Where to now: Iraq Today?
Clive Hambidge & Soraya Boyd
“I thought Nick Clegg’s reaction was very disappointing. His reaction should not be of ‘openness’ to a judicial enquiry. He should be actively pushing for a judicial enquiry. The Government came to power four years ago. He’s had ample opportunity to uncover, as Deputy Prime Minister, what was going on. We’ve now pushed it off to a rather pitiful parliamentary committee with no … teeth and again it just goes into the long grass.” (Philippe Sands)
It is scandalous that the Chilcot Inquiry report has not been published before Christmas as intended. It is further outrageous, since it is obvious to most of us, as ably articulated by a member of the public Peter Hughes in his letter to the Times Editor (Friday 12 December 2014) that “According to Rob Wilson, a Cabinet Office minister, the Chilcot report into the Iraq war cannot be released after February (report, Dec 11) because of a ban on releasing “politically sensitive” material in the run-up to the general election. Surely that is precisely the time when voters should be be in possession of political material, especially if it is sensitive.” so as to enable the electorate to make an informed choice. It is precisely because we don’t now have this choice that the general election is based on a system where faith in our institutions is found wanting. We could make the further case that it is time for a written Constitution.
It is worth mentioning Andrew MacKinlay, former member of Foreign Affairs select committee, writing in the Evening Standard (UK), 15 December 2014, “it is institutionalised that the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition nominate candidates for the intelligence and security Committee. The committee is filled with Establishment figures who cannot provide robust, independent oversight of the security services. As a former foreign secretary ISC Sir Malcolm Rifkind should be disqualified from membership. To perform proper scrutiny, the question MPs should ask is whether the PM will indicate what parts of the Senate committee report ministers or UK intelligence requested redaction of but were refused. ” Further damning and crucially is that “In not one of the Iraq inquiries held in the UK – Hutton, Butler, the Intelligence and Security Committee’s, the Foreign Affairs Committee’s – was evidence given under oath. The same is true of Chilcot. This undermines their credibility.. We need a full judicial inquiry in which hearings are in public and televised …” (MacKinlay)
The Independent on Sunday 14 December 2014: “The latest cases [on torture] being sent this week to the ICC in The Hague as well as to the Ministry of Defences Service Prosecuting Authority include harrowing accounts covering a five-year period, from 2003 to 2008. The allegations, in court documents … highlight a systematic approach of beating and hooding before brutal interrogations; these actions took place after ministers had claimed such methods were no longer being used by British forces in Iraq.” It was on the 27th March 2009 that Andrew Tyre, Chairman of the All Party Committee on rendition concluded: “Only a judge-led inquiry can enable us to draw a line under this. And give the public confidence that we will finally get to the truth on rendition.” Well, I know, Tyrie knows, and the informed public knows of rendition and special renditions undertaken during an illegal war are facts. What are needed now are prosecutions. Blair, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and many more, all deserve to stand before a judge and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal
In his November 2011 paper titled “Bush and Blair found guilty of crimes against peace at the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal” , Professor Richard Falk reminded us that although “its verdict was not enforceable in a normal manner associated with a criminal court operating within a sovereign state or as constituted by international agreement, as is the case with the International Criminal Court” a verdict was rendered at “The “recent session of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal offers a devastating critique of the persisting failures of international criminal law mechanisms of accountability to administer justice justly, that is, without the filters of impunity provided by existing hierarchies of hard power. “ (The Brussells Tribunal).
Prosecutions may indeed be a long time coming, prosecutions will however take place for such is the slow course of due justice. You can’t see it coming but be sure it is.
Impunity and immunity
The recent Saleh v. Bush case (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013, No. C 13 1124 JST), worth quoting in full below, more than exemplifies “the filters of impunity provided by existing hierarchies of hard power. “ (Falk):
“a federal judge dismissed a civil claim filed against George W. Bush and other high-ranking officials regarding their conduct in planning and waging the Iraq War, and immunized them from further proceedings.
“This is an early Christmas present to former Bush Administration officials from the federal court,” Inder Comar of Comar Law said. Comar brought the claim on behalf of an Iraqi refugee and single mother, Sundus Shaker Saleh. “This was a serious attempt to hold US leaders accountable under laws set down at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946. I am very disappointed at the outcome.”
The tribunal at Nuremberg, established in large part by the United States after World War II, declared international aggression the “supreme international crime” and convicted German leaders of waging illegal wars.
