Blairwatch presents...The Houston Manifesto


An early draft of a notorious document has been discovered today dumped in a cistern in a London pub. We publish it here in full:

More muscular than the Terminator...
As liberal as Joe McCarthy...
Smarter than the average bear...
Further right than Genghis Khan [is this ok?]...

We present, in association with the Project for Nepotistic American Corruption [please check spelling - Ed.]:


Item 1
We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures. We're also committed to finding out what they are at some point. [Aaronovitch think he knows, but none of us think he knows. I don't even know if he thinks].

Item 2
We just don't understand how the world works. No, really, hear us out. We're proud of it. Trying to understand how the world works is more dangerous than mainlining crack while BASE jumping with a parachute full of moths. There are Bad People. There are Good People. Understand? You can safely leave working out who's who to smart folk like Donald Rumsfeld.

Item 3
People killed by democrats are less dead than people killed by tyrants. You get a better class of distributed entrails too, and the mass graves smell sweeter. Oh, and we hate double standards.

Item 4
Equality should be striven for, and enforced by Edward Woodward in a Jaguar, because he looks cool.

Item 5
Globalisation is good. Arbeit Macht Frei [look, this really won't do - please ring Alistair Campbell for a better line - you'll find him at Number Ten working on the Iran Dossier]

Item 6
We support a one-state solution to the Middle East's problems. That state's historical borders are delineated by Mexico on one side and Canada on the other.

Item 7
We support a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine problem. [Note: this is deprecated by Item 6]

Items 7b-7z
Solutions to the problems of Zimbabwe, Chechnya, Kashmir, Uzbekistan, Belgium etc. [cut for reasons of indifference]

Item 8
Racism is appalling, especially when practiced by people with brown skins, beards and Qu'rans. Now that's the really bad sort of racism, but what do you expect from their sort? Send 'em back now, I always say, guv. Some of them are anti-semitic homophobes who vote for George Galloway and the Trots, you know. Vile medieval-minded Islamist scum. I had that Yusuf Islam in the back of the cab once. Lovely fella. Kept wanting to play The Clash, so I locked the doors and took him straight down to Paddington Green nick.

Item 9
Terrorists, arn'tchasickof'em? Ban all celebrations of Irish independence, US independence [oops, better not, see Item 6], the French Resistance (and throw that old dear who just got her parachute wings into Belmarsh). Better throw in anyone protesting near Parliament, nuclear sites or airbases while you're at it. Oh, and arrest Iyad Allawi for murdering Ba'athists. Cast the net as broad as Charles Clarke's trouser seat and string 'em up, it's the only language I understand.

Item 10
What's mine is yours, what's yours is mine. The precise weight given to each clause in this item will depend on how many tanks we each command.

Item 11
I'll say this for Maggie, she sorted out those lefties and put the Great back into Great Britain.

Item 12
History is highly volatile stuff, which is why it should carefully be written by historians you agree with, otherwise you could be exposed to lethal levels of understanding (see Item 2). Best to leave it to the professionals at Fox News.

Item 13
Nothing should interfere with a man's right to shout 'FIRE' in a crowded theatre, and the Pope smells of wee, and as for the Prophet Mahomed, he...

At this point the document becomes too drink-sodden and covered in food sauces to be decipherable.

Baghdad To Be Re-Liberated!


In a move almost beyond parody, the US is to Liberate Baghdad again once they finally get a government together that Bush approves of.

Funny that, they've been telling us for years about the great progress being made, but eventually some element of reality begins to seep into the rarified air of the White House.

But troop numbers must come down before the November elections, and for other reasons:

Lieutenant-General John Vines, who stepped down as commander of ground forces in Iraq at the beginning of this year, said it was essential to reduce the numbers.

“There is an incredible amount of stress and I’m worried about it,” said Vines. He added that soldiers were on their third or fourth tours of duty in Iraq: “The war has been going on nearly as long as the second world war and we’re asking a lot of the forces.”

Naturally the cannon fodder that is the Iraqi army will be to the fore, but the omens for this re-liberation are not good:

Vines’s replacement as commander of ground forces is Lieutenant-General Peter Chiarelli, who pioneered the use of force with Sweat to subdue Sadr city, a working-class Shi’ite district of Baghdad, in 2004. On the eve of his return to Iraq this year he described how the tactics had worked and vowed to repeat them.

