No1220 February 17th 2004
As US imperialist blitzkrieg folly sinks deeper into Middle East quicksands, ideological ferment grows within the rudderless fake-'left'; and the revolutionary international class war posed by monopoly capitalism's crisis inches clearer into view. But never-ending opportunist manoeuvring for 'alternatives' to New Labour is no more use than deckchair rearrangement was for the Titanic if plotting civilisation's survival course through imperialism's revolutionary crash-collapse is not faced up to soon. If the hijab ban is a provocation, it will still be better resisted by a revolutionary perspective to end ALL imperialist-state collapse and degeneracy, and not just by potentially diversionary single issue reformist protesting. The hopeful collapse of Arafat compromise rottenness and the triumph of unrelenting war-hatred against every advance of Zionist genocidal colonisation since 1945 would be far better "human rights" causes than the hijab. The US excuses for Middle East failure begin to approach farcical proportions. The truth is that unstoppable revolt against imperialism is now stirring the entire Third World.
The hijab debate; the RMT rail union's expulsion from the Labour Party; and the wretched opportunist posturing around 'alternatives' (for and against) to Blairism, all emphasise the mess the 'left' is in because of anti-Marxist ignorance.
The class war against collapsing imperialist economic and military tyranny worldwide needs more urgently to be won by the ordinary people of the planet than ever before; but as 100% of al1 available history shows, — monopoly-capitalism's TOTAL control and domination can only ever be toppled by purpose-built revolutionary parties open to enough Marxist-Leninist philosophical discipline for maintaining a state of proletarian dictatorship against all bourgeois counter-revolutionary attempts, subversion, and influences for as long as necessary.
And only RESOLVING all the endless conflicting arguments about the historical meaning of all the colossal efforts and failures and half-successes since 1917 to carry this process to full completion will allow further progress and new starts to be made.
The great nonsense of the ENTIRE fake-'left' lies in its deliberate and conscious DISMISSAL of this crucial philosophical polemical process which alone made the science of the historical movement of class forces, achieved by Marx and Engels and Lenin, the mighty epoch-making power that it became.
Until international agreement is reached about all the 'mistakes', 'betrayals', 'retreats' & 'wrong turnings', etc', which have subsequently still left monopoly imperialist warmongering crisis the controlling power on Earth, allied to new experience of further successful revolutionary practice, — then this now hopelessly reactionary and out-of-date capitalist system will continue its course of civilisation's degeneration and conflict ruin unchallenged.
But every 'left' grouping, large and small, continues insisting on maintaining its sectarian corner.
The hallmark of this stupidity was the Socialist Alliance launch of an electoral party (via which workers could 'achieve socialism' that from the start deliberately RULED OUT all polemical conflict "on contentious matters about which there's no historical agreement".
Thus the ONLY process which led from the original individual philosophical efforts of Marx and Engels to the colossal Leninist world communist movement following the Bolshevik Revolution, — the relentless process of polemical clarification of all historical developments, — is abandoned before it even begins.
As the EPSR firmly explained from the very start, the Alliance was being built on the silliest anti-Marxist sand and was doomed before it had begun as far as even the remotest "achieving of socialism" was concerned.
So it has proved.
But the chances that any of the opportunist Alliance sects will now accept the superiority of Marxist science over mere 'left' wishful-thinking remain zero.
And now RESPECT is shaping to reproduce exactly the same philistine opportunist farce as the Alliance, — and with almost the same cast of fraudulent "revolutionary" sectarians.
Some minor electoral 'triumphs' are not ruled out, once again.
But this pure REFORMIST POSTURING is historically now a step AWAY from 'socialism', not towards it.
The world now needs, revolutionary answers to insoluble imperialist system crisis.
This RESPECT is being deliberately constructed as pure REFORMIST DEMAGOGIC POSTURING from the word go, and is an entirely backward development.
Any associating with it at all can only mislead the working class.
Some further 'alternatives' to the RESPECT 'alternative' to New Labour variously suggest either bypassing parliamentary electoralism ("a lost cause") with revived militant trade-unionism, or not leaving Labour at all but changing it from within.
One can only rub one's eyes at such pseudo-'revolutionary' imbecilities.
Of course there is no possibility to "write off" Labour's continuing huge working-class electoral support, or to ignore the millions of workers who remain members of the TUC/ Labour confederation.
But neither is there any sense in saying "Don't break the link" to the RMT or to anyone else.
Labourism is coming to the end of the historical road, and nothing can stop it, certainly not any trade unions refusal to be expelled.
And the best way to speed up Labourism's decay is not some bizarre "non-exit-ist" variant of the hopeless entryist tactic but by seeing the absolute limitedness of ALL mere opportunist manoeuvring, and the need instead for an OPEN REVOLUTIONARY POLEMICS assault on the entire Labour movement.
The same applies to the "TU militancy" bypass proposal. If a full frontal attack on the working class to embrace a revolutionary understanding of world developments is thought to be a near impossible challenge, then the idea of doing so via changing the political mentality of workers-wages-and-conditions, closed-shop, petty-bourgeois-reformist, self-defence craft-freemasonry, specialist organisations FIRST must add at least several million years to the project to any rational way of thinking.
'Red' trade unions will follow (if at all) the transformation of the working class to revolutionary consciousness by real international historical events, — not vice versa.
The 'left' muddle on the hijab reveals all the same bankruptcy in any grasp of Marxist revolutionary science.
