UK Border Agency Helping Ahmadinejad’s Regime

In the light of massive Human Rights violations in Iran and the worsening situation under the hardline government of President Ahmadinejad we appeal to the government of the United Kingdom to lift the threat of deportation to Iran hanging over two brothers aged 19 and 15 at Quintin Kynaston School, Westminster, and their mother.

* The brothers are now 22 and 18. The older boy has now completed his schooling, has gained a Diploma with Merit in Art and Design from Byam Shaw School of Art and is now a BA Hons student at Central St Martins College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London.

Following the arrest of the boys’ father at Teheran Airport in April 2005 the older boy and his mother have been tried by the Revolutionary Court in Iran because of their political views and sentenced in absentia to prison sentences of 5 and 7 years.

Torture is routine in Iranian prisons and in accordance with common practice it is highly likely they will also receive a brutal punishment of lashes. (ht2 Stroppybird)

Please sign the petition here. This is curious, even as the leaders attempt new conflict enabling sanctions their concern is not for human rights, they gladly return Iranians to be persecuted by the authoritarian government. As Blair tried on Friday, Iran is still in the cross hairs for the next war crime, it is essential we both expose and halt that and support Iranians against authoritarians in their own country. Only a piece of shit like Blair can look at Iraq and think- yeah that worked out, let’s do that again. Pauline Levis adds-

As a former teacher at the boys’ school and now a close family friend, I have known Behnam since his arrival at the school in 2003. I vouch for the family’s complete integrity and for the authenticity of their asylum claim.  Behnam is a delightful, popular young man, an excellent role model for young people. In recognition of his achievements under adversity he was Highly Commended at the Anne Frank Awards in 2007. In 2008 he was made an Ambassador for Refugees and Arts by the Refugees & the Arts Initiative. In June 2009 Behnam was invited to work alongside an established artist facilitating a day of workshops on Islamic glasspainting at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Much of Behnam’s artwork reflects his open-minded approach to politics and religion and his strong opposition to the current theocratic regime in Iran. This, alone, would place him in great danger in today’s Iran.

In 2008 Behnam held an exhibition “Visions of Freedom” at the Watermans Arts Centre, Brentford, his fifth solo art exhibition in London. His latest exhibition, “Where is Their Vote?”, was inspired by the courage of the protesters following the Presidential Election of June, 2009. He has also exhibited alongside other artists including at venues that include the Human Rights Centre of Amnesty International, St Ethelberga’s Church of Reconciliation, Portsmouth University and the Free Word Centre. He and his family are an enormous asset to our society.

I’m Back

Well rattling the cage in the forum (apparently haunted by the cast of a daytime soap opera) seemed to have worked, or maybe seeing other blogs taking notice tipped the scales, so far all is back working although without explanation…gremlins? Thank you to EarwicgaJotman, The Selfish Site & Godless Liberal Homo, [wannabe] Librarian, Kevin Blowe, Phil ChamberlainHarpymarx for their concern & support, if I have I missed someone out (I was also without a phone line for 36 hours due to weather meeting rusty old BT wires) please do correct me! Whatever the issue (and it’s probable the dramatic free speech narrative  is actually more a- some software bug happened?!?!- but still when it comes to the Hollywood version it’ll be some authoritarian state imposed by occupying alien zombie vampires who will be suspiciously similar to whatever enemy of US foreign policy is currently in the Pentagon’s cross hairs, hey how else do you get all the free military cooperation huh producers?), I am yet to receive an explanation on top of the apology. I think as others have said WordPress need to change their procedure, you don’t restrict a blog without a human person actually telling the blogger they have an issue and allowing for a resolution first, jumping straight to restriction and not communicating is not a policy designed to impress. I do now have to think about going to a hosted service, it will cost some money but will allow for a lovely makeover and will not run into this issue again, I will be shopping around, glad to receive advice and at some point this year finally do it!

Anyways, anything happen this week? No…nothing? Hmmmm, Hey wait a minute didn’t a lying unrepentant war criminal waste everyone’s time & money with a well rehearsed appearance before a population management exercise with no legal power to compel witnesses under oath? And before that his cowardly legal lapdog who will call anything legal if he is sufficiently in fear of his status, career and bank balance? Or was that all some kind of bad nightmare… Hang on I’ll just ask Iraq if a million plus people are not dead and 6 million aren’t displaced…Hmm no, that’s all real so it must be true that the UK protects war criminals even as the lying murdering torturing scum proclaim they would do it all again (Hello Iran!). I mean it takes a kind of evil genius to take an inquiry into one war crime to incite the commission of another. Still, all praise to Grace McCann for attempting a citizen’s arrest, guess who the police helped, her or Blair? Go on it’s almost fun pretending there’s even a 1% doubt as to the who the fuzz chose to assist and who they chose to detain.

