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Economic and Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. V. I. Lenin

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No1222 March 2nd 2004

Question: So if "we all know what goes on", then why is it a problem when Clare Short spells it out? Answer: Because that lets the ordinary dupes of "free world democracy" know what a crooked rat-race the "free world" really is. Capitalism has meant non-stop secret police control over public opinion since the 17th century. The trick has been to blame spying-on-citizens as a 20th century Soviet invention.

The biggest giveaway about all these ruffled establishment feathers over Clare Short's spying revelations were the United Nations representatives who welcomed the chance of less eavesdropping on them in future but scolded Short for breaking her "Cabinet trust" and speaking up about these things in public.

Translation: Of course we all know these things go on, but letting ordinary people know that "world government" is nothing but non-stop treachery, skulduggery, and lack of trust in anything but "might is right", would be bad for the reputation of "capitalist democracy" as the best possible of all possible worlds.

The "democracy" and "trust" and "rule of law" are just a brilliantly-managed nonstop fraud on the public, which will only last for as long as capitalism's rat-race can keep enough big powers in the world sufficiently affluent to allow the brainwashing to continue (that 'the Western way of life' is worthy enough, and worth defending).

The deep crisis that the entire bourgeois historical racket is now in precisely springs from the difficulty of "defending" Western imperialist interests in foreign parts quite so cavalierly as in the 400 years of world colonial rule just previous.

The worm has turned, is the problem.

Hitherto whenever necessary, the Western powers have routinely blitzkrieged any "rogue state" or revolutionary communist challenges to their domination from Third World countries.

But the world is now fast changing completely.

And the hysteria about "betrayals of security" at the Cabinet and at GCHQ merely reflects increasingly bad tempered splits within the "Western way of life" because time is running out for it.

The "Western way of life", and all of the hidden exploitation, skulduggery, and tyranny on which it has been built for 400 years, is now basically LOSING.

This vicious, hypocritical, and criminal blitzkrieg on Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Palestinian nationhood rights, is proving to be a warmongering bullying outrage too far.

But even as the "case for war" falls apart in the imperialists' hands with ever increasing drama, the propaganda spinning still never gives up, nor can it. Each latest sensational split and buck-passing, such as the latest disclosures slipped to the press about "Army chiefs feared Iraq war illegal just days before start", and "Attorney General forced to rewrite legal advice", etc, still only keeps the saga within certain manageable limits.

The real question which history is asking, — which is what is really putting the whole "Western way of life" into total crisis, — is what is "legal" anyway about big nations militarily bullying small nations just because they have the power to do so????

Only the totally doomed and sickest perspective imaginable, — namely, that "might is right", — allows US imperialism and its stooges to constantly perfect and employ the most terrifying weapons and the mightiest destructive power conceivable to human science, and then to administer or threaten "shock and awe" devastation on ANY country which dares to stand up to this utterly corrupt and venal bullying.

And so the propaganda brainwashing still continues pouring out relentlessly from every media orifice, even when much bourgeois opinion is being nominally "critical", as now because things are going wrong.

The capitalist system's brilliant fraud of a "free-press" way of controlling public opinion can never give up continuing to defend the "might is right" basics (for the very existence of the world dominant imperialist system and the "Western way of life" which it has made possible.

Thus, West challenges to the deeper and deeper mess that Western imperialism's latest international warmongering "disciplining of the world" under the Bush/Blair leadership) is getting into, can only go so far. The baby of "unchallengeable Western imperialist authority" must not be thrown out with the fouled-up bathwater of the Bush & Blair alleged "mishandling" or "wrong choices", etc.

But while this propaganda racket can never be defeated on its own terms and simply be made to "stop all further brainwashing lies", its ABILITY to continue totally deceiving the public about what is really happening in history does go on steadily declining as the overall CRISIS of the Western world continues to deepen.

This is quickly and easily demonstrated by trying to imagine how all this selfsame Bush & Blair skulduggery (to get this "illegal" war under way) would be being treated today IF the invasions and occupations had gone absolutely smoothly, with the ENTIRE local populations welcoming the Western "freedom-bringers" with flowers and open arms, and quickly thereafter forming the most eternally-loyal stooge regimes for the West, popularly supported, that the Middle East had ever seen.

All these issues of the totally bent "legality" of the war; the vicious arm-twisting blackmail to try to get United Nations approval from the smaller countries on the Security Council; the monstrous spying on "friends" and "foes" alike, including all UN officials and weapons inspectors, thus showing, as usual, how utterly worthless are all the "in the interests of democracy" pretences behind everything which imperialist blitzkrieg arbitrariness regularly inflicts on the world in order to maintain dictatorial control; and the dirty propaganda spinning tricks viciously imposed on the British public which have led to Dr Kelly's death, the shackling of the BBC even worse than is usually the case, the continuation of "terrorist arrest" diversionary stunts, and the scapegoating of some stooge political careers, etc, etc; — all these issues and more besides would no longer even be being heard of had the re-colonisation and forcible "democratisation" of Iraq and Afghanistan gone through as quickly and easily as had been maniacally assumed and planned for by this latest turn to warmongering blitzkriegs as the key imperialist policy by the Western world leadership.

And this is the greatest lesson of all to hang onto during the course of these astonishing new depths of crisis-turmoil in this rapidly deteriorating Western imperialist-exploitation hold over the planet.

Washington's and London's propaganda brainwashing control can and will continue.

BUT the harsh facts on the ground, in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine and the entire Third World, will continue relentlessly to make it more and more difficult for Western imperialism to impose its will IN PRACTICE.

The consequence is inevitable, — an ever lengthening list of "setbacks", "disasters", "mistakes", "wrong calculations", etc, etc, etc, — leading equally inevitably to an ever rising chorus of "doubts", and "questions", and "scandals", and "re-examinations", and "inquiries", etc, etc, behind which will lurk ever-deepening discontent and worries throughout the entire Western world about whether or not the latest leadership from Washington and London is taking the entire imperialist system only into total disaster.

The bedrock of all these mounting difficulties remains the basic insoluble economic crisis of the imperialist system.

The inevitable and unresolved "overproduction" problems (see EPSR panel) continue unremittingly.

In line with Marxist certainty, and to growing bourgeois suspicions, the uncontrollable anarchic greed of monopoly capitalist domination leads on ever more relentlessly towards renewed total warmongering, just as in imperialism's previous great systemic "overproduction" conflicts, — or "uncontainable rivalry" conflicts expressed in geo-political terms, of vying for undisputed world leadership.

