Let’s hope so, Tony Blair Could Be Hauled Before the Courts Over the Iraq War

Tony Blair Could Be Hauled Before the Courts Over the Iraq War

Tony Blair could be hauled before the courts over the Iraq War ‘after lawyers working for British troops claim Chilcot Report shows he misled Parliament to justify 2003 invasion’

  • Chilcot report into 2003 Iraq War criticised Tony Blair for taking Britain into war
  • It was based on ‘flawed’ intelligence and war was ‘not the last resort’ at the time
  • Bereaved families of 179 war dead have called him ‘the world’s worst terrorist’ 
  • They want to pursue him through the courts and raised £150,000 in two weeks
Message: Last year Tony Blair was emotional as he expressed his sorrow to  the families of the 179 British Iraq War dead - but bereaved relatives believe there is evidence that the ex-Prime Minister committed 'misfeasance in public office'

<img id=”i-1a04ae5c48ebd8fc” src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/02/13/13/0371E208000003E8-4219712-image-m-15_1486991941127.jpg” height=”424″ width=”306″ alt=”Message: Last year Tony Blair was emotional as he expressed his sorrow to the families of the 179 British Iraq War dead – but bereaved relatives believe there is evidence that the ex-Prime Minister committed ‘misfeasance in public office'” class=”blkBorder img-share”/>

Message: Last year Tony Blair was emotional as he expressed his sorrow to the families of the 179 British Iraq War dead – but bereaved relatives believe there is evidence that the ex-Prime Minister committed ‘misfeasance in public office’

 

<img id=”i-1a04ae5c48ebd8fc” src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/02/13/13/0371E208000003E8-4219712-image-m-15_1486991941127.jpg” height=”424″ width=”306″ alt=”Message: Last year Tony Blair was emotional as he expressed his sorrow to the families of the 179 British Iraq War dead – but bereaved relatives believe there is evidence that the ex-Prime Minister committed ‘misfeasance in public office'” class=”blkBorder img-share”/>

Tony Blair could be hauled before the courts over the Iraq War, the Mail can reveal today.

Top barristers working for bereaved relatives of British troops killed in the conflict believe there is evidence that the ex-Prime Minister committed ‘misfeasance in public office’.

The legal team has gone through the 2.6million-word, 12-volume Chilcot Report into the controversial conflict with a fine-tooth comb for the past six months.

They now conclude that there is a strong case Mr Blair misled Parliament to justify the disastrous 2003 invasion, which cost the lives of 179 UK servicemen and women.

The families’ legal team is seeking to build a civil case against him and other Whitehall officials.

It was funded with the help of generous Daily Mail readers who raised £150,000 in just two weeks in a bid to bring them to justice. More than 5,000 members of the public dipped into their pockets to help the cause

 

John Bercow made a moral judgement about Trump but has no problem paying homage to apartheid israel

John Bercow travels to Israel amid storm of criticism over Trump

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Jewish Speaker of UK parliament, John Bercow, says he will not investigate scandal over israel’s influence

The Jewish politician was welcomed by Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, yesterday.

John Bercow has become the first House of Commons speaker to officially visit Israel.

The Jewish politician was welcomed by Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, yesterday.

Mr Regev tweeted: “Delighted to welcome @HouseOfCommons Speaker John Bercow to Israel: the first Commons Speaker to pay an official visit to the Jewish state.”

During his visit, Mr Bercow is expected to meet his Israeli counterpart Yuli Edelstein and talk to young political leaders about the UK Parliament and the responsibility of the Speaker.

As part of the trip he will visit Yad Vashem and lay a wreath in memory of Holocaust victims.

Mr Bercow’s visit comes amid a storm of criticism and a potential vote of no confidence in him over his outspoken comments on Donald Trump.

He said he would not welcome the American President to Parliament because of his comments about women and minorities

Britain’s sickening infatuation with israel continues

Britain’s sickening infatuation with Israel continues

 

Iran still the victim of unshakable Israeli influence over the UK’s political establishment

By Stuart Littlewood

Here in the UK the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) has initiated a judicial review in a bid to halt UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia on suspicion that they are being used against civilians in Yemen. The indiscriminate nature of Saudi air-strikes makes it highly likely that British weaponry is being deployed in breach of international humanitarian law.

The slaughter has been going on for nearly two years, leading to a humanitarian crisis of appalling magnitude and great cruelty. Since the Yemen campaign began the British government has granted export licences for more than £3.3 billions worth of war equipment when there was a “clear risk” that some of it would be used in violation of all norms of human conduct.

It is claimed that the government has ignored warnings by senior civil servants and its own arms control experts, and some records of expressed concern have gone missing. This is no great surprise when we discover that export licensing is overseen by none other than the secretary of state for international trade, Liam Fox. For Fox has “form” as a crazed stooge of Israel and a sworn enemy of Iran.

Fox, while secretary of state for defence, was quoted on the Conservative Friends of Israel website as saying:

… We must remember that in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression – Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together or we will all fall divided.

And in June 2015 Fox declared:

It is logical to assume that Iran’s intentions are to develop a nuclear weapons capability and any claims that its intentions are exclusively peaceful should not be regarded as credible… Iran’s nuclear intentions cannot be seen outside the context of its support for terror proxies, arguably the defining feature of its foreign policy. The risks are clear.

