The Prosecution Rests Its Weak Case After a Double Take
Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation of America's case for war against Iraq was moving, scaring, compelling and utterly unconvincing! At least if you switched on your brain and opened your eyes. Or remembered who the man is making the case! In this case the prosecutor has been involved in more wars and is responsible for more deaths than is the accused Saddam Hussein. But Powell was very professional. Had the surroundings been a bit different it could have been old P.T. Barnum trying to trick people into parting with good money to see a freak show.
When analysing the credibility of the evidence put forward by Colin Powell at the UN's Security Council on Wednesday, 5th of February, we have to bear a few things in mind. The prosecutor works for the only man since Hitler who can be imagined to have sleepless nights for fear he will NOT get his war. The prosecutor's record regarding respect for human life have been demonstrated to be on par with the accused and his reputation for integrity and honesty demonstrate the urgent need for those words to be completely redefined.
The Iraq-prosecutor has worked under the presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr, Bill Clinton and now George W. Bush, all the time working hard to rise in rank by unquestioning loyalty to his superiors whatever the damage to truth, justice or people. He helped cover up the slaughter at My Lai and he was deeply involved in the terrorist activities of the Phoenix program in Vietnam. He had an important role in the Iran-Contras scandal and suffered amnesia in the following hearings to the degree that his testimony was "I don't remember" or "I don't recall" fifty-six (56) times. Mr. Powell engineered the war on Panama 1989 in total disregard of international law and as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he was one of the architects of the Gulf war 1991, where an overwhelming force pounded an already war-torn country to into submission and in doing so violated the Geneva convention and exterminated up to 300,000 people.
The Speech and the Damning Evidence:
Mr. Powell's presentation of the collected evidence against Saddam Hussein's regime was passionate. He made the case for war in the convincing tone usually employed by commercials for toothpaste or toilet-cleaners. Or Clark Gable trying to persuade the female lead to marry him. For different purposes one can imagine. The American prosecutor's compassion for the Iraqi people and their suffering under Saddam Hussein would, however, feel slightly more honest if he himself wasn't one of the men behind the sanctions that to date kill Iraqi men, women and children at a rate of around 100,000 a year since 1991.
When examining the evidence presented by Mr. Powell we may remind ourselves that the taped conversations between Iraqi officers may not be of the date stated. And they may be between other persons. They may even be manufactured by CIA for all we know - we remember other doctored evidence in the history of that agency. If the tapes are what the prosecutor claims, they are at most circumstantial and prove little taken out of context. Perhaps, knowing that US snoops on everything, a few junior officers even decided to tease the NSA some evening when they (and probably the NSA-guys as well) felt bored?
The satellite-pictures can be interpreted in many ways and they too may not have been taken at the dates claimed, or even in Iraq and they may be doctored to give the impression of, if not a smoking gun, at least a fly-swatter. We have only Powell's words that US "knows". The words of the man who knew nothing at the Iran-Contra hearings and knew nothing about My Lai.
The "human resources" intelligence comes from defectors and informers, people whose information may net them more rewards from the US the more damning their information is. When such people accuse their former masters it's like a member of one drug operation accusing another gang of criminal activities. Some come from "other intelligence services" and may be as credible as the CIA's have been demonstrated to be sometimes. And any information that might have been gathered from the prisoners at the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay after mistreatment, threats and coercion can hardly be of the dignity to base a devastating war on 20 million people.
The links to Al Qaeda are of the sort that hangs on the thin thread of Powell's integrity that went out the window after My Lai. Even British SIS has leaked that Al Qaeda-connections can't be proven with the possible exception of links to north-eastern Kurdish areas outside of Hussein's control where, coincidentally, US forces are already present.
If by facts we mean solid evidence, impossible to misinterpret and corroborated by independent experts, there was nothing in the Iraq-case and the "disturbing patterns of behavior" we were promised to hear about could apply to US with no less fit. Many statements by Powell were half-truths, suppositions, assertions, CIA-claims, defector's tales and conjectures based on hearsay or wishful thinking. One big lie also slipped by when Powell accused "...in the history of chemical warfare, no country has had more battlefield experience with chemical weapons since World War I than Saddam Hussein's Iraq". Clearly Powell forgot the 19 million tons of Agent Orange, a herbicide containing deadly dioxin, that the US sprayed over large areas of Vietnam and which after decades still kills and result in deformed babies.
- Excellent performance
- Good dramaturgy, nice setting, serious faces.
- Well rehearsed, good pictures, entertaining tapes.
- Diction clear and war-wish almost concealed.
- Minus for the Dracula look-alike Negroponte behind Powell to the right.
- Contents the same old rehash that has been playing before at many stages but this time without the incubator ploy.
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Very possible Iraq has some old rockets, warheads, chemicals and bio-material and there must be some papers from the nuclear programs of the 80s and outdated rests. Powell should know! His country sold a lot of it. And, in the way of all dictatorships as well as the US, Iraq might now and then be slightly reluctant to give anything up that can cause death and destruction, or can be sold to make a buck and help spread destruction worldwide. Iraq may for all we know go on with the chemical and biological production to a certain extent but Powell's presentation failed miserably to convince anybody that such is the case. (The only way, btw, to avoid being attacked these days seem to be to have weapons dangerous enough to scare a potential attacker off. (Compare North Korea!) As pretexts for the demolition of a country the "evidence" laid before us would not even fool a Texas jury. The weapons inspections can continue and must, and perhaps US would be good enough in future to share ALL their information immediately and directly with the inspectors of UNMOVIC! Talk about pro-active cooperation! US does pro-active uncooperation!
That the Iraqi regime has no regard for human life and is as nasty as they come is no news, at least not to the present Iraq-prosecutor. For most of Mr. Powell's career the Iraq regime has been a close ally to US in spite of the well known tyranny. The interesting thing is that the transformation from friend to foe also changed the known nasty behaviour from acceptable to murderously evil and the now doubly war-torn country from a pushover to a world-threatening menace. Mr. Powell obviously forgot to explain how this amazing metamorphosis came about. Perhaps we'll hear it in his next presentation!
Absent, too, from the prosecutor's speech for war was how Saddam Hussein's regime once come to power, who started him out on his WMD odyssey and kept supplying and supporting him for years, even after "he gassed his own people" in Halabya and his (and US') enemies in Iran. And which countries do still go on selling the illegal stuff? Since governments, including the prosecutor's own, consider the pushers and peddlers of illegal substances to be much worse criminals than the addicts desperate for them, perhaps Mr. Powell could have enlightened us more about the eleven countries who he claimed to have sold the high-spec aluminum tubing or the countries who sold Saddam chemicals, anthrax and advanced engineering in years gone by. And since Al Qaeda as usual was used to whip up support for war he might at the same time have informed the world community about who once upon a time funded, trained and armed Bin Laden and his fanatics in Afghanistan.
But, after all we were lucky that Mr. Powell didn't give us proof of American capacity in the Weapons of Mass Destruction area and how the US tries to develop such weapons on ever deadlier levels. Such a presentation would have lasted well into the summer months. If he would have added his own country's illegal involvement in assassinations, destabilizations, aggression and wars he would be talking and showing his slides well into 2004!
Oh yes, Powell forgot one more thing! The little word "OIL", the most important motive for war, was screaming out its absence!
As for Bush's retake one day later, it was so identical it could have been a comedy act. With no straight man!