Oh, those tactics... the ones that sent you into Sadr City to capture Mukhtar Al-Sadr 'dead or alive' that ended with... oh yes, Al-Sadr being a major player in Iraq politics, just a shade behind Sistani.

Chiarelli's next statement shows that he is utterly divorced from reality. Sit down and prepare youselves:

“It was not uncommon for the 1st Calvary Division to be engaged in intense urban combat in one part of the city, while just a few blocks away we had units replacing damaged infrastructure, helping to foster business growth or facilitating the development of local government,” Chiarelli said.

So, while Apache helicopters, F-16's and A-130's bomb seven bells out of a neighbourhood, next door the Chamber of Commerce is hosting tea parties for would-be businessmen.

Still, at least Baghdad gives a convincing argument in favour of compulsory ID cards:

Residents have taken to carrying two ID cards and ostentatiously religious CDs because of fears of sectarian violence. “If you are stopped at a Shi’ite checkpoint, you have to show you have a Shi’ite name, and if it is a Sunni insurgent checkpoint, it is good to show that your name is Omar,” said a Baghdad resident who had recently obtained a new ID.

Dahr Jamail And Jeremy Scahill in Sacremento: Download and pass it on.

Dahr Jamail and Jeremy Scahill LIVE from Sacramento

"As citizens of the Empire, I think this country is now clearly in a state of crisis, and I think it's time that each one of us has to decide what we can live with. Can we sleep at night knowing that atrocities are being carried out in our name in Iraq paid for by our tax dollars?
If not, what are you willing to do to stop it."
- Dahr Jamail March 14, 2006
"No president in the history of this country has waged a bloodier war on journalism and journalists than the regime of George W Bush."
- Jeremy Scahill March 14, 2006

Dahr Jamail and Jeremy Scahill in a gripping lecture that they gave together in Sacramento, CA on March 14, 2006. Some of the highlights include Dahr Jamail's concise and damning account of US war crimes in Iraq, and Jeremy's ferocious and precise detailing of the deadly war that the US is waging today on journalism in Iraq.

This is by far the best lecture video yet hosted on the DahrJamailIraq website.


This is a must watch, or listen if you prefer [the presentation is 90 minutes long].
There is a detailed report of the event on Sacremento College

Streaming Flash Video (55 megs)
.torrent Good Quality .WMV file 137 megs 240x180
.torrent High Quality version 770 megs QuickTime .MOV 320x240
.torrent Highest Quality version 1.5 gig .AVI DivX 320x240

We have added an LoFi mp3 audio version - split into 2 files.
Dahr - mp3 62kbps 20mb
Jeremy - mp3 62kbps 20mb

You can also sign up do receive Dahr's dispatches via email here.
The last two, "Baghdad Morgue Overflowing Daily" and "Learning to Count: The Dead in Iraq" deal with the issue of casualty figures, and the myth that is the Iraq Body Count.

Finally, our interview with Dahr is here.

al-Jazeera Interview with Riverbend from Baghdad Burning


Riverbend from Baghdad Burning has been nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for contemporary non-fiction.
al-Jazeera have an interview with her here.

Jack Straw Says "Be Cool, Relax, Nobody is Going to Nuke Iran"


Relax everybody, Jack Straw says everything is going to be OK.
You know all that stuff Seymore Hersh was on about, the bunker busting nuclear option for Iran? Well we don't need to worry, because Jack says it's "completely nuts".

He reassures us that there is no "smoking gun" and therefore "no justification for military action".
Also that "the UK would not launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran, adding that he was as "certain as he could be" that neither would the US."
Oh, and we shouldn't believe what Richard Perle says, because he is an unreliable source.

I wonder where Jack heard those arguments before...?
They may be the right sentiments, they're just a war too late to have any credibility when Jack Straw expresses them.

Arrest These People Now


To Whom It May Concern.

In light of the recent addition to the Statute Book of the extremely necessary and well-written Terrorism Act 2006, a matter has come to my attention that requires urgent investigation, as there may be serious offences under that Act being committed at this very moment. A band of heavily armed and well-trained men calling themselves the 'British Army' or the 'Police' are knowingly operating training camps in the Republic of Iraq, where activists in the terrorist militias and death squads known as the 'Iraqi Security Forces' are being trained. These militias and death squads are currently co-responsible for a wave of violence, one estimate has them causing eight times as many deaths as the bloody Sunni insurgency. They must therefore constitute a significant terrorist contingent in Iraq that seeks to destabilise the elected Government of that country, since that Government recently warned the population not to comply with orders from the Iraqi Security Forces.

