Daily Archives: November 24, 2007

Who killed David Kelly?

Telegraph | Nov 22, 2007

Nigel Jones reviews The Strange Death of David Kelly by Norman Baker

Reading this sombrely factual book in tandem with Robert Harris’s equally plausible political thriller, The Ghost, is an eerily surreal experience: similar worlds, peopled by similar characters, blur and blend, until it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.

The anti-heroes of both books – although Harris lightly disguises his prime minister as ‘Adam Lang’ – is Tony Blair, and the cronies, lickspittles and murderous spooks who throng his corrupt court. The landscape of both works forming the backdrop to tragedy is the same: rural, wooded and bleak.

In Harris’s novel, it is the stunted dwarf oak forests and beaches of Martha’s Vineyard in midwinter where Lang’s loyal aide, Mike McAra, is mysteriously washed up dead. In Norman Baker’s equally vividly rendered reality it is the superficially homely Oxfordshire village of Southmoor in midsummer, in particular Harrowdown Hill, a lonely spot where, in July 2003, one of Britain’s leading government scientists, Dr David Kelly, was found in similarly mysterious circumstances, equally dead.

And the tragedy itself that informs both books is, of course, Iraq.

The author of this stunning work of non-fiction, is not, like Harris, a glamorous TV journalist turned millionaire churner of superior thrillers but a spectacularly unglamorous Liberal Democrat MP. Troubled by the strange events surrounding Kelly’s demise, Baker resigned his frontbench responsibilities to pursue a private investigation of the case.

He began, he tells us, believing that while ‘brutality, immorality and deception were to be found in totalitarian regimes across the world’ he had not appreciated how ‘these qualities can easily be found in Western democracies too. We fool ourselves if we think “It can’t happen here”. It can, and it does.’

If Baker’s meticulous account is to be believed, what happened on that gentle English hillside was murder most foul, carelessly dressed up to look like suicide. He begins with a minute description of Dr Kelly’s last hours – insofar as they emerged from the incomplete investigation of Lord Hutton’s travesty of an inquiry – the only inquest that poor Kelly is likely to get.

Although under extreme pressure as a result of the Blair government’s outing of him as the source of Andrew Gilligan’s radio report that the ‘dodgy dossier’ that took Britain to war in Iraq had been ‘sexed up’ to panic Parliament into authorising war, Kelly nevertheless kept his customarily level head.

He spent the morning of 17 July replying to supportive emails from friends. There were ‘dark actors’ at work, he wrote, but he would survive – and he went ahead with planning his next trip to Iraq, where he had become a familiar figure since 1991 – nosing out Saddam’s efforts to conceal his biological weapons with a particularly effective, understated British persistence.

The tone and content of these messages, says Baker, were hardly consistent with a man bent on taking his own life.

His wife, Janice, took to her bed with a headache, and without bidding her farewell, Kelly left on one of his customary brisk, 20-minute strolls in the surrounding countryside. He was never seen alive again. The next morning, Kelly’s corpse was found on Harrowdown Hill, a mile or so away from his home.

His ulnar artery – a matchstick-sized blood vessel in the wrist – was found cut, apparently by a knife he had owned since childhood (on which there were mysteriously no fingerprints). Twenty-nine Copraxamol painkiller tablets (used by his wife to combat pain from her arthritis) were missing from a blister pack by his body (although none were found in his stomach and he had a well-attested aversion to swallowing tablets).

There were many peculiarities about the death that went – and still go – unexplained: no suicide note; no arterial blood; the method of death so rare as to be almost unheard of.

Kelly was said by all his friends to be not the suicidal type; and he had told two of them that if his views on Iraq became inconvenient to the authorities ‘he would be found dead in the woods’.

In addition, his dental records disappeared from his dentist’s filing cabinet – and were then mysteriously returned; and the police search for him, code-named ‘Operation Mason’, was officially started before his family had reported him missing. Curiouser and curiouser.