So who has seen the inside of a courtroom, well in New York Aafia Siddiqui is on trial, now I say trial but, it might be an overused term but…..Kafkaesque pantomime would be nearer the mark none of the witnesses against her (all US govt employees either FBI or military) even with lots of time to concoct their stories (y’know like UK police do, all being able to confer before a statement is taken) none of their testimonies agree even to the point of not being able to agree who was there or not. Then there is the mysterious where was she for five years and where are her two children and I am reminded of Jose Padilla whose mind was so damaged by his time in the tender care of the new torture paradigm he didn’t trust his own lawyers (in Siddiqui’s case the government of Pakistan is part funding her defence). She is strip searched every time she goes to court, a process which is basically a state sanctioned  sexual assault by someone in uniform. It is also notable journalists from outside the US were not credentialed for the courtroom and were instead made to sit outside and watch via video feed that omits various aspects of the trial. Day by day coverage at CagePrsioners by Petra Bartosiewicz, here are some excerpts that give the flavour of what is going on-

Day 1

Before the jurors were brought in Siddiqui once again protested against being forcibly brought to the courthouse. Judge Richard Berman gave her two options: come to the courthouse and be present during the proceedings, or come to the courthouse and remain in a holding cell next to the courtroom where she could view the proceedings via a television monitor with adjustable volume. But either way, she must come to the courthouse each day, which means undergoing a daily strip search. Despite pleas from both the defense and prosecution to excuse Siddiqui, the judge did not change his position.

Day 2

Jefferson assisted Negron in subduing Siddiqui and cuffed her hands and her ankles. Jefferson said a stretcher was brought up to the room (an account that differs from that of Captain Snyder, who testified yesterday that the stairs were too narrow and so he had personally carried Siddiqui down to the Humvee)

The thumb drive, which had apparently gotten misplaced while in Ghazni was delivered to Bagram shortly after he arrived with Siddiqui.

Moreno showed him a statement he gave to the FBI less than a week after the shooting, which apparently contradicted the answer he had just given her, but he said he did not remember giving the statement and later said he did remember giving the statement but that he did not telling the agents what was written there. She asked if he had read and initialed every paragraph at the time he gave the statement and he said he had. Moreno also asked Gul to elaborate on help he’s received from the U.S. since the shooting. Gul said the U.S. sponsored his visa and his flight to the U.S. was paid for. He was given money for rent, food and transportation (“less than $4,000,” he said). She also asked about his contact with the warrant officer since the shooting, which includes emails and phone calls. Gul said he considered the officer a “brother and a friend.”

Day 3

Members of the general public for the past two days have also been required to show photo identifications and court security guards have noted the name and address of each individual. At the conclusion of today’s proceedings, defense attorney Charles Swift made note of the identification requirement and said that it is not in keeping with Siddiqui’s right to a free and open trial. The judge said he would look into it, though attendees at the trial said a member of the court security detail told them the measures were on the direct order of the judge.

Day 4

[Judge] Berman said he had not specifically ordered the names and addresses of attendees to be noted, but that he had instead merely agreed to the addition of the metal detector as a standard screening measure. Berman suggested that the U.S. Marshals had interpreted this instruction to include identification checks.

Day 5

On cross examination by defense attorney Charles Swift, the warrant officer was asked about several sworn statements he gave in the days following the shooting in which he said that he saw Siddiqui “lunge for her weapon,” which was in contrast to his earlier testimony during the day when he said Siddiqui was already holding the rifle and pointing it in his direction when he first saw her. “I must have wrote it incorrectly,” he said. “She had the weapon system.” When asked why he noted that she “lunged” in two separate statements, the officer said, “It all all happened fast.”

During the morning session two jurors were dismissed after reporting to Judge Richard Berman that a man in the spectator gallery had motioned to them in an intimidating fashion. The man was questioned and later released.