Specific offences under the Act (which applies equally in Iraq and the UK) would appear to be being committed as follows:

1. According to the ACPO group's website, the 'Police' have been openly boasting through a spokesman known only as 'Baroness Symons' about their involvement in training the 'Iraqi Security Forces' at a site known as the 'Regional Police Training Academy'. Other operatives belonging to the 'British Army' group have had similar roles.
2. Their operatives were given specific firearms training at numerous sites in the UK prior to this.
3. These operatives subsequently provided training to persons in Iraq associated with the militias under the banner of the 'Iraqi Security Forces'.
4. A website claiming to represent the shadowy 'MOD' organisation states

The mission of MNF-I is, in partnership with the Iraqi Government, to conduct operations against former regime extremists and foreign terrorists, and to organise, train, and equip Iraqi security forces

5. Since under Section 6, terrorist activities include

the use of any method or technique for doing anything else that is capable of being done for the purposes of terrorism, in connection with the commission or preparation of an act of terrorism or Convention offence or in connection with assisting the commission or preparation by another of such an act or offence.

this would cover firearms training and provision of equipment subsequently used in the activities of these 'Iraqi Security Forces' and other terrorists.
6. Under Section 8, a terrorist training camp is somewhere where training in terrorist activities (such as firearms training) is provided or made available
7. Therefore, since the purpose of this training was known at the time to be to assist the 'Iraqi Security Forces' in the use of firearms, there appears to be an urgent need to arrest those in the UK who trained these operatives before they were sent to Iraq, plus anyone else attending the site at the time who was aware of this training, plus anyone attending the Regional Police Training Academy in Iraq, whether or not they undertook or provided this training, as long as they were aware of the terrorist activities carried out by elements of the 'Iraqi Security Forces' (which appears to be widespread public knowledge).
8. A renegade blogger known only as 'Tony' boasts on his website of attending the police academy in Az Zubayr in 2004 - I further recommend his immediate arrest as he appears to be a powerful figure behind this activity and clearly lives in a dangerously deluded, almost messianic state, in which he attempts to pass on his ideas to his followers through his website.
9. This website, plus the 'MOD' and 'ACPO' would therefore fall foul of Sections 2 and 3 of the Act, in that it appears to be a direct and reckless encouragement of this training activity. In particular, both 'Tony' and 'Baroness Symons' appear to be glorifying the activities of these operatives in Iraq, thus falling foul of Section 2.4(a).
10. The effect of this activity, which started approximately three years ago, appears to be an escalating level of terrorist violence in that country since it began. Only when these people are brought to justice will this decrease.

Given the supreme efforts of the police in protecting us from militant grannies, punks, anglers and ten-year-old boys, I feel sure a zealous and uncompromising attitude to bringing these people to justice will reap great rewards in terms of the peace and civilisation of our nation.

Yours Legally


Rachel on the Narrative - Genius!


Quite simply the best thing I think I have ever read on a blog:

...There is a horrifying Shakespearean symmetry about how it all began.

Two spoiled directionless sons of oil millionaires, Bush and Bin Laden, both motivated by religious fundementalism and a longing for power. Two idealogies, both of which sees human lives as disposable collateral damage to be sacrificed in the 'war' to win. Two 'shock and awe' spectaculars - 9/11 and Iraq. Two sides of the same coin, feeding the fire.

It does not have to be this way. Our leaders are suppposed to be accountable to us. Unless we hand over all our power and allow them to bully and frighten us, tag us and watch us and scare us into submission. But until that day, when our leaders are running mad, when they are in denial or lying, it is our responsibility to challenge them and bring them to account.

I don't see what else to do. Too many lives are at risk and this policy, this stupid 'War on Terror' is not working. It is making things worse. Much worse.

Please, do what you can. Engage. Debate. Protest. Care. We condemn ourselves to a bloody and unstable future if we do not make them reconsider now, and change their behaviour, admit their mistakes. The first step is official recognition of the links between the invasion of Iraq, and attacks on the U.K , including July 7th. Wilful refusal to accept this clear connection is not acceptable. Lying is not acceptable. Excuses are not acceptable. This disconnect between what we know and what the Government has denied until now, must end. Every day in Iraq is July 7th now. And July 7th will happen here, again, and again, and again, until this madness ends...