US imperialism has this time round decided to INITIATE this intimidatory "pre-emptive" warmongering aggression, threatening ALL potential enemies, without waiting for creeping warmongering conflicts to just drag everyone in, thus repeating the aggressiveness of Germany, Japan, and Italy which desperately emerged during imperialism's last great insoluble "overproduction" crisis of too much monopoly capitalist power chasing too little of dominatable world to keep them all happy.

But to queer the pitch even further this time round, it is the Third World itself which is now taking a much stronger stand, and refusing to play the part at all of Western chopping block any longer.

Thus the obviously already crisis-riven inter-imperialist conflict (over trade war, payments war, currency war, interest-rate war, etc, etc) has been jolted towards even greater, more confusing, and unpredictable turmoil in economic and power-politics matters than ever before.

No wonder that all-round spying and backstabbing is rising to a frenzy.

But to what use??? None at all.

As even the saner bourgeois commentators now keep saying, fighting the ludicrous "war on terrorism" becomes even more pointless if the very CAUSE of Third World discontent, their ever-worsening poverty compared to the ever-rising wealth of the monopoly-imperialist world ruling powers, — is not even recognised, let alone addressed.

 But in the "free world" capitalist system's own admissions, the problem of relative poverty and discontent not only continues to worsen, but the crisis-danger continues of that poverty becoming worse ABSOLUTELY:

World leaders must address the "ethical vacuum" at the heart of globalisation or face the danger that the widening gap between rich and poor will lead to further conflict, political upheaval and war, the International Labour Organisation said yesterday.

Its year-long commission on globalisation has concluded that the deep-seated and persistent imbalances in the workings of the global economy are unsustainable. Without fairer rules governing trade flows, immigration and labour standards, billions will continue to miss out on the rising global prosperity, prompting a fresh wave of international instability.

"Global governance is in crisis," the report said. "We are at a critical juncture and we need urgently to rethink our current policies and institutions.

But to achieve this will require world leaders' political will to change the current path of globalisation.

"Wealth is being created, but too many countries and people are not sharing its benefits."

Some of the poorest states suffer from too little not too much integration with world markets, the ILO's director general, Juan Somavia, said.

"Globalisation has passed over the heads of African countries."

The panel, which was chaired by the presidents of Tanzania and Finland and included the Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, interviewed citizens, politicians and business leaders from around the world.

It found widespread concern about the current direction of globalisation. "Its advantages are too distant for many while its risks are all too real," the report said.

"Corruption is widespread."

Globalisation had created winners and losers both within and between countries. Unemployment worldwide had reached 185m, according to the ILO, the highest recorded. And the richest 1% of the US population raked in 17% of the country's income, the highest level of income inequality since the 1920s.

"A truly global conscience is beginning to emerge, sensitive to the inequities of poverty, gender discrimination, child labour and environmental degradation wherever they occur."

The report recommended that western leaders tackle the skewed miles of global trade which shut exports from some of the poorest countries out of rich countries' markets and promote a minimum level of social protection worldwide.

"The choice is clear," the report said.

 "We can correct the global governance deficit in the world today, ensure accountability and adopt coherent policies that forge a path for globalisation that is fair and just, both within and between countries, or we can prevaricate and risk a slide into further spirals of insecurity, political turbulence, conflicts and wars."

For the first time in the history of transatlantic relations the EU is imposing trade sanctions on US goods in an attempt to force Washington law, makers to repeal controversial tax breaks.

Under the rules, EU customs officials will levy an additional 5% tariff on a wide range of American products that will include natural honey, roller skates and nuclear reactors, as well as textiles, agricultural products and steel. The levy will rise by 1% each month until reaching 17% by March next year, affecting US exports worth $666m [£356m] a year.

The aim is to force Congress to scrap a multibillion dollar tax-break that has already been ruled illegal by the World Trade Organisation and offers tax concessions to the tune of bout $4bn a year in total to big US exporters such as Boeing, Microsoft and Caterpillar.

Brussels has already won the right from the WTO to impose $4bn in sanctions on the US but has opted for a phased approach to avoid poisoning the EU-US trading relationship, worth about $lbn a day.

But John Disharoon, vice president of the trade committee at the American chamber of commerce to the EU, thought the move would harm relations, saying it was "a sad day for trade relations between the US and Europe". He added: "Nobody wants to see sanctions. It adds to the negative climate."

And inflaming those resentful passions towards hating the West completely, the constant provocation continues of the monopoly-imperialist system's worst single case of military humiliation to rub Third World noses into non-stop punishment for daring to resist the West's post-1945 "world order", — namely, the genocidal uprooting of the Palestinian nation to forcibly create the "Israel" homeland for Western Jewish monopoly capitalism.

The colonisation and recolonisation blitzkrieg as the standard instrument of Western imperialist policy has never disappeared since 1945, being used in more than 400 actions of short and long wars, military coups, counter-revolutions, and all manner of economic strangulations, blockades, subversions, sabotage and the like, — now renewed and brought up-to-date in Iraq and Afghanistan. But to genocidally annihilate the country and the people of Palestine from the map has remained the constant knife into the whole Third World's being ever since 1945, — the permanent humiliation to "take your punishment and shut up, or get hammered even further".

 All the talk of a new "road map" deal for the Palestinians is as illusory as all the nonsense about an "economic recovery". As capitalist propaganda itself admits, imperialism's warmongering crisis just grows relentlessly nastier:

The Israeli army handed orders to Palestinian families on Monday expropriating land "to build a security fence for Netzarim" that increases the territory under Israel's control in Gaza.

The order gave the Palestinians a week to appeal but armoured bulldozers moved in two days later to destroy fruit trees and other crops.

The seizures came as the army was also confiscating large areas of land around a second settlement, Kfar Darom.

The expropriations have reinforced doubts among Palestinians that Mr Sharon is serious about moving the 7,000 settlers who occupy a quarter of Gaza, while 1.1 million Palestinians occupy the remainder.

The latest seizures are in el-Mughraga, on the southern edge of Netzarim, which is home to a few dozen Jewish families. The order, by the head of the Israeli army's southern command, Brigadier-General Dan Harel, says the seizures were made "for military needs".

Among those who received the confiscation notices were Heder and Mohammed Zahar, brothers who spoke as a huge bulldozer tore up about 400 grape vines which were their sole livelihood after the army destroyed acres of fruit trees on another piece of land more than a year ago.

Heder Zahar, 52 said: "The bulldozers are on our land destroying everything within 100 metres of the fence because they say that is a security area and they will shoot us if we step on to it.