After jurors were dismissed for the day, defense attorney Linda Moreno once again asked for a mistrial, saying that the U.S. Marshals had removed Siddiqui roughly from the courtroom in front of the jury in a manner that “denigrates the presumption of innocence.” The judge declined Moreno’s request and said that perhaps the defense should focus more on “reigning in” their client. “Dr. Siddiqui doesn’t talk to us,” Moreno said in reference to herself and the other members of the defense team. “I tried to talk to her today,” said Moreno. “She indicated if I didn’t leave immediately she was going to accuse me of harassment.”

The judge also rejected a defense motion regarding the added security measures outside the courtroom. After the first day of proceedings last week, U.S. Marshals installed a metal detector and began to require all individuals entering the courtroom to show photo identification. Their names and addresses were then logged by court security officials. The judge today said the measures were “totally appropriate,” citing prior cases like the Martha Stewart trial which had instituted similar security measures.

Day 6

During court proceedings today Siddiqui once again signaled to the spectator gallery that she does not recognize her legal team, two of whom are court appointed attorneys and three of whom have been retained on her behalf by the government of Pakistan.

In a letter submitted earlier today to Judge Berman, the attorneys argued that Siddiqui “suffers from diminished capacity,” and that if she is permitted to “continue her irrational and bewildering insistence that she has the power to influence the Taliban, she will invite jurors to infer that she has terrorist associations.”

Negron said that after Siddiqui was shot by the warrant officer he helped restrain her, but she fought back. “I had to strike her several times with a closed fist across the face,” he said. After she was subdued Siddiqui “either fainted or faked that she had fainted,” and was handcuffed.

Once outside the Afghan National Police headquarters, Negron said the Americans encountered what he estimated were 50-70 armed Afghans in aggressive postures. He noticed one Afghan walking nearby with a handgun and told his interpreter to tell the man “to holster his weapon or I will kill him.” The man turned and laughed, recalled Negron, but obeyed the order.

On cross examination by defense attorney Charles Swift, Williams said that just after he heard shots fired a number of individuals in the room came running out. But Williams said he did not recall that the U.S. Army medic, Dawn Card, was among them. Williams’ testimony was in sharp contrast to Card’s own testimony in court yesterday, when she said she was present in the room but ran out as soon as the shooting started. Williams, who stood at the only exit to the room, said he did not remember seeing Card enter the room before the incident or exit after.

Day 7

Siddiqui’s defense attorneys have received a reported $2 million from the government of Pakistan for the case, and greeted the ambassador as the day’s proceedings began.

On cross examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Rody, Tobin said he didn’t find it credible that two rounds from an M-4 could be fired in an enclosed space and not leave any forensic evidence.

Prosecutors asked the judge uphold Siddiqui’s Fifth Amendment right to testify and argued that any statements she made while at Bagram should be admissible. “Defense counsel recognize, as they must, that the decision to testify is a ‘personal right’ that is waivable only by the defendant,” prosecutors wrote. “Nonetheless, they claim that the Court should take what they acknowledge to be the ‘unprecedented’ step of preventing the defendant from testifying on her own behalf.” Prosecutors also argued that the issue of Siddiqui’s diminished mental capacity should not come into play since the court deemed Siddiqui competent to stand trial after a lengthy court-ordered psychiatric evaluation last year. They agreed with the defense, however, that the judge should speak with Siddiqui before he makes a final decision.

Day 8

After days of vowing to boycott her own trial, Siddiqui voluntarily took the stand today and testified in her own defense. Her testimony came over the strenuous objections of her attorneys, who filed an application with Judge Richard Berman asking that he block her from taking the witness stand due to what they say is her mental instability and “diminished capacity.” One of the primary concerns was that Siddiqui’s rambling answers would give the government an opportunity to introduce incriminating statements she allegedly made to FBI agents while recuperating from gunshot wounds incurred in Ghazni. Prosecutors, meanwhile, urged the judge to permit Siddiqui to exercise her Fifth Amendment right to testify.

Also at issue during the hearing was whether prosecutors could use statements she made to FBI agents while she was in custody at Bagram Air Base following her arrest in Ghazni. Her defense attorneys argued any such statements would have been while she was in a drug-induced post-operative haze and before she was formally arrested and read her rights.

Defense attorney Charles Swift questioned how voluntary Siddiqui’s statements were given that she was held in four-point restraints and dependent on the agent. “If she wanted food she had to ask you,” said Swift.

“Correct,” said Serser.

“If she wanted water she had to ask you,” said Swift.