In the year 2004, what the 'Muslim' communities and nations need is the same that everyone else needs on Earth, — a Leninist revolutionary party to take state power internationally off monopoly imperialist economic slump-corruption and warmongering degeneracy.
Making a specific issue (one way or the other) of anyone thinking a hijab will help them get there, or bring this about, hardly seems the most fertile furrow to plough, — or any other belief totem or personal idiosyncrasy.
A 100% concentration on Marxist scientific truth about the world and civilisation's understanding is surely the best approach, leaving individuals to personally grapple with their own emotional or ideological crutches.
Any individual reformist fight against 'authority' over such an issue (e.g. French Muslims v state school dress-code policy) needs treating as such, i.e. pure single issue reformism.
Often, such 'causes' are a complete diversion and even a reactionary waste of time.
For example, the very essence of every capitalist society is to endlessly create and recreate divisiveness of all kinds (racial; ethnic; religious; sexist; and above all class, embracing all the others).
And while it is inevitable and good to be always combating racism e.g., the dream of "one day eradicating all traces of racism from all human thinking", however laudable, is going to be far better served in the long run by building a proletarian dictatorship communist revolution than it is by endless anti-racist campaigning, no matter how determined, energetic, self-sacrificing and inventive.
Virtually all of "human rights" agitation comes into the same category. Nothing can, or should, stop its perpetual spontaneous combustion, but all feeding of a completely reformist perspective which flows from such single-issue activism could prove more negative than positive in the long run.
History shows that this has been particularly true of people's "right" to their "own God".
It is not the belief as such which causes the problem, but the underlying class-war conflict beneath the surface, obviously.
But addressing such underlying prejudice and discrimination via the "rival God" issue can prove to be the long way round in the end.
Sometimes, however, some "single issues" prove to be revolutionary questions in themselves.
Thatcher's Poll Tax was the classic case where reformist protest started transforming itself into a revolutionary question.
Only dropping the Tax, and Thatcher's resignation, defused the issue.
But thereby another point is proved.
How much more of an even better and more significant dispute might the Poll Tax have been if there HAD been only a universally agreed revolutionary perspective attached to the piecemeal single issue agitation????
How might this protest have ended if it had been preceded by years of unified left propaganda insisting that it was an economic and political crisis of the entire capitalist-imperialist "free world" system which was increasingly making it impossible for the bourgeois class monopoly-domination racket to rule on without repeatedly periodically inflicting some slump-destructive exploitation outrage like the Poll Tax, the destruction of the coal industry and the miners union, the Falklands War, etc, etc.?????
The hijab versus the French imperialist state might just turn out to be a similar issue.
But superficially to start with, it looks to have more "human rights" petty-bourgeois self-righteousness in it than anything else.
By all means let such reformist agitation get on with it.
But any 'left' urging to join-in needs watching for any diversionary opportunist tendency to use such 'causes' for completely obliterating the really crucial perspective for ALL the people of France of the forthcoming revolutionary downfall of the clapped-out imperialist system and state.
If it is merely French state hypocrisy to be claiming "rational secularism" rather than "racial prejudice" as the reason for the anti-Elijah school dress code ruling, then it still, at this stage, hardly registers on the whole-system-crisis cause for the TOTAL overthrow of imperialist class rottenness, inflicting decay and corruption on France from the head down.
That would change, however, were the French imperialist state to start to use the attack on the hijab as a provocation or stalking horse for an all-out counter-revolutionary coup against ALL "human rights" in France.
Time will tell.
Meanwhile, on a global scale, the best solidarity with "Muslim religious rights" remains the spreading of propaganda about the anti-imperialist blows being struck by various Islamic resistance movements, willy-nilly.
Interestingly, the same fake-'lefts' who capitulated to bourgeois brain-washing and "free world" garbage to "condemn" the Sept 11 guerilla-war blows (against US imperialist torment and other suicide terrorism since, are some of the same "moralists" who insist on the "right" of feudal religion to brainwash its women and girls into wearing the veil, — the reverse side of this contentious "personal right" to challenge the French state's secular school-dress code.
Once again, a challenge to everyone on Earth, individuals or institutions, to join the global anti-imperialist revolution ahead of all other concerns would seem a more appropriate use of any 'left' time.
And the circumstances for renewed anti-imperialist Marxist vigour could hardly be more encouraging.
Even the small pretend "pro-polemics" sects, who will argue on a sustained basis with anyone but the EPSR, are going to have to readjust their sights soon.
Increasingly, the perspective grows for a REVOLUTIONARY crash to this imperialist economic crisis, the most profound in history by an enormous margin.
The potentially key story of the week was the deepening civil war crisis engulfing the Palestinian nation where the arch-compromiser Arafat, who appears willing to cut a deal with American and Zionist imperialism whereby the Palestinians PERMANENTLY lose "only" 80% of their country to genocidal ethnic-cleansing and 50% of their people to PERMANENT formal refugee status (the other half remaining informal refugees locked into tiny Zionist-policed reservations in Gaza and the West Bank — the so-called "two-state solution"), — is facing more personal humiliation than ever and his 'authority' over Palestinians is collapsing more obviously than ever.
As this civil war intensifies, these Arafat 'authority' forces could melt away completely, — and with them the whole daft history of the impossible "two-state" compromise.
Either the Zionist imperialist colonial invasion from the West after 1948 DOMINATES the WHOLE of Palestine for ever; or every bit of this monstrous imperialist genocidal ethnic-cleansing outrage gets reversed.
There is no possibility of a "middle way" and never has been.
At some stage in any peaceful future world, the WHOLE of Palestine must revert to a single unitary territorial entity, and any religiously-driven Jewish settlers who want to remain on genuinely not-confiscated ground or ground that returning Arabs do not want to claim back, will have to take their chances as Jewish Palestinians. The days of Israeli Arabs are strictly numbered.
The Stalinist-Revisionist liquidation of the world communist movement has meant that temporarily, it is the Islamic fundamentalists who are providing the most effective revolutionary anti-imperialism. It is for the Marxist-Leninist tendency in world revolutionary philosophy to get its act together if any serious objections of "a better way" to the suicide-bomb tactics are to get a hearing.
In the meantime, these heroic anarcho-individualist developments of the religious/nationalist camp have achieved an astonishing self-sacrificing triumph in putting the all-conquering Zionist military aggressiveness on the back foot for the first time since 1945.
And the pro-hijab campaigning would be onto a winner if it associated the wearing of the Muslim women's veiled dress-code with more defeats for Zionist imperialist genocidal ethnic cleansing colonial military conquest of the land of Palestine (as was, prior to 1948.)
Possibly in step with this anti-Western-imperialist philosophical maturing in Palestine, measured in military resistance determination, — the Iraqi and Afghan war fronts continue to bring more and more grief to US monopoly-capitalism's blitzkrieg policy for crisis 'solutions'.
The last 7 days have seen the most explosive disasters yet to this sick neo-colonialist stunt of installing an American stooge regime in Baghdad as an "independent democracy".
Its would-be "independent state security forces", more pure stooges for continued CIA and Pentagon rule, took three more fearful batterings, the last one in Fallujah in the form of an open guerilla war attack on a fortified enclave, very reminiscent of all the lost colonial wars that Western imperialism has ever fought.
And the military compound under attack was the exact same site of a near-successful assassination attempt two days earlier on the top US general in Iraq.
To these quite staggering military setbacks and humiliations, the Western imperialist NAZI high command can only come up with the lame Goebbels-type propaganda that some "mastermind baddie" from Jordan is alone behind all this mayhem, portrayed like some villain from a James Bond movie.
To which Hollywood and Nuremberg polluted brain-rot it is appropriate only to wonder how far Mickey-Mouse thinking has now spread in America.
This 'Mr Big' demonology was already well on the thin side of credibility.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we got him" will go down in history, possibly, as one of the most fatuous illiterate grunts ever uttered by any philistine imperial kleptocracy that has reigned, crowing that Saddam's capture would be the turning point in the "defeat of the resistance sabotage".
It was a ludicrous notion to start wit with. What kind of "imperialist superpower" was this which was being given the run-around by a "resistance" which was wholly dependent on a terrified tramp hiding all the time in an underground coffin.?????
Now it looks more ignorant than ever,the most pathetic bar-room thug-speak, typical of the abysmally low-grade Bush 'rhetoric' itself.
Ever since "we got him", the resistance has grown and grown. Previously, the almost cartoon-like figure of Osama bin Laden had been artificially isolated as the "wicked ogre" for the whole world to concentrate its hatred on. The same thoughts apply to this utter nonsense.
How come that such a vague figure in such laughably remote circumstances can cause such enormous difficulties for the "greatest empire of all time" to deal with?????? And now this Comic Cuts version of history-in-the-making continues with this suddenly-emerged Jordanian Mr Big.
The reality is that the Third World is growing up fast and moving on from its halfway-house post-1945 achievements of the national liberation revolution to bring all the West's direct colonial empires to a close via independence wars.
Now this vast majority of proletarian mankind is revving up for the full-scale anti-imperialist revolution to which only the international SOCIALIST dictatorship of the proletariat will provide a satisfactory conclusion.
Such setbacks, and especially their long-term worsening perspectives, place terrible new pressure on the Bush & Blair regimes for all of their ridiculous dissembling about "the causes" or about their "excuses" for the general turn in Western imperialist policy towards pre-emptive blitzkrieging as the front-line "crisis cure" strategy.
The humiliation of Blair's ludicrous lies just will not go away.
Now even intelligence spooks themselves are coming out of the woodwork to indignantly give the lie to the anti-intelligence nonsense that the liar-warmonger Blair has covered himself with as his "intelligence" excuse for taking the political-prestige bribe to become US imperialist president Bush's faithful European stooge-in-chief:
Small things, initially, that others not brought up in the system might not notice. The columns of scarlet-clad troops slightly out of sync with the marching music. Some of the orders being given by men in suits rather than by the sergeant majors on parade. I used to work for the defence intelligence staff (DIS) and the Cabinet Office assessments staff — who draft the papers for the joint intelligence committee (JIC) and intelligence reports for No 10 — and that's how I felt during the Hutton inquiry, and how I feel now.
I left the assessments staff just six months before the dreaded dossier was published. From what came out at the Hutton inquiry I could hardly recognise the organisation I had so recently worked for. Meetings with no minutes, an intelligence analytical group on a highly specialised subject which included unqualified officials in Downing Street but excluded the DIS's lifetime experts (like Dr Brian Jones), vague and unexplained bits of intelligence appearing in the dossier as gospel (notably the 45-minute claim), sloppy use of language, that weird "last call" for intelligence like Henry II raving about Thomas a' Becket — with "who will furnish me with the intelligence I need" substituted for "who will rid me of that turbulent priest".
