You are herecontent / Fixed Is Fixed

Fixed Is Fixed
Ray McGovern
June 22, 2005
Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He now works at Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour.

With last week's hearings on the Downing Street memos concluded, much work lies ahead. Now, the information in the Downing Street memos needs to be collated carefully with evidence from the mainstream media, on the Internet, