21 July, 2016
Acrylic on Canvas, 400mm x 500mm
Donald Trump, the man who may yet become the 45th President of the United States.
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I also remember his inevitable fall from grace, highlighted by his obsequious relationship with George W Bush. In 2003 he led the country into an illegal war against Iraq, driven by George’s desire to ‘finish the job his daddy started’ in the Gulf War of 90/91.
The threat of conflict with Iraq prompted mass demonstrations by the public, including a march in London of at least 1.5m people, which I attended with my wife and young daughter.
He went to war anyway, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and the displacement of a million more.
We are still dealing with the consequences to this day.
The Chilcot Report into the Iraq war began in 2009, and has cost in excess of £10m of public funds to produce. The report has been delayed multiple times over the years, primarily because it was deemed politically inopportune to publish it.
It was finally released yesterday. The resulting document is 2.5 million words in length. The vast size somehow symbolic of the years it took to produce.
It has been estimated it would take nine days of constant reading to complete it. So, short of taking 9 days out to form our own impressions, it means that any interpretation we receive through the media will inevitably be biased to whichever channel produces it.
I wondered if algo might be able to help produce an unbiased summary.
Using the same underlying code as @tldrlit, I have compressed the report down to 0.38% of it’s original size.
Whilst it is clumsy, and in places nonsensical, it is perhaps the purest, non-partisan interpretation available.
The Inquiry is essential because it will ensure that, by learning lessons, we strengthen the health of our democracy, our diplomacy and our military.”1 Addressing the scope of the Inquiry, Mr Brown said: “No Inquiry has looked at such a long period, and no Inquiry has the powers to look in so much breadth … the Iraq Inquiry will look at the run-up to conflict, the conflict itself and the reconstruction, so that we can learn lessons in each and every area.” In his statement, Mr Brown announced that the Inquiry Committee would be made up of “non-partisan public figures acknowledged to be experts and leaders in their fields”.
I don’t think there was a single member of the Security Council who believed that Iraq was innocent, was not plotting to develop military capability, was not defying United Nations, was not cheating on sanctions but … [there was a] spectrum of views about how intensely that was a problem and about how it should be dealt with.”4 Mr Geoff Hoon, FCO Minister of State responsible for the Middle East from May 1999 (and the Defence Secretary from October 1999), told the Inquiry that public leaders in the Middle East: “… blamed us for … starving the Iraqi people, for depriving them of medical supplies … sanctions were failing … they were not delivering the benefit that we anticipated politically and … worse than that, we were getting the blame for things that were actually Saddam’s responsibility.”5 Sir William Patey, Head of the FCO’s Middle East Department from 1999 to March 2002, told the Inquiry that Saddam Hussein had been “very good” at manipulating the sanctions regime, to create sympathy within the Arab world and to preserve his own regime.6 Mr Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006, told the Inquiry that, without weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq and “with a collapse in international will to enforce, or even merely to sustain, a sanctions regime, ‘containing’ the Iraqi regime became a challenge”.7 4 Public hearing, 27 November 2009, pages 4-7.
The first edition of The Cabinet Manual, published in October 2011, ascribes the following specific responsibilities to the Cabinet Secretary:
It is important to recognise that the way in which the United States of America has proceeded so far is exactly right: in a calm and considered way, and in close consultation with allies such as ourselves.”32 Mr Bl
air added that it was: “… important that … we base our identification of those responsible on proper evidence, but then that we are relentless in our pursuit of those responsible and bringing them to justice.” I
n the subsequent debate on international terrorism, Iraq was mentioned briefly by a number of speakers, including Mr Tam Dalyell (Labour), who argued that a generation in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East was “gro
wing up absolutely to loathe the United States and Britain” and urged the Government to look again at “10 years of bombing of Iraq and sanctions”.33 Asked when he had taken the decision that “we should be prepared t
o join the Americans in using force and that we should be prepared to use force ourselves” against Iraq, Mr Blair told the Inquiry: “I think I said in my statement of 14 September 2001 that I think this issue of WMD i
s going to take on a different meaning now.
In response to a question about whether international law provided a mandate to attack Iraq during an interview on Breakfast with Frost on 24 March, Mr Straw replied: “… we have never been involved in any military action in our history since the establishment of the United Nations without the backing of international law and we’re not going to be … “We don’t have a mandate to invade Iraq now, no … what we need to do however is to ensure the full compliance by Iraq … with these United Nations obligations … if Iraq refuses to comply … then the position in international law may very well change … Nobody wants military action … at all and the way out lies very clearly in Saddam Hussein’s hands.
Mr Webb’s discussion of the possible scale and timing for any UK military contribution is addressed in Section 6.1 Mr Hoon informed Mr Blair on 31 May that he and Mr Straw had agreed a “preliminary objective” to guide work on contingency planning for military operations of: “A stable and law-abiding Iraq, within its present borders, co-operating with the international community, no longer posing a threat to its neighbours or to international security, abiding by its obligations on WMD.”47 Sir Peter Ricketts told the Inquiry that it was “hard to imagine that an Iraq [as envisaged in the objective] … would still have Saddam Hussein in charge”.48 Meeting with Secretary Rumsfeld, 5 June 2002 In preparation for a visit to the UK by Mr Donald Rumsfeld, the US Secretary of Defense, on 5 June, Mr Hoon wrote to Mr Blair on 31 May. UK contingency planning had concluded that, for the UK to have influence on US planning, a significant military contribution would be needed.
Development of UK strategy and options, late July to 14 September 2002 “We must not allow an outlaw regime that incites and uses terror … to threaten the world by developing the ultimate weapons of terror … the civilised world must come together to deal with the threat posed by the Iraqi regime.” Sir Jeremy Greenstock’s advice, 3 September 2002 Sir Jeremy Greenstock advised on 3 September that none of the options identified by the FCO for a draft resolution, giving Iraq an ultimatum which might then provide legal cover for military action, would be achievable.