The case alleged that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz committed aggression in planning and waging the Iraq War. Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that high-ranking Bush officials used the fear of 9/11 to mislead the American public into supporting a war against Iraq, and that they issued knowingly false statements that Iraq was in league with Al-Qaeda and had weapons of mass destruction, when none of those things were true.
“The decision guts Nuremberg,” Comar said. “Nuremberg said that domestic immunity was no defense to a claim of international aggression. This Court has said the opposite.”
The court’s ruling comes in the wake of the Senate report regarding the use of torture by the CIA during the Bush Administration. The Senate report confirmed that a false confession obtained from the torture of Ibn Shaykh al-Libi was cited by the Administration in support of the war.
Comar, a corporate attorney based out of Impact Hub San Francisco, primarily works with startups and venture funds. He took the case pro bono after learning about the plight of Iraqi refugees displaced through the Iraq War. Comar connected with Saleh through mutual colleagues in San Francisco.
Comar filed the initial complaint on March 13, 2013. While Comar recognizes the year-and-a-half-long effort was a long-shot, he remains steadfast. “The plaintiff will consider all her options, including an appeal. Judicial inquiry into possible wrong-doing that led to the Iraq War is warranted.”
In August 2013, Obama’s Department of Justice requested that the lawsuit be dismissed pursuant to the Westfall Act, a federal law that immunizes any government official from a civil lawsuit if that official was acting “within the scope of his office or employment.” Judge Jon S. Tigar, an Obama appointee, ruled that the defendants were shielded by the Westfall Act regardless of the allegations made in the Complaint.” (Inder Comar, December 22 2014, Brussells Tribunal)
The Iraq Deception
In 2006 in a private meeting with a member of parliament with whom Chris Coverdale and I met in Westminster to discuss the illegal act of aggression being prosecuted in Iraq a wrongful action by a standing prime minister, the MP stated “do we really think that Parliament would have the stomach to bring the PM before the international courts? I think not.” Coverdale in his rightfully indignant paper The Iraq Deception sheds light in Section 23 of the Memorandum to the Foreign Affairs Committee “In SCR 1441, the Security Council has determined-
(1)that Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) constitutes a threat to international peace and security;
(2)that Iraq has failed – in clear violation of its legal obligations – to disarm; and
(3)That in consequence, Iraq is in material breach of the conditions for the ceasefire laid down by the Council in SCR 687 at the end of hostilities in 1991, thus reviving the authorization in SCR 678”
Coverdale: “This statement is false and untrue. Security Council Resolution 1441 determined nothing of the sort. Reluctantly agreed by the Security Council on the basis that it did not authorise an attack, the tenor of resolution 1441 is to give Iraq a further chance of proving that it has complied with its disarmament obligations. The Security Council did not authorize the revival of resolution 678. This statement was constructed by the FCO to mislead MP’s into believing that it was the Security Council rather than the [British] Prime Minister that had decided that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, that they (WMD) were a threat to international peace and security, that by failing to disarm Iraq had violated legal obligations, and that ‘authorisation’ for an armed attack on Iraq had revived.”
Let us be clear if the inspectors had found a box of fireworks in a bunker they the British and they the U.S. would have attacked. If a lone child had been waving a sparkler in the air in fun the Brits and the Yanks would have/did attack and killed her/him and countless others. France declined why? “Article 2.4 of the UN Charter outlaws the threat or use of force. Under the Charter both against Britain and America made a firm and binding agreement never to threaten or use force against another Member state.” This paper is written this in memory of all those innocent victims who were maimed or killed in this insane and bloody act of aggression prosecuted against the sovereign state of Iraq.
A Bush, Blair, ideological war to free the Iraqis and rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s). When the war was over, the long suffering Iraqis would emerge from under the colossal shadow that was the Saddam regime. They would love us the British and the Americans, for they would be free from tyranny. “Free at last God almighty free at last. “ (Martin Luther King) The invasion started March 20th 2003 and “officially ended in 2011.” (Wikipedia) But has continued during 2014 and will into 2015. “Nearly 4,500 U.S. service members were killed in more than eight years of war and about 30,000 wounded. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died, troops and civilians, as the U.S. deposed Saddam’s regime and beat down an insurgency backed by al-Qaeda terrorists and sectarian revenge killings that threatened to destroy the country.” (USA Today) Ironically, the U.S of Department of State declared the removal or reduction of troops from Iraq in 2012 “The U.S. Mission in Iraq remains dedicated to building a strategic partnership with Iraq and the Iraqi people. The December 2011 departure of U.S. troops from Iraq marked a milestone in our relationship as Iraq continues to develop as a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant country. Iraq is now a key partner for the U.S. in the region as well as a voice of moderation and democracy in the Middle East.”
