Saturday, October 28, 2006 

Scum-watch: Police-supporting tosh.

Add another stack of lies to the already toppling tower that is the continued smearing of the Koyair brothers. You might remember that back in July, after it had been comprehensively proved that the most deadly poison the brothers and their family had in their home in Forest Gate was a bottle of aspirin, that searches of Mohammed Abdul Kahar's computer and phone had found child pornography. Rather than the police announcing this development themselves, it was, naturally, leaked to the News of the World, which along with the Sun had dedicated itself to defending our brave boys in blue from the accusations that the terror raid was an unjustified fiasco from beginning to end.

ANTI-TERROR cops were stunned when their massive raid on suspect bombers in Forest Gate turned into a chilling child porn probe, we can reveal.

Their week-long search of the house uncovered no explosives or chemical weapons—but officers unearthed a haul of vile kiddie sex pictures on the family's computer.

After forensic investigation they now plan to arrest and quiz 23-year-old Mohammed Abdul Kahar, who was shot in the shoulder during the police swoop on his east London home.

The News of the World can reveal that Scotland Yard has already consulted lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service who have recommended charges be brought.

A CPS source said: "This isn't what officers expected to find when they were searching the computer files.

"The child pornography has been graded ‘high level' and the images are extremely disturbing.

"These are very serious offences and will be treated like any other case of its kind."


Meanwhile the seized computer was being examined by IT experts and forensic teams.

They found the horrifying collection of kiddie porn pictures which have now been handed over to specialists at Scotland Yard's Child Abuse Investigation Command SCD5.

Three months later, hoping that everyone had forgotten and helpfully released late on a Friday night, the CPS announced the following:

Prosecutors have advised police not to bring child pornography charges against the man who was shot by police during a counter-terrorist raid earlier this year, it was announced tonight.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said Mohammed Abdul Kahar would face no charges over allegations that 44 indecent images had been found on electronic equipment at his home.

Oh, but it doesn't end there. It gets even better:

Forensic examination of a Dell computer, an external computer hard-drive and various mobile phones found 44 indecent images of children in the memories, he added. The images included indecent "movies", he said.

Of the total, 23 were "embedded" images - which could have been inadvertently downloaded on the back of other computer files - and 21 were "deleted". These 21 were all on the external hard drive and a Nokia 3G mobile.

"To transfer to the phone, the suspect would have to have specialist knowledge," the spokesman added. "There was no evidence that Mr Kahar had possession of, or access to, equipment or the technical knowledge to do so."

There was no certain creation or deletion date for 15 of the 21 deleted images, he added.

"Technical evidence showed that the remaining six had a purported creation date of the May 28, 2006, but no deletion dates," the spokesman said.

"The forensic report suggested that the last usage before seizure was the day following creation - May 29 2006. This meant any possession would have been for a very short period of time.

"Depending on the circumstances, it can be a recognised defence to making an image if a person comes into possession of material that is unsolicited and/or unwanted and quickly deletes that material."

Cut through the bullshit, and what quickly becomes apparent is that something very strange is going on here. Kahar doesn't have the knowledge to transfer the images to the phone, so who did, and how did they get there? It's quite easy to manufacture fake creation dates for files - all you have to do is set the computer's internal clock back to the date you want. As for transferring the images to the phone, it wouldn't be that difficult; you'd only need a USB cable or Bluetooth connection, or you could email them to yourself. It's therefore worth wondering whether the CPS's claim of needing special knowledge is cover for something else.

Far be it from me to besmirch the good name of the officers who carried out the inquiry by suggesting that they might be behind this, but let's examine the evidence. Constant leaks to the press, especially the Murdoch tabloids, damn the brothers before they'd even been in custody for a couple of days. After the officers have completed taking the house apart, finding only a large sum of money which was explained by the families' religious beliefs on bank accounts which give interest, there's nothing for them to fall back on except their shoddy intelligence. With the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes still causing anger, wrongly fragging a man for no reason doesn't improve the image of the Met. Enter a bright spark who comes up with the wonderful idea of both smearing the brothers and earning some money at the same time. Bright spark possibly enlists the help of the special child pornography team at Scotland Yard (or possibly doesn't, judging by the crucial screw-ups), who plant images on Kahar's computer and phone, but make the mistake of using "embedded images" and not realising that the brother isn't the technical whizz they perhaps take him to be, of putting some of the files on the phone. (Or the CPS uses this as an excuse for not charging him.) Having done the deed, bright spark phones the News of the Screws, feeds them the details, earns a wad of cash for his trouble and the raid is justified by the "chilling and horrifying" images found. Job's a good un.

