Saturday :: Jun 11, 2005

Downing Street Memo (DSM)


by eriposte

There are two dedicated websites are focusing on the DSM - The Downing Street Memo and After Downing Street. I haven't said anything until now about the DSM (coincidentally mimicking the behavior of the mainstream media - the ICM) because having been a careful follower of the administration's case for the Iraq invasion prior to the invasion, it was blindingly obvious that they were making stuff up as they went along to satisfy a predetermined desire to invade, regardless of how it might jeopardize American national security. Since Bush and Blair recently "denied" the facts laid out in the memo, a few comments are in order because there is enormous evidence already in place that not only proves that they were lying, but also that the memo was incredibly on the mark on many fronts. I am highlighting a few of these points here.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune recently published the DSM in its op-ed page and wrote an editorial briefly dissecting the Bush/Blair "denials" (also see this Tim Dunlop dissection). The fact that Bush and Blair were disassembling dissembling in their denials is bolstered by the voluminous historical evidence. Steve (at TLC) had mentioned a Walter Pincus article in the WaPo which reminded readers that:

Moreover, a close reading of the recent 600-page report by the president's commission on intelligence, and the previous report by the Senate panel, shows that as war approached, many U.S. intelligence analysts were internally questioning almost every major piece of prewar intelligence about Hussein's alleged weapons programs. [emphasis mine]

Knight-Ridder has also presented much more extensive evidence of Bush administration intelligence-cooking in many articles before and after the invasion.

As a bonus, the fabulous Warren Strobel and his colleague John Walcott of Knight-Ridder noted in their article titled ""Downing Street" memo indicates Bush made intelligence fit Iraq policy":

A former senior U.S. official called it "an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during the senior British intelligence officer's visit to Washington.

Interestingly, someone called Robin Nisbett at CSIS claimed that the term "fixed around" means "bolted on" in British English. I found this an odd interpretation myself, and as comments to this Americablog post and this letter from Englishwoman Tina Louise at Poynter Online indicate, there are many Britishers who strongly disagree with Nisbett. Juan Cole covered this phrase more extensively and made it clear why this "bolted on" interpretation is not only weak (even by British standards) but that it makes no difference. For one thing the sentence in question starts with "but" not "and". The "but" alone indicates that the fixing facts/intelligence interpretation is correct; nevertheless, Cole shows that even the phrase "fixed around" says the same thing. (Cole also has another post that collects some of the other smoking guns.)

Another statement in the memo that completely bolsters its veracity is this: "There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action." Indeed, Knight-Ridder's Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel provided independent evidence for this in their 7/11/03 article: "No real planning for postwar Iraq" and Warren Strobel and John Walcott provided further evidence in their 10/17/04 article: "Post-war planning non-existent". (Of course, the Bushies went out on a limb to lie blatantly about how they could not have predicted the ensuing chaos after the invasion). [UPDATE: See this 6/12/05 Walter Pincus piece as well.]

Another less publicized comment in the memo - which indirectly speaks volumes to its authenticity was also noted by Walter Pincus:

...Although no final decision had been made, "he thought the most likely timing in U.S. minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the U.S. congressional elections."

As it finally worked out, the Bush administration's public campaign for supporting a possible invasion of Iraq began the next month, in late August, with speeches by Vice President Cheney...

So, it may not have been 30 days exactly, but remember that the memo was written well before the elections and it was largely correct that the Bushies would start trumpeting their Iraq campaign before the Nov. 2002 elections (to exploit the issue of terrorism/war, with depraved indifference, for naked political gain). Remember the infamous words from Andy Card:

Why did the Administration wait until September to make its case against Iraq? White House chief of staff Andrew Card told The New York Times last week, ``From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.''

In mid-August 2002, Warren Strobel had also noted the following in his Knight-Ridder article (bold text is my emphasis):

In perhaps the most telling sign of Bush's intentions, top U.S. officials and members of the Iraqi opposition are plotting the details of a post-Saddam government in Iraq, right down to the number of seats in a future parliament.
...
"We are convinced ... that the U.S. government is united in its determination to bring about regime change in Iraq and what we certainly welcomed was the assertion that they are not interested in risking American lives to replace a dictator with another," said Barham Salih, a leader of one of two factions in the autonomous Kurdish zone in northern Iraq. "Regime change" is the code word for overthrowing Saddam.

The Kurds have reason to doubt American resolve. After the Gulf War in 1991, Bush's father urged Saddam's opponents to rise up, but he withheld military support when the Iraqi dictator crushed his enemies.

All in all, game, set and match. If the Republican-controlled Congress is unwilling to hold this administration accountable, they will demonstrate that they care less about America than their own political power. They will demonstrate once and for all which group in this country is overtly against America, American ideals and the American Constitution. History will make it even clearer to their children and grandchildren.

UPDATE: Also see Steve's post and this post at The Light of Reason (via Crooks and Liars).
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