The Brits can blame Tony Blair, Americans can not even publish and accuse Bush of his Sickening lies
The Brits can blame Tony Blair, Americans can not even publish and accuse Bush of his Sickening lies. Serial deceit. And proof Blair has blood on his hands: Top investigative writer's devastating dossier on former PM's messianic mission to invade Iraq
Tony Blair confided to a senior RAF officer about the extent of his knowledge of military affairs. ‘I know we have an Army, Navy and Air Force,’ he said, ‘but I don’t know any more'
For a major new book on the former PM, top investigative reporter Tom Bower interviewed dozens of senior government officials, all the Cabinet Secretaries from the Blair years and successive junior ministers and Cabinet ministers. For the inside track on Blair’s war-mongering, he also interviewed dozens of senior military officers and all four Chiefs of the Defence Staff. In total, he spoke to 200 people. Today, in the second part of our exclusive series, he reveals the devastating truth he uncovered about the build-up to conflict in Iraq...
Soon after stepping into Downing Street as Britain youngest Prime Minister since 1812, the 43-year-old Tony Blair confided to a senior RAF officer about the extent of his knowledge of military affairs. ‘I know we have an Army, Navy and Air Force,’ he said, ‘but I don’t know any more.’
It was an astonishing admission for a man who now had his finger on the nuclear button. To overcome this deficiency, he opted to rely on General Charles Guthrie, the Chief of the Defence Staff until 2001, to educate him. ‘Call me Tony,’ said Blair as they sat on the sunlit terrace of Downing Street’s garden.
‘I shall call you Prime Minister,’ replied Guthrie.
Blair, who had avoided serving in the cadet force at school, was receptive to the blood-and-guts aura the general had acquired over his years of service. For his part, Guthrie understood the young politician’s ambition to change the world, using Britain’s military as what Blair evangelically called ‘a force for good’.
The men soon bonded over a mutual enjoyment of tennis and agreement about a newspaper article Blair had written, outlining his doctrine. ‘If good men do nothing,’ he had written, adapting Edmund Burke, ‘evil prospers.’ Neither Blair nor Guthrie anticipated to what degree those seven words would transform British politics.
Then President Bush and former PM Tony Blair following a press conference at Camp David Friday in 2001
From sending British bombers over Iraq in 1998 (the first evening of which, Blair spent watching the Harrison Ford thriller Air Force One), to the quagmire of Afghanistan, via Kosovo and Sierra Leone, Blair’s zeal for committing British troops to action was unprecedented, especially for a PM who neither understood nor particularly liked the military.
But of all his military interventions, none was to prove so controversial as the second Iraq war and the decisions that took us there.
The official inquiry into those events — chaired by Sir John Chilcot — is still not complete, more than six years after it began hearing evidence. Its findings are due to be published later this year. But now, based on exclusive accounts by many of those involved, the full devastating truth of the countdown to war can be laid bare.
The picture it reveals is of a PM who, through his messianic determination to tackle ‘evil’, dragged Britain to war through wilful deception of senior officials, his Cabinet, Parliament — and his country.
September 11, 2001: The day that changed the world
The day two hijacked planes crashed into New York’s twin towers changed everything for Tony Blair. In the battle between good and evil, he decided, his responsibility was to embark on a worldwide crusade to save civilisation. ‘We shall support America in anything they do,’ he excitedly told a meeting of ministers and the military.
Five days later, President George Bush informed Blair in a phone call that Al Qaeda — now known to be responsible for 9/11 — had possible links with Iraq.
Could it be true? As Blair busily flew around Europe, conferring with leaders, he was accompanied by MI6 chief Richard Dearlove, who was already convinced — without any concrete evidence — that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
A suicide bomber, he told Blair, might even trigger a nuclear explosion in London. The warning sank in. Dearlove quickly became ‘unusually close’ to Blair, according to shocked officials.
Seemingly out of the blue, Blair told his foreign affairs advisers: ‘I’d like a strategy paper on Iraq.’ The seeds for an invasion were already being sown as officials searched for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan.
The White House noted that Blair was more hawkish than its President. And at least one British military chief was seriously disturbed.
Fearing an invasion of Afghanistan would end in a quagmire like Vietnam, Admiral Mike Boyce — the newly appointed Chief of the Defence Staff — used one of his regular meetings with Blair to explain the pitfalls of invading distant Muslim countries.
The Prime Minister nodded politely. His instinct, he replied, convinced him that Afghanis would embrace Western-style democracy as Iraqis would later once Saddam had gone. Crucially, Blair already secretly supported ‘regime change’ in Iraq, which he knew raised legal obstacles. Iraq’s alleged possession of WMDs would become his smokescreen to overcome them.
Frustrated by the PM’s disregard of history and the limitations of our Armed Forces, the admiral fired a broadside at No 10 with a speech to a military audience in London.
British soldier prepares to jump from a burning tank which was set ablaze after a shooting incident in Basra
British airmen shelter from the dust thrown up from a helicopter as they conduct a dawn airborne counter insurgency patrol in 2009 in Iraq
Bombing, he warned, would not defeat terrorism but would radicalise the Muslim world against the West. A conventional invasion of Afghanistan, and by implication Iraq, would fail to win ‘hearts and minds’ and would drag on for ten years.
‘The world,’ he said, ‘cannot afford non-states, black-hole states or failed states because such states breed terrorism. Therefore, we have to attack the causes, not the symptoms, of terrorism.’
It would be in Britain’s national interest, he suggested, for Blair to lay down red lines in his relationship with America and not be unequivocally associated with Bush’s putative adventure.
The instant reaction from an irritated Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Defence Secretary, was to ridicule Boyce’s prediction that allied troops would still be fighting in Afghanistan the following summer. America’s high-tech war, he said, would crush the Taliban within weeks, and his country’s soldiers would all return home before the spring.
Blair was also irritated. He did not understand the admiral’s argument, but he did appreciate that annoying Rumsfeld was not in Britain’s interest. ‘Why do you have to be so gloomy?’ Alastair Campbell would later ask Boyce. ‘So half full?’
The admiral looked at him with contempt. ‘I don’t tell people what they like to hear,’ he replied, describing Campbell later as ‘irrelevant . . . he was trivial, not interested in real outcomes.’
December 4: A secret letter is sent to George Bush
Blair sent Dearlove and his foreign affairs adviser David Manning to Washington DC to hand over a personal letter to Bush, setting out his own ideas about ‘regime change’ in Iraq. None of the Prime Minister’s other senior officials was shown what he had written.