I looked forward to Lord Hutton making some serious suggestions about how to keep the intelligence process free of political manipulation and analysts free from the preparation of propaganda dossiers. I thought he might help explain, too, why the intelligence community had been taken by surprise by the aftermath of victory in Iraq.
When the report came I was puzzled at first — serious people seemed to be taking it so seriously. And then everyone started to laugh. Some of the passages — particularly "the possibility cannot be completely ruled out that the desire of the prime minister... may have subconsciously influenced ... members of the JIC ...consistent with the intelligence available to the JIC" are masterpieces of comic writing.
In two years as an intelligence officer, and four-and-a-half years as an analyst at the highest level, I never once heard the phrase "consistent with intelligence". It means nothing. I have often been asked whether I was sure that I had reviewed all the available intelligence or whether I was sure I was on the right track. But no one has ever asked me whether something was consistent with the intelligence. Intelligence is by its nature inconsistent. Very often the right answer, the answer closest to the truth, draws on just a small part of the material available to you because you have discounted the rest. It was consistent with the intelligence for the German high command to expect that the D-day landings were going to take place near Calais. Consistent — except that the intelligence was part of a deception operation.
But it has recently got even more embarrassing. The prime minister told the House of Commons that he was unaware at the time of the war debate that the 45minute piece of intelligence referred only to battlefield rather than strategic weapons. Let me list just some of the procedures which must have been executed incorrectly to allow him to be kept in such a state of ignorance at such a crucial time on such a crucial matter when other members of his cabinet (Cook and Hoon) appear to have been in the know.
One: neither Cook nor Hoon saw fit to tell the prime minister, for whatever reason.
Two: the intelligence was not considered important or accurate enough to explain to him in detail — even though it appears in the September 24 dossier at least three times and in the prime minister's' own foreword.
Three: Blair had to rely on verbal briefings from the JIC chairman and others, who told him about the 45 minutes bit of the intelligence but omitted to mention that it referred only to battlefield weapons, and neither the prime minister nor any of the brilliant young staff asked the obvious question.
Four: the original SIS report mentioned the 45-minute time, but made no attempt to distinguish between strategic and battlefield weapons even though the service was aware that the report was about battlefield munitions.
Five: the prime minister's daily written intelligence brief from the Cabinet Office included the 45 minutes point but not the crucial distinction between battlefield and strategic weapons. And not a single member of the Cabinet office assessments staff (the most brilliant intelligence analysts in the UK) spotted this or thought it important. This is not the case of a few guardsmen out of step or a few trumpeters out of tune. This is like holding trooping the colour but forgetting to tell the Queen the correct date.
Lieutenant Colonel Crispin Black worked for defence intelligence from 1994-96 and was on the intelligence assessment staff from 1999-2002
Iraq was in disarray after the first Gulf war and the imposition of UN sanctions, and did not have active programmes to develop biological and nuclear weapons.
In the mid-90s, there were not only no significant stocks of WMD, there was no volition to replace them.
But the war could only be justified if we find evidence of strategically significant WMD.
This would require that Iraq had developed a deployable nuclear warhead — but we know it did not have the technology to do this. Chemical weapons were within Iraq's capability, and we may yet find small stocks in Iraq. But chemical weapons are tactical battlefield weapons — and poor ones at that. Illegal, yes. Nasty, yes. But WMD? No.
My conviction is that the balance of SIS's intelligence prior to the invasion last year indicated that Iraq did not have strategically significant WMD — just as Hans Blix argued before the invasion and David Kay has confirmed in the aftermath.
So how can it be that the picture presented by the prime minister to parliament and to the British public was so radically different? The only plausible explanation is that intelligence was "cherry-picked" and that spin further exaggerated the threat.
SIS intelligence never provides exact judgements. Rather, it passes its various reports, along with an assessment of the motivation, access and reliability of each source, to the analysts in the DIS and FCO, who would judge the overall picture.
If intelligence reports from reliable, well-placed sources saying that Iraq had no strategically important biological or nuclear weapons were slipped into the shredder, while reports from unreliable, financially motivated sources saying that Iraq still had a few shells loaded with mustard gas were slipped into the dossier, then it would be possible on a technicality for the prime minister to stand up before parliament and honestly say that he had intelligence that Iraq possessed WMD.
But who was busy with the shredder? It is inconceivable that SIS itself would have cherry-picked its intelligence. Supplying false intelligence is a "hanging crime" in the SIS, and there is a very strong corporate culture against it. Manipulating intelligence does occasionally happen in SIS, but it is impossible to imagine how it could be systematic enough to mislead government.
For similar reasons, I am sure that the principal customers of intelligence — the DIS and the FCO — would never have distorted their analysis of the raw intelligence. Dr Brian Jones has convincingly defended the DIS and I think the Butler inquiry will concur.
So who does that leave? The finger of suspicion points to the JIC, and in particular to one man, its chairman, John Scarlett. Scarlett was the first JIC chairman from the "production" side of the intelligence apparatus. This put the cart before the horse: the JIC chairman was too close to SIS, and this may have led to a bypassing of the tried-and-trusted methods by which intelligence is impartially analysed. Normally, the JIC chairman would never see dubious or minor intelligence reports. But given the close working relationship between Scarlett and the SIS chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, and Scarlett's knowledge of the workings of SIS, he could have had an unusually intimate knowledge of the raw intelligence. He certainly could have cherry-picked intelligence.
