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What's New on Downing Street?
By Mike Hersh, Jun 20, 2005
Jay Ambrose - writing in the DC Examiner - opines about the Downing Street Minutes, but he ignores the facts, leaving us to correct the distortions, out-of-context quotes, and misrepresentations. Ambrose wants to make this about John Kerry rather than Bush and those responsible for the disaster in Iraq. He contends it was "silly ... for people to interpret the first memo - which contained meeting minutes - the way they did" by which he meant us, the "Bush-bashing bloggers and, later, some way-out congressional Democrats" who know "the leaked minutes proved Bush lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction and that he had decided on war long before he said he had."
Ambrose makes several absurd false statements. It's true we knew Saddam was a "genocidal maniac," many of us knew that back during the 1980s when Reagan, Rumsfeld, and Bush I were helping Saddam and when Cheney was making money with Saddam as recently as 1999! We know this isn't true: "Saddam maintained programs that could produce chemical and biological WMD at the snap of his dictatorial fingers." So why does Ambrose repeat this utterly refuted claim? The Examiner identifies columnist Jay Ambrose as "a former opinion writer and editor of two daily newspapers." He clearly hasn't stopped writing pure opinion. Here are a few more whoppers Ambrose wrote:
[T]he other official British documents disclosed ... show just how silly it was for people to interpret the first memo - which contained meeting minutes - the way they did.... [T]he head of British foreign intelligence was paraphrased as saying that it looked like a U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein was inevitable and that the justification would be Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction. According to an army of frenzied, Bush-bashing bloggers and, later, some way-out congressional Democrats, the leaked minutes proved Bush lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction and that he had decided on war long before he said he had.
As responding pundits - both liberal and conservative - noted, the leaked memo contained nothing new. The most extreme interpretations were not justified and what you finally had were just the observations of one man who cited no sources and offered no proof.
In fact, the plain text of the first Downing Street Minutes do not "paraphrase" Mr. Dearlove. They do confirm Bush lied when he said he claimed to Americans and Congress that he had not yet "decided on war" because Bush had already decided to invade Iraq. Ambrose's claims that other documents "punch huge holes in the notion that the first memo demonstrated Bush had lied" lacks justification and are just the observations of one man who cited no sources and offered no proof. At least no accurate proof.
Ambrose claims, "A crucial fact in the debate about WMD is that Saddam was given his chance to prove the estimates of the United States, Britain and still other nations wrong, and he failed through his refusal to cooperate with U.N. inspectors." That might be a "crucial fact" except that it's simply not true. The record shows Saddam allowed in the inspectors, and they were doing their jobs when Bush ordered them out just before launching his attack. Saddam did cooperate with the inspectors. Bush did not.
Ambrose writes, "The charge that the White House was trying to slant intelligence reports was examined by the 9/11 Commission and congressional probes. No support was found for the accusation." That's not entirely true, and citing the purported failure of one effort to reach the truth is no defense against the truth reached by other efforts. Ambrose absurdly argues that we must ignore newly uncovered evidence because someone else failed to uncover it - or finding it refused to report it. So much for Ambrose's claim there is nothing new in the Downing Street Minutes!
Ambrose briefly bows to reality admitting, "no weapons of mass destruction were discovered in Iraq", before throwing out any shred of credibility he has by repeating the long-debunked lie that "Saddam maintained programs that could produce chemical and biological WMD at the snap of his dictatorial fingers."
That's the major lie Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell and others used to scare the American public. Bush's hand-picked commissions confirmed there was no such threat. No weapons of mass destruction. No ability to produce them. Only vague intentions and plans to seek capabilities beyond Iraq's abilities. The Downing Street Minutes confirm that Bush and the others above lied, yet Ambrose claims the Minutes hold nothing new. Clearly these facts are new to Ambrose, as he's stuck in a circa 2002 time warp.
