Film ‘Official Secrets’ is the Tip of a Mammoth Iceberg

A new film depicting the whistleblower Katherine Gun, who tried to stop the Iraq invasion, is largely accurate, but the story is not over, says Sam Husseini.

By Sam Husseini
Special to Consortium News

Two-time Oscar nominee Keira Knightley is known for being in “period pieces” such as “Pride and Prejudice,” so her playing the lead in the new film “Official Secrets,” scheduled to be released in the U.S. on Friday, may seem odd at first. That is until one considers that the time span being depicted — the early 2003 run-up to the invasion of Iraq — is one of the most dramatic and consequential periods of modern human history. 

It is also one of the most poorly understood, in part because the story of Katharine Gun, played by Knightley, is so little known. Having followed this story from the start, I find this film to be, by Hollywood standards, a remarkably accurate account of what has happened to date–“to date” because the wider story still isn’t over.

Katharine Gun worked as an analyst for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the secretive U.S. National Security Agency. She tried to stop the impending invasion of Iraq in early 2003 by exposing the deceit of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in their claims about that country. For doing that she was prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act — a juiced up version of the U.S. Espionage Act, which in recent years has been used repeatedly by the Obama administration against whistleblowers and now by the Trump administration against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

Gun was charged for exposing— around the time of Colin Powell’s infamous testimony to the UN about Iraq’s alleged WMDs – a top secret U.S. government memo showing it was mounting an illegal spying “surge” against other U.N. Security Council delegations in an effort to manipulate them into voting for an Iraq invasion resolution. The U.S. and Britain had successfully forced through a trumped up resolution, 1441 in November 2002. In early 2003, they were poised to threaten, bribe or blackmail their way to get formal United Nations authorization for the invasion. [See recent interview with Gun.]

Katherine Gun

The leaked memo, published by the British Observer, was big news in parts of the world, especially the targeted countries on the Security Council, and helped prevent Bush and Blair from getting the second UN Security Council resolution they said they wanted. Veto powers Russia, China and France were opposed as well as U.S. ally Germany.

Washington invaded anyway of course — without Security Council authorization — by telling the UN weapons inspectors to leave Iraq and issuing a unilateral demand that Saddam Hussein leave Iraq in 48 hours— and then saying the invasion would commence regardless.

 ‘Most Courageous Leak’

It was the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where I work (accuracy.org), Norman Solomon, as well as Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg who in the U.S. most immediately saw the importance of what Gun had done. Ellsberg would later comment: “No one else — including myself — has ever done what Katharine Gun did: Tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it. Hers was the most important — and courageous — leak I’ve ever seen, more timely and potentially more effective than the Pentagon Papers.”

Of course, no one knew her name at the time. After the Observer broke the story on March 1, 2003, accuracy.org put out a series of news releases on it and organized a sadly, sparsely attended news conference with Ellsberg on March 11, 2003 at the National Press Clubfocusing on Gun’s revelations. Ellsberg called for more such truth telling to stop the impending invasion, just nine days away.

Though I’ve followed this case for years, I didn’t realize until recently that accuray.org’s work helped compel Gun to expose the document. At a recent D.C. showing of “Official Secrets” that Gun attended, she revealed that she had read a book co-authored by Solomon, published in January 2003 that included material from accuracy.org as well as the media watch group FAIR debunking many of the falsehoods for war.

Daniel Ellsberg on the cover of Time after leaking the Pentagon Papers

Gun said: “I went to the local bookshop, and I went into the political section. I found two books, which had apparently been rushed into publication, one was by Norman Solomon and Reese Erlich, and it was called Target Iraq. And the other one was by Milan Rai. It was called War Plan Iraq. And I bought both of them. And I read them cover to cover that weekend, and it basically convinced me that there was no real evidence for this war. So I think from that point onward, I was very critical and scrutinizing everything that was being said in the media.” 

Thus, we see Gun in “Official Secrets” shouting at the TV to Tony Blair that he’s not entitled to make up facts. The film may be jarring to some consumers of major media who might think that Donald Trump invented lying in 2017. 

Gun’s immediate action after reading critiques of U.S. policy and media coverage makes a strong case for trying to reach government workers by handing out fliers and books and putting up billboards outside government offices to encourage them to be more critically minded.

Gun’s revelation showed that the U.S. and British governments were not only lying to invade Iraq, they were violating international law to blackmail whole nations to get in line.

Mainstream reviews of “Official Secrets” still seem to not fully grasp the importance of what they just saw. The trendy AV Club review leads: “Virtually everyone now agrees that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a colossal mistake based on faulty (at best) or fabricated (at worst) intelligence.” “Mistake” is a serious understatement even with “colossal” attached to it when the movie details the diabolical, illegal lengths to which the U.S. and British governments went to get other governments to go along with it.

Gun’s revelations showed before the invasion that people on the inside, whose livelihood depends on following the party line, were willing to risk jail time to out the lies and threats.

Portrayal of The Observer

Other than Gun herself, the film focuses on a dramatization of what happened at her work; as well as her relationship with her husband, a Kurd from Turkey who the British government attempted to have deported to get at Gun. The film also portrays the work of her lawyers who helped get the Official Secrets charge against her dropped, as well as the drama at The Observer, which published the NSA document after much internal debate.