"They are expanding the settlement and using the security fence as an excuse. They want us to go and they drive us out by moving closer every year and taking our land bit by bit. The Israelis are very patient and while the rest of the world isn't looking they've crept up "

Although the fence takes only a narrow strip of land, Palestinian farmers will lose access to land on both sides of the wire.

Vicky Metcalfe of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said: "Everything beyond the fence is effectively annexed. The Israelis also declare about 100 metres in front of the fence a security zone and shoot anyone who steps into it.

"The result when they have done this in Netzarim before is the gradual desertification of the land because the Israelis are destroying the crops, destroying the irrigation networks and changing the character of the land."

Netzarim is a bitter symbol of occupation for Palestinians. The presence of about 60 Jewish families imposes severe restrictions on the movement of tens of thousands of Gazans every day, including a ban on Palestinians using a large part of the main road through the territory.

 The settlement is a byword for Israeli cruelty among Palestinians after the army was blamed for killing a 12 year-old boy, Mohammed al-Durah, as he sheltered behind his father near the entrance to Netzarim in the early days of the current intifada.

The army has blown up tall buildings overlooking the settlement after they were apparently used as positions to shoot dead three soldiers guarding it in October. It also issued an order permitting soldiers to shoot anyone using binoculars to look at Netzarim.

The Zahar home is pockmarked by Israeli bullets, including several that entered the children's bedrooms, as is almost every other Palestinian house in the area.

"There's shooting every night, whenever they feel like it," Heder Zahar said. "We don't move freely in our home. With the army tower closer, it'll be even more dangerous."

Although Netzarim is the first land seizure announced since Mr Sharon said he intended to pull Jewish settlers out of Gaza., expropriations continue in other areas.

Last month the military handed out orders confiscating nearly 101 hectares (250 acres) of land next to Kfar Datum settlement in southern Gaza. Seventeen families are to lose most or all of their livelihoods for "military necessity':

But the confiscations have reinforced the doubts of sceptical Palestinians that Mr Sharon is serious about pulling the settlers out.

"It's lies" Mohammed Zahar said. "He says these things like an anaesthetic to make people think Sharon is gentle and so they don't notice what he's really doing."

This filthy tyranny here described represents the sole essence of ALL that "Israel,, has ever stood for, non-stop genocidal ethnic-cleansing. But astonishing as it seems, it is precisely against this unrelenting brutal tyranny that the Palestinian resistance has steadily GROWN. since the Western imperialist UN ordered "Israel" to be implanted on the Palestinians homeland after 1945. And that astonishingly heroic "terrorist" resistance is as worthy a symbol as can be imagined for the entire Third-World growing fightback against the endemic suffering from western imperialist world control.

That resistance too will grow relentlessly.

No wonder, therefore, that imperialist leadership is now in such deep trouble.

There is no denying that Clare Short is everything that is being said of her, — an appalling and incurable Labourite opportunist, — just about the most unpleasant form of hypocritical, grasping, pompous, and dangerously-deluded political nastiness that can be imagined.

But with nearly 400 Labour MPs happy to continue licking Blair's behind, surely it is the one who no longer finds this tasteful or dignified who suddenly becomes worth listening to.

The words are still 90% naive half-truths, but it is only from the split in the ranks that any truth is likely to emerge at all.
The establishment bourgeoisie's self-revelations are always worth recording:

The response of the establishment has been extraordinary. They are faced with two allegations: one that the Attorney General's legal advice authorising war in Iraq was manipulated in dubious ways, the other that Britain is intruding on the privacy of Mr Annan's phone calls.

There were howls of outrage that the British people should be informed that the powers of their state were being misused to dishonour the secretary general of the United Nations. There was very limited comment on the claim that the Attorney General may have misused his powers to authorise a war that has led to the death of. 20,000 people, and to an increase in bitterness and instability in the Middle East, and to a strengthening of al-Qa'ida.

The Prime Minister says that I am being deeply irresponsible and endangering the British security services. Journalists ask if I should be ejected from the Labour Party and/or the Privy Council. And some — who are not in a position to know suggest that there are no transcripts of Mr Annan's phone calls. I'm afraid that there is no question that such transcripts were regularly circulated.

And the suggestion that there is any threat to our national security or intelligence services from the exposure of the fact that such transcripts are circulated is laughable.

The suggestion, however, that the Attorney General's opinion may have been manipulated is very serious.

There is no doubt that the way in which a truncated opinion authorising war appeared at the very last minute was very odd. Foreign Office lawyers disagreed on the legality of war. Senior officials in Whitehall worried that they were being asked to prepare for illegal action. I was informed that the military would not move without the Attorney General's authorisation. Then on the day Robin Cook resigned, the Attorney General came to the Cabinet, sat in Robin's seat and circulated two sides of A4 which said that successive UN resolutions provided legal authority for war. I tried to ask why he was so late and if there was any doubt but was told in no uncertain terms there was to be no discussion. No other advice was made available across Whitehall.

As I go over and over events leading up to the rush to war, I cannot help but conclude that the way in which the Attorney General's opinion was produced and handled was very strange. It is hard not to suspect that he had doubts and was leant upon.

And as is always the way, as soon as one establishment source shows the courage to spill some of the rotten beans that the imperialist system is cooking up, worsening an already nasty situation; more and more voices start to feel emboldened to join in.

No sooner had Katharine Gun and her lawyers spoken up about GCHQ misdeeds than other revelations of all sorts came pouring out; — all very usefully enlightening:

THE CONTROVERSY over alleged British and American "dirty tricks" at the United Nations deepened yesterday with claims that two chiefs of Iraq arms inspection missions had been victims of spying.

Hans Blix and Richard Butler were said to have been subjected to routine bugging while they led teams searching for Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction.

In an interview published today, Dr Blix said he suspected his UN office and New York home had been bugged by the United States in the run-up to war. He said bugging was to be expected between enemies, but "here it is between people who co-operate and it is an unpleasant feeling".

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Mr Annan's predecessor as secretary general, said: "This is a violation of the United Nations charter. It complicates the work of the secretary general, of the diplomats, because they need a minimum of secrecy to reach a solution."

Mr Butler, who led the UN disarmament team in Iraq in the 1990s, Unscom, said he was "well aware" that he was being bugged. But he said spying on the UN was illegal and harmed the peace-making process. "What if Kofi Annan had been bringing people together last February in a genuine attempt to prevent the invasion of Iraq, and the people bugging him did not want that to happen, what do you think they would do with that information?" he said.

