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More Life on 'Downing Street' with Leak of New Document in London
Editor and Publisher, By E&P Staff
Published: June 11, 2005 10:00 PM ET
NEW YORK Just as the U.S. media attempts�-albeit a month late�-to get on top of the so-called �Downing Street Memo,� the Sunday Times in London reports another leaked document which confirms and goes behind the message of the memo.
�Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal,� the Sunday Times reports.
The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Prime Minister Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier. The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair�s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was �necessary to create the conditions� which would make it legal.
This was required because the American military would be using British bases in any invasion, making England complicit in any illegal U.S. action.
The paper was circulated to those present at the meeting, among whom was Blair.
�The briefing paper is certain to add to the pressure, particularly on the American president, because of the damaging revelation that Bush and Blair agreed on regime change in April 2002 and then looked for a way to justify it,� the newspaper declared.
�The Downing Street memo burst into the mainstream American media only last week after it was raised at a joint Bush-Blair press conference, forcing the prime minister to insist that �the facts were not fixed in any shape or form at all.��
By one count, only two questions about the memo had been raised at White House briefings (out of 940 questions) since it first surfaced in the British press on May 1. Knight Ridder newspapers (and E&P) covered it early on, but USA Today, for example, mentioned the memo for the first time just this week.
�The complaints of media self-censorship have been backed up by the ombudsmen of The Washington Post, The New York Times and National Public Radio, who have questioned the lack of attention the minutes have received from their organizations,� the Sunday Times observed.
E&P Staff (email@example.com)