'Downing St. Memo' reporter says U.S., Britain goaded Saddam

WORLD VIEWS: 'Downing St. Memo' reporter says U.S., Britain goaded Saddam; Conyers hearings grab headlines -- overseas; Bush pans Iran elections; and more.
- Edward M. Gomez, special to SF Gate
Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Will the Downing Street Memo please just go away?

For George W. Bush and Tony Blair, continuing attention -- which is slowly increasing in mainstream U.S. news media -- to the secret British-government document and to others like it (they've now all been dubbed, collectively, "the Downing Street Memos" (AP/Guardian)), has become a festering annoyance.

Michael Smith, a defense correspondent for Britain's sober daily, The Times, broke the stories about the first Downing Street Memo and, when it was later revealed, a related briefing paper for Blair. Both showed that the prime minister and his top advisers knew that going to war with Iraq without United Nations approval would be illegal, and that intelligence would have to be "fixed" (see first Downing Street Memo) to prop up their war-making policy.

More On The Downing Street Memo


Last night on his radio show, Alan Colmes did another hour-long segment on the Downing Street Memo. His guest for the segment was Cindy Sheehan who co-founded Gold Star Families for Peace after losing a son to the war in Iraq. Sheehan testified at Rep. John Conyers' hearing last week about the Downing Street Memo and whether or not President Bush misled the United States into war against Iraq.

Claiming that her only area of expertise is "having a broken heart" as the result of "having a child killed in an illegal and immoral war," Sheehan reported that the hearings broke into some of the mainstream media such as George Stephanopoulos' This Week and Hardball with Chris Matthews and that she thinks this story is going to be "something that sticks."

Documents show the fix was in

The Truth - Local News
Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2005 -- The Truth, A4
Last updated: 6/20/2005 5:24:09 PM

Speaking on May 15 in Baghdad, Condoleezza Rice made an outrageous statement: "You see, this war came to us, not the other way around." Could there be anyone left in the U.S., let alone the Middle East, who believes this bald-faced lie?

The truth has trickled out slowly -- the truth so sickening that none of us want to believe it. But it's finally out: The Bush administration, from its very first weeks in office, planned a military operation to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The "Downing Street memo" and other documents released in Britain recently prove beyond any doubt that Bush, at the ranch in Texas in April 2002, lassoed Blair into going along with a war against Iraq.

No Time For Despair

June 21, 2005
By Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers

A Shel Silverstein cartoon of a few decades past depicts two prisoners, shackled to the wall of an ancient dungeon. One says to the other, "Now here is my plan."

One must admire the prisoner's indomitable will, however unrealistic. Fortunately, the present political situation in the United States is not hopeless, though one might think so to read some of the e-mail responses to our essays:

"The fact of the matter is, the new Republican Party is in power, and it will take more than a majority of voters to dislodge them in 2006. If you own the system, you can rig it to give you the results you want."

Letter to Dana Milbank

Letter to Dana Milbank about the Downing Street Memo and Corporate Media Complicity in War Crimes
To: milbankd@washpost.com, Sketch@washpost.com, ombudsman@washpost.com
Mr. Milbank---

Regarding Friday’s WashingtonSketch ("Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War"): what an offensive, intelligence-insulting, childish rant, totally lacking in professionalism and propreity. Give me a break.

First of all, the Washington Post--- as well as much of the mainstream press--- seems more than a bit confused about the Downing Street Memo. (In this age where apparently the words LIE/LIAR/LYING are taboo in political discourse, I will for the moment play along and simply suggest that you and your colleagues are merely confused, and your much more professional competition in the foreign press and the blogosphere just happened to have hit the truth a bit sooner than you have, that’s all). Your dismissive, trivializing treatment of the memo leads me to think you are under the misunderstanding that this is something akin to a few scribbilings on a cocktail napkin. Allow me to correct you: the Downing Street Memo is the ACTUAL MINUTES OF A BRITISH CABINET MEETING, CONDUCTED IMMEDIATELY AFTER THOSE OFFICIALS MET WITH THEIR AMERICAN COUNTERPARTS, DISCUSSING WHAT EXACTLY TRANSPIRED IN THAT JOINT MEETING. The label, "memo" has unfortunately led more than a few folks unwilling to do the easily-accomplished research (yourself included) about the nature of this document to take the easy road and treat it as some peripheral, flimsy piece of desperate evidence on the part of the antiwar movement...a movement, I might add, that does not follow party lines, contrary to your feebleminded, overly-simplistic condemnation of it. Actually, I have no doubt that you understand the serious magnitude of the DSM and its damning evidence showing that the platform for Iraq was entirely based upon--- I’ll say it since you won’t--- lies; otherwise, why the desperate article on your part?

