LIVE BLOGGING behind the headlines of RAW STORY...
By Larisa Alexandrovna on 7/8/2005, 6:19pm PT  

Guest blogged by Larisa Alexandrovna.

INTRODUCTION {by Winter Patriot}: The lovely and talented Larisa Alexandrovna has been very busy lately at The Raw Story, writing and editing like a mad-woman [which she isn't, really!] ... And we are extremely fortunate indeed to have her with us for the Blogathon.

Here are a few of the pieces Larisa has worked on recently:

U.S. changed Iraq policy to begin airstrikes months before war

Did Bush lie to Congress about use of force?

The U.S. quietly shifted policy towards Iraq to allow for surgical, pre-emptive airstrikes months before any attempt to seek UN or Congressional approval for the use of force, RAW STORY can reveal.

The discovery, made by investigative blogger Ron Brynaert, raises questions of whether Britain and the United States violated a UN resolution to provide for the security of Iraqi citizenry in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War.
The change meant that the U.S. began systematically bombing air defense systems and other buildings, even beyond the No-Fly Zones established in the wake of the Gulf War. The U.S. justified these pre-emptive airstrikes under a 1991 UN Security Council resolution which says that Iraq must “remove the threat to international peace and security in the region.”

The resolution, however, never specifically called for the use of force. Nor did it authorize the no-fly zones, a joint venture of the British and U.S. governments.

Some suggest the change indicates President George W. Bush lied to the nation when he declared in October 2002 upon signing the Congressional authorization on the use of force, "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope the use of force will not become necessary."

Other U.S. commanders have admitted to “spikes of activity,” a phrase employed by both British and American officials when discussing bombings before the push for Congressional or UN approval.

“I directed it,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at a Sept. 16, 2002 Pentagon press briefing in response to questions about the rising tide of Iraq airstrikes in 2002. "I don't like the idea of our planes being shot at. We're there implementing U.N. resolutions... And the idea that our planes go out and get shot at with impunity bothers me."

After repeated questioning about when the change was made, Rumsfeld was hesitant, and according to the transcript, reporters laughed.

There's more, of course.

And there's also this: The unofficial war: U.S., Britain led massive secret bombing campaign before Iraq war was declared

A U.S. general who commanded the U.S. allied air forces in Iraq has confirmed that the U.S. and Britain conducted a massive secret bombing campaign before the U.S. actually declared war on Iraq.

The quote, passed from RAW STORY to the London Sunday Times last week, raises troubling questions of whether President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair engaged in an illegal war before seeking a UN resolution or congressional approval.

While the Downing Street documents collectively raise disturbing questions about how the Bush administration led the United States into Iraq, including allegations that “intelligence was being fixed,” other questions have emerged about when the US and British led allies actually began the Iraq war.

According to the May 1, 2005 Downing Street Memo, official minutes of a 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, members of British intelligence MI-6 and various senior level members of the Bush administration, air strikes had already begun by July 23, 2002.

British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon “said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.”

Other recent articles written, researched and/or edited by Larisa include:

The Path of War Timeline An incredibly detailed look at how we came to be where we are

Coalition of citizen groups seek formal inquiry into whether Bush acted illegally in push for Iraq war

Veteran Democrat raises worries on civil liberties, 2002 Iraq attack plan

Dems locked out of debate on sweeping and controversial REAL ID Act

Questions surface regarding legitimacy of Baker-Carter election reform commission

Nuking the spin: Former UN weapons inspector talks to Raw Story on Iran, Iraq

Larisa will be online with us on Saturday, between 1 and 3 PM Eastern, that's 10AM to Noon Pacific, and apparently she's prepared to talk about all these things and more. So be sure to click those links, read some background, and ask good questions ... because this is the sort of opportunity that doesn't come along every day!

This item is part of the First Annual BRAD BLOGATHON, conceived and implemented by readers of The BRAD BLOG! Please help keep Brad blogging. You can click HERE to donate using PayPal or your credit card, or click HERE to donate using snail mail. Many thanks on behalf of Brad and the Bloggers behind the Blogathon!