Too bad then, that it all fell apart when the CPS took a proper look rather than just going along with what was reported by the News of the Screws and the evidence on the face of it given to them by the police. The Sun naturally followed up the story, and the Daily Star, which when the raid actually happened didn't even cover it on their front page, splashed on the find. Terrorist suspect turns out to be evil paedophile, news at 11.

The Sun did in fact report the decision not to charge Kahar, which I missed previously through a dud search. Apologies, and thanks to Not Saussure. They do however quote one "frustrated cop" who says:
"The images were there and it should have been left to a jury to decide who put them there.”

Yes, although the police would be rather in the shit if a jury decided that someone other Kahar had put them there, which is why the CPS didn't take the risk.

The Scum also dedicates its leader to the subject, frantically trying to persuade its readers with longer memories that they weren't so certain that something was to be found, as well as justifying their "smear and think of the consequences later" attitude:
But imagine the outcry if they’d stood by and the threat had proved real. And remember, at least four terror plots against Britain have been foiled since 7/7, according to the Home Secretary.

The successes are less spectacular than the failures. But they may have saved hundreds of people.

Perhaps some of the very people quick to jump on the police-bashing bandwagon.

By the same logic, one of the police-supporters to the death, such as Rebekah Wade, could have been shot dead by CO19 like Jean Charles de Menezes was, with her instead of him then being smeared in the press as a rapist and overstaying his visa, while the police told lie after lie in public. How then would her family have felt about the "police-bashers"? The Sun also willfully forgets its involvement in the hysteria after the 21st of July failed bombings, which undoubtedly contributed to the pressure on police to find the perpetrators. Still, at least they can depend on the support of a national newspaper whatever they do. For those caught in the fallout from that dodgy intelligence, with lies being printed daily about them, there is no hiding place.

(P.S. There has been no apology or article in the News of the World about charges being brought, as far as I can tell.)

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Friday, October 27, 2006 

The silent nightmare.

Bob Piper had a nightmare, and it's a terrifying one. He dreamed that the Tories were denouncing the PFI schemes that they introduced, which have been accelerated and used throughout the public sector since 1997. His brain created the illusion that a Thatcherite had gone on the Today programme to denounce the government's caving-in to the religious schools lobby after just over a week, with the Catholic church being at the forefront of the campaign to stop their schools having to admit 25% of their intake from either a different religion or of no religion.

Piper's nightmare isn't just a bad dream for Labour supporters, it's also deeply angering a lot of the Tory grassroots. The political spectrum has become so distorted over the last year with Cameron's attempts to move his party towards the centre, that Labour has moved into the void left by his party's vacation. Peter Oborne, although something of a partisan figure, identifies how the debate on the veil and on Islam in general has been used by Labour to push themselves even further towards the centre-right. A certain amount of their thinking behind doing this is to try to outrank the BNP in their intolerance towards Muslim communities, as they've come to the conclusion that they've lost their support due to the Iraq war for a generation. Cameron's failure to use immigration in the same way as Michael Howard did has also left a hole for Labour to move into, with their Sun-pleasing remarks about how "political correctness" should be no bar to debate.

This move towards the centre-right is even infecting some of Labour's otherwise reasonably sane members of parliament. John Denham, who resigned over the Iraq war, has floated the idea that the unemployed should be given tougher sentences when found guilty of any crime, as well as making those on community punishments wear easily identifiable clothing, something which the Blairite robot Hazel Blears had previously brought up. Patricia Hewitt's laughable wheeze about taxing "alcopops", which are usually only drank in clubs and pubs where it's more difficult to get served in the first place, misses the point that the vast majority of youths who hang around in parks drinking are usually quaffing the likes of cheap, strong cider and beer than the expensive sugary, brightly-coloured vodka mixes. It also completely ignores the actual reasons behind the British binge-drinking culture - the fact that we are a greatly unhappy nation which uses alcohol to escape from the bleakness of work isn't something that the government can either do anything about or want to talk about.

