quinta-feira, fevereiro 05, 2004
Who Was to Blame?
No Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash exige uma investigação rigorosa ao atentado bombista de 2009 em Paris. Ou o perigo de não se levarem a sérios as ameaças. Mesmo que posteriormente se venham a provar serem exageradas...
At last, we have the inquiry we need: a full, independent inquiry into the Paris bombing of 2009. As we all know, in that appalling attack, a large area between the Boulevard du Montparnasse and the River Seine was devastated by a small nuclear bomb, detonated by suicide bombers linked to the Algerian-based Islamic Armed Group (GIA). Some 100,000 people were killed or wounded. The supremely cultured heart of one of the most beautiful cities in the world was reduced to smouldering ruins. None of us will ever forget the photograph of Rodin's statue of Balzac, looming as if in tortured grief above the half-dismembered but recognisable corpses of a young couple on the Boulevard Raspail.
The inquiry of the Annan commission must be rigorous, impartial and international. It must have the full cooperation of all the intelligence services involved, especially since their own earlier failure to cooperate with each other seems to have been one reason the attack was not prevented. President Hillary Clinton of the United States and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France were right to say, in their joint statement, that history will not forgive us if we leave any stone unturned.
The Annan commission will investigate exactly how they did that. However it appears that highly relevant pieces of the intelligence jig-saw were already in the hands of three agencies: a Pentagon-led special group tracking the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Britain's MI6, and France's own foreign intelligence service. The trouble was, they didn't put the pieces together; nor did the politicians act on what they were told. Why? Again we must go back to the years 2002-04 for the answers
The British and American intelligence agencies had always distrusted their French counterparts - but this distrust was exacerbated by the polemics over Iraq. According to a leaked note of an internal meeting, the neo-conservative head of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans observed that the Pentagon would share WMD intelligence with "those cheese-eating surrender monkeys" only "over my dead body". The British and the Americans still worked very closely together, but the credibility of British intelligence had been impaired by what was seen as its unreliable peddling of claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
The White House had not forgotten the bruising experience of 2003, when President Bush asserted in his state of the union address "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa". American sources later concluded that this high-grade intelligence was based on forged documents. As a result, while MI6 did obtain, in early 2009, one crucial tip-off about a nuclear device being prepared by a Middle Eastern group that was, it subsequently emerged, working with the Islamist cell in La Courneuve, this intelligence was neither believed in Washington nor shared with Paris.
Yet the fault lay only partly with the intelligence services. As Britain's recently elected Conservative prime minister, Sally Jones, half-acknowledged in a BBC interview in September 2009, all leading western governments had been scarred by the reports of the Butler inquiry in Britain and the Scowcroft commission in Washington. Their findings, though couched in cautious, diplomatic terms, led most people to conclude that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair had made mountains out of intelligence molehills relating to Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction programme in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.
Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation of intelligence to the UN security council, complete with aerial slides, had become a byword for what political leaders wished to avoid. "I won't do a Powell," they told their officials. As a result, far from hyping the evidence, as they had in 2003, political leaders in western capitals tended to discount it. And so, amid the constant stream of alarming but unreliable reports, the warning that could have saved more than 60,000 lives, and another 40,000 wounded, was not acted upon.
Predictably enough, the familiar, balding figure of Sir Tony Blair, the former prime minister, rose from his regular place in the House of Commons to say, in effect, "I told you so". Well, he would say that wouldn't he? The task of the Annan commission is now to determine, rigorously and impartially, how far he was right.
posted by Miguel Noronha 11:35 da manhã
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