Fox was forced to resign as defence secretary in 2011 following scandalous goings-on between him, his “close friend” Adam Werritty, the UK ambassador to Israel and Israeli intelligence figures allegedly involved in plotting sanctions against Iran.

Liam Fox and his friend Adam Werritty

Liam Fox (left) and his friend Adam Werritty

Just lately, Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Iran of working with Hezbollah, interfering in Iraq, sending fighters to Syria to help Assad, and supporting the Houthis in the conflict in Yemen. The British government, of course, can meddle where it pleases and recently concluded another huge arms deal with the Saudis which, says Mrs May, is for the sake of long-term security in the Gulf. She argues that the same extremists who plot terror in the Gulf states are also targeting the streets of Europe: “Gulf security is our security.”

However, public pressure to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia is now so great that the government has adopted a new export licensing scheme that hides the value and scale of weaponry being supplied.

The reason for the British government’s current hostility towards Iran was plain from what David Cameron told the Knesset in 2014:

A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world not just Israel. And with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that it is never allowed to happen.

That position carries forward into the present day and beyond, and serves as an excuse for the rednecks who rule our political swamp to carry on being unpleasant to the Muslim world.

After sucking up to Trump Britain rolls out red carpet to another of the world’s undesirables

Theresa May lost no time in welcoming the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to London. The two leaders this week agreed to establish a new UK-Israel Trade Working Group to strengthen their existing trade and investment relationship and “to prepare the ground for a post-Brexit trade agreement”. What good that will do in the face of rising popularity among the public of boycotting everything Israeli remains to be seen.

Regional issues, including Syria and Iran, are to be on the agenda for discussion. And regarding Palestine May repeated the mantra that – “We remain committed to a two-state solution as the best way of building stability and peace for the future” – though she doesn’t say what that will look like.

Netanyahu also met Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and they sat alongside the desk on which the Balfour Declaration was composed in 1917. As for the forthcoming Balfour Declaration centenary celebrations, a statement said that May invited Netanyahu to attend events taking place in the UK “as a guest of government” and that Netanyahu “also invited her to visit him in Israel”.

Netanyahu didn’t miss the opportunity to warn that Iran “seeks to annihilate Israel” and called on nations to back renewed sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Israel’s ‘nest of spies’ in London

I looked up one of my old reports about how Craig Murray, a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, argued five years ago that British policy was being driven in an underhand fashion by the Israel lobby. He linked Matthew Gould, the then British ambassador to Israel, with the Fox-Werritty scandal and raised questions about meetings between Gould, Liam Fox and Fox’s strange friend Adam Werritty. Werritty was referred to as Fox’s adviser but according to reports he was backed financially by Israel lobbyists and had no security clearance and therefore no authorised role.

Matthew Gould

Matthew Gould’s relationship with Liam Fox, his friend Adam Werritty and the Israeli intelligence service Mossad leaves many questions to be answered

Murray, with many useful contacts from his days as an ambassador, claimed to have serious evidence connecting Gould with a secret plan to attack Iran, but the Foreign Office and the Cabinet Secretary blocked questions. (To read Craig Murray’s story, “Matthew Gould and the plot to attack Iran”, click here.)

In it he pointed out that

Matthew Gould does not see his race or religion as irrelevant. He has chosen to give numerous interviews to both British and Israeli media on the subject of being a Jewish ambassador, and has been at pains to be photographed by the Israeli media participating in Jewish religious festivals. Israeli newspaper Haaretz described him as “not just an ambassador who is Jewish, but a Jewish ambassador”. That rather peculiar phrase appears directly to indicate that the potential conflict of interest for a British ambassador in Israel has indeed arisen.

He went on to say that Gould stood suspected of participating with Fox and Werritty “in a scheme to forward war with Iran, in cooperation with Israel”. The stonewalling by the Cabinet Office and Foreign Office led Murray to conclude that “something very important is being hidden right at the heart of government”.

Labour MP Paul Flynn remarked that no previous ambassadors to Israel had been Jewish so that a conflict of interest and accusations of going native would be avoided. He was immediately rebuked. Flynn also asked about meetings between Werritty and Gould, as some reports suggested that Gould, Werritty and Fox discussed a potential military strike on Iran with Mossad. “I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories,” said Flynn, “but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist and he has previously served in Iran.”

Fox had earlier made the idiotic claim: “Israel’s enemies are our enemies”, and the Jewish Chronicle hailed him as “a champion of Israel within the government”. Furthermore, Fox continually rattled the sabre against Iran which, of course, is no threat to Britain but regarded by Israel as a bitter enemy. Iraq too was Israel’s enemy, not ours. Yet Fox, according to the website TheyWorkForYou, voted “very strongly” for the Iraq war. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Afghanistan.

Given that Fox so eagerly waved the flag of a foreign military power and was a man with dangerous beliefs and demonstrably weak judgement, how could those who appointed him not see that he was unfit to serve as a Minister of the British Crown – unless they were similarly tainted?

When the Werritty relationship came to light Fox jumped before being flung from the battlements. But instead of melting into obscurity he has now been rehabilitated into the senior ranks of government and is once again a Minister of the Crown. And after watching the trail blazed by our former Jewish ambassador to the Jewish State, we now gawp with fascination at the inevitably messy conflicts of interest arising from Donald Trump’s pick for US ambassador to Israel – David Friedman, a Jewish lawyer with scant respect for international law or Middle East sensitivities.

Despite the strong whiff of misconduct, David Cameron rewarded Gould by making him head of the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance (OCSIA), which includes e-crime, working with private sector partners on exchanging information, and engaging with international partners in improving the security of cyberspace and information security. Did it seem right for such a person to be in charge of crucial security matters at the heart of our government? What was in fellow Zionist David Cameron’s mind when he appointed him?

Could it have had anything to do with the UK-Israel academic collaboration ventures with cyber research funding, which involve partnerships between British and Israeli universities and cover research areas such identity management, regulating cyber security, privacy assurance, mobile and cloud security, human aspects of security, and cryptography?

Both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on digital cooperation in March 2014. And Gould’s new appointment came at a time when the Cameron government was lecturing us on threats to national security and announcing plans to trawl through our personal emails and web browsers in order to “keep us safe”. Question was, who would trawl Gould’s private emails?

The vipers in our bosom

CAAT expects a decision on the judicial review on arms to Saudi Arabia in four to six weeks. In the meantime, an undercover Aljazeera investigation has revealed that a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, Shai Masot, was plotting with stooges among British MPs and other vipers in the political snake-pit to “take down” senior government figures, including Boris Johnson’s deputy at the Foreign Office, Sir Alan Duncan, a noted sympathiser of the Palestinian’s struggle. This should have resulted in the expulsion of the ambassador himself, the Israeli propaganda maestro and Netanyahu’s pet, Mark Regev, who took up the post last year. Regev is the sort of person no sensible government would let into their country. But he was let off the hook and the affair hurriedly smoothed over with an announcement from the Foreign Office that the matter was closed.

Israel's UK embassy spy Shai Masot

Shai Masot plotted with stooges among British MPs and other vipers in the political snake-pit to “take down” senior government figures

Craig Murray, however, has been digging again. The Foreign Office deflected his many questions and dismissed the idea that Masot was anything more than a member of the technical and administrative staff at the embassy. “This is plainly a nonsense,” says Murray. “Masot, as an ex-major in the Israeli navy and senior officer in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is plainly senior to many who are on the Diplomatic List.” He concludes that the Foreign Office is complicit in

a large nest of Israeli spies seeking to influence policy and opinion in the UK in a pro-Israeli direction. That is why the government reaction to one of those spies being caught on camera plotting a scandal against an FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] minister, and giving £1 million to anti-Corbyn MPs, was so astonishingly muted.

All this and the recent UN resolution 2334, which condemned Israel’s continuing squats on Palestinian land as illegal and an obstacle to peace, has done nothing to disturb the cosy relationship between Her Majesty’s Government and the obnoxious Israelis.

On the contrary, after May’s meeting with Netanyahu a Downing Street spokesperson said they focused on, yes, cyber security:

In their discussions, the prime ministers committed to working together to build on our longstanding relationship and the strong ties that already exist between our two countries in a wide range of areas, from trade and investment, to innovation and technology, and defence and security. They talked about the important work we do together on intelligence-sharing and cyber security, and committed to talk further about how we can deepen this cooperation, to help keep our people safe.

Sitting comfortably?

Boris Johnson pushed for UK to continue selling weapons to Saudi after funeral bombing

Source

https://www.rt.com/uk/376974-boris-johnson-saudi-weapons/video/

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pushed for continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the wake of a deadly airstrike on a funeral in Yemen which killed 140 people, it has been revealed

In a letter to UK secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, published by the Guardian and dated November 8, Johnson wrote: “I am aware you have deferred a decision on four export licence applications to supply the Royal Saudi Air Force with equipment which could be used in the conflict in Yemen.”

He advised Fox to proceed with the arms sales. “The issue is extremely finely balanced, but I judge at present the Saudis appear committed both to improving processes and to taking action to address failures/individual incidents.”

He went on to say “the clear risk threshold for refusal … has not yet been reached.”

Fox then recommended the licences be approved in light of the assessment provided by Johnson.

In his reply to Johnson, he warned of inherent risks because of the “grave situation” in Yemen and other reasons which were redacted.

“I agree that this is an extremely complex situation and that the issue of clear risk is extremely finely balanced. In the light of your assessment and [REDACTED] recent advice I accept that we should continue, for the present, to assess export licences for Saudi Arabia on a case-by-case basis,” Fox wrote

However, he added that, “In doing so I want to be very clear with you about the risks inherent in making this decision, not just because of the grave situation in Yemen.”

On October 8, the funeral of the father of a prominent Houthi leader was attacked in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, killing 140 people and injuring 534. Witnesses say nothing was left at the site but “a lake of blood.”

Rebel leaders accused the Saudi-led coalition of deliberately targeting the funeral.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition, which has been attacking Houthi rebels since early 2015, initially denied its involvement but later agreed to investigate the attack.

The inquiry team found: “Because of non-compliance with coalition rules of engagement and procedures, and the issuing of incorrect information, a coalition aircraft wrongly targeted the location, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries.”

The letters between Johnson and Fox were among documents disclosed in court proceedings this week, as the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) faced the government in a judicial review of the decision to continue licensing arms exports to Saudi Arabia despite the kingdom’s widely criticized offensive in Yemen

In the landmark case at the High Court, CAAT and other campaign groups are arguing British arms exports are not compatible with UK and EU legislation because they have been used to illegally kill Yemeni civilians.