But why would he have done so? Dearlove is due to retire in August, and Scarlett undoubtedly had his eye on the job. Scarlett's relationship with Alastair Campbell is "matey', and the influence that Campbell held with the prime minister is well documented. Here is a potential mechanism worthy of investigation by the Butler inquiry, by which the prime minister's desire to find intelligence to support a war has subverted the usual safeguards built into the Whitehall system.
As a result, more than 50 British soldiers, 500 other coalition soldiers and 15,000 Iraqis are dead, and all three counts are still rising. We deserve some credible answers.
Richard Tomlinson worked for Ml6 from 1991 to 1995.
It is clear from the evidence to the Hutton inquiry that the experts of the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) who dealt with chemical and biological warfare, including those working directly with me, had problems with some aspects of what was being said in various drafts of the dossier that was published on 24 September 2002.
The problem was that the best available current evidence that Saddam actually had chemical and biological weapons (CW and BW) was the inference that this must be so from the claim of an apparently unproven original source that such weapons could be "deployed" within 45 minutes. Although the information was relayed through a reliable second source, there was no indication the original or primary source had established a track record of reliability Furthermore, the information reported by the source was vague in all aspects except, possibly, for the range of times quoted.
I believe the DIS experts who worked for and with me were the foremost group of analysts in the West on nuclear, biological and chemical warfare intelligence. It is their job to consider all other related evidence. What was missing was, for example, strong evidence of the continuing existence of weapons and agents and substantive evidence on production or storage.
There was no indication that the Iraqi military had practiced the use of CW or BW weapons for more than a decade. But it was known that Iraq had previously possessed CW and BW capabilities and used chemical weapons. Further, Saddam had failed to satisfy the UN that the capability had been eliminated.
On balance the DIS experts felt it should be recorded that a CW or BW capability at some level was a probability, but argued against its statement in stronger terms. Despite pointing this out in comments on several drafts, the stronger statements did eventually appear in the executive summary, the part of the dossier "owned" by the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
Without such a strong summary, the translation of a probability into a certainty that occurred in the foreword drafted by Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's former director of communications, would have been more noticeable.
My recollection is that the disagreement of the experts in the DIS was not so much resolved as finessed. My belief is that right up to the publication of the dossier there was a unified view amongst not only my own staff but all the DIS experts that on the basis of the intelligence available to them the assessment that Iraq possessed a CW or BW capability should be carefully caveated.
But we were told there was other intelligence that we, the experts, could not see, and that it removed the reservations we were expressing. It was so sensitive it could not be shown to us. It was held within a tight virtual "compartment", available only to a few selected people.
The two DIS representatives on the dossier-drafting group were told at the last drafting meeting on 17 September that the compartmented intelligence would be shown by the SIS (MI6) to only the two most senior members of the DIS, the Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) and his deputy (DCDI).
At a subsequent DIS meeting on that day, the DCDI ruled that he was satisfied by the SIS reassurance and that no further objections on the contentious issues should be raised with the Cabinet Office Assessment Staff. It transpired from evidence to the Hutton inquiry that the clinching intelligence was never seen by the DCDI.
By the time I returned from leave on 18 September to a very disgruntled team the deadline for production of the dossier was fast approaching. I examined the relevant reports and discussed them with my experts and decided they were right to be concerned.
My experience of the intelligence process made me suspicious of what was happening. I was not reassured when my boss said he had been assured by a representative of the SIS that the new sensitive material was reliable and negated our concerns. My boss was brand new to the intelligence business, unfamiliar with the assessment process and not in the compartment.
I considered who might have seen this ultra-sensitive intelligence and reached the conclusion that it was extremely doubtful that anyone with a high degree of CW and BW intelligence expertise was among the exclusive group.
It was becoming clear that it was very unlikely we could achieve the balance we desired in the dossier and it was important to register our misgivings formally.
Earlier in my intelligence career, I and others in my branch had not taken similar precautions and suffered for it. We believed that no large stockpiles of chemical weapons, such as those present in 1990/91, existed because if they did they would probably have been detected by intelligence. The smaller quantities of chemical weapons that might exist would be hard to find, as would small but significant amounts of BW agents and delivery systems.
I foresaw that after the likely invasion and defeat of Iraq, it was quite possible that no WMD would be found. If this happened scapegoats would be sought, so I decided that we should record our concerns about the dossier in order to protect our reputation. But this is a big step to take and I wanted to be as sure of my ground as possible.
The UK intelligence community is not large and you can usually find your way to someone "in the know" They need not stray beyond the limits of what they are allowed to reveal, but they can still be of assistance. I eventually found someone who was in the relevant compartment. Information was not volunteered and I did not ask about the detailed content of these reports. I explained the reservations that we had about the draft dossier and asked whether the compartmented intelligence resolved any of these concerns. I was advised they did not.
A draft of the dossier arrived on the 19 September. We were told this was the "final" version for proof-reading and no substantive comment would be considered. In any case the DCDI had ruled that no further objections should be made.