Observer reporter Martin Bright, whose strong work on the original Gun story was strangely followed by an ill-fated stint at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, has recently noted that very little additional work has been done on Gun’s case. We know virtually nothing about the apparent author of the NSA document that she leaked — one “Frank Koza.” Other questions persist, such is how prevalent is this sort of U.S. blackmail of foreign governments to get UN votes or for other purposes? How is it leveraged? Does it fit in with allegations made by former NSA analyst Russ Tice about the NSA having massive files on political people?

Observer reporter Ed Vulliamy is energetically depicted getting tips from former CIA man Mel Goodman. There do seem to be subtle but potentially serious deviations from reality in the film. Vulliamy is depicted as actually speaking with “Frank Koza,” but that’s not what he originally reported:

“The NSA main switchboard put The Observer through to extension 6727 at the agency which was answered by an assistant, who confirmed it was Koza’s office. However, when The Observer asked to talk to Koza about the surveillance of diplomatic missions at the United Nations, it was then told ‘You have reached the wrong number’. On protesting that the assistant had just said this was Koza’s extension, the assistant repeated that it was an erroneous extension, and hung up.”

There must doubtlessly be many aspects of the film that have been simplified or altered regarding Gun’s personal experience. A compelling part of the film — apparently fictitious or exaggerated — is a GCHQ apparatchik questioning Gun to see if she was the source.

Little is known about the reaction inside the governments of Security Council members that the U.S. spied on. After the invasion, Mexican Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser spoke in blunt terms about U.S. bullying — saying it viewed Mexico as its patio trasero, or back yard — and was Zinser was compelled to resign by President Vicente Fox. He then, in 2004, gave details about some aspects of U.S. surveillance sabotaging the efforts of the other members of the Security Council to hammer out a compromise to avert the invasion of Iraq, saying the U.S. was “violating the U.N. headquarters covenant.” In 2005, he tragically died in a car crash.

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published by The Intercept in 2016 boasted of how the NSA “during the wind-up to the Iraq War ‘played a critical role’ in the adoption of U.N. Security Council resolutions. The work with that customer was a resounding success.” The relevant document specifically cites resolutions 1441 and 1472 and quotes John Negroponte, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations: “I can’t imagine better intelligence support for a diplomatic mission.” (Notably, The Intercept has never published a word on Katharine Gun.”)

Nor were the UN Security Council members the only ones on the U.S. hit list to pave the way for the Iraq invasion. Brazilian Jose Bustani, the director-general of the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. was ousted in an effective coup by John Bolton in April of 2002. Bolton is now national security adviser.

“Official Secrets” director Gavin Hood is perhaps more right than he realizes when he says that his depiction of the Gun case is like the “tip of an iceberg,” pointing to other deceits surrounding the Iraq war. His record with political films has been uneven until now. Peace activist David Swanson, for instance, derided his film on drones, Eye in the Sky.” At a D.C. showing of “Official Secrets,” Hood depicted those who backed the Iraq war as being discredited. But that’s simply untrue.

Keira Knightley appears as Katherine Gun in Official Secrets (Courtesy of Sundance Institute.) 

Leading presidential candidate Joe Biden — who not only voted for the Iraq invasion, but presided over rigged hearings on it in 2002 – has recently falsified his record repeatedly on Iraq at presidential debates with hardly a murmur. Nor is he alone. Those refusing to be held accountable for their Iraq war lies include not just Bush and Cheney, but John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi.

Biden has actually faulted Bush for not doing enough to get United Nations approval for the Iraq invasion. But as the Gun case helps show, there was no legitimate case for invasion and the Bush administration had done virtually everything, both legal and illegal, to get UN authorization.

Many who supported the invasion try to distance themselves from it. But the repercussions of that illegal act are enormous: It led directly or indirectly to the rise of ISIS, the civil war in Iraq and the war in Syria. Journalists who pushed for the Iraq invasion are prosperous and atop major news organizations, such as Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt. The editor who argued most strongly against publication of the NSA document at The Observer, Kamal Ahmed, is now editorial director of BBC News.

The British government — unlike the U.S.– did ultimately produce a study ostensibly around the decision-making leading to the invasion of Iraq, the Chilcot Report of 2016. But that report — called “devastating” by the The New York Timesmade no mention of the Gun case. [See accuracy.org release from 2016: Chilcot Report Avoids Smoking Gun.”]

After Gun’s identity became known, the Institute for Public Accuracy brought on Jeff Cohen, the founder of FAIR, to work with program director Hollie Ainbinder to get prominent individuals to support Gun. The film — quite plausibly — depicts the charges being dropped against Gun for the simple reason that the British government feared that a high profile proceeding would effectively put the war on trial, which to them would be have been a nightmare.

Sam Husseini is an independent journalist, senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy and founder of VotePact.org. Follow him on twitter: @samhusseini.

