Still Book Burning


The FCO is still stalling over the clearance of Craig Murray's forthcoming book.
Here is some of the latest correspondence between Craig and the Foreign Office.

Original Message
From: Craig Murray
Sent: 20 November 2005 13:47
To: Richard.Stagg
Subject: Craig's book


What follows is the start of the last chapter of my book. You now have everything which requires clearance. There is some further writing after this, but it covers events after I left FCO employment and does not require your clearance.

I look forward to hearing from you very quickly, at the latest by the end of this month.


From: RichardStagg
Sent: 24 November 2005 07:45
To: craigmurray
Subject: RE: Craig's book


Thank you for the latest sections of your book, which have been safely received.

We are working to process them as quickly as practicable. But we will not be able to meet your end November deadline, as each new section involves a further round of consultation.

I shall be in touch before the end of next week, however, to give you an indication of when the process should be complete. As you know, you must await the outcome of this process before publishing your work in any form.


From: Craig Murray
Sent: 24 November 2005 08:28
To: Richard.Stagg
Subject: RE: Craig's book


I am not sure about the must. Your legal options are in fact rather limited. Given that the latest section is about six pages long, nor do I accept that you cannot meet the deadline, as a new round of consultation on just six pages is not something that should take over a fortnight, particularly as there is nothing in those six pages remotely touching on the national interest.

I understand that, with Jeremy, you were in touch over sections of the book at a time, pointing out potential difficulties. I think you are just stalling to prevent publication. I am willing to consider agreeing to amendment where you have reasonable points to make. If you don’t make them jolly quick, you will miss your chance.


WP - A Definition of Chemical Weapons


A declassified document from the Department of Defense discloses that white phosphorous is indeed a chemical weapon


So, when Saddam uses WP it is a chemical weapon, but when we use it, it isn't.

It's not about oil...but.. [Part II]


Following on from TonyB's previous post, listen to this audio grab of last nights newsnight article on Iraqi Oil

Are the Iraqi people about to see large chunks of future oil money signed over to western firms.
Paul Mason investigates.

...and then tell me it's not about oil.

It's not about oil...but..


Mr Blair is eager to tell us, or at least was, that the Iraq war was "not about oil". Well, Tone, I'm afraid I for one don't believe you. There are a growing number of voices who will tell anyone who wants to listen about "Peak Oil". This is the point at which oil production starts to decline, and oil becomes ever more expensive. There are those who say we're there now, but whether we are or we aren't, oil is a finite resource. Peak oil is going to happen, it's just a question of when. In the meantime, let's take a look at recent events in the oil industry.

A recent article in MITs Technology review pointed out :

If the actions - rather than the words - of the oil business's major players provide the best gauge of how they see the future, then ponder the following. Crude oil prices have doubled since 2001, but oil companies have increased their budgets for exploring new oil fields by only a small fraction. Likewise, U.S. refineries are working close to capacity, yet no new refinery has been constructed since 1976. And oil
tankers are fully booked, but outdated ships are being decommissioned faster than new ones are being built.

As the oil industry contracts and we see merger after merger of oil companies, oil industry insiders are increasingly reaching the conclusion that peak oil is here. Even the oil companies are saying it.

Meanwhile, closer to home, we are warned of a possible energy crisis if the winter is as cold as predicted (been a bit chilly this weekend, hasn't it?).

Now, turning to recent foreign policy events, who could possibly forget this ? But surely only a cynic could suggest it might be linked to this ? And then today we have this.

And what of Mr Blair's long predicted turn-on to Nuclear power? Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

Google Peak oil. You know it makes sense.

US also used Thermobaric Bombs in Fallujah


According to an article by George Monbiot in todays Guardian, the US Marines used Thermobaric weapons in Fallujah.

An assault weapon the marines were using had been armed with warheads containing "about 35% thermobaric novel explosive (NE) and 65% standard high explosive". They deployed it "to cause the roof to collapse and crush the insurgents fortified inside interior rooms". It was used repeatedly: "The expenditure of explosives clearing houses was enormous."