The four-day judicial review ends in the closed court on Friday.

In November, the government rejected calls by two parliamentary committees and human rights groups to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, arguing that the weapons were not being used in “a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

Britain has come under frequent criticism for continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia in the face of repeated atrocities in Yemen. The UK has made more than £3 billion ($3.6 billion) from arms sales since the military campaign began in March 2015, which has seen 11,000 Yemeni civilians killed.

Britain has supplied fighter jets, bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia, and provided training to Saudi pilots participating in the war. It has also admitted to exporting 500 cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.

Rothschild behind the creation of the Zionist terrorist state

Rothschild reveals crucial role his ancestors played in the Balfour Declaration and creation of Israel

rothschild-taub_-2017
If Americans Knew | February 9, 2017

The Times of Israel reports that Lord Jacob Rothschild recently revealed new details about the crucial role his ancestors played in obtaining the Balfour Declaration, which “helped pave the way for the creation of Israel.”

The 80-year-old Rothschild is the current head of the banking family and a strong supporter of Israel.

The Balfour Declaration (text below) was an official 1917 letter from the British Foreign Minister, Lord Balfour, addressed to Lord Rothschild, a Zionist leader in Britain at the time and the current Lord Rothschild’s uncle.

During a television interview, the Times of Israel reports that Balfour revealed for the first time the  role of his cousin Dorothy de Rothschild.

Rothschild described Dorothy, who was in her teens at the time, as “devoted to Israel,” and said: ‘What she did, which was crucially important.’”

Rothschild said that Dorothy connected Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann to the British establishment. Dorothy “told Weizmann how to integrate, how to insert himself into British establishment life, which he learned very quickly.”

Rothschild said that the way the declaration was procured was extraordinary. “It was the most incredible piece of opportunism.”

“[Weizmann] gets to Balfour,” Rothschild described, “and unbelievably, he persuades Lord Balfour, and Lloyd George, the prime minister, and most of the ministers, that this idea of a national home for Jews should be allowed to take place. I mean it’s so, so unlikely.”

The interview was was conducted by former Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub as part of the Balfour 100 project. Taub interviewed Rothschild at Waddeston Manor in Buckinghamshire, a manor bequeathed to the nation by the Rothschild family in 1957, where the Declaration is kept.

According to Ambassador Taub, the declaration “changed the course of history for the Middle East.”

The Times reports that Rothschild said his family at the time was divided on the idea of Israel, noting that some members “didn’t think it was a good thing that this national home be established there”.

Dorothy’s letters are also stored at Waddeston. They describe her later dealings with diverse Zionist leaders and her advice on the organization of the Zionist Conference, according to the Times.

Rothschild said that the Declaration went through five drafts before finally being issued on November 2, 1917.

Alison Weir reports in her book, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, that drafts of the declaration went back and forth to Zionists in the United States before the document was finalized. The main writer was secret Zionist Leopold Amery.

Balfour Declaration Text:

Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours,

Arthur James Balfour

Cover Up: UK Drops Hundreds of Misconduct Claims Over Iraq, Afghanistan Wars

UK Drops Hundreds of Misconduct Claims Over Iraq, Afghan Wars

 
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, seen in 2016, said that 90 percent of the 675 current misconduct allegations involving British troops in Afghanistan were being dismissed<img alt=”British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, seen in 2016, said that 90 percent of the 675 current misconduct allegations involving British troops in Afghanistan were being dismissed” class=”StretchedBox W(100%) H(100%) ie-7_H(a)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/I85eYoRDQaMdZds872Qh8Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAwO2lsPXBsYW5l/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/afp.com/b452e70b8c185776f9df6c751180fd847a7882ab.jpg”/>
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, seen in 2016, said that 90 percent of the 675 current misconduct allegations involving British troops in Afghanistan were being dismissed (AFP Photo/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS)

London (AFP) – Britain is dismissing hundreds of allegations of misconduct by its soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, the defence ministry said on Friday, following an investigation that uncovered spurious claims.

The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which was set up in 2010 and is dealing with hundreds of cases, will be shut down in the summer and 20 of its cases will be handed over to the Royal Navy police.

This follows an investigation that led to campaigning lawyer Phil Shiner, who had brought many of the claims, being struck off earlier this month.

The announcement was made by Defence Minister Michael Fallon, who also said that 90 percent of the 675 current misconduct allegations involving British troops in Afghanistan were being dismissed.

“This will be a relief for our soldiers who have had allegations hanging over them for too long,” Fallon said in televised remarks.

“Now we are taking action to stop such abuse of our legal system from happening again,” he said.

But Amnesty International criticised the decision to hand over the remaining cases to the Royal Navy police, calling instead for an independent investigation to be conducted.

“The UK’s military reputation is on the line — any credible allegations of abuses by UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan should be independently investigated, which must mean by a body that is separate from the military itself,” the rights group said in a statement.

A parliamentary committee report earlier on Friday found that serving and retired troops had been subjected to “deeply disturbing” treatment by IHAT.

The report said IHAT investigators had used “intimidatory tactics” and spied on war veterans.

“IHAT has operated without any regard to its impact on the UK military which has directly harmed their reputation across the world,” the report said.

IHAT was set up by the former Labour government to assess claims of abuse by Iraqi civilians. It started out with 165 claims but the caseload skyrocketed and eventually grew to more than 3,500.