“Correct,” said Serser.

“If she wanted to go to the bathroom she had to ask you,” said Swift.

“Correct,” said Serser.

On cross examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenna Dabbs asked Siddiqui about a number of the documents she was allegedly found with in Ghazni at the time of her arrest. “I didn’t check my bags. I didn’t prepare them,” said Siddiqui. She said that some of the materials had been “copied from a magazine in the secret prison. I didn’t write this stuff.”

At one point during the cross examination, Dabbs asked Siddiqui whether she told FBI agents in Bagram that she had been in hiding. Defense attorneys immediately called for a mistrial, saying that information about where Siddiqui was during her five missing years is classified.

Yeah, open and shut case…

And Zelaya left Honduras and the US says of the laundered coup ‘The new president of Honduras has taken the country in the right direction,’ as they look at restoring full financial support. Honduras coup blog has launched a new project Honduras Culture and Politics, given the human rights history of US allies in the region attention should remain on what the Honduran elite think they can get away with now. Speaking of which I notice someone at Crooks & Liars has jumped on the nationalist bandwagon and lump Chavez in with other ‘enemies’ of Uncle Sam, missing the point it was the ruling class that have handed fuller control to corporations not ‘foreigners’ who they actually share some of their politics with (as did Think Progress when St Obama got criticised by him for occupying Haiti, oh yes and No he didn’t say the US caused the earthquake). Israel has now left Haiti fuelling the suspicion that the medical effort was more to do with the government’s PR efforts than anything else, Cuba’s doctors who were there very quickly remain there, not that US media will tell you that. Best ways to help are Partners in Health orHaiti Emergency Relief Fund or Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP).

Meanwhile in ethno religious militarism and colonisation is not a good thing news, Breaking the Silence has now released testimony from female IDF soldiers-

Most of the female soldiers say that they sensed there was a problem during their service, but did nothing.

Another female soldier’s testimony, who served at the Erez checkpoint, indicates how violence was deeply rooted in the daily routine: “There was a procedure in which before you release a Palestinian back into the Strip – you take him inside the tent and beat him.”

That was a procedure?

“Yes, together with the commanders.”

How long did it last?

“Not very long; within 20 minutes they would be back in the base, but the soldiers would stop at the post to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes while the guys from the command post would beat them up.”

This happened with every illegal alien?

“There weren’t that many…it’s not something you do everyday, but sort of a procedure. I don’t know if they strictly enforced it each and every time…it took me a while to realize that if I release an illegal alien on my end, by the time he gets back to Gaza he will go through hell… two or three hours can pass by the time he gets into the Strip. In the case of the kid, it was a whole night. That’s insane, since it’s a ten minute walk. They would stop them on their way; each soldier would give them a ‘pet’, including the commanders.”

Sometimes an entire “production” was necessary to satisfy the violent urges. “There’s a sense of violence,” a border policewoman in the Jenin area said. “And yes, it’s boring, so we’d create some action. We’d get on the radio, and say they threw stones at us, then someone would be arrested, they’d start investigating him… There was a policewoman, she was bored, so okay, she said they threw stones at her. They asked her who threw them. ‘I don’t know, two in grey shirts, I didn’t manage to see them.’ They catch two guys with grey shirts… beat them. Is it them? ‘No, I don’t think so.’ Okay, a whole incident, people get beaten up. Nothing happened that day.”

Other testimonies raise concerns as to the procedures of opening fire in the territories, particularly crowd control weapons. A female Border Guard detailed to protocol she called “dismantling rubber” – the dismantling of rubber bullets from clusters of three to single bullets, and peeling the rubber off of them. She also said that, despite the clear orders to fire in the air or at the demonstrators’ feet, it was common procedure to fire at the abdomen.

A female Border Guard officer in Jenin spoke of an incident in which a nine-year-old Palestinian, who tried to climb the fence, failed, and fled – was shot to death: “They fired… when he was already in the territories and posed no danger. The hit was in the abdomen area, they claimed he was on a bicycle and so they were unable to hit him in the legs.”

Some of the testimonies from Hebron deal with the difficult position the soldiers find themselves in, between Palestinians and settlers – who they say are even harder to handle. Some of the female soldiers were shocked with the level of violence the settlers’ children used against the Palestinians. “They would throw stones at them, the Jewish kids,” a Nahal female soldier said, “and the parents would say anything… you see this every day in Tel Rumeida.”

