling on all its supporters, local groups

and affiliated organisations to mobilise the widest possible

support for the Blair protest on Friday.

We urge everyone who can to join the demonstration at the QEII

Conference Centre from 8am. Full details for the planned

events are here: http://bit.ly/8mKM0T

Spread the word as widely as you can among your family,

friends, work colleagues, fellow students etc, etc

View with comments

Sir Michael Wood Damns Blair, Straw and Croney Goldsmith

Sir Michael Wood confirmed today that the consistent advice from the FCO’s Legal Advisers was that it was illegal in international law to invade Iraq without a second Security Council Resolution following UNSCR 1441. He also made plain that he consistently over two years advised both Blair and Straw direct that the war would be illegal.

Everything Sir Michael Wood said was 100% consistent with my contention that Straw was lying throughout his testimony on the key point of whether it was believed in the FCO that UNSCR 1441 made the war legal. As I stated, every one of the scores of telegrams of instructions to posts between UNSCR 1441 and just before the March invasion clearly was predicated on a second resolution being necessary, and we were telling security council members in asking them to vote for UNSCR 1441 that it conained “No automatic triggers”. Michael Wood confirmed that too.

Yesterday I wrote this querying why a political appointee mate of Blair can overrule our foremost expert on international law:

A Politician Should Not Rule on the Legality of War

Tomorrow morning, Sir Michael Wood, former Foreign and Commonwealth Office Legal Adviser, gives evidence to the Chilcott Inquiry. To my mind, this is the most important evidence to be given so far. Michael’s then deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, who resigned over the war of aggression, will give evidence in the afternoon, I believe speaking in public for the first time since her resignation.

The Legal Adviser at the Foreign Office is a very grand person indeed. You should understand it is a full time position. The FCO has a big department, named Legal Advisers. It is staffed by the cream of public international lawyers. There are assistant and deputy legal advisers,serving in the FCO in London and sometimes being posted to large Embassies abroad. Then there is THE Legal Adviser, who is a very grand personage indeed, with a palatial office overlooking St James’ Park.

I have no doubt at all that both Wood and Wilmshurst will rebuke Starw’s appalling lie that UNSCR 1441 was considered sufficient to justify an invasion, at the time that it was adopted. Wilmshurst’s resignation letter made it perfectly plain that was not true.


But the question is, whether the Committee will manage to hide that truth by leading the lawyers away from it in their questioning. I have previously described their method as obscuring all the key points in a comfortable fog of chuminess. Expect every possible use of the lateral tangent, the chairman’s intervention and the friendly assumption.

I am very sorry that until now Sir Michael Wood has perhaps been best known to a wider public as the man that the FCO wheeled in to tell me that it was perfectly legal to obtain intelligence from torture, as long as somebody else did the torture.


As I explain in Murder in Samarkand I was shocked by this because I knew Michael and he is a nice man. Even though he made a point in the meeting of indicating moral disapproval of a policy of using torture, it seems to me there should be a limit to which a lawyer is prepared to advise what the government can get away with.

I am hoping that Michael will redeem himself in the eyes of decent people tomorrow, and I believe that he will.

One of the most important structural questions that the Chilcott Inquiry must ask, is this:

Why does the Attorney General have the power to overrule the Legal Adviser on a point of international law?

The answer is not that the Attorney General has a democratic mandate. Nobody has ever voted for Lord Goldsmith. His only qualification was that he was a buddy of Tony and Cherie Blair.