There follows a description of the effects of these weapons, used on a city still containing thousands of civilians.

The marines can scarcely deny that they know what these weapons do. An article published in the [Marine Corps]Gazette in 2000 details the effects of their use by the Russians in Grozny. Thermobaric, or "fuel-air" weapons, it says, form a cloud of volatile gases or finely powdered explosives. "This cloud is then ignited and the subsequent fireball sears the surrounding area while consuming the oxygen in this area. The lack of oxygen creates an enormous overpressure ... Personnel under the cloud are literally crushed to death. Outside the cloud area, the blast wave travels at some 3,000 metres per second ... As a result, a fuel-air explosive can have the effect of a tactical nuclear weapon without residual radiation ... Those personnel caught directly under the aerosol cloud will die from the flame or overpressure. For those on the periphery of the strike, the injuries can be severe. Burns, broken bones, contusions from flying debris and blindness may result. Further, the crushing injuries from the overpressure can create air embolism within blood vessels, concussions, multiple internal haemorrhages in the liver and spleen, collapsed lungs, rupture of the eardrums and displacement of the eyes from their sockets." It is hard to see how you could use these weapons in Falluja without killing civilians.

Monbiot concludes:-

This looks to me like a convincing explanation of the damage done to Falluja, a city in which between 30,000 and 50,000 civilians might have been taking refuge. It could also explain the civilian casualties shown in the film. So the question has now widened: is there any crime the coalition forces have not committed in Iraq?

Doesn't it make one feel proud to be America's greatest ally?

Torture: Are we making Iraq in our own image?


Dick Cheney the Vice President for Torture, is doing his best to block John Mcain's ammendment in the senate calling for an outright ban on Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of ALL US detainees:

Speaking on ITV news Admiral Turner said: "We have crossed the line into dangerous territory.

"I am embarrassed that the USA has a vice president for torture. I think it is just reprehensible."

He added: "He (Mr Cheney) advocates torture, what else is it? I just don't understand how a man in that position can take such a stance."

Republican Senator John McCain has passed a provision to a defence Bill in the senate banning "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of all US detainees.

But the White House has apparently threatened to veto the measure if it is passed by the House of Representatives.

The UN have gone public about the fact they have been refused access to inmates at Guantanamo Bay:

The UN's panel of experts said that restrictions imposed by the US would make it impossible to judge the conditions under which around 500 detainees from the war on terror are being held at the camp.

"We deeply regret that the United States government did not accept the standard terms of reference for a credible, objective and fair assessment of the situation of the detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility," they said in a statement. "These terms include the ability to conduct private interviews with detainees." Special rapporteur Martin Nowak said that the US's stance compared poorly with that of China, which had allowed unrestricted access to its jails.

Here in Britain, we are too are attempting to legitimise the use of torture:

The Blair government and Britain’s security agencies are seeking to legitimize the use of evidence obtained by torture overseas against terror suspects...

Ian Burnett, QC, for the home secretary, maintained that there was no rule of law preventing a court from relying on statements of a third party obtained by agents of a foreign state through torture.

The Home Office has so far refused to comment on the case. Last week the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, the secretary of state for constitutional affairs, said the government faced “difficult practical decisions.”

“In facing the dangers posed by international terrorism, we have to ensure that those charged with protecting our security have all the tools they legitimately require,” he said.

So is it any wonder that such grotesque stories that are emerging about torture under our puppet regime in Iraq:

It is said that the investigations will reveal that there are about 10 or 12 such centres in and around Baghdad. One of them in al-Ameryiah district was being used as a sort of a site for graves for those who die in detention.

Al-Sharqiya TV talked about chain saws being found which were used to saw bits of people’s extremities off during torture sessions and the razors used for peeling off skin. The name of the person in charge of the detention centre in al-Jaderyia has not been revealed yet but is said that he was going under the name [al-Muhandis Abu-Ahmad] which means [Abu-Ahmad the Engineer], slightly sinister considering we are talking about someone who was using power tools on people.