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59 comments for “Film ‘Official Secrets’ is the Tip of a Mammoth Iceberg

  1. Wayne Whittlesey
    September 6, 2019 at 15:17

    Was the Valerie Plame report on weapons of mass destruction included in the movie?

  2. victor madeson
    September 4, 2019 at 23:33

    Is there any question that corporate media will try to censor this film? It will only get limited release. See if you can find it at a theater near you.

  3. September 4, 2019 at 02:06

    I remember this woman. Thanks Sam for the review. I will eventually see the movie and I will keep your thoughts on it in mind when I do.

    This is also a test. When I tried to comment on Pepe’s conversation with Joe about Lula, I got a message that the server couldn’t be connected to or something and then had to find the interview again before I could continue watching it. The msg killed the video.

  4. robert e williamson jr
    September 3, 2019 at 18:15

    For Litchfield, on Kerry.

    Kerry has worked on two important reports. They are

    https://archives.org/details/Kerry-Report-Drugs-Contras Dated 1988.

    https://archive.org//details/TheBCCIAffair. Dec 1992. 581 pages

    How the two are connected- this document, another report, shows the obvious connection

    https://archive.org/detailsBCCIHearingsBeforeTheTerrorismNarcoticsAndInternationalOperationsOfTheCommitteeOnForeignRelations. 674 pages

    The two BCCI reports read distinctly different.

    This should clarify and doubts about who knew exactly what and just when they knew it and clearly is connected to both reports.

    I have read all of the 88 report and I’m still working on the 92 report.

    The 88 report titled Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy, By the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate

    On page III is the transmittal letter addressed to Hon. Clairborne Pell, Chairman on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate Washington D.C.

    3rd paragraph last sentence , “Appendices to the report detail allegations of how the initial investigation in 1986 may have been interfered with.”

    I have read the report, very interesting indeed.

    The second report I want to include is his BCCI Affair work. I would suggest that to pique your interest you simply read the bold black titles in the Executive Summary of the report starting page 4.

    Naturally I have no way of knowing if you watched the Witney Webb portion of Episode 7, it is at the very end of program and worth every minute of your time.

    By way of these reports I’ll suggest Sen Kerry found religion, so to speak.

    The Contras were/are connected to illegal arms trade, drug trade and CIA. BCCI was connected to the CIA, Contras, drug trade , Saudis, France, Egypt, Morocco, Iran and Hilary Clinton and Vince Foster. This is a long story. Bill Clinton encouraged I believe by Bill Barr and others decided to drop the investigation and not pursue it any further. Kerry that I know of said very little about it.

    I believe Clinton knew who Jeff Epstein was by 1991 but we know that he knew Epstein by 1993.

    This is about arms dealing, drug dealing human trafficking, sex with minor boys and girls, illegal acts by reps of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, including the alleged undermining of the US banking industry and money laundering pointed out in the Kerry / Brown BCCI report and the resulting blackmail.

    I’m pretty sure Kerry didn’t ant to vote for the war in Iraq but he don’t call his own shots. Very few in DC actually do. It’s a blackmail thing.

  5. Tim Jones
    September 1, 2019 at 20:38

    Isn’t it telling that when Ray McGovern and a cohort asked Jobn Conyers about why they can’t take legal action against George Bush for war crimes etc., Conyers had the Congressional police remove them. Conyers mentioned something about elections coming and Pelosi not being willing to do that. Congress would never have wanted a proper ivestigation because too many important politicians knew of the coverup and many reputations would be ruined and some would have jail sentences. Always comes down to the same thing, a systemic illness.

  6. September 1, 2019 at 13:53

    Very interesting article with lots of info.
    ——-
    I wrote the article at link below over 2 years ago.

    Are The Christians Slaughtered in The Middle East Victims of the Actions of Western War Criminals and Their Terrorist Supporting NATO “Allies”?
    https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/04/are-christians-slaughtered-in-middle.html

  7. dean 1000
    September 1, 2019 at 12:11

    Katherine Gun doesn’t seem to think she is a heroine. She is. She did the right thing. Others who had the info did not.
    Hopefully million(s) will see the movie and learn about the lies and criminality of the Bush and Blair regimes.

    Congress has been a miserable failure in preventing presidential wars. Yet another failure of the two party system. At least the failure of the 2 party system owned by the US oligarchy. When will the state affiliates of the 2 parties repeal the ban on fusion voting?

  8. Bob Van Noy
    September 1, 2019 at 07:14

    There is an excellent two part interview with Katherine Gunn, the Journalists and movie makers at Democracy Now which I’ll link below.

    https://www.democracynow.org/2019/7/19/katharine_gun_whistleblower_official_secrets_movie

    https://www.democracynow.org/2019/7/19/15_years_later_how_uk_whistleblower

  9. Fred
    September 1, 2019 at 04:51

    So, just to be clear, you’ve seen the movie?

  10. David G
    August 31, 2019 at 19:49

    Saw the film today. Solid work; recommended.

    Did her ultimate court appearance really go down in such a dramatic fashion? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised if it did: English courtroom proceedings may not deliver better justice than U.S. ones, but they’re definitely more entertaining.

