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Saturday, Apr 19th

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Secrets of 'sexed-up' WMD dossier must be told, watchdog orders ministers

The Information Commissioner ordered civil servants to release undisclosed emails and memos about a draft of the dossier which supposedly set out the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

Richard Thomas flatly rejected Government claims that the comments - kept under wraps during a three-year legal battle - could jeopardise national security.

He said it was clearly in the public interest to know what alterations to the dossier were proposed in the days before it was published.

This was because the undisclosed material could provide 'evidence that the dossier was deliberately manipulated in order to present an exaggerated case for military action'.

Lord Hutton's inquiry into the death of government scientist Dr David Kelly heard that last-minute changes to the draft were suggested by Tony Blair's spin supremo Alastair Campbell, and subsequently adopted by intelligence chiefs.

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Cheney Shielded Bush From Crisis

Vice President Cheney convened a meeting in the Situation Room at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10, 2004, with just one day left before the warrantless domestic surveillance program was set to expire. Around him were National Security Agency Director Michael V. Hayden, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and the Gang of Eight -- the four ranking members of the House and the Senate, and the chairmen and vice chairmen of the intelligence committees.

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Petraeus: more than troops needed in Afghanistan

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said Sunday that experience in Iraq shows it will take political and economic progress as well as military action to tackle increased violence in Afghanistan.

"You don't kill or capture your way out of an industrial strength insurgency," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. His comments come as a debate over the need to redeploy troops from Iraq to Afghanistan has become a central issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.

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Anti-Bush Graffiti: 25 Countries, Six Continents

As President George W. Bush nears the end of a mostly disastrous eight-year term, he too should be given credit for public appearances overseas.

Traveling by air — er, compressed air, that is — and landing on everything from brick walls to telephone poles to the doors of trash chutes, Bush boasts a presence in just about every last nook in the world.

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Wall Street privatises US government: be very afraid

The US low-tax zealot, Grover Norquist, is famous for wanting to "shrink government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub". Still alive, he is not turning in his grave, but his idea has been well and truly buried - and not by the Democrats he hates; they have been tongue-tied on the credit crisis.

It seems that President Bush and the Republicans are not just well to the left of Grover Norquist. They leave clear blue water on the left of Gordon Brown, much to the envy of Euro-lefties no doubt, who would love to ditch what they call "neo-liberalism", and what we call free markets, as easily as the American right wing.

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Iraq: Violence is down – but not because of America's 'surge'

As he leaves Iraq this week, the outgoing US commander, General David Petraeus, is sounding far less optimistic than the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, about the American situation in Iraq. General Petraeus says that it remains "fragile", recent security gains are "not irreversible" and "this is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant the flag and go home to a victory parade... it's not a war with a simple slogan."

Compare this with Sarah Palin's belief that "victory in Iraq is wholly in sight" and her criticism of Barack Obama for not using the word "victory". The Republican contenders have made these claims of success for the "surge" – the American reinforcements sent last year – although they are demonstrably contradicted by the fact that the US has to keep more troops, some 138,000, in Iraq today than beforehand.

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Health facilities flush estimated 250M pounds of drugs a year

U.S. hospitals and long-term care facilities annually flush millions of pounds of unused pharmaceuticals down the drain, pumping contaminants into America's drinking water, according to an ongoing Associated Press investigation.

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Jews attacking Jews

The equation "anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism" has thus become the new orthodoxy, and has even earned the seal of approval of the European Union. Its racism and anti-Semitism monitoring center (the Federal Rights Agency) produced a "working definition" of anti-Semitism, with examples of five ways in which anti-Israel or anti-Zionist rhetoric is anti-Semitic. The 2006 report of the U.K.'s All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism urged the adoption of the EU definition, and the U.S. State Department's 2008 report "Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism" is also based on it.

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Intelligence officer claims CIA was complicit in torture in Uzbekistan

Ikrom Yakubov, a former major in the National Security Service (SNB), accused the CIA of involvement in torture sessions in the central Asian republic in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald, during which he made a series of startling claims. These include claims that:

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