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Mocking the Downing Street Memo


By Robert Parry
June 18, 2005

If American progressives think they have enough media clout to make a real issue of George W. Bush’s possible impeachment over the Iraq War, they should read the account of Rep. John Conyers’s rump hearing on the Downing Street Memo that appeared in the Washington Post.

The story by political correspondent Dana Milbank drips with a sarcasm that would never be allowed for a report on, say, a conservative gathering or on a topic involving any part of the American political spectrum other than the Left.

“In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe,

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This is the same media whore trick they always pull when someone is getting close to exposing this corrupt administration. They go after the person bringing the issue. Rep. Conyers was the first to say the small room was inappropriate for the official meeting being held. He was told by the republicans that it was the only room available then after the meeting he found out that there were many more appropriate rooms that could have been used. This was done to make the issue seem small and unimportant. If the bloggers don't let go of this story them the mainstream media whores will be forced to do their jobs and follow suit. Keep this issue out front! We the people want you to!

When you post an item like this, please suggest an action that people can take - in this case, a contact at the Washington Post to send a complaint would be best, plus maybe Rep. Conyers's email to send encouragement.

If you provided an actionable item for every article, people would then be able to do something without a great deal of effort. It would be more worthwhile than posting a 'yes I agree' sort of comment on here.

Also, let's make this an international effort shall we? As a Briton, I want to see this necklace burn around Blair's neck as much as around Bush's.

ombudsman@washpost.com
abramowitz@washpost.com

I sent the following to:
Mr. Getler (I believe he is ombudsman) and Mr Abramowitz (and he is national editor),

I was dismayed to read Dana Milbank's flippant "coverage" of the Downing Street Memo. I watched most of the proceedings on CSPAN. I saw congressmen and women working diligently under far from ideal conditions (including the additional obligations posed by an unusually heavy conflicting schedule of 11 votes and an appropriations hearing) yet still finding the time to thoughtfully engage the witnesses in the cramped room assigned to them.

I saw and heard serious testimony that should be analyzed with the utmost care. Indeed, the president of the U.S. may be guilty of the high crime of lying to the Congress in order to illegally attack a sovereign nation based upon a pack of fabricated falsehoods (e.g., the shipment of yellowcake to Iraq, the threat of mushroom clouds, metal tubes that were a far cry from being used to create weapons of mass destruction). Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, Powell misrepresented evidence, fabricated falsehoods, duped the Congress, and deceived the American public. There was NO clear intelligence that Iraq posed a serious threat (even to its neighbors) and that there was NO credible link to Al Quaida. In short, Mr. Bush and his administration lied, twisting inteligence to suit their bellicose and grandiose dreams of conquest. Today, perhaps 100,000 Iraqis are dead, more than 1700 American soldiers are dead, American "contractors" are dead... the list goes on- all based upon lies and falsehoods. Why not cover this news with the serious analysis it deserves!!!!?????

Mr. Milbank owes all those who testified and particularly Mr. Conyers an apology.

At the very least, this story deserves continued attention, much the same way that the Watergate Hearings merited serious attention. In this case, we have a president who may have lied to instigate war, in my view an impeachable offense. Mr. Milbank's sorry attempt at humour (assuming that was his intent) was merely offensive, yet uncalled for, given the context of biased news reporting that is far too common these days.

I am cc'ing this letter to Mr. Conyer's office. He deserves praise, not derision, for holding this most important hearing.

Sincerely,

Stephan Cohen

Thank you for your message. As a result I just sent the following to the washington Post:
The review in the Washington Post written by Dana Milbank may have been simply "ridiculous" or "sublime", however the situation this country and Iraq are in right now, are neither. Now if I may be just a little flipant and sarcastic... Why is so hard to consider that what may have really taken place concening Iraq is that this administration was determined long before 9/11 to invade Iraq. Their fantasy was to play with some new "toys" experiment with some new tactics, and in a brief time walk away heroes. 9/11 became their premier selling point. Oh yes, the other part of the fantasy was to soften up the ground in Iraq for big American contracts to slide in thus paving the way for the rest of the administration's corporate American bedfellows. But no, surely that could not be possible? Was it not once impossible to conceive that an American President would stoop so low as to break into the Democratic Headquarters for self serving purposes, and even more inconceivable use the FBI to assist in a cover up!!? Come on guys GET WITH the program and DO YOUR JOB, INVESTIGATE.. INVESTIGATE.. INVESTIGATE the Downing Street Memo!! Perhaps the biggest question on many American's minds is "why aren't mainstream media journalists doing their job??" .... Perhaps we ARE ALL being taken from the sublime to the ridiculous via such abysmal coverage of such serious issues. I, WE EXPECT A LOT MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST!!

