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Iraq war started too early

Attacks preceded congressional OK
- Paul Rogat Loeb
Sunday, June 19, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle

It's bad enough that the Bush administration had so little international support for the Iraqi war that its "coalition of the willing" meant the United States, Britain, and the equivalent of a child's imaginary friends.

It's even worse that, as the British Downing Street memo confirms, the administration had so little evidence of real threats that officials knew from the start that they were going to have to manufacture excuses to go to war. What's more damning still is that they effectively began this war even before the congressional vote.

This transcript of a July 23, 2002, British prime minister's meeting, whose legitimacy the British government confirms, details the Bush administration's early intention to go to war against Iraq.

"It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided," the document says. "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." As the document states, "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The document is damning, particularly coupled with the testimony of former Bush ghostwriter Mickey Herskowitz that Bush was talking about invading Iraq as early as 1999. But it's even more disturbing as we start learning that this administration began actively fighting the Iraq war well in advance of the March 2003 official attack -- before both congressional authorization in October 2002 and the United Nations' November resolution requiring Saddam Hussein to open the country to inspectors.

Charlie Clements, now head of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, described driving in Iraq months before the war. "A building would just explode, hit by a missile from 30,000 feet." "What is that building?" Clements would ask. "Oh, that's a telephone exchange," he was told.

Later, at Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base, Clements heard a U.S. general boast "that he began taking out assets that could help in resisting an invasion at least six months before war was declared."

Earlier this month, Jeremy Scahill wrote a powerful piece on the Web site of the Nation, describing a huge air assault in September 2002. "Approximately 100 U.S. and British planes flew from Kuwait into Iraqi airspace," Scahill writes.

"At least seven types of aircraft were part of this massive operation, including U.S. F-15 Strike Eagles and Royal Air Force Tornado ground-attack planes. They dropped precision-guided munitions on Saddam Hussein's major western air-defense facility, clearing the path for Special Forces helicopters that lay in wait in Jordan.

"Earlier attacks had been carried out against Iraqi command and control centers, radar detection systems, Revolutionary Guard units, communication centers and mobile air-defense systems. The Pentagon's goal was clear: Destroy Iraq's ability to resist."

As Scahill points out, this was a month before the congressional vote and two months before the U.N. resolution. The United States hadn't declared war. Bush had no authorization, not even a fig leaf. This pre-emptive war pre- empted Congress and international law.

Most Americans don't know about these prewar attacks. The bombings that destroyed Iraq's air defenses were under the radar for both the American media and American citizens.

If coverage of the Downing Street memo continues to increase, I suspect the administration will try to dismiss it as mere diplomatic talk, just inside baseball. But officials weren't just manipulating intelligence so they could attack no matter how Saddam Hussein responded. They weren't just bribing would- be allies into participation.

They were already fighting a war they'd planned long before. They just didn't bother to tell the American public.

Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of "The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear." See or contact us at You can read more about the Downing Street memo at

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Figured i'd jump in here and let folks in the SF Bay Area know that the San Jose Mercury News has been providing by far the best coverage. Also attaching following which i thought might brighten your weekend. "Selected" excerpts from letter written by Pres. Eisenhower to his brother Edgar 11/8/54.
"Now it is true that i believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralisation of governmental functions....The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will loose eveything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what i mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L.Hunt (you possibly know his background),a few other Texas millionaires, and an occasioinal politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid...You also talk about "bad political advice" i am getting. I always assumed that lawyers attempted accuracy in their statements. How do you know that i am getting any political advice? Next, if i do get political advice, how do you know it is not weighted in the direction that you think it should be....So how can you say i am getting "bad" advice; why don't you just assume i am stupid, trying to wreck the nation, and leave our Constitution in tatters?...i am surrounded by a group of Machiavellian characters who are seeking the downfall of the United States......."

"Social Insecurity"

Sorry but we're trying to test comments.,,so please ignore this one and any others from me you might see. :-)

When I watched the meeting Rep Conyers chaired in that small room where truth was told to an unappreciative media I heard this information for the first time. I never knew that we were already bombing Iraq before the official war began, however illegal it might be. I think if the American people could really get their head around that bit of under handed corruption they would lose all support for this war. Many have already lost support but many more will join in if they could simply for a moment surmise that their own country which they love so much could be capable of these dastardly war crimes. I think it is hard for people to understand that our president would send our sons and daughters to die for his and his friends own profit. I guess war profiteering is a good racket if you can get it. Bush probably learned that at the knee of old grand daddy, Prescott, the master.

had weapons of mass destuction, please read "Against All Enemies." by Richard A. Clarke pp 65-68

The cost of this war for the Americans has been elequantly described by Cindy Sheehan in the Congressional hearng last Thursday.

Her Iraqi counterparts deserve a voice as well.

Please go to the website, to see the pictures of Iraq our mainstream media won't show.

Click on 'Fallujah in Pictures' for a comprehensive look at the cost of this war.

Crisis Pictures is a not for profit information service dedicated to buying and distributing the pictures of human rights emergencies the mainstream ignores.

Thank you,

Trevor Davis
Crisis Pictures

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