Raging Right Wing Republican

For those of us who are politically informed, and therefore Republican.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Downing Street Memo Hysteria

It's all a bunch of hot air. Bush critics have seized on a few sentences in the Downing Street memo based on rumors from anonymous sources passed on to other anonymous sources about opinion of what might happen and are parading it around as proof of Bush doctoring pre-war intelligence. According to them, it's proof that Bush lied to invade Iraq. But is this supposedly damning memo really worth any of this concern? Not really. The facts disagree with the notion that the memo proves anything, as does the understanding of the situation. The fact of the matter is that invading Iraq and taking care of Saddam was inevitable after 9/11.

The entire ordeal has originated from a small phrase in the British memo stating that intelligence was being 'fixed around' the war, and those that read it assumed that this meant that it was 'doctored'. But you'd think that those who have jumped all over this would pause for a moment to think: why would a British officer write in what is American slang for what is being read as 'doctored'? Because he didn't:
"We want what the Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton and Star Wars stories have gotten: endless repetition until people have heard about it," says David Swanson, one of Democrats.com's organizers.

Robin Niblett of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, says it would be easy for Americans to misunderstand the reference to intelligence being "fixed around" Iraq policy. " 'Fixed around' in British English means 'bolted on' rather than altered to fit the policy," he says.

Ombudsmen at both The New York Times and The Washington Post have been critical of their newspapers for not covering the story more aggressively.

USA TODAY chose not to publish anything about the memo before today for several reasons, says Jim Cox, the newspaper's senior assignment editor for foreign news. "We could not obtain the memo or a copy of it from a reliable source," Cox says. "There was no explicit confirmation of its authenticity from (Blair's office). And it was disclosed four days before the British elections, raising concerns about the timing."
Why, indeed!

Bush rallies US for strike on Iraq:
Peter Beaumont and Paul Beaver
Sunday July 21, 2002
The Observer

President George Bush has told US troops to be ready for 'pre-emptive military action' against Iraq, as security sources warned that a massive assault against President Saddam Hussein could be likely at 'short notice'.

Whitehall sources confirmed that Tony Blair had decided Britain must back any US assault and had ordered defence planners to begin the preparations for a new war in the Gulf.

'President Bush has already made up his mind. This is going to happen. It is a given,' said one Whitehall source. 'What we are waiting for is to be told the details of how and when and where.' . . .

Blair ordered the preparation of a document that would lay out the justification for attacking Iraq three months ago. Sources say the document - expected to set out a 'legal framework' for a war - has been completed.
Tommy Franks' book American Soldier mentions that OPLAN 1003V, the Iraqi invasion plan, started being drawn up in January 2002. Some of these plans were leaked to the NY Times in July 2002.

In June 2002 Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said, "There is broad support for a regime change in Iraq. The question is how do we do it and when do we do it." Also, during the same month, Senator Joseph Biden, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said "If the covert action doesn't work, we better be prepared to move forward with another action, an overt action, and it seems to me that we can't afford to miss."

Regime change in Iraq has been official US policy since October 31, 1998 when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act. Action against Iraq had been in the works since 1998 and the 9/11 attacks served to intensify the desire to remove Saddam because of the danger he appeared to have as a potential nexus of terrorism. This was not a secret at all. (And if it was, then it must be the worst kept secret ever.)

I'd also point out that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence examined the question of whether or not the White House had pressured the intelligence community to reach predetermined conclusions supporting the case for war. The investigation found no evidence that "administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities" or that "the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments." There is no doubt, then, of the integrity of those who worked to track down Saddam's clandestine activities.

The memo itself says that the British assumed that Saddam had WMD capabilities, most likely limited. And, in a September 24, 2002 British Intelligence white paper it was clear that they believed that Saddam had these capabilities. Other intelligence services also indicated the same although the amount and capability of Iraqi WMDs varied. Very interesting that every major intel organization around the world came to similar conclusions, agreeing with America and Great Britain; does Bush control an international conspiracy? The truth is that Saddam ran a dangerous bluff, even fooling some members of his own military, and he expected no one to act upon it.

All of this controversy over a few misunderstood words.

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