Ambrose even wants to make this about "Kerry, who had virtually the same access to U.S. intelligence as Bush himself" Well that's wrong. Kerry did not have the same access or "virtually the same access" as Bush, because Bush's henchmen in the Office of Special Plans were concocting and cherry-picking intelligence to fit to the policy - to attack Iraq. That's the whole point, the new revelations, the damning evidence confirmed in the Downing Street Minutes which now include several documents Ambrose refused to mention and seems to hope we won't discuss.
Blaming Kerry who according to Ambrose "surely examined the evidence before voting to give Bush the authority to go to war" is a double deceit. Once more, this is not about Kerry and Kerry never gave Bush that authority. He could not do so under Article One of the US Constitution. Kerry's "views on WMD" which Ambrose cites are unimportant, and do nothing to refute the new revelations contained in the Official Documents of the United Kingdom known as the Downing Street Minutes. They don't because they never could.
Even as Ambrose cited it, Kerry's speculation contains uncertainty: "In the wake of Sept. 11, who among us can say with any certainty to anybody that the weapons might not be used against our troops or against allies in the region? Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater, a nuclear weapon ...?" Since Ambrose refuses to provide the Kerry's views in context, let's look to the Snopes.com website for the rest of what Kerry said as he voted:
[T]he administration, I believe, is now committed to a recognition that war must be the last option to address this threat, not the first, and that we must act in concert with allies around the globe to make the world's case against Saddam Hussein.
Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies.
In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days - to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.
If we do wind up going to war with Iraq, it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent - and I emphasize "imminent" - threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs.
Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances.
In voting to grant the President the authority, I am not giving him carte blanche to run roughshod over every country that poses or may pose some kind of potential threat to the United States. Every nation has the right to act preemptively, if it faces an imminent and grave threat, for its self-defense under the standards of law. The threat we face today with Iraq does not meet that test yet.
Kerry explicitly demanded that Bush exhaust all other means before plunging us into war. Bush promised he would, but he lied. Kerry explicitly stated that while "Every nation has the right to act preemptively, if it faces an imminent and grave threat, for its self-defense under the standards of law. The threat we face today with Iraq does not meet that test yet."
Kerry warned that "If we go it alone without reason, we risk inflaming an entire region, breeding a new generation of terrorists, a new cadre of anti-American zealots, and we will be less secure, not more secure, at the end of the day, even with Saddam Hussein disarmed." Kerry was correct about that, as events prove. Regarding Ambrose's specific specious claim that the CIA and other evidence Kerry knew about supported Bush's rush to war, Kerry said, "[N]o one in the CIA, no intelligence briefing we have had suggests [the threat from Iraq] is imminent."
Blaming Kerry for trusting Bush to let the inspectors do their job, trusting Bush to attack only if the inspectors couldn't do their job, trusting Bush not to lie to him, the Congress, the Security Council and the American people etc. makes sense. Blaming Kerry for Bush's lies and crimes does not. Bottom line, John Kerry wasn't the Commander in Chief. He did not cook the intelligence, lie to the American people, or commit these other offenses. Bush did.
Clearly Bush and his top officials lied to get us into war. That's what the Downing Street Minutes prove. That's new. That's important. Nothing Ambrose or any other Bush apologist says can change any of that. Increasingly, members of Congress - including conservative Republicans - say if they knew then what they know today they would never have supported this war. Before, many of us suspected Bush was lying. The Downing Street Minutes prove he was.
Ambrose issues a challenge to us: "Bloggers, where are you?" Well, here we are. Call the Examiner Editorials desk at (703) 560-4000 or click here: http://dcexaminer.com/threads/ Send email to Editor John Wilpers - firstname.lastname@example.org or Managing Editor Nicholas Horrock - email@example.com or send regular mail to: Letters to the Editor, The Washington Examiner, 6408 Edsall Rd. Alexandria, Va. 22312. Remain respectful, but demand sensible coverage of the Downing Street Minutes and these life-and-death issues of war and peace based on - not ignoring or denying - the known facts.
You can see the full text of "Down with the Downing Street Memo" by Jay Ambrose, the Washington Examiner, June 20, 2005 here: http://www.dcexaminer.com/articles/2005/06/20/opinion/op-ed/45oped20ambr...
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