Thursday, March 09, 2006

Q and A

New Labour continues to protect our liberties. In normal circumstances I'd say "unbelievable". But these are most definitely not normal circumstances.

It's not even like the answers they give are in any way useful. The standard response to any question they don't like is the brush off. It hardly seems credible to suggest that it takes a great deal of time for MPs to regurgitate a few stock lines of meaningless drivel. Buff, of all MPs, ought to realise that.

Take yesterday's PMQs.
Harry Cohen: What action is being taken by UK forces in Iraq to end the activities of death squads associated with the Ministry of the Interior or others in authority; and if he will make a statement.

Tony Blair: We are working with the Iraqi Government at the highest level to investigate all allegations and bring to justice any individuals involved in human rights abuses.
A reasonable answer? Not if you've read the US State Department's assessment of Iraq in 2005. If you've read that, you'll know that they express grave concerns that these issues are not being investigated at all thoroughly.
During the year there were a number of deaths either at police hands or at the hands of militia members and criminals wearing police uniforms. For example, on May 5, the bodies of 16 Sunni farmers from Mada'in, detained by men wearing police uniforms, were found in a mass grave near Sadr City, an impoverished Shi'a neighborhood of Baghdad. They had been fatally shot in the head, and the corpses showed signs of torture. MOI officials promised an investigation into the killings, but no results were available at year's end.

On May 15, eyewitnesses said armed men in police uniforms took Sunni Council of Scholars (Ulema) member Sheikh Hassan al-Naimi from his Baghdad home. Several days later his body was found with a gunshot wound to the head and signs of torture with an electric drill. The MOI promised to conduct an investigation, but no results had been released by year's end.

On July 12, nine Sunni men suffocated after police locked them for several hours in a vehicle with no air-conditioning. Officials denied intentional wrongdoing, claiming lack of training in operation of the vehicle. No one was punished for this incident.

On August 24, during the early morning hours, men in commando uniforms driving police vehicles took 36 Sunnis from their homes in Baghdad's Al-Huriya neighborhood. The bodies of the men were found the following day near the Iranian border. MOI officials promised an investigation of the incident, but no results had been released at year's end.

There was no new information regarding the MOI investigation into the case of officers in the Basrah Police Internal Affairs Unit who were involved in the December 2004 killings of 10 members of the Ba'th Party and the killings of a mother and daughter accused of engaging in prostitution. Similarly, there was no new information regarding the October 2004 arrest, interrogation, and killing of 12 kidnappers of 3 police officers.
In the real world, Blair's answer is essentially meaningless. He cannot possibly provide solutions if he is unable to even admit that the problem exists.

Mr Cohen gets a follow up to his initial written question.
Harry Cohen: Has the Prime Minister taken into account the comments of John Pace, until recently the UN's head of human rights for Iraq, that most of the killings in Baghdad are carried out by agents of the Ministry of the Interior, and that that Ministry is a rogue element in the Government? ...Surely British troops were not sent to fight and die for such death squads' perversion of democracy?

Tony Blair: No, they certainly were not, but I have to say to my hon. Friend that the very reason why these issues are being investigated is our insistence that they should be investigated—a very different situation from that which obtained under Saddam Hussein, when there was no investigation and it was indeed the policy of the Government to kill, abuse and torture people. My hon. Friend asks why our troops are there; they are there for a very simple reason. They are there under a UN mandate with the consent of the first ever democratically elected Iraqi Government, and they are there to allow the wishes and will of 11 million Iraqis who have voted in an election for the first time to have the democracy that they want. That is why they are there.
The man, my prime minister, is a despicable prick. The activities of these death squads have not stopped, are in fact almost certainly increasing, and the perpetrators of the killings and the torture (more in the State department link) continue to operate with virtual immunity. Just saying that the problem is being adressed doesn't make it true.

And then there's the now standard accusation that anyone who questions the PMs handling of the situation in Iraq must be opposed to democracy. This goes hand in hand with the implication that those who criticise do not care about the "11 million Iraqis who have voted..." These disgraceful slurs against anyone with the audacity to raise a legitimate concern are almost exactly echoed in the reply I received from my MP with regard to EDM 1088. She won't sign it because she does "not feel that a further investigation of the issue would be beneficial to the people of Iraq". The implication is clear. Criticisms of the government's handling of Iraq is not beneficial to the Iraqi people.

There is no doubt that Blair's spin machine has decreed the standard position on this - any criticisms of the Iraq war are to be portrayed as criticisms of democracy and as harmful to the democratic will of the people of Iraq. This from the people who's incompetance has helped turn the country into the bloody nightmare it is today. It is a fatuous, cowardly, dishonest attempt to hide the many failings of their own policy.

You cannot make a situation better or learn from your mistakes if you absolutely refuse to acknowledge your mistakes or to investigate why they occurred. It is those who keep their heads stuck in the sand, who refuse to see the severity of the situation, who refuse to accept that the current policies are failing, who are letting down the people of Iraq.

And then there's this from Blair:
My hon. Friend asks why our troops are there; they are there for a very simple reason.
Instead of the intentionally disingenuous anwer he gave, perhaps he should have told the truth for once in his miserable life.
They're there because I sent them there. I sent them there to deal with a threat which didn't actually exist. I claimed that we had conclusive evidence which proved that the threat existed while knowing full well that we did not. Then I exaggerated the size of the alleged threat, all the while claiming that its existence was indisuptable. I sent the troops in to deal with that non-existent threat without even beginning to grasp the enormity of the challenge they would face when they got there.

And now they're stuck there. The country is unstable, , it's on the verge of civil war, militias and death squads roam the streets unopposed, the wider region may become affected, and we've got no idea how we're going to get them out. That is why they are there.
In the real world, Blair, the prick, wouldn't even think about telling the truth though. He must be held to account.

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