While in Washington, Dearlove — who knew he had Blair’s support — met CIA chiefs to discuss how to remove Saddam.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister shut the door on anyone who advised caution. He excluded anyone who could have warned him about the complexities of the Middle East’s history. No one was asked for an independent analysis of Iraq — which Saddam ruled by controlling irreconcilable divisions between religions, tribal clans and family loyalties.
Nor did anyone warn him that Dearlove’s sources were questionable. That was up to the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, John Scarlett, but he would later say: ‘We didn’t see it as our job to second-guess the agencies on the reliability of their sources.’
As for Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, he was already being frozen out. Reports from the UK ambassador in Washington were now by-passing him and being sent directly to Downing Street.
Demonstrators protest outside the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in London where former prime minister Tony Blair gave evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry
Unusually, Blair was also encouraging Dearlove to bring raw intelligence straight to him. Not that there was much of it, as the intelligence chief lacked any sources close to Saddam. He could only speculate, drawing on second-hand and, more usually, unverifiable third-hand informants with questionable motives.
Whenever Dearlove arrived to brief the Prime Minister, Cabinet Secretary Richard Wilson was excluded. By flouting the tradition for a senior civil servant always to be present at meetings with intelligence officials or the military, Blair abandoned an essential safety net.
Bush received a memo from General Tommy Franks, outlining plans for an invasion of Iraq. Five days later, he made his ‘axis of evil’ speech, identifying Saddam as an architect of international terror.
Keen to join the battle against evil, Blair resolved to keep his own plans secret. Even his Cabinet Secretary wasn’t told the Cabinet Office had been asked to prepare an Options Paper on Iraq — which included plans for British troops to invade. As cover, Blair asked MI6 to intensify their search for WMDs.
Blair keeps Cabinet in the dark: March, 2002
British intelligence chiefs admitted that the intelligence on WMDs was ‘sporadic and patchy’. In fact, they’d failed to find a scrap of reliable information.
The British ambassador in Washington, Christopher Meyer, was briefed by David Manning that the PM favoured ‘regime change’ — and failure wasn’t an option. Meyer was surprised. Blair, he reflected, had become ‘more neo-con than the Americans’.
Suspicious of Blair’s messianic ambitions, Commons leader Robin Cook and Home Secretary David Blunkett now insisted on a Cabinet discussion of Iraq. Blair agreed — but told his staff that the Options Paper shouldn’t be shown to the Cabinet. ‘I don’t think it’s necessary for them to have it,’ he said. ‘They can rely on the media.’
A joint patrol with the British Army and the Iraqi police force in Basra
An RAF Tornado in the Gulf; in a Cabinet meeting Blair spoke only about ‘bombing Iraq’, invasion wasn’t brought up by the former PM
March 7: ‘It’s not a lie, it’s simply deception’
In the Cabinet meeting that day, Blair spoke only about ‘bombing Iraq’. Invasion wasn’t mentioned, though crucially he had already told Bush that America could ‘count on us whatever’. Andrew Turnbull, soon to take over as Cabinet Secretary, reflected later: ‘I wouldn’t call it a lie. Deception is the right word. You can deceive without lying, by leaving a false interpretation uncorrected.’
‘Can we have some papers on Iraq?’ Alistair Darling, then Transport Minister, asked Blair before a Cabinet meeting. There was no reply. Indeed, ministers would not be provided with a single policy paper on Iraq for 18 months.
Unknown to the Cabinet, the PM was in constant telephone and video contact with the President, establishing the timetable for ‘regime change’. This was the penultimate Cabinet discussion about Iraq until September.
Admiral Boyce and the intelligence services gave Blair a briefing on Iraq. Both Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon were absent. It was no secret among those assembled that the invasion of Iraq was being planned for the new year. At one point, Boyce protested that ‘regime change’ alone would be illegal. Blair replied: ‘Well, it’s both regime change and [Saddam’s] WMDs.’
DOSSIER SO DODGY ITS WMD WERE WEATHER BALLOONS
Publicly, Bush continued to maintain he was undecided about an invasion. But when Blair visited his Texas ranch, both leaders privately agreed on the need for military action to bring about ‘regime change’, so long as Bush understood Blair’s domestic obstacles.
Britain, he said, ‘would support military action to bring about regime change’ if attempts were also made to negotiate a Middle East peace settlement, and only after the UN route was exhausted.
The Cabinet wasn’t told about these discussions; Blair didn’t trust them. Neither did he tell Boyce or the Defence and Foreign Secretaries. Instead, he again declared that no invasion was imminent.
Early July: U.S. forces are ‘geared up for action’
Admiral Boyce told Blair: ‘Bush is going ahead,’ and described how the U.S. forces had suddenly been ordered to ‘gear up for action’. Blair waved the admiral’s news aside. ‘I knew Bush had not decided,’ he would write later in his memoirs.
Blair told a Commons committee that no decisions had yet been made. Yet he also sent a private letter to Bush that began: ‘You know, George, whatever you decide to do, I’m with you.’
Blair’s position was now unprecedented. No other British Prime Minister had ever planned to start a war while distrusting his Chief of Defence, the Cabinet Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary and most of his Cabinet.
For the first time, Geoff Hoon, Jack Straw, Attorney General Peter Goldsmith and the Cabinet Secretary squeezed into Blair’s office for a meeting with Boyce and intelligence chiefs. After another visit to Washington, Richard Dearlove explained that the invasion was going ahead, with or without Britain. All that was missing was a way to sell the war. Blair was adamant: Britain had to stand alongside America.
In his long-winded manner, Straw protested that the case for war was ‘thin’ because Saddam wasn’t threatening anyone with WMDs. He succeeded only in irritating Blair.
All those in the room were sworn to secrecy. Later, Christopher Meyer, the British ambassador in Washington, called David Manning, to ask why Blair was giving the U.S. President unconditional guarantees. ‘We tried to stop him, but he refused,’ Manning replied.
At his monthly press conference, Blair reiterated: ‘Action is not imminent — we are not at the point of decision yet.’ Soon afterwards, he secretly approved the purchase of certain items of equipment required for the invasion.
Early September: Blair told he’d unleash civil war
During his last days at Downing Street, the Cabinet Secretary Richard Wilson noticed Blair was writing a note for a forthcoming telephone conversation with President Bush. ‘We will be with you come what may,’ was the summary.
He was surprised, as was David Manning, who told Blair, ‘You can’t say that, because you’re committing the British Army to an invasion which no one else knows about.’ Blair appeared unmoved.
Meanwhile, Jack Straw was concerned at the lack of an American plan for post-war planning in Iraq. In an attempt to warn Blair of this problem, the Foreign Secretary now introduced Michael Williams, a Middle East specialist, to the PM.