How We Were Misled About Syria: Channel 4 News

Source

By Tim Hayward | February 6, 2017

Difficulties faced news organisations attempting to cover events in the war in Syria, particularly in the eastern part of Aleppo when under siege. Western journalists had stopped even trying to enter that area for fear of being kidnapped, or worse, at the hands of one or other of the armed factions holding the area. International relief agencies and NGO’s were not to be found on the ground either, for the same reasons.

This is one of the two main problems for media coverage of Syria that Eva Bartlett highlighted at a UN press conference in November 2016 when talking about her first hand experience of conditions in Aleppo.[1] Asked by a journalist from a mainstream publication why she seemed to be challenging ‘all these absolutely documentable facts that we’ve seen from the ground’, she pointed out that he was referring to a hearsay narrative, not facts, because ‘sources on the ground? You don’t have them.’

Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear had earlier in 2016 grappled with this problem, of “safe access denied to objective independent journalists from outside”, and had devised a strategy for circumventing it. He commissioned coverage from a Syrian woman called Wa’ad Alkateab who could move safely in the opposition-held area. She went on to make a series of films – Inside Aleppo – that, thanks to the prominence Channel 4 gave them, became influential in forming public opinion about the circumstances in Aleppo.

This neat side-stepping of the first problem, however, put Channel 4’s coverage at risk of succumbing to the second problem highlighted by Eva Bartlett: any testimony coming out of opposition-held areas has to be considered compromised. For we have to assume that whatever is reported from the opposition-held area is only what those with the guns will permit. So the presumption must be that information coming out is unlikely to be the whole truth and may contain untruths.

hamza-five-years-fighting

For some reason, this presumption – which follows from the most basic principles of credible journalism – seems at times to have been suspended by Channel 4 News in its coverage of Syria. It entered no caveats about the reports and tended to treat their content – without corroboration or independent evidence – as if it had come from verified sources.[2] Channel 4 was thus knowingly complicit in promoting a narrative that was necessarily one-sided.

To take just one obvious example of partiality: Alkateab’s films prominently feature the medical facility where her husband Hamza Al-Khatib played a central role, and we hear repeatedly how the Syrian government and its Russian allies are bombing areas with civilians including the children they treat. What we would never know from these films is that there are many more hospitals in the larger part of Aleppo treating children and other civilians who are victims of rockets and mortars launched into residential areas by fighters from the opposition enclave in the eastern part.[3] These, moreover, can be corroborated.[4]

It should go without saying that a single individual will always have their own limited perspective; an individual with a strong ideological commitment who is deeply embedded with oppositional militants must be assumed to be partial. (The commitment may be sincere and held with good intention but this does not diminish the questions about its partiality.)

Role to play.jpg

This may be why people at Channel 4 responded in a particularly defensive manner to the simple moral force of Eva Bartlett’s cautionary words. They engaged in a rather disingenuous attempt to discredit her. An article published on their website, that merely took issue with one incidental in Bartlett’s account, was promoted by Channel 4 people – from John Snow and Ben de Pear down – as if it had disposed of her critique of mainstream coverage in Syria.[5] The article in fact made no comment on her main points.

Two major claims Bartlett had made – that there were no independent news sources on the ground in Aleppo and that any sources used there should be regarded as compromised – were incontrovertibly true. The factual truth of the first was clearly acknowledged by Channel 4 itself, as we noted. The truth of the second is of a normative kind that would be accepted by any decent journalist under the circumstances prevailing in Aleppo.

What is really at issue, therefore, if we assume agreement about the basic standards of reputable journalism, is whether anyone has an effective reply to her main substantive argument about coverage of the war in Syria, namely, that it involves the promotion of a narrative that lacks a basis in verifiable fact. Bartlett claims that the mainstream media have systematically occluded an entire side of the Syrian story, and they have done so in a way that supports the interests of the NATO and Gulf states that were pressing for ‘regime change’ in Syria; in doing this, they have supported the visitation of a devastating war upon the Syrian people that has been unnecessary and unjustified. The mainstream media are thereby complicit in an egregious contravention of the laws of war and human morality.

Channel 4’s defensiveness on the subject indicates that they saw the charge applied to them as a part of the mainstream consensus. But if they were going to answer it, why did they not play what should have been their strongest card? If Bartlett’s claim is that people on the ground contest the mainstream narrative, why not appeal to contrary testimony from the ground that supports it? They have the Alkateab videos, after all, and these repeatedly show people injured or bereaved by bombings. The thing is, what those videos show is something that is not in dispute: people are being killed by war, and it is difficult to run medical facilities in conditions of war. By contriving to suggest that Bartlett is denying this, which she is obviously not, they evade the real challenge.

