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Conyers Writes to Rumsfeld


Letter Queries Rumsfeld About U.S. Military Attacks Prior to Approval of War on Iraq
Congressman Calls Latest Report: 'The smoking bullet in the smoking gun'
FROM THE BRAD BLOG

In regards to what John Conyers over the weekend reportedly described as "the smoking bullet in the smoking gun", a letter has just been sent to Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, asking questions about the recent reports that the U.S. and U.K. stepped up their air attacks in the Iraqi "No-Fly-Zone" prior to the war in "an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war."

A draft version of Conyers' letter was published over the holiday weekend by RAW STORY.

This latest information on the covert way in which the Bush Administration may have pushed the world towards war is based on a new report from Rupert Murdoch's London Times which reported over the weekend that "despite the lack of an Iraqi reaction, the air war began anyway in September [of 2002] with a 100-plane raid."

In fact, the original Downing Street Memo/Minutes mention that "The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime."

Concerning the latest report, Conyers writes in his letter to Rumsfeld today:

If true, these assertions indicate that not only had the Administration secretly and perhaps illegally agreed to go to war by the summer of 2002, but it also took specific and tangible military actions before asking Congress or the United Nations for authority, and absent an actual or imminent threat.

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.

...He then goes on to ask Rumsfeld for a response to the following questions, along with a request for "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 which are in the possession of or accessible by the Department of Defense."

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?

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.?

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?

Conyers, along with 88 members of Congress recently sent a letter to George W. Bush asking for information concerning the now-infamous Downing Street Memo (actually Minutes, not a Memo) which was also first reported by Murdoch's paper. That document -- written a full eight months prior to the war -- revealed, amongst other things, that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

It also goes on to say that "Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

The members of Congress have yet to receive a response from the White House, though neither the Bush nor Blair Administrations have disputed the authenticity of the information contained within the minutes.

An alliance of citizens groups has recently been formed at AfterDowningStreet.org to petition congress to launch a "Resolution of Inquiry" into the matter. A congressional "Resolution of Inquiry" is considered the first step towards Presidential Impeachment. (Both The BRAD BLOG and Velvet Revolution, which we helped to co-found, are members of that alliance.)

Conyers also has asked citizens to sign the same letter they sent to Bush, and has promised to hand-deliver it to the White House once he receives at least 100,000 signature.

The complete text of Conyers' finalized letter to Rumsfeld is below...

May 31, 2005

Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
1000 Defense, Suite 3E-880
Washington, DC 20301-1000

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 in 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, 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."

If true, these assertions indicate that not only had the Administration secretly and perhaps illegally agreed to go to war by the summer of 2002, but it also took specific and tangible military actions before asking Congress or the United Nations for authority, and absent an actual or imminent threat.

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:

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?

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.?

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 which are in the possession of 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.

Sincerely,

John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member

FROM THE BRAD BLOG

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Late last week, Thursday morning, I believe, C Span's Washington Journal was having a period of 'open phones'. As is the custom, a good portion of calls from the right concern 'liberal media bias', even some that say C Span also has that bias.
A gentleman phoned in to discuss the bias he felt was evident, that being the omission of important news in lieu of pop culture and war cheerleading. As he brought up the fact that the "Downing Street Memo" was barely discernable on any media source, the moderator stopped him short and in a manner that bordered on mocking, snickered and asked him where he had heard that. Peter Slen, the moderator, stated that they had been receiving calls about the memo, but knew nothing about the issue. He then asked the gentleman on the phone if he had been asked to call C Span; was he part of an organized effort to get out this 'out'. Continuing in his mocking tone, he asked where the caller had read about the matter. When the caller said his home page was MSN, Slen finally laughed out loud and said that would explain it. Have I missed something? Is MSN supposed to be the progressive answer to Drudge?
When we lose even C Span, I've got to wonder if there is any hope at all.

Pam


You might be interested in this Toronto Star article when Bush came to Canada in November 2004

Should Canada indict Bush?
Should Canada indict Bush?
Should Canada indict Bush?

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1100517502971&call_pageid=970599109774&col=Columnist969907626796&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes

Toronto Star, Nov. 16, 2004

Should Canada indict Bush?

THOMAS WALKOM twalkom@thestar.ca

When U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in Ottawa

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