The Archbishop, Oedipus, and the Golden Ass

The British Labour Party is in the process of rehabilitating Tony Blair. In my latest for Al Jazeera, I follow Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s shot across the bow with one of my own, presenting irrefutable evidence of exactly what Blair knew before he joined Bush’s war against Iraq.

It is a fact that by early 2003, British intelligence had established that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction or a weapons programme. In several secret meetings in Amman with Iraqi intelligence chief Tahir Jalil al-Habbush, the head of MI6 for the Middle East Michael Shipster had already received detailed reports on the absence of Iraq’s weapons.

This story was confirmed by former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove to Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Ron Suskind who recounts it in considerable detail in his book The Way of the World. According to Dearlove, the meetings happened with the full knowledge of Bush, Cheney, George Tenet and Tony Blair. After the war, Suskind reveals, Habbush was resettled by the CIA and paid $5 million in hush-money to prevent him from undermining the official narrative.

The second claim – that Saddam had to be removed because he was a murderous dictator – would be less incredible if the person making it were not Tony Blair. Blair’s affinity for tyrants is well-documented. His cozy relations with Muammar Gaddafi are well-known; and it has now emerged that at the time Blair was contemplating war on Iraq, he was also considering a knighthood for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

You can read the rest here.

Drones: the west’s new terror campaign

by Clive Stafford Smith

Living Under Drones, a new report from Stanford and New York universities, was a difficult piece of fieldwork – I was with the law students in Peshawar as they tried to interview victims of the CIA’s drone war. But it has made an important contribution to the drone debate by identifying the innocent victims of the CIA’s reign of terror: the entire civilian population of Waziristan (roughly 800,000 people).

Until now, the most heated dispute has revolved around how many drone victims in the Pakistan border region are dangerous extremists, and how many children, women or men with no connection to any terrorist group. I have been to the region, and have a strong opinion on this point – but until the area is opened up to media inspection, or the CIA releases the tapes of each hellfire missile strike, the controversy will rage on.

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Living Under Drones

An important new report from the Stanford and New York University law schools finds drone use has caused widespread post-tramatic stress disorder and an overall breakdown of functional society in North Waziristan. In addition, the report finds the use of a “double tap” procedure, in which a drone strikes once and strikes again not long after, has led to deaths of rescuers and medical professionals. Follow the conversation #UnderDrones

Don’t miss Glenn Greenwald’s commentary on the report.

Does the whistleblower reward threaten banking secrecy?

In this month’s TaxCast: A whistleblower reward threatens banking secrecy – where will the money go next? Bangladesh considers expanding a regressive VAT tax and Professor Prem Sikka on the neglected role of the Big Four accountancy firms aka the ‘pin-stripe mafia.’

Produced by the Tax Justice Network, the show is hosted  by Naomi Fowler. Each 15 minute podcast follows the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The show features discussions with experts in the field to help analyse the top stories each month.

Save the Children in Za’atari Camp

Save the Children has released a report on the suffering of Syria’s children, based mainly on interviews with children in Jordan’s very basic Za’atari refugee camp. The Guardian reports on it here. I contributed to a discussion of the report on the BBC World Service’s World Have Your Say programme. My interjections come between thirteen and seventeen minutes.

The Spanish Earth

The classic 1937 film, written and narrated by Ernest Hemingway.

This documentary film uses footage of war and glimpses of rural Spanish life in its portrayal of the struggle of the Spanish Republican government against a rebellion by right-wing forces led by General Francisco Franco and backed by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. The film was written by Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos (among others) and was narrated by Hemingway.

Orson Welles on McCarthyism, Hemingway, Bullfighting and much else

Michael Parkinson of the BBC interviews the great Orswon Welles (1974). (He speaks about Hemingway around 15:00)

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