Friday, August 29, 2003

Needed: an Inquiry into a Slaughter: "The Hutton inquiry into the circumstances of Dr David Kelly's death has its memorable moments, too. The warning of Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, not to 'claim that we have evidence that [Saddam] is a threat', points directly to Blair's lying. However, that was exceptional. What is emerging is a pattern of protecting Blair, who is being subtly spun as a restraining influence, a peacemaker, even a guardian of Dr Kelly. A criminal abuse of power is not on any charge sheet: it is not within Hutton's brief, yet the British people and the memory of the thousands of innocent lives cut short in Iraq deserve nothing less.

"Credible research shows that up to 10,000 civilians were killed in the attack on Iraq, together with perhaps 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, many of them teenage conscripts. A slaughter. These people were killed by weapons designed to reduce human beings to charcoal or to shred them. The British Army littered urban areas with cluster bombs, while the Americans did the same and in greater quantity, adding uranium-coated munitions, whose radiation poison is ingested with the desert dust.

"In my experience, the unseen deaths are far more numerous. Today, malnourished children are dying from thirst and gastroenteritis because the world's biggest military machine, including the British, fails to restore power and clean running water as its most basic obligations require. This carnage, wrought in an unprovoked illegal assault on a sovereign country, is a crime by any measure of international law: be it the United Nations Charter or the Geneva conventions. The "supreme international crime", the Nuremberg judges decided, was that of unprovoked aggression, because it contains "the accumulated evil" of all war crimes. Blair has committed this crime. He shares responsibility for causing violent death and suffering on a vast scale, which the web of deceit spun by his courtiers has failed to justify."

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