The family released a statement

The family released a statement...

"Mass round-ups and detentions of innocent civilians, torture and abuse of prisoners and detainees, America’s honor and prestige at the lowest point ever, and investigations that whitewash the president’s men and blame it all on the enlisted personnel. Thus the obscene spectacle of the grieving families at funerals forced by the president’s dishonesty to defend the honor of their dead even as they mourn: Small wonder that the president, desperately attempting to hide behind a façade of rigid religiosity that glorifies war and false patriotism that exalts the very evils it claims to despise, never attends the funerals of those who have died in the line of duty. How could he?"

Remember When Bush's Lies Weren't "Old News"?

Neither do I.

By David Swanson, www.AfterDowningStreet.org

The most repeated excuse by U.S. media outlets for not covering the Downing Street Minutes and related documents is that they tell us nothing new, that they're old news. This conflicts, of course, with the second most common excuse, which is that they are false. If they're false, they can't be news at all, much less old news.

So, the question arises, when was this new news? At what point did it become old news to report that Bush had decided by the summer of 2002 to go to war and to use false justifications related to weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism? Of course, in one sense anything we discover now about secret goings on three years ago is old news – but that sense of being old news doesn't seem to spare us details of, for example, the Michael Jackson trial or the steroids in sports scandals. In those and many other cases, we're treated to news that's about old events. By that definition of old news we could have skipped Whitewater altogether.

June 16, 2005, videos


-- courtesy of Chris Belcher



by alysheba

Thu Jun 16th, 2005 at 11:41:33 CST

"The Downing Street Memo confirms what I witnessed and have been writing about... It all fits, and should lead to a deluge of related documents and witnesses." - Lt. Col Karen Kwiatkowski

As you know, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) is holding a hearing today to investigate, for the first time at the Congressional level, the now-infamous "Downing Street Minutes." Rep. Conyers is expected to begin connecting the dots, to work backward from the undisputed authenticity of the DSM to paint a fuller picture of exactly how the push to "fix" the case for invading Iraq was carried out here in the United States.

LA Sets Standard for Protest at Local Media Outlet

Our After Downing Street Rally at KTLA/KCBS last week was a great success! Thank you all for your help in spreading the word. Check out the Indymedia pix and video: http://www.la.indymedia.org/news/2005/06/129447.php

This Saturday, we would like to repeat the success of our last rally with the hopes of raising awareness of the Downing Street Coverup, impeachable offenses of this administration, and a renewed call to bring our troops home now. We realize that people have many other options in where to spend their Saturday; however, an average of two soldiers are dying every day in Iraq! We cannot afford to sit back and wait any longer.

Why George Went To War

Investigative reporter and essayist Russ Baker (www.russbaker.com) is a longtime contributor to TomPaine.com. He is currently involved with launching a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing investigative journalism. He can be reached at russ@russbaker.com.

The Downing Street memos have brought into focus an essential question: on what basis did President George W. Bush decide to invade Iraq? The memos are a government-level confirmation of what has been long believed by so many: that the administration was hell-bent on invading Iraq and was simply looking for justification, valid or not.

An Open Letter to Fred Hiatt and the Washington Post

Published on Monday, June 20, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
by John Atcheson

Dear Mr. Hiatt:
Last year, you engaged Senator Kennedy in a debate about the administration’s Iraq Policy. A great deal has happened since, and it is time to revisit the discussion.

On January 26th, 2004, in response to a charge by Ted Kennedy that the Iraq invasion was prompted by politics, you wrote, "If Karl Rove – that is, politics... drove Iraq policy, then President Bush would merit not only defeat, but impeachment."

It’s too late for defeat, but with the release of the Downing Street Memo and other internal British documents made available to the Post as reported on Sunday June 12, 2005, the evidence that the war was politically motivated and that the administration used deceptions, distortions and outright lies to justify it, is now overwhelming.

WMD claims were "totally implausible"

Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday June 20, 2005
The Guardian

A key Foreign Office diplomat responsible for liaising with UN inspectors says today that claims the government made about Iraq's weapons programme were "totally implausible".

He tells the Guardian: "I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too".

Carne Ross, who was a member of the British mission to the UN in New York during the run-up to the invasion, resigned from the FO last year, after giving evidence to the Butler inquiry.