The opposite is of course true as America continues to bomb Iraq. This time with Islamic State in its crosshairs: “The mostly Sunni Arab population of western and northern Iraq is faced with a diabolical choice between the brutal rule of IS and the even more murderous rule of their own government. Their life and death predicament is the direct result of past and present U.S. policy in Iraq.” (Nicolas J.S. Davies, Why Iraqis May See ISIL as Lesser Evil Compared To U.S.-Backed Death Squads, 13-12-2014) . Iraq is not a partner, was never a partner and will never be a partner. How can it be a partner when “In 2004, the U.S. responded to resistance in Iraq with a “divide and rule” strategy that relied heavily on recruiting, training and deploying Special Police commandos to detain, torture and summarily execute tens of thousands of young men and boys in areas that resist the illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of their country. At its peak in 2006, this genocidal campaign delivered over 1,600 corpses per month to the morgue in Baghdad. “ (Davies). Thereby fuelling more chaos and hatred.
But today an Iraqi dictator has gone and chaos leaves all Iraqis in a permanent violent instability called an emerging Nation State courtesy of the West. This statement by Jeff Rathke Director Office of Press Relations from the U.S. Department of State, November 19th..2014 shows the reality on the ground in Iraq that will/is to continue, unless again we have a coalition of troops of the United Nations to police and monitor a crumbling Iraq under the close administrative scrutiny of the UN: “The United States strongly condemns the continued terrorist attacks in Iraq, including the suicide car bomb attacks today in Basra and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in front of the Erbil Provincial Council Building that took a number of innocent lives. We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a rapid recovery for those who were injured.”
Amnesty International reported “In recent months, Shi’a militias have been abducting and killing Sunni civilian men in Baghdad and around the country. These militias, often armed and backed by the government of Iraq, continue to operate with varying degrees of cooperation from government forces – ranging from tacit consent to coordinated, or even joint, operations. Amnesty International holds the government of Iraq largely responsible for the serious human rights abuses, including war crimes, committed by these militias.” Further “By granting its blessing to militias who routinely commit such abhorrent abuses, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fuelling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence that s tearing the country apart. Iraqi government support for militia rule must end now. “ (AI)
Before the “criminal” hostilities began, The United Nations Security Council with resolution 1441 had asked for the complete cooperation from the Iraqis with the weapons inspectors before the possible outset of hostilities as to ascertain whether Saddam had Weapons of Mass destruction (WMD) and ‘cruise missiles’. The United Nations Monitoring Verification and Inspecting Commission (UNMOVIC) found Zilch. Bush and Blair were going to war even if The UN teams had found a bunker full of fireworks. And the companies involved in and with the invasion were going to make an awful lot of money. The inflated rhetoric by officials US hid the real reason for the war, oil and rebuilding contracts for American and British companies.
Preparing for war
Repeated warnings from government lawyers that they would not have a ‘leg to stand on’ if Britain invaded Iraq. Devastating evidence at the Iraq inquiry yesterday revealed that every senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office believed the conflict was in breach of international law. (Mail Online) Sir Michael Wood the senior legal adviser to the Foreign Office had warned that without the necessary resolution from the United Nations Security Council the invasion would be legally viewed as a “crime of aggression in international law.” In his article for Stop the War Coalition (19 December 2014) Peter Foster wrote “Collusion with the CIA torture can be added to the war crimes that should have put Blair and Straw [in the docks] for taking Britain into an illegal war in Iraq.” Moreover, “An ongoing Scotland Yard investigation into the renditions of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi and a civil claim for compensation in which Jack Straw was named as a respondent rendered the Gibson Inquiry untenable since it risked prejudicing those proceedings. However intelligence sources who spoke to The Telegraph earlier this year alleged that both Mr Blair and Mr Straw knew in detail about the CIA’s secret programme after the September 11 attacks and were kept informed “every step of the way”. Stop the War Coalition stated “The politicians took a very active interest indeed. They wanted to know everything. The Americans passed over the legal opinions saying that this was now ‘legal’ and our politicians were aware of what was going on at the highest possible level.” which was illegal according to the Geneva Conventions. No moral high ground here.