The alleged bugging of Dr Blix, in charge of the last UN mission before the war, seen as the last chance to avoid war, is being viewed in diplomatic circles as part of a concerted effort to sabotage attempts at a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis. Dr Blix, who retired in June, is highly critical of George Bush and Tony Blair for the claims they made about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Washington and London, he said, had aborted the search for weapons to pave the way for an invasion.

In an interview that appears in The Guardian today, he said he had expected to be bugged by the Iraqis, but the possibility that he was spied on by someone "on the same side" was "disgusting". Dr Blix said his suspicions were aroused by repeated trouble with his telephone at his New York home. His fears worsened when a member of the US administration showed him photographs that could only have come from the UN weapons office. He met John Wolf, the US assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation, two weeks before war started and was shown two pictures of Iraqi weapons.

"He should not have had them. I asked him how he got them and he would not tell me and I said I resented that," he said.

Dr Blix said it was unlikely one of his staff had handed over the pictures and thought it might be that spies broke into a secure fax. In his reports to the UN, Dr Blix, and his fellow, inspection team leader, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy  Agency, had asked for more time to investigate Iraq's arsenal, a plea rejected by Washington and London.

The claims of espionage against Dr Blix emerged in the Australian media, sourced to a member of the country's intelligence service. Yesterday a senior UN source confirmed to The independent that the Iraq mission, Unmovic, were convinced they were victims of spying operations. Reports say Dr Blix's mobile telephone was monitored every time he went to Iraq, and the transcripts shared between the US, Britain and their allies, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Yesterday, a UN official said: "While in the Canal Hotel in Baghdad [the Unmovic headquarters at the time], we never used to talk about anything sensitive in our rooms because we thought the Iraqis might be bugging us. We used to go outside to the garden.

"It is one of the ironies of life that back in New York we would sometimes take similar measures, discuss things we thought should be confidential, out of the office, in public places, sometimes the sidewalk.

"The only saving grace is that neither Dr Blix or anyone else among us would speak about sensitive matters on mobile telephones, so they would not have heard anything earthshattering just by that. But I suspect there were other, more widespread interceptions. There were plenty of attempts to undermine us."

Dr Blix's predecessor, Mr Butler, now the governor of Tasmania, said he was shown transcripts of bugged conversations. "Those who did it would come to me and show me the recordings that they made on others. 'To try to help me to do myjob in disarming Iraq', they would say. 'We're just here to help you', " Mr Butler said.

But the former UN chief inspector maintained that it was not only Britain which was spying. He said: "I was utterly confident that in my attempts to have private conversations, trying to solve the problem of disarmament of Iraq, I was being listened to by the Americans, British, the French and the Russians. They also had people on my staff reporting what I was trying to do privately. Do you think that was paranoia? Absolutely not. There was abundant evidence that we were being constantly monitored."

Mr Butler said that he too had to hold sensitive conversations in the noisy cafeteria in the basement of the UN building in New York or in Central Park.

"We were brought to a situation where it was plain silly to think we could have any serious conversation in our office. No one was being paranoid, everyone had a black sense of humour about it.

"I would take a walk with the person in the park and speak in a low voice and keep moving so we could avoid directional microphones and maybe just have a private conversation."

Mr Boutros-Ghali also described the vulnerability of the organisation to espionage. "From the first day I entered my office they said, 'Beware, your office is bugged, your residence is bugged, and it is a tradition that the member states who have the technical capacity to bug will do it  without any hesitation.' That would involve members of the Security Council," he said. "The perception is that you must know in advance that your office, your residence, your car, your phone is bugged."

TONY BLAIR'S insistence that the war on Iraq was legal suffered a blow yesterday when a former senior government lawyer broke her silence to challenge the assertion.

Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the former deputy legal adviser at the Foreign Office, revealed in a statement that she had quit her post on the eve of the conflict because she disagreed with the Attorney General's advice.

Ms Wilmshurst, 55, who was a member of the Foreign Office legal team for 30 years, had held the post since 1997. Her resignation shocked many in Whitehall at the time but it received little attention as the war got under way. Now head of the International Law Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, she has decided to reveal why she resigned.

"I left my job because I did not agree that the use of force against Iraq was lawful, and in all the circumstances I did not want to continue as a legal adviser," Ms Wilmshurst said.

Just days before military action began, Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, published a short version of his own legal advice, stating that no new UN resolution was needed to legitimise the action under international law He relied on UN resolutions passed at the time of the Gulf War of 1990-1991 to authorise force against Saddam Hussein's breach of his disarmament obligations.

But many lawyers disagreed with his approach, including former Foreign Office advisers. Sir Franklin Berman, legal adviser from 1991 to 1999, and Sir Arthur Watts, legal adviser from 1987 to 1991, expressed regret that the search for a second resolution had been abandoned. This week lawyers for Katharine Gun, the cleared GCHQ whistleblower, suggested that Lord Goldsmith himself had changed his mind as late as January 2003.

Michael Ancram, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said Ms Wilmshurst's statement "raises yet more questions and creates more confusion".

THE United Nations headquarters in New York is probably the most bugged office building in the world. Everyone bugs everyone to get inside information.

During the Cold War, three cities were viewed as the spy capitals of the world — New York, Geneva and Vienna because they played host to a concentration of international institutions. The long tradition of spying on delegates in the UN continued after the Cold War ended.

However, the suggestion by Clare Short that Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General himself, was electronically targeted in the lead-up to the war in Iraq has raised a more serious issue, although he, too, would be aware of the potential risk of being bugged. His room at UN headquarters would regularly be "swept" by anti-bugging devices as a precaution.

How could he have been targeted? The intelligence services, particularly those of the United States and Britain, have a range of systems that can eavesdrop on conversations, scoop up e-mails and faxes, and even decipher words spoken inside a room by using a laser to detect reverberations in the outside window panes.

The greatest source of electronic intelligence-gathering is America's network of eavesdropping satellites that can vacuum up telecommunications from targeted areas. The biggest operation of its kind is codenamed Echelon and embraces the intelligence services from America, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The intelligence agencies of all these nations benefit from the ability of US satellites to monitor radio frequency signals, and with the help of some of the most advanced computers in the world can isolate certain key words that allow the listener to home in on a particular conversation.

In the weeks leading up to the war in Iraq, when the US and Britain were touting for support from the 15 UN Security Council members, key words would clearly have included Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

While both American and British diplomats were in dose touch with Mr Annan throughout this period, there may well have been pressure to gather the maximum amount of intelligence on every nuance coming from his office.

If his private conversations were bugged, it is likely that every form of listening device would have been deployed. If he used a satellite phone or a mobile, American satellites have the capability to pick up conversations, just as they do when a targeted terrorist communicates by these methods.