“… In case of Iraqi non‑compliance, the resolution sets out a procedure whereby the Security Council will convene immediately in order to secure international peace and security.” Singapore “It makes clear that Iraq will be given a full and final opportunity to comply with its obligations under the relevant resolutions … Colombia Cameroon Guinea Mauritius “The difference between successful and unsuccessful inspections may be the difference between peace and war …” “We insisted on preserving the central role of the Security Council … This resolution is not, nor could it be at this time, a resolution to authorize the use of force.” “My country welcomes the clear statements … by the sponsors spelling out the fact that the resolution … does not contain traps or automaticity … they are working, and will always work, for the centrality of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security.” “My country … reaffirms the unity and the role of the Security Council as the guarantor of international peace and security.” “We are pleased to see the clear and unambiguous role of the Security Council and the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security through peaceful means.” China “China stands firmly for a peaceful solution to the question of Iraq, through political and diplomatic means and within the framework of the United Nations.
and … that there is an elaborate programme of concealment … forcing the inspectors to play a game
of hide and seek.”
Asked if he had sufficient evidence to back action, Mr Blair replied:
“… I’ve got no doubt at all that he’s developing these weapons and that he poses a threat but we made a choice to go down the UN route … “… our judgement, the American judgement … is that Saddam has these weapons,
but the purpose of the inspectors … is … to report back to the UN and say whether
he is fully co‑operating or he’s not.”
Asked whether a second resolution was needed, required or preferred,
Mr Blair replied:
“Of course we want a second resolution and there is only one set of circumstances
in which I’ve said that we would move without one … all this stuff that … we’re
indifferent … is nonsense.
394 Introduction and key findings This Section addresses the development of the UK position on Iraq between Mr Blair’s meeting with President Bush on 31 January 2003, at which he sought US support for a further, “second”, Security Council resolution before military action was taken, and the meeting of the Security Council on 7 March, at which the UK, US and Spain tabled a revised draft resolution stating that Iraq would have failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441 unless the Council concluded on or before 17 March that Iraq was demonstrating “full, unconditional, immediate and active co‑operation” with its obligations to disarm.
I have tried to do that over the past few months …” SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK’S PROPOSAL TO REVISE THE DRAFT RESOLUTION OF 7 MARCH Sir Jeremy Greenstock suggested early on the afternoon of 12 March that in the Security Council that day the UK should:
SECTION 4 IRAQ’S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION Introduction Section 4 addresses:
If we do not, the message to Saddam and anyone else will be that they can develop these weapons with impunity and that the international community lacks the will to deal with them.”
Intelligence indicates Iraq is ready to use CBW weapons and that munitions could be with military units and ready for firing within 20-45 minutes.” Addressing the judgements in the Assessment, the Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction, chaired by Lord Butler of Brockwell, stated: “The judgement that Iraq was continuing to produce chemical agent was supported by one new intelligence report received on 30 September.”15 “… The most significant change in this assessment was in the JIC’s indication … that the intelligence on mobile biological agent production facilities had been ‘confirmed’ … based on the receipt of one intelligence report, from a reliable and established source quoting a new sub-source.
The draft mission for the ISG was to: “Organise, direct and apply capabilities and expertise in Iraq to discover, take custody of, exploit, disseminate and disable, eliminate information and material on individuals, records, NBC samples, weapons systems, materials, facilities, networks, and operations relative to:
Previous Law Officers have of course advised in these terms …” Ms Adams concluded: “For my own part, I think that the first view is the better interpretation, but that the arguments in favour of the second view are probably as strong as the legal case for relying on the revival argument in December 1998 when the UK participated in Operation Desert Fox.” Ms Adams wrote that she understood the statement that Lord Goldsmith’s advice was not “required now” reflected Mr Straw’s views, and: “While it is certainly true that definitive advice could not be given at this stage on whether a further Council decision is required (because such advice would need to take account of all the circumstances at the time, including further discussions in the Council), there is no reason why advice could not be given now on whether the use of force without a further Security Council decision.” Ms Adams added: “… I think a serious issue for consideration is whether, if you were to reach the view that resolution 1441 was under no circumstances capable of being interpreted as authorising force without a further Council decision … this should be relayed to the Foreign Office and No.10.” Observing that “the Foreign Secretary (and other Ministers) have gone beyond the neutral line suggested … stating that resolution 1441 does not ‘necessarily’ require a further Council decision”, Ms Adams suggested that if Lord Goldsmith was “not minded” to give advice: “An alternative option … might be for me to reply to Michael [Wood]‘s letter confirming that you do not propose to advise at this stage, but stressing the need for neutrality in HMG’s public line for so long as you have not advised on the interpretation of the resolution.” Lord Goldsmith told the Inquiry that the instructions set out both arguments “without expressing a view between them, although I think I knew what view Sir Michael took about it”.37 Mr Straw told the Inquiry that he had asked Mr Wood to ensure Lord Goldsmith was given a balanced view.38 Mr Straw added that, if Sir Michael had thought there was only one view, that was “what he would have written” to Lord Goldsmith.
Mr Hoon discussed Mr Webb’s advice of 27 February at a meeting on 19 March, at which AM French “and others” were present.55 In relation to the options for military action, Mr Hoon was advised that, if a UK contribution to US military action against Iraq were to be sought, it: “… might be a ‘division minus’, ie the largest of the options [for the deployment of UK ground forces] foreseen in the SDR [1998 Strategic Defence Review].”56 Mr Hoon was also told that a “key issue would be the size of any continuing military presence required to sustain a post‑Saddam regime”.
Lt Gen Reith described the US plan as based on four assumptions: as the only viable alternative to the North.”
A report by the House of Commons Defence Committee produced a different categorisation of UORs: Table 2: Categories of UORs for the start of Op TELIC232 Category of UOR UORs that hastened existing programme UORs that introduced new capabilities not previously programmed UORs that topped up holdings of items already on MOD’s inventory UORs modifying existing equipment/infrastructure % by value232 The MOD’s assessment of UOR availability for the start of operations was: Table 3: Availability of UORs before the invasion233 234235 Environment % of UORs delivered % of UORs requested % of UORs considered on time234 by this component effective/highly fitted in time235 effective Maritime Joint Joint Communications Infrastructure (J6) Overall Desert uniforms Stocks for desert clothing were insufficient to support a large scale deployment in the time available.
Afghanistan, prolonged civil war.” The paper listed likely short-, medium- and long-term post-conflict military tasks: “Immediate (0 – 6 months): rebel … for inter-ethnic violence, or opportunity for organised crime
The first task of the new Iraq Planning Unit (IPU) would be “to start assembling answers to the many questions thrown up by PJHQ as they begin to plan for coping with the situation military forces will find in Iraq as soon as conflict finishes”.110 Mr Straw commented: “Good note … I need to talk to [Secretary] Powell re this.”111 Creation of the Iraq Planning Unit The inter-departmental (FCO/MOD/DFID) Iraq Planning Unit (IPU), based in the FCO, was established on 10 February to improve Whitehall co-ordination on post-conflict issues.
The JIC Assessment of 29 January 2003 sustained its earlier judgements on Iraq’s ability and intent to conduct terrorist operations.150 Sir David Omand, the Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office from 2002 to 2005, told the Inquiry that, in March 2002, the Security Service judged that the “threat from terrorism from Saddam’s own intelligence apparatus in the event of an intervention in Iraq … was judged to be limited and containable”.151 Baroness Manningham-Buller, the Director General of the Security Service from 2002 to 2007, confirmed that position, stating that the Security Service felt there was “a pretty good intelligence picture of a threat from Iraq within the UK and to British interests”.152 Baroness Manningham-Buller added that subsequent events showed the judgement that Saddam Hussein did not have the capability to do anything much in the UK, had “turned out to be the right judgement”.153 While it was reasonable for the Government to be concerned about the fusion of proliferation and terrorism, there was no basis in the JIC Assessments to suggest that Iraq itself represented such a threat.
At present leading elements of the US V Corps are just south of Najaf … The focus of air activity is now on counter-land operations against SRG [Special Republican Guard] and RG [Republican Guard], although command and control, WMD and regime HQs are also being targeted.” A letter from Mr Watkins to Sir David Manning on the same day, forwarding an initial assessment of progress against the main military campaign objectives, recorded that the military campaign was “broadly proceeding to plan”, with pockets of resistance but “no signs of internal uprisings”.114 The MOD update that evening stated that 7 Armoured Brigade was “arrayed around [the] outskirts of Basra … Will not be in Basra tonight, as previously thought.” 115 The COBR overnight report for 23/24 March stated: “Reporting from Basra suggests the heavy presence of internal security forces from the Saddam Fedayeen, the DGI [Directorate of General Intelligence] and the Ba’ath Party militia … Key (UK) decision now concerns when and how to enter the city [Basra].” 116 Adm Boyce told the Ad Hoc Meeting on Iraq on 24 March that local militias in Basra were putting up resistance and 1 (UK) Div would proceed with caution in taking control there.117 Mr Hoon stated that the Iraqis would try to draw the Coalition into the cities, where fighting would be difficult.
The figure of 30,000 contrasts with what was understood in PJHQ in late April, when Gen Reith reported that Gen Franks had told him that he still expected the US “to have to provide between 120,000 and 150,000″ personnel.111 At around the same time as Gen Franks’ order, Mr Donald Rumsfeld (US Secretary of Defense) cancelled the deployment of a further 50,000 combat troops who had been scheduled to arrive in Iraq shortly.112 According to Hard Lessons: “Rumsfeld’s decision shocked some commanders on the ground, including Coalition Forces Land Component Commander Lieutenant General David McKiernan, who were counting on the additional manpower to provide a secure environment for post-conflict stabilization.” Lt Gen Sanchez’s view was that “overall, the concurrence of Franks’ drawdown orders and Rumsfeld’s … directive created havoc throughout the forces … Confusion was the order of the day”.113 Earlier in 2003, giving evidence to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff of the US Army, had commented that, in his view, any Occupation of Iraq would require “several hundred thousand” troops.114 At the time, Gen Shinseki’s comment was dismissed publicly by the Pentagon, and Mr Paul Wolfowitz, US Deputy Secretary of Defense, told the US House of Representatives’ Budget Committee that the number was “wildly off the mark” and that the figure was closer to 100,000.115 In his account of his time in Iraq, Ambassador L Paul Bremer recalls having been shown a draft report prior to his deployment to Iraq which suggested that, for a population the size of Iraq, around 500,000 ground troops would be required for the stabilisation operation.
Lt Gen Binns told the Inquiry that he thought there was a need to improve “campaign continuity” and that one solution was for senior commanders to serve longer, where appropriate, but: “… we have to be careful that this doesn’t become the default setting, because one can get very tired, if you are being rocketed every day, if you have got the responsibility of command during a very difficult period, then simply extending people’s period there isn’t necessarily the answer.”98 Throughout the course of Op TELIC, 11 individuals held the post of Senior British Military Representative-Iraq, changing roughly every six months until September 2006:
Mr Blair and President Bush spoke by video conference on 22 July.20 Mr Blair asked about progress on the “Iraq Security Plan” and noted that: “… showing progress on controlling the violence was the toughest issue – for the UK public a real sense that Iraq was on the way to a peaceful future was essential.” An early draft of a security strategy for the IIG, drawn up by US, UK and Iraqi representatives in Baghdad – but not seen by Prime Minister Allawi – was reviewed by a meeting of senior officials chaired by Mr Bowen on 27 July.21 At the meeting, Mr Blair’s Private Secretary said: “… the Prime Minister believed the security strategy should be a key document in communicating the IIG’s plans on security to the Iraqi people.
DOP(I) met on 21 July, chaired by Mr Blair, and considered Dr Reid’s paper on operational transition.45 The Chairman’s Brief, written by Cabinet Office officials for Mr Blair, suggested that he would “want to focus the meeting on ensuring individual Departments drive forward work over the summer”.46 As the Committee would not meet again until after the Parliamentary recess, Mr Blair should “emphasise that the UK effort must not lose impetus over the summer as the preparations for key events in Iraq (Constitution, elections, and transition) will need to be well advanced.” DOP(I) agreed Dr Reid’s recommendation that, subject to the continuation of current trends in the capacity of the Iraqi security forces and to there being no major deterioration in the security situation, the UK should plan to implement transition to Iraqi control in two provinces of southern Iraq around October 2005, and in the other two around March 2006.47 Mr Blair emphasised the importance of avoiding giving the “erroneous impression that we intended to leave whatever the circumstances” and gave the instruction that no further written papers should be produced until there had been consultation with the US and the Iraqi Government.
This is bound to accelerate when we withdraw from Basra City … “So we do not believe the ‘overwatch’ period in Southern Iraq should be envisaged as lasting more than a matter of months from the date of PIC in Basra … “Our planning should assume that the UK civilian presence in Basra will have to be wound up shortly before the removal of the UK military envelope which enables it to operate (though if the US were to decide to move a military presence of their own to Basra Air Station, and to retain a US civilian presence, we could expect US pressure for us to maintain some sort of ongoing commitment to the Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team).” The paper recommended early engagement with the US on a renewed political strategy, including a “change of Iraqi Government” and setting a date for coalition troop withdrawal.
But their ability to defeat AQ-I and JAM Special Groups will depend heavily on their Special Forces, which will rely on MNF support for aviation, airborne surveillance and operational planning for some years.” Recent operations in Basra led the JIC to conclude that “significant problems” remained in the ISF’s ability to tackle determined opposition alone: “We assess their ability to successfully manage security outside Baghdad by the end of 2008, without MNF ground support will continue to be patchy and depend heavily on progress being made on national reconciliation and the maintenance of MNF-led security gains.” Mr Brown, Mr David Miliband (the Foreign Secretary), Mr Douglas Alexander (the International Development Secretary) and Mr Des Browne (the Defence Secretary), plus Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup (the Chief of the Defence Staff), Mr Christopher Prentice (British Ambassador to Iraq), Mr Simon McDonald (Mr Brown’s Foreign Policy Adviser) and Mr Matt Cavanagh (Mr Brown’s Special Adviser) met General David Petraeus (Commanding General Multi-National Force – Iraq) and Ambassador Ryan Crocker (US Ambassador to Iraq) on 1 May.2 Mr Brown’s Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs reported that Gen Petraeus had emphasised the political dynamic in Iraq as increasingly more important than the military.
Approximately 350 personnel from 1st Battalion, the Royal Highland Fusiliers were also deployed to Iraq to provide additional security across MND(SE) during the election period in January and February The UK remained reluctant to commit any further forces in the longer term: when Dutch forces withdrew from Muthanna province, the UK instead redeployed forces from elsewhere in MND(SE) plus a small amount of additional logistic support.
Mr Peter Watkins, Mr Hoon’s Principal Private Secretary, advised Mr Lee on 28 March that Mr Hoon agreed that “given the likely scale of the Phase IV task, there are good practical as well as political reasons to engage early with potential partners” and that Mr Hoon had, after discussion with Sir Kevin Tebbit, MOD Permanent Under Secretary (PUS), written to the Defence Ministers of the “most willing” countries.68 On the same day, Mr Hoon informed the Ad Hoc Meeting on Iraq that he had written to selected Defence Ministers asking them to consider a military contribution to the post-conflict phase.69 On 1 April, the Cabinet Office reported that, during the core group’s first conference call, the UK, Spain, Australia and Japan had suggested that “reconstruction must go through the UN, with an early new UNSCR [resolution] and the IFIs engaged”.70 On 10 April, the FCO issued instructions to overseas posts to seek military contributions from host governments to support Phase IV in the UK sector of Iraq.71 The FCO stated that the UK hoped to be able to reduce its military deployment by two-thirds during Phase IV, but advised posts to: “… base your approaches on the need for widespread international support for consolidating security and stability and getting Iraq back on its feet, which should be a more powerful argument for potential contributors than offsetting the effects of a UK drawdown.
progress on security plan”.142 Mr Benn discussed the World Bank’s engagement in Iraq with Mr Wolfensohn on 1 March in the margins of the Palestine Conference.143 Following a meeting with Mr Benn on 8 March, Mr Michael Anderson, Head of DFID’s Middle East and North Africa Department, advised officials in the UK Delegation to the World Bank that Mr Benn had “very little patience” with the Bank: “The SoS [Mr Benn] is very clear in his view that the slow disbursement by the Bank under the IRFFI [Trust Fund] is unacceptable … “… if the Bank is not able to show a significant increase in its engagement in Iraq by the end of March, we will be writing to the Bank to seek refund of the funds to the UK for disbursement through our bilateral programme … “His commitment to this line is strong, and we will need to find a way to carry forward his views despite the legal and reputational risks that may arise.”144 141 Letter Hoon to Benn, 25 February 2005, ‘Iraq: Reconstruction Priorities in MND(SE)’.
26 and 27 March.118 In advance of the meeting, Mr Straw’s Private Office sent Mr Rycroft a negotiating brief for what was to become resolution 1483, the resolution defining the roles of the UN and the Coalition in post-conflict Iraq.119 The negotiating brief, prepared by the IPU, identified five “key issues” on which US and UK positions differed, including the arrangements for dealing with Iraqi oil revenues: “Some in the US are … tempted to arrogate to themselves charge of the direction of a Trust Fund for Iraqi oil and other revenues, which will be used for meeting the costs of their administration of Iraq as well as for reconstruction … this will open them (and by association us) to criticism that they are reneging on their promise to devote the oil revenues exclusively to the Iraqis.” Such a proposition had “nil chance” of approval by the Security Council: “Either the UN or the Iraqis themselves (perhaps with World Bank/IMF help) must be seen to be in control of Iraqi revenues – certainly not the Coalition.” The brief concluded that, overall, the US approach amounted to: “… asking the UNSC [Security Council] to endorse Coalition military control over Iraq’s transitional administration, its representative institutions and its revenues until such time as a fully-fledged Iraqi government is ready to take over.” The brief set out a number of “propositions” which the IPU hoped Mr Blair and President Bush would agree, including: “The UN or the Iraqis, not the Coalition, should manage oil revenues.” Also as briefing for the meeting, Mr Straw sent Mr Blair an FCO paper on Phase IV issues.120 The FCO advised that, on oil sector management, the US and UK agreed that the “overarching principles” were:
Sir Hilary wrote in his memoir that his arrival, along with the British military command of MND(SE), established “some sort of British Fiefdom” in the South, but one which he saw as “still entirely dependent on American resources for its lifeblood”.16 Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Iraq from September 2003 to March 2004, told the Inquiry that there was a “separation in the American mind between the British area and the rest of Iraq, which was their area”.17 Sir Jeremy added that that separation was reflected in the US resources available for the South: “The Americans said let the Brits look after Basra.”18 14 Annotated Agenda, 12 June 2003 Ad Hoc Group on Iraq Rehabilitation meeting attaching Paper DFID/MOD, 11 June 2003, ‘UK Support to the CPA South Area – Next Steps’.
Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi, a potential candidate for Prime Minister, told Mr Patey on 1 January that “he would be ready to look at the possibility of appointing a judge to head the de‑Ba’athification Commission” and to reduce the role of politicians within it.202 Prime Minister Ja’afari told Mr Patey on 3 January that, although the Ba’ath Party and its ideology should remain outlawed, “the half‑million former Ba’ath members Ja’afari saw as his ‘children’ should not and the de‑Ba’athification Commission and its procedures should be reviewed”.203 On 3 January, Mr Ayad Allawi told Mr Blair that in forming the new government “the key bridge to the Sunnis would be revision of the de‑Ba’athification process”.204 An IPU brief for Mr Straw’s visit to Baghdad in early April listed “participation by all (including former Ba’athists) who are committed to furthering the political process and can run government effectively” as one of the main issues for the new Iraqi Government to address.205 After the announcement of Mr Nuri al‑Maliki as the nominee for Prime Minister, the British Embassy Baghdad’s pen picture of him recorded that he had been Deputy Chair of the de‑Ba’athification Commission and “a driving force for that body’s work”.206 The 200 eGram 359/06 Baghdad to FCO London, 9 January 2006, ‘Iraq: Visit by Foreign Secretary, 6‑7 January 2006: Elections and Formatio[n]‘;
The UK lacked the deep understanding of which levels of the Iraqi public sector were highly politicised that would have been desirable in developing a de‑Ba’athification policy, but did recognise that party membership was likely to have been a matter of expediency rather than conviction for many Iraqi citizens.
We fully appreciate the constraints of the operating environment, but we are keen to keep up momentum and build on progress made.”210 Training of the Iraqi Police Service begins Formal police training began in late June.211 On 16 July, the first 150 students graduated from the Transition Integration Programme – a three‑week course designed for existing police officers and run by the US Military Police in Baghdad.212 The same month, Ambassador Bremer recommended that the training of police be accelerated and that additional international police be deployed to protect critical infrastructure.213 208 Annotated Agenda, 17 July 2003, Ad Hoc Group on Iraq Rehabilitation attaching Paper IPU, 16 July 2003, ‘Security Sector Reform the Next Steps’.
The initial action would be deployment of “an armed International Police Monitoring Force … to Baghdad and Basra, to conduct joint patrols with the current Iraqi police force and Coalition military”, requiring 3,000 armed police officers.
US$351m from CERPs in the four Iraqi provinces comprising Multi‑National Division (South‑East) (MND(SE)).32 In comparison, between the UK financial years 2003/04 and 2008/09, DFID spent at least £100m in MND(SE)33 and UK forces spent £38m from UK funds on Quick Impact Projects (QIPs).34 The UK Government has not been able to provide the Inquiry with information on the total amount of CERPs funding available to and used by UK military commanders, but has provided documents that show available CERPs funding in some financial years.35 MOD briefing provided for an October 2005 Parliamentary Question advised that US$74m of CERPs funding had been “received and expended” by MND(SE) in the financial years 2004/05 and 2005/06.36 MOD briefing for an October 2006 Parliamentary Question advised that US$66.2m of CERPs funding had been allocated to MND(SE) in the US fiscal year 2005/06.37 In comparison, in the UK financial year 2005/06, DFID spent some £35m on infrastructure and job creation in MND(SE)38 and UK forces spent £3m from UK funds on QIPs.39 Estimates and arrangements for funding military operations Mr Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, wrote to Mr Blair on 31 May 2002 setting out the “preliminary conclusions” from the MOD’s contingency planning for Iraq.40 A copy of his minute was sent to Mr Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Arrangements for funding military operations and civilian activities The Government used the existing – separate – arrangements for funding military operations and civilian activities to fund the UK’s involvement in Iraq.
To his great credit he then realised we had a problem and began to put some leadership and energy into it.”434 Mr Brown told the Inquiry that FRES was the programme “that was interesting the military the most”, but his understanding was that “even if it had been carried out in full”, it would “not have given us the right vehicles … for Iraq”.435 The Inquiry asked Lord Drayson about the concerns about FRES expressed by Generals Jackson and Dannatt, and the relationship between progress on FRES and concerns about Snatch.436 Lord Drayson replied: “The FRES project had become delayed, partly because the experience on operations … led to repeated changes to the specification, and partly because the user requirement had become much too complicated … “The project to improve/replace Snatch was always separate … The Generals stressed the urgent need to replace the ageing fleet of Army Fighting Vehicles as a whole when voicing their concerns over delays to FRES … Snatch was a Protected Patrol Vehicle rather than an AFV … In terms of augmenting Protected Patrol Vehicles such as Snatch the focus in early 2006 for the Army was … Vector which in March 2006 I was told was General Dannatt’s highest priority … “Progress on FRES and concerns about Snatch should not have been connected in theory … In reality however, I believe the Army’s difficulty in deciding upon a 433 Gen Dannatt’s evidence during his public hearing was that this meeting was in 2005.
It concluded that the UK needed a more effective expeditionary capability, including “deployable and mobile” forces, with “sufficient protection and firepower for war‑fighting”.1 As a result, the MOD established a requirement for a family of vehicles to replace existing medium weight armoured vehicles.
Table 9: DFID staff and contractors deployed to Basra, 2003‑2009 ORHA/CPA Basra DFID Basra Basra PRT Mar 2003 Jun 2003 Sep 2003 Dec 2003 Mar 2004 Jun 2004 Sep 2004 Dec 2004 Mar 2005 Jun 2005 Sep 2005 Dec 2005 Mar 2006 Jun 2006 Sep 2006 Dec 2006 Mar 2007 Jun 2007 Sep 2007 Dec 2007 Mar 2008 Jun 2008 Sep 2008 Dec 2008 Mar 2009 Jun 2009 Table 10: DFID staff and contractors deployed to Iraq, 2003‑2009 DFID staff DFID contractors Mar 2003 Jun 2003 Sep 2003 Dec 2003 Mar 2004 Jun 2004 Sep 2004 Dec 2004 Mar 2005 Jun 2005 Sep 2005 Dec 2005 Mar 2006 Jun 2006 Sep 2006 Dec 2006 Mar 2007 Jun 2007 Sep 2007 Dec 2007 Mar 2008 Jun 2008 Sep 2008 Dec 2008 Mar 2009 Jun 2009
Nor is it required by law to
underwrite the steps taken by NGOs to support their staff working in Iraq.”