Outrageously “Less than two months before the Iraq War began in 2003, Sir Michael told ministers there was ‘no doubt’ that Britain could not lawfully use force against Iraq because it could not claim it was acting in self defence, that it was trying to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe or that it had the authorisation of the UN. A series of secret documents released by the Chilcot inquiry revealed that the lawyer’s stance led to an extraordinary stand-off with Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary. Mr Straw, now Labour’s Justice Secretary, insisted that while at the Home Office he had often been advised policy proposals were unlawful but had gone ahead anyway.” (Mail Online)
The reality in the 18 Governorates in Iraq is bleak. The UN country teams working tirelessly and increasingly under danger. They work with the prism of governance at all levels. “The UN Country Team works in all of the 18 governorates of Iraq and operates at the community, governorate and national levels. National and international staff members are deployed throughout the country in cooperation with local, provincial and national counterparts.” (UN). This then is the surface of and face of the human suffering in Iraq. The 2014 American-led intervention in Iraq started on 15 June when President Obama ordered U.S. forces to be dispatched to the region, in response to offensives in Iraq conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
And so this special relationship of violence, British and American, to include other Allies bomb with impunity as the profiteers make huge sums. Here are some listed by the Business Pundit together with some quotes:
“Halliburton: Where war is raging the company’s profit, it is estimated that $ 17.2 billion was accrued in contracts by Halliburton in war related revenue from 2004 through 2006 alone, and is ongoing.”
VERITAS Capital Fund/ Dyn Corp”
Washington Group International:
Aegis: This Company’s role was to coordinate Private-Security-Operations worth $430 million because Aegis decision to earn enormous profits has led to Aegis to it “being rejected from the influential international Peace Operations Association.”
Environmental Chemical: “The privately held Burlingame, California Company has stockpiled $878 million by the end of fiscal 2006 for munitions disposal, calling upon its “decade of experience planning and conducting UXO removal, investigation, and certification activities.” The company has close ties to several defence agencies and is staffed by graduates of the U.S. Navy’s Explosive Ordinance Schools, as well as the U.S. Army’s Chemical Schools at Anniston. “
International American products:
Perini Coro: “Perini (controlled by financier Richard Blum) is one of the more controversial companies to have scored big-time Iraq war money. That’s because Blum’s wife, Senator Dianne Feinstein, appears to have used her seat on the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee to steer the $650 million environmental clean up deal in his favour.”
URS: “As with Perini, both Blum and Feinstein have come under intense scrutiny to answer questions about the apparent conflict of interest inherent in Feinstein helping to secure such an exorbitant government contract for her investment banker husband. Both Blum and Feinstein have refused to produce copies of the ethics committee’s rulings on Perini and URS, leading to considerable suspicion.”
Parsons: “Few Iraq contractors have come under fire as much as Parsons who reportedly mismanaged the construction a police academy so poorly that human waste dripped from its ceilings. Far from being an isolated incident, reports from federal government auditor’s revealed lacklustre work on 13 of the 14 Iraq projects entrusted to Parsons. That hasn’t stopped the Pasadena-based firm from making off with $540 million in U.S. government funds for the poorly executed reconstruction projects at Iraq’s healthcare centres and fire stations. For obvious reasons, Parsons’ work in Iraq has generally been considered an embarrassment.”
“This is the lens through which Iraqis will now see America,” lamented Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said. “Incompetence. Profiteering. Arrogance. And human waste oozing out of ceilings as a result.” [our emphasis]
First Kuwaiti general trading & contracting: “It now seems that the company has succeeded on the strength of its ties to [the] to Bush Administration officials. Rival companies have been extremely vocal in their displeasure at First Kuwaiti being awarded $500 million to build a United States Embassy in Baghdad.
Armour Holdings: “Since combat commenced in 2001, the company’s revenue has sky-rocketed by a mind-blowing 2,247%, up to $634 million. Armour Holdings’ speciality is providing state-of-the-art armour for military vehicles and important personnel as they traverse dangerous Iraqi war zones. The civil war between opposing Sunni and Shia and general unrest throughout the country has greatly increased the demand for the company’s products.””
Clive Hambidge is Human Development Director at Facilitate Global. Clive can be contacted at email@example.com
Soraya Boyd is CEO and Founder of Facilitate Global and can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org