Doesn’t it seem strange to you that one child throws a stone at another child?

“Because the one child is Jewish and the other is Palestinians, it’s somehow okay… and it was obvious that there would be a mess afterwards. And you also don’t really know which side you are on…I have to make a switch in my head and keep hating the Arabs and justify the Jews.”

In her frustration, the same female soldier told of how she once spit on a Palestinian in the street: “I don’t think he even did anything. But again, it was cool and it was the only thing I could do to… you know, I couldn’t take brag that I caught a terrorists… But I could spit on them and degrade them and laugh at them.”

Another female Sachlav soldier told the story of the time an eight-year-old settler girl in Hebron decided to bash a stone into the head of a Palestinian adult crossing her passing by her in the street. “Boom! She jumped on him, and gave it to him right here in the head… then she started screaming ‘Yuck, yuck, his blood is on me'”.

The soldier said the Palestinian then turned in the girl’s direction – a move that was interpreted as a threat by one of the soldiers in the area, who added a punch of his own: “And I stood there horrified… an innocent little girl in her Shabbat dress… the Arab covered the wound with his hand and ran.” She recalled another incident with the same child: “I remember she had her brother in the stroller, a baby. She was giving him stones and telling him: ‘Throw them at the Arab’.”

And some other things probably happened… Anyways, I think I will import my Friday post at the backup blogger blog to here, a once only bit of retro posting, have a nice weekend everybody!

Friday! The Sound of Silence

Hello to anyone who makes it here from the wordpress blog, this will get you up to speed-

I first became aware of the message ‘ Warning: We have a concern about some of the content on your blog. Please click here to contact us as soon as possible to resolve the issue and re-enable posting.‘ on 26th January 19:00GMT, I have sent four messages through the linked reply form and one through support, as of this date I have received no reply and the restrictions remain on my blog. I am posting this as a topic to try and force some resolution as clearly the established route is failing.
YES I used the linked reply form linked in that message.
YES I have checked my spam folders for admin messages.
I have no idea what the issue is although as I blog on human rights and abuses of power quite often, sometimes with an irreverent satirical approach that might have a bearing. Also in the week Tony Blair gives evidence and Aafia Siddiqui is on ‘trial’ in NY this has silenced me at an important moment. For those unaware of the English legal landscape this blog post by former ambassador Craig Murray (who resigned from the UK Government because it endorsed the use of torture) will give you an idea of the censorious climate-

Of course this might have nothing to do with such issues, but as it is Friday and the restrictions were placed sometime on Monday/Tuesday and I have yet to receive a reply from WP it is not unreasonable to take this measure to elicit some response.

That is a forum message I have posted tonight, I am completely in the dark about this, all I know for sure is I cannot at the moment author new posts to my wordpress blog, instead of ‘Publish’ the button says ‘Submit for Review’ I have sent one post to that on Tuesday, it has yet to appear on my blog.
Anyways, it is Friday and I hate to miss one so take it away fellas-

Posted in Blogging. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Globalised Torture Inc.

The intelligence factory:
How America makes its enemies disappear By Petra Bartosiewicz:-

The continued political appetite for a global war on terror has led to a commodification of “actionable intelligence,” which is a product, chiefly, of human prisoners like Aafia Siddiqui. Because this war, by definition, has no physical or temporal boundaries, the demand for such intelligence has no limit. But the world contains a relatively small number of terrorists and an even smaller number of terrorist plots. Our demand for intelligence far outstrips the supply of prisoners. Where the United States itself has been unable to meet that demand, therefore, it has embraced a solution that is the essence of globalization. We outsource the work to countries, like Pakistan, whose political circumstances allow them to produce prisoners with far greater efficiency.

What the CIA and the FBI understand as an acquisition solution, however, others see as a human-rights debacle. Just as thousands of political dissidents, suspected criminals, and enemies of the state were “disappeared” from Latin America over the course of several decades of CIA-funded dirty wars, so too have hundreds of “persons of interest” around the world begun to disappear as a consequence of the global war on terror, which in many ways has become a globalized version of those earlier, regional failures of democracy.