Here is a select list of some of Sir Michael Wood’s internationally accepted publications on international law:

“The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents”, 23 International and Comparative Law Quarterly (1974)

“The European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism”, 1 Yearbook of European Law (1981)

“The Legal Status of Berlin” (1987, with I. D. Hendry)

“Participation of Former Yugoslav States in the United Nations and in Multilateral Treaties”, 1 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1997)

“The Interpretation of Security Council Resolutions”, 2 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1998)

“International Seabed Authority: the First Four Years”, 3 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1999)

“Northern and Western European Maritime Boundaries”, in: Colson/Smith, International Maritime Boundaries, Vol. V (2005)

“Towards New Circumstances in which the Use of Force may be Authorized? The Cases of Humanitarian Intervention, Counter-terrorism, and Weapons of Mass Destruction”, in: The Security Council and the Use of Force: Theory and Reality – A Need for Change? (eds. N. Blokker/N. Schrijver, 2005)

“The United Kingdom’s Acceptance of the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice”, in: Festskrift til Carl August Fleischer (eds. O Fauchald/H Jakhelln/A Syse, 2006)

“N?cessit? et l?gitime d?fense dans la lutte contre le terrorisme: quelle est la pertinence de l’affaire de la Caroline aujourd’hui?”, in: La n?cessit? en droit international Soci?t? fran?aise pour le droit international, Colloque de Grenoble, 2006

“The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and General International Law”, 22 International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (2007)

“The Selection of Candidates for International Judicial Office: Recent Practice”, in: Law of the Sea, Environmental Law and Settlement of Disputes: Liber Amicorum Judge Thomas A. Mensah (eds. T M Ndiaye/R Wolfrum, 2007)

Three lectures on “The UN Security Council and International Law” (2006), available on the website of the Lauterpacht Centre for Intenrational Law, University of Cambridge. An expanded version of these lectures will be published in due course by Cambridge University Press as a book within the Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures series

“The Law on the Use of Force: Current Challenges”, 11 Singapore Yearbook of International Law (2007)

“The Security Council and International Criminal Law”, 5 Romanian Journal of International Law/Revista Rom?na de Drept International (2007)

“The International Seabed Authority: Fifth to Twelfth Sessions (1999-2006)”, 11 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (2007)

“The General Assembly and the International Law Commission: What Happens to the Commission’s Work and Why?”, in: I Buffard, J Crawford, A Pellet, S Wittich (eds.), International Law Between Universalism and Fragmentation. Festschrift in Honour of Gerhard Hafner (2008)

“The Principle of Non-Intervention” (with Maziar Jamnejad), 29 Leiden Journal of International Law (2009)

“Detention during International Military Operations: Article 103 of the Charter and the Al-Jedda case”, 47 Revue de Droit Militaire et de Droit de la Guerre/The Military Law and the Law of War Review (2009)

Entries in R Wolfrum (ed.), Max Planck “Encyclopedia of Public International Law” (online edition 2008), including:

Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law (CAHDI) International Courts and Tribunals, Discontinuance of Cases Final Act International Seabed Authority Legal Advisers Macedonia Peace, Breach of State Practice Teachings of the Most Highly Qualified Publicists United Nations Administrative Tribunal, Applications for Review (Advisory Opinions) United Nations Charter, Enemy State Clauses United Nations Security Council Use of Force, Prohibition of Threat

Here is the complete list of all of Lord Goldsmith’s internationally accepted publications on international law


Which is why the Legal Adviser is paid more than the Attorney General.

So the government spends a very great deal of public money on employing a whole cadre of the best public international lawyers in the world, but takes its legal advice on matters of war and peace from a shifty barrister mate of Tony Blair.

The decision whether to go to war is a political question. But the legal advice should come from the most qualified source, not the source most likely to agree with the Prime Minister.

Even that commonsense observation is going to be much too radical for the stuffed Establishment shirts of the Chilcott Committee.

Last week I published this on Straw’s testimony. Michael Wood’s testimony absolutely confirms that I was telling the truth and Straw was lying:

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

Attempts to Deflect Michael Wood Evidence





Further – Sky has now cut to a very dull pre-recorded interview with Alistair Darling. Having given us wall to wall testimony from the New Labour liars, there is no live broadcast of the most important evidence to date.

I have cut this thread to stop discussion of whether Sky acted deliberately from detracting from the main point that the war was deemed illegal.

View with comments