  11. William
    August 31, 2019 at 19:06

    U.S. Government officials should be indicted for war crimes. It is quite clear that U.S. officials conspired to ensure that an invasion
    of Iraq would take place. The U.S. and Britain — George Bush and Tony Blair — initiated a war of aggression against Iraq, and under
    international law should be tried for war crimes, just as numerous German officials were tried and convicted of war crimes.

    No U.S. politician has called for investigation, and the main stream media has not touched this topic. It is unquestionably clear that
    the U.S. congress is a collection of spineless, cowardly, corrupt, greedy men and women. They have allowed the U.S. to become a rogue,
    criminal nation.

    • Fred
      September 1, 2019 at 04:53

      What crime exactly was violated?
      I’m not saying they’re not guilty of something, but when throwing out “war crimes”, you need to be sure what you’re talking about. So yeah, what war crime (in existence at the time) was violated?

    • September 1, 2019 at 19:16

      Fred, how about lying to justify an invasion which killed thousands upon thousands, destroyed a country, and ruined the lives of thousands who survived. If that is not a war crime, what is?

    • Dwight
      September 3, 2019 at 14:47

      Crime against peace, crime of aggression, crime of aggressive war. Not really recognized by UK, France, or U.S., at least as applying to themselves, but nevertheless a crime under international law.

      https://www.courthousenews.com/international-court-makes-war-of-aggression-a-crime/

      As Justice Jackson said at Nuremberg, “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

      https://harvardilj.org/2017/04/continued-debate-over-the-crime-of-aggression-a-supreme-international-irony

  12. Vivek Jain
    August 31, 2019 at 14:33

    Must-read article by Phyllis Bennis:
    The Roller Coaster of Relevance | The Security Council, Europe and the US War in Iraq
    Institute for Policy Studies, 29 July 2004
    https://www.tni.org/en/article/the-roller-coaster-of-relevance

  13. August 31, 2019 at 09:11

    Katherine Gun is awesome! I heard her speak as part of a panel of whistleblowers – wish there were many more like her…

  14. michael
    August 31, 2019 at 08:15

    Inequality.org reports that the majority of our top 1% are corporate executives. Finance, which reportedly accounted for 3% of our economy in 1980, now accounts for 30%. Many of the US’s 585 billionaires have monopolies in their business domain, no different from the Robber Barons of the late 19th and early 20th century. “Stability is more important than democracy”, the market hates uncertainty, and our foreign policies, determined by think tanks staffed and funded by our “allies” Israel and Saudi Arabia, will continue to push for the greed of our Richest. “Democracy” is a just a hypocritical bon mot for stealing and destroying.
    The Republicans have always supported these people. What is worrisome is that the Democrats have come to the same place as the GOP, since donations– pay-to-play- lead to re-elections. The Democrats have deserted the Poor and working class, since they have no money for pay-to-play. Our 17 technologically advanced Stasis work in concert with Congress, our entitled government bureaucrats, and their lapdog main stream media to “make things happen” for our Richest. How long before people like Assange, Katherine Gunn, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Binney, Kiriakou etc learn that it pays to keep their mouths shut? Transparency and whistleblowing is punished. Maybe other approaches are needed?

  15. Tony
    August 31, 2019 at 07:26

    Very interesting to see what inspired her to act the way that she did.

    Of course, the supporters of the war had various motives.
    But one motive behind President Bush’s plan was revealed by Russ Baker in his book ‘Family of Secrets’ page 423.

    He recalls a conversation with Bush family friend and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. He says that he told him:

    “He (George W. Bush) was thinking about invading in 1999.”

    Bush apparently said:

    “If I have a chance to invade…if I had that much (political) capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed, and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

    So there we have it, he thought that a war would boost his presidency.

  16. David G
    August 31, 2019 at 05:16

    “The editor who argued most strongly against publication of the NSA document at The Observer, Kamal Ahmed, is now editorial director of BBC News.”

    That’s a repulsive little nugget I would never have known otherwise.

    Thanks to Sam Husseini for this account. The film is playing in my town, at least for this coming week; I plan to get to it.

  17. RomeoCharlie29
    August 30, 2019 at 19:24

    This is a really interesting story and one I knew nothing about, although I was one who opposed the Iraq war because to me it was obvious the whole WMD issue was bullshit. Now I understand the perception that that war was an American/ Brit thing but you might recall that America’s deputy Sheriff in the Pacific, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, was Gung ho for the war and committed Australian troops to the ill-fated endeavour with the result that our country has subsequently become a target for ISIS inspired terrorism. Australia’s Opposition Leader at the time, Simon Crean led a vocal opposition to the war but “Little Johnny” as we called him was not to be denied. Incidentally I don’t think he has ever admitted being wrong on this.

  18. Xander Arena
    August 30, 2019 at 18:15

    Tip of an iceberg is right. Iraq was the second big lie of the 21st century. I wonder how the world will react to the University of Alaska Fairbanks report which proves fraud at NIST, and arguably reveals aiding and abetting of treason by the contractors who wrote NIST’s analysis of the WTC7 destruction. The UAF report drops Tuesday 9/3/19, and chisels away at the big lie that preceded all the related Iraq deceit. BTW… great article :)

    • robert e williamson jr
      September 12, 2019 at 16:25

      NIST is gonna have some answering to do it seems.

      The buildings were imploded and likely not by accident.. I viewed a film of WT-7 falling yesterday for the first time and it was pulled also.

      After the 1993 bombing of the world trade center fires at these buildings became an insurance issue. The great liability being that if a building on fire collapsed on its own and fell in any direction outside the building foot print and entire block of other buildings might be involved in total destruction. The wealthy owners of these building had to do something to alleviate the “risk” to the investment.

      To hell with the people in the buildings.

      So in order to get insurance on such an event did they have to wire it to implode? Or was it a “secret plan”?

      Either way America ate it’s young in that day when the buildings were pulled. Many police and fire, today’s heroes were killed along with the innocents all who simply got killed because they went to work.

      Especially sickening now that we know this attack should have been and could have been stopped.

      Then the village idiot from Crawford Texas goes on prime time TV and lies the nation into war.

      You cannot make this shit up.

      Trillions and trillions of dollars spent and it’s money we do not have. Now can we all have a nice antacid.

  19. Dan Anderson
    August 30, 2019 at 16:49

    I enjoyed the article and learned some things, but it does seem a bit of Hollywood promotion at the same time.

    If only Gun’s sacrifice had stopped the invasion it would have been a sensation. As is, the UN did not sanction the invasion, making that effort a bit moot, and since the reveal of NSA bugging the world under Obama that dulls the sensibilities of those who might today have otherwise been shocked, shocked like the Gary Powers U-2 spy plane downing over the USSR and Ike being caught in a lie on TV.

    But overall, knowing the downhill Gun’s livelihood has taken over the 15 years makes the story more of a warning for whistle blowers than inspiration. Maybe Gun will be well compensated by the movie makers!

  20. Neil E Mac
    August 30, 2019 at 15:54

    En fin!

  21. bevin
    August 30, 2019 at 14:13

    One thing is certain: The Observer of 2019 would not publish a story like this. That is one of the major changes since 2003: the capitalist media has tightened up. There are no longer papers competing to attract readers at risk of cozy relations with the State. The Observer/Guardian today – since the Snowden revelations- does what it is told.

    • John Ressler
      September 1, 2019 at 17:25

      ” . . . since 2003: the capitalist media has tightened up. There are no longer papers competing to attract readers at risk of cozy relations with the State . . . ” They do what they are told. Unfortunately,too many people STILL believe them.

  22. Litchfield
    August 30, 2019 at 13:16

    “In 2005, he tragically died in a car crash.”

    Unfortunately—or fortunately?—this no longer seems to be credible when it comes to those who have gone ouit on a limb to challenge the Deep State, or the US version of the Deep State.

    Can Bush and Blair be charged with crimes? In connection with the Third Reich there is AFAIK no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity. Well, Iraq was also full of ‘humanity.” These guys belong in The Hague. Or in Iraq, doing community service.

    In connection with Ellsberg’s reviewing the evidence and concluding there was no evidentiary justification for invading Iraq—I wanna say, you didn’t need to be Ellsberg or any kind of expert to see clearly that there was no evidence that justified invading Iraq. Millions of common folk could see this clearly. That is why over 14 million people worldwide demonstrated against the planned illegal invasion. That is why people like me when to NYC, to Washington, and also the front our local US Post Office in small towns all over the country to protest the country’s being lied into war. And were greeted mostly with thumbs-up from the passers- and drivers-by.

    The people knew it was all a pack of lies. It was the gullible PRESS that ginned up this show. Remember Judith what’s her name at the NYT? These people also should be indicted as war criminals.

    • Dan Anderson
      August 30, 2019 at 16:19

      Judith Miller, the NYTimes reporter who did maybe the most to make the invasion of Iraq, is the last name you were seeking.

    • Tony
      September 2, 2019 at 07:22

      Yes. Dick Cheney was interviewed on television and he sought to verify his claims by referring to the stories in the NYT. However, it later emerged that the ‘information’ in those stories had been supplied to Judith Miller by the administration. She then dutifully used them without attribution or verification.

  23. SteveF
    August 30, 2019 at 12:22

    The timescales are interesting, we have the alleged US blackmail to get this illegal war ‘approved’ by the UN and in the same timescale we have the Jeffery Epstein story unfolding and the corresponding allegations that he was a CIA/Mossad agent operating honey traps to entangle the rich and famous.
    The evil machinations of our governments are indeed breathtaking.

  24. August 30, 2019 at 11:56

    Good gripping tale.

    As we can see from so very many modern instances, it matters not at all that truth is on your side, if what you are doing is attacking those with money and power.

    And there’s an entire American establishment dedicated to keeping it just that way.

    America’s history of the last half century, at least so far as foreign relations and control of an empire, is almost entirely an artificial construct.

    Absolutely no truth in everything from John Kennedy’s assassination, which was intimately concerned with America’s relationship with Cuba, and the despicable Vietnam War to 9/11 and the despicable Neocon Wars in the Middle East.