In fact, a major evasiveness is at the heart of the series Inside Aleppo. If we bear in mind that the films are shot in an area of the town that is being besieged by the Syrian army and the Russian air force, then we realise this is because there is considerable military resistance being put up. Yet in the Alkateab films there is an eerie silence about the military forces on the ground around them. Although in the film of the couple and their baby entering Aleppo we catch sight of one of their companions carrying an AK47, the rest of the time we see nobody onscreen bearing any arms. Nor do we hear anything about any of the score or so of armed brigades, dominated by the militias of Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) that are controlling the town and holding at bay the combined military might of Syria and Russia. We do not even hear anything explicit about the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ that the mainstream media refer to.

moderate bakery bombers.png

As it happens, though, Channel 4 did make one film showing the ‘moderate opposition’ at work. It was billed as giving ‘a glimpse into why Syrian and Russian forces have so far been unable to re-take the whole of Aleppo.’[6] Up Close with the Rebels (released in October 2016) features an example of so-called ‘moderate rebels’ in action. In his voiceover, Krishnan Guru-Murthy introduces the action as “one small but famous victory, as rebels fought back against the forces of Bashar Al-Assad”. With this vicarious sharing of their glory, the Channel 4 man is in no doubt about who they are: they are “Islamist fighters”, he tells us, noting also that “many civilians in West Aleppo are frightened of these rebel fighters”, which would not be surprising given that they are “launching rockets into the western side of the city”. “This group is well equipped”, he adds, “paid for and supplied by Gulf States, mainly Qatar.”

I think we need to pause here. It appears that the film thereby illustrates, point by point, exactly what Bartlett has said about the anti-government forces being foreign-funded terrorists that the ordinary citizens of Syria want to be protected from. Guru-Murthy appears to be corroborating Bartlett’s account as against that promoted by Channel 4.

The manner of the reporting, though, is truly strange. It involves glorifying in the victory of jihadi terrorists while admitting that ordinary civilians in the greater part of Aleppo are in fear of these fighters. I literally cannot imagine what was going through the head of Guru-Murthy as he was saying all this out loud. Nor can I imagine how exactly he thinks the ordinary civilians trapped in the eastern part of Aleppo felt towards these and all the other fighters ruling their lives. After all, he and his colleagues dared not even set foot there.

Still, worse is to come. It relates to a story that shocked the world, in July 2016, when from Aleppo came news – and footage – of a group of Islamists severing the head off a twelve-year old boy with a small knife.[7] That group was Nour Al-Din Al-Zinki, and several of the men directly involved are clearly recognizable in photos that circulated the globe.

One of the men involved in decapitating the twelve-year-old features centre stage in Channel 4’s film.

That, then, is what you find if you actually get up close with the rebels. Channel 4, on being apprised that ordinary observant members of the public apparently knew, or cared, more about the people they were working with than its own news team did, hastily withdrew the video from its website. (I say hastily, as to my knowledge Channel 4 has issued neither apology nor explanation for sending out a news report and then retracting it after people may have relied on it.) The film remains readily accessible elsewhere on the internet – as does the harrowing footage of the decapitation.

The films by Alkateab remain on Channel 4’s catalogue, and it is to be noted that she was not responsible for the Nour Al-Din Al-Zinki footage. But a friend of hers was. Abdul Kader Habak was driving the car that brought Waad and her family into Aleppo. He, like her husband, is interviewed in her film. They presumably all enjoy the same protection.

I make no claim to know which individuals belong to which groups, armed or otherwise, in the ‘rebel-held’ area, but anyone curious enough to look at their public facebook and twitter feeds will see that Wa’ad and Hamza are passionately committed to the anti-government cause. They even use their own baby as a symbol of their struggle. None of this necessarily means their testimony is untrue. But Channel 4 was surprisingly uncritical in its showcasing of the material.[8]

aleppo-day

The truth or otherwise of stories from Channel 4’s sources in eastern Aleppo was to be put to the test in the final days of the siege. These saw intense tweeting from the rebels, and retweeting of it by the Channel 4 news team. ‘Massacre was imminent’, and eastern Aleppo was about to ‘fall’ to the merciless forces of the Syrian ‘regime’. These would probably be the ‘last messages’ before government forces ‘annihilated’ them in #holocaustaleppo. Channel 4 bought into this fully, even featuring a filmed ‘letter’ by Wa’ad which starts “Maybe this will be my last letter to you and the world…”.[9]

In the event, those same people would soon be tweeting again from Turkey or other rebel-held parts of Syria. Meanwhile, according to the kinds of observer that regard Eva Bartlett with respect – and according also to the copious footage showing it – the majority of the population of eastern Aleppo, reunited with the western part, celebrated their liberation, welcoming the Syrian army, and the Russians that followed with their sappers to clear buildings of mines and booby-traps left behind by the ‘moderate rebels’.

As the liberated city has started to rebuild and function again, the Western media have gone silent. Channel 4 no longer talks much about Aleppo. But if the news bandwagon may have moved on, real lives have been lost or changed forever as a result of a war that was unjustified and unnecessary. The rest of us must try and learn from such awful chains of events as led to the unspeakable carnage and displacement in Syria.

Most of us know nothing about Syria except what we can glean from the media – either mainstream news outlets or independent investigators on social media. We are not in a position to check facts as such. Yet we can assess the credibility of testimony, even if only by ascertaining whether it is internally consistent rather than self-contradictory. A fully self-consistent story is not guaranteed to correspond to the true facts, of course, but one that is internally inconsistent cannot be the whole or unalloyed truth.

An account of the circumstances in Aleppo, that was internally consistent during the siege, and vindicated by subsequent events, was provided by those few witnesses from the West who were on the ground. The testimony of Eva Bartlett is consistent with that of a number of other independent observers with first hand experience in Syria at this historic moment who show sides to the story closed off by the mainstream media. They include US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, filmmaker Carla Ortiz, journalist Vanessa Beeley, peace campaigner Jan Oberg, and Virginia State Senator Richard Black.