Baker fills in the political background to Kelly’s death – the duplicities and deceptions advanced to justify the Iraq war; then ticks off the likely suspects for Kelly’s death, starting with the nuttiest – no, it wasn’t a ritualised pagan killing on a ley line; nor were the Russians guilty.

Reluctantly, he even acquits MI6 and the CIA of direct responsibility, while making it clear that both had the capability to carry out the killing and concluding that both probably were aware that it would happen and covered up the fact that it had.

Instead he fingers a rogue Iraqi hit team – either vengeful Saddam loyalists, still furious at Kelly’s worming out their concealed WMD – or, more likely, followers of the exiled CIA- and MI6-backed ‘dissidents’ Ahmed Chalabi and Iyad Allawi, cousins both hoping to be installed in power in the wake of a successful Anglo-American invasion.

Kelly’s honest questioning of the flimsy justifications for the war threatened to scupper their plans. Therefore, he had to be silenced.

And it is Baker’s contention, informed by sources within the intelligence community, that British official operatives acted to transform a killing by Iraqi ‘hired hands’ into what looked superficially like a suicide. As the old KGB adage puts it: ‘Anyone can commit a murder, but it takes an artist to commit a suicide.’

As Baker rightly comments, proponents of ‘conspiracy theories’ tend to be dismissed as nutters. His own courageous and well-publicised probing into Kelly’s death has been dismissed with the usual ‘we don’t do that kind of thing, old boy’. But, as this disquieting book makes very clear – unfortunately, we do.

His concluding pages, in which he lists, with a cold anger, how those who launched and justified the Iraq war: the Blairs, the Campbells, the Hoons, the Huttons and the Generals and diplomats – have smoothly progressed, with their honours, their pensions and their directorships of dodgy arms companies intact, while Kelly’s reward for his honesty was a grave in Longmoor Churchyard, make one shiver at the moral nadir of the Blair years.

Baker’s anecdote about a copy of the Hutton report being auctioned by Cherie Blair to raise money for the Labour Party tells you all you need to know about our squalid rulers.

Venezuela’s Socialist Constitutional Reform Centralizes Power for Chavez

Comments by PW

Chavez is forcing the Venezuelan people to vote on his socialist constitutional reform package on Dec 2nd. He has decreed that anyone who votes “No” will be labeled a “traitor”.

Under his new socialist manifesto, citizens will be given access to any and all services including health care and education, social security and other perks in a land of oil and honey. Sounds good on paper, and ordinary lower income folks will no doubt like the idea, but things like curriculum and where you get your medical care will be increasingly controlled by the State. The problem is that the more you allow the Nanny State to take care of you, the more that all-powerful State will demand out of you. And the other side of it is the fact that what the State giveth, the State can also taketh away at any time. So the Venezuelans will eventually become more and more at the mercy of that Nanny State system.

Now here are some of my observations taken from the excerpts below.

“The President to decree special military regions for the defense of the nation”

Which presumably means he, as military dictator-in-chief will personally control where the military is deployed throughout the country, and which he will inevitably use to crush dissent wherever it rises up as he has done already, giving the military the power to patrol the streets in the name of “security”.

The president is allowed to decreecommunal cities”, which is to say the cities will be administered by the central State authority and will be communistic politically with communal property even though it is presumed that they will remain “mixed economies” similar to the current Chinese “One country, two systems” model.

The voting age is to be lowered to 16 years of age, meaning he will have that many more young impressionable, barely educated voters to add to his growing pool of useful pawns. Gender parity in candidacies will be strictly enforced, meaning that no matter who is more qualified, the public will be forced to vote for candidates who are vetted to meet gender quotas.

Big Daddy Chavez, under the blessings of his Marxist dictator-for-life mentor Fidel Castro, and no doubt also from the Vatican, David Rockefeller and “former” European Marixists Javier Solana and Angela Merkel, appropriates to himself a “mandate to unify Latin America” into a Bolivararian (read ‘masonic’) “Nation of Republics”. In this, he is just following suit with the EU Soviets and his fellow dictator in el Norte, El Presidente Bush, who is overseeing the artificial amalgamation of Canada, Mexico and the US into the North American Union by 2010. And by the way, in order to do this, the Three Amigos will have to hurry up and ban gun ownership. So that’s why the total gun ban is being pushed through the Supreme Court as we speak.