Watch MSNBC Tonight and Report Back Here

"Monday: The Truth Behind the Downing Street Memo - Chris separates fact from fabrication, in a Hardball Special Report - Monday at 7 on MSNBC."

and if you believe that, we've got some nuclear weapons to sell you...

We Bring Good Things to Life

Memo-Gate Hearing Ends With Call For Full Inquiry

By the Lone Star Iconoclast

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A month and a half after the so-called “Downing Street Memo

June 2005: Phase II of the Anti-War Movement

June 2005: Phase II of the Anti-War Movement
Mon, 20 Jun 2005 09:24:53 -0700
Rep. Conyers leads the way
By Medea Benjamin

A turning point, as more Americans question future of Iraq conflict
For the history books, mark down June 2005 as the moment the U.S. movement against the occupation of Iraq got its second wind. In June, the U.S. public became solidly anti-war, Bush’s approval rating took a nosedive, and a significant number of Congresspeople started to call for an exit strategy. This marks a seismic shift from just one month ago, when Congress overwhelmingly passed another $82 billion for war-with only 44 members of the House and not one Senator dissenting.

They Died So Republicans Could Take the Senate

Published on Monday, June 20, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
by Thom Hartmann

Richard Nixon authorized the Watergate burglary and subsequent cover-up to advance his own political ambitions. Because Nixon's lies were done for the craven purpose of getting and holding political power, his lies - in the minds of the majority of the members of Congress - were elevated to the level of impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Bill Clinton had sex in the White House with Monica Lewinsky, but Congress concluded he'd lied about it to maintain political power. Another impeachable crime.

The real scandal of the Downing Street Memos, with the greatest potential to leave the Bush presidency in permanent disgrace, is their implication that lies may have been put forward to help Bush, Republicans, and Blair politically. If Bush lied to gain and keep political power, precedent suggests he and his collaborators in the administration may even be vulnerable to impeachment.

Families of Dead Soldiers Demand Truth from Bush

Published on Monday, June 20, 2005 by Times Herald-Record (Middletown, NY)
Families of Dead Soldiers Demand Truth from Bush
by Beth Quinn

The one reservation I had last week when I wrote about the Downing Street Memo was this: How will the loved ones of the soldiers who've died in Iraq feel when they read this?

How much more pain will it cause them to know we now have strong evidence that George Bush knew all along there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? That he made the "facts" fit his personal plan for war?

How does your mind accept what surely breaks your heart? And how much harder to know that your child, your spouse, your parent died in a war that a growing number of Americans are questioning?

What's New on Downing Street?

By Mike Hersh, Jun 20, 2005

Jay Ambrose - writing in the DC Examiner - opines about the Downing Street Minutes, but he ignores the facts, leaving us to correct the distortions, out-of-context quotes, and misrepresentations. Ambrose wants to make this about John Kerry rather than Bush and those responsible for the disaster in Iraq. He contends it was "silly ... for people to interpret the first memo - which contained meeting minutes - the way they did" by which he meant us, the "Bush-bashing bloggers and, later, some way-out congressional Democrats" who know "the leaked minutes proved Bush lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction and that he had decided on war long before he said he had."

Terror link 'unconvincing'

Terror link 'unconvincing'
Leaked documents detail Britain's doubts about the United States' arguments for invasion in the Iraq war's run-up, putting both governments in the hot seat
Associated Press

LONDON - When Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief foreign policy adviser dined with Condoleezza Rice six months after Sept. 11, the then-U.S. national security adviser didn't want to discuss Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida. She wanted to talk about "regime change" in Iraq, setting the stage for the U.S.-led invasion more than a year later.

President Bush wanted Blair's support, but British officials worried the White House was rushing to war, according to a series of leaked secret Downing Street memos that have renewed questions and debate about Washington's motives for ousting Saddam Hussein.

Half million demand answers on Downing Street Memo

By Susan Webb
People's Weekly World Newspaper, www.pww.org

The “Downing Street Memo

Dave Zweifel: We've seen enough to impeach Bush

Capital Times
By Dave Zweifel
June 20, 2005

As I said in this space two weeks ago, if Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about having sex with an intern, then George Bush needs to be impeached for the deliberate lies he and his cabal told to start a war that has now taken the lives of more than 1,700 young American men and women and countless Iraqi citizens, plus threatens to bankrupt the country.

One of our "Sound Off" callers insisted last week that only "Bush haters" would say such things.

Another took to task the Wisconsin Democratic Party, which passed a resolution calling for the president's impeachment at its convention a week ago, for being "foolish and shortsighted."

