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Freedom of the Press
is an essential democratic right that must be respected Keith Locke argued on 4 June. He was responding to the King of Tonga ramming through a law to suppress criticism of his rule in the media. Keith asked the NZ Government to consider whether Tonga should be suspended from the Commonwealth if press freedom to suppressed. Read
Auckland. Aceh – The New East Timor?
A public meeting on Monday June 16 at 7-30 p.m.
Saint Columba Centre 40 Vermont St, Ponsonby (opposite the Mosque) – Entrance and parking at rear of building
” What must we do? The political background, the human rights crisis and how New Zealand can help”
Speakers include: Margaret Taylor Amnesty International Maire Leadbeater Indonesia Human Rights Committee Keith Locke Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the Green Party Also: A Video about the Aceh People’s Struggle Organised by Pax Christi and Indonesia Human Rights Committee
Indonesia Human Rights E-Group.
The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has an e-group which posts articles and news from Indonesia and around the world in English. It is for those who want to learn more about Aceh, West Papua and the movements for democratic change throughout Indonesia. The e-group also keeps members in touch with local educational meetings, conferences and solidarity demonstrations. If interested in joining; contact
clear [dot] net [dot] nz
Weapons of Mass Disappearance
– the story to date.
The US/UK case for attacking Iraq was based principally on the claim that Iraq
- possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and
- intended to use them.
The UN Security Council failed to be convinced by the US and UK case, and refused to sanction the attack. (After all, the US possesses more weapons of WMD than any other state in the world, and recently changed its nuclear policy to ”pre-emptive strike” – a clear signal of intention to use them.)
US and UK forces have now been occupying Iraq for a month, with free access to sites where WMD might be found. Thus far none have actually been found. The whole story is starting to unravel badly, especially in Britain, where MPs and the public are angry at being lied to. Even the senior spooks in MI5 and MI6 are cross that their work has been doctored and misused. Read on for quotes from recent stories on the issue.
”…The good news for the Pentagon yesterday was that its investigators had finally unearthed evidence of weapons of mass destruction, including 100 vials of anthrax and other dangerous bacteria…The bad news was that the stash was found, not in Iraq, but fewer than 50 miles from Washington, near Fort Detrick in the Maryland countryside… Even more embarrassing for the Pentagon, there was no documentation about the various biological agents disposed of at the US bio-defence centre at Fort Detrick. Iraq’s failure to come up with paperwork proving the destruction of its biological arsenal was portrayed by the US as evidence of deception in the run-up to the war.” [Julian Borger, The Guardian, 28.5.03]
”… Tony Blair stood accused last night of misleading Parliament and the British people over Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, and his claims that the threat posed by Iraq justified war. Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, seized on a “breathtaking” statement by the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, that Iraq’s weapons may have been destroyed before the war, and anger boiled over among MPs who said the admission undermined the legal and political justification for war…. Speaking in the Commons before the crucial vote on war, Mr Blair told MPs that it was “palpably absurd” to claim that Saddam had destroyed weapons including 10,000 litres of anthrax, up to 6,500 chemical munitions; at least 80 tons of mustard gas, sarin, botulinum toxin and “a host of other biological poisons” But Mr Cook said yesterday: “We were told Saddam had weapons ready for use within 45 minutes. It’s now 45 days since the war has finished and we have still not found anything… “It is plain he did not have that capacity to threaten us, possibly did Peter Kilfoyle, the anti-war rebel and former Labour defence minister, said he was prepared to report Mr Blair to the Speaker of the Commons for misleading Parliament. Mr Kilfoyle, whose Commons motion calling on Mr Blair to publish the evidence backing up his claims about Saddam’s arsenal has been signed by 72 MPs, warned: “This will not go away. The Government ought to publish whatever evidence they have for the claims they made.” [Ben Russell and Andy McSmith, The Independent, 29.5.03]
”…One key tactic of the British and United States governments in their campaign on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction was to talk up suspicions and to portray possibility as fact. The clearest example was the quotation and misquotation of the reports of United Nations weapons inspectors. Iraq claimed it had destroyed all its prohibited weapons, either unilaterally or in co-operation with the inspectors, between 1991 and 1994. Although the inspectors were able to verify that unilateral destruction took place on a large scale, they were not able to quantify the amounts destroyed. For example, they were able to detect that anthrax growth media had been burnt and buried in bulk at a site next to the production facility at al-Hakam. There was no way – and there never will be – to tell from the soil samples the amount destroyed. As a result, UN inspectors recorded this material as unaccounted for: neither verified destroyed nor believed to still exist. Translated into statements by the British and US governments, it became part of “stockpiles” that they claimed Iraq was hiding from the inspectors. Both governments knew UN inspectors had not found any nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in Iraq since at least 1994, aside from a dozen abandoned mustard shells, and that the vast majority of any weapons produced before 1991 would have degraded to the point of uselessness within 10 years. Even the most high-profile defector from Iraq – Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law and director of Iraq’s weapons programmes – told UN inspectors and British intelligence agencies in 1995 that Iraq had no more prohibited weapons. And yet Britain’s dossier last September repeated the false claim that information “in the public domain from UN reports … points clearly to Iraq’s continuing possession, after 1991, of chemical and biological agents and weapons produced before the Gulf War”. [Glen Rangwala, The Independent, 1.6.03]
”…Tony Blair’s sensational pre-war claim that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction “could be activated within 45 minutes” was based on information from a single Iraqi defector of dubious reliability, The Independent on Sunday can reveal… On Wednesday, the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee will meet behind closed doors to examine the Government’s WMD claims, but it is not expected to have full access to the intelligence seen by ministers… Controversy reigns over the work of a special unit within the Pentagon, created by Mr Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, which enthusiastically promoted the Iraqi National Congress’s WMD claims over the scepticism of others, notably in the CIA. Yesterday The Guardian said the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, met his American counterpart, Colin Powell, in February to discuss their concerns about the quality of information on Iraq’s banned weapons, and the claims being made by their respective political masters. The Government said the meeting never took place.” [Raymond Whitaker, Paul Lashmar, Andy McSmith, The Independent, 1.6.03]
”…A YouGov opinion poll conducted for The Daily Telegraph found that 44 per cent of voters felt that they had been misled about the threat of illegal weapons. And while 71 per cent of voters believed before the war that Iraq possessed such weapons, only 51 per cent thought the same way now. Last night, Downing Street was forced to deny an ITN report that officials in No 10 had privately conceded that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) might never be found. ” [Nigel Morris and Andy McSmith, The Independent 2.6.03]
”…Senior security service sources have disclosed unprecedented disquiet on how their findings were “hardened up” by Downing Street to support claims that Saddam Hussein posed immediate danger with his alleged weapons of mass destruction. Security officers want John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, to ensure future reports by the services are not “sub-edited” by Downing Street officials, and outside material is not passed off as intelligence. There is concern that No 10 demanded and received “raw intelligence”, unchecked by the security services. The normal practice is for this to be filtered by the JIC. Some of the “information” received by Downing Street, the security services believe, came from Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, without the JIC being involved. The security services feel some ministers are appearing to blame the spies for exaggerating the alleged Iraqi chemical, biological and nuclear arsenal, paving the way for war. But the security officials say No 10 continuously pressured them to show the immediacy of the Iraqi threat, and the JIC was under pressure from Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister’s communications director, and other senior officials, to “toughen” its conclusions.” [Kim Sengupta, The Independent, 4.6.03]
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