Chavez has then been given the responsibility by the global elite to set up the Communist South American Union, to be merged by 2012 with the Fascist NAU into a lovely little Hegelian Third Way synthesis, presumably called the PanAmerican Union, or what I prefer to call PU because it stinks to high heaven. And you thought the dueling dictators Bush and Chavez were really fighting with each other…

Finally we have the little detail in there that removes presidential term limits making possible the indefinite re-election of comrade Chavez as dictator-for-life. And to sweeten the deal, the State “may take over agricultural production”. “May” meaning it will and historically, this state-control over the food supply has had disastrous results in other Marxist governments. So the people down there better try to keep some private gardens hidden away for insurance, and hope the New World Order collapses under its own weight.

PW

. . .

Venezuelanalysis.com | Nov 23, 2007

*Excerpted by Aftermath News*

Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform: An Article-by-Article Summary

by Gregory Wilpert

The following is an article-by-article summary of the changes being proposed to Venezuela’s 1999 constitution. The summary is in no way official and should only be used as an aid in making sense of the proposed constitutional reform. The official reform text is quite long (31 pages), as it includes the full text of each to be changed article, even if only one sentence or word was changed in the article. Making out what, exactly, the changes are relative to the original 1999 constitution can thus be a sometimes time-consuming and difficult task.

Venezuelans will vote on the reform on December 2nd and will do so in two blocks. Block “A” includes President Chavez’s original proposal, as amended by the National Assembly, which would change 33 articles out of the 350 articles in the constitution. Also included in block A are another 13 articles introduced by the National Assembly. Block “B” includes another 26 reform articles proposed by the National Assembly. Voters may vote “Yes” or “No” on each block.

. . .

*Excerpts*

Section II. Politico-Territorial Division of the Country: President may declare special military and development zones, citizens have a new “right to the city.”

Art. 11 – Allows the President to decree special military regions for the defense of the nation. Also, it would allow him to name military authorities for these regions in a case of emergency.

Art. 16 – Allows the president to decree, with permission from the National Assembly, communal cities, maritime regions, federal territories, federal municipalities, island districts, federal provinces, federal cities, and functional districts. Also the president may name and remove national government authorities for these territorial divisions (these do not, however, supplant the existing elected authorities in these regions).

Section III. Citizen Rights and Duties: Voting age lowered to 16 years, gender parity in candidacies

Art. 153 – Strengthening of the mandate to unify Latin America, so as to achieve what Simon Bolivar called, “A Nation of Republics.”

Section V. Organization of the State: President may name secondary vice-presidents as needed, presidential term extended and limit on reelection removed, may re-organize internal politico-territorial boundaries, and promotes all military officers.

Art. 299 – The socio-economic regimen of the country is based on socialist (among other) principles. Instead of stipulating that the state promotes development with the help of private initiative, it is to do so with community, social, and personal initiative.

Art. 300 – Rewording of how publicly owned enterprises should be created, to be regionalized and in favor of a “socialist economy”, instead of “decentralized.”

Art. 305 – If necessary, the state may take over agricultural production in order to guarantee alimentary security and sovereignty.

Related

Venezuela: Weapons seized ahead of vote

Chavez: Only a ‘Traitor’ Will Vote No

Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform
This blog was created by a group of bloggers to explain to the outside world why the Venezuelan constitutional reform is dangerous for Venezuelan democracy.

Belgian police told no more brothels or booze on the job

AFP | Oct 24, 2007

BRUSSELS (AFP) — A Brussels police chief has warned his officers to abstain from visiting brothels and drinking alcohol during working hours, Belgium’s La Derniere-Heure newspaper has reported.

In an office note dated May 28, reprinted by La Derniere-Heure, police chief Erwin Renard reminded staff of “certain ethical rules” that had apparently been ignored while he was on sick leave.

