Bush and Blair have some 'splainin' to do


By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor

Toronto Sun | June 8, 2003


NEW YORK -- When I lived in Jamaica, many moons ago, there occurred a

bizarre national panic known as "the three-wheeled coffin."

According to a storm of rumours, a black, three-wheeled coffin, with three

black crows on top, was moving along Jamaica's roads.

Villages emptied in terror at reports the coffin was nearing. The

three-wheeled coffin was never found. The panic subsided.


North Americans and Britons have just experienced their own version of the

three-wheeled coffin - a national panic attack called Iraq.

It's becoming increasingly clear the Bush and Blair governments deceived

their citizens over Iraq, concocted false information and misled Congress

and Parliament.

Both administrations face a rising storm of criticism and demands for

full-scale inquiries.


This column has been contacted by a number of retired intelligence

officers, both individuals and groups, backing up assertions made here two

weeks ago that a cabal of neo-conservatives in President George Bush's

administration distorted or faked information that formed the basis of

claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that

imminently threatened the U.S. and all mankind.


According to MI6 (British intelligence) officers and British press reports,

Tony Blair's government was fed this same tainted information and even sent

orders to MI6 to make it "sexier."

Former British foreign secretary Robin Cook, who resigned to protest the

Bush-Blair war on Iraq, calls the intelligence reports used to justify the

aggression "wrong" and "forged."


President Bush cited a crudely forged document about uranium sales from

Niger to Iraq in his state of the union address.

Blair claimed Iraq could attack the West with WMD "within 45 minutes."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's UN Philippic against Iraq turned out

to be hot air.


To date, no WMD have been found in Iraq.


France had the best human intelligence sources in pre-war Iraq.

President Jacques Chirac warned Bush and Blair there were no such weapons,

and rightly refused to join their illegal invasion of Iraq. Blair foolishly

listened to Bush instead of Chirac.


According to intelligence sources outraged by the corruption and perversion

of the national intelligence function for political reasons, the main

source of lies and distortions about Iraq was Iraqi exiles, many on the

payroll of the U.S. government.


Phony claims

These anti-Saddam exiles fed the Pentagon and New York Times a stream of

phony claims about Iraqi WMD.

Though scorned by the CIA, they were closely linked to American

neo-conservatives in key positions within the Bush administration.

When the CIA couldn't find hard evidence of Iraqi WMD a new intelligence

unit, the Office of Special Plans, was created.


Intelligence community protests over this blatant politicization of

national security were ignored.

In fact, two more anti-Iraq intel teams, led by Pentagon neo-cons, were set

up and all three reportedly fed exaggerated information to Bush and Blair.

Similar reports came to Powell.


Meanwhile, neo-con writers in the American media provided agitprop for the war.

Many of the senior officials involved were members of the Project for the

New American Century, a hawk-ish, far-right group close to Israel's Likud

party that in 2000 (prior to 9/11) called for the invasion of Iraq and

Iran, and worldwide American dominion.


Given the lack of WMD in Iraq, these red-faced neo-cons now claim the

weapons were moved to Syria and Iran, their next war targets.

A few cans of poison or mustard gas and flasks of germs may yet be

discovered in Iraq (or, more likely, planted there).


Even so, these are not weapons of mass destruction. Mustard and nerve gas

are battlefield weapons. They are inefficient, and must be dispensed by

special aircraft, shells or missiles, none of which Iraq possessed in 2003.

The U.S. and Britain supplied Iraq with gas and germs in the 1980s for

battlefield use against Iran.

Napalm and fuel-air explosives kill far more effectively. The only real

WMDs are nuclear weapons.


The UN long ago confirmed Iraq had none.


The House intelligence committee's senior Democrat, Jane Harmon, calls

Bush's claims about Iraq, "conceivably ... the greatest intelligence hoax

of all time."

One akin, perhaps, to Joseph Goebbel's claim Poland was about to attack

Germany in 1939.

The president of the United States and prime minister of Britain have been

accused of lying to their people to embark on a war whose justification

appears to have been, as U.S. deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz

recently noted, "for bureaucratic reasons."

Britons are in an uproar.


Many Americans, by contrast, seem indifferent.

Former president Bill Clinton was impeached by Republicans in Congress for

lying about sex.

President Bush appears to have misled the American people, deceived

Congress, violated the UN Charter, blown billions of dollars and many lives

- both American and Iraqi - on a phony war, and will likely be re-elected.


Eric can be reached by e-mail at margolis@foreigncorrespondent.com.

Letters to the editor should be sent to editor@sunpub.com or visit his home




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