Satellites are not always the answer. First, they cannot pick up landline telephone conversations that pass through fibreoptic cables. Secondly, it takes time and huge human resources to decode encrypted material. Sometimes intelligence is required quickly, and other electronic eavesdropping methods are used to provide a full transcript of an actual conversation.

The British have devised a laser system to intercept speech, according to Rupert Pengelly, technical editor for Jane's Defence Weekly. The laser aimed at the window of a targeted office can detect minute reverberations in the glass caused by conversations.

 "The only problem is that drawn curtains can deal with that threat," he said. Another more guaranteed method of bugging is to fit a device into the telecommunications system a long way from the targeted building.

The British are particularly good at technical spying operations — and Mr Pengelly said that, to avoid breaking domestic legislation, it was believed that the United States, under the Echelon project, relied on Britain to carry out some of its electronic eavesdropping operations on targets in America.

Even more controversially, a former Defence Intelligence Staff chief, Sir John Walker, — while bizarrely condemning whistle-blowers currently in office for "breach of trust", nevertheless kicked an even bigger hole in Blairite self-righteousness by demanding a "proper" inquiry into why the Iraq war is taking place at all, the "real question", dismissing the Hutton and Butler inquiries as a useless diversion merely covering up the serious issues.

Another defence establishment doubt was expressed by one of Blair's own ministerial appointees:

Answering a question that he was not actually asked in his press conference yesterday, he said those who "attack the work they [the intelligence services] are doing, undermine the security of the country".

This is a a breathtaking sidestep from the real issue of whether we spied on our allies and on the UN. Have we been acting illegally yet again? The prime minister's charge that Ms Gun and Ms Short are "irresponsible" will not wash.

The public wants a full account of what our intelligence services have been up to. The national interest demands a full account too, not further evasions and duplicity.

There are two Congressional inquiries into the rationale for the Iraq war underway in Washington. They will unearth more in a week than a dozen Butler commissions will manage in a lifetime. Unlike our system, US inquiries are designed to illuminate rather than obfuscate. It is perhaps why the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace — in its report, WMD in Iraq — drew upon official National Intelligence Estimates, which had been declassified up to July 2003, for its conclusions and recommendations.

From the earliest days, it was dissidents within the US intelligence community who were conducting a debate with the administration on the pro-war strategy. Can we imagine the British intelligence community dropping its supine posture towards the political establishment in such a frank way?

The recent revelations concern attempts to subvert the decision-making of the UN's security council. At such a critical time the UK was party to illegal spying at the behest of the US. Such a role for our country would be  consistent with our peculiar notion of a special relationship, our reward for which is access to American intelligence.

The existing cosy intelligence relationship has been complemented by a close alliance between Bush and Blair. The president, failing to get unqualified CIA support for his wilder claims on Iraq, relied on Donald Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans for other intelligence. Blair had a more compliant joint intelligence committee and a tame parliamentary intelligence select committee. Under pressure, he still had to accede to an inquiry of sorts into intelligence on WMD.

This takes the form of the Butler Commission chaired by former cabinet secretary and packed with dependable establishment figures. Its terms of reference would make a Mississippi gambler blush, so stacked is its deck. Few will be satisfied by its conclusions whatever they might be. The aborted case against Katharine Gun, and Clare Short's allegations, simply underline the inadequacy of the Butler Commission.

Let us recall the calamitous interaction between the intelligence services and the British government on Iraq. There was Scott Ritter's account of M16's Operation Mass Appeal in the 1990s, designed to "shake up public opinion" against Iraq, using dubious intelligence material. There were the dodgy dossiers, using a plagiarised 10-year-old thesis, and forged evidence on alleged uranium purchases. There was the alleged failure to tell the prime minister that the doubtful 45 minutes claim related only to battlefield munitions, and the subsequent failure to find the allegedly ubiquitous WMD.

What a catalogue of failure. Blair's response to this situation, and to the evidence of Gun and Short, is wholly unsatisfactory. His imputations against the two women's integrity is woefully inadequate. Until we have a full, public and independent inquiry into the case for going to war against Iraq, there will remain a dark cloud over the prime minister. When that cloud breaks, the umbrella of the intelligence service will be of no protection to him.

Peter Kilfoyle is Labour MP for Liverpool Walton arid a former defence minister

The week-end's apparent new threat to Clare Short from the establishment to shut up or face punishment/prosecution is a further indication of how this huge "war doubts" issue simply cannot "go away" as the propaganda control centres of imperialism would like.

Just one disastrous war on the Third World would remain problem enough in the present world circumstances of insoluble international economic crisis. A disastrous war on the politically and economically ultra-sensitive Middle East extends and escalates that problem incalculably,

But a disastrous Middle East war which is also obviously only the beginning of a profound long period of total warmongering upheaval which is going to shatter the entire "free world" monopoly-capitalist system, and a process seen to be going wrong right from the very start, — amounts to a doomladen burden from which there can be no escape.

And with all bourgeois ideology increasingly at its wit's end to know how to assess and deal with all this colossal growing mess in all directions, it is inevitable that many pasts are bound to return to give many a haunting as this enormous upheaval rolls on.

And in one way or another, the bourgeois "free press" is bound to reflect most aspects sooner or later, as in the following examples.

To stem this critical charge from a now thoroughly disturbed "Western way of life", it will require Cabinet Secretary warnings to Clare Short; the humiliating dismissals and enforced grovelling on the BBC heads; and much much more besides, all raised to the hundredth power.

In other words, only total dictatorial censorship will stop the tide of jeering now:

Forget the no-show of Saddam Hussein's WMD. Ask instead what happened to Saddam's "people shredder", into which his son Qusay reportedly fed opponents of the Ba'athist regime.

Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP who chairs Indict, a group that has been campaigning since 1996 for an international criminal tribunal to try the Ba'athists, wrote of the shredder in the Times on March 18 last year — the day of the Iraq debate in the House of Commons and three days before the start of the war.

Clwyd described an Iraqi's claims that male prisoners were dropped into a machine "designed for shredding plastic" before their minced remains were "placed in plastic bags" so they could later be used as "fish food".

Not surprisingly, the story made a huge impact. When the Australian prime minister John Howard addressed his nation to explain why he was sending troops to support the coalition, he talked of the "human-shredding machine".

Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, expressed admiration for Clwyd's work in an email and invited her to meet him.

Others, too, made good use of the story. Andrew Sullivan, who writes from Washington for the Sunday Times, said Clwyd's report showed that "leading theologians and moralists and politicians" ought to back the war. The Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips wrote of the shredder in which "bodies got chewed up from foot to head", and said: "This is the evil that the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican bishops refuse to fight."