He wrote: “These staff think that working hours are for drinking alcohol when no other drinks are available, playing sport, frequenting ‘brothels’ or other massage parlours, developing intimate relationships with residents of their neighbourhood or during their patrols…”.

He warned that such acts “would no longer be tolerated.”

EU Fascism: Peaceful demonstrators attacked by Brussels police on Sept 11, 2007

“Police will only be respected if they set a good example,” wrote Renard, whose force patrols Brussels’ north railway station area, one of the capital’s main red light districts.

Police spokesman Roland Thiebault told AFP Tuesday that no such abuses had actually taken place.

“Mr Renard, who is known for his irreproachable integrity, was informed of certain rumours. The only aim of his note was to remind (staff) of the basic values of the police force,” he explained.

“These were clearly baseless rumours. Had there been concrete facts we would, of course, have parted ways with such staff,” he said.

Chip scheme ‘treats kids like cars’

The Guardian | November 24, 2007

by David Ward

The leader of a parent teacher group yesterday hit out at a school’s scheme to track pupils using chips embroidered into uniform jumpers with smart threads.

The chips, recording information including identity and behaviour details, have been tested with 19 students at Hungerhill high school in Doncaster and Doncaster Education City, a 14-19 education partnership, will begin a trial of the chips next week with 36 autistic pupils. According to the Times Educational Supplement, the pupils will be scanned first at college and then again to see if they have arrived safely at a leisure centre.

The chips’ makers, Darnbro, plan to make the system available across the country.

Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said many parents would be concerned, especially after the government lost data for 25 million people this week.

“We are going down a dangerous road to do something that we have managed to do for years without these microchips,” she said. “I have a lot of questions about what the benefits are going to be.”

According to the TES, schools can fit scanners to doors or equip teachers with hand-held scanners to identify children entering or exiting rooms.

Graham Wakeling, head of Hungerhill, said he did not believe the chips infringed civil liberties and he would never allow tracking beyond the school gates. “I think such chips have the potential to improve management systems in schools, and in so doing enhance learning,” he said.

Paul Silvester, from the Doncaster Education City partnership, said the technology could help teachers access pupils’ records in future as more students complete their courses outside schools.

German Police protest at ‘threat’ of open borders

Members of German federal police demonstrate in Frankfurt an der Oder November 22, 2007, against the transfer of police personnel at the German-Polish and the German-Czech borders due after the planned enlargement of the Schengen border-free zone. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia will join the European Unions so-called Schengen border-free zone which encompasses 15 states from December 21. Schengen countries apply common external border controls, a common visa policy and share a police database on criminals and lost cars, but do not have any border checks among themselves.

A cordon of police held off the protesting policemen.

The Times | November 23, 2007

by Roger Boyes in Berlin

Hundreds of German frontier policemen staged an extraordinary protest march yesterday against the opening up of European Union borders.

The noisy rally in the east German border town of Frankfurt an der Oder, which is within hailing distance of Poland, exposed some of the tensions in Europe before December 21 when many of the new entrants to the EU join the Schengen free travel area.

Countries joinging the agreement include the Baltic republics, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia, meaning that passport checks will be abolished along much of what used to be the Iron Curtain that divided communism from the West.

That should be an epochal event, but the price of uncontrolled travel from the Ukranian border to Calais is the tightening of the eastern EU frontiers, in case new waves of immigrants move westwards. And that is already causing friction across the continent.

“These countries are not yet capable of defending the EU borders,” Knut Paul, chairman of the federal police trade union, said. “We are exposing ourselves to the threat of being swamped by criminals and illegal immigrants.”

The demonstrators, many of them in uniform, marched from the Oder River bridge, which connects Germany to Poland, before attempting to barrack Wolfgang Schäuble, the German Interior Minister. Mr Schäu-ble was in the border town to discuss the implications of expanding the Schengen area with top police officials, civil servants and politicians. A cordon of police held off the protesting policemen.

Jörg Schönbohm, interior minister of Brandenburg, a region adjoining Poland, said: “What is happening is the logical result of a changing world. The action of these officers is backward-looking and hostile to Europe.”