We're constantly reminded by the likes of Polly Toynbee and the more hand-wringing Labour members that the redistribution of wealth has been Labour's greatest silent success, something never mentioned for fear that it may anger the middle classes taxes which pay for it. The reality is that it just isn't good enough when Labour goes all out time and again to seemingly annoy its core support. While they were winning, with two huge landslides, this worked for a while. Now, with Iraq the "elephant" in the room, Blair's agenda on crime, education and the health service just rankles. When once we would have forgiven Blair and his ministers' complete seeming indifference to mainstream opinion, instead riding the Murdoch tiger for all its worth, now it simply makes us seethe. Instead of realising that things can't go on like this, John Reid and others seem even more determined to seek the Sun's approval.

At least in America politics hasn't turned upside down - yet. Dick Cheney's comments that a "dunk in the water" is a no-brainer, even though he and America would never ever even consider authorising torture, was a shameless playing to the right-wing gallery. The nastiness of the campaigning going on for the mid-terms, with Rush Limbaugh alleging that Michael J. Fox was "acting" in an advert calling for support for a politician who supports stem cell research, seems to know no bounds. We haven't quite reached those levels in Britain, for now at least.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006 

Lifestyles of the rich and the famous.

There's a streak of hypocrisy that often runs an inch thick through the charitable ambitions of some of our most famous celebrities. We witness Bono, a prat of the highest order, who has in the past urged the working class to give to charity, go to court to get a hat back off a former worker who he alleges stole it. There's Paul McCartney, who already has a never ending flow of cash, going to court to get another £12 million he claims was stolen from him by his record companies. He previously sued Apple alleging that he had been promised there would not be two Apples' involved in the music business. Today the Guardian reports that Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee hell holes that seem to suddenly appear on the high street out of nowhere, has in effect blocked attempts by Ethiopian farmers to trademark their most famous bean types, a move that would have earned them £47 million. That Starbucks has a turnover of £7.8bn annually, and that the money would have helped the farmers escape from abject poverty doesn't mean shit when profits come into the equation.

It's therefore not much of a surprise to find that the CIA agents involved in the rendition of terror suspects were living it up when they weren't transporting their captives to dungeons throughout the globe, or torturing them themselves.
A book by Stephen Grey, the investigative journalist who was one of the first to uncover the rendition scandal, and who was recently one of the runners-up to the Paul Foot investigative journalism award, alleges that agents involved with the rendition of Abu Omar, a Muslim cleric based in Italy, spent £80,000accommodationtion while they were in Milan.

One stop over for the agents was the
Gran Melia Victoria hotel in Majorca. A five-star, it's within 20 miles of 5 golf courses, and at the hotel itself they could enjoy massages or saunas. The sauna would no doubt make a welcome difference from the "Cold Cell", one of the CIA's interrogation methods, where the unfortunate suspect is made to stand naked in a cell kept near to 50 degrees, with the occasional bucket of ice cold water being flung over him. In their rooms they could enjoy the security of a locked safe, perfect for keeping those documents which if lost could cause a political storm.

Even relations with nations that are regarded as state sponsors of terrorism are acceptable when it comes to making sure that suspected jihadists are given the once over properly. Syria, which the United States refuses to talk to regarding the disaster in Iraq, and which has been blamed for the bombing which killed the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, was used to torture seven men. One of them only escaped after he falsely confessed to have trained at a camp in Afghanistan.

While torturers and those behind war crimes have in the past been caught, tried and sentenced, the CIA agents involved in the rendition program need have no fear of ever being held accountable for their actions. The recently passed so-called compromise over the rights of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, as well as denying them the right to challenge their detention through the court system,
puts into law a retroactive amnesty to anyone who might have so much as punched a detainee in anger. Unlike the grunts in Abu Ghraib, who were the scapegoats for the orders signed right at the top of the Bush administration authorising mistreatment of prisoners, no member of the CIA will ever have to face the ignominy of have their face splashed across newspapers worldwide grinning next to a corpse, or face time in jail.

If five years ago you were told that the United States was using proxies to torture suspected terrorists, with CIA agents also taking part in the mistreatment of detainees, you'd probably have been laughed at or called a conspiracy nut. Today, we don't just know about it, we accept it. Britain supposedly regards Guantanamo Bay as a shocking affront to justice, yet everything suggests that our politicians and intelligence services have known about and even been involved in far more shocking acts than have gone on at the world's most notorious prison camp. Rather than just seeing no evil and speaking no evil,
Geoff Hoon has been described as being distinctly unhelpful and evasive with the EU's own investigations into rendition, and Elizabeth Manningham Buller, the head of MI5, who yesterday happily briefed G6 ministers on the terrorist threat, refused to even attend a meeting of the joint committee on human rights, let alone answer any of their questions. Marie Antoinette may not have said let them eat cake, but that attitude is the default mechanism for our politicians when it comes to the abuse of detainees going on in our midst.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006 

Send 'em all back, guv...