On 29 July, Treasury Solicitors added that DFID should “consider carrying out
formal, periodic risk assessments as a further safeguard, and amending advice and
procedures as a result of any relevant risks identified”.221
The first version of the DFID guidance on duty of care seen by the Inquiry is dated
January 2005.222 It stated:
“DFID has a responsibility to take reasonable measures to protect its employees
from risk of injury (physical, psychological) or death … DFID does not guarantee
that an employee will not be injured … In taking reasonable care, DFID will only be
liable if there is some lack of care on its part for failing to prevent something that was
reasonably foreseeable …
“All employees have a duty to take all reasonable steps to mitigate any risks to their
safety and security to which they are exposed …
“All UK‑based DFID staff visiting or working in Iraq are volunteers and are under no
obligation to travel to Iraq and can leave Iraq at any time without penalty …”
On the question of DFID’s obligations to non‑DFID staff, the guidance stated:
“Individual consultants are not the employees of DFID and are ultimately responsible
for their own well‑being and security arrangements … However, bearing in mind
the prevailing security conditions and difficulty of working in Iraq, DFID aims to
provide solo and singleton consultants with the same levels of security, logistical
and counselling support as it does its own staff …
221 Letter Marriott and Treasury Solicitors [junior official] to Department for International Development
[junior official], 29 July 2004, ‘Duty of care document’.
The number of civilian personnel in Baghdad and Basra fluctuated as Ministers and officials sought to reconcile departments’ duty of care to staff with operational needs and the finite resources available for enhanced security in the face of a constantly evolving threat:
That is correct … I think we were getting quite close to a seizing-up moment in 2006.”98 The Inquiry asked Gen Dannatt whether work to bring the military covenant back into balance should not have begun earlier.99 He told the Inquiry that he had no criticism of his predecessor, and that it was: “… often easier to start something at the start of an appointment when you have had the chance to survey the landscape … and coming from the position of Commander-in-Chief … with time to go round the Army, [I] could sense both at home and abroad the pressures building on soldiers and their families and deciding something had to be done.” Introduction of the Operational Allowance Mr Browne’s Private Secretary wrote to No.10 on 9 October, setting out proposed new arrangements for supporting Service Personnel on operations.100 The letter reported that, to reflect the current, high operational tempo and provide an immediate boost to the lowest paid Service Personnel, Mr Browne had agreed with Mr Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the Government would introduce a tax-free Operational Allowance of £2,400 for all Service Personnel who completed a six-month tour in either Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans or certain other operations.
“We therefore need to act early this time and put in place as soon as possible a robust programme of research … and respond as necessary.” Dr Moonie agreed that recommendation.68 The MOD subsequently commissioned the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (the King’s Centre) at King’s College London to undertake a large-scale epidemiological study into the physical and psychological health of personnel deployed on Op TELIC.69 The “primary objectives” of the study were:
Ms Harman informed the House of Commons on 12 October that Mr Gardiner would not be able to meet the target set in her June 2006 update for the completion of pre‑June 2006 inquests (the end of 2006).150 Table 2: Progress in clearing the backlog of inquests in Oxfordshire Outstanding inquests Of which Service Personnel Of which civilian Outstanding inquests held since June 5 June 2006151 12 October 2006152 18 December 2006153 29 March 2007154 20 June 2007155 30 October 2007156 The June 2007 report stated that of the 72 inquests which had been completed by the Oxfordshire Coroner’s Office since June 2006, Mr Gardiner had conducted five, Sir Richard Curtis six, Ms Selena Lynch 28, Mr Andrew Walker 32, and Ms Jennifer Leeming, the Greater Manchester West Coroner, one.157 The additional resources provided by the Government in June 2006 enabled the Oxfordshire Coroner’s office to clear the backlog of outstanding inquests (into deaths occurring before June 2006) by October 2007.
Following a meeting with the families of Service Personnel killed on Op TELIC in December 2006 and representations in Parliament, including from Mr Roger Gale, Ms Harman explored the possibility of providing legal representation at inquests for the families of Service Personnel, in particular at inquests where the MOD chose to have legal representation.
(c) FCO to lead on the handling of civilian casualties … But Ministers should be clear that, in the absence of releasable data from military sources, we will be heavily dependent on figures from the Iraqi MOH which will not be comprehensive …” Mr Asquith advised Mr Straw in a separate minute on the same day: “Legal Advisers say there are no obligations to report civilian casualties in the Fourth Geneva Convention … or under any other provision of international humanitarian “While it is essential in advance of any particular attack to assess the likely civilian casualties, there is no obligation after the event to make any assessment of either the civilian casualties resulting from the attacks or of the overall civilian casualties of a conflict.”108 Also on 8 November, Mr Straw chaired a meeting with FCO officials including Mr Creon Butler, the FCO’s Chief Economist, to discuss the scope of a Written Ministerial Statement that he would make on 17 November, responding to the Lancet study.109 After the meeting, Mr Butler sent Mr Straw’s Private Secretary his “initial thoughts” on the Lancet study.110 Mr Butler stated that “the statistical methodology appears sound” and concluded: “In commenting on the study we should certainly continue to emphasise the considerable uncertainty around the central estimate [of 98,000 excess deaths] (reflecting the small sample size), as well as the lack of corroborating evidence – particularly evidence of injured in the numbers one might expect.
Even the return of Nuri Said at the end of 1938 from London – where he had served for a year as Iraq’s Ambassador to Britain – could not curb anti-British propaganda, although, to counter it, at the recommendation of the British Ambassador to Iraq, Sir Archibald Clerk-Kerr, funds were made available to the British Council in Iraq to help cover the cost of Iraqi students talking examinations for British universities, and bursaries for their books.11 In April 1939, King Ghazi was killed in a car accident.