    From hundreds of millions of printed newspapers and television broadcasts to speeches from prominent American politicians, you have tissue of lies not unlike that that was constantly being created by Oceania’s Inner Party in 1984.

    That’s not even the slightest exaggeration, but, truly, are Americans in general the least concerned or bothered?

    We have no evidence of significant concern. None.

    The Democratic Party just weeded out the only candidate it had, brave and informed enough to speak to truth in some of these matters.

    The ten left just represent varying degrees of hopelessness. On and on with weaving dreams about this or that creative social program while the resources and close attention dedicated to destruction in a dozen lands make them all impossible.

    At the sae time, there is an almost complete lack of information and courage about anything that is happening in Syria, in Iraq, in Libya, in Israel, and in such massively important countries as China, Russia, and Iran.

    Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning are brave contemporary examples of the American establishment’s methods for shutting down truth and punishing severely those who reveal it. While they have followers and supporters, I am always amazed at how relatively small their numbers are.

    And we have remarkably few individuals like Manning or Assange, especially when you consider the scale and scope of America’s many dark works. Mostly, we see only “willing helpers” carrying on with their sensitive, secretive careers in government.

    In the Democratic nomination contest, the “star” liberals, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are virtually no different in these absolutely critical matters than a confirmed old puke of a war criminal like Joe Biden, someone who probably deserves recognition as father of Obama’s industrial-scale extrajudicial killing project with drones and Hellfire missiles making legally-innocent people in a dozen countries just disappear. Biden has a long record of smarmy deeds and lack of courage and principles. He is, of course, most likely to get the nomination too.

    Act, from America’s CIA, no different in principle and in law to those of the old Argentine military junta’s massive efforts at dragging people off the streets, drugging them, and throwing them out of planes over the ocean, something they did to thousands. Oh, and during that wonderful project there were no objections from America, only silence.

    • Aimee
      August 30, 2019 at 22:31

      Excellent post. Agree completely. Tulsi was our only hope and she never had a chance. We are doomed.

    • Coleen Rowley
      August 30, 2019 at 23:29

      Here are some of the reasons for the ever lessening concern over US-NATO-Israel-Saudi’s (aka our current Empire’s) wars: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/02/04/recipe-concocted-for-perpetual-war-is-a-bitter-one/ By the way my co-author and I tried unsuccessfully to get this published in about 15 different US papers before Robert Parry posted it on Consortiumnews.

    • John Ressler
      September 1, 2019 at 17:29

      Excellent comment – thanks.

  25. Robert Edwards
    August 30, 2019 at 11:17

    It’s time these liers and war criminals are brought to Justice – I know that’s wishful , but sometimes wishes come true… America must get back to a country run on integrity and honesty, otherwise all will be lost in the spiral of evil…

    • August 30, 2019 at 12:11

      Sorry, but, oh please, America is lost. Has been so for a very long time.

      Only tremendous outside influences like depression or war and the growth of competing states and the loss of the dollar’s privileged status, are going to change the reality.

      America’s feeble democratic system is capable of changing almost nothing. After all, it was constructed with just that in mind.

    • john wilson
      August 31, 2019 at 05:07

      I think think the real worry is that these days they don’t even bother to lie anymore and they just do what they want. Think Venezuela.

  26. Guy
    August 30, 2019 at 10:42

    “Other questions persist, such is prevalent is this sort of U.S. blackmail of foreign governments to get UN votes or for other purposes? How is it leveraged? Does it fit in with allegations made by former NSA analyst Russ Tice about the NSA having massive files on political people?”
    This also stands out , as given what we now know is standard modus opendi of CIA / Mossad operations ,due to the Epstein arrest and ensuing information , who knows what is used to leverage other nations to follow along with US and in this case UK demands.Birds of a feather fly together.
    Very good report by Sam Husseini.

    • Litchfield
      August 30, 2019 at 13:32

      Absolutely. It is an obvious avenue now to investigate: How did the Epstein operation impact on the decision to invade Iraq? How were teh votes wrung out for the war authorization in October 2002?

      Regarding Kerry, as a resident of Mass. I couldn’t believe that Vietnam vet Kerry would vote Yes on the war authorization act. I called his office a number of time to beg him to vote no. Rumors emanated from within his office in Boston or wherever that phone calls from constituents were running 180 to 1 urging him to vote NO. But he voted YES anyhow.

      I simply believe that Yalie Kerry didn’t see what was up with the obvious lying that drove the runup to an illegal invasion. This is the kind of scenario where one now has to wonder—and ask openly—whether Kerry had been compromised in some way that made him vulnerable to blackmail. Why the hell else would he vote so stupidly?

      Recall that Scott Ritter ran afoul of some kind of sex trap and so he, one of the most knowledgeable and outspoken critics of the fake WMD narrative, was effectively muzzled.

      Did Kerry have a little skeleton in the closet somewhere?

      The same could be asked of all the esp. Democratic legislators who voted YES. Because we now understand which state in the EAstern Med wanted the war most and profited the most from it. We now know how deep and how wide the tentacles of that state’s intelligence service intrude into our own national sphere, our Congress, our own intelligence services, our media, and, most likely, our military. Epstein seems to been part f this web of pressure and blackmail.

