Daily Archives: May 28, 2007

Bush was twice warned of Iraq challenges

Chicago Tribune | May 26, 2007

bushbombs

Prewar reports alerted the president to the difficulty of establishing democracy, among other assessments that proved accurate.

Thing is, he didn’t ignore the warnings because he is an idiot (well, he is an idiot, but that’s beside the point). He ignored the warnings because he is working to a script known as the Project for a New American Century, PNAC for short, a plan to take over the Middle East and Central Asia using a “Pearl Harbor Event” as the pretext. Got it?

PNAC was written up long before 9/11, which in turn was used to justify the invasion of Iraq, even though if you believe the official intelligence story, Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with it. And even if you believe Saddam had WMDs, there was no justification whatsoever for invading a sovereign nation, killing some 600,000 of its people and leaving it in ruins. Thus you are left with the aching reality that our soldiers have not only died in vain, but that our country is now the most hated in the world.

But again, all of this is part of the plan to use America as the spearhead of a “New World Order” global government, making Iraq the “crucible” to foment WWIII out of which a totalitarian global system would emerge.

So make sure you get it all straight in your head because the media spins it in a variety of ways, all pointing away from the reality.

PW

Two months before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. intelligence agencies twice warned the Bush administration that establishing a democracy there would prove difficult and that Al Qaeda would use political instability to increase its operations, according to a Senate report released Friday.

The report, issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee, brought to light once-classified warnings that accurately forecasted many of the military and political problems the Bush administration and Iraqi officials have faced since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

These warnings were distributed to senior officials with daily access to President Bush and others at the very top of the administration, the report states.

Although many names were left blank to protect members of the intelligence community, the report’s 81-page list of who received the predictions included figures throughout the national security bureaucracy.

One of those was then-deputy national security advisor Stephen J. Hadley, now the national security advisor.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), said the report demonstrated that “the intelligence community gave the administration plenty of warning about the difficulties we would face if the decision was made to go to war.”

He added: “These dire warnings were widely distributed at the highest levels of government, and it’s clear that the administration didn’t plan for any of them.”

Unlike previous studies of the buildup to the war, the Senate report did not focus on the intelligence community’s flawed information, which included overstated assessments of Iraq’s potential for developing weapons of mass destruction.

The committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, criticized the report, saying that it highlighted only elements that seemed important in retrospect and that it distorted what was presented to policymakers in 2003.

He said the committee’s inquiry into the intelligence community’s prewar assessments “has become too embroiled in politics and partisanship to produce an accurate and meaningful report.”

At a news conference Thursday, Bush was asked about the impending release of the report. He responded that “going into Iraq, we were warned about a lot of things, some of which happened, some of which didn’t happen.

“I weighed the risks and rewards of any decision,” he said, reiterating his view that removing Saddam Hussein from power was worth the price.

Bush also said, “Al Qaeda is going to fight us wherever we are.”

The report spotlighted two documents prepared in January 2003 by the National Intelligence Council. One document was titled “Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq,” the other “Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq.”

These papers warned that:

•  Establishing “an Iraqi democracy would be a long, difficult and probably turbulent process, with potential for backsliding into Iraq’s tradition of authoritarianism.”

•  Unless the occupying forces prevented it, “score settling would occur throughout Iraq between those associated with Saddam’s regime and those who have suffered most under it.”

•  Among the majority Shiite population, which Saddam had kept out of power, a political form of Islam could take root, “particularly if economic recovery were slow and foreign troops remained in the country for a long period.”

•  Iran would probably try to shape the post-Hussein Iraq, in a bid to position itself as a regional power.

•  Al Qaeda would probably take advantage of the war to increase its terrorist activities, and the lines between it and other terrorist groups “could become blurred.”

Each of these assessments was prescient. And Bush now cites the danger posed by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq as a major reason for resisting calls that the U.S. begin decreasing its troop levels and set a firm deadline for withdrawal.

In early 2003, even as their deputies were receiving the intelligence community papers, top administration officials — among them Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld — publicly speculated that U.S. troops would be greeted warmly as liberators and gave no hint that some analysts were raising red flags about difficulties to come.

One assessment disclosed in the Senate report missed the mark; it predicted that heightened terrorist threats worldwide stemming from the war would decline, after an initial spike, in three to five years after the invasion. That decline has not occurred, according to State Department officials who monitor such threats.

The Senate committee approved the release of its report by a vote of 10-5. Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska joined the Democratic majority in supporting its publication.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, praised the compilation of the cautions circulated by the intelligence community but said the report should have critiqued more thoroughly how the assessments were handled within the administration.

Moves to give UK police new ‘stop-and-question’ powers

Scotsman | May 27, 2007
 
UK POLICE could, for the first time, be given powers to stop and question anyone under new anti-terror laws being prepared by the Home Office, officials said last night.

The measure – so far used only in Northern Ireland – is set to be part of a new package being prepared by Home Secretary John Reid as he prepares to quit the cabinet next month.

Anyone who refuses to co-operate could be charged with obstructing the police and fined up to £5,000.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We are considering a range of measures for the Bill and ‘stop and question’ is one of them.”

At present, officers may stop and search individuals on “reasonable grounds for suspicion” they have committed an offence but have no rights to ask for their identity and movements.

The Home Office would not comment on suggestions the new laws were to be rushed through before Tony Blair steps down as Prime Minister on June 27. Reid has said he will quit the cabinet at the same time.

Counter-terrorism minister Tony McNulty told Blair last week the new stop powers would be “very useful UK wide.” A letter reportedly sent to Blair suggested it would help reduce the use of stop-and-search powers which are unpopular with the public. “A less intrusive power of stop and question that could be used by the police in the first instance would be useful. The effect of this power should therefore be to reduce the number of times stop and search is used,” he told him.

But the move was attacked by civil rights campaigners.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: “The police should not have powers to run around questioning people willy-nilly. This looks like political machismo, a legacy moment. Stopping and questioning anyone you like will backfire because people will be being criminalised.”

Last year, the government’s own terror watchdog Lord Carlile warned that security services were abusing their stop-and-search powers.

Searches soared to more than 100 a day after the July 7 attacks on London in 2005, but only one in 62 led to an arrest. Campaigners have also complained police searches are too heavily targeted at ethnic minorities.

A government report shows that of the 10,941 pedestrians searched under Section 44 in 2005 a record since the act came into force in 2001 only 177 were arrested.

Some 2,405 Asian and black people were stopped in the two months after the July 7 attacks, compared with 196 the previous year. The rise is more than twice that recorded for white people stopped in the same period.

‘Stop and question’ powers for police are ‘UK’s Guantanamo’

Independent | May 28, 2007

John Reid has provoked a civil liberties storm and a cabinet split by floating plans to give police sweeping new anti-terror powers to stop and question anyone in the street.

The Home Secretary was accused of taking a further step towards an authoritarian state as the “draconian” proposals were condemned by politicians of all parties as well as by human rights and Muslim groups.

Strengthening police powers to stop passers-by is being considered among antiterrorist measures to be announced before Mr Reid steps down on 27 June, when Tony Blair leaves office.

But there was doubt yesterday whether any such move would be endorsed by Gordon Brown when he becomes prime minister and Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, warned it could become the “domestic equivalent of Guantanamo Bay”. At the moment, police can challenge people, regardless of whether they are suspected of breaking the law, in areas which are considered at risk of terrorist attack, such as Westminster and around political party conference venues.

The new anti-terror proposals would extend that power nationwide, giving officers the right to demand anyone’s name and address or details of where they have been if police suspect terrorist involvement.

Anyone who refused to co-operate could be charged with obstructing the police and fined up to £5,000.

The move would briefly bring the rest of the UK into line with Northern Ireland, although the stop and question power was, ironically, expected to be repealed in the province as part of the peace dividend.

After three terrorist suspects on control orders vanished last week, Mr Reid again complained that police powers to protect national security were too limited.

His other proposals are thought to include allowing police to question suspects after they have been charged and toughening control orders even if it means opting out of human rights legislation.

They will be set out within a month for consultation, with a view to being included in a counterterrorism Bill in the autumn, by which time Gordon Brown will be in Downing Street. A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We need to look at how we can ensure police have the powers necessary to prevent terrorist activities happening in the United Kingdom.”

Tony McNulty, the Police minister, said the stop and question powers were “one of a whole range of things we are looking at with a view to introducing a terrorism Bill later in the year”.

He suggested that such powers could be less intrusive than the fully-fledged stop and search powers already available to police. But Peter Hain, a contender for the Labour deputy leadership, warned that the proposals could backfire. He told BBC1’s Sunday AM programme: “We’ve got to be very careful that we don’t create the domestic equivalent of Guantanamo Bay, which was an international abuse of human rights, acted as a recruiting sergeant for dissidents and alienated Muslims and many other people across the world.

Clintons secretly planned eight years each as president

Independent | May 28, 2007

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Get ready for a 36 years (and counting) of the Bush/Clinton dictatorship. Or try supporting Ron Paul if you don’t like the idea.

Bill and Hillary Clinton drew up a secret plan 15 years ago under which each of them would occupy the White House for eight years, according to one of several new books about the leading Democratic candidate for the US presidency.

According to the book – which has been dismissed by Mrs Clinton’s aides – even before they were married, the couple had formulated a plan to reinvent the Democratic Party and make it to the White House. That blueprint was updated after Bill Clinton’s election victory in 1992, with the proposal that she would run once he had left office.

The claim adds to the perception of the methodical, driven nature of the Clinton campaign for the presidency – a race in which she is currently the front-runner within her party. Taken with other allegations contained in a separate book, it also boosts a widely held belief in political circles, that by the late 1980s, the Clinton marriage had become little more than a mutually-beneficial political arrangement.

The claims, reported by The Washington Post, have been dismissed by Mrs Clinton’s campaign team. Howard Wolfson, a campaign spokesman, said: “The news here is that it took three reporters a decade to find no news. Two overwhelming Senate victories in the toughest media market in the country demonstrated that voters have put these issues behind them.”

The allegations are contained in two forthcoming books. One, A Woman in Charge, by the former Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, says that in 1989 the Clintons almost divorced as a result of his infidelity and desire to be with another woman. Mrs Clinton apparently refused to divorce him, telling her husband’s then chief-of-staff: “There are worse things than infidelity.” The second book, Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Clinton, is written by two reporters for The New York Times. It claims, among other things that in 1992, a team overseen by Mrs Clinton hired a private investigator to undermine Gennifer Flowers, the former Arkansas television reporter who claimed to have had a 12-year affair with her husband.

Bernstein’s book also portrays Mrs Clinton as going to great lengths to keep her husband’s alleged infidelities secret. It claims when he was running for the presidency, two partners who had worked with her at the Rose Law Firm, were hired to represent two other women claiming to have had affairs with him.

It says the lawyers questioned the women and then obtained signed statements that they had never had sex with Mr Clinton. On one occasion, says the book, Mrs Clinton was present.

The book also questions whether Mrs Clinton read the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq before voting to authorise war – a vote that has caused her considerable political problems ever since.

A spokesman for Mrs Clinton said that she was “briefed multiple times” on the intelligence regarding Iraq, including being briefed on the NIE. The comment appeared to confirm she had not personally read the document, which contained a number of caveats from elements of the intelligence community who were less than certain as to whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

The book by The New York Times reporters quotes a former girlfriend of Mr Clinton, Marla Crider, as saying she had seen a letter on his desk written by Mrs Clinton outlining their long-term political plans. She says that the couple referred to this as their “20-year project”. Polls suggest Mrs Clinton is only part of the way towards realising that plan.

Most polls give her more than a 10-point advantage over her closest Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama. But against Rudy Giuliani, the front-runner for the Republican Party’s nomination, her fortunes are less clear. One poll, in late February, suggested Mr Giuliani had a nine point lead over

Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton … Who Needs Elections?
Mo Rocca on The Bushes and Clintons as the Royal House of Republicrats

Bush Authorizes New Covert Action against Iran

Fars News Agency | May 25, 2007

US President George W. Bush has secretly authorized the CIA to mount a covert operation to destabilize the Iranian government.
 
Quoting current and former US officials in the intelligence community, ABCNews.com reported on Wednesday that Bush has signed a “non-lethal presidential finding” that puts into motion a CIA plan, which includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions.

