Ann Clwyd's lies were responsible for the deaths of many Iraqis
August 14, 2007
My last column highlighted the false accusations made by Nayirah, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, against the
Iraqi army in October 1990. Her lies led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Almost 13 years later, a member of the British Parliament lied to the world about Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
Her message was different from that of Nayirah, but the results were identical: death and destruction.
In the buildup to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein had created new torture methods and he used
industrial shredding machines to do away with his enemies. The leading supporter of this allegation was British Labour MP
Ann Clwyd. On March 18, 2003, days before the military actions began, the British newspaper The Times ran an article
written by her that was titled, "See men shredded, then you say you don’t back war."
Three days before the invasion, Clwyd spoke in the House of Commons and described how male prisoners in Iraq
were dropped into a machine "designed for shredding plastic," and their minced remains were "placed in plastic bags" and later
used as "fish food." She alleged that sometimes, the victims were dropped in the machines feet-first so they could briefly
view their own mutilation before death.
Australian Prime Minister Howard used the story to his great advantage. He supported the war and was about
to send troops, despite overwhelming opposition from his public. After the story appeared in The Times, he addressed
his nation and said he wanted to stop the ongoing crimes of the Ba’athist regime in Iraq including the "human shredding
machine" that was used "as a vehicle for putting to death critics of Saddam Hussein."
Others used this story for anti-Saddam fodder. Andrew Sullivan of the Sunday Times of Great Britain
stated that Clwyd’s report showed "clearly, unforgettably, indelibly" that "the Saddam regime is evil." Daily Mail
columnist Melanie Phillips described the shredder in which "bodies got chewed up from foot to head." In The Telegraph,
Mark Steyn criticized the anti-war movement with these words:
If it’s a choice between letting some carbonated beverage crony of Dick Cheney get a piece of the Nasiriyah
soft-drinks market or allowing Saddam to go on feeding his subjects feet-first into the industrial shredder for another decade
or three, then the "peace" activists will take the lesser of two evils — i.e., crank up the shredder.
The last statement shows the ludicrous methods some pro-war journalists utilized to get their messages across.
The benign assessment of Cheney’s involvement has been shown to be far off the mark. During the occupation of Iraq,
many stories have come forth about the economic shenanigans Cheney has pulled in efforts to grease the palms of his friends.
Not just a soft-drink concession, but billions of dollars have been allocated for various companies; dollars that have blood
on them because they were only attained after killing tens of thousands of Iraqis.
Pro-war journalists used many colorful and creative words to describe this shredding machine. According to
Trevor Kavanagh, political editor of the British daily The Sun:
British resistance to war changed last year when we learned how sadist Saddam personally supervised the horrific
torture of Iraqis. Public opinion swung behind Tony Blair as voters learned how Saddam fed dissidents feet first into industrial
As in the case of the Kuwaiti incubators being sent to Baghdad in 1990, the shredders did not exist. Both
stories galvanized a public to support the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people and the destruction of a country.
When Ann Clwyd was asked about her sources of information, she said that she had interviewed an Iraqi in northern
Iraq. She was eventually asked who the person was and if he was telling the truth. Clwyd told journalist Brendan O’Neill
of The Spectator, "We heard it from a victim; we heard it and we believed it." When O’Neill asked her if anything
was done to check the victim’s statement against other witness statements or other evidence for a shredding machine,
she replied, "Well, no."
The incidents supposedly took place at Abu Ghraib Prison, an institution made world famous by prisoner torture;
torture perpetrated by the U.S. against Iraqi inmates. When all was said and done, the shredding incidents that received worldwide
publicity amounted to the uncorroborated story of one person interviewed in northern Iraq. This, in itself, is hardly evidence
to use to send a country to war.
O’Neill began to track down people who could either corroborate or deny the legitimacy of shredders
being used to kill prisoners. He found an Iraqi doctor who worked at the hospital attached to the prison at Abu Ghraib in
1997 and 1998. The doctor’s job was to attend to those prisoners who had been executed. He told O’Neill, "We had
to see the dead prisoners to make sure that they were dead. Then we would write a death certificate for them."
This doctor refuted any stories about the shredding machines. O’Neill asked him if he ever attended
or heard of prisoners who had been shredded. He replied, "No." Then, he was asked if any of the other doctors at the prison
spoke of a shredding machine used to execute prisoners. The doctor responded, "No, no, never. The method of execution was
hanging; as far as I know, that was the only form of execution used at Abu Ghraib."
Another odd incident occurred that at first corroborated the shredder account, but quickly was exposed as
a ruse. An individual named Kenneth Joseph came forth and said he went to Iraq to be a human shield, but once in the country,
he heard so many horror stories, that he left, with 14 hours of videotaped interviews, and then became a war proponent. On
March 21, 2003, the UPI ran a story in which. Joseph said what he had heard in Iraq, "shocked me back to reality," that Iraqis’
"tales of slow torture and killing made me feel ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first
so they could hear their screams as their bodies got chewed up."
Quickly, his testimony came under fire. Carol Lipton, an American journalist investigated his story and said,
"none of the human shield groups whom I contacted had ever heard of Joseph." She noted that not one photo or any segment of
the 14 hours of videotape had ever been shown. Johann Hari, a pro-war columnist with the Independent would have liked
to have believed Joseph’s account, but, after investigation, he could not. Hari said Joseph "was probably a bullshitter."
With pressure on her to show proof of the shredders, Clwyd, on June 18, 2003, wrote another article for The
Times with, what she said, was solid proof. Clwyd said she was shown a book by a FOX News reporter that she described
as a "chillingly meticulous record book" from the prison. She was asked if she could say who compiled the book and she said,
"No, I can’t." When asked where it was at the time, she said, "I don’t know." Then, she was asked the name of
the FOX reporter who showed it to her and she answered, "I have no idea." Finally, she was asked if she read the entire book,
and she responded, "No. It was in Arabic."
The Nayirah story about the dead Kuwaiti babies and the shredder fable used similar methods to create comparable
results. Both used lies to pursue an agenda, an agenda that led to two invasions of Iraq and the killing of more than two
million people, including those who died as results of the almost-13-year-embargo.
The difference in the stories is that no one had to pay $12 million for a public relations firm to concoct
the shredder story. An unwitting dupe used the word of one anonymous witness and the account of one probable "bullshitter"
to galvanize the opinions of millions.
To anyone who would still believe the shredder story today, one underlying factor should be proof enough that
it never occurred. If there was a shredder, the U.S. forces would have found it at Abu Ghraib Prison and there would have
been picture-after-picture of it being shown in every newspaper and magazine in the world. Journalistic silence, in this case,
is the overwhelming proof of the fantasy of the shredder.
Ann Clwyd put forth many outrageous lies about the human shredding machine. Even when the lies were uncovered,
she still lied.
Today, she has an unchallenged reputation of being a person with high moral values. She gives speeches all
over the world about morals. In reality, she has agendas and she lets no minor aspects, such as the truth, get in the way
of her actions.
The guy she falsely accused of using human shredding machines was murdered and Clwyd travels the world under
the guise of being a heroine whose ambition is to rid the world of inhumanity. Unfortunately, she has contributed to the rise,
not the diminishment, of inhumanity in the world.