Because the EU borders are shifting 700 kilometres (435 miles) eastward, about half the frontier police in Brandenburg face redundancy or transfer as advisers to the less hospitable Polish-Belarussian faultline.

Illegal migrants discovered deep in the Schengen area are supposed to be transferred back to their first point of entry into the EU where they can go through asylum-seeking procedures. That could give Central Europe a serious refugee problem: from Estonia to Slovenia, old barracks buildings are already filling up with Pakistanis, Chinese and Sri Lankans who were caught trying to infiltrate the EU.

The EU has been helping to modernise eastern border controls. Lorries entering its area will now be stopped mainly on the Polish-Ukranian and Slovene-Croatian crossing points, and Customs officers there have been issued with high-tech x-ray machinery and thermal imaging devices to check if people are being smuggled.

Schengen includes 13 EU member states, plus Norway and Iceland, but excludes Britain and the Irish Republic. After December 21, there will be 24 members.

Rumsfeld Torture Case Dropped in France

The prosecutor dismissed the case on the grounds that Rumsfeld benefits from immunity

Associated Press | Nov 24, 2007

By PIERRE-ANTOINE SOUCHARD

PARIS (AP) – A Paris prosecutor has thrown out a complaint against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for torture in Iraq and at the U.S. military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, a lawyer for one of the four groups that filed the case said Friday.

The prosecutor dismissed the case on the grounds that Rumsfeld benefits from immunity, said attorney Patrick Baudoin, president of the International Federation of Human Rights. The organizations that brought the complaint have asked the prosecutor to reconsider.

The complaint was filed Oct. 25 during a visit by Rumsfeld to Paris.

Prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said Rumsfeld is covered by the immunity accorded to heads of state or government and foreign ministers for acts during their time in office, according to a letter seen by The Associated Press. The French Foreign Ministry advised the prosecutor’s office in the matter, the letter said.

Rumsfeld’s one-day visit last month was enough time for the European and American human rights groups to take advantage of a French disposition by which people suspected of torture can be prosecuted in France if they are on French soil.

The complaint said that Rumsfeld, in his former position as U.S. defense secretary, “authorized and ordered crimes of torture to be carried out … as well as other war crimes.”

An Iraqi detainee appears to be restrained after having suffered injuries to both legs at Abu Ghraib. It is unclear whether his injuries were from dog bites.

It cited documents including memos from Rumsfeld, internal reports and testimony from former U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski – the one-time commander of U.S. military prisons in Iraq.

The Bush administration has repeatedly denied the government tortures people.

The complaint was filed by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and two Paris-based groups, the International Federation of Human Rights and the League of Human Rights.

The International Federation for Human Rights cited cases it claimed had set a precedent for a new interpretation of immunity. Those included Chile’s late dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who was pursued in Europe in 1990s and, more recently, former Chad President Hissene Habre, indicted by a Belgian court last year for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Supreme Court in Second-Amendment Showdown

The rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights are individual.

Wall Street Journal | Nov 23, 2007

By MIKE COX

The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case that will affect millions of Americans and could also have an impact on the 2008 elections. That case, Parker v. D.C., should settle the decades-old argument whether the right “to keep and bear arms” of the Constitution’s Second Amendment is an individual right — that all Americans enjoy — or only a collective right that states may regulate freely. Legal, historical and even empirical reasons all command a decision that recognizes the Second Amendment guarantee as an individual right.

The amendment reads: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” If “the right of the people” to keep and bear arms was merely an incident of, or subordinate to, a governmental (i.e., a collective) purpose — that of ensuring an efficient or “well regulated” militia — it would be logical to conclude, as does the District of Columbia — that government can outlaw the individual ownership of guns. But this collective interpretation is incorrect.

To analyze what “the right of the people” means, look elsewhere within the Bill of Rights for guidance. The First Amendment speaks of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble . . .” No one seriously argues that the right to assemble or associate with your fellow citizens is predicated on the number of citizens or the assent of a government. It is an individual right.

