In the run-up to war, as the British were going through the motions of getting a second resolution through the UN Security Council, there was much speculation as to how the 6 non-permanent members of that body would vote. So high was the interest in this question on the part of the U.S. and British governments that a covert operation was launched to discover what the so-called Middle Six delegations were up to and to head off any compromise proposal.
The details of the U.S./UK espionage operation were exposed last March by the brave (and beautiful!) Katharine Gun, a former employee of the Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, Tony Blair’s eavesdropping center. She faces up to two years in jail for leaking this memo from National Security Agency honcho Frank Koza to NSA personnel and “a friendly foreign intelligence agency,” (i.e., British spooks). The memo describes a “surge” in surveillance efforts “against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters.”
Mexican and Chilean officials are now revealing that a secret meeting, held at the United Nations, where such a proposal was discussed, was bugged, along with the phones used by diplomats. The Guardian reports:
“A joint British and American spying operation at the United Nations scuppered a last-ditch initiative to avert the invasion of Iraq, The Observer can reveal. The former Mexican ambassador to the UN, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, told The Observer that US officials intervened last March, just days before the war against Saddam was launched, to halt secret negotiations for a compromise resolution to give weapons inspectors more time to complete their work. Aguilar Zinser claimed that the intervention could only have come as a result of surveillance of a closed diplomatic meeting where the compromise was being hammered out. He said it was clear the Americans knew about the confidential discussions in advance.”
We had yet to get our capitals to go along with it, it was at a very early stage. Only the people in the room knew what the document said. The surprising thing was the very rapid flow of information to [US] quarters. The meeting was in the evening and they call us in the morning before the meeting of the Security Council and they say, ‘We appreciate you trying to find ideas, but this is not a good idea.’ I say, ‘Thanks, that’s good to know.’ We were looking for a compromise and they [the US] say, ‘Do not attempt it.'”
You’ll remember that, in order to make the war more palatable to his clearly reluctant countrymen, and his own balking Labor Party, Blair made quite a show of trying to intercede on behalf of those UN Security Council members who wanted to give the invasion the stamp of legality, vowing to craft an acceptable resolution. But that was a lie .
Now we find out that Blair and his ministers were actually trying to undercut efforts at a compromise, because it would have given UN weapons inspectors more time to find out the truth: that Saddam didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction. The rush to war would have been aborted if the War Party hadn’t moved quickly to quash the last hope of peace.
“If the allegations that these operations had ministerial authority are well-founded, then it could hardly be more serious for the Government. There will be understandable uproar at the UN. On the other hand, if the eavesdropping took place without Ministers knowing, then the question is, who was in charge?'”
Charged with violation of the Official Secrets Act the British version of the U.S. “Patriot” Act Ms. Gun, a 29-year-old Chinese language specialist, will have her trial in the fall. Her defense will be to put this illegal war on trial.
Far from betraying her country’s secrets, Ms. Gun is a British patriot who exposed the extent to which Blair has been willing to subordinate his country’s interests to the wishes of his American masters. Even the usually brain-dead Tories, who have long since given up the idea of British sovereignty, must be outraged at this incident, which shows that Bush’s poodle is just as big a liar as his master in Washington.
It is so typical of the War Party to create and then deplore what the neocons call “anti-Americanism” blaming those who are justifiably outraged by the U.S. government’s highhandedness as if they are responsible. But this is all part of the dialectic, as anticipated by our proud unilateralists: the more the neocons can drive U.S. policy in the direction of pigheaded unreasonableness, the more they can provoke the Europeans into reacting against it. In the end, their dire warnings of an “anti-American” upsurge in Europe become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This has certain political benefits at home, where the campaign to stoke anti-French sentiment has been fairly successful in appealing to ignoramuses from coast to coast: every war hysteria needs a hate object, and the addition of the Europeans to Arab Muslims gives the neocon hate campaign a more inclusive, multi-cultural air.
Great Britain has never been a free country, and today it is less so than ever. Omnipresent cameras record the moves of ordinary people in an Orwellian society where anything dubbed “hate speech” is outlawed, along with speech that exposes the mendacity of the all-powerful Big Brother Blair. It is a country where the columnist Taki Theodoracopoulos is “investigated” and threatened for writing a newspaper column that did not fit into the proper boundaries of political correctness; where the libel laws are so stacked against the defendant that even the renown terrorist supporter and war profiteer Richard Perle can confidently threaten to take a journalist to court there for exposing his sleazy machinations to public view.
Under Britain’s Official Secrets Act, the government can quash any speech, and hold any person indefinitely, for breaching the citadel of government “official secrets,” i.e., anything that might harm the interests of those in power. There is no British Bill of Rights, no formal legal basis to oppose such tyranny nothing but the unbroken spirit and sheer orneriness of the British people which is, come to think of it, not an inconsiderable factor.
Gun’s defense could be a replay of the case of Clive Ponting, a British official at the Ministry of Defense who gave a Member of Parliament documents proving that Maggie Thatcher and her ministers lied to Parliament about details of when and where the Argentinian ship General Belgrano was sunk during the Falklands War. As Time magazine points out, “Ponting confessed, and the judge virtually ordered the jury to convict, but they honored his act of conscience and acquitted him.”
It’s funny how events on one side of the Atlantic have their mirror image on the other: while the trial of Katharine Gun is going on in London, another sort of trial may be in progress in Washington, only this time it will be the War Party that’s in the dock.