In public, administration officials declined to comment on the issue. National Security Council Spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, “The White House does not comment on intelligence matters.”

A CIA spokesperson said, “As a matter of course, we do not comment on allegations of covert activity.”

However, officials privately told ABCNews.com that the CIA developed the covert plan over the last year and received approval from the White House officials and other officials in the intelligence community.

The covert plan is designed to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment program and put an end to the aid it is providing to insurgents in Iraq, something Iran has frequently denied vehemently.

At the same time, current and former intelligence officials said that the approval of the covert action also means the Bush administration, for the time being, has decided not to pursue a military option against Iran.

Army of ‘energy inspectors’ recruited to snoop around your home

Daily Mail | May 28, 2007

Rest assured, that when an energy inspector comes to your home, he’ll be thinking of little more than how quickly he can earn his £100 fee.

A new army of ‘energy inspectors’ is being recruited to snoop around your home, checking everything from light bulbs to your boiler. Our writer signed up for training and found a hopeless shambles, mired in greed and cynicism.

My new classmate – Dave, the estate agent – has the kind of sharp, wheeler-dealer mind that might make you think twice about betting against him. And right now he scents an opportunity to make serious cash.

Which is how he comes to be in a classroom with me (and 33 other hopefuls) training to become energy inspectors, ready for the Government’s new Home Information Packs.

Their crisis-ridden launch may, amid huge controversy and talk that they will not survive, have been put back to August. But even if HIPs are killed off, the one thing that is sure to remain is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPCs).

And when they come in, Dave is confident they’ll be very lucrative. “It’s all about revenue streams, isn’t it?” he says, with a knowing nod of his closely-shaved head.

Labour’s council tax snoopers have snapped 1.3 millions pictures of homes

I have met Dave on a crash course – supposedly this should take 200 hours of study, but we do it in six days – to become a “domestic energy assessor”, to give the job its full title.

It begins on a drizzly, grey morning when I arrive at Birkbeck University in London to join a class of estate agents, builders, gas men, a surveyor, a pair of mortgage brokers and a handful of individuals who are changing careers (a former Army engineer, health club boss, casino employee and BA cabin crew member) ready to begin our City &Guilds course.

The Government says the purpose of the EPC is simply to educate the public on green issues. My own motive for doing the course – undercover – is simple: I want to find out how those close to the process think these energy ratings will really be used and precisely how they work.

I also want to know whether the EPC, imposed as a result of a European directive, is a credible green initiative – or, as its critics claim, a flawed, intrusive and expensive piece of EU bureaucracy that will serve only to complicate the already stressful process of moving house.

The first thing that becomes clear is that everyone here is hoping to join what, political chaos notwithstanding, is beginning to feel like a 21st century gold-rush. Or should that be gravy train?

“Build a real career with once-in-a-lifetime prospects,” trumpets the Energy Inspectors Direct website. “On the basis of two to three one-hour inspections a day, it’s possible to earn an income of £40,000 per annum. Now that’s a lot of money.”

One thing’s certain – they’re making a lot of money out of us trainees. We have each paid £4,641.25 for six days of nine-to-five tuition; and by the end of the course, many of us will feel that we haven’t had value for money -particularly as, earlier this year, the company was offering courses at almost half the price (£2,585).

With so much to learn in such a short time, we’re surprised that one of his first lectures is simply on how to behave professionally – “because you may have to deal with difficult property owners, including Daily Mail readers who will probably accuse you of being a snooping busy body”.

In fact, Jeremy himself is the first to admit that the job can seem intrusive. A DEA must take copious “site notes”, including information about what light bulbs you use, the thickness of your walls, the age of your house and any extensions and the type of glass in your windows; they will count how many rooms and how many open fireplaces you have, and even crawl through your loft to examine the insulation.

They must also take photographs – for example, of the inside and outside of your home, of the boiler and the hot water cylinder – to back up this data, which will then be fed into a computer to give your house a grade on a scale of A (the most efficient) to G (the worst).

“Last week,” says Jeremy, “a bunch of my students missed a boiler because it was in a bedroom wardrobe and they felt uncomfortable opening the door. Well, I know it might be a bit difficult if the owner comes in just as you’re photographing it and wants to know ‘Why are you taking pictures of my wife’s knickers?’ But the boiler is important.”