The Fourth Amendment says, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . . ” The “people” here does not refer to a collectivity, either.

The rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights are individual. The Third and Fifth Amendments protect individual property owners; the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments protect potential individual criminal defendants from unreasonable searches, involuntary incrimination, appearing in court without an attorney, excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishments.

The Ninth Amendment protects individual rights not otherwise enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Here, “the people” are separate from “the states”; thus, the Second Amendment must be about more than simply a “state” militia when it uses the term “the people.”

Consider the grammar. The Second Amendment is about the right to “keep and bear arms.” Before the conjunction “and” there is a right to “keep,” meaning to possess. This word would be superfluous if the Second Amendment were only about bearing arms as part of the state militia. Reading these words to restrict the right to possess arms strains common rules of composition.

Colonial history and politics are also instructive. James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights to provide a political compromise between the Federalists, who favored a strong central government, and the Anti-Federalists, who feared a strong central government as an inherent danger to individual rights. In June 1789, then Rep. Madison introduced 12 amendments, a “bill of rights,” to the Constitution to convince the remaining two of the original 13 colonies to ratify the document.

Madison’s draft borrowed liberally from the English Bill of Rights of 1689 and Virginia’s Declaration of Rights. Both granted individual rights, not collective rights. As a result, Madison proposed a bill of rights that reflected, as Stanford University historian Jack Rakove notes, his belief that the “greatest dangers to liberty would continue to arise within the states, rather than from a reconstituted national government.” Accordingly, Mr. Rakove writes that “Madison justified all of these proposals (Bill of Rights) in terms of the protection they would extend to individual and minority rights.”

One of the earliest scholars of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, confirmed this focus on individuals in his famous “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States” in 1833. “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms,” Story wrote, “has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of republics, since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers . . .”

It is also important to consider the social context at the time of the drafting and adoption of the Bill of Rights. Our Founding Fathers lived in an era where there were arms in virtually every household. Most of America was rural or, even more accurately, frontier. The idea that in the 1780s the common man, living in the remote woods of the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania and Virginia, would depend on the indulgence of his individual state or colony — not to mention the new federal government — to possess and use arms in order to defend himself is ludicrous. From the Minutemen of Concord and Lexington to the irregulars at Yorktown, members of the militias marched into battle with privately-owned weapons.

Lastly, consider the empirical arguments. The three D.C. ordinances at issue are of the broadest possible nature. According to the statute, a person is not legally able to own a handgun in D.C. at all and may have a long-gun — even in one’s home — only if it is kept unloaded and disassembled (or bound with a trigger lock). The statute was passed in 1976. What have been the results?

Illegal guns continue to be widely available in the district; criminals have easy access to guns while law-abiding citizens do not. Cathy L. Lanier, Acting Chief of Police, Metropolitan Police Department, was quoted as follows: “Last year [2006], more than 2,600 illegal firearms were recovered in D.C., a 13% increase over 2005.” Crime rose significantly after the gun ban went into effect. In the five years before the 1976 ban, the murder rate fell to 27 from 37 per 100,000. In the five years after it went into effect, the murder rate rose to 35. In fact, while murder rates have varied over time, during the 30 years since the ban, the murder rate has only once fallen below what it was in 1976.

This comports with my own personal experience. In almost 14 years as prosecutor and as head of the Homicide Unit of the Wayne County (Detroit) Prosecutor’s Office, I never saw anyone charged with murder who had a license to legally carry a concealed weapon. Most people who want to possess guns are law-abiding and present no threat to others. Rather than the availability of weapons, my experience is that gun violence is driven by culture, police presence (or lack of same), and failures in the supervision of parolees and probationers.

Not only does history demonstrate that the Second Amendment is an individual right, but experience demonstrates that the broad ban on gun ownership in the District of Columbia has led to precisely the opposite effect from what was intended. For legal and historical reasons, and for the safety of the residents of our nation’s capital, the Supreme Court should affirm an individual right to keep and bear arms.

. . .

Related

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