At times, it must be incredibly frustrating being a government minister. You announce what is a completely craven act of political cowardice, in this case the restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers from coming here when the two countries join the EU, a measure purely introduced because of the fury generated by the tabloids, and then none of them even lead with their victory on their front page. The Times and the Telegraph are the only newspapers that even mention it in some way on their covers.

True, there had been decent discussion from some within the Labour party, including John Denham and Jon Cruddas, who erred on the side of caution, fearing that a further influx of migrants on a similar scale to the mostly Polish workers that have came here since the last few countries joined the EU could force down the average casual wage packets of their working-class constituents. Most of the evidence that there has been a drop in wages since the borders were opened though is purely anecdotal, with almost certainly untrue stories of Polish workers being paid £2 an hour, a sum which they could make back at home, even with the current rate of 15.5% unemployment.

The government's argument, if you can even call it that, was laid bare on Newsnight. Paxman didn't just rip the minister to shreds, he did the equivalent of tearing his leg off and then beating him with the soggy end. Asked why the government had apparently changed its mind from two years ago when the government considers the influx of workers from the East as a great success, all he could whimper was that we risked having too much of a good thing, all while still trumpeting how prescient the government had been in the first place, being only one of three countries to allow true freedom of movement and work. Such a feeble argument was put up against the 10 O'Clock News's almost blatantly xenophobic first report, featuring every single anti-immigration opponent they could find, with UKIP's leader telling blatant lies about the EU, before a much more realistic and sad report from Romania and Bulgaria itself, where those asked for their opinions seemed rightly and reasonably affronted by the venom which has dripped through the tabloids and even some of the TV reports.

The main reason why the papers haven't concentrated on Reid's capitulation is that his laid down rules are so utterly piss-poor. 20,000 unskilled workers will be allowed to apply to come and work here from January the 1st - half the total number which a poll for the Ministry of Bulgaria estimated were likely to leave, and most of them had Spain, Germany, Italy and Greece in their sights, not the UK. Earlier research by the Institute of Public Policy Research concluded that at most, 50,000 Romanians and 18,000 Bulgarians could have applied to work here, numbers far off the tabloid fantasies of another 500,000. If anything, the IPPR's study seems to have overestimated the numbers likely to leave. 20,000 may well be close to the number that would have came had restrictions not been announced. The other main new policy associated with the restrictions is that £1000 on the spot fines will be introduced for those found to be working illegally, although none of the reports I've read make it clear whether this will be imposed on the actual worker or the employer, or both. Reid's plans don't include limits on the self-employed, and he hasn't explained how Romanians or Bulgarians will actually be stopped from coming here despite the restrictions. It's a complete and utter shambles, a truly ridiculous policy made up on the hoof to appease the tabloids, showing no signs of being fully thought through in the true style of Blair's sofa government reacting to headlines.

As the Guardian leader notes, Reid's policy has "added rather than subtracted from the exploitation and complexity surrounding migration," but it should have gone further and said it has also added to the hostility and fear of foreigners. Today's latest rent-a-rant from mad Melanie Philips, aka Very Scary Spice, is a prime example. While attempting to rationalise the attacks on Muslims which only a sentence ago she called reprehensible, she raves (hat-tip to Mask of Anarchy):

In any event, such attacks are just as likely to be the result of frustration with the failure to address the problem; or (as Phillips himself also observed) the entirely separate influx into the country of East Europeans who are — dismayingly — deeply prejudiced against black or Asian people, and would be so whatever may or may not be said in public about them.

Right, so if it isn't British people attacking Muslims because of their refusal to tackle their own "problems", then it's those nasty East Europeans, who are prejudiced against black or Asian people, completely unlike saintly Mel P or those who've carried out the numerous incidents of verbal abuse and physical violence which have occurred since Jack Straw started the debate on the veil.