I have long been of the opinion Rachel from North London's blog is by far and away the best example of bloging and what it can achieve.
IMHO, this post proves me right.

Not in Her Name.

Straw And Condi Salute The Real Ruler Of Iraq


More news from Fantasy Iraq: source

Straw: I think we both recognize and people around the world recognize that without the remarkable spiritual guidance shown by His Eminence, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, this country, for all the problems that it now faces, would not have in its hands the potential of a very much better future. And we salute the guidance and the restraint that Grand Ayatollah Sistani has been able to bring to his people, the majority community.

Rice: And let me very much underline what Secretary Straw has said. The leadership of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani in this regard, someone who, as I said the other day, we all admire for his wisdom and his courage and his leadership, has been an anchor for that community but also for all Iraqis who want to have a peaceful, and democratic, and unified future.

And on the thorny question of the US seeking to dictate who becomes Prime Minister:

QUESTION (Via interpreter): Don't you think that this an interference in the Iraqi affair in determining its fate, then especially that Iraq is supposed to be sovereign and this is against the principles of democracy?

RICE: Okay. The question was whether or not this is interference in Iraqi affairs. Iraq is sovereign. And is it also -- is it democratic to do this, I guess, is the way to put it.

First of all, we've been very clear that Iraq is indeed sovereign. That is indeed what we fought and which -- for what our people died. So let's be very clear that there are Americans and Brits and others who gave their lives so that Iraq could be liberated from a tyrant and Iraq could be sovereign. The transfer of sovereignty took place almost two years ago now and we have done nothing as an international community and as a coalition force but support the process by which the will of the Iraqi people will be made evident...

... Again, it is not our job to determine who will do that. But as the Secretary said yesterday, we should not say and will not say who the prime minister of Iraq should be, who the president of Iraq should be, who the speaker should be. But that there must be -- and soon -- responsible leaders in those positions is something that I think the international community has a right to expect.

STRAW: And could I just underline, look, we've made it clear from the very start, which is our duty towards a sovereign state, that we will recognize anybody who emerges democratically as the prime minister and vice president, president, and other leaders, whether it's Mr. A, Mr. B, Mr. C. But please, the Americans have lost over 2,000 people. We've lost over 100. There are 140,000 overseas troops here, helping to keep the peace in Iraq and billions -- billions -- of United States dollars, hundreds of millions of British pound sterlings have come into this country. We do have, I think, a right to say that we've got to be able to deal with Mr. A or Mr. B or Mr. C. We can't deal with Mr. Nobody. And that's a problem, okay.

CondiWatch - The Lone Protester


Goatchurch, who pursued Condi and Jack doggedly throughout their tour of Liverpool was written up his experiences and thoughts on their visit, and the build up to it:

Condoleezza Rice came to Liverpool

It was an honour to see a part of the Great Game come to my neighbourhood close enough to get out in the street and shout at. We had two weeks notice of this return visit by the Secretary of State after she had shown our foreign secretary, Jack Straw, around her home town of Birmingham, Alabama last year.

Liverpool and the Northwest of Britain is not Jack's home. He grew up in Essex and has his real home down in the South of England. He only holds a Parliamentary seat near here, in Blackburn. It is the rule, not an exception, in this dysfunctional state that the elected representatives in most regions to come from the same tight clique of the great and the good.

I got to the protest outside the town council meeting on 15th of March. Becka and Martin held a poster which said: "Condi Rice not welcome here. (Try the Hague)", in reference to the place where war criminals are supposed to held for trial.

We were there for about an hour as all the councillors went in, including the leader of the minority labour block, Joe Anderson. He stopped to have a word with us. He said he was against the Iraq war, but not against welcoming Condi Rice's visit, because -- like the Liberal Democratic leader Charles Kennedy on Bush's triumphant visit to London in November 2003 when 400,000 people took to the streets to block his victory parade -- he believes that dialog is more important than a public message that such people have no business walking free in a civilized society. Apparently, protocol requires that you do not to bring up politics when you meet an an international statesman if you are a mere local representative. Your body is required just for the photographs...

He includes a partial transcript of the Saturday morning Today interview, with a comment from Jack Straw that says more about the man than any of us detractors could:

Jack Straw - I believe what I said at the time...

Go there - read it.

Iraqi MoD Advice on Dealing with the Local Police: DON'T!


The ticker tape running on Iraqi TV:

According to RiverBend, it translates as:

"The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area."

