Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Downing Street Memo

Its incredible to me how little media coverage this smoking gun memo has received. When the political left in this country alleged that Bush had misled the American people, Congress and the World regarding the necessity of invading a sovereign nation that had not attacked us, the political rights response was "prove it." So one by one, people started coming out of the woodwork to corroborate what most already knew- that Bush had decided to invade Iraq regardless of WMDs, ties to AQ or the fact that Saddam was NOT responsible for 9/11.

Former Bush Treasury Secretary O'Neil stated that Bush, Cheney and the Neocons in the administration had their sights set on Iraq from day one. Richard Clarke, terrorism expert under both Republican and Democratic Presidents was written off as "out of the loop" or motivated by financial reasons (to sell a forthcoming book). Veteran reported Bob Woodward, in his book 'Path to War', echoed these previous statements/sentiments regarding the Bush administration's plans to invade Iraq and its need to "sell" the war to the American people. And so it continued this way and the media continued to turn a blind eye to the corroborating statements that showed that our rush into Iraq was not only bad policy in terms of stabilizing the Middle East but also likely illegal under international law.

Then, several weeks ago in the UK, minutes of a meeting were leaked to the British press- these minutes, now known as the infamous 'Downing Street Memo' was seen by many to be the long-awaited smoking gun that provided proof of what many believed to be true- that Bush had manipulated the intelligence around his pre-determined policy of invading Iraq, that he had decided to go into Iraq long before he announced this to Congress or the people and that he knew the case against Saddam was painfully weak- and that that was a problem in "sellling" the war.

And what is the Administration's response to the evidence contained in the Memo? "No comment." Amazing.

Below you will find some articles on this topic. Despite the mainstream media's refusal to cover this issue in any real depth, the progressive media has tried to keep the issue afloat.


The Real Memogate
By Solomon Hughes
In These Times

President Bush gratefully received Tony Blair's support for the invasion of Iraq, but that relationship may now be turning sour. As antiwar feeling runs high in Britain, recently leaked secret official documents show both the U.S. and U.K. governments conspired to cook up a case for a pre-planned Iraq war.

Days before the British general election, the Sunday Times published a "Secret and Strictly Personal--UK Eyes Only" document written in July 2002 by one of Blair's aides revealing U.S. and U.K. war plans.

The memo details a meeting between Blair and his top officials, during which "C reported on his recent talks in Washington." "C" is the code name for the Chief of MI6, Britain's Intelligence service. "C", also known as Sir David Spedding, said, "There was a perceptible shift in attitude among America's political leaders. ... Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam thorough military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts are being fixed around the policy."

The memo sparked front page news in the United Kingdom. The U.S. press was slow to pick up the story, but 88 members of Congress co-signed a letter to Bush written by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) demanding an inquiry into the document's revelations.

At the 2002 meeting, the memo reveals that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action." However, Straw was also not convinced by the WMD argument, saying, "Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran." In public, Straw supported the official claim that Iraq's WMDs posed a threat that justified war.

The memo also shows that planning for postwar Iraq was woefully inadequate and the legal case for war was dubious. The British Intelligence chief reported, "There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action." Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, the British Government's top legal officer warned meeting attendees, "The desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action." Subsequent leaks show Goldsmith turned around and gave a legal thumbs-up for war, but only after a gruelling February 2003 session with then-presidential legal adviser Alberto Gonzales.

This is the latest in a flood of leaks undermining the war's justification, including the 2003 revelations by British weapons inspector David Kelly that the Iraqi mobile bio-war labs highlighted by Colin Powell were really military weather balloon inflators, and by intelligence translator Katherine Gun, who revealed that GCHQ, Britain's surveillance center, was spying on delegations to the U.N. Security Council at the request of the U. S. National Security Agency in an attempt to win U.N. support for invasion.

In September 2004, other secret documents revealing shared war planning were passed to the Telegraph. A March 2002 memo to Blair from his top aide, Sir David Manning, reported that he dined with Condoleezza Rice, and told her that Blair "would not budge in [his] support for regime change" at a time when Blair was about to "visit the ranch" for talks with Bush.

In a March 2002 memo, U.K. ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer recounts to David Manning another dinner date--this time with Paul Wolfowitz. The after-dinner conversation shows that the plan for war was fixed and only the "selling" of the issue remained: "We backed regime change but the plan had to be clever [because] it would be a tough sell for us domestically and probably tougher elsewhere in Europe."

These leaks occured against a background of anti-war demonstrations throughout the United Kingdom, and Iraq and the lies about WMD were a major issue in Britain's recent general election. Labour lost votes as the Liberal Democrats promoted a left-tinged antiwar ticket. Nationally, Labour tried to avoid Iraq, a stance mocked as "don't mention the war." George Galloway, expelled from the Labour Party because of his position on Iraq, was re-elected to Parliament as a representative of the newly formed, antiwar Respect Coalition.

On May 17, Galloway testified before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. In response to a question from the chairman, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Galloway said:

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives. ... If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac, who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the antiwar movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today.