One of the chief conveniences of outsourcing is that certain costs are externalized. Pollution, for instance, is expensive. Manufacturers that pollute in the United States are required to bear its cost by paying a fine. If they outsource to a country where the cost of the pollution is borne directly by the people, they make more money. Such a transfer is obviously desirable from the point of view of the manufacturer, but it often generates political unrest in the host country, for reasons that are equally obvious. This phenomenon applies as well when the external cost of manufacturing intelligence is paid in freedom. The governments that did the outsourced work of U.S. intelligence agencies in previous dirty wars—in Argentina and Chile, Guatemala and Uruguay—eventually were toppled by popular protest, in large part because the people became aware that their leaders had profited from their suffering. Pakistanis today appear no less aware that this type of transaction is occurring in their country. Indeed, a recent poll found that the only nation they find more threatening than India, whose nuclear missiles point directly at them, is the United States. And they have begun to hold their leaders accountable for the association.

More on Siddiqui, follow her farcical fake trial here (ht2 Earwicga) and keep asking, where are her two children? Where was she for five years? And…for every one prisoner we know about, what of the disappeared we never hear of?

Art or Extinction

Look! It’s evil me, channelling Dr. Mabuse & Professor X through the Happy Famous Artist’s Lichtenstein Device, there are some terrifying & reassuring Rules For A New Decade too.

And in glorious big vision me, her, him.

Posted in Art, Culture(!). Tags: . 4 Comments »

Oldies But Goldies

An almost evergreen hold on popularity that Cliff Richard would envy and as with many corporate pop stars the whys and wherefores of who actually performs the vocals and who wrote it really don’t matter, nor should we ponder too hard whether a fanbase is the the same thing as an effective military organisation. Osama rocks the mic, don’t let the naysayers steal your fear thrill (level: Severe! Get the fuck down to that, imagine the level if robot drones were invading our sky and wiping us out at will, level: Awesome, The Bringer Of Freedom & Democracy™)-

“What my work is actually trying to do is debunk conspiracy theories by saying that the world is complex, fragmented and that as those in power increasingly run out of ideas – which I think they have done since the 90s – they themselves have turned to conspiracy theories in order to justify their flailing exercise of power without any vision.” He talks in lighter, more childish voice than the rich gravitas with which he narrates his films and his rather babyish face lights up as he leans across the table, becoming excited as he spins the accusations against him back onto his accusers. “I mean who’s the bigger conspiracy theorist, me or the people who allege that there’s an international terrorist organisation run by a man in a cave, stroking a cat? I went and interviewed some journalists – who would only talk to me if it was off the record – and they said ‘Oh yeah we make it up. It’s not like there’s an al-Qaeda press office that is going to come back and complain’. The idea of a vast network of sleeper cells waiting to rise up at bin Laden’s command was a completely fake, fictional thing and I did my best to tear it apart.” (ht2 Bill)

Posted in Media, War on Terror Scam. Tags: . Comments Off on Oldies But Goldies

So, Murder Then

Evidence relating to the death of Government weapons inspector David Kelly is to be kept secret for 70 years, it has been reported. A highly unusual ruling by Lord Hutton, who chaired the inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death, means medical records including the post-mortem report will remain classified until after all those with a direct interest in the case are dead, the Mail on Sunday reported. And a 30-year secrecy order has been placed on written records provided to Lord Hutton’s inquiry which were not produced in evidence. The Ministry of Justice said decisions on the evidence were a matter for Lord Hutton. But Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who has conducted his own investigations into Dr Kelly’s death, described the order as “astonishing”.

This as even the not under oath establishment are pretty conclusively saying, Iraq was an illegal war-

The Independent on Sunday understands that Ms Wilmshurst will tell the Iraq inquiry that she was not “a voice in the wilderness” in harbouring doubts over the legitimacy of military action without UN backing. Instead she is expected to describe how senior colleagues in the FCO shared her reservations, which were ultimately overruled by ministers. And, crucially, she is also expected to claim that her former boss, Sir Michael Wood, “clearly advised” that the conflict would be illegal under international law, when he offered his assessment of the situation to the then attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, days before the attack on Baghdad began. Philippe Sands QC, an expert on the legality of the war, last night claimed the inquiry had received documentary evidence of Sir Michael’s reservations – but is yet to publish it.

The Observer has been told that Sir Michael Wood, who was the FO’s most senior lawyer, is ready to reveal that, in the run-up to war, he was of the opinion that the conflict would have been unlawful without a second UN resolution.