These individuals, have in varying degrees and ways been vilified, patronised or ignored by mainstream outlets – deploying the low tactics of those who cannot win an argument by means of reason or evidence.  But why should news agencies even be in the business of making an argument?  What exactly is the social role and purpose of the press?

I have chosen to focus on Channel 4, of all the news outlets that promoted the orthodox narrative, for several reasons. Channel 4 has a better reputation among much of the public than some other news outlets: it is thought to have high journalistic standards, and since it also has a public service remit, people tend to expect its coverage to exhibit investigative integrity and objectivity. Yet with regard to its coverage of Syria, not merely did Channel 4 disappoint those expectations, it went the extra mile to reinforce a misleading narrative by commissioning a partisan filmmaker to produce its flagship series of programmes on the war in Syria.

In my opinion, the Channel 4 News team owe a collective apology to Eva Bartlett for suggesting she was discredited when the truth was quite otherwise. I also think that Channel 4 owe us, the public, a commitment to do better than this in future. As for what Channel 4 owes to the people of Syria? The harms of this war can never be made good. Harms of future wars may yet be mitigated or even avoided, and I believe the one thing Channel 4 can and should do is join the side of truth with those who are seeking ways to break up the monolithic deceptions that our communications are increasingly being submerged in.

 

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[1] Eva Bartlett speaking to United Nations Press Conference 9 December 2016: full version; short version featuring the claims discussed here.

[2] “During the summer we made a conscious decision to try and report what was happening in Syria, and particularly in Aleppo, on a daily basis. One person, Wa’ad al Kateab, has made this possible.” Ben de Pear, Channel 4 News, October 2016 http://insidealeppo.com/ It was never made especially clear in Channel 4 news reports on Aleppo how much they relied on this one source, and references to reports on the ground – while unattributed – were also often in the plural. Something to note, however, is that there was not necessarily a plurality of viewpoints coming out of the Aleppo Media Centre, which was the one functioning agency on the ground in eastern Aleppo. Other journalists used and referred to by channel four include Abdul Kader Habak (the cameraman on Up Close With The Rebels) and ‘a photographer for Reuters’ who I presume would be Abdalrhman Ismail, both of whom appear to move freely among militants. So while Wa’ad was possibly not the only source, there was still no meaningful corroboration since all sources accessed by Channel 4 should most safely be assumed to have been compromised in similar ways. Quite generally, Chanel 4 have tended to treat anti-government claims as true whereas they always voice scepticism in relation to claims on the other side, even on those rare occasions where they air them (as in Thomson example below) or the occasional interview, as with Jon Snow’s shameful haranguing of the Aleppo parliamentarian Fares Shehabi on 30 November 2016 https://www.channel4.com/news/aleppo-syrian-mp-fares-shehabi.

[3] For background and useful sources on this see Vanessa Beeley. ‘Channel 4 Joins CNN in Normalising Terrorism, Then Removes Their Own Video’, 21st Century Wire, 9 October 2016.

[4] Corroboration includes that of the Aleppo Medical Association. For background on the real situation of medical facilities across the whole of Aleppo, which is entirely occluded in the Channel 4 films, see for instance: Tim Anderson, ‘The Aleppo Hospital’ Smokescreen: Covering up Al Qaeda Massacres in Syria, Once Again’, Global Research, 9 May 2016; Eva Bartlett, ‘Western corporate media ‘disappears’ over 1.5 million Syrians and 4,000 doctorsSOTT 14 August 2016; Vanessa Beeley, ‘Journey To Aleppo Part II: The Syria Civil Defense & Aleppo Medical Association Are Real Syrians Helping Real Syrians’, Mint Press News, 27 September 2016.

[5] All Channel 4 in reality even attempted to debunk was an aside by Bartlett about how the White Helmets, in staging some of their videos, sometimes used the same actor more than once. Their article goes to great lengths to show there is reasonable doubt about that matter.

Channel 4 were not dishonest about the limited nature of their piece in its title: ‘Eva Bartlett’s Claims About Syrian Children’. The promotion of it by all the colleagues on the news team, however, presented it as a definitive ‘fact check’ or ‘debunking’ of Bartlett. And that is how it went out into the wider world. Representative – and influential – was the tweet of famous Channel 4 anchor Jon Snow on 21 December 2016 linking to an altered title ‘FactCheck: Eva Bartlett’s Syria Claims’, which transforms the narrowly appropriate original one into one that implies a more comprehensive ‘debunking’. He tweets: ‘Even Syria’s children are caught up in lies and propaganda: A remarkable fact check puts the record straight’. All the piece actually does is show there to be reasonable doubt about Bartlett’s claim that the White Helmets publicity featured some children on more than one occasion. Doubt on this score does not even affect her claim that some of the videos were staged (since staging can be done with different actors each time, obviously). On this more substantial claim, the Channel 4 piece does not say much, but it does seek to show that at least one of the White Helmets filmed rescues was genuine. While not disputing that some of their rescues will have been genuine, I would just note that the reasons Channel 4 give would not establish the case for the example they look at. They say this: ‘The long sequence in which rescuers [are shown] painstakingly clearing rubble away from around the girl suggests that it would have been difficult to fake this footage. Someone would have had to have buried a screaming child up to their chest in rubble and carefully assembled a large amount of heavy wreckage around and on top of her – an extraordinary logistical challenge and an extraordinary collective act of child abuse.’