That simpering idiot Ann Clwyd tells us to get it in perspective. I am trying too Ann...

We have been using WP too...


Interesting points:

Such 'smoke screens' are laid well away from our troops for obvious reasons
They move with the prevailing wind
It is very difficult to work out where the WP 'smoke' will end up
Being underneath is sort of like being in a snow storm, with burning snow...
I understand the UK did sign Protocol III

P.S. I loved the "We do not use white phosphorus, (quick panic when spokesman realises where this is heading)or indeed any other form of munition or weaponry, against civilians...
This is crap of course.

Pentagon Slips Up and Confirms White Phosphorus Used Against Enemy Combatants: In breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention.


On the back of the Rai24 documentary, and subsequent coverage in the Independent and the Guardian, and in response to the number of emails they have received, Radio 4s PM programme covered the White Phosphorus story this evening.
I have archived the interview here before it disappears from 'Listen Again'. If you have even a passing interest in this story, then it is well worth 5 minutes of your time.

On Radio4 tonight, the Pentagon clearly contradicts the US ambassador's letter to the Independent this morning, where he restates the US position, and flatly denies that White Phosphorus was used against people [enemy combtants or otherwise].

...US forces participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to use appropriate lawful, conventional weapons against legitimate targets. US forces do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons.

Suggestions that US forces targeted civilians with white phosphorus in Operation Al Fajr are simply wrong. US forces use white phosphorus as obscurants or smoke screens and for target marking. White phosphorus is not banned by any convention when used in this manner....


Compare and contrast with the words of Pentagon Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable tonight:

"... it [White Phosphorus] is an incendiary weapon and can be used against enemy combatants."

- Can you confirm then, that it was used as an offensive weapon against enemy troops in the siege of Fallujah?

"Yes. It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants."


As has been noted, White Phosphorus is not on the list of proscribed chemicals in the Chemical Weapons Convention. But the Convention does define chemical weapons and warfare.

Chemical warfare is different from the use of conventional weapons or nuclear weapons because the destructive effects of chemical weapons are not primarily due to any explosive force...

Under this Convention, any toxic chemical, regardless of its origin, is considered as a chemical weapon unless it is used for purposes that are not prohibited (an important legal definition, known as the General Purpose Criterion).

Futher defined in the Convention as

Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere.

Up untill today, the position has been that White Phosphorus munitions were not deployed against people [enemy combatants], but as "obscurants or smoke screens and for target marking".
Under the terms of the convention that is for, "purposes that are not prohibited (an important legal definition, known as the General Purpose Criterion)"

These points are covered in some detail here, on the Daily Kos, who concludes with this analogy:

If I purchase a hammer and say it's a tool, no one can object, as long as I use it merely as a tool. However, if I use it to hit someone on the head, the police will take my hammer away and claim that, under the law, it is a weapon, because of the way it was used. The application defines the object in any context.

This evening, Pentagon Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable confirmed that the US did use these weapons 'inappropriately', by directing them at people [enemy combatants] in the siege of Fallujah. Thus in breach of the Chenical Weapons Convention.

At the time of the siege, there were an unknown number of civillians remaining in the city, at unknown locations.
We have evidence of the accuracy with which these munitions were deployed, from the account of the Americans accidently shelling their own troops.

So, from tonight's news, it would appear that we can stand by what we initially said. That the US used chemical weapons against civillians in Fallujah.

It should also be remembered that we [UK] were only too happy to move up our troops to fill the gap left by US forces involved in the attack on fallujah.
If you hold the thug's coat while he stomps on his victim, and then calmly return it to him when he has finished, then you cannot later claim you weren't complicit in the attack.
The sad thing is, from our current leaders we are unlikely to even hear any attempts at distancing us [UK] from the actions of the Americans. Just resigned indifference and the familiar chorus of 'move along, move along, nothing to see here.'
The media have picked this up, it remains to be seen if they will run with it.