Oh not to mention that’s what an official Dutch inquiry also found. And in terms of official cover up of murder this reminds me of the revelations about the coroner who performed the autopsy on Blair Peach, he was a right wing police loving McCarthy-esque political activist-

Government officials withheld a document relating to the death of Blair Peach, the anti-fascist campaigner widely believed to have been killed by police in 1979, because they feared it would portray the coroner as biased and lend weight to calls for a public inquiry.

The inquest, at which several suspected officers gave evidence, controversially returned a verdict of “death by misadventure”, and the coroner, the late Dr John Burton, was accused by Peach supporters of prejudicing the jury.

Documents held at the National Archives at Kew reveal senior civil servants became concerned after discovering Burton had penned an “unpublished story” about the Peach death which railed against what the coroner saw as a leftwing campaign to destabilise the legal establishment.

Burton had also written to ministers before the end of the inquest, dismissing the belief that Peach was killed by an officer as political “fabrication”.

Burton began writing to ministers about what he believed was “a widespread campaign to damage the institutions of the law” in January 1980, before the inquest had finished.

In letters to the home secretary, lord chancellor and attorney-general, he complained that an organised and well-funded campaign was spreading disinformation about the death. He criticised media organisations, including the BBC, which he accused of “biased propaganda”.

Referring to some of the 11 witnesses who said they saw police attacking Peach, he noted how some were “totally politically committed to the Socialist Workers Party” and concluded: “The witness statements show that the story of the killing [of Peach] is a fabrication. This is a matter of fact and not of opinion.”

After the verdict, Burton authored a lengthy article entitled The Blair Peach Inquest – the Unpublished Story and told civil servants he planned to disseminate the report to fellow coroners via the Coroners Society’s annual report. A Home Office official noted how Burton was “extremely irate” at the way in which he thought the inquest had been hijacked by the “extreme left”.

When his unpublished report was circulated in Whitehall in June 1980, it caused alarm. “I am a little disturbed at the proposal,” one official wrote, “as I feel that if [his article] fell into the wrong hands it would be used to discredit the impartiality of coroners in general and Dr Burton in particular.”

The civil servants met with Burton on to dissuade him from going public. After the meeting – and with apparent relief – an official relayed the news colleagues. “He accepted our advice that the whale which exposes his surface invites harpoons, and agreed not to publish.”

Burton’s seven-page report is a description of Peach’s death and the subsequent inquest which, at times, implies a hostility toward Peach supporters. He complains about “the usual demonstrations by the usual people” outside the courtroom, and expresses frustration at what he saw his inability to control contemptible reports in the media.

He dismissed some witneses as telling “palpable lies” and, in an apparent reference to Sikhs who gave testimony, complained that some “did not have experience of the English system” to give reliable testimony. In contrast, he appeared to have more sympathy for the officers at the scene of Peach’s death, even though there were also inconsistencies in their evidence.

“Many policemen pointed out that in such a situation one looked upwards for uncoming bricks and not around to see what others were doing,” he wrote.

And in 70 years, no one will be alive to be held to account, not for Kelly’s death not for a single Iraqi death. See how that works? It’s called a clean getaway.

In Iran, Labour Activists Face Repression

(ht2 NajInterview by Bill Balderston, Oakland Education Association and U.S. Labor Against the War

Iran has seen incredible tumult in the last few months, with massive street protests challenging the government, even as the U.S. and allied nations continue to threaten the Iranian government under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But most people in the U.S. know little about Iranian society, and especially its working class. Iranian workers have been organizing for more than a century but today largely have to function in a secretive, underground way. It is therefore very fortunate that we have obtained an interview with a labor organizer (whom we shall call Homayoun Poorzad), who is based in Tehran, the capital city of Iran.

Labor Notes: How has the Iranian labor movement fared under the Ahmadinejad regime?

HP: This has been the most anti-labor government of the Islamic Republic over the last 30 years. The 1979 revolution was not regressive in every sense; it nationalized 70 percent of the economy and passed a labor law that was one of the best in terms of limiting the firing of workers. This is a target for change by capitalists, both private and those in the government bureaucracy.

The economic crisis has helped Ahmadinejad ram thru a new agenda. This is also aided by the acceleration of the percentage (60 percent to 70 percent) of the workforce who are temporary contract workers.

Iran, like other countries, has had an import mania—from food to capital goods. Many local firms are being driven to bankruptcy. Workers’ bargaining power has suffered, with labor supply far outstripping demand. The Ahmadinejad government has been “bailing out” firms, but the government is running out of money.