Williams explained that Iraq’s stability owed everything to Saddam forcibly keeping the Shias and Sunnis apart. Once this control disappeared, peace was unlikely. ‘That’s all history, Mike,’ said Blair. ‘This is about the future.’
Another warning was delivered by Peter Ricketts, director of the Foreign Office Middle East department. He said Saddam’s overthrow would lead to turmoil. He also cautioned that the scramble ‘to establish a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda is frankly unconvincing’.
Blair avoided any response. He also sidestepped the legal advice offered by Peter Goldsmith that regime change without the approval of the UN would be illegal. ‘Well . . .’ Blair replied, his voice trailing off.
He’d decided to accept his lawyers’ advice that in public statements ‘we focus on WMDs and we do not mention regime change’. Any suggestion this amounted to deception would be fiercely denied.
One hurdle in Blair’s plan for war was the Cabinet. This was to be the ministers’ first serious discussion about Iraq since March. Blair forbade the Cabinet Office to prepare papers with the latest assessments.
There were to be no leaks until the public were persuaded that his cause was valid. Blair’s passion for speed and secrecy, realised Cabinet Secretary Andrew Turnbull, was ‘not a bad habit he and Powell [Blair’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell] had slipped into, but how they wanted to operate from the start’.
The Cabinet meeting was desultory. ‘They never asked for a discussion on the options for war,’ observed Turnbull about the approximately 25 ministers in the room.
The highlight of the meeting was a question from Robin Cook about the military options. Blair replied that no decision about joining the invasion had been made.
George W Bush and Tony Blair address the media at the White House in January 2003
Manning and Powell knew this was not the complete truth, as did Hoon and Straw, but the majority of ministers remained unaware Blair was committed to invading Iraq.
Turnbull was surprised by the denial. Cook himself suspected Blair had decided to go to war but few, he knew, would accept his conviction that his leader was ‘deluded’ and ‘a fantasist’ pursuing some higher moral purpose. In hindsight, Cook pinpointed that meeting as the birth of Blair’s Messiah complex, while others would call the moment the collapse of proper government.
The government published the now-infamous dossier on Iraq’s WMDs, based on intelligence reports. This claimed that Saddam not only possessed chemical and biological weapons but had also embarked on a nuclear weapons programme. In the foreword, Blair claimed that some of the WMDs could be deployed within 45 minutes.
Pressed by the military to decide on the extent of British involvement, Blair went for the maximum: 42,000 British soldiers supported by ships and planes.
Meanwhile, with Blair’s approval, Hoon summoned the troublesome Admiral Boyce to tell him his contract wasn’t being renewed. The admiral was shocked: to dismiss a Chief of the Defence on the eve of war would be careless, even irresponsible, he warned.
Realising that Blair hadn’t thought through the consequences, Hoon agreed that Boyce should stay on until the end of the war.
An Iraq war protester sets fire to a plastic mask of former Prime Minister Tony Blair outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference centre at the start of the second week of Sir John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry
End of October
Blair arrived in the MoD’s bunker for a briefing. A lieutenant general explained the timetable for transporting 42,000 personnel and equipment to the Middle East, the preliminary plans for the invasion and the outline for occupation after Saddam’s defeat. Both the lieutenant general and Hoon noticed that Blair — never a master of detail — seemed uninterested and left without asking any questions.
October 31: Blair refuses to order vital body armour
Summoned by Blair, Jack Straw and Hoon both agreed to the invasion plans. Admiral Boyce protested that the military needed more money. ‘Yes, we must fix that,’ replied Blair, without any intention of arguing with his obstructive Chancellor, Gordon Brown.
At another meeting, Hoon told the admiral: ‘Keep it all tight.’ The public should know nothing; even the defence chief in charge of logistics was not to be told about the invasion plans.
‘That’s crazy,’ said Boyce.
Dissatisfied, Boyce later confronted Blair. ‘Well, that’s how it is,’ was all the PM could say. Hoon, too, appealed to Blair: ‘We need to order machine-guns, body armour and other equipment.’
‘No,’ replied Blair. ‘I’ve got to keep the UN negotiations [with Saddam over allowing weapons inspectors to enter Iraq] going and I can’t act as honest broker if it’s clear we’re planning to go to war.’ British soldiers would later die because of the lack of sufficient body armour.
The UN weapons inspectors return to Iraq. Soon afterwards, Blair told Turnbull that he refused to appoint a War Cabinet ‘because we are trying to avoid war’.
Blair also vetoed any plans for a special committee dedicated to Iraq. Instead, Jonathan Powell would continue to invite officials to ad hoc meetings — from which Gordon Brown was excluded.
To his surprise, Kevin Tebbit — the civil servant who headed the Ministry of Defence, and whose career had also included long spells both at the Foreign Office and briefly at GCHQ — discovered he was excluded, too. He called Manning, asking, ‘How can you plan a war without the head of the Ministry of Defence?’
After checking with Blair, David Manning explained to Tebbit: ‘We can’t have you because we would then have to include the Permanent Secretaries of the Foreign Office and DFID [the Department for International Development].’
The Royal Regiment of Scotland at Basra Airport, preparing to patrol the city in 2006
By excluding the expertise of the MoD, Blair denied himself direct advice about the preparations for moving 42,000 men, tanks, ships, planes and tons of equipment to Iraq’s borders. Hoon could have challenged Blair over this, but chose not to do so.
In any case, Hoon was rarely included in discussions with the PM. ‘Blair didn’t care who the minister was,’ he realised. ‘Everything was run from the centre, No 10.’ (Later, Britain’s Defence Secretary would say: ‘I’ve never had a conversation with Blair about the war.’)
The underfunded and ill-equipped Armed Forces now calculated they needed another £2.6 billion every year to fulfil Blair’s ambition to be a ‘force for good’ — but this ‘negative’ message was intercepted by Blair’s staff and never reached him.
(In the end, Gordon Brown allocated £1 billion for the war — far short of what was required.)
Three Middle East experts were invited to Downing Street to describe to Blair, Straw and Manning what would happen after Saddam fell. Blair told them: ‘Don’t tell us not to invade, because we must and will.’
He then described his vision. Iraqi officers, he believed, would execute a successful coup before the Americans arrived in Baghdad and replace Saddam with an unknown leader. The new president would then convert Iraq into a proper democracy.
‘Well, I’ve just been speaking to Tariq Aziz,’ said one of the experts, referring to Iraq’s foreign minister, ‘and he warned that there’ll be a civil war if Saddam is deposed.’
Another told the Prime Minister: ‘You know it could take a generation to build a new country?’
