CIWI Bulletin #9
9 May 2014
Dear members, supporters, readers and well-wishers,
Welcome to the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry bulletin.
In this edition:
-Correspondence with the Foreign Minister
-Response from Defence Minister
-‘Blair should be prosecuted for war crimes – not just judged by history’
-Cameron calls for Chilcot to be published
-Chilcot will not be “very kind” to Blair
-‘Publish Chilcot now’ says Defence Secretary
-Condoleezza Rice backs out of Rutgers speech over Iraq
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Correspondence with the Foreign Minister
CIWI recently responded to a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on behalf of the Foreign Minister in response to our letter to MPs on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. You can read DFAT’s letter here, and our response here.
Excerpt from DFAT’s letter: “Questions relating to Australia’s role in the war were examined by the predecessor to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, in its 2004 report Inquiry into Intelligence on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. The report of the subsequent Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies, also in 2004, contains a rigorous analysis of intelligence and decision-making related to Iraq.
“The Government is committed to strengthening its bilateral relationship with Iraq, focussing on commercial engagement in areas including agriculture, resources, education and health.”
Excerpt from CIWI’s response: “I must say on behalf of our organisation’s members that we are surprised and disappointed that you as Foreign Minister would be so dismissive of the suggestion that the Australian Government, like the Government of the United Kingdom, should convene an inquiry to discover the lessons to be learned from the as yet unclear processes that led Australia to become involved in a war that was both illegal and based, at least publicly, on the premise widely understood to be false at the time, that Iraq was in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
“We are equally disappointed that the reply on your behalf was silent on the matter of the reform of the so-called “war powers”. We believe that Australian Governments owe it both to the young Australian men and women who might be placed in harm’s way, and to the wider Australian public, to ensure that any deployment decisions involving international armed conflict are made only upon the most robust and transparent basis, and our principal motivation in calling for an inquiry into the decision making processes leading up to the Iraq deployment was the hope and expectation that this inquiry would make recommendations for a more robust decision-making process in the future."
Response from Defence Minister
CIWI has received a letter from the Minister for Defence in response to our letter to MPs on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. You can see the response, as well as other correspondence, on the blog.
Excerpt: “Questions relating to the decision to send the Australian Defence Force to Iraq have previously been examined by Parliamentary inquiries. On 1 March 2004, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and the Defence Signals Directorate tabled a report on the Intelligence on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. The 2004 Flood Report on Australian Intelligence Agencies included intelligence in relation to Iraq. Separately, thorough inquiries into the conduct of the Australian Defence Force, with particular reference to detainee management, were held in 2004 and 2005.
“As such, I do not consider a further review or inquiry into Australia’s military commitment to the war in Iraq is required. I also note the previous Australian Government’s stated position that an inquiry into the Iraq War was not required. Australia is committed to a long-term partnership with the Iraqi Government to help build a secure and prosperous future for Iraq. The Government continues to work with the Iraqi Armed Forces through our Defence Cooperation Program, which provides officer training and English language training.
“In relation to your suggestion for reforming the ‘war power’, you may find the article, Parliamentary involvement in declaring war and deploying forces overseas, a useful summary of relevant issues. This article outlines relevant domestic and Constitutional provisions and considers the role of the Australian Parliament when there is a declaration of war by Australia." Article available here.
'Blair should be prosecuted for war crimes – not just judged by history'
Twiggy Garcia writes in the Guardian:
“Personally, I would like to see Blair brought to account for his actions while he is alive. That will send a clear message to any future politicians, both in the UK and abroad, helping to avoid another illegal misguided foray and the loss of innocent lives. Between 500,000 and 1 million people have lost their lives in Iraq (depending on which reports you believe), and with sectarian violence showing no signs of slowing down, the death toll is still on the rise.
“The sword of Damocles is hanging over Tony Blair's head in the form of Sir John Chilcot's Iraq inquiry report, which unsurprisingly has faced long delays. It is going to tell the story of, what is in my mind, the most catastrophic foreign policy decision since 1956, when former British prime minister Anthony Eden misled parliament and the British public and lied to the world during the Suez crisis. Eden and Blair share several similarities: both willing to sacrifice our troops and the innocent lives of civilians in the Middle East for oil, regime change and imperialist gain.”
Cameron calls for Chilcot to be published
The British PM wants the Chilcot report to be published by the end of the year:
“David Cameron has demanded that the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war be published as fears grow that it will not be released until after next year's election.
“Mr Cameron’s intervention will put pressure on Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, who has been accused of trying to delay its publication due to likely criticisms it will contain about his handling of the conflict.
“Senior Government sources say that the Prime Minister has told Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, who is overseeing the report that his patience is wearing thin. He has asked that the report be published before Christmas recess at the end of the year.”
Chilcot will not be “very kind” to Blair
The Independent reports:
“A government defence minister has warned that the inquiry into the war in Iraq will not be “very kind” to Tony Blair.
“Andrew Murrison, Minister for International Security, today said that the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War should be released as soon as possible.
“"I don’t think it’s going to be very kind to Tony Blair, I don’t think it can be given his involvement in this in 2003," he told The Huffington Post. “I’m not clear why it hasn’t been published already. It is not clear why such an inquiry should take quite so long.”
“Mr Murrison added that he would be “disappointed” if the inquiry’s chairman, Sir John Chilcot, was “succumbing to pressure” to delay publication from Tony Blair.
“But he added: "Nothing that I've seen of Chilcot would lead me to suggest he would be any way influenced by pressure."”
Secretary of Defence: Publish Chilcot now
British Secretary of State Philip Hammond says the Chilcot report should be published as soon as possible:
“The official report in the Iraq War should be published as soon as possible, the defence secretary has said.
“Philip Hammond said he wanted the report by Sir John Chilcot made public soon, despite the fact that it will embarrass the Ministry of Defence.
“Questioned about the publication date for the report – which is already two years late – Mr Hammond said: “I should like to see it published as soon as possible.
“"The MoD recognises there will be some lessons for MoD in the report – but let’s get on with this thing.
“It doesn’t do great credit to the process and the system to have the active part of the inquiry conclude and then a very long period before the report is published. So I would like to see it published.””
Condoleezza Rice backs out of Rutgers speech over Iraq
The Guardian reports:
“Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser and secretary of state under George W Bush, has backed out of delivering a commencement address at Rutgers University, after protests by faculty and students over her role in the Iraq War.”
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The views expressed in this bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (Inc). Readers should note that the Campaign for an Iraq war Inquiry (Inc) seeks a diversity of views and opinions in order to identify common ground.