Certainly, it would be an extraordinary collective act of child abuse. As for the logistical challenge, however, it is no more difficult to place some rubble around and above the child than it is to then pick it off. Of course, we ordinary people will recoil at the very thought of seeing this as simply a logistical challenge, because it is such an ‘extraordinary collective act of child abuse’. But we are not terrorists or obliged to work with them. It cannot be a rebuttal of Bartlett’s claims that the White Helmets are embedded with terrorists to show that for her claims to be credible they would have to act in ways that are consistent with terrorist acts. The problem of how children are used, abused and even weaponised by armed groups in the pay of NATO AND Gulf states is a very real one. That the White Helmets are paid from those sources is a matter of public record; that some of them bear arms is illustrated by various videos, including Channel 4’s own documentary Up Close With The Rebels, where, at 2:27, one of the jihadis is clearly seen sporting a jersey with white helmets logo.

Among the various dishonest tactics carefully used in connection with the attempt to discredit and isolate Bartlett is the use of this kind of statement: ‘Supporters of the Assad regime have variously accused the White Helmets of being puppets of western powers, peddlers of faked footage or even terrorist fighters posing as humanitarian workers, all of which the organisation vigorously denies.’ The fact is, anyone who studies the evidence now widely available in the public domain can reasonably infer that the White Helmets are indeed a tool of the western powers, that they have indeed issued faked footage, and that some of them do have demonstrable terrorist affiliations. One can infer these things without have any view at all about Assad. The Channel 4 piece flirts with dishonesty by implying that scepticism about the White Helmets is the preserve of dupes of Assad.

[6] ‘Published on 4 Oct 2016, 20:08 ‘This report, filmed by Syrian cameraman Abdul Kader Habak, gives a glimpse into why Syrian and Russian forces have so far been unable to re-take the whole of Aleppo.’ http://newsvideo.su/video/5313805

[7] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3697770/US-backed-Nour-al-Din-al-Zenki-behead-boy-accused-al-Quds-spy-Assad.html

[8] I am not the first to criticize Channel 4’s coverage of Aleppo. As well as Vanessa Beeley’s piece cited in n3, see also Daniel Margrain, ‘Syria: the Western media’s unending propaganda war’, Scisco Media 5 December 2016.

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4H9xia3Mis&t=292s. Channel 4 cites ‘multiple reports of summary executions of civilians’ 13 Dec 2016 (https://www.channel4.com/news/inside-aleppo-latest-from-source-in-the-city), which presumably come from the same ‘activists on the ground’ that Jon Snow uncritically relays statements from in this item – https://www.channel4.com/news/aleppo-have-we-reached-the-endgame. In the same item, Alex Thomson includes an interview run by Russian TV where civilians leaving the east call the militias in charge there “animals from hell” who had prevented them having food and tried to stop them leaving (https://www.channel4.com/news/aleppo-have-we-reached-the-endgame). In response to this, Thomson comments from his studio, ‘blaming the rebels may well be genuine, but it could also save your life.’ What? This gratuitous comment he permits himself is given no substantiation. So an identifiable individual manifestly suffering on the screen in front of him is treated as an object of scepticism and insinuation while unidentified activist sources can come out with any tales they choose and these are treated as tantamount to fact.

There is a certain amount of misdirection in the editing too. While referring to unattributed ‘reports’, Channel 4 would run stock footage (unlabelled as such) showing for instance the White Helmets on the ground – as in this one: https://www.channel4.com/news/east-aleppo-bombardment-continues-with-dozens-reported-dead – but they were in reality keeping a very low profile in those days. Misleading interviews, too, as in this one – https://www.channel4.com/news/the-latest-from-aleppo – with a ‘teacher’ who also featured as one of the ‘last days’ webcam publicists, and who later (in February 2017) is writing on Facebook that ‘it is not easy to leave five years of fighting for freedom … The Evil has won a battle but I hope we will get the Freedom in the final stage.’

A particularly egregious practice at Channel 4 is to permit themselves to claim to know Syrian government plans and strategies. Channel 4 is prepared to report on the basis of unspecified sources about ‘what appears to be a deliberate strategy by the Russians to block the evacuation of medical staff from what remains of eastern Aleppo’ (https://www.channel4.com/news/inside-aleppo-latest-from-source-in-the-city) This echoes earlier claims, as in the report that asserted the Syrian government had a plan to make life too unbearable for civilians to stay in Aleppo (https://youtu.be/U7Y_46OE35QS). Such claims are not only preposterous but also implicitly reinforce a disputed claim that it is not the armed militias who are keeping the ordinary population trapped in the area they still hold. This poor journalistic practice seems to be somewhat engrained. We find as recently as 20th January 2017 in the Press Gazette : ‘Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear told Press Gazette : “Waad and her family really were on the last bus to get out of Aleppo and we know that they and the other doctors and activists and journalists in the city were the number one target of the Assad Regime.”’ http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/channel-4-news-filmmaker-waad-al-kateab-safe-in-turkey-after-escaping-aleppo-siege-on-last-bus-out/ The claim is preposterous in more ways than are worth analysing, but the only question I’d trouble to ask is how de Pear thinks he knows this.

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