And You Thought Speed Cameras Were A Problem


Blair's Surveillance of UK citizens is about to take a frightening turn:
24x7 national vehicle movement database

A "24x7 national vehicle movement database" that logs everything on the UK's roads and retains the data for at least two years is now being built, according to an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) strategy document leaked to the Sunday Times. The system, which will use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), and will be overseen from a control centre in Hendon, London, is a sort of 'Gatso 2' network, extending. enhancing and linking existing CCTV, ANPR and speedcam systems and databases

Needless to say, this hasn't been debated in Parliament. Scared yet?

More on Col Mendonca


John Keegan talking sense as usual.

"The Mendonca case has already done the Army serious harm and can only do more as it goes on. Among the factors doing harm is the widely held suspicion, for which some documentary evidence exists, that the high command has brought the case precisely because Col Mendonca is an officer, following a series of cases in which the accused were all from the non-commissioned ranks."

Blair and Goldsmith accused over court martial of Col Mendonca


I don't normally read the Telegraph but I don't think anyone else is covering this:
And I have to agree with the un-named senior officer who is quoted as saying:

'...the case was bigger than the CO. "If he loses his court martial without doubt it would change the way we conduct operations in the future." '

If a battalion CO (or brigade or division) is responsible - can be cashiered and imprisoned - for anything done by troops under his command nobody is going to do anything. At best we are likely, as with Tim Collins, to lose another outstanding officer we can ill afford to do without. Who'd stay in the army after this?

What is wrong with this bloody government?

The Forgotten War


Afghanistan. It's been a messy affair and it's getting worse. The country is run by warlords, the President is no more than the Mayor of Kabul, the drug barons are so successful that the price of heroin in the UK is down to a shocking 25 quid (for comparison in the mid eighties it was 100 - 120 quid)and their most famous citizen, Mr Osama bin Laden is still at large.

Wow. The world's most famous terrorist, the one who ran the 9/11 operation that so galvanised the US, is still at large, albeit confined to a dry valley in the south. I bet the Americans are desperate to get at him and hold him to account in their War Against Terror.

Well, no. The US is scaling back it's operations, withdrawing 4,000 troops. According to them Afghanistan is a success and Condi is suggesting that they adopt the 'successful model' in Iraq.

Guess who's going to take up the slack? You got it. we are doing George's dirty work for him. Again.

Britain is attempting to build a coalition to pursue counter-insurgency combat operations against al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan after the withdrawal by the Bush administration of 4,000 US troops early next year.

I am puzzled as to why the US show such little interest in capturing Osama. Perhaps Osama might spill some embarrasing beans regarding the US and himself?

Do the Civil Service Approve of Sir Christopher Meyer's Book?


The furore over Sir Christopher Meyers book continues apace. From Jack Straw's initial outburst trying to downplay Meyer's role, the considered views of the old school mandarins Lords Armstrong and Butler and various opposition politicians, the establishment has rounded on him, in a way that makes it very difficult for anyone currently in a job to show any public support for what he wrote.

Personally I think we are better informed for hearing what Meyer has to say, but he muddied his message with the Major in his shirt tails stuff.
[Allthough Major did come accross rather well in comparison with the present incumbent , which may why I think I am right in saying Mr Major has kept his council on the matter so far.]

If the book is such a betrayal of trust, and such a flagrant abuse of his position, why was Meyer's book approved?
Jeremy Greenstock has had his book blocked, Craig Murray is still fighting through the clearance of his word by word, and the epic of clearing Annie Machon and David Shaylers book ran on for years.

Maybe the key is in who aproved the book.

The Cabinet Office had approved the manuscript for publication, after consulting the Foreign Office.

However, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has been among senior officials to criticise its publication - a stance that has caused Sir Christopher some concern.

"[It was] cleared to be published - what exactly is going on here?

"I write a book, I made a judgement between what I think is right to keep confidential and what it is right to bring out into the public gaze.

"It goes into the Cabinet Office, it pops out a couple of weeks later, and I am told they wish to make no changes to the text and then we publish."