The situation for labor is at its lowest status since the start of the 20th century, leaving out the years of the two world wars.

LN: What government actions have led to tensions with Iranian workers?

HP: The Ahmadinejad government is trying to make it easier to fire workers. There have also been massive privatizations, including turning over many firms to the Revolutionary Guards and the armed forces. Again, this has intensified the pushing of more workers into temporary contracts.

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Friday! Four Lions

Well done to Chris Morris for overcoming the obstacles and achieving the film. Warp Films Four Lions site.

Help Haiti- Drop The Debt

An international petition has been circulated for the dropping of Haiti’s foreign debt. For an explanation of why this is a crucial move at this time, and why the debt is illegitimate and part of the exploitation of Haiti for decades, read this article by Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet entitled: Haiti’s odious debt


Dear Finance Ministers, IMF, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and bilateral creditors, As Haiti rebuilds from this disaster, please work to secure the immediate cancellation of Haiti’s $1 billion debt and ensure that any emergency earthquake assistance is provided in the form of grants, not debt-incurring loans.

Add your name

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Support A Single Mother

The US Army had Alexis Hutchinson thrown in jail and took her child from her because she took her role as a mother seriously, they have now filed four separate court martial charges against her. She was meant to deploy to Afghanistan but when her childcare arrangements fell through, she made the decision not to abandon her child. Clearly the Taliban are not the only military force in the conflict that victimises women.

Alexis and Kamani Hutchinson

Courage to Resist (go to link to sign) will print and mail this letter on your behalf. We will also CC President Obama and the commanding general of US Army FORSCOM

“I appeal to you to find a compassionate resolution to a difficult situation. Please drop the charges against Spc. Hutchinson.”

Dear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillip,

I am shocked and disappointed that four separate court martial charges have been brought against Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a single parent with a one-year old son, who missed deployment in early November 2009 when her childcare plan fell through at the last moment, due to circumstances beyond her control.

In anticipation of deployment in early October 2009, Spc Hutchinson did travel to California and left her son Kamani with her mother Angelique Hughes in Oakland, California, as per her Army family care plan.

After caring for Kamani for a week, Ms. Hughes realized that she was unable to care for the infant in addition to her other duties to a special-needs daughter, an ailing mother, and an ailing sister. Ms. Hughes immediately contacted her daughter and her Ft. Stewart chain of command to inform them that she was simply unable to care for Kamani as planned. Ms. Hughes returned Kamani to her mother at Ft. Stewart.

Alexis and Kamani Hutchinson
The Army initially allowed for an extension of time to find another option; however, the extension was revoked. Spc Hutchinson understood that that Kamani would be taken away from her and placed in the county foster care system. Facing the real risk of permanently loosing her parental rights, Spc Hutchinson admittedly was AWOL for approximately 24 hours and missed her unit’s deployment.

I appeal to you to find a compassionate resolution to a difficult situation. Please drop the charges against Spc. Hutchinson.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillip
Deputy Commanding General—Rear
3rd Infantry Division (M)
42 Wayne Place, Suite 200
Fort Stewart, GA 31314-5000

General Charles Campbell
1777 Hardee Avenue SW
Fort McPherson, GA 30330-1062

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

A Work of Art

This transcends its purpose and becomes a testimony to the intelligence, honesty, humanity and integrity of people and the failure for those qualities to be made essential in our elites. I’m going back to read some more, have a look yourself.

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The Real News- Haiti: Guns or food?

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Need Or Nationality?

U.S. military rescuers searching through the rubble of Haiti’s earthquake-crushed buildings have found no American survivors in the last two days and are now contemplating moving their efforts from seeking the living to recovering the dead.

This raise the inevitable questions, if US survivors were prioritised, to what detriment was that to non US survivors? Was need or nationality prioritised?

PS. Also see Nelson Valdés on rescue priorities in Haiti @ Machetera

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Petition Against Mercenary Employing Shell’s Corrib Gas Project In Ireland

Via News of the Restless, the mercenaries also were would be assassins of Evo Morales. The Corrib force have also abused Irish citizens

At the end of 2007 I-RMS ‘security operatives’ replaced the majority of security guards employed by Shell. A substantial number of these ‘operatives’ have military backgrounds and dubious far-right political links. I-RMS have faced numerous complaints from protestors, having been accused of assault, heavy handedness and failure to wear or present their Private Security Authority licences. They have also routinely filmed protestors

Sign the petition here.

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