I arranged the short meeting with David Kelly and others that I have described in testimony to Lord Hutton to satisfy myself that the basis of Dr Kelly's view that the dossier was "good" did not contradict our own position. By the end of the day I was confident of my ground and I sent a memorandum to my director and copied it to the DCDI, who, as a member of the JIC, could still intervene if he chose to do so.
Once my initial memo was in, my deputy, who was also the CW expert in my branch, was able to contribute a more detailed and direct explanation of our concerns in the light of yet another "final" draft that had appeared.
Neither memo produced a direct response. We could only suppose that the compartmented intelligence seen by the CDI was clear and unambiguous for him to disregard, without discussion, the recorded views of two senior analysts who, although only of middle rank were, like the late Dr Kelly, the UK's foremost experts in their field.
During the course of their own inquiry, the Intelligence and Security Committee was given sight of the relevant intelligence and, despite the fact that they are not expert intelligence analysts, they reported rather enigmatically that they could "understand the basis on which the CDI and the JIC took the view they did".
But with all that has and has not happened since, I believe the advice I received in September 2002 about the compartmented intelligence was valid. Now that it is being so widely suggested that Britain went to war on the back of an "intelligence failure", it is important that the nature of that failure is understood. An intelligence failure can be the result of many things. The absence of significant "raw" intelligence would be a collection failure. There was a self-inflicted dearth of information on Iraq following the withdrawal of Unscom inspectors before Operation Desert Fox in 1998 and an additional degree of uncertainty once their constraining influence was lost.
A failure can result if the significance of a piece of "raw" intelligence is not recognised, or its analysis is flawed, or its context misunderstood. This would be an assessment failure. The failure of policymakers to accept or act on information can also be called an intelligence failure because of the inadequacy of its presentation by the intelligence community.
Whether or not there was a failure of intelligence assessment should be judged, not on the dossier, but on relevant JIC papers. Similarly, whether or not there was a failure in intelligence collection should be judged on the reports the collectors issued. Arguably, the dossier revealed more about the top end of the process and the fashioning of a product that has hitherto been alien to the UK intelligence community.
In my view the expert intelligence analysts of the DIS were overruled in the preparation of the dossier in September 2002 resulting in a presentation that was misleading about Iraq's capabilities.
It would be a travesty if the reputation of the DIS and its dedicated people was besmirched and the organisation as a whole undermined. The DIS includes the only significant body of dedicated professional intelligence analysts in the UK intelligence community and they are a much under-valued and under-resourced national asset. It is the intelligence community leadership at the level of the membership of the JIC and the upper echelons of the DIS — those who had access to and may have misinterpreted the compartmented intelligence — that had the final say on the assessment presented in the dossier.
Lord Hutton describes the JIC as, "the most senior body in the Intelligence Services charged with the assessment of intelligence". But this is misleading.
The members of the JIC are mostly extremely busy officials. Some are effectively the chief executives of large organisations with large budgets and all that goes with that responsibility. Others have a wide range of other responsibilities. All will have a limited time to study personally intelligence reports and the related archives in detail. Most will have had quite limited experience of analysing intelligence.
From my perspective the JIC's function is to oversee the assessment of intelligence and question and challenge the experienced and dedicated analysts and intelligence collectors on issues where they, the JIC, might understand the broader relevance and significance of a particular assessment. When they take it upon themselves to overrule experienced experts they should be very sure of their ground, and if a decision to do so is based on additional sensitive intelligence unknown to the experts, it must be incontrovertible.
Events have shown that we in the DIS were right to urge caution. I suggest that now might be a good time to open the box and release from its compartment the intelligence that played such a significant part in formulating a key part of the dossier.
I recognise this could possibly be one of a few exceptional circumstances that means the content of the compartmented intelligence remains sensitive even after the fall of Saddam.
If this is the case it should be clearly stated. Otherwise the simple act of opening this box and explaining who had the right to look into it before the war could increase the transparency and hasten the progress of the new inquiry.
Dr Brian Jones was formerly head of the branch within the Scientific and Technical Directorate of Defence Intelligence Staff that was responsible for the analysis of intelligence from all sources on nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. He retired in January 2003.
Equally worth putting on record are the growing medical doubts that Dr Kelly ever really committed suicide at all.
This may well be a conspiracy theory too far, but one never knows.
This is basically an American imperialist warmongering play.
And the very professionally-executed assassinations "by rank amateurs" of John and Robert Kennedy at a tense crisis-time of US imperialist warmongering (against Cuba and Vietnam) when squeaky wheels within the system had to be silenced, give cause for plenty of alarming speculative thought:
Since three of us wrote our letter to the Guardian on January 27, questioning whether Dr Kelly's death was suicide, we have received professional support for our view from vascular surgeon Martin Birnstingl, pathologist Dr Peter Fletcher, and consultant in public health Dr Andrew Rouse.
We all agree that it is highly improbable that the primary cause of Dr Kelly's death was haemorrhage from transection of a single ulnar artery, as stated by Brian Hutton in his report.
On February 10, Dr Rouse wrote to the BMJ explaining that he and his colleague, Yaser Adi, had spent 100 hours preparing a report, Hutton, Kelly and the Missing Epidemiology. They concluded that "the identified evidence does not support the view that wrist-slash deaths are common (or indeed possible)".
While Professor Chris Milroy, in a letter to the BMJ, responded, "unlikely does not make it impossible", Dr Rouse replied: "Before most of us will be prepared to accept wrist slashing ... as a satisfactory and credible explanation for a death, we will also require evidence that such aetiologies are likely; not merely 'possible'".
Our criticism of the Hutton report is that its verdict of "suicide" is an inappropriate finding. To bleed to death from a transected artery goes against classical medical teaching, which is that a transected artery retracts, narrows, clots and stops bleeding within minutes. Even if a person continues to bleed, the body compensates for the loss of blood through vasoconstriction (closing down of non-essential arteries). This allows a partially exsanguinated individual to live for many hours, even days.
Professor Milroy expands on the finding of Dr Nicholas Hunt, the forensic pathologist at the Hutton inquiry, — that haemorrhage was the main cause of death (possibly finding it inadequate) — and falls back on the toxicology: "The toxicology showed a significant overdose of co-proxamol. The standard text, Baselt, records deaths with concentrations at 1 mg/l, the concentration found in Kelly."
But Dr Allan, the toxicologist in the case, considered this nowhere near toxic. Each of the two components was a third of what is normally considered a fatal level. Professor Milroy then talks of "ischaemic heart disease". But Dr Hunt is explicit that Dr Kelly did not suffer a heart attack. Thus, one must assume that no changes attributable to myocardial ischaemia were actually found at autopsy.
We believe the verdict given is in contradiction to medical teaching; is at variance with documented cases of wristslash suicides; and does not align itself with the evidence presented at the inquiry. We call for the reopening of the inquest by the coroner, where a jury may be called and evidence taken on oath.
Public health consultant
Specialist in anaesthesiology
Specialist in trauma
Specialist in radiology
Dr Peter Fletcher.
Specialist in pathology
Specialist in vascular surgery
Nevertheless, the overwhelming collective weight of Western bourgeois propaganda still insists that "basically, things are now nevertheless improving in Afghanistan and Iraq", etc, etc, etc.
Capitalist press admissions to the contrary are rarer than before, but they are still appearing, — possibly the most valuable evidence of where world trends are really heading that can be obtained, — and this from a completely mentally Westernised Afghan feminist:
When the US began bombing Afghanistan on October 7 2001, the oppression of Afghan women was used as a justification for overthrowing the Taliban regime. Five weeks later America's first lady, Laura Bush, stated triumphantly: "Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women."
However, Amnesty International paints a rather different picture: "Two years after the ending of the Taliban regime, the international community and the Afghan transitional administration, led by President Hamid Karzai, have proved unable to protect women. The risk of rape and sexual violence by members of armed factions and former combatants is still high. Forced marriage, particularly of girl children, and violence against women in the family are widespread in many areas of the country."
In truth, the situation of women in Afghanistan remains appalling. Though girls and women in Kabul, and some other cities, are free to go to school and have jobs, this is not the case in most parts of the country. In the western province of Herat, the warlord Ismail Khan imposes Taliban-like decrees. Many women have no access to education and are banned from working in foreign NGOs or UN offices, and there are hardly any women in government offices. Women cannot take a taxi or walk unless accompanied by a close male relative. If seen with men who are not close relatives, women can be arrested by the "special police" and forced to undergo a hospital examination to see if they have recently had sexual intercourse. Because of this continued oppression, every month a large number of girls commit suicide many more than under the Taliban.
But then the US never did fight the Taliban to save Afghan women. As recently as 2000 the Bush administration gave the Taliban $43m as a reward for reducing the opium harvest. Now the US supports the Northern Alliance, which was responsible for killing more than 50,000 civilians during its bloody rule in the 1990s. Those in power today — men such as Karim Khalili, Rabbani, Sayyaf, Fahim, Yunus Qanooni, Mohaqiq and Abdullah — were those who imposed anti-women restrictions as soon as they took control in 1992 and started a reign of terror throughout Afghanistan. Thousands of women and girls were systematically raped by armed thugs, and many committed suicide to avoid being sexually assaulted by them.
But lack of women's rights is not the only problem facing Afghanistan today. Neither opium cultivation nor warlordism and terrorism have been uprooted. There is no peace, stability or security. President Karzai is a prisoner within his own government, the nominal head of a regime in which former Northern Alliance commanders hold the real power. In such a climate, the results of the forthcoming elections in June can easily be predicted: the Northern Alliance will once again hijack the results to give legitimacy to its bloody rule.
Women's rights fare no better in northern and southern Afghanistan, which are under the control of the Northern Alliance. One international NGO worker told Amnesty International: "During the Taliban era, if a woman went to market and showed an inch of flesh she would have been flogged; now she's raped."
Even in Kabul, where thousands of foreign troops are present, Afghan women do not feel safe; and many continue to wear the burka for protection. In some areas where girls' education does exist, parents are afraid to allow their daughters to take advantage of it following the burning down of several girls' schools. Girls have been abducted on the way to school and sexual assaults on children of both sexes are now commonplace, according to Human Rights Watch.
In spite of its rhetoric, the Karzai government actively pursues policies that are anti-women. Women cannot find jobs, and girls' schools often lack the most basic materials, such as books and chairs. There is no legal protection for women, and the older legal systems prohibit them from getting help when they need it. Female singers are not allowed on Kabul television, and women's songs are not played, while scenes in films of women not wearing the hijab are censored.
The Karzai government has established a women's ministry just to throw dust in the eyes of the international community. In reality, this ministry has done nothing for women. There are complaints that money given to the women's ministry by foreign NGOs has been taken by powerful warlords in the Karzai cabinet.
