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Carter savages Blair and Bush: 'Their war was based on lies'

By Andrew Buncombe in Atlanta

22 March 2004

Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has strongly criticised George Bush and Tony Blair for waging an unnecessary war to oust Saddam Hussein based on "lies or misinterpretations". The 2002 Nobel peace prize winner said Mr Blair had allowed his better judgement to be swayed by Mr Bush's desire to finish a war that his father had started.

In an interview with The Independent on the first anniversary of the American and British invasion of Iraq, Mr Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981, said the two leaders probably knew that many of the claims being made about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were based on imperfect intelligence.

He said: "There was no reason for us to become involved in Iraq recently. That was a war based on lies and misinterpretations from London and from Washington, claiming falsely that Saddam Hussein was responsible for [the] 9/11 attacks, claiming falsely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And I think that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair probably knew that many of the allegations were based on uncertain intelligence ... a decision was made to go to war [then people said] 'Let's find a reason to do so'."

Before the war Mr Carter made clear his opposition to a unilateral attack and said the US did not have the authority to create a "Pax Americana". During his Nobel prize acceptance speech in December 2002 he warned of the danger of "uncontrollable violence" if countries sought to resolve problems without United Nations input.

His latest comments, made during an interview at the Carter Centre in Atlanta, are notable for their condemnation of the two serving leaders. It is extremely rare for a former US president to criticise an incumbent, or a British prime minister. Mr Carter's comments will add to the mounting pressure on Mr Bush and Mr Blair.

Mr Carter said he believed the momentum for the invasion came from Washington and that many of Mr Bush's senior advisers had long ago signalled their desire to remove Saddam by force. Once a decision had been taken to go to war, every effort was made to find a reason for doing do, he said.

"I think the basic reason was made not in London but in Washington. I think that Bush Jnr was inclined to finish a war that his father had precipitated against Iraq. I think it was that commitment of Bush that prevailed over, I think, the better judgement of Tony Blair and Tony Blair became an enthusiastic supporter of the Bush policy".

Mr Carter's criticisms coincided with damaging claims yesterday from a former White House anti-terrorism co-ordinator. Richard Clarke said that President Bush ignored the threat from al-Qai'da before 11 September but in the immediate aftermath sought to hold Iraq responsible, in defiance of senior intelligence advisers who told him that Saddam had nothing to do with the conspiracy.

With an eye to November's presidential elections, Mr Bush sought on Friday to use the anniversary of the Iraq invasion to say that differences between the US and opponents of the war belonged "to the past".

Speaking at the White House, he told about 80 foreign ambassadors: "There is no neutral ground in the fight between civilisation and terror. There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy."

But in the US and Britain, and elsewhere, there is growing anger among people who believe the war in Iraq was at best a deadly distraction and at worst an impediment to the war against al-Qa'ida - diverting resources and energy from countering those groups responsible for attacks such as the train bombings in Madrid.

Over the weekend millions of anti-war protesters poured on to the streets of cities around the world to call for the withdrawal of US-led troops from Iraq. It was estimated that in Rome - which saw the biggest crowds - up to one million turned out.

Mr Carter, 79, has recently published a novel. The Hornet's Nest is centred on America's revolutionary war against the British. That period had many lessons for the present day, Mr Carter said.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Mar. 30, 2004 19:57 | Updated Mar. 30, 2004 21:53

Terrorists try to recruit child as suicide bomber


Palestinian terrorists tried to recruit a 15-year-old as a suicide bomber, at one point locking him in a dark room, but also luring him with clothes, a cell phone and promises of paradise, his family said Tuesday.

The story of ninth-grader Tamer Khweirah, who was extricated by an alert older brother, underscored the growing use of children by terrorists and stoked Palestinian debate over what is permissible in the fight with Israel.

Tamer is one of four teens arrested by the Israeli military in the West Bank city of Nablus in the past week on suspicion they were recruited by terrorists. One of the four, Hussam Abdo, 16, was caught at an Israeli checkpoint south of Nablus last week with eight kilograms (18 pounds) of explosives strapped to his body.

The boys knew each other, relatives said. Tamer, Hussam and a third youngster attended the same Nablus high school.

The Israeli military said Palestinian militants are increasingly targeting youngsters, in part because they arouse less suspicion at Israeli checkpoints.

The use of youngsters has drawn criticism also from some Palestinian intellectuals and educators, who said the militants are harming the Palestinian cause.

The Al-Ayyam daily, which often reflects the views of the Palestinian Authority, on Tuesday ran a story on Tamer, including his parents' demand that the recruiters be prosecuted. The article was a rare sign of public criticism of the terrorists.

However, Palestinian security officials said their forces have become so ineffective, largely due to Israeli restrictions, that they cannot rein in the terrorists.

Tamer was approached by the Islamic Jihad at a Nablus mosque last week, after Israel assassinated Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, said the boy's oldest brother, Raed, 26, to whom Tamer confessed his subsequent secret encounters.

