Iraq - 2/2 -

David Kelly – My view

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So, let’s get this straight.
David Kelly was a man who has been on many visits to Iraq. He had seen countless horrors while he was there. The BBC describes him as a “gentle man with a core of steel.” “There was no give in that man,” said close colleague Scott Ritter in the same BBC article. He was hardened by many years in Iraq, one of the world’s toughest countries, as a high-profile inspector. Yes, he was under intense pressure when he revealed his conversation with Andrew Gilligan, but surely the man was not naive enough or inexperienced enough to buckle?
And then his death. It may well be a suicide. If it was, then there must be other extreme and underhand factors (such as the “dark actors” he described hours before his death) that drove this hardened man to end his successful life so suddenly. The ordeal may have been over within a couple of weeks, there was no reason to end it all now.
Imagine, for a moment, that it wasn’t suicide. If you wanted someone out of the way, you would trail them to a deserted area. Then, you would kill someone in a way that would look for all the world like the victim had done it himself. He slit one wrist – is there any precedent for a man dying after slitting just one wrist? Privately, many doctors agree that it is unlikely enough blood would be lost. And this happened in woods where no one could see him, and where there would be no sign of a struggle.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But Esther Rantzen was the first person to comment on it this morning on Radio 4. Have a listen to it here – skip to 37 minutes. She doesn’t say it directly, but implies a whole heap of suspicion in the medical community.
Important, pivotal people eliminated – it’s happened before, it’ll happen again. Will others have the courage to wonder?
Update: David Kelly’s colleague implies that we “don’t really know the reason he died yet, do we… we need to know what happened”. Listen here, 5 minutes in…

Post-War Links

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A couple of post-war-related links:
Turning Tables – A US soldier blogs away from Iraq about life, the universe and dusty roads.
Baghdad Bulletin – If you like the war, you’ll love this, Iraq’s only English-speaking, independent news magazine, online.

There’s a reason for everything

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Taken from the BBC website:

“There is an economic as well as political aspect to the views of countries
including France and Russia. Russian firm Lukoil says it expects its
contract to develop Iraqi oilfields to be honoured while France’s
state-controlled oil company TotalFinaElf also reached similar potentially
lucrative understandings. France was also the leading supplier of goods to
Iraq under the UN’s oil-for-food programme.”


First Day in a Hotel

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I spent my first night in an Oxfordshire hotel last night. It was an eery time, especially in the imposing manor that would be my home for 4 days. Sunday nights in hotels are apparently the quietest time, according to the receptionist and as I looked around, taking in the huge ornate drawing room and dark wood of the reception’s balcony, I hoped that I would find something to occupy my mind.
As it happens, I didn’t find anything remotely interesting, so I trundled off to the restaurant for my evening meal. It was pleasant enough, but once again the place was deserted – my only company was a couple of old age pensioners and a rather underworked waiter. The high point came during my main course, when, from the kitchen, the chef enjoyed possibly the largest sneeze I have ever heard, followed by an anguished cry: “Oh Christ, has anyone got a tissue?” I thanked god that my main meal was already on the table, and pitied the poor sods next to me as their meal came out seconds later.
As I watched the latest bombing on Iraq after I’d returned to my room, I began to feel a little isolated. My particular room block was as far as possible away from the main building, and I felt a little vulnerable, being one of only 5 residents in the hotel. As a particularly loud and devasting bomb was filmed landing in Baghdad, the lights suddenly went out. My entire room was in darkness, and it took a full five seconds for me to assume the worst – the Iraqi army had arrived in Oxfordshire. I scrambled to get my shoes on, and bumped my way out of the room. The whole place was in darkness, and as I reached reception, I found bunker mentality had already set in – the old dears were discussing the war, their entire lives, and demanding milk for their tea, which must have been luke warm at best. The manager informed us that this was the first test for the backup generator. It dawned on us that it had blatently failed. The imposing architecture of the building’s interior just looked plain scary, and for the next 30 minutes, we huddled in darkness. Finally, after one old girl regailed us with a ‘hilarious’ tale, the lights turned on again, and we tottered back.
And that was only my first day…

Nick’s Housewarming

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My new clean-living lifestyle has only one side effect: when I do actually go to party and drink recklessly, I feel utterly, utterly dreadful the next morning. I took Nick’s housewarming party last night as a clear opportunity to drink most of a bottle of vodka, as we partied in his lovely new house. The 42 inch TV in the corner gave us the surreal situation of slowly getting leathered while watching bombs dropping on Baghdad. The US forces’ ‘shock and awe’ tactics of bombing the hell out of Iraq went into action – the shock was somewhat numbed by the alcohol, but I was certainly in awe. This war is being televised more than any other conflict, and it’s grippingly horrifying.

Christmas/New Year updates

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In the words of several people this week, “Why the bloody hell haven’t you updated” Well, in true FHM style, here’s the long overdue:

‘What Wibbler’s been doing this week (and a half)’

  • Went with my girlfriend and both sets of parents to the Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime in Guildford. Utterly brilliant (Oh no it wasn’t…) and fully regressed into childhood.
  • Got an extremely noisy Christmas card from Michelle.
  • Got wonderful presents from parents and girlfriend, including a Playboy Zippo lighter
    (all i have to do now is start smoking), a car kit, 2 sets of drinking games including shot glasses, a Yves St Laurent top, a Matchbox Twenty music DVD, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for the Playstation 2, a Projector clock, a mini Ice Hockey game, toiletries, a book and some sweets. And other stuff.

  • Reminisced at drunken youth in Cinderellas nightclub. Ahh, the memories of that shoebox-sized club…
  • Worked. Far too much.
  • Visited aging relatives in Kent, and found it remarkably enjoyable.
  • Developed a new, fruit-themed, minimalist design for
  • Found out at a New Years Eve party in Tooting that a recent friend is the bloke who writes the headline one-liners on Sky News. Cue a night of developing puns for his next day’s work, including: Chink in the Armour (story: Chinese army trouble), Out On A Limb (story: dismembered remains found in London), Water Disaster (story: Floods around the UK), Saddam Shame (story: impending war on Iraq), I Have A Very Large Hangover (story: he was VERY drunk last night).
  • Watched in sheer amazement as Jac blew up a balloon, only for it to explode in his face.
  • Realised that I am surrounded by the greatest, kindest and funniest bunch of tykes I could wish for. And, including my girlfriend, my closest female friends are all gorgeous to boot.
  • Discovered at same party that all Jac and I need in order to have fun is to be in the same room together.

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here’s to wars, global financial depression, and a pay rise…