The "war on terror" toppled the Taliban regime, but it has not removed religious fundamentalism, which is the main cause of misery for Afghan women. In fact, by bringing the warlords back to power, the US has replaced one misogynist fundamentalist regime with another.
In November 2001 Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, said: "The rights of women in Afghanistan will not be negotiable." But the women of Afghanistan have felt with their whole bodies the dishonesty of such statements from US and British leaders we know that they have already negotiated away women's rights in Afghanistan by imposing the most treacherous warlords on the people. Their pretty speeches are made out of political expediency rather than genuine concern.
So, better in some ways where lavish US funds can have a noticeable impact on desperate local poverty.
But possibly worsening in others, in the bourgeoisie's own admissions, where the longer-term trends of the Third World's real needs now in the 21st century cannot possibly be met by even healthy Western imperialist world rule, and even more certainly not met by a Western imperialist world control system which is degenerating rapidly into its own unsolvable economic slump warmongering crisis.
And one of the most worrying new aspects of all in this growing "freeworld" bourgeois crisis must be the steadily deteriorating relations between Washington and the "pro-democracy" Bonapartist gangsterdom which has come to rule as the West's stooges in Russia, balancing uneasily on the powerful ideological legacy of the mighty Soviet workers state and its astonishing socialist achievements, and on the unfulfilled promises of monopoly-capitalist "market" consumerism.
The repressive colonial war against Chechnya stinks internationally. Moscow's "solidarity with the West against Islamic terrorism" has only given lies and hypocrisy a whole new meaning in about ten new dimensions simultaneously.
The "market democracy" has only rapidly produced one of the most vicious and degenerate mafia oligarchies on Earth. And the promised "sweet new prosperous life for all" is now portrayed so bitterly, even in the Western capitalist press's own reports, that the notion constantly re-emerges of "can yet another Russian Revolution now be long delayed???":
It is a filthy and risky life on the streets. Many street children fall victim to drug addiction, alcoholism or prostitution before they reach their teens. A growing number are infected with HIV.
Even during the day, boys as young as six can be seen sniffing glue from plastic bags in Kursky station, while teenage girls offer their bodies under the menacing eyes of their pimps. For Nastya, though, it is still better than life at home with her sick mother in a cramped, poorly heated apartment in Orekhovo-Zuyevo on the outskirts of the Moscow region. Her father left them years ago and her grandmother's pension of 50 roubles (93p) a day is not enough to live on.
Nastya can make three times that in a day begging in Kursky station. What is most shocking is that she says that her mother knows about, and actively encourages, her feral lifestyle.
The problem of homeless children is not new to Moscow. Since the Soviet Union's collapse, thousands have flooded to the capital from poorer areas of Russia or from former Soviet republics in search of a better life. Some come just to see the city's bright lights and skyscrapers; others on the streets are genuinely homeless or orphaned.
But in the past few years, city authorities have been facing a new problem: children from Moscow, like Nastya, who either choose, or are forced by their parents, to live on the streets. In 1999, there were an estimated 25,000 street children in Moscow and just 6 per cent were from the city itself. By 2001, there were 33,000 and 20 per cent were from Moscow.
Despite the capital's flourishing economy, the numbers just keep rising. "Most of these kids have parents and homes," Olga Remenets, of Unicefs Moscow office, said. "They are forced on to the streets by domestic abuse, alcoholism or economic difficulties. And in some cases their parents try to exploit them. Moscow is one of the richest cities in the world, but there still is not enough money to deal with this."
The problem has stirred such public outrage that President Putin declared it a threat to national security in 2002 and ordered the Government to take action. Since then, the police have become more zealous in apprehending street children, and the local authorities have established a network of shelters, including one for children from former Soviet republics.
Irina Osokina, deputy head of the Moscow city government's department for social protection, said: "I don't think the number of homeless children has increased, but the number of neglected children certainly has. The State has been paying greater attention to this."
Critics say that the Government is addressing the symptoms and not the cause. Under the present system, the police take street children to hospital for medical checks and then to a shelter. If they are from outside Moscow, they send them back to their home town. Either way, they usually end up back on the streets within a few days.
On the streets, a typical day begins at about noon. The children do the rounds of cafés and kiosks with sympathetic staff and loiter near shops to beg from customers.
They scatter when they spot the police, who often take bribes from shop owners to keep the children away and dish out random beatings.
On a good day, a street child can earn up to 300 roubles, about three times the average Russian wage. By the evening, they have enough money for food, alcohol and glue, which they consume in the warmth of railway stations before finding a corner to sleep in a waiting hall or an empty railway carriage.
After six months of living like this, it is virtually impossible for a child to return to normal life, experts say.
"What's the problem?" Asks Dima, 12, his eyes glazed and speech slurred from sniffing glue, as he sits in an underpass
near Kievsky railway station, another popular haunt for street children. "I am my own boss here. I can do what I want."
He refuses to talk about his family. "What do they care?" he says, shrugging his shoulders.
Few are yet putting a title to these appalling new Russian experiences, something for which the West's relentless anti-Soviet propaganda would have been vilifying communism non-stop 365 days of the year had anything remotely comparable been allowed to develop for long by the soviet workers state. But can analyses about "the degeneracy of capitalist 'freedom' fail to surface for much longer?????
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