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Smoking Bullet in the Smoking Gun
A new London Times article cites evidence that in 2002, not only was a bogus case being concocted to help launch a war on Iraq, but a war had already been launched. The US and Britain dramatically increased their bombing of that country.
Smoking Bullet in the Smoking Gun?
by Congressman John Conyers
Sun May 29th, 2005 at 11:08:35 PDT
Update [2005-5-29 14:8:35 by Armando]: From the diaries by Armando. We generally shy away from promoting the diaries, wonderful and welcome as they are, from our elected officials. I am breaking our general rule here because I think it is a particularly important diary. This diary from the esteemed Congressman is based upon the following story:
THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown. The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive. The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make �regime change� in Iraq legal. Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, told the meeting that �the US had already begun �spikes of activity� to put pressure on the regime�. The new information, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, shows that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001, and that the RAF increased their attacks even more quickly than the Americans did. ... Tommy Franks, the allied commander, has since admitted this operation was designed to �degrade� Iraqi air defences in the same way as the air attacks that began the 1991 Gulf war. It was not until November 8 that the UN security council passed resolution 1441, which threatened Iraq with �serious consequences� for failing to co-operate with the weapons inspectors. The briefing paper prepared for the July meeting � the same document that revealed the prime minister�s agreement during a summit with President George W Bush in April 2002 to back military action to bring about regime change � laid out the American war plans. ... The systematic targeting of Iraqi air defences appears to contradict Foreign Office legal guidance appended to the leaked briefing paper which said that the allied aircraft were only �entitled to use force in self-defence where such a use of force is a necessary and proportionate response to actual or imminent attack from Iraqi ground systems�.
These are revelations of not only systematic efforts to bring a war against Iraq in most of 2002, it appears to be evidence that war was BEING CONDUCTED against Iraq in 2002. Representative Conyers provides us some new information on the question he has presented to Secretaryof Defense Rumsfled and an action item.
This morning I read the new revelations, again the London Times, that British and U.S. aircraft had substantially stepped up their bombing activity in the summer of 2002 in an effort to "goad Saddam into War." If true, we would seem to have the "smoking bullet" to the "smoking gun" of the Downing Street Memo.
I have prepared a letter to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld detailing these new charges and asking for his response (see extended entry). Since the House is out of session next week, I plan to submit it by myself on Tuesday.
Of course, this new disclosure makes my letter asking 100,000 citizens to write to President Bush, located at www.johnconyers.com, all the more important As my back-office administrator is closed for the holiday, I do not expect to have specific numbers of signatures until Tuesday, however needless to say, the response has been overwhelming from everything I can gage thus far.
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May 31, 2005
Hon. Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:
I write with an urgent and important request that you respond to a report in the London Times on Sunday, May 29, indicating that British and U.S. aircraft increased their rates of bombing in 2002 in order to provoke an excuse for war in Iraq. Much of this information is provided by the British Ministry of Defense in response to questions posed by Liberal Democrat Sir Menzies Campbell.
As you may know, on May 6, I wrote to President Bush, along with 88 of my colleagues in the House of Representatives, asking him to respond to allegations first revealed in the London Times on May 1, that the U.S. and British government had a secret plan to invade Iraq by the summer of 2002, well before the Bush Administration requested authorization for military action, from the U.S. Congress. A response is still pending on that request.
The allegations and factual assertions made in the May 29 London Times are in many respects just as serious as those made in the earlier article. They include the following:
* "The RAF and U.S. aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs in 2002 .... The attacks were intensified from May .... By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive." Then British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon reportedly told a British Cabinet Meeting in July, 2002, that by this time "the U.S. had already begun `spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." The newly released information also appears to show that "the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001."
* According to the article, this increase at the rate of bombing was "an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war." As I am sure you are aware, allied commander Tommy Franks has previously acknowledged the existence of increased military operations which he asserted were needed "to `degrade' Iraqi air defenses in the same way as the air attacks that began the 1991 Gulf War."
* The new information goes on to indicate that our military decided "on August 5, 2005 [sic], for a `hybrid plan" in which a continuous air offensive and special forces would begin while the main ground force built up in Kuwait for a full-scale invasion." According to the article, "despite the lack of an Iraqi reaction, the air war began anyway in September with a 100-plane raid."
The allegations and factual assertions made in the May 29 London Times are in many respects just as serious as those made in the earlier article. If true, these assertions indicate that not only had our nation secretly and perhaps illegally agreed to go to war by the summer of 2002, but that we had gone on to take specific and tangible military actions before asking Congress or the United Nations for authority.
Thus, while there is considerable doubt as to whether the U.S. had authority to invade Iraq, given, among other things, the failure of the U.N. to issue a follow-up resolution to the November 8, 2002 Resolution 1441, it would seem that the act of engaging in military action via stepped up bombing raids that were not in response to an actual or imminent threat before our government asked for military authority would be even more problematic from a legal as well as a moral perspective.
As a result of these new disclosures, I would ask that you respond as promptly as possible to the following questions:
1) Did the RAF and the United States military increase the rate that they were dropping bombs in Iraq in 2002? If so, what was the extent and timing of the increase?
2) What was the justification for any such increase in the rate of bombing in Iraq at this time? Was this justification reviewed by legal authorities in the U.S.?
3) To the best of your knowledge, was there any agreement with any representative of the British government to engage in military action in Iraq before authority was sought from the Congress or the U.N.? If so, what was the nature of the agreement?
In connection with all of the above questions, please provide me with any memorandum, notes, minutes, documents, phone and other records, e-mails, computer files (including back-up records) or other material of any kind or nature concerning or relating thereto in the possession or accessible by the Department of Defense.
I would encourage you to provide responses to these questions as promptly as possible, as they raise extremely grave and serious questions involving the credibility of our Administration and its constitutional responsibilities. In the interest of time, please feel free to forward me partial responses as they become available.
John Conyers, Jr.