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Protest draws attention to memo


Here's an article from the St. Petersburgh Times that was generated by a local demonstration at a TV station. Does that give any of you ideas?

Note that the reporter called me David Dawson, probably as a result of the quality of cell phone service in the hotel in DC where the Take Back America Conference chooses to convene. But, he quoted me accurately and he and his editors MENTIONED THE ISSUE AND DID SO HONESTLY. Please thank them!
--David Swanson

The "Downing Street Memo" indicates an agreement on invading Iraq in July 2002.
By KEVIN GRAHAM
Published June 3, 2005
The St. Petersburgh Times
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TAMPA - Just a stone's throw away from a life-size gorilla dressed in military fatigues was another oddity along Kennedy Boulevard Thursday - people protesting about a memo.

"Did you get the memo?" read the fliers.

"Air the truth!" said a poster held by retired Air Force Lt. Col. Joseph F. Bohren, outside the WTVT-Ch. 13 studios with about 10 others.

They were there because of what has become known as the "Downing Street Memo," minutes from a meeting between Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers on July 23, 2002, at No. 10 Downing St., published May 1 by the Sunday Times of London . The minutes indicate that the United States and Britain had agreed to invade Iraq by the summer of 2002 - months before President George W. Bush asked Congress for permission to engage in military action.

The minutes, written by Matthew Rycroft, aide to British Foreign Policy Adviser David Manning, also suggest that U.S. officials deliberately manipulated intelligence to justify the war.

"If what's in these minutes is accurate, and we have been given no reason to doubt that, then it would appear that the president has committed high crimes, specifically lying to the American public and Congress and engaging in a conspiracy with his administration," said David Dawson, a Washington organizer for the Web site AfterDowningStreet.org, which has reproduced the memo.

The site was created by a coalition of political activists who are calling on Congress to investigate the meeting minutes.

According to the minutes, Sir Richard Dearlove, head of the British Foreign Intelligence Service, "reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and (weapons of mass destruction). But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The White House press office on Thursday referred the Times to a May 23 press briefing by White House spokesman Scott McClellan, at which time he addressed the Downing Street minutes. But McClellan did not address the specifics of the memo.

"In terms of the intelligence ... if anyone wants to know how the intelligence was used by the administration, all they have to do is go back and look at all the public comments over the course of the leadup to the war in Iraq, and that's all very public information. Everybody who was there could see how we used that intelligence," McClellan said.

He acknowledged there was some breakdown in information gathered before the president decided to go to war.

"And in terms of the intelligence, it was wrong, and we are taking steps to correct that and make sure that in the future we have the best possible intelligence, because it's critical in this post-Sept. 11th age, that the executive branch has the best intelligence possible," he said.

Rep John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., has started a petition drive for an open letter to the president asking him to address the accuracy of the document. In a statement released Thursday, Conyers said, "These minutes of a classified British government meeting raise very serious constitutional questions about whether the Congress and the American people were deliberately misled in the drive to war."

--Kevin Graham can be reached at 813 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com

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