‘I’m committed to that,’ replied Blair, adding, ‘but isn’t Saddam uniquely evil?’ (After the war, Blair was asked how he’d been influenced by this meeting. He looked blank. He had no recollection of it.)
January 9, 2003
Blair’s plans for Iraq were not discussed at the weekly Cabinet meeting. Nor were they mentioned the following week.
‘Richard, my fate is in your hands,’ Blair told MI6 boss Richard Dearlove privately.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking at an inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq War
January 15-18: ‘Americans have it all sewn up’
In a series of meetings with the military, Blair did not disguise his intention to join the invasion. The service chiefs were dissatisfied. Since Iraq was not a war for national survival, they wanted a genuine reason why servicemen should risk their lives. They also wanted Blair to stop telling the public that he was focused entirely on seeking a peaceful resolution.
Keeping up this pretence, said Boyce, would lead to the troops fighting with obsolete equipment. The chiefs also wanted to know what plans were in place for post-war occupation.
‘The Americans have it all sewn up,’ said Blair.
The situation was becoming critical. Blair had isolated himself from Whitehall, military preparations were restricted, diplomats were chasing a mythical second UN resolution, and the intelligence chiefs were providing Blair with false information. But Blair was already hitched to Bush’s timetable for invasion in mid-March.
Going public at last, Hoon announced to the Commons that 26,000 troops and a fleet would be sent to the Middle East. This was the first time most Cabinet ministers realised Blair intended to go to war. A pumped-up Blair told heckling Labour MPs that, after Iraq: ‘We have to confront North Korea.’
peter Goldsmith, the Attorney General, warned Blair in a memo that a war without a UN resolution — declaring that Saddam had failed to disarm — would be illegal.
‘I don’t understand this,’ the Prime Minister wrote in the margin of Goldsmith’s note.
Early February: Armies line up along Iraq’s borders
As a huge Anglo-American army assembled along Iraq’s borders, Blair told a Sun journalist: ‘I’m acting on the say-so of a greater power. I feel the hand of fate on my shoulder.’
A British soldier from the Staffordshire Regiment patroling the southern Iraqi city of Basra
Boyce, dressed in his admiral’s uniform, visited Blair, who greeted him in jeans and an open-necked shirt. The Chief of the Defence demanded to see an assurance from the Attorney General that the war was legal. Unless that was forthcoming, said Boyce, he’d resign. ‘I understand,’ said Blair.
Blair and Goldsmith discussed how a different opinion might be produced. Goldsmith flew to Washington to make more inquiries.
It was now just a week before the all-important Commons vote on going to war. Suddenly unsure of his position, Blair considered resigning. Unknown to him at the time, his Cabinet Secretary was already investigating the mechanics of a handover of power.
To Blair’s embarrassment, Donald Rumsfeld publicly dismissed Britain’s participation in the invasion as unnecessary.
Then, to Prime Minister’s relief, Goldsmith called from the U.S. to say he’d changed his mind: another UN resolution was unnecessary after all. New ‘evidence’ from MI6’s Iraqi informant — code-named Curveball — had swung the balance. ‘Are you sure Saddam has WMDs?’ Blair asked Dearlove. ‘Yes, absolutely,’ he relied. ‘Categorically’. (MI6’s informant was a crude fabricator.)
A man looks for survivors near a burning vehicle after a bomb attack in Mahmudiya, 30km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, September 9, 2007
Rather than sending his revised opinion to the whole Cabinet — his legal duty — Goldsmith sent the 13-page document directly to Blair. Only Hoon and Straw were also allowed to see it; Boyce and the Cabinet were merely given a nine-paragraph precis.
The Cabinet was shackled. Never having seen any of the authoritative papers prepared by Whitehall, it had no ammunition to raise objections.
Every one of Blair’s docile ministers — with the exception of Robin Cook, who resigned from the Cabinet as a matter of principle — approved the war.
March 18, 2003
In the Commons, the majority for war was 263 votes. Blair looked relieved and the Tories cheered. Britain was going to war.
The bloodsoaked aftermath
A total of 179 British troops were killed in the Iraq war and its aftermath, alongside over 4,000 American allies and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians. Afterwards, Blair told journalists defiantly: ‘I was right to have gone to war.’
‘But what if you’re proved wrong?’ he was asked.
‘I am right,’ Blair replied. Raising his eyes to the heavens, he added: ‘But someone else will be my judge.’
Iraq has since descended into a long and bloody civil war, with the power vacuum enabling the rise of the ISIS terrorist group.
Poignant pictures of life in Baghdad ten years on from invasion
While thousands of human beings lie buried under tons of rubble in devastated Manhattan, the U.S. and Britain have launched a massive bombing attack on Afghanistan. Among the declared targets: electrical power facilities (1), clearly an attack on civilians. Hundreds of thousands of terrorized human beings are fleeing into the cold countryside, carrying with them nothing but their poverty. Among the weapons employed by Infinite Justice: Tomahawk missiles, which are partly composed of deadly Depleted Uranium. U.S. and British soldiers and Afghan civilians take note: Afghan Syndrome may be just around the corner. (2)
But some folks are doing OK.
Below we have reprinted an article from the ‘Wall Street Journal’. It reveals that Saudi Binladin Group, the conglomerate owned by Osama bin Laden’s family, has invested in:
“Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specializing in buyouts of defense and aerospace companies.” (‘WSJ,’ 27 September 2001) Which is owned by the Bush’s as well..
Through his lofty position at Carlyle and as a consultant, George Bush Sr. is closely linked to the bin Ladens. As are other powerhouse U.S. politicians.
Given that Carlyle’s business is “defense,” the Bushes and bin Ladens may well profit handsomely from the current war.
There has been no outcry in the mass media about this. No U.S. newspaper has picked up the WSJ story. Nor has CNN or Fox.
At first, Bush spokeswoman Jean Becker told the ‘Wall Street Journal’ that her boss had met with the bin Ladens only once.
But “after being read the ex-president’s subsequent thank-you note” the original “only once” claim was revised. In other words, she got caught in a lie and switched to a new story:
“President Bush does not have a relationship with the bin Laden family,” says Ms. Becker. “He’s met them twice.” (‘WSJ,’ 27 September 2001)
Once, twice, who’s counting?
Clearly a) Bush has a guilty conscience, otherwise why not tell the truth? And b) since he’s clearly in stonewall-mode there is no reason to believe there weren’t more meetings with the bin Ladens. How many more? Who knows? But his spokeswoman’s behavior shows this: if Bush did have more meetings, he surely won’t come clean unless confronted with proof.
