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What's Up With the Downing Street Memo?
6/4/2005, The Signal
Diana Sevanian Signal Staff Writer
If I had lost a loved one fighting in Iraq or currently had a soldier over there, I would be enraged over the Downing Street Memo. Even without that link, I am fuming about this formerly �extremely sensitive� and now public memorandum.
In case you�re unaware, the Downing Street Memo is the recently leaked minutes from a 2002 British government meeting between Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior national security team. It pertains to their intelligence analysts� concerns over President Bush�s determination to topple Saddam Hussein � despite �wobbly evidence� that Iraq posed a serious threat to its neighbors or to the United States.
Penned by top Blair aide Matthew Rycroft almost one year before we gave Iraq the shock and awe no one will ever forget, the top-secret memo spoke of how that cause for war would have to be scripted � because a desire for regime change was just not a good enough reason to send in the troops.
Per the minutes, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw concurred that Bush�s case to go to war was slim.
�Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran,� Straw said.
The memo also told of how Bush�s decision to strike was already set prior to his presenting the plan to Congress; that the National Security Council lacked patience with the United Nations� route and had no zeal for releasing information on Iraq�s regime record; and that there was �little discussion� in Washington to plan an aftermath to military action.
Here�s the kicker: The former head of British Secret Intelligence Services, Richard Dearlove (who had just gotten back from meetings in Washington, D.C.), was sure Bush wanted to �remove Saddam Hussein through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. ... But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.�
Isn�t that like manufacturing evidence?
How do you explain that to kids who signed on to fight evildoers and secure their WMDs, only to come home in flag-draped boxes to a nation where, according to a recent Gallup poll, almost 60 percent of its citizens now feel the war was a total mistake?
How do you explain it to grieving parents who thought their sons and daughters died in a war where military power had been used only as the absolute last resort � like Bush said it would be?
While Blair�s cabinet has acknowledged the authenticity of the memo, White House spokesman Scott McClellan stiffly discounted it, saying �there is no need to respond� to it.
I am not surprised at that reaction.
Now for another disturbing twist: This whole memo story has largely gone to the back burner of our nation�s consciousness. Although it was first divulged in Great Britain more than one month ago, you just aren�t hearing or reading much about it here.
Someone who is quite vocal about it, however, is Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee who, along with 88 other Congressional Democrats,, has formally requested answers from President Bush.
To date, no reply.
So what does this silence say?
It says,, ignore the issue and the people will forget about it.
Further, it says that �we the people� do not matter; what matters is preserving the cold-steely dogma that drives this human meat-grinding machine our leaders have set into voracious motion.
Senior statesman Conyers feels the mainstream media have ignored the story and helped let the president off the hook.
Why this reticence in reporting? After all, the �liberal� media is considered by many to be a mongrel that�ll bite any bone if it makes the administration look bad.
I know some folks are saying, �They�re not writing about it because it is a non-issue. We are in a war now. That�s what matters.�
Others, like McClellan, will just deny its validity.
But I believe this paucity of front-page attention is more complex. Possibly some journalists are so burned up with � or burned out by � this historic debacle that they�ve chosen to stay mum and see what unfolds. Perhaps they feel there�s too much fresh residue from the Newsweek and Dan Rather incidents to stick their necks out.
Maybe a pervasive numbness has enveloped many of us. Each day the horrific news from Iraq, as well as the White House PR spin on it, give people more reason to feel sick, worried, mad, misguided and hopeless.
It could also be that some people who have voiced their concerns over this cursed Pandora�s Box and the fact that we have no exit strategy from it � just a new generation of dying soldiers and hemorrhaging pockets � are weary from speaking out and being excoriated. After all, when they do voice their opinions, the �real� patriots of this nation viciously label them cowardly, liberal, un-American, gun-absconding, fetus-killing, commie-wacko traitors who deserve to be deported.
Speaking of communism, or totalitarianism or socialism, or any �ism� that strays from what this nation�s founding government was supposed to be about, how far off are we from being under what many would consider an aberrant regime if we cannot depend on straight answers from the top?
Democrats are not the only folks fired up over this situation. Republicans are coming forward, too. Count in Paul Craig Roberts, a conservative Republican and syndicated columnist.
A Hoover Institution senior fellow and former Reagan Administration economic policy cabinet member, Roberts says, �George W. Bush and his gang of neocon warmongers have destroyed America�s reputation.�
In his recent column, �A Reputation in Tatters,� Roberts writes that our dismal standing will likely prevail unless drastic measures are taken � including the same penalty served on our former commander-in-chief.
�As intent as Republicans were to impeach President Clinton for lying about a sexual affair, they have a blind eye for President Bush�s far more serious lies. Bush�s lies have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people, injured and maimed tens of thousands more, devastated a country, destroyed America�s reputation, caused one billion Muslims to hate America, ruined our alliances with Europe, created a police state at home, and squandered $300 billion dollars and counting,� he said.
So, Mr. President. What about a bona fide, non-scripted face-the-nation about the memo and this war? This is a democracy and you are supposed to listen to our concerns � and responsibly address them.
Validate our right to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
You owe us that, Mr. Bush.
You especially owe it to the more than 1,600 soldiers who have died in Iraq, those still serving there, those bound to go, and all the people who love them.
Diana Sevanian is a Stevenson Ranch resident. Her column represents her own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal.