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OTHER VOICES: The Downing Street memos

Detroit Free Press
June 22, 2005

Excerpts of commentary on the Downing Street memos:

Another confidential British memo has surfaced to fan fresh criticism about the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war. This time, the issue is whether the Bush administration ignored warnings to plan for the war's complicated aftermath. ...

The force of the British memo comes from the clarity of its language. It was written July 21, 2002, and its warning -- that "a postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise" -- now looks prophetic. ...

A White House spokesman said the memo was off base. "There was significant postwar planning," said David Almacy. "More importantly, the memo in question was written eight months before the war began; there was significant postwar planning in the time that elapsed." ...

Taken together, the blunt statements revealed in the 2002 memos portray a perilous course with ominous consequences. The ongoing violence in Iraq and the frustrating struggle to rebuild the country and install a viable government make the poor prewar planning a continuing concern.

Denver Post

To some analysts, these memos document how the White House was intent on war in Iraq only months after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, and manipulated intelligence to fit its preconceptions.

To others, the information in the memos is vague. ...

If nothing else, the memos do provide a rare glimpse into the process of policymaking at top levels, and provide the sort of quotes and conclusions that historians may cite for years to come.

Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor

The notion that the president led the country into war through indirection or dishonesty is not the most damaging criticism of the administration. The worst possibility is that the president and his advisers believed their own propaganda. ...

How else to explain the fact that the president and his lieutenants consistently played down the costs of the endeavor, the number of troops required, the difficulties of overcoming tensions among the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds? ...

Those who still see the invasion of Iraq as a noble mission don't need to protect the policy from the war's critics. They need to rescue it from its architects.

E.J. Dionne, Washington Post

Ah, but the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Well, so says one man. But that's not what the 9/11 Commission and other probes have concluded. It's not what Bill Clinton's administration believed about Iraq's alleged possession of WMDs, or what the Germans or French thought, either.

The Downing Street memo is an interesting document and more grist for historians. But it is no smoking gun.

Rocky Mountain News, Denver

But whatever the Downing Street memo and related documents tell us about the decision to go to war and several newspaper voices and the Associated Press now agree the story was mishandled there's a whole other message coming from the memos:

The British not only knew war in Iraq was coming. They knew our current disaster in Iraq was coming. ...

David Sarasohn, Oregonian

We probably should hold some hearings. ... The Republicans were very reluctant to hold hearings when we learned that there was $8 billion missing from the Coalition Provisional Authority before administrator (Paul) Bremer left. If there's no truth to this, we shouldn't allow the rumor to swirl.

U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., in the Memphis Commercial Appeal

I don't know if these memos represent an impeachable offense -- although I must say, I don't want to bring up the Clinton comparison again. But they strike me as a hell of lot worse than anything Richard Nixon ever contemplated. He used the government for petty political vindictiveness. Heck, I'd settle for that again, over what we're looking at now.

Molly Ivins, Creators Syndicate

C's focus on the dog that didn't bark -- the lack of discussion about the aftermath of war -- was smart and prescient. But even on its face, the memo is not proof that Bush had decided on war. It states that war is "now seen as inevitable" by "Washington." That is, people other than Bush had concluded, based on observation, that he was determined to go to war.

There is no claim of even fourth-hand knowledge that he had actually declared this intention. Even if "Washington" meant administration decision-makers, rather than the usual freelance chatterboxes, C was only saying that these people believed that war was how events would play out.

Of course, if "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," rather than vice versa, that is pretty good evidence of Bush's intentions, as well as a scandal in its own right. And we know now that this was true.

Fixing intelligence and facts to fit a desired policy is the Bush II governing style, especially concerning the Iraq war. But C offered no specifics, or none that made it into the memo. Nor does the memo assert that actual decision-makers told him they were fixing the facts.

Although the prose is not exactly crystalline, it seems to be saying only that "Washington" had reached that conclusion.

