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Backstory: Confirming the Downing Street documents
By Larisa Alexandrovna
New documents from across the Atlantic paint a picture of a President bent on war and administration officials determined to deliver war in Iraq at any cost.
Against the backdrop of the Bush Administration�s public statements, the documents raise questions about whether the Blair and Bush administrations covered up earlier actions after the invasion.
The original Downing Street Memo, initially reported by Sunday Times Online , includes the transcribed official minutes of a 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, members of British intelligence, MI-6 and various Bush officials.
The most damning part of the minutes, as noted by MI-6 director Richard Dearlove, was 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.�
Confirming the documents
Six additional UK Iraq documents, acquired by RAW STORY, reveal the depth and breadth of the plan to go to war and the extent of the deceit on the part of the President and his cabinet, in conjunction with the Blair government.
The documents are transcribed photocopies in PDF format and were acquired from a British source and corroborated by Michael Smith, the journalist who first received the original leaked memos. This site validated them through an independent source and with Smith. The documents were not reported in order, so the DSM was actually reported later.
�I was given them last September while still on the [Daily] Telegraph,� Smith, who now works for the London Sunday Times, told RAW STORY. �I was given very strict orders from the lawyers as to how to handle them.�
�I first photocopied them to ensure they were on our paper and returned the originals, which were on government paper and therefore government property, to the source,� he added.
The Butler Committee, a UK commission looking into WMD, has quoted the documents and accepted their authenticity, along with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Smith said all originals were destroyed in order to both protect the source and the journalist alike.
�It was these photocopies that I worked on, destroying them shortly before we went to press on Sept 17, 2004,� he added. �Before we destroyed them the legal desk secretary typed the text up on an old fashioned typewriter.�
The copying and re-typing were necessary because markings on the originals might have identified his source, Smith said.
�The situation in Britain is very difficult but with regard to leaked documents the police Special Branch are obliged to investigate such leaks and would have come to the newspaper's office and or my home to confiscate them,� he explained. �We did destroy them because the Police Special Branch were ordered to investigate.�
The documents, including the original Downing Street minutes, have been vetted by other foreign and domestic news organizations (see Raw Story Timeline).
Documents at a glance
It is important to introduce these documents, first, as they appear, in their own right with key points highlighted. RAW STORY has constructed a timeline of events to better clarify the process of �From Policy to War.� (Timeline). A quick overview of each of the most recent documents appears below.