A U.S. inquiry into bin Laden family business dealings could brush against some big names associated with the U.S. government. Former President Bush said through his chief of staff, Jean Becker, that he recalled only one meeting with the bin Laden family, which took place in November 1998. Ms. Becker confirmed that there was a second meeting in January 2000, after being read the ex-president’s subsequent thank-you note. “President Bush does not have a relationship with the bin Laden family,” says Ms. Becker. “He’s met them twice.”
President George W. Bush was directly linked to the Bin Ladens two decades ago. His longtime friend James W. Bath, who met Mr. Bush when they were both pilots in the Air National Guard, acted as a Texas business representative for Osama’s older brother, Salem bin Laden, from 1976 to 1988, when Salem died in a plane crash. Mr. Bath brought real-estate acquisitions and other deals that belonged to Salem bin Laden, an ebullient man who headed the family construction business. Mr. Bath generally received a 5% interest as his fee, and was sometimes listed as a trustee in related corporate documents. Mr. Bath acknowledged that during the same period he invested $50,000 in two funds controlled by Mr. Bush.
Among the properties that Salem bin Laden bought on Mr. Bath’s recommendation was the Houston Gulf Airport, a lightly used airfield in League City, Texas, 25 miles east of Houston. But Mr. bin Laden’s hope that it would develop a major overflow airport for Houston never materialized, in part due to concern over wetlands. Ever since his death, his estate has sought to sell the airfield, without success. Today, it is still on the market.
All the evidence now proves Bush’s committed Treason and killed 3,000 Americans on 9-11-2001 to wrap America in a Patriotic Fever & War Flag, in order to convince Americans it is OK for U.S., and The Bush Crime Family to attack Sovereign Nations for their Oil. To enrich themselves and cover their Oil Debt, that the Bushes have tied to their National Banks, at the cost of lives of Americas young Military and the deaths of innocent men, women, and children. This is mass murder and war crimes, in violations of American and International Laws. The Bush’s now can be compared to Adolph Hitler, and immediately arrested and tried for their Genocide. Stew Webb Feb. 12, 2005. AMERICA!!! WAKE UP!!! YOU’RE BEING HAD!!!
For any skeptics who doubt the ruling elite are trying to establish a “New World Order”, which is what the events of 9/11 was really about, let’s take you now to a clip of George Bush Sr. admitting that very thing:
It’s unfortunate that he dignifies the evil Iraq war conspiracy by suggesting it had anything to do with policy of the British people. It was a private venture, pledged in secret, by a Labour prime minister and his closest henchmen, and backed by the Cabinet.
Those across the parties who subsequently supported the New World Order gangsters who hijacked our blood and treasure for their own criminal ends did so either out of blind obedience to external influence or because they were too stupid or lazy to exercise due diligence in questioning what half the British public knew to be misinformation or downright lies.
Either way they failed the people who elected them and were responsible for the deaths of countless hundreds of thousands, endless misery of millions more and the destruction of civilization in the Middle East.
And from that day to this the Labour Party has sheltered them.
Corbyn’s apology is nowhere near enough. Words are easy. Action is what matters, so that the lesson is well and truly learned and nothing of this sort can happen again.
First and foremost it was not so much a foreign policy disaster as a flat-out war crime for which Blair as chief perpetrator must be tried. And so must his Cabinet, who carry collective responsibility.
Millions won’t be satisfied until they see Blair carted off to The Hague in orange jumpsuit and shackles. Other holders of public office involved must also be dealt with. And swiftly.
Furthermore it is not right that families of servicemen killed or wounded should have to find the resources to bring charges. We are talking about ministers of the Crown, and the Crown should prosecute.
There will be mega-trouble if heads don’t roll.
And what about rank-and-file Members of Parliament who carelessly authorized this unwarranted and bloody aggression?
Both Labour and the Conservatives need to atone for the appalling blunder by removing every one of them from public office. Never was the charge of bringing party and country (and indeed the whole of the Western world) into disrepute so fitting.
THE HURT LOCKER:POIGNANT PICTURES OF LIFE IN BAGHDAD TEN YEARS ON FROM INVASION
A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic reveals how retired US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centres in Iraq. Another special forces veteran, Colonel James Coffman, worked with Steele and reported directly to General David Petraeus, who had been sent into Iraq to organise the Iraqi security services
Bearing the scars of a decade of war: Poignant pictures of life in Baghdad ten years on from invasion. In the early hours of March 20 2003, coalition forces entered Iraq in a surprise 'shock and awe' assault against Saddam Hussein's regime.
A decade of turmoil and bloodshed has followed and the nation's capital city Baghdad still bears the scars of war with bullet ridden buildings and a large military presence on the street.
Military checkpoints on every main street are a stark reminder that Baghdad is not yet the safe haven of peace and democracy that Anglo-American forces set out, unjustifiably or not, to install a decade ago.
Indeed the country is still caught somewhere between violence - a wave of suicide bombings tore through the city just last week - and peace.
But while vast areas in the capital have fractured infrastructure and lack services, others are said to be showing promising signs of recovery.
And as these poignant pictures show, life still goes on in the city which is home to more than seven million people.
