Thursday, July 07, 2016

Morning Star Reports and Editorials: Make This Terrorist Stand Trial
by Will Stone in Britain
Morning Star

Families give their verdict on Iraq inquiry

“TERRORIST” Tony Blair must be sent to court for taking us into the Iraq war, families of soldiers killed by the former PM’s drive for war said yesterday in the wake of the Chilcot report.

Grieving mothers, fathers, partners and other relatives of some of the 179 British troops who died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq broke down in tears on reading the Chilcot report.

They were given an early glimpse of the long-awaited 2.6 million word tome, which has taken seven years to complete.

Ronnie Barker, whose son Private Lee Ellis died in 2006, said: “We went in thinking it was going to be a whitewash but I actually cried.”

Mr Ellis was 23 when he was killed by a roadside bomb along with Captain Richard John Holmes when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off under their vehicle.

The Chilcot report found the vehicle they were travelling in “not fit for purpose.”

Ms Barker said she “would like to see Tony Blair sent to court.”

Sir John Chilcot heavily criticised Mr Blair for committing to backing US president George Bush over Iraq.

He found several military operations were “hastily prepared,” leading to equipment shortages.

The report also found that vehicles were too lightly armoured and ill-equipped to deal with roadside bombs, responsible for killing many soldiers.

Military Families Against the War co-founder Rose Gentle, whose 19-year-old son Gordon was killed while travelling in a Snatch Land Rover, said: “I hope he (Blair) goes to his bed and thinks: ‘What the hell have I done?’ Because he will never be forgiven.

“He will be remembered not as a prime minister but as a person who sent them on an illegal war.

“I would love to see him in court.”

Roger Bacon’s son Major Matthew Bacon also died in a Snatch Land Rover that was hit by an IED.

He said: “Never again must so many mistakes be allowed to sacrifice British lives and lead to the destruction of a country for no positive end.

“We were proud when our husbands, sons and daughters signed up to serve our country. But we cannot be proud of the way our government has treated them.”

He said the families reserved the right “to call specific parties to answer for their actions in the courts.”

Sarah O’Connor, whose brother Bob died when a military plane was shot down near Baghdad in 2005, branded Mr Blair a “terrorist.”

And Reg Keys, whose military policeman son Tom “died in vain,” said it was clear that the prime minister “deliberately misled” the country.

But the report stopped short from commenting on the legality of the decision to go to war.

Shadow leader of the Commons Paul Flynn said there “should be serious consideration to [Blair] being prosecuted.”

He told BBC Daily Politics: “I think that the important issue here is that it is not just one individual, Parliament’s on trial.

“It wasn’t just Tony Blair, it was most of the Labour backbenchers, it was all of the Tory backbenchers — except half a dozen.”

Mr Blair said he accepts “full responsibility” and apologised for the decision to go to war in Iraq.

The families’ lawyer, Matthew Jury, said: “In the coming days and weeks, the families will undertake a full and forensic review of the report’s content and conclusions.

“If state officials are determined to have acted unlawfully or in excess of their powers then the families will then decide on whether to take any necessary and appropriate action at the proper time.
All options will be considered.”

Blair Damned

by Luke James in Britain

AFTER SEVEN LONG YEARS, full verdict of chilcot NAILS former British pm

TONY BLAIR took Britain into war in Iraq before all “peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted,” Sir John Chilcot said yesterday in the damning conclusion to his seven-year inquiry.

Campaigners frustrated by continued delays of the publication date had feared the final report could be an “Establishment whitewash” absolving Blair of major failings.

But the 2.6 million word report finally presented in London, to an audience which included families of the 179 British service people killed, was scathing about decisions taken by both the former PM and military commanders.

Speaking at the QE II conference hall where the inquiry had been held, Sir John said he found “military action at that time was not a last resort” and Saddam Hussein posed “no imminent threat” at the time of the invasion.

The report tore apart the credibility of the evidence of Iraq’s nuclear capabilities which were provided by the security services and said it was presented to Parliament “with a certainty that was not justified.”

The last Labour government’s policy on Iraq was made on the basis of “flawed intelligence and assessments,” he concluded.

The report confirmed that Blair had told former US president George W Bush: “I will be with you whatever” before “undermining the (UN)security council’s authority” by taking military action without the support of all members.

Sir John suggests generously that Blair “overestimated his ability to influence US decisions on Iraq.”

Blair expressed “sorrow, regret and apology” as he held court with the press for two hours after the report’s publication.

But he insisted he had done the “right thing” and said the world was a “better place” without Saddam Hussein.

While Blair accepted the report contained “serious criticisms,” he said it showed Parliament was not misled, there was no secret commitment to war, intelligence was not falsified and the decision was made in “good faith.”

But University of Westminster academic Dr Aidan Hehir describes his record of events as “preposterous” and said he was “engaged in wilful deception” at the time.

Green MP Caroline Lucas went further, saying he “lied to Parliament and the public to invade Iraq.”

And Stop the War said: “It is clear that he used lies and deception to get his way, that the war was unnecessary and illegal and that everything was done to ensure it went ahead.”

The report also criticised the Ministry of Defence for being too slow to respond to the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to troops and in supplying better-protected patrol vehicles.

The consequences of the invasion were “underestimated” and the preparation for Iraq after deposing the dictator were “were wholly inadequate,” it added.

In summary, Sir John said: “The government failed to achieve its stated objectives.”

‘Labour Has To Kick Out Blair’

by Lamiat Sabin in Britain

Stop the War leader’s stark message to party

TONY BLAIR should be forced out of the Labour Party following the Chilcot Inquiry’s scathing assessment of his involvement in the Iraq invasion, an anti-war group said yesterday after paying respects to dead soldiers.

The names of dead service people were read out by activists in Westminster, shouted over the constantly ringing bells of Westminster Abbey, until minutes before the Chilcot report was made available to the world.

Stop the War Coalition (STWC) activists announced the names of 179 British soldiers and some of the countless Iraqi civilians who died as a result of the decision of George Bush and Tony Blair, while protesters stood in silence before chanting “Blair lied, thousands died.”

The “naming the dead” ceremony was held outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, where families of slain personnel were given early access to the summary and 2.6 million-word report.

StWc convener Lindsey German said Blair should be “driven out” of Labour for sending the military over to obliterate Iraq alongside US forces, without even a solid basis for doing so.

He used lies and deception to get his “unnecessary and illegal war,” she added.

Ms German gave the crowd an early tip-off from a trusted source about how serious the revelations in the report would turn out to be.

Many commentators said prior to the publication that it would “whitewash” the involvement of Blair — who is also a former Middle East “peace envoy” — but that turned out to not be the case.

She said: “This is an incredibly damning report for Tony Blair. It will not call for legal sanctions but it says that Blair is culpable for the war in many ways.

“He needs to be driven out of public life. He is still part of the Labour Party. We need to make sure that truth and justice prevails. There must be legal action against Blair and he should no longer be considered fit for any office.”

CND general secretary Kate Hudson added: “The report shows that Tony Blair had no respect for cabinet procedure, no respect for Parliament, and no respect for international law.

“Chilcot reveals the evidence that must now be used to bring Tony Blair to justice. This is our demand. Only when justice is served can we prevent disasters like the Iraq war ever happening again.”

The use of Ireland’s Shannon airport for the Iraq war was immoral and unjustified. Not only did this contravene our stance as a neutral nation, but it also facilitated death, destruction, and destabilisation in the Middle East - Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan

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