Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 06:41 am
It's an interesting cosmology.

Clinton as anti-Christ. Hilary as Ms aunty-Christ. Monica as Innocence Fallen. Cigar...well, that's too obvious.
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Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 06:46 am
Holy smoke?
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Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 07:13 am you think it was lit?
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Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 07:13 am
...could she, perhaps, puff out those lazy little smoke rings?
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Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 07:19 am
Moi? Don't smoke.
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Reply Thu 13 May, 2004 12:14 am
Bush & Blair knew re prison abuse for 2 years
Sunday Herald - 09 May 2004
Bush and Blair say they are shocked by the abuse of war prisoners ... but they knew about it two years ago
String of reports warned of widespread torture by troops dating back to Afghanistan
By James Cusick, Westminster Editor

THE US and British governments have received Red Cross reports "month after month" since the declared end of the Iraq war a year ago, detailing the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners.
Yet, with report after report piling up on their desks, President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair chose to say nothing in public to condemn what they knew in private.

The acknowledgement of the torture and mistreatment of Iraqis has only been made by Bush and Blair since the broadcast and publication in the past 10 days of pictures depicting horrific abuse. They have now offered public apologies.

Despite Bush attempting to portray himself as ill-informed of the true extent of the abuse and torture, the White House has been fully aware for the past year of the violations of the Geneva Convention committed by its personnel in Iraq.

Since April 2003, US authorities in Baghdad have got monthly reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

A senior source at the ICRC said: "It doesn't matter which report it was, we had been telling the US and UK authorities in Baghdad for over a year about the scale of this [abuse and torture] problem. They had been given 10 or more reports. All detailed the same findings. They knew this had been going on for a year."

Paul Bremer, the US governor heading the coalition's provisional authority in Iraq, was also handed a report by Amnesty International which described prisoner abuse and Geneva violations throughout US-run camps in Iraq last July.

As a result, Bush called defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the White House for briefings on January 16. Rumsfeld is said to have told Bush the extent of the concern over abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. The meeting was attended by White House chief of staff Andrew H Card Jnr.

Yet Bush used his weekly radio broadcast yesterday to promise to "learn all the facts and determine the full extent of the abuses". Admitting the scandal was a "stain on US honour", he pledged to "fully investigate prisons in Iraq".

Rumsfeld admitted to Congress yesterday that the Pentagon and a US general had tried to block CBS, the US TV network, from broadcasting abuse pictures taken inside Abu Ghraib. He also said "more photographs and videos exist", adding: "It's going to make matters worse if these are released to the public."

The comments highlight the Bush administration's priority - unconcerned with the humanitarian issues, but seeking to avert a public relations disaster.

Teresa Richardson, of Amnesty, said: "We have been delivering reports on these violations to the US authorities since the period between 9/11 and the beginning of the Iraq war. The abuse and torture, in Afghanistan, goes back two years."

She said Amnesty reports on abuse by British soldiers in Iraq had also been handed to the Ministry of Defence in London in the months immediately after the war.

"But we've received no response from the MoD. Our experience with the MoD, going back to Northern Ireland, is that investigation should not be carried out by the MoD, but by a civilian-led organisation."

The same criticism can be levelled against the Pentagon. From the summer of 2003 till January 2004 allegations of abuse and torture had been mounting. The Pentagon ordered in the Criminal Investigation Division hoping to limit damage if details reached the public.

The MoD said that, although the US report in January was never officially sent to them, they knew of it. On the other reports - from Amnesty International and the ICRC - an MoD spokesman told the Sunday Herald: "It would have been logical that we would have seen these reports."

Blair would have known of these reports existence and knew the MoD were quietly investigating. He too could have gone public with an apology, instead he remained silent.

Rumsfeld may have hoped the arrest of six US military police in connection with alleged abuse of prisoners would improve matters. But the final report from the US Army criminal investigation team, delivered in March this year, must have made grim reading to even Rumsfeld. The January allegations which had been the catalyst for the Pentagon-ordered inquiry now came back with a fuller report, more graphic, more horrific and backing up the allegations made for year by Amnesty and the Red Cross.

Again there was only silence from the White House, and from the Pentagon.

Colin Powell at the State Department was said to be becoming increasingly uneasy over a situation his aides say he knew could get out of control. But Powell, increasingly isolated from the White House, could do little to influence either Bush or Rumsfeld.

In late April, according to one source in the Foreign Office in London "the **** has indeed hit the White House fan". CBS's 60 Minutes programme showed the pictures the Pentagon knew were out there. The New Yorker magazine followed on with even more horrific images The Wall Street Journal published the ICRC report.

Last week Secretary of State Rumsfeld said he was "stunned", Bush apologised and said he would investigate. Tony Blair said the images were deplorable. Apologies - however late - will not be enough. All know worse, much worse, is still to come.
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