Ten years on: These Baghdadi children weren't even born when coalition troops invaded Iraq back in March 2013. Pictures of the country ten years on show that although the area is still a dangerous place to live, life does still go on
A few weeks after the invasion of Iraq, coalition forces began a long occupation, marked by almost immediate chaos. Groups held down by Saddam's regime rose up, and groups who opposed them struck back. Militias based in Iraq began a long insurgency against the occupation, and terrorist organizations joined the fight, escalating levels of brutality with each attack. Dozens of battles were fought across the country, with mounting tolls on the insurgents, the allied troops, and the civilian population caught in the middle. From 2003 to 2010, progress toward a new government and reconstruction was made in fits and starts, punctuated by frequent bombings, assassinations, and uprisings. Ten years later, we look back in a three-part series. Today's entry focuses on the period during which the majority of the war took place, after the 2003 invasion and just prior to the 2011 withdrawal. This entry is part 2 of 3, be sure to seepart 1 and part 3. [50 photos]
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U.S. Army Pvt. Joe Armstrong of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division searches the rooftop of a house during an operation in the Amariyah neighborhood of west Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, August 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A construction worker removes debris from inside the destroyed Education building December 11, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #
US Army Sergeant Craig Zentkovich from Connecticut belonging to the 1st Brigade Combat Team photographs a pink bedroom at Saddam Hussein's presidential palace, on April 13, 2003. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images) #
A man reads an Iraqi newspaper in the northern town of Tikrit after morgue photos of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay were published for the first time, on July 26, 2003. Hoping to convince Iraqis that the two men were dead, the U.S. military released photos of the pair on Thursday and allowed a small group of media to view the bodies. (Reuters/Faleh Kheiber) #
Wrecks of Iraqi military vehicles lie in a dump on the outskirts of Baghdad, on May 25, 2003. The vehicles brought here were destroyed when U.S.-led strikes used depleted uranium shells against tanks and other armored vehicles during the war that ousted Saddam Hussein. Iraqi doctors and scientists are worried that birth defects and childhood cancers could surge in the aftermath of the latest conflict, not unlike medical problems in southern Iraq after the mildly radioactive munitions were first used in the 1991 Gulf War.(Reuters/Jamal Saidi) #
This unsourced picture shows ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein being dragged from hiding following his capture by US troops, on December 13, 2003 in an underground hole at a farm in the village of ad-Dawr, near his hometown of Tikrit in northern Iraq. The picture is one of a series of images of the deposed dictator unauthorized for release by the US army that has been circulating in recent days on the internet. The man holding him was later identified as an Iraqi-American named Samir, who was the translator for the U.S. Special Forces that helped find Hussein. (AFP/Getty Images) #
Iraqi policemen guard a sabotaged burning pipeline near the city of Kerbala, on February 23, 2004. (Reuters/Faleh Kheiber) #
British soldiers come under attack in the southern Iraqi town of Basra, on Monday March 22 2004, during a protest by unemployed Iraqi civilians who failed to get jobs with the local customs office, and also condemned the assassination of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin in Gaza City earlier in the day. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani) #
Former hostage Thomas Hamill, center, is seen with two U.S. Army soldiers, shortly after his escape south of Tikrit, in this picture released on Monday, May 3, 2004. Hamill, who escaped from captivity during the weekend, left Iraq and stopped by a military hospital in Germany for a check-up, a U.S. military official said. (AP Photo/U.S Army) #
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In this March 31, 2004 photo, Iraqis chant anti-American slogans as charred bodies hang from a bridge over the Euphrates River in Fallujah, west of Baghdad. A convoy containing four American contractors from the private military company Blackwater USA had been ambushed, all four inside were killed. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File) #
A building explodes as the first bomb drops during a U.S. aerial assault on insurgent targets in Najaf, Iraq, on August 19, 2004.(AP Photo/Jim MacMillan) #
In this undated photo, Charles Graner, a U.S. Army reservist appears poised to punch a Iraqi detainee at Abu Ghraib Prison as other detainees lay bound at the hands and hooded. Detainee at right appears to be partially clothed. Outrage among Iraqis and much of the world erupted as photographic evidence surfaced of torture and abuse inside the prison in 2004.(Photo courtesy of Washington Post via Getty Images) #
A Howitzer gun crew of 4th Battalion, 14th Marines, Mike Battery, Gun 4, engage enemy targets during the Second Battle of Fallujah, on November 11, 2004. (USMC/Lance Corporal Samantha L. Jones) #
British private contractor Michael Fitzpatrick thanks his U.S. Army nurse Jayme Sells while recovering from a suicide bomb attack in an American military hospital in Baghdad, on October 15, 2004. Fitzpatrick said that he was drinking coffee in the Green Zone Cafe Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated in one of two explosions that killed 6 people and wounded many more. (AP Photo/John Moore) #
An Iraqi boy looks at the bodies of four men laying next to their burning car after they were attacked by gunmen in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, on December 17, 2004. Insurgents attacked a car carrying at least three Westerners, killing them and their Iraqi driver, and chopping off the head of one victim, local witnesses said. (Reuters/Namir Noor-Eldeen) #
An M1A1 Abrams tank with the 2nd Tank Battalion returns fires into a building after U.S. Marines came under attack in Fallujah, in this December 16, 2004 photo. (Reuters/USMC/Lance Corporal James J. Vooris) #
Combination handout pictures released on December 17, 2004, (upper left) U.S. Marine Platoon Gunnery Sergeant Ryan P. Shane, from the 1st Battalion of the 8th Marine Regiment pulls a fatally wounded comrade to safety while under fire during a military operation in Fallujah. (upper right) Shane and another member of 1/8 pulled their fatally wounded comrade under fire. (lower left) Shane (left) is hit by insurgent fire and (lower right) lies wounded. (Reuters/USMC/Cpl. Joel A. Chaverri) #
Iraqi workers clean debris near a large pool of blood at the scene of a suicide attack in the city of Hilla, on February 28, 2005. A suicide bomber detonated a car near police recruits and a crowded market, killing 115 people. (Reuters/Ali Abu Shish) #
(1 of 2) Samar Hassan screams after her parents were killed by U.S. Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division in a shooting January 18, 2005 in Tal Afar, Iraq. The troops fired on the Hassan family car when it unwittingly approached them during a dusk patrol in the tense northern Iraqi town. Parents Hussein and Camila Hassan were killed instantly, and a son Rakan, 11, was seriously wounded in the abdomen.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images) #
(2 of 2) Rakan Hassan, 12, ambles about the halls of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 11, 2006. Rakan's parents were shot and killed and he was gravely wounded by U.S. soldiers in an accidental shooting on January 18, 2005 in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar. The incident was widely publicized, and ultimately led to Rakan's treatment in Boston. With nerve damage to his abdomen and spine, doctors thought Rakan might never walk again, but an intensive physical therapy regimen has brought back the use of his legs and he can now walk with assistance. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images) #
Combat Support Hospital Army Nurse supervisor Patrick McAndrew tries to save the life of an American soldier by giving him CPR upon arrival at the Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, on April 4, 2005. (AP Photo/John Moore) #
An American photographer takes pictures of a Saddam Hussein bust, lying face down in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, on January 24, 2006. (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg) #
Kristin Kenney of Edison, New Jersey, sits at the grave of her boyfriend, Army Sgt. Dennis Flanagan, while Members of the 289th Military Police Honor Guard plant flags at grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on May 25, 2006. Flanagan died in Iraq on January 21, 2006. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) #