In his recent book, William Shawcross wrote of a regime that "fed people into huge shredders, feet first to prolong the agony". And earlier this month, Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun's political editor, claimed that "Public opinion swung behind Tony Blair as voters learned how Saddam fed dissidents feet first into industrial shredders".

Nobody doubts that Saddam was a cruel and ruthless tyrant who murdered many thousands of his own people and that most Iraqis are glad he's gone. But did his  regime have a machine that made mincemeat of men? The evidence is far from compelling.

The shredding machine was first mentioned in public by James Mahon, then head of research at Indict, at a meeting in the House of Commons on March 12. Mahon had just returned from northern Iraq, where Indict researchers, along with Clwyd, interviewed Iraqis who had suffered under Saddam. One of them said Iraqis had been fed into a shredder.

"Sometimes they were put in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 die like this... "

In subsequent interviews and articles, Clwyd said this shredding machine was in Abu Ghraib prison, Saddam's most notorious jail. Indict refuses to tell me the names of the researchers who were in Iraq with Mahon and Clwyd, and, I am told, Mahon, who no longer works at Indict, "does not want to speak to journalists about his work with us".

But Clwyd tells me: "We heard it from a victim; we heard it and we believed it. "

This is all that Indict had to go on — uncorroborated and quite amazing claims made by a single person from northern Iraq. When I suggest that this does not constitute proof of the existence of a human shredder, Clwyd responds: "Who are you to say that chap is a liar?"

Yet to call for witness statements to be corroborated before being turned into the subject of national newspaper articles is to follow good practice in the collection of evidence, particularly evidence with which Indict hopes to "seek indictments by national prosecutors" against former Ba'athists.

An Iraqi who worked as a doctor in the hospital attached to Abu Ghraib prison tells me there was no shredding machine in the prison. The Iraqi, who wishes to remain anonymous, describes the prison as "horrific". Part of his job was to attend to those who had been executed. Did he ever attend to, or hear of, prisoners who had been shredded? "No." Did any of the other doctors at Abu Ghraib speak of a shredding machine used to execute prisoners? "No, never. As far as I know [hanging] was the only form of execution used there:'

Clwyd insists that corroboration of the shredder story came when she was shown a dossier by a reporter from Fox TV On June 18, Clwyd wrote a second article for the Times, citing a "record book" from Abu Ghraib, which described one of the methods of execution as "mincing". Can she say who compiled this book? "No, I can't:" Where is it now? "I don't know." What was the name of the Fox reporter who showed it to her? "I have no idea." Did Clwyd read the entire thing?' "No, it was in Arabic! I only saw it briefly." Curiously; there is no mention of the book or of "mincing" as a method of execution on the Fox News website, nor does its foreign editor recall it.

Other groups have no recorded accounts of a human shredder. An Amnesty International spokesman tells me that his inquiries into the shredder "drew a blank". Widney Brown, the deputy programme director of Human Rights Watch, says: "We have not heard of that particular form of execution or torture."

It remains to be seen whether this uncorroborated story turns out to be nothing more than war propaganda — like the stories on the eve of the first Gulf war of Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait taking babies from incubators and leaving them to die on hospital floors. What can be said, however, is that the alleged shredder provided  those in favour of the war with a useful propaganda tool. The headline on Clwyd's story of March 18 in the Times was: "See men shredded, then say you don't back war".

Brendan ONeill is the assistant editor of spiked

Lord Hutton and I were once very close. I sat about 10 feet from him in the witness box while he quizzed me on charges of conspiracy to murder, IRA membership and He eventually sentenced me to eight years in jail on the testimony of a police informer I had never met. Although in the Belfast high court Hutton occasionally acquitted republicans and dismissed the appeals of soldiers, nationalists generally considered him a hanging judge and the guardian angel of soldiers and police officers.

I was amused at the response of sections of the media and British public to last week's report when he exonerated the prime minister, his defence secretary and his press officer from the BBC's allegations that the government "sexed up" a pre-war dossier on Iraqi WMD — and damned the BBC. Incredibly, many who followed the Hutton inquiry and observed the contradictions, the lies and the evasiveness of government representatives, expected this damning evidence to be taken into account.

Do they know anything about how the establishment works? Have they never heard of Ireland's six counties and how our poor, conscience stricken judiciary coped with all the quandaries they faced?

At stake in Britain were the office of the prime minister, (as distinct from Blair) and the judgement, integrity and morale of the British military authorities, now deep in a quagmire in Iraq.

Lord Denning, master of the rolls, the third-highest law lord in Britain, sat on the privy council with ministers of the government. To him the rights of Irish people, in particular, were subservient to the fabric of the British policing and judicial system. Denning summed this up best in his 1980 judgement when he ruled against an appeal by the Birmingham Six, whose case was that they had been beaten and made false confessions. He said: "If the six men win, it will mean that the police were guilty of perjury; that they were guilty of violence and threats....That was such an appalling vista that every sensible person would say, 'It cannot be right that these actions should go any further'. "

There is an old caution that one shouldn't confuse lawyers with the clients they defend. However, judges almost certainly can be judged from their judgements.

Hutton first made the news in 1973 when, representing the Ministry of Defence at the inquests into those killed on Bloody Sunday, he castigated the coroner, Major Hubert O'Neill. O'Neill had suggested that the Paras had no justification for shooting the people. Hutton told him: "It is not for you or the jury to express such wide-ranging views, particularly when a most eminent judge has spent 20 days hearing evidence and come to a very different conclusion."

Those 20 days were a reference to the seven-week-long inquiry by Lord Chief Justice Widgery into the 13 deaths in Derry that resulted in a historic miscarriage of justice, currently being re-examined by Lord Saville. Thirty years later, when it came to the inquiry into the death of one former weapons inspector, Hutton would take seven months to absolve once again those who opened fire (in Iraq) without justification.

In 1978, he was part of the team defending Britain at the Strasbourg court against Irish government allegations that internees in 1971 were tortured. In 1981, he presided at the trial of a British soldier who ploughed at high speed into a group of people in Derry, killing two youths. Hutton advised the jury "to consider whether you think that perhaps unconsciously some of the witnesses ... had a tendency somewhat to strengthen their evidence against the army". He suggested that the driving, while reckless, might not have been unreasonable given the rioting and attempts to apprehend the rioters. The soldier was acquitted.

He agreed with supergrass trials, and in 1984 sentenced 10 men to some of the longest sentences ever imposed, a total of 1001 years, on the word of a paid informer, Robert Quigley, who was granted immunity from prosecution.