AA Bde ab initio Abu al-Khasib Abu Ghraib Abu Naji ACDS(Log Ops) ACDS(Ops) AFPAA AHMGI ANNEX 2 GLOSSARY Air Assault Air Assault Brigade Anti-Aircraft Artillery From the beginning Town in Basra province Prison in Baghdad Military base near Basra Assistant Chief Constable Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Logistic Operations) Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations) Assistant Chief of the General Staff Air Chief Marshal Association of Chief Police Officers Africa Conflict Prevention Pool Admiral Armed Forces Armed Forces Act Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Army Families Federation Afghanistan Aviation Force Level Review Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency Armed Forces Pension Scheme Armoured Fighting Vehicle Adjutant General Advocate General Attorney General Attorney General’s Office Attack Helicopters Ad Hoc Group on Iraq Ad Hoc Ministerial Group on Iraq AHMGIR AIASC Aitken Report Akashat al-Abbas al-Amara al-Arabiya al-Askari al-Atheer al-Dawr al-Faw Peninsula al-Hakam Al Iraqiya al-Kadamiyah al-Kut al-Majir al-Kabir al-Maqil al-Minah al-Muthanna al-Qa’im al-Qa-Qa al-Qurnah al-Rafah Al Sweady Amariyah Ad Hoc Ministerial Group on Iraq Rehabilitation Ansar al-Islam Army Investigations and Aftercare Support Cell Anti-Iraqi Forces Report into killings of civilians in Iraq Town in Anbar province AK Party (Turkish Political party) Shia mosque in Karbala Capital of Maysan province Television channel Shia mosque in Samarra Nuclear weapons facility in Babil province Town near Tikrit where Saddam Hussein was captured Southern tip of Basra province Biological weapons facility in Babil province Iraqi television network Shia mosque in Baghdad Capital of Wasit province Town in Maysan province Prison in Basra Prison in Basra Chemical weapons facility in Salah ad Din province Town in Anbar province and site of a uranium processing facility Radiological weapons facility in Baghdad Town in Basra province Town in Babil province and missile test site Public inquiry into allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by British troops Aftermath Air Marshal Biological weapons facility in Baghdad Annually Managed Expenditure British multi-national consultancy, engineering and project management company Air Movement Operations Anbar Anfal Ansar al-Islam ARCENT ARMILLA Asharq Al-Awsat Ashura ASSESSREPS ATV(P) az-Zubayr Reports of the Panel established by the President of the UN Security Council on 30 January 1999 concerning disarmament, monitoring and verification Province in western Iraq Iraqi campaign against the Kurdish people in northern Iraq Insurgent group Area of Operations Action on Armed Violence Area of Responsibility Assessment Phase Armoured Personnel Carrier Air Port of Disembarkation Armed Protection Team Armoured Patrol Vehicle Al Qaida Al Qaida in Iraq United States Army Central Command Amphibious Ready Group Armoured Royal Navy patrol Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Assessments Staff Arabic newspaper published in London Shia religious festival Assessment Reports Air transport Amphibious Task Group All Terrain Vehicle (Protected) Australia Armoured Vehicle Air Vice Marshal Atomic Weapons Establishment Army Welfare Service Town in Basra province Annex 2 |
Names and posts Sawers, John Scarlett, John Schröder, Gerhard Schulte, Paul Scotland, Patricia Scott, Richard Scowcroft, Brent Sedwill, Mark Segar, Chris Shafik, Nemat Shaw, Jonathan Shaways, Rowsch Sheinwald, Nigel Mr Blair’s Foreign Secretary for Foreign Affairs, January 1999-September 2001 British Ambassador to Egypt, 2001-2003 Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Iraq, 2003 FCO, Director General, Political, 2003-2007 (Sir) UK Permanent Representative to the UN, August 2007-November 2009 (Sir) Inquiry witness Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee, September 2001-July 2004 (Sir) Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, 2004-2009 Inquiry witness German Chancellor, 1998-2005 Head, Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit, September 2004-December 2005 MOD Director, Proliferation and Arms Control Secretariat (Baroness Scotland of Sathal) Attorney General, 2007-2010 (Lord Scott of Foscote) Chair, Report of the Inquiry into the Export of Defence Equipment and Dual-Use Goods to Iraq and Related Prosecutions (General) National Security Advisor to President George HW Bush, January 1989-January 1993 Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, 2000-2002 Head, British Office Baghdad (Dr) DFID Director General Programmes, October 2004-March 2008 DFID Permanent Secretary, March 2008-June 2011 Inquiry witness (Major General) General Officer Commanding Multi-National Division (South-East), January 2007-August 2007 Inquiry witness (Dr) Vice President of Iraq, 2004-2005 Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, 2006 and 2009-2014 (Sir) UK Permanent Representative to the EU, 2000-2003 Prime Minister’s Foreign Policy Adviser and Head of the Cabinet Office Overseas and Defence Secretariat, 2003-2007 British Ambassador to the US, 2007-2012 Inquiry witness Shlash, Muhsin Short, Clare Siddiq, Irfan Sittar, Sheikh SIS10 Sky, Emma Slocombe, Walt Smith, Andrew Smith, Colin Smith, Godric Smith, Jacqui Smith, Kate Snelson, David Snow, John (Major General) Chief of Staff, Land Command General Officer Commanding Multi-National Division (South-East), July 2006-January 2007 (Lieutenant General, Sir) Inquiry witness Minister for Electricity, Iraqi Transitional Government International Development Secretary, May 1997-May 2003 Inquiry witness Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary Leader of the Anbar Awakening SIS officer below the rank of Chief Inquiry witness SIS officer below the rank of Chief Inquiry witness SIS officer below the rank of Chief Inquiry witness SIS officer below the rank of Chief Inquiry witness SIS officer below the rank of Chief Inquiry witness SIS officer below the rank of Chief Inquiry witness SIS officer below the rank of Chief Inquiry witness SIS officer below the rank of Chief Inquiry witness CPA, Governorate Co-ordinator, Kirkuk, 2003-2004 Inquiry witness CPA, Senior Advisor on National Security and Defense, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, 1999-2002 UK Chief Police Adviser in Iraq Inquiry witness Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman, 2000-2004 Home Secretary, 2007-2009 FCO, Head, Security Sector Unit, October 2003 (Rear Admiral) Commander, UK Naval Contingent US Treasury Secretary, February 2003-June 2006 Solana, Javier Soleymanpur, Hadi Soto, Fernando Berrocal Speckhard, Dan Spelman, Caroline Spencer, Peter Squire, Peter Stagg, Dickie Stephens, Jonathan Stewart, Andrew Stewart, Rory Stirrup, Jock Storr, Peter Strathclyde, Thomas Straw, Jack Sturley, Philip Style, Charles Secretary General, Council of the European Union EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Iranian Ambassador to Argentina Costa