Yes, I’m talking about the trial of whoever “outed” undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband’s very effective and high-profile opposition to the Iraq war. Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson was sent to Africa to investigate “intelligence” that the Iraqis were trying to procure uranium in the African nation of Niger, as Bush claimed in the infamous “16 words” of his 2003 State of the Union address. It was bogus, from top to bottom, and based on a crude forgery, to boot that’s what Wilson said, in public and in print, and the War Party struck back by “outing” his wife, telling Robert Novak, among others, that it was the wife who ensured his mission to Niger. Now the investigation into who related Plame’s job description to the media is before a grand jury, and, as the Financial Times reports:
“Washington is alive with talk that [the White House] is readying for another assault on its integrity: indictments from the CIA leak investigation.”
The investigation has focused on Dick Cheney’s office. One-by-one, aides to the Vice President have filed in to testify before the grand jury: Mary Matalin, Cheney’s former press secretary, now advising the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, deputy press secretary Claire Buchan, and Adam Levine, who previously worked in the White House communications site. According to the Financial Times:
“There have also been ‘tip-offs’ that indictments are in the offing. The names are circulating of senior staff in Mr Cheney’s office.”
Which means You-Know-Who is in prosecutors’ sights.
Who lied us into war and why? That is the question Iraq war revisionists have been asking since before the first shots were fired, and now the rest of the country and the whole world is asking it. The answers will be found in these twin trials, where the illegal and unethical machinations of the American government and their British enablers will be exposed for all to see. If Katharine Gun is convicted, and Scooter Libby & Co. go free, then what is this great “democracy” we are trying to export to the rest of the world and what is it worth?
You can send a message to Tony Blair demanding an end to the prosecution of Katharine Gun. A letter addressed to the Prime Minister at: 10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA, Great Britain.
Or send a fax to him at:
(preceded by 011 from the U.S.)
Or at 020-7925-0918 from within the United Kingdom. This will have the biggest effect, but you can also send an electronic message to Blair at: http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page4345.asp
Send copies of your message to the Department of Constitutional Affairs: firstname.lastname@example.org
To Gun’s former employer, the Government Communications Headquarters: email@example.com
To the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.: firstname.lastname@example.org
And to Gun herself at: KatharineG@liberty-human-rights.org.uk
The campaign to exonerate Katharine Gun is vitally important, because, as Daniel Ellsberg pointed out:
“Those who reveal documents on the scale necessary to return foreign policy to democratic control risk prosecution and prison sentences, as Katherine Gun is now facing. I faced 12 felony counts and a possible sentence of 115 years; the charges were dismissed when it was discovered that White House actions aimed at stopping further revelations of administration lying had included criminal actions against me. Exposing governmental lies carries a heavy personal risk, even in our democracies. But that risk can be worthwhile when a war’s-worth of lives is at stake.”
Government whistleblowers have a key function in a democratic republic, and in America they are supposedly protected by law, albeit inconsistently. In Great Britain, however, which is fast descending into the morass of soft totalitarianism, there are no similar constitutional guarantees. I am glad to see that Liberty, the British organization of civil libertarians, is taking up Ms. Gun’s cause, along with a number of prominent American liberals, including the actor Sean Penn. Now is the time for British conservatives and libertarians to join in the campaign to Free Katharine Gun and free England from the grip of an increasingly authoritarian form of socialism.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
“Like Whitman said [roughly], ‘Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself’. And like Sgt. Slaughter said, ‘I want my country back.’ More selfishly speaking, I’m in Florida in 2004 ‘Ground Zero’ in the election campaign. I should be positioned to do important writing as the year progresses. There is no way I’m going to piss away that opportunity for a ‘guaranteed spot’ on a sinking ship like the antiwar movement. Like Nixon said, all success comes from risk. I took risks when opposing the war, changing the position was also a risk, and no matter what happens, I’ll be fine and true to my convictions.”
The question is: what convictions? That’s what they wanted to know over at Free Republic.com, bastion of Bushian Republicanism, where one poster commented:
“This guy has all the intellectual steadiness of a pinball. Welcome to our side…I guess.”
Another Freeper quipped:
“This moronic, over-wrought, over-wordy rant makes listening to Aunt Margaret’s hour long discourse over why she left her first husband thirty years ago seem positively riveting. No wonder he gets $25 per article. With this guy’s inability to be concise, he’s working for about .0000000025 per word.”
I want to wish “The Ganc” as we used to call him around the Antiwar.com office the best of luck with his new “friends” because it looks like he’ll be needing it.
As his new best buddy, David Horowitz, has discovered, nobody likes a turncoat: such people are never trusted. While Gancarski’s pro-war epiphany coincided with the announcement that he hopes to be writing more articles for Horowitz’s Frontpagemag.com, it seems like only yesterday that he was penning paeans to none other than Noam Chomsky, Horowitz’s favorite hate object and deriding the voluble ex-Commie-turn-professional witch-hunter as a “Likudnik shill.” I can hardly wait to read The Ganc-ster’s public recantation.
Speaking of the unspeakable, Don Imus will be changing the name of his program to “Anus in the Morning,” or at least that’s the fate he’d suffer in a rational world. In our Bizarro World, however, where up is down and evil is virtuous, this radio blabbermouth can spew vitriol about death of 43 passengers in the crash of an Iranian airliner, as he did on February 10, 2004:
“When I hear stories like that, I think ‘who cares?'”
What should happen to him is that, whenever anyone hears the grating, leering, drunken-sounding voice of Don Imus especially in the morning! they automatically think “who cares?” and switch to another station.
But here’s what gets me: They’re going after Janet Jackson for baring her baubled tit, but the moral obscenity uttered by Imus is not even noticed. Not that the government has any business punishing either of them: the point is that, in any case, we have the power, as consumers, to inflict far more punishment on assorted idiots than the FCC, for all Chairman Powell’s blustering, could ever hope to get away with. The market rules: the government only pretends to.