In the mosque, Tamer and other worshippers were expressing their anger over the assassination, and a 19-year-old Islamic Jihad terrorist asked the youth whether he wanted to meet a religious leader, or sheik, from the group, Raed Khweirah said.

Tamer was taken to a private home in Nablus' old city, a militant stronghold, where he met the sheik, who introduced himself only as Ibrahim, Khweirah said. In the first session, the sheik spoke to Tamer about the need to avenge Yassin.

In a second encounter last week, the sheik tried to persuade Tamer to carry out a suicide bombing, according to the boy's older brother. The sheik locked Tamer in a dark room for a while, then took him to a well-lit room, explaining to the boy that this illustrated the difference between eternal damnation and paradise.

Paradise and 72 virgins are assured for any bomber, the sheik told Tamer, who is from a well-to-do family and according to his family had a sheltered upbringing.

When the youngster expressed concern that his family's house would be demolished - standard Israeli reprisal - the sheik said Islamic Jihad would pay 50,000 Jordanian dinar (US$ 35,000) to make up for the loss.

When the boy protested that he'd like to be around for the weddings of his two sisters in the summer, the sheik told him that "you will go to paradise and meet them there," according to the older brother.

Islamic Jihad terrorists gave Tamer a cell phone to enable constant contact, and bought him a new shirt and pants as a purported sign of affection, his brother said.

Khweirah said he became concerned about his younger brother, described as a model student, when he skipped school twice last week and was seen loitering downtown, smoking and talking on a cellphone.

Khweirah said that last Thursday, he turned for help to the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a terrorist group with ties to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Al Aqsa itself has carried out suicide bombings, and its terrorists say they have no qualms about recruiting teens, provided they are mature enough to understand their suicidal mission. Still, Khweirah hoped they would agree that his brother was not an appropriate candidate.

Later that day, a tearful Tamer returned home and confessed to his family, his brother said.

Hashem Abu Hamdan, an Al Aqsa leader in Nablus wanted by Israel, said he was personally involved in getting Tamer back home safely but gave no further details.

Abu Hamdan denied Al Aqsa dispatched Hussam Abdo, last week's would-be roadblock bomber, saying Hussam and his friends had taken the initiative. "They were looking for an explosives belt, and they could find it easily in Nablus," Abu Hamdan said in a telephone interview.

But the Israeli military said the terrorists are increasingly preying on the young.

"We've seen the accelerated efforts of this consortium of terror from Nablus to dispatch young children and turn them into human bombs," said Maj. Sharon Feingold, an army spokeswoman.

Tamer was arrested by Israeli soldiers at his home on Friday, the last of a group of four teens to be taken into custody. Feingold said the youngsters are still being questioned by the Shin Bet security service, which turned down requests by The Associated Press to interview Tamer.

The boy's family demanded that the Islamic Jihad recruiters be arrested, but so far to no avail. Talal Dweikat, the Palestinian intelligence chief in Nablus, said his forces are too weak to confront the terrorists.

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi said it is unfair to generalize, arguing that there had been only isolated attempts to recruit youngsters. She said Palestinian society, which has supported suicide bombings to a large degree, would have to do some soul-searching, but that the causes of despair - Israel's occupation and military strikes - must not be overlooked.

"It's horrifying, because we are paying the price as a nation," she said.

:read this: :read this:

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"Talal Dweikat, the Palestinian intelligence chief in Nablus, said his forces are too weak to confront the terrorists."

...even the Palestinians understand that their are terrorists among them.

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Bush Aides Block Clinton's Papers From 9/11 Panel


WASHINGTON, April 1 — The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks

said on Thursday that it was pressing the White House to explain why

the Bush administration had blocked thousands of pages of classified

foreign policy and counterterrorism documents from former President

Bill Clinton's White House files from being turned over to the panel's


The White House confirmed on Thursday that it had withheld a variety of

classified documents from Mr. Clinton's files that had been gathered by the

National Archives over the last two years in response to requests from

the commission, which is investigating intelligence and law enforcement

failures before the attacks.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said some Clinton administration

documents had been withheld because they were "duplicative or unrelated," while

others were withheld because they were "highly sensitive" and the information

in them could be relayed to the commission in other ways. "We are providing

the commission with access to all the information they need to do their job,"

Mr. McClellan said.

The commission and the White House were reacting to public complaints from

former aides to Mr. Clinton, who said they had been surprised to learn in

recent months that three-quarters of the nearly 11,000 pages of files the

former president was ready to offer the commission had been withheld by

the Bush administration. The former aides said the files contained highly

classified documents about the Clinton administration's efforts against

Al Qaeda.

The commission said it was awaiting a full answer from the White House on

why any documents were withheld.



We know why the White House is holding back the documents--

because it embarrasses them.....They ignored it..

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