Rican Permanent Representative to the UN (Ambassador) Director, Iraq Reconstruction and Management Office Opposition spokesperson for International Development, July 2001-November 2003 (Vice Admiral, Sir) Chief of Defence Procurement, May 2003-March 2007 Inquiry witness (Air Chief Marshal, Sir) Chief of the Air Staff April 2000-December 2003 FCO, Director, Public Diplomacy FCO, Director General, Corporate Services Treasury, Director, Public Services (Brigadier) MOD, Director, Overseas Military Activity (Major General) General Officer Commanding Multi- National Division (South-East), December 2003-July 2004 Inquiry witness CPA Deputy Governorate Co-ordinator, Maysan province (Air Marshal) Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Equipment Capability), April 2002-May 2003 (Air Chief Marshal, Sir) Chief of the Air Staff Chief of the Defence Staff, April 2006-October 2010 Inquiry witness Home Office, Director, International (Lord) Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, 1998-2010 Foreign Secretary, 2001-2006 Inquiry witness (Air Vice Marshal) Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, 2000-2003 (Rear Admiral) Capability Manager (Strategic Development) (Vice Admiral) Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments), January 2006-August 2007 Inquiry witness Symons, Elizabeth Synnott, Hilary Tafrov, Stefan Taft IV, William Talabani, Jalal Tanfield, Amanda Tang, Jiaxuan Tansley, James Taylor, Ann Taylor, Bill Taylor, Paul Taylor, Paul Tebbit, Kevin Tenet, George Teuten, Richard Thatcher, Mark Thompson, Jon Timms, Stephen Tinline, Robert Torlot, Tim (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean) Joint FCO/DTI Minister of State for International Trade and Investment, 2001-2003 FCO Minister for the Middle East, International Security and Consular and Personal Affairs, 2003-2005 (Sir) British High Commissioner to Pakistan Head, CPA(South), July 2003-January 2004 Inquiry witness Bulgarian Permanent Representative to the UN, 2001-2006 State Department Legal Adviser, April 2001-March 2005 President of the Governing Council of Iraq, November 2003 President of Iraq, 2005-2014 (Dr) FCO, Head of Iraq Section, Middle East Department Chinese Foreign Minister, March 1998-March 2003 British Consul General in Basra, September 2005-April 2006 Inquiry witness Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee, 2001-2005 (Baroness Taylor of Bolton) MOD Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, November 2007-October 2008 Head, US Project Contracting Office Head, UK Trade and Industry, Middle East MOD, Director General, Equipment (Sir) MOD Permanent Under Secretary, July 1998-November 2005 Inquiry witness Director of Central Intelligence, July 1997-July 2004 Head, Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit Visiting fellow, RUSI Media Director, CPA MOD Permanent Under Secretary, September 2012-April 2016 Chief Secretary to the Treasury, May 2006-June 2007 Deputy British Consul General in Basra, February 2007-February 2008 Inquiry witness Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Baghdad Annex 3 |
Iraq: Multi-National Division boundaries, June 2003 to May 2004 After the declared end of major combat operations, Iraq was divided into six divisional areas: Multi-National Division (North) (MND(N)), Multi-National Division (North-Central) (MND(NC)), Multi-National Division (Baghdad) (MND(B)), Multi-National Force (West) (MNF(W)), Multi-National Division (Center-South) (MND(CS)) and Multi-National Division (South-East) (MND(SE)).
Documents published by the Inquiry Whole documents and extracts declassified by the Government, transcripts of the Inquiry’s hearings and written submissions to the Inquiry are published on the Inquiry website, with redactions where necessary.
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The UK recently held a referendum (ostensibly) over whether to remain in the EU or not. The outcome was 52% in favour of abandoning the Union and ‘taking our country back’ (and other mendacious mis-truths). The country is still in shock, the political parties are in freefall, and there is an overwhelming sense of confusion, grief and disbelief throughout the nation.
At times like this I am struck but how little direct agency I have over such things – sure, I cast my vote – but the ensuing clusterfuck is something I can only watch from the sidelines.
Without agency, I tend to react with art.
(At least I have control over the end of a paintbrush.)
Until I started painting this image, I’d never noticed how much the Union Jack shield and seated position echo the shape of a wheelchair.
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The human brain is a highly efficient pattern matching machine. From the acuity with which our visual system can identify objects, to the emotional facilities we use to assess our social environment, through to our intellect and insight, we find and exploit patterns in the data – it’s what we do.
It is this very ability which leads to the exponential growth of ideas and innovation which characterise human culture.
It also means that when presented with a range of concepts, we tend to create a narrative which explains their connection. We like to make sense of the world – the more we understand, the more comfortable we are. (Evidence suggests that the core of our consciousness is better understood as post-hoc explanation, rather than direct perception. )
We find patterns to explain the world.
However, when we consider broader events and ideas, much larger than ourselves, we can sometimes react with suspicion and fear. In the realm of unknowable ideas, all sorts of patterns can be found.
Our emotional selves tend to view the unknown with a degree of trepidation, and this makes evolutionary sense – the night is dark and full of terrors, after all. Some imagine shadowy cabals manipulating the globe to their own nefarious ends. Sometimes these suspicions are proven right, but more often they remain in the realm of the ineffable.
@conspiracybot1 attempts to engender this feeling of unease by presenting disparate, but temporally proximal, ideas together to allude to a deeper connection.
The events have been harvested from wikipedia’s page-of-the-day. The first event mentioned always falls on the current calendar day, the second chosen at random from the rest of the chosen year. The selection is biased towards popularity (as measured by wikipedia page rank) and suspicion (conspiracy theory related events are preferred).
The bot produces a new possible conspiracy up to 3 times a day.
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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has just turned 90. To the delight of videographers the world over, she chose to wear a ChromaKey-tastic outfit to the trooping of the colour. So, I knocked up this quick interface to overlay her suit with a YouTube video of your choice.
CLICK HERE to try it out.
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