Jeremy Greenstock, Craig Murray and Annie Machon all submitted their books to the Foreign Office, where presumably the interminable clearance process is undertaken undertaken under the supervision of a pygmy minister.

The Cabinet Office approval of Meyers book was sorted in weeks, with [here's a clue] reference to the Foreign Office being consulted, NOT to Jack Straw being involved.

The cabinet office is a true bureaucracy, the prominent figures in the cabinet office are civil servants, not politicians. If we were to infer that the clearance of the book was essentially a civil service process, rather than a political one, then we might begin to think that the civil service aren't quite so upset about the book as the politicians say they are...
After all, remember this letter:

We the undersigned former British ambassadors, high commissioners, governors and senior international officials, including some who have long experience of the Middle East and others whose experience is elsewhere, have watched with deepening concern the policies which you have followed on the Arab-Israel problem and Iraq, in close co-operation with the United States.

Following the press conference in Washington at which you and President Bush restated these policies, we feel the time has come to make our anxieties public, in the hope that they will be addressed in Parliament and will lead to a fundamental reassessment.

There is a clamour of voices calling for Christopher Meyer to lose his current job as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission on the back of this.

The clamouring voices should be careful what they wish for.

While he has his job and thinks he can keep it, they have a hold on him. If he doesn't have his job or no longer thinks he can keep it, then he's got nothing left to lose...

Bush Honours the Dead: By using Veterans Day Speech to defend HIS case for War


Via Dateline::Bristol I read the other night that we were to see an [obviously doomed] offensive from the Bush Whitehouse to restate the justifications for the war, and it's handling in the face of belated opposition.

‘Top White House officials say they’re developing a “campaign-style” strategy in response to increasing Democratic allegations that the Bush administration twisted intelligence to make its case for war. White House aides, who agreed to speak to CNN only on the condition of anonymity, said they hoped to increase what they called their “hit back” in coming days. The officials say they plan to repeatedly make the point — as they did during the 2004 campaign — that pre-war intelligence was faulty, it was not manipulated and everyone was working off the same intelligence…’

Today, Armistice Day here, and Veterans Day in America, Bush used his speech, to make a pathetic defence of the case for war in Iraq, and launch a pre emptive strike against the growing chorus of Democrat voices that have finally come out and said that the whole escapade was based on a pack of lies, and a zealous ideology.

President Commemorates Veterans Day, Discusses War on Terror:

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)
[Listen to a short mp3 clip here]

Three years on, 2 years after he told us they won, a beleagured Bush is forced to hijack Veterans Day and turn it into a cheap Party Political Broadcast.

A sign of how desperate things are getting, and of how worried they are.

How the M.O.D. Honour the Dead


A horrific and dishonourable story about an honourable man. Sgt Steve Roberts, a tank commander with the British forces in Iraq who was forced to hand back his body armour, a move that led to his death. His widow has been keeping up the pressure:

Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed his sympathy and condolences for Mrs Roberts and said he "totally" understood her concerns.

He was sure the Ministry of Defence was conducting a "thorough" inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Sgt Roberts' death and would be staying in touch with his widow.

But he said he would prefer to wait for the outcome of the probe before making any comment.

Well, according to Channel 4 News:

First up - remember the case of Sgt Steve Roberts, whose death in Iraq led to a huge row because he had no proper body armour? Well his widow Sam kept this in the public domain, meeting the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon and generally shining a light on the army's failure to ensure all troops and the proper kit in battle.

Tonight, we reveal how she was kept in the dark about the most extraordinary row between the Attorney General and the Ministry of Defence over the way her husband's death has been investigated. We've shown to her papers released to a Court last month in which the AG Lord Goldsmith writes of a 'concerted attempt by the chain of command to influence and prevent an investigation into this matter. '

The Royal Military Police began the investigation, which also includes the death of an Iraqi man in the same incident, but it's now in the hands of the Met Police. Mrs Roberts is angry that neither the army nor the MOD had told her of these allegations of interference and tells us she'd prefer an independent body to investigate in future. The MOD says it can't comment in detail because the investigation is still ongoing.

The report is here