In 1986, he acquitted an RUC reservist, Nigel Hegarty, who was charged with unlawfully killing John Downes at a rally. When the RUC opened fire with plastic bullets on civilians at a sit-down protest, Downes picked up a small stick and was running towards two officers when Hegarty killed him from about three yards. Despite Hegarty offering no evidence, Hutton speculated that he had acted "probably almost instinctively" and that, given "the stress of the moment and the obvious determination of the deceased", Hegarty's response was not unreasonable.

In the trial of two Royal Marines charged with murdering Fergal Caraher in a shooting incident at Cullyhanna in 1990, he said he could not rely on the accounts given by the civilian witnesses for the prosecution or on those given by the accused and a fellow soldier, so he acquitted the soldiers even though he believed they might have been lying.

And he was involved in the Brian Nelson affair. Just a week before Nelson's trial, which almost certainly would have exposed British collusion with loyalist death squads, Hutton and the trial judge, Basil Kelly, met the then prime minister, John Major. Nelson was offered a deal to plead guilty to sample charges, which he did. He served just a few years. In an episode of the BBC's Yes, Prime Minister, the PM, Jim Hacker, is furious when someone leaks to the press that he has manipulated his solicitor general to suppress a political memoir, not on security grounds but because it contained a chapter about him, The Two Faces of Jim Hacker. He wants the culprit found and convicted. His cabinet secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, rushes to set up a leak inquiry. Hacker stops him and suggests they lean on the judge to guarantee success. The wise Sir Humphrey suggests that it is better to find a judge that doesn't need to be leaned on.
Danny Morrison is a former publicity director for Sinn F éin

On a hot day last June, all the knights of the garter gathered at Windsor Castle, which was closed to the public, and the master of University College, Lord Butler of Brockwell, was invested by the Queen with his own garter, star, riband, collar and mantle. There was a splendid lunch and, as the college website respectfully records: "Lady Butler even gave a special wave to the Univ contingent as the knights' wives led the ceremony by."

Despite such honours, Robin Butler will be seen by some as a surprising choice to chair such a sensitive and high-profile inquiry as the one announced yesterday into the prewar intelligence on Iraq. His record as the former head of the civil service shows that he consistently showed deference to those in power. During the height of the Conservative sleaze scandals of the 1990s, Sir Robin, as he then was, chose to believe the dishonest arms sales minister Jonathan Aitken and attacked journalists who were investigating him.
He followed this up by defending Whitehall deceit during the Scott inquiry into covert arms sales to Iraq. During that investigation too, he went out of his way to attack the media for undermining "our system of government" by what he called "grossly distorted and prejudicial allegations".

The picture of this bicycling Old Harrovian that emerged during both these scandals was of a patrician mandarin, protective of Whitehall pieties and resentful of those who sought to puncture them.

The nadir of his career, as he was later ruefully to characterise it, came in 1994, when a triumphalist Mr Aitken on the government benches waved a letter from Sir Robin, which he claimed exonerated him: "I hope that the house ... will accept both my assurance and the cabinet secretary's assurance and put an end to the hysterical atmosphere of sleaze journalism by the Guardian."

The letter said he did not regard Mr Aitken as having lied to him. In fact, Mr Aitken, who later went to prison for perjury, had lied comprehensively to the cabinet secretary about his dealings with Arab arms brokers.

Sir Robin had been asked successively to investigate allegations against Mr Aitken and against the equally dishonest then trade minister, Neil Hamilton.

In neither case did he get to the truth. In Mr Aitken's case, the arms sales minister persuaded the then editor of the Guardian, Peter Preston, to refer allegations to Sir Robin before publishing them.

Sir Robin, he said, was "the arbiter of ministerial rules of procedure".

Preston duly sent Sir Robin the documentation, in which he accused Mr Aitken of having his Paris Ritz hotel bill paid by the Saudis at a secret meeting to carve up arms commissions.

The only steps Sir Robin took, it leas discovered later, were to ask Mr Aitken if the allegations were true. Mr Aitken denied them. Sir Robin, trustingly, showed Mr Aitken a copy of the dismissive draft letter he proposed to send to the Guardian. In it, Sir Robin wrote that the dispute "seems to be a matter of his word against yours":

Mr Aitken asked Sir Robin to remove this phrase and send a more "minimalist" letter which would discourage :he Guardian from publishing the allegations. Sir Robin complied. The cabinet secretary later went further. When Mr Aitken sent the Guardian a deliberately misleadingly edited copy of a letter from the Ritz, Sir Robin supported him. This led to the dramatic 1994 Commons scene in which Mr Aitken was able to exploit the supportive letter from the cabinet secretary and claim he had been exonerated.

In the midst of the Aitken row, in September 1994, John Major, then prime minister, summoned Sir Robin and asked him also to investigate as yet unpublished allegations of bribe taking against Neil Hamilton. Sir Robin delayed for a fortnight before questioning Mr Hamilton, and gave him advance notice of his intentions. Mr Hamilton told an untrue  story of the way he had become involved with Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of Harrods and payer of the bribes. Sir Robin failed to investigate what turned out to be a crucial question whether Mr Hamilton had any financial relationship with Mr Fayed's lobbyist. The issue remained unresolved when the allegations against Mr Hamilton exploded into the newspapers, leading eventually to prolonged libel actions, which, Mr Hamilton lost, and to the discrediting of the Major government.

The then Sir Robin, who said on his retirement that his great priority had been "trying to make government work", has defended himself against charges that he was a poor detective, by insisting that police work was not his job.

"The only role of officials can be to advise, not to be arbitrators. We are not determinants. We are not this independent arbitration machinery. "

But the past still dogs him. Alongside the Aitken/Hamilton saga, he was also plunged into what he calls "the long nightmare" of the Scott inquiry, which ran from 1992 to 1996. Lord Justice Scott was given the opposite role to that Lord Butler accepted yesterday. Lord Butler must now attempt to find out whether the Whitehall machine exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein before the war by spreading alarmist intelligence reports.

By contrast Scott, in the wake of a scandal in which an attempt was made to prosecute British businessmen, for selling ammunition factories to Iraq, was asked to discover whether Whitehall in the 1980s had been too helpful towards Saddam by secretly conniving in arms sales.

During the Scott inquiry, Lord Butler achieved notoriety by defending Whitehall doublespeak and secrecy to a sceptical judge: "You have to be selective about the facts," he said, arguing that government had been entitled to mislead about, for example, delicate negotiations with the IRA or impending devaluations of sterling.