Witness to Iraq war forum says lack of debate led to war

The Associated Press
June 16, 2005, Thursday, BC cycle
SECTION: Washington Dateline
LENGTH: 552 words
HEADLINE: Witness to Iraq war forum says lack of debate led to war
BYLINE: By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
Some congressional Democrats are insisting that the White House provide more information about what led to the decision to go to war in Iraq, citing a British document known as the "Downing Street memo" as evidence intelligence was distorted.

Rep. John Conyers and other Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee conducted a public forum Thursday prompted by documents that have surfaced from inside the British government about prewar planning.

Spokesman Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)
June 17, 2005 Friday
Idaho Edition
LENGTH: 781 words
HEADLINE: Why so little memo coverage?
Question: Why don't you print more information on the Downing Street memo? This is a huge story. - Richard Emerick

Answer: Good point, although this is one of those continuing stories that's been a bit difficult to follow. However, as a result of your question, one of our wire news editors took another look at the stories available from our wire services and found one that we were able to publish in Thursday's paper. We won't promise that we'll publish a story every day on this issue, but we'll keep an eye out for significant developments.


San Jose Mercury News (California)
June 17, 2005 Friday MO1 EDITION
SECTION: A; Pg. 14
LENGTH: 487 words
HEADLINE: Inquiry sought on prewar memo;
BYLINE: Mercury News Wire Services

Amid new questions about President Bush's drive to topple Saddam Hussein, several House Democrats urged lawmakers Thursday to conduct an official inquiry to determine whether the president intentionally misled Congress.

At a public forum where the word ''impeachment'' loomed large, Exhibit A was the so-called Downing Street memo, a prewar document leaked from inside the British government to the Sunday Times of London six weeks ago. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, organized the event.

Downing St. memo inquiry requested

Saint Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota)
June 17, 2005 Friday
LENGTH: 562 words
HEADLINE: Downing St. memo inquiry requested;
Democrats demand answers about controversial British war document
BYLINE: Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- A hearing Thursday on a secret British intelligence memo that said President Bush was committed to waging war on Iraq months before he said so publicly ended with a request for Congress to open an inquiry into whether Bush should be impeached for misleading the nation.

"All we're asking is to know the truth," said John Bonifaz, co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org. "Some of his supporters want to say it's a question of failed intelligence. If that's all it was, so be it."

Philadelphia Inquirer

June 17, 2005 Friday CITY-D-EAST EDITION
LENGTH: 972 words
HEADLINE: Trying to make hay of prewar memos
BYLINE: By Dick Polman; Inquirer Political Analyst
George W. Bush asked voters last year to judge him as a war president, and the strategy worked. Yet today, as casualties mount in Iraq, and as sunny administration statements are contradicted by events on the ground, the public's patience is being taxed as never before.

These developments have emboldened grassroots liberals to focus public attention on the so-called Downing Street memo (and seven others, leaked in London last weekend), all of which raise questions about Bush's case for war. And yesterday, a dozen House Democrats staged a hearing on the British government documents, hoping to persuade more Americans that, in Michigan Rep. John Conyers' words, at least 1,700 U.S. troops "have lost their lives for a lie."

Making The Press Rethink DSM

NYU's Jay Rosen schools the press on the 21st century's Worldwide hierarchy in his latest post at Press Think entitled "The Downing Street Memo and the Court of Appeal in News Judgment":

"News judgment used to be king. If the press ruled against you, you just weren't news. But if you weren't news how would anyone know enough about you to contest the ruling? Today, the World Wide Web is the sovereign force, and journalists live and work according to its rules."

Rosen examines how the British press, aided by left-leaning bloggers and the heroic efforts of Congressman John Conyers, were able to finally get America's mainstream media to recognize the importance of the Downing Street minutes which were leaked nearly a month-and-a-half ago (and more keep coming: Ten Briefcases Full!).


The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon)
June 17, 2005 Friday
LENGTH: 731 words
After weeks of ignoring the existence of the Downing Street memo -- the July 2002 minutes of a high-level British meeting reporting that the Bush administration had already decided on war and was shaping the intelligence around its goal -- major media outlets have now gotten to the second phase of coverage:

They knew it all the time.

Nothing happening here, move along.

The current round -- including newspapers, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, which months ago apologized for the inadequacy and overcredulousness of their coverage of the war's origins -- declares that even though the Bush administration was publicly claiming it hoped to avoid war, everybody at the time knew the United States was going to attack Iraq.

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