Of course, you don't need a secret memo to know this.

Michael Kinsley, Los Angeles Times


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George W. Bush stole the 2000 election and we let him get away with it. While the Democrats cried because Al Gore had won the vote, the Republicans counted their loot and planned the next heist. Crime does pay when the Justices of the Supreme Court are in on the caper, and they can’t be impeached if the crooks control the Congress.

At first, most of us (irrespective of politics) thought that, even though Bush was sort of a goofy guy, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the other retainers from the reigns of Ronnie the Great and George I would be able to run things for four years. The world was at peace, the economy was good, and, much as he had done for the Rangers baseball team, Bush would play the part, lead the cheers and leave the big decisions to those better equipped to think deep thoughts. Sooner or later, the voters would catch on that they’d been had, and the doofus would be replaced with someone who could read, write and think for him(or her)self.

But, suddenly, on September 11, 2001, the game changed. At first, things appeared the same. While the president was flying around in circles, without a clue and out of touch, Cheney and the other grownups dealt with the emergency and scripted Bush’s response.

It has now been proven that Bush was repeatedly warned that Osama bin Laden was planning suicide attacks on the country with hijacked commercial jets; however, we will never know if he intentionally allowed it to happen or was just too dumb and distracted to care. We do know that by 9/11 the U.S. economy was in the toilet, the Bush administration was in trouble, and all of its policies and decisions were being driven by what was best for big business, the oil industry and the Saudi sheiks. The neocons in his administration probably didn’t plan the 9/11 attack; they may not have knowingly allowed it to take place, but it was certainly fortunate for their program. And, we quickly learned what that program was all about.

Within weeks, the Constitutional rights of the American people were abrogated by the USA PATRIOT Act, and extraordinary powers were seized by the President, the Departments of Justice and Defense, and the CIA.

Soon, video games no longer held Bush’s interest. He was given a new game and its name was war. The fight against terrorism was exciting, but, in Afghanistan, it was over all too quickly. It didn’t matter that Osama got away; the new game was far too much fun to stop, and he was eager to advance to the next level.

The next step was to conquer Iraq, governed by Saddam Hussein, the ruthless dictator installed by the CIA and maintained in power by Ronnie the Great and George I. Saddam had become an embarrassment to the Bush family, and he controlled something very valuable – 112 billion barrels of oil. The oil industry had bought and paid for the presidency and it wanted a return on its investment. Saddam had to go.

The only problem was that, after years of sanctions and UN inspections, Iraq was essentially defenseless, and its citizens posed no threat to our national security. Although the New American Century neocons claimed the right and duty to rule the world, the rest of the American people required something more than corporate greed and access to oil to start killing people. There had to be some justification, otherwise an invasion of Iraq would violate international law and we would commit war crimes by killing its people. We had to be sold on the need to slaughter our fellow human beings.

In the summer of 2002, Bush’s chief of staff said, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.

Democratic National Convention in Boston, in this July 29, 2004 file photo. Biden said on June 19, 2005, he intends to run for president in 2008, two decades after he dropped out of the race amid charges he plagiarized a British politician's speech. 'My intention now is to seek the nomination,' Biden, of Delaware, said on CBS television's 'Face the Nation.' REUTERS/Gary Hershorn/File Email Photo Print Photo

The Memo was Kofi's 'The Oil for Food Memo' and the UN created the document, alot like the plagerized Bush war record memo. America is still at war and its funny the same pattern was followed. Should Con Yers resign or should he just say he signed for the UN monitors like all those who are used in Congress now?

Plame wanted to be President of the United States. Its funny, you have to forget politics once your in operations, not that we all are in a war.

Couldn't put it better myself.
Though education only goes so far.
The more ignorant the populus is, the longer the GOP will reign.
Perhaps thats why they slash education funding, in the shadow of "occupational training."
And the Dem's need a backbone. Remember all the fuss over a blowjob?

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