Apparently, the heating system has the biggest impact on your home’s energy rating.

Depending on what type it is, the boiler can affect the numerical score given to the house (on a scale from one to 100 or more, which is then converted into lettered bands) by as much as 40 points.

The most efficient heat-generators are condensing boilers, because they recycle heat from the boiler’s exhaust gases. If you don’t have one, the EPC will recommend ripping out the old system and installing a new one to improve your efficiency rating.

“But,” I ask, “does the computer software take into account the energy cost of throwing away your current boiler, which may be quite new and work perfectly well, and manufacturing a new one?”

After all, we’re always being told we should try to be more thrifty, mending appliances rather than buying new ones.

The answer comes back: no, it doesn’t. “We could have a discussion about that, couldn’t we?” says Jeremy.

Given that building regulations make it compulsory to install a condensing boiler if your gas or oil-fired version has given up the ghost, what is the point of having your heating system checked for an EPC? That’s a question my tutors can’t answer.

We are also taught how to date a building. A 1930s semi can be identified by its curved bay window and hipped roof; a 1970s house by its lack of chimneys (a sign to the neighbours that you had central heating).

And we learn how to recognise the various patterns of brickwork that might indicate an old, solid wall or a more recent (and more insulating) cavity wall. This is important because, unless a lot of money has already been spent on insulation, older properties will always be less energy-efficient – and will therefore score low in the EPC.

Some are surprised by how few brownie points some of the most heavily-promoted green measures seem to clock up.

Even if every single one of your light bulbs is energy-saving, you’ll score only one point; double-glazing may earn you four; while (sorry, David Cameron) a wind turbine plonked on the roof won’t give you any at all.

On the second day of the course, as we’re waiting for classes to begin, Dave tells me how he plans to make money out of it.

“We’ll charge probably £100 each for an EPC,” he says. “One person could easily do five a day – so that’ll be £500 they’re bringing in.”

“Once people have an energy rating, they’ll want work doing to make it more efficient – insulation, doubleglazing, new boilers – so we can take a commission of 10 per cent from workmen they find through us. It’s going to be big business.”

It’s not just those selling their homes who will have to buy an EPC, he points out. When the HIPs scheme comes fully into effect, landlords will also have to arrange one – which will then remain valid for ten years – the first time they have a change of tenant.

“There’s big business there,” Dave says, deploying one of his favourite phrases yet again, “if you can get in with the councils. I’m trying to get close to them because there’s a lot of work to be had.”

Work that will, of course, be undertaken at the expense of you, the taxpayer.

The idea of so many people needing EPCs raises the prospect of absolute chaos not only for the housing market, but also for the lettings industry and those waiting for council accommodation.
Many of the key things an energy inspector is supposed to measure seem almost arbitrary.

For example, we are taught to check for the presence of thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves, which could make a heating system waste less energy, but not to verify that they actually work.

So, in theory, you could nail an old thermostat to the wall, let the energy inspector photograph it and tick it off, and then take it down again.

“It’s a visual inspection,” agrees the tutor.

The same applies when it comes to energy-saving light bulbs, which could – theoretically – be borrowed-from a friend solely for the purposes of inspection. And then there’s the fact that an open flue loses you points if it’s in the living room, but not in a bedroom.

As one of our teachers says, when we are taken on a trial inspection of a house: “There are a lot of stupid things, but they’re the rules – so that’s what we have to do.”

Many of my fellow students are disgruntled.

We were promised that we could complete the entire course in six days, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it will be impossible to finish the coursework assignments – for which we have to do EPCs on five properties and hand in 85 separate written documents – by the end of the week.

The quantity of paperwork inherent in the system is extraordinary.

“Talk about bureaucracy! And then how long is it they’re telling us we have to store all this information for? Fifteen years? I’ll have to move house just to keep it all. It’s red-tape madness.”

We are told that homes account for 27 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, and that the purpose of the EPC is to encourage and educate householders to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes.

To this end, an EPC gives “payback times” – the period over which you might recoup, in savings on your energy bills, any financial outlay in upgrading your home.