The problem for Labour is that all this populist posturing just isn't working. For all the kow-towing it's done to the Sun and the Mail over the last few months, its support isn't coming back or even stabilising, it's continuing to drop. Today's Guardian/ICM poll puts Labour 10 points behind the Tories on 29%, which would result in either a hung parliament or a slight Tory majority if a general election happened tomorrow. That this is occurring against a Conservative party led by a Blair clone with no policies is absolutely disastrous. It just confirms that if Labour is to regain its support, Blair needs to be jettisoned as soon as possible, with his acolytes and their failed policies going with him. Only that may result in Labour returning for a fourth term, and at the moment, the hung parliament looks much more inviting, especially with the possibility of the Liberal Democrats forming a coalition with one of the parties and demanding the proportional representation be introduced in return.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006 

Spooks: Daring, incisive, brilliant television.

British television, once feted as the best in the world, has in the last few years not so much gone downhill as taken part in a bungee jump without waiting for the rope to be attached. As the number of channels has risen by the dozens every year, thanks mainly to a certain Mr Murdoch, quantity rather than quality has been the order of the day. Endless reality shows feature the absolute dregs of society, and that's just the ones with "celebrity" in the title, makeover programmes, property shows and banal, depressingly exploitative phone-in quizzes have all become part of the televisual landscape.

There are a few exceptions to the rule. Peep Show, Nighty Night, Nathan Barley, The Thick of It and Extras have shown that inventive, rule-breaking comedy can still be done, while for drama, Life on Mars and Spooks have been the main triumphs.

Now into its fifth series, Spooks has if anything become even more daring. Following the lives of MI5 agents at the very heart of the fight against terrorism, espionage and corrupt government, it's evolved into an almost subversive reaction to the current world situation. Back in its third series, in the aftermath of the Hutton report's chilling effect on the BBC, the programme went full throttle against imaginary government ministers who wanted to crush dissent within the service to what it was being used to justify. At the beginning of the current series, MI5 found itself not having to prevent attacks by al-Qaida, but instead a right-wing coup plot reminiscent of that which some claim threatened Harold Wilson in the Seventies. Under the banner of protecting the country from further suicide bombings, business leaders, reactionary politicians and renegade spooks teamed up to install the current prime minister as a de-facto dictator, removing habeas corpus and dissolving parliament. The situation was only saved after protests organised by bloggers, and with the prime minister's own son, being protected by one of the agents, taking part in the march himself.

Last night's episode, the conclusion of a two-parter, went even further into conspiracy and the murky world of other nations' security services. The premise of the episode, MI5 being called in to make sure that a deal between Saudi Arabia and Britain went through, with Britain selling the Arab nation nuclear technology in exchange for cut price oil, quickly morphed into something quite different. Thinking that those opposed to the deal were jihadis wanting to stop the deal to undermine the Saudi royal family, the agents were led into following suicide bombers. The first episode ended with one bomber being shot, only for it to be discovered that his bomb belt was filled with putty, not explosive. At the same time, the Saudi world trade centre where the deal was being finalised was raided by terrorists, taking the diplomats hostage.

The reality quickly became clear. Rather than being jihadists, the hostage takers were actually Mossad agents, who wanted to stop the deal from going through for obvious reasons. Helped by an sympathetic mole within MI5, they had the perfect cover story: who else would take Saudis hostage but those who want to overthrow the monarchy?

Few programmes, especially ones by the BBC, would dare to invite the wrath of the powerful Israeli lobby, which as far as I've noticed seems to have missed the show, as otherwise I'm sure they would have been verbose about such a plot device. Showing the Israelis as anything other than the victims of Palestinian terrorism and Blair's totally false sense of grievance is usually asking for trouble. That Spooks not only did so, but did it without falling into the wacko world of those who think that 9/11 was a similar plot between Mossad and the CIA, makes it all the more praiseworthy. Next week's show, reflecting the current debate over the veil, but obviously not around when it was filmed, is about fundamentalist Christians plotting an attack on a Muslim community.

Spooks proves that TV can be entertaining, exhilarating and still make you think, and much like 24 but without the overly right-wing tone which that show has taken on, Spooks manages it with ease.

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Monday, October 23, 2006 

Covered in blood and shit.

The news that the police are searching for a man who has been performing numerous dirty protests on trains is an apt metaphor for the entire British role in Iraq. Ever since we "kicked in the door", our presence has only resulted in an ever growing tide of effluent, mixed in torrents of blood last seen in Stanley Kubrick's film version of the Shining. Not content with just crapping on the pavement and then getting out, we've had to smear it everywhere. There's no cutting and running for us, just a never-ending stink that won't go away, no matter how much mopping up is done.