      Epstein is gone, but Ghislaine Maxwell apparently still runs free.
      Let’s bring her in for questioning specifically about pressure applied on the Oct. 2002 vote. (Although some speculate that she, too, is already dead.)

    • Tim Jones
      September 2, 2019 at 15:45

      Ghislaine Maxwell? Her days are likely numbered if there’s a chance she would testify.

  27. Guy
    August 30, 2019 at 10:23

    At a time when despair in political affairs is very depressing ,it is very refreshing to see that the voices of reason are being vindicated.
    I really want to see this film as this is the first time that I hear of the voice of Katherine Gun .Bless her heart for standing up and her efforts to warn of deception . Does the film make any mention of Dr.David Kelly’s so-called suicide / murder ? Will have to wait ans see.
    Thank you CN for once again coming through for your excellent report.

  28. Pablo
    August 30, 2019 at 10:15

    Lawrence Wilkerson (Powell’s Chief of Staff?) told me that Collin knew Bush was fabricating, but went to the U.N. as a “loyal foot soldier”.

    • Dan Anderson
      August 30, 2019 at 16:27

      I suspect that is true, but can’t Wilkerson tell the public if he told you? “You said, he said, Powell knew” is not the stuff of facts.

    • August 30, 2019 at 17:01

      Powell also came around as a loyal, obedient follower of George Bush Senior in the run up to the first Iraq War, the one that was “left unfinished”. In times of great historical moment, men like this opt to follow the leader or just follow orders, despite having a public duty to advise the President frankly (as national security adviser). He was always for “containment”, as were almost all Pentagon generals in the case of Iraq’s seizure of Kuwait. But as Bob Woodward’s documentation of the Bush I White House’s deliberations over the Gulf War, “The Commanders”, records, Colin came on board with the unifying, fateful decision to mobilize the armed forces and punish Iraq, upon being on the receiving end of a “come to Jesus” talking to by Defense Secretary Richard Cheney. He said, afterwards, “we’re going to cut this army off, and kill it!”

    • Dan Anderson
      September 1, 2019 at 11:31

      I can believe this is true, but can hardly quote that ‘you said, he said, he knew’ with any confidence or authority. If Wilkerson told you, and you told us, then why can’t Wilkerson tell us? Was that his opinion or fact? Let’s ask Colin Powell.

  29. AnneR
    August 30, 2019 at 08:25

    Thank you, Sam Husseini, for this overview of the background – real story – to the film Official Secrets.

    To be frank, I’d not heard of Katherine Gun’s revelations at the time – not surprising because I don’t think that the US MSM gave the leak any oxygen. They were all too gung-ho for the war.

    While the film undoubtedly soft-pedals some of the story and likely doesn’t reveal or make explicit as much as we’d all hope, I really do hope that it receives at least as much publicity (good) and viewing as that execrable film Zero dark Thirty which basically supported the CIA and its torturers. But somehow I doubt that.

    • TomR
      August 31, 2019 at 06:19

      Zero Dark Thirty is just about the worst bullshit fake narrative put out by the CIA that I’ve ever seen. I watched it but cringed with the dramatized fake narrative that the CIA is famous for – think the bullshit 9/11 US govt. narrative – if you or anyone else believes that totally bunkum govt. narrative – well, I feel sorry for you.

    • AnneR
      September 1, 2019 at 07:19

      Perhaps Tom R you should read more carefully what I wrote. WHERE did I write in support of the the film zero dark thirty or the CIA? “Execrable” – perhaps you need to check out the meaning of the word – is how I described the film and its propaganda (akin to that one – not that I seen it either – about the ex army sniper).

      I am aware a) that the CIA and FBI and probably the rest of the alphabet soup that are the secret aspect of the MICC are very much involved in Hollywood’s products; b) if *you* don’t believe that the CIA was involved (along with MI6 and the rest) in torturing people they had captured, if you think that is all bullshit propaganda, then it is you who needs pity, not me; c) I haven’t wouldn’t waste what little money at my disposal on watching any such drivel as ZD30, there’s more than enough propaganda out there all the time blasted from every segment of the MSM. Why go searching for more and pay for it?

      My comment simply opined that however much more desirable that this Katherine Gun film be screened and watched because it opens a window onto some of the truth – a rarity in big movies – than ZD30, it is doubtful that it will be. To the wider public’s greater loss.

    • Druid
      August 31, 2019 at 17:28

      Im a good- movie buff. I avoided Zero Dark Thirty. Not a farthing for those lies

  30. Sylvia Bennet
    August 30, 2019 at 07:51

    I applaud Keira Knightley and all who were involved in bringing this story to the public. It is vital that more people who have the eyes and ears of the public speak out on these issues. Sadly, most of them keep their heads below the parapet. With the Main Stream Media colluding with corrupt corporations and governments to lie or distort the truth, we need decent people with influence to step up before it is too late.

  31. Toxik
    August 30, 2019 at 02:42

    Looked at my local theaters and Official Secrets will not be shown.