“This exercise is all about data collection,” says Simon, another estate agent. “And making us pay for the data collection. In five years’ time, they’ll start taxing us on it. Why wouldn’t they? What would be the point otherwise?”

Clive, one of our tutors, raises another spectre that should worry anyone hoping to borrow money to buy an old Victorian conversion with a ropey boiler, solid walls and drafty windows.

“I’ve heard some mortgage companies talking about ‘green mortgages’, which means they’d retain money until certain things had been mended – in the same way they might do now if you had, say, subsidence. Now that would be naughty, wouldn’t it? And if it happens, remember I said it.”

By Friday, we are all getting nervous about the multiple-choice exam. The coursework may be time-consuming, but it’s been made clear that we will be babied through it – so that even if we have to submit our folders several times, we’ll eventually get through. The exam is another matter: a retake will cost £300.

It will create a mountain of bureaucracy as well as a whole new army of supposed experts who know very little about energy conservation but quite a lot about an invented system of regulations. And their glossy new careers will be subsidised by homeowners and taxpayers.

Rest assured, that when an energy inspector comes to your home, he’ll be thinking of little more than how quickly he can earn his £100 fee.

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You can’t deport 3,000 criminals, EU tells Britain

Daily Mail | May 28,  2007

If you think for one second that Britain hasn’t lost her sovereignty to the EU Politburo, you are a nutter.

PW
 
Committing a serious crime is no longer sufficient grounds for deportation according to the EU

Up to 3,000 foreign criminals will be released from prison on to Britain’s streets without any attempt to deport them, Government papers have revealed.

A note sent to probation staff says as few as 250 convicts from European countries will face even preliminary deportation proceedings every year.

It pins the blame on an EU directive which rules that committing a serious crime is no longer sufficient grounds for removal.

Neither is the Government’s desire to deter other foreign nationals from committing a crime in this country.

As a result, the vast bulk of the estimated 3,300 European criminals released from British jails each year – including burglars, thieves and muggers – will simply walk free.

The revelation undermines the promise made by Tony Blair to tackle the problem in the wake of the foreign prisoner scandal last year.

He said: “It is now time that anybody who is convicted of an imprisonable offence and who is a foreign national is deported.”

The Conservatives said that the revelation was a further embarrassment for Home Secretary John Reid.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: “Yet again we see that the public will be put at risk as a direct result of John Reid’s failure.

“He spun he had a deal to remove these offenders but the rhetoric has not matched the action. John Reid was brought in to deal with the foreign prisoner crisis yet one year on as he quits office we see he has totally failed.”

Overseas criminals convicted of crimes warranting a jail sentence of a year or more can normally be kicked out of Britain when they are released from prison – on the grounds that their presence is “not conducive to the public good”.

But Probation Circular 11/2007, sent out this week and seen by the Daily Mail, said an EU directive has made the criteria far more stringent for citizens of the European Economic Area.

The Home Office can only remove EEA nationals who are highly likely to re-offend. They must also pose a “present, genuine and sufficiently serious threat” to society.

The new rules apply to citizens of countries such as Germany, Poland, Romania, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. They also cover those born in countries such as Africa or the Middle East who have been given passports by other EU countries.

The change means all except the most serious offenders – such as killers and rapists – will not face even an attempt at deportation by the Home Office’s Criminal Casework Directorate.

The note to probation staff revealed that just “approximately 250-300” offenders will face even an attempt at removal – which could of course be unsuccessful.

The latest revelation shows how, one year on, the Government is unable to escape the continuing repercussions of the foreign prisoner scandal.

Lin Homer, head of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, recently told MPs that her staff had tracked down and deported only 163 of the 1,013 foreign offenders who were mistakenly freed without being considered for deportation.

Another 512 were still to be removed from the UK, and the remainder are likely to be allowed to stay.

It emerged that Ministers are floundering on a second promise relating to foreign convicts – to send home foreign nationals imprisoned in Britain.

Jails are at bursting point – with a record 80,812 inmates on Friday – so Labour is desperately trying to secure agreements to send 11,000 convicts back home to serve their sentences.

But it is expected to take years for any significant number to be removed.

Justice Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has admitted there is no chance of an agreement with other EU countries until 2009.

Agreements with countries outside Europe are understood to be even further off.