Yes, this is a trick we've seen a thousand times, even just this year. Yes, it's generally served to sway attention away long enough to keep people from looking too closely at the given time.

However...

This particular campaign feels different from the others. For one, the substance to this issue is a lot clearer and requires less connect-the-dots -- it's solid. For another, you're getting a great number of different arenas of folks coming together on this very concise, very solid issue. There are so many other things that have gone by in the past several years that can be brought up once the inertia has been broken, of course, but THIS feels like the one that may break it.

Keep pushing. Keep putting up messages like this article. Keep exploiting every teensy little option that's out there. Keep getting into every little corner you can put this into. Keep trying to bring together every single group on both sides of the pond that can help keep this thing moving. Keep pushing.

Bloggers have already flexed their collective muscle, and are still hip enough to get the public eye. Keep pushing, and you'll bring forward all the momentum that's been building underground, and the volcano of the "obvious" is bound to erupt despite the best efforts of those "on top" trying to keep it capped. When that happens, stoolies like this one will have to either adapt or get burned.

This one has legs, and I think it's already started to take off running. Just keep pushing.

To reach Milbank and the Post:
mailto:milbankd@washpost.com
webnews@washingtonpost.com
Main Phone: 703-469-2500

Date: Sat, 18 Jun 2005 23:09:50 -0500
To: milbankd@washpost.com
CC: John.Conyers@mail.house.gov, webnews@washingtonpost.com
Subject: I demand an apology from the Washington Post ...

Mr. Milbank,

As a frequent reader of the Washington Post (although not much longer I'm afraid), I demand that you apologize for the terrible story you did on the Downing Street Memo hearings on Thursday conducted by Representative Conyers.

As an American citizen, it is clear from the documentation that President Bush was less than honest about the situation in Iraq and the threat to the United States. And now, on top of the irresponsibility shown by the Post in fully pursuing facts *BEFORE* the war, you add insult to injury with such a disgusting story.

But please do not apologize to people like me. Publish the apology and commit it to the dead and wounded in Iraq, who surely could have benefited from better understanding President Bush's intentions *BEFORE* the war.

To get a list of people who deserve the apology, please visit:
http://icasualties.org/oif/

Your playfulness in your story may be a game to you (and possibly to the Post), but it is not a game for the families of the fallen as well as the tens of thousands of Iraqis that have died as a direct result of this war.

Shame on you.

Sincerely,

Didn't the Washington Post recently, in responding to criticism for not reporting on the Downing Street Memos, reply that it was "old news" that everybody knew about? If it was old news, why didn't they ever report it when it was "new news"? Were they as well witholding information from the American Public and Congress? Did Bradley and Woodward just decide to holster that smoking gun until they could throw it into the Patomac river?

Conyer's hearing was very compelling, no matter what "Take it to the Bank" Milbank might think or write. If it will make him feel better to dilude himself about its importance, then I hope he feels comfortable in this sarcastic seance he seems to be having with himself.

As for my neighbors and I, they are staunch Republicans, it was a compelling revolutionary experience and we all immediately wrote our Congressman Mark Green. Below is my offering.

I hope all Americans [those asleep as well as awake] follow suit and contact their CongressPerson.

Dear Congressman Green:
I am one of your constituents. I voted for you. I am 62 and recently [more or less] retired and living in our family home outside of Eagle River, on Catfish lake. We have owned homes on this lake since 1937. I am generally conservative but do not necessarily support everything that the Republicans do. From the beginning I was not a supporter of our going to war against Iraq. I wanted the government and the nation to engage in a national dialogue about ,"why anyone would attack us in such a viscious manner'. I thought that we were involved in some bait and switch conspiracy to blame 9/11 on whoever we viewed our enemies to be at the time, namely Iraq. I viewed the impatience of the Bush administration with the UN weapons inspectors and the culmination of their process to be childish. A tantrum in the check out line of the super market of global life, against a parent who was saying no candy or gum now, when you get home you can have some low fat yogurt. The Bush administration wanted their candy and gum now and were going to mau mau the parent/congress/nation until they got their sugar fix or the parent was going to pay, and pay dearly.
Everyone caved in. Even half of the congressional Democrats voted to give the President the authority to go to war.....to strike preemptively. A big mistake. And everybody laid down, including the so called liberal press. No one asked the appropriate questions..... including you, the press, John Kerry, Jimmy Carter, Hillary Clinton, Tommy Franks, Leonard Zinn, and the nation. Nor did I, nor any member of my family.
From the day after the attack of 9/11 when our leaders in Washington immediately began talking about Iraq, [ I thought a bait and switch plan was afoot] I suspected that Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, et al were trying to use the events of 9/11 to achieve other objectives rather than go after the perpetrators of 9/11.
Over the course of my career, I have worked at every level of government. I know how government works. I know that there is a constant push and pull that goes on between career beaurocrats and elected officials. I know that politicians win all the battles and the beaurocrats win all the wars. Politicians come and go, beaurocrats are forever. Maybe this is as it should be.....it certainly is the way it's been.
So tonight I watched a CSPAN 2 replay [just by chance] of the John Conyers hearing on the Downing Street memos. I don't know how many of those Democrats, [I call them Dumbocrats], who testified or asked questions during that hearing had voted for the resolution. I suspect half of them had, but no one asked them how they had voted. They were seeking the limelight ,through situational ethics, trying to jump on the latest horse that would, they hoped, bring down our President.
Anyway, apart from that, I found the testimony of those who testified and those who asked questions of the experts to be one of the most fascinating civic lessons I had ever seen on television. Staged as it was, in the small room that they were given,[relegated to, by the majority who controls congress] with 11 interrupting floor calls for simultaneous votes, it was clear that both sides were playing politics with this issue.
But the burning issue still remains, apart from all the games that can be played around or about it. Was the intelligence twisted, creamed, or fabricated so that 1,700 plus of our young people and thousands more Iraqi lives have been lost as an aftermath of a collection of lies? As my Representative I charge you with the responsibility to find out. I further charge you with the responsibility to impeach, remove from office or position, and/or convict of a felony, all those found to be accomplices to this tragedy, if in fact through a congressional investigation, culpability is verified.
If the Downing Street memos have no basis in fact, but are merely a rendition of opinion of Mr. Dearlove, [what a name] and others at this top secret British meeting, then I hope the investigation of the congress determines this. I need to know and you're my representative who can find out.
So please do your job.....seek the truth....it will set us all free. This is not a threat but rather a promise, if you don't, you will loose my vote and all those I influence in your next run for re-election. This I promise you. Looking forward to your response.
Sincerely, your constituent, John H. Higgins

Mr. Milbank & WashPost Editors,
I assume that you have received Rep. John Conyers' letter in response to your unbelievably tacky, trite, useless article in the Wash Post on 6/17. Conyers very graciously tore your entire article to shreds. There are too many inaccuracies to comment upon, but the fact that you chose to ridicule Conyers about the room where the hearing took place marks a new low in American journalism.
Surely, you know that the GOP denied Conyers' request for a meeting room in the Capitol building to discuss and investigate the most important issue of our time--when and why Bush decided to invade Iraq in 2002. So Conyers planned to convene his hearing off-site, not at the Capitol. Americans (including myself) heard about is absurd and arrogant action by the GOP judiciary committee chair. We called and emailed all Representatives and demanded that the hearing be held at the Capitol.
That is why Conyers was forced to use a basement room yesterday, which apparently you found so hilarious. This prompted from you a clever opening line about Conyers "playing house" in a small undistinguished room that was not his choosing. There is no mention about these details in your discredited article
Today's NYTimes article about Conyers' hearing appeared on page A-10. The picture of the four witnesses--in what looked like a church basement--was an embarrassment to those who were brave enough to present their testimony. It was an embarrassment to all Americans. Imagine how this scene looked to our Allies and to people across the globe?
I am asking YOU to write / print an apology to Rep. John Conyers and to all WashPost readers for your deplorable column. You need to do your homework on the Downing Street Memo, so you are ready as this story continues as breaking news. You may know, there are now 7 memos from 2002. It is time to get serious about this most serious issue.

Judy Munro-Leighton

Weather the conference
room looked official or
not,I am glad to see that
there are those who recognize the dangerous symptoms of a president who not only should be
impeached, but imprisoned
for war crimes as well.

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