Meanwhile, in Fantasy Iraq, Defense Secretary John Reid is most impressed with the progress of the Iraqi Militias Security Forces.

"I have been very impressed by the professionalism and restraint shown by the Iraqi security forces in their handling of recent terrorist activities.

"The improving operational effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces will help to give Iraq what the vast majority of the Iraqi people want - a stable and secure future for their country."

A CALL TO MILITARY FAMILIES: From Military Families Against the War

Our Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has refused to meet the families of those killed in Iraq. He has not visited the many hundreds of soldiers wounded in his war nor attended any of the funerals of those killed.
Most professional service men and women accept that death and injury are risks of their job. That means they put their trust in the hands of their Government to act with integrity and to be honest regarding the facts as to why they must go.
It is now clear that Tony Blair lied to the British people and its parliament. Together with George Bush he decided on war with Iraq when it was plain there were no weapons of mass destruction in that country. This was an illegal war based on lies.

We are demanding a meeting with Tony Blair because we need an accounting for the reasons we were taken to war and the reasons why we have suffered so much. Iraq posed us no military threat. We are calling for the troops to be withdrawn.

On Wednesday April 26 we are organising a lobby of MPs in parliament. Following the lobby we will be laying a wreath at the cenotaph and delivering a petition to Downing Street. We are calling on other families and servicemen and women to join us to make it clear to Tony Blair that he cannot continue to ignore us.
Please circulate this call as widely as possible.

Peter Brierley
Rose Gentle
Pauline Hickey
Reg Keys
Susan Smith
Download this letter [Adobe Acrobat PDF 352KB]

Please note the lobby is intended for military families only. The rest of us can sign this petition.

John Reid on British troops in Iraq - They're Lovin' it!


200 antiwar protests this weekend


Bush and Blair's poll numbers are crumbling. The majority now opposes their insane invasions for empire and oil. This weekend there will be antiwar protests worldwide as part of the "Global Days of Protest." 

The ANSWER Coalition lists U.S. demonstrations planned in over 40 U.S. cities, and are organizing mass protests in Los Angeles and San Francisco this Saturday as well as multiple smaller ones.

Stop the War Coalition details worldwide demonstrations and is organizing the London protest on Sat. 18 March, 12 noon in Parliament Square.

My blog, Politics in the Zeros, has 'continuing coverage.'

For the Benefit of Martin Hague

Bombing them into submission? When was the last US bomb dropped in Iraq, I forget, was it 2003?

Well Martin,

BAGHDAD, Iraq - American forces have dramatically increased airstrikes in Iraq during the past five months, a change of tactics that may foreshadow how the United States plans to battle a still-strong insurgency while reducing the number of U.S. ground troops serving here.

A review of military data shows that daily bombing runs and jet-missile launches have increased by more than 50 percent in the past five months, compared with the same period last year. Knight Ridder's statistical findings were reviewed and confirmed by American Air Force officials in the region.

The numbers also show that U.S. forces dropped bombs on more cities during the last five months than they did during the same period a year ago. Air strikes a year ago struck at least nine cities, but were mostly concentrated in and around the western city of Fallujah. This year, U.S. warplanes have struck at least 18 cities.

Also Martin, re:

When were you last in Baghdad?

If you want news from someone who has spent 8 months in Iraq since the start of the war, it might be worth you signing up for Dahr Jamail's Dispatches.

I appreciate there are two sides to every argument, and the fact you take time to comment here, but Puhleez...

An Acceptable Level Of Terror


Remember the good old days, when we were told that Norther Ireland had "an acceptable level of violence"?

Well, they're doing the same with Iraq, but this time as an excuse to scarper into the sunset (or Afghanistan, overstretch being what it is).

John Reid got the headlines by announcing that 800 UK troops are to leave Iraq but he modifies that

In a speech in which Mr Reid sought to “set out in specific terms” his views on when UK forces could leave, the defence secretary said Iraq was likely to be still rife with violence and suffering from widespread shortages even when British troops departed.

“The point at which Iraqis are fully in control of their nation again will not be the point when attacks cease, when infrastructure is without fault, when there is nothing left to do,”

... there had to be a “manageable level of threat” from insurgents, rather than their complete elimination. He added that Iraqi forces needed to be “more able” to deal with the threat themselves, but fell short of saying how much more able. “Our key task is not, as some claim, to defeat the insurgency ranged against Iraq,” Mr Reid said. “It is to ensure that Iraqis have the ability to do that.”