Solomon Hughes

Follow the money: the "war on terror" and the multinationals who are profiteering from it

Issue section: 
Issue: 

It started with an article on a private security company in Bosnia. Solomon Hughes then became drawn into an investigation which was to expose the ever growing profits made from the privatisation of war.

I started writing about the private security industry in July 2001, when I sold a story to the Observer newspaper about a company called DynCorp. They were hired by the US to help the "reconstruction" of Bosnia and Kosovo by running the new post-war police force.

The Ex-Ministers' Club

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Ex-ministers are making big money from consultancies.

David Blunkett resigned from government after his office interfered in his lover's nanny's visa application. Tearfully Blunkett vowed to spend time getting close to his biological son, 'that little lad'. It seems his battle for the boy's heart and his work duties representing the electors of Sheffield Brightside are not enough: he has a new part time job 'giving seminars on the relationship between government and business' for Indepen Consulting Ltd.

DIY Arms Sales

Issue section: 
Issue: 

The British-backed European Union decision to lift the arms embargo on China is not just about military equipment.

Lifting the ban on weapons exports is a goodwill gesture to China's authoritarian government from a Europe that wants more business with the east.

The Hutton Report: Did Everyone Say 'Whitewash'?

Issue section: 

The Hutton inquiry cut into the government, exposing the messy lies and distortions underneath Blair's Iraq claims. The Hutton report puts a nice big judicial bandage over that cut.

Temporarily rejuvenated, Blair parades his Hutton-issue certificate of honesty, augmented by the BBC's 'unreserved' apology. Under the bandage the wound rapidly festers.

Poplar Idol

Issue section: 

Review of 'George Lansbury', John Shepherd, Oxford University Press, £35

George Lansbury was one of the most popular figures on the left of the Labour Party. Consequently he is still patronised and reviled by newspaper columnists, and Historian AJP Taylor claimed Lansbury's Lido on the Serpentine was the only lasting achievement of the 1929 Labour government. Given that the current government will leave the derelict Dome as its only memorial, Lansbury's open air swimming pool looks more impressive.

Weapons: The Scoop That Didn't Hold the Press

Issue section: 

Before the war, John Barry of Newsweek produced an amazing scoop. He obtained a leaked copy of the interview between General Kamal, Saddam's son in law, and the UN weapons inspectors.

Kamal was actually in charge of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme - his defection to the west in 1995 caused panic in Baghdad. Every single assertion about Iraq's WMD programme, every government dossier and major speech relies heavily on Kamal's evidence. However, Barry showed that while Kamal exposed Iraq's pre-1991 WMD programme - the chemical and biological weapons, the plans for nuclear bombs - he actually also said these programmes were destroyed after 1991, although some documents were retained.

Hutton Inquiry: Indecent Exposure

Issue section: 

Was Alastair Campbell responsible for the government's deliberate lies about Iraq's 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'? The Hutton inquiry evidence suggests not.

Instead the e-mails and memos show the whole government machine was behind the 'sexing up' of Saddam's threat. Campbell is there, but so too are Jonathan Powell, John Scarlett, Godric Smith and a host of press officers, all obsessively worried about the drafts and ever more melodramatic redrafts of the government's dossier. The initials 'TB' recur, showing the prime minister's close involvement in the propaganda programme and subsequent squeeze on Dr Kelly.

Shining the Light on Corruption

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'Power Failure', Mimi Swartz and Sherron Watkins, Aurum Press £14.99

Sherron Watkins was an Enron vice-president who, as the company teetered on collapse, wrote a memo to her boss Ken Lay saying, 'We will implode in a wave of accounting scandals.' She met Lay and suggested more honest bookkeeping. Post-collapse, she cooperated with Congressional inquiries while most of Enron's management took the Fifth Amendment.

Privatising the Privates

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Labour now plans to privatise the military.

While this war is fought for the corporations, the next one will be fought by the corporations. Labour's military privatisation programme means companies will supply and operate key warplanes, warships and army vehicles. The firms will even lure, train and employ soldiers under the Private Finance Initiative (PR). Privatising war is a Labour priority.

Profits on the Line

Issue section: 

Review of 'Down the Tube', Christian Wolmar, Aurum £9.99

Christian Wolmar is a bit of a Kiley fan--not the former soap actress turned pop star, but the former CIA agent turned transport supremo. There is a touch of Kileymania on the soft left, with the 'Guardian''s Polly Toynbee and London School of Economics 'expert' Tony Travers among the fans. Wolmar quotes Labour MP Karen Buck describing Kiley as 'a wow'. These Kiley fans share both a realisation that the London Undergound PPP is a disaster for the tube, and a real hostility to tube workers. Wolmar describes a tube strike over safety as 'opportunist'.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Solomon Hughes