"It does not follow that you mislead people. You just do not give the full information ... It is not justified to mislead, but very often one is finding oneself in a position where you have to give an answer that is not the whole truth. "

He joined in ministerial attempts to undermine Scott's inquiry, although he directed his fire ostensibly at the media, saying the inquiry should "undo ... the damage that had been unfairly done to our system of government, to the reputation of the civil service and to individuals":

The victims of the arms-to-Iraq allegations, he said, had been "middle-ranking officials who could not have expected to be thrust into the limelight in the way which they have".

He was unhappy too, with the orders in council which gave Mr Powell and Mr Campbell the right to order civil servants around.

On that occasion, though, and whatever his private unease, he succumbed.

 This tidal wave of criticism and revelations is unlikely to subside for long either, if at all, because it is the self-righteous imperialist bullying ITSELF which the Third World is in revolt against, and not just individual war scandals.

And even if the unlikely happens, and stable stooge regimes are eventually established in Iraq and Afghanistan, the West's entire programme of "pre-emptive blitzkrieg disciplining" to keep the whole world "in order" as the economic crisis catastrophically worsens, is still going to have at least 50 awkward states, or "rogue regimes" to go, — most of them far far bigger than Iraq or Afghanistan, and much much more difficult to control than even they are proving. Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, Cuba, Venezuela, etc, etc, have so far been named in various "axis of evil" references.

Huge hostility to US imperialism in Pakistan, Philippines, Brazil, and other giants adds to a perspective of terminal trouble for this pre-emptive blitzkrieg strategy to secure continued Western domination by bullying the Third World into bearing the burdens of the West's economic crisis.

More and more bourgeois press summaries of the situation will read like the following:

Before he departed on his quest for Saddam Hussein's fabled weapons of mass destruction last June, David Kay, chief of the Iraq Survey Group, told friends that he expected promptly to locate the cause of the pre-emptive war. On January 28, Kay appeared before the Senate to testify that there were no WMDs. "It turns out that we were all wrong," he said.

Within days, Bush declared that he would, after all, appoint a commission to investigate; significantly, it would report its findings only after the presidential election.

Kay's testimony was the catalyst for this U-turn, but only one of his claims is correct: that he was wrong. The truth is that much of the intelligence. community did not fail, but presented correct assessments and warnings, that were overridden and suppressed.

On virtually every single important claim made by the Bush administration in its case for war, there was serious dissension. Discordant views — not from individual analysts but from several intelligence agencies as a whole — were kept from the public as momentum was built for a congressional vote on the war resolution.

Precisely because of the qualms the administration encountered, it created a rogue intelligence operation, the Office of Special Plans, located within the Pentagon and under the control of neo-conservatives. The OSP roamed outside the ordinary interagency process, stamping its approval on stories from Iraqi exiles that the other agencies dismissed as lacking credibility, and feeding them to the president.

At the same time, constant pressure was applied to the intelligence agencies to force their compliance. In one case, a senior intelligence officer who refused to buckle under was removed.

Bruce Hardcastle was a senior officer for the Middle East for the Defence Intelligence Agency. When Bush insisted that Saddam was actively and urgently engaged in a nuclear weapons programme and had renewed production of chemical weapons, the DIA reported otherwise. According to Patrick Lang, the former head of human intelligence at the CIA, Hardcastle "told [the Bush administration] that the way they were handling evidence was wrong."

The response was not simply to remove Hardcastle from his post: "They did away with his job." Lang says.

 When the state department's bureau of intelligence and research (NR) submitted reports which did not support the administration's case — saying, for example, that the aluminium tubes Saddam possessed were for conventional rocketry, not nuclear weapons (a report corroborated by department of energy analysts), or that mobile laboratories were not for WMDs, or that the story about Saddam seeking uranium in Niger was bogus, or that there was no link between Saddam and al-Qaida (a report backed by the CIA) — its analyses were shunted aside.

Greg Thielman, chief of the INR at the time, told me: "Everyone in the intelligence community knew that the White House couldn't care less about any information suggesting that there were no WMDs or that the UN inspectors were very effective."

When the CIA debunked the tales about Niger uranium and the Saddam/al-Qaida connection, its reports were ignored and direct pressure applied. In October 2002, the White House inserted mention of the uranium into a speech Bush was to deliver, but the CIA objected and it was excised. Three months later, it reappeared in his state of the union address.

Never before had any senior White House official physically intruded into CIAs Langley headquarters to argue with mid-level managers and analysts about unfinished work. But twice vice president Cheney and Lewis Libby, his chief of staff, came to offer their opinions. According to Patrick Lang: "They would say: 'you haven't looked at the evidence'. The answer would be, those reports [from Iraqi exiles] aren't valid. The analysts would be told, you should look at this again: Finally, people gave up. You learn not to contradict them."

Meanwhile, senior intelligence officers were kept in the dark about the OSP. "I didn't know about its existence," said Thielman. "They were cherry picking intelligence and packaging it for Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to take to the president.

CIA director George Tenet, for his part, opted to become a political advocate for Bush's brief rather than a protector of the intelligence community. On the eve of the congressional debate, in a crammed three-week period, the agency wrote a 90-page national intelligence estimate justifying the administration's position on WMDs and scrubbed of all dissent.

Tenet further ingratiated himself by remaining silent about the OSP. "That's totally unacceptable for a CIA director," said Thielman.

On February 5 2003, Cohn Powell presented evidence of WMDs before the UN. Cheney and Libby had tried to inject material from Iraqi exiles and the OSP into his presentation, but Powell rejected most of it. Yet, for the most important speech of his career, he refused to allow the presence of any analysts from his own intelligence agency. "He didn't have anyone from INR near him," said Thielman. "Powell wanted to sell a rotten fish. His job was to go to war with as much legitimacy as we could scrape up."

Powell offered a limited mea culpa at a meeting at the Washington Post. He said that if only he had known the intelligence, he might not have supported an invasion.

Powell is sensitive to the slightest political winds, especially if they might affect his reputation. If he is a bellwether, will it soon be that every man must save himself?

 And more and more rats will be deserting the sinking ship, even if it is not the particular individuals featured in the above speculation.

Imperialism is falling apart, and the latest developments of Howard nervously collapsing the "bi-partisan" Butler "inquiry" fraud, and US imperialism re-invading Haiti (for the umpteenth time in its 200-year history) to force out the "elected" Aristide (so much for "democracy" yet again) only confirm all the above EPSR arguments about insoluble warmongering crisis causing endless turmoil, splits, and then revolutionary defeat. Build Leninism. EPSR

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