    • willow
      September 2, 2019 at 21:42

      Will not be shown here either. I live 30 minutes north of san franciso

  32. jmg
    August 29, 2019 at 18:39

    Katharine Gun’s case can also be very relevant for Julian Assange’s defense:

    “Within half an hour, the case was dropped because the prosecution declined to offer evidence. . . . The day before the trial, Gun’s defence team had asked the government for any records of advice about the legality of the war that it had received during the run-up to the war. A full trial might have exposed any such documents to public scrutiny as the defence were expected to argue that trying to stop an illegal act (that of an illegal war of aggression) trumped Gun’s obligations under the Official Secrets Act 1989. . . . In 2019 The Guardian stated the case was dropped ‘when the prosecution realised that evidence would emerge … that even British government lawyers believed the invasion was unlawful.’”

    Katharine Gun – Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Gun

    So Katharine Gun, like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, etc., by revealing corruption and crimes, maybe didn’t obey the code of silence of organized crime, government sector, but that’s not a law.

    For example, the US Executive Order 13526, Classified National Security Information, explicitly outlaws any classification that covers up crimes or embarrassing information.

    This means that whistleblowers like Katharine Gun or Chelsea Manning, and investigative journalists like Julian Assange are the ones defending the law here, while the US and UK governments are the criminals.

    • lindaj
      August 29, 2019 at 22:10

      Hear, Hear!

    • Me Myself
      August 30, 2019 at 12:11

      The espionage act has and would protect those who were responsible for the war I believe.

      If we could Abrogate the espionage act it would make are representatives more accountable.

      I was unaware of Katherine Gun she is clearly a standout person and will join the ranks of are most respected truthers.

    • WTF Burkie
      August 31, 2019 at 14:05

      Our not are.b.c. burkhart

    • evelync
      August 30, 2019 at 13:34

      And the secrecy, apparently, is required in the name of “national security”….that’s what I was told by a Harvard JFK School of Government associate when I emailed 200+ of ’em to express my outrage over their withdrawal of Chelsea Manning’s honorary degree when Pompeo and Morrell bullied them. I responded with – that’s INSTITUTIONAL FAILURE at Harvard – as a “respected” educational institution you should be front and center critiquing foreign policy instead of helping to bury the wrongdoing…..no wonder voters didn’t trust the establishment candidates in 2016…but the DNC was too much a part of it all to see or care what was going on. Except for Tulsi Gabbard who resigned at DNC VP in protest for what was being done to the Sanders campaign and to endorse Sanders instead of Clinton. The DNC knee capped the campaign of the one person who had won peoples’ trust for his honesty.

      We have incompetent people with no moral fiber making terrible decisions and burying the mistakes under secrecy, a fear based “code of silence”, as you say.

      Biden touts his being chosen by Obama for VP; therefore “he’s qualified”.
      Since Clinton and Biden were the most dangerously ambitious critics of Obama, I think he may have chosen to add them to his administration as VP and Sec of State to practice “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”….but his decision was very costly to the lives of people around the world including the Caribbean and South American countries whose wealth our oligarchs coveted.
      And as far as Honduras is concerned those political choices by Obama sadly explains refugees fleeing from that violent country even now …..thanks to our failing to declare the 2009 Coup a “military coup”. One of Clinton’s “hard choices”. Obama and Biden went along with that of course.
      Daniel Immerwahr’s “How to Hide an Empire” tells the sordid tale of how waterboarding was used long before Bush II – used on the freedom fighters for their independence in the Philippines after the Spanish American War and we took over as imperialists…..
      Most people, I think, don’t know all the gruesome details of our aggression but they now know enough to be troubled by it. Few political candidates have the backbone to criticize wrongheaded foreign policy.
      I’m disappointed that Tulsi Gabbard won’t be permitted to join Bernie Sanders at the September 12 2019 “debate” as the only ones who speak out on how wrong for this country and the world our foreign policies have been. This courageous woman should be heard.
      When Bernie was challenged in the 2016 Miami debate on his enlightened views on Cuba and other Caribbean and South American countries, Clinton used Cold War rhetoric to attack him. She was shocked, I tell you, shocked that he would not grind his heel on the Cuban people. I wondered at the time whether she really believed the crap she was selling or just put on a good political show for the national security state.

      We so need transparency if we want to be a real democracy.

    • Sam F
      August 30, 2019 at 21:06

      Very true that transparency is essential to democracy. That also requires lifelong monitoring of officials and their relatives for paybacks and other influence. But (for example) Florida has an Sunshine Act that merely moves the bribes into other channels, and may be the most corrupt state. I am investigating extensive racketeering there involving state officials stealing conservation funds. They can be quire careless because their party runs the entire state including state and federal judiciary, and instantly approves whatever their rich “donors” want to steal. But the FBI and DOJ refuse to take action when given the evidence on a silver platter – no doubt because they are appointed by the same party. Theft is their sacred right and duty, to protect their country from its people.

    • michael
      August 31, 2019 at 07:30

      Florida’s Sunshine laws were on display at Epstein’s only trial, much of it still sealed from public view.

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