"James Baker is nothing if not a GOP loyalist. So how coordinated is his book roll out (Comedy Central, Meet the Press, NPR this morning) with the White House in advance of the November election? My sense: totally coordinated. Is it not a very deliberately timed reach out and wink and nod to GOP realists -- see, we are listening to you? The adults are in the house? Cheney has been confined to the attic? With Kissinger? Safely reviewing 1969 Vietnam memorabilia? Baker with his mock naive, never thought of it before, well, it would be too political to release our Iraq recommendations before the elections, I'm just an independent reasonable foreign policy steward doing my own thing? Seems Baker is a witting campaign prop being coordinated by the White House to communicate the message, the realists will be in charge of foreign policy the next two years. Without the White House having to say it, or it necessarily being true."* amy:
"Chief UK Military Leader Calls for Iraq Withdrawal* amy:
The head of the British military says foreign occupation is worsening the situation in Iraq and should come to an end. In an interview with the British newspaper the Daily Mail, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said: "I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them.” He added: "We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear. As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time." Dannat’s statement made front-page headlines around Britain. Many reports suggested his comments signify a major split between the military and Prime Minister Tony Blair. But Dannat later denied this was the case."
"Ex-UK Home Secretary Advised Bombing Al-Jazeera* amy:
A former top British official has admitted he advised Prime Minister Tony Blair to bomb the Arabic television network Al Jazeera during the opening months of the Iraq war. In an interview with Britain’s Channel Four, former Home Secretary David Blunkett says he told Blair to strike Al Jazeera’s transmitting equipment because it was broadcasting "propaganda". Blunkett explained: "There wasn't a worry from me because I believed that this was a war and in a war you wouldn't allow the broadcast to continue taking place.” Two weeks after Blunkett recommended the attack, the US military bombed Al Jazeera’s office in Baghdad, killing correspondent Tareq Ayoub. On Thursday, Al Jazeera editor-in-chief Ahmed Al-Sheikh said: "This adds to the growing number of evidence that will one day prove that the attack on Aljazeera was premeditated... at the highest levels. Aljazeera was being targeted at the time because the people who were waging war on Iraq didn't like what it was showing. We talk about terrorism, this is pure terrorism," he said."
UK Foreign Secretary: Gitmo “Unacceptable”,”Ineffective”* amy:
Meanwhile, Britain is continuing to push for the closure of the Guantanamo prison. On Thursday, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said the indefinite detention of Guantanano prisoners is “unacceptable” and “ineffective in terms of counter-terrorism."
London Man Pleads Guilty to Plotting UK, US Attacks* amy:
In Britain, a London resident has pleaded guilty to plotting terrorist attacks on Britain and the United States. Thirty-four year old Dhiren Barot said he planned to use a radioactive dirty bomb in Britain. He also admitted to planning attacks on the Washington headquarters of the IMF and World Bank, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Prudential buildings in Newark, New Jersey. Prosecutors say the plot never reached an advanced stage and that Barot had no funding or bomb-making equipment.
France Outlaws Denial of Armenian Holocaust
In France, lawmakers have passed a bill that criminalizes denial of the Armenian holocaust. The bill was passed over the fierce lobbying of the Turkish government. Turkey continues to deny it killed some 1.5 million Armenians during the First World War.