A U.S. soldier at a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, takes down an older image, to display the latest image purporting to show the body of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaida-linked militant who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings, kidnappings and hostage beheadings in Iraq. Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced on June 8, 2006.(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed) #
A human skull with blindfold still on lies on a mass grave containing human skeletons and clothes from persons allegedly executed during the regime of former President Saddam Hussein and now unearthed in a shallow grave, in a remote desert south of Baghdad in Iraq, on June 3, 2006. (AP Photo/Erik de Castro) #
U.S. soldiers provide first aid to their colleague injured in an attack on their armored vehicle in Baghdad, on May 4, 2006. A roadside bomb hit a U.S. military convoy on a service road near the airport road. Witnesses said one soldier was wounded and evacuated by helicopter.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) #
Saddam Hussein stands as an unseen witness is sworn in for testimony during his trial in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, in Iraq, on October 19, 2006. Saddam and six other co-defendants faced charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their roles in Operation Anfal, a military offensive against the Kurds in 1987-88. (AP Photo/David Furst) #
Hundreds of locals gather around the scene of a massive car bomb attack, on July 1, 2006, in the Sadr City area of Baghdad. A car bomb exploded in the morning outside of a popular Baghdad market killing 45 and wounding 41, while 14 vehicles and 22 shops and stalls were destroyed, said police.(AP Photo/Mohammed Hato) #
A U.S. soldier from Alpha company 1-17 regiment of the 172th brigade searches a house as women and children look on, in eastern Baghdad, on October 3, 2006. The U.S military has been performing scout missions aimed at preparing security operations to stop sectarian violence in the capital. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic) #
This video image released by Iraqi state television shows Saddam Hussein's guards wearing ski masks and placing a noose around the deposed leader's neck moments before his execution, on December 30. 2006. Clutching a Quran and refusing a hood, Saddam Hussein went to the gallows before sunrise, executed by vengeful countrymen after a quarter-century of remorseless brutality that killed countless thousands and led Iraq into disastrous wars against the United States and Iran. (AP Photo/IRAQI TV) #
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A person burns in a minibus shortly after a bomb attack in Baghdad, on January 21, 2007. A bomb killed two people and wounded seven when it destroyed a minibus in Karrada, in central Baghdad, police said. (Reuters/Namir Noor-Eldeen (IRAQ)#
With the Lincoln Memorial in the background, demonstrators march over the Arlington Memorial Bridge from the National Mall to the Pentagon in Washington, on March 17, 2007 during a protest opposing the war in Iraq. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) #
Marine Sgt. Merlin German (left) poses for photos with Lt. Gen. James F. Amos during German's promotion ceremony at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, on May 21, 2007. German was recovering from burns over 97 percent of his body caused by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He later died, in April of 2008, following a minor skin graft surgery. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) #
Concrete barriers adorned with a pastoral scene protect a chapel in the U.S. embassy compound in the Green Zone in Baghdad, on September 3, 2007. (John Moore/Getty Images) #
Iraqi soldiers guard a detainee that was arrested during an Iraqi Army operation just outside the city of Baqouba, on August 22, 2007.(AP Photo) #
Members of a military honor guard fold the flag over the casket of Army Cpl. Jason Hernandez during graveside services in Streetsboro, Ohio, on September 17, 2007. Hernandez was killed by a roadside bomb on September 7, his 21st birthday, while serving in Mosul, Iraq.(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta) #
A woman grieves as she takes her dead six-year-old son into her arms. The boy, Dhiya Thamer, was killed when their family car came under fire by unknown gunmen in Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, on September 16, 2007. The boy's ten-year old brother, Qusay, was injured in the attack as the family returned from enrolling the children in school, where Dhiya was to begin his first year. (AP Photo/Adem Hadei) #
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, right, is confronted by Code Pink member Desiree Fairooz, her hands painted red, as she arrived to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, on October 24, 2007, before the House Foreign Relations Committee hearing regarding US policy in the Middle East, where she spoke about Iraq, Iran, and the Israel Palestinian conflict. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking on the recently released Chilcot report, said “I don’t believe the United States is always right about everything… but they are always our best partner”. This ‘best partner’, who was ‘not right’ about the war on Iraq, has taken UK and other ‘coalition of the willing’ countries on a mindless adventure that claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, apart from leaving thousands of military personnel dead. Not to mention the trillions of dollars wasted that could have been put to a more productive use.
All on the false premise of Iraq possessing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and would be using them against the continental US.
The report stops short of calling Tony Blair a liar, but presents a damning indictment against him for having misled a nation to wage a war. Blair, in his defense, stated, “I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer”. Would he kindly explain the specifics on how the world has become better and safer?
Scott Ritter, a chief United Nations (UN) weapons inspector in Iraq for five years, told senior Australian journalist John Pilger on the state of Iraq’s weapons programme, “By 1998, the chemical weapons infrastructure had been completely dismantled or destroyed by the inspections body United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), or by Iraq in compliance with our mandate. The biological weapons programme was gone, all the major facilities eliminated. The nuclear weapons programme was completely eliminated. The long range ballistic missile programme was completely eliminated. If I had to quantify Iraq’s threat, I would say [it is] zero.”
On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright, who served as the US Secretary of State, defended the UN sanctions against Iraq on a 60 Minutes segment in which the moderator, Lesley Stahl asked her, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” to which Albright replied “we think the price is worth it.” The cold-heartedness of people who run the nation can be amply gauged by this statement. For them, the numbers of children starved to death and killed due to lack of medical facilities are just a statistic. Nothing more.
On what basis were the food and medical supplies blocked by the Sanctions Committee in New York, leaving over five hundred thousand Iraqi children dead in a decade? Does this not amount to genocide? Has there been adequate coverage of the effect of the crippling sanctions on the lives of Iraqi citizens in the Western media and press? No.
Anupama Rao Singh, United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)’s senior representative in Iraq, speaking to John Pilger on the ground situation in Iraq prior to and after sanctions, said “The change in 10 years is unparalleled, in my experience. In 1989, the literacy rate was 95%; and 93% of the population had free access to modern health facilities. Parents were fined for failing to send their children to school. The phenomenon of street children or children begging was unheard of. Iraq had reached a stage where the basic indicators we use to measure the overall well-being of human beings, including children, were some of the best in the world. Now it is among the bottom 20%. In 10 years, child mortality has gone from one of the lowest in the world, to the highest.”
Iraq is now a country on the brink of collapse. Sectarian violence is rife, as shown by the recent spate of bombings, claiming hundreds of lives.
If we have to point a finger at someone, it has to be the United States, which is the ‘main actor’ in waging the war. George W Bush, former US President, in an address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001, shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center towers, said, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”.
If Blair has to be tried for war crimes, as Britons have demanded, so should George Bush and Bill Clinton, who presided during the years sanctions were enforced on Iraq, bringing the once prosperous nation to its knees.
In the months leading to the war on Iraq, a fear psychosis was created in the minds of millions of Americans, thanks to the mainstream media, which diligently parroted the government’s lies. Passions were whipped up, and the world’s oldest democracy thought it fit to unilaterally invade a sovereign country thousands of miles from its borders that posed no real threat at the time.
No wonder Americans are called sheep. The only questions are – will they wake up from their intellectual slumber? If yes, when?
An MV-22B Osprey with Marine Medium Tilt rotor Squadron-263, flies over the Al Anbar Province of Iraq during a mission out of Al Asad Air Base, on November 10, 2007. (USMC/Cpl. Sheila M. Brooks) #
Iraqi workers begin a reconstruction project aimed at restoring the destroyed historic shrine of the Shiite Imam al-Askari in the northern city of Samrra on February 5, 2008. Work began on restoring the revered shrine, badly damaged in a bombing that unleashed a wave of bitter sectarian violence across Iraq almost two years previous, an AFP correspondent said. (Dia Hamid/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Iraqi woman holds onto a truck while waiting for food supplies to be distributed by Iraqi soldiers among the residents of the Shi'ite enclave of Sadr city in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 8, 2008. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek) #
Iraqi boys swim in a pond by a house destroyed in recent fighting in Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 20, 2008.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim) #
Sgt. Kyle Hale of Yukon, Oklahoma, of 1-6 battalion, 2nd brigade, 1st Armored Division, contains an unruly crowd to protect a man who was nearly trampled, outside the Al Rasheed Bank in the in Jamilah market in Sadr city, Baghdad, on June 10, 2008.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris) #
Iraq war veteran Sgt. Juan Arredondo, one of the first recipients of a bionic hand with independently moving fingers called the i-Limb, shakes a reporters hand during an interview on July 23, 2007 in New York. Arredondo's bionic hand has finger "joints" that flex and bend like natural fingers. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) #
President George W. Bush speaks with U.S. troops at Camp Victory, on December 14, 2008 in Baghdad. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) #
An Iraqi man holds up an ink-stained finger after casting his vote in the country's provincial elections in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, on January 31, 2009. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani) #
An Iraqi man throws a shoe at President George W. Bush (seen ducking the shoe in inset image) during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on December 14, 2008, in Baghdad. Muntadhar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi broadcast journalist threw two shoes at Bush, one after another, during the news conference. Bush ducked both throws. As he threw the shoes, al-Zaidi reportedly shouted "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog," and "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq." Muntadhar al-Zaidi was dragged away by security, arrested, and spent nine months in prison for the incident. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci - Inset via APTN) #
Iraqi workers at the Rumaila oil refinery, near the city of Basra, on December 13, 2009. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jourani) #
(1 of 2) An Iraqi man places flowers in the barrel of a soldier's gun moments before a suicide attack on a celebration marking Army Day in the Karradah neighborhood of central Baghdad, on January 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) #
(2 of 2) Iraqi Army soldiers lay dead and wounded moments after a suicide attack on a celebration marking Army Day in the Karradah neighborhood of central Baghdad, on January 6, 2008. Two Iraqi army soldiers threw themselves atop a suicide bomber, but the attacker was able to detonate an explosives vest, killing the two soldiers and another nine people. The civilian from the previous photo was among those killed, his foot visible at right. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Rebuilding: Downtown Baghdad appears to be bustling with cars in this picture taken a decade after Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled. The dome of the 17 Ramadan Mosque is pictured in the foreground
Armed guards: Iraqi policemen guard the entrance to the Baghdad Folklore Museum. The city continues to show the scars of war and a large military presence remains on the streets
Freedom to express themselves: Performers rehearse at the National Theatre for the Athoudron Festival. The future of Iraqi culture and the arts is looking more promising than it did in the bleakest hours of war
Leisure time: Boys play football along Haifa Street which is still heavily scarred from fighting between US and Iraqi forces, left, while Ali Satar rides horses for pleasure in the upscale district of Karada, right. Karada was subject to round the clock curfews and hit by heavy violence at the height of the troubles in Iraq
Building up: Hoseen Samer lifts weights in a gym in the affluent Karada district. The area is said to be one of the more affluent in Baghdad, but it is still a dangerous place to live - almost 50 people were killed in a suicide bombing in the area a day after this picture was taken
Clean up: A young man collects trash in a residential area of central Baghdad. But some areas of the city are still said to be severely lacking the most basic of services
Refurbishing: Workers on scaffolding attach aluminum siding to a building being refurbished on Al Jemhoori Street. Billions of dollars have been invested in rebuilding some of the city's buildings
Then: Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad,on April 9 2003, in one of the most iconic images from the coalition invasion
Now: The Ishtar (locally known as Sheraton) and Palestine Hotels stand next to Firdos Square where the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by US forces almost a decade ago
At war: U.S. soldiers look at a burned-out military Humvee vehicle that was destroyed in an attack in the Karada area of Baghdad in 2003
Progress: Ali Hasan and Ali Satar ride horses for pleasure in the upscale district of Karada ten years on, the same area which was plagued by violence in the years that followed invasion
Big business: A street vendor makes shwarma (lamb) sandwiches in Baghdad. Similar to doner, shwarma is normally served in Iraq as small pockets of white bread filled with shaved beef, lamb, or chicken, along with a touch of lettuce, tomatoes, and spicy onion
Surviving: Worker Washer Kilani pushes goods through lines of heavy traffic in central Baghdad. The Iraqi government has recently launched an initiative aimed at driving down unemployment in the country and getting more people back in work
Opulence: A top of the range car showroom in the Al Nahza neighborhood. Only one in 20 Iraqis own cars and most foreign models were banned during Saddam Hussein's reign. Interest in cars is now said to be increasing in the country
June 2004: Cars burn and rubble litters the street as Baghdad's Tahrir Square has been rocked by a deadly suicide bomb during rush hour
March 2013: Iraq security forces search protesters arriving at Baghdad's Tahrir Square, an illustration of the military presence that remains on the streets to try and thwart such attacks from happening again
New world: Iraqi government employees hold a peaceful protest in Baghdad's Tahrir Square
Civilised: These men sit and relax outside a tea room in the Al Fazil area of Baghdad. The image is a stark contrast to the bloody events that these men would have witnessed over the past decade
Political message: An anti-American and Israeli slogan on a billboard reads 'Our strength is our Unity'. Gone are the statues, posters and murals of former leader Saddam Hussein that he had erected all around the country
Unfinished: The Al-Rahman mosque that was started by Saddam Hussein in 1998 and meant to be one of the biggest mosques in Iraq. Building work stopped following the invasion in 2003
Lack of supply: The Dora power plant in Baghdad. One of the main obstacles to Iraq's ongoing development is reported to be the lack of a regular electricity supply, with Baghdad residents receiving on average of just eight hours of electricity a day
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