At least it seems, until around a week or so ago. All of a sudden, after 3 years of crisis followed by crisis, of supposed breakthrough followed by breakthrough, after the deaths of at the very very lowest realistic estimate of 100,000 Iraqis, there seems to be the realisation that "something must be done." More than anything, this is to do with the American mid-term elections, with the Democrats looking as though they're about to decimate the Republicans, as more and more of the population turns against the increasingly deadly occupation which has come to define both Blair and Bush's political careers. It seems the constant macho posturing of Bush, Cheney and all the other neo-cons is finally turning the public off, seeing through the veneer of victory, the cod-Churchillian "never surrender" stance that has become so wearisome. The state department's chief foreign affairs spin doctor, probably thinking that no one in the West would pay any attention to what he said to the Arab audience of al-Jazeera, admitted that America had been "arrogant and stupid." Richard Dannatt tells the truth to the Daily Mail, that British soldiers are only making the situation in southern Iraq worse, and finds that while he's praised by the rank and file on the ground who are willing to risk their lives for the folly of our leaders, that the leaders themselves and their alcoytes are in private demanding his head.

Political life has become so twisted that when a man from the army speaks from the heart, cutting through the layers and layers of Newspeak that has so defined this execrable debacle, that even the Guardian wonders whether his straight talk sets a dangerous precedent. On the contrary, if our military leaders had stood up to Blair, and had rejected Goldsmith's mendacious advice that war was legal after he was told to change his opinion, we would now not be in this mess.

Thankfully, the Guardian still does make the odd decent point in its leaders. While we all gaze at our navels and wonder what this means for our political masters, we've all forgotten about the Iraqis who are suffering so badly right now. The Independent reports that 1.6 million have fled Iraq. We witness the laughable appearance of Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, in Downing Street, talking in the exact same language that has become so tedious and self-serving, telling us that we must not "cut and run." The fact that opinion polls from Iraq show ever mounting numbers not just opposed but strongly opposed to the continued presence of troops isn't even whispered. The most distasteful thing about the Iraqi politicians is that most of them seem to be more concerned with their own political survival, just like they are here, than with actually reducing the violence which has killed around 43 Iraqis every single day this month. Saleh has been on-message to such an extent that it almost makes you wonder if someone has been coaching him in what to say, so as not to further embarrass the Dear Leader.

There does, however, finally, to be something approaching a proper debate of when and how we should get out. Kim Howells let slip that enough Iraqi security forces could be trained and operational within a year that we could finally get out. We shouldn't get overly optimistic about such estimates; the real arbiters in all of this are the Americans. As long as Blair remains, there is no chance of us leaving, his messianic fervour so strong and seemingly growing, that he would never turn his back on his brother Bush. Gordon Brown shows no signs of being any different, although there is always the suspicion that he is simply feathering his basket by paying lip service to the Blair line, rather than anger his opponents who will defend the legacy of their hero to the grave. Blunkett's revelations that Brown would have been sacked had he not came out in public in favour of the war, when it's well known that Brown did everything possible in cabinet to ignore all the talk on Iraq and not get drawn into either side of the debate, still reveal relatively little about his own beliefs on foreign policy.

The Liberal Democrats, after playing the game of being against the war yet still supporting the presence of UK troops, have decided it's time for a debate in parliament. Whether they're honest about the intentions of proper parliamentary procedure or just want to try and getting a few more points on their score in the polls by deciding to align themselves with what the public have long been in favour of is open to debate. What is obvious is the cowardice of the vast majority of politicians in not demanding the removal of troops far earlier. Their fear of Blair and the Scum calling them defeatists is exaggerated. Both are a busted flush over Iraq, if not domestically.

The British policy on Iraq is pretty much summed up by the head smashing inanity of Margaret Beckett, a woman so utterly out of her depth as foreign secretary that she makes Robin Cook and Jack Straw look like colossuses by comparison. Asked on the Today programme if she thought future historians would regard the Iraq invasion as a disaster she said:
"Yes, they may. Then again, they may not."

We can keep up the false pretence that our troops are actually helping to any extent in Iraq, watch the slaughter continue until it eventually reaches fever pitch, or we can get out if not now, then very very soon. Then again, we may not.

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