I Know When Bush Is Lying: His Lips Move

Shortly before the disastrous Bush visit to Britain, Tony Blair was at
the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. It was an unusual glimpse of a
state killer whose effete respectability has gone. His perfunctory nod
to “the glorious dead” came from a face bleak with guilt. As William
Howard Russell of the Times wrote of another prime minister
responsible for the carnage in the Crimea, “He carries himself like
one with blood on his hands.” Having shown his studied respect to the
Queen, whose prerogative allowed him to commit his crime in Iraq,
Blair hurried away. “Sneak home and pray you’ll never know,” wrote
Siegfried Sassoon in 1917, “The hell where youth and laughter go.”

Blair must know his game is over. Bush’s reception in Britain
demonstrated that; and the CIA has now announced that the Iraqi
resistance is “broad, strong and getting stronger”, with numbers
estimated at 50,000. “We could lose this situation,” says a report to
the White House. The goal now is to “plan the endgame”.

Their lying has finally become satire. Bush told David Frost that the
world really had to change its attitude about Saddam Hussein’s nuclear
weapons because they were “very advanced”. My personal favourite is
Donald Rumsfeld’s assessment. “The message,” he said, “is that there
are known knowns – there are things that we know that we know. There
are known unknowns – that is to say, there are things that we now know
we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns . . . things we do
not know we don’t know. And each year we discover a few more of those
unknown unknowns.”

An unprecedented gathering of senior American intelligence officers,
diplomats and former Pentagon officials met in Washington the other
day to say, in the words of Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and
friend of Bush’s father: “Now we know that no other president of the
United States has ever lied so baldly and so often and so demonstrably
. . . The presumption now has to be that he’s lying any time that he’s
saying anything.”

And Blair and his foreign secretary dare to suggest that the millions
who have rumbled the Bush gang are “fashionably anti-American”. An
instructive example of their own mendacity was demonstrated recently
by Jack Straw. On BBC Radio 4, defending Bush and Washington’s
doctrine of “preventive war”, Straw told the interviewer: “Article 51
[of the United Nations Charter], to which you referred earlier – you
said it only allows for self-defence. It actually goes more widely
than that because it talks about the right of states to take what is
called ‘preventive action’.”

Straw’s every word was false, an invention. Article 51 does not refer
to “the right of states to take preventive action” or anything
similar. Nowhere in the UN Charter is there any such reference.
Article 51 refers only to “the inherent right of individual or
collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs” (my emphasis) and
goes on to constrain that right further. Moreover, the UN Charter was
so framed as to outlaw any state’s claimed right to preventive war.

In other words, the Foreign Secretary fabricated a provision of the UN
Charter which does not exist, then broadcast it as fact. When Straw
does speak the truth, it causes panic. The other day, he admitted that
Bush had shut him out of critical talks in Washington with Paul
Bremer, the US viceroy in Iraq. Straw said he was “not party to the
talks, not a party to his [Bremer's] return visit”. The Foreign Office
transcript of this leaves out that Straw had complained that “the UK
and US [are] literally the occupying powers, and we have to meet those
responsibilities”. The US disregard for its principal vassal has never
been clearer.

Both are now desperate. The Bush regime’s panic is reflected in its
adoption of Israeli revenge tactics, using F-16 aircraft to drop 500lb
bombs on residential areas called “suspect zones”. They are also
burning crops: another Israeli tactic. The parallels are now Palestine
and Vietnam; more Americans have died in Iraq than in the first three
years of the Vietnam war.

For Bush and Blair, no recourse to the “bravery” of “our wonderful
troops” will work its populist magic now. “My husband died in vain,”
read the headline in the Independent on Sunday. Lianne Seymour, widow
of the commando Ian Seymour, said: “They misled the guys going out
there. You can’t just do something wrong and hope you find a good
reason for it later.” The moral logic of her words is shared by the
majority of the British people, if not by Blair’s diminishing court.
How decrepit the Independent’s warmongering rival the Observer now
appears, with its pages of titillation and hand-wringing, having seen
off a proud liberal tradition.

“Out there”, the Iraqi dead and suffering are still unpeople, their
latest death toll not worthy of the front page. Neither is the Amnesty
report that former Iraqi prisoners of war have accused American and
British troops of torturing them in custody, blindfolding them and
kicking and beating them with weapons for long periods. Investigators
from Amnesty have taken statements from 20 former prisoners. “In one
case we are talking about electric shocks being used against a man . .
. If you keep beating somebody for the whole night and somebody is
bleeding and you are breaking teeth, it is more than beating,” said
Amnesty’s researcher, “I think that’s torture.” The Americans hold
more than 4,000 prisoners – a higher figure, it is estimated, than
those incarcerated at any time by Saddam Hussein.

With Bush in London, Baroness Symons, a Foreign Office minister,
postponed a long-planned meeting with families of British citizens
held in the American concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She
has made a habit of this. The families and their lawyers want to ask
questions about the alleged use of torture, the deteriorating mental
health of prisoners and the criminalising of the Muslim community in
Britain. Held for two years without any due process, these British
citizens have had their rights relegated to the convenience of the
American warlord.

Blair’s troubles are only beginning. There are signs that the Shia
storm is gathering in southern Iraq, an area for which the British are
responsible. A Shia underground army is said to be forming, quietly
and patiently, as it did under the shah of Iran. If or when they rise,
there will be a great deal more British blood on the Prime Minister’s

For 11 November, Remembrance Day, Hywel Williams wrote movingly in the Guardian about the exploitation of “the usable past – something that
can be packaged into propaganda . . . [by those] with careers to build
and their own causes to advance . . . We are now a country draped in
the weeds of war . . . The remembrance we endure now is no longer a
seasonal affair. It is a continuous festival of death as individual
souls are press-ganged into the justification of all British-American
wars. To this sorrow there seems no end.”

Yes, but only if we allow it.

With thanks to Jim Brann

John Pilger is a renowned journalist and documentary film-maker. A war correspondent and ZNet Commentator, his writings have appeared in numerous magazines, and newspapers such as the Daily Mirror, the Guardian, the Independent, New Statesman, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Nation,and other newspapers and periodicals around the world. His books include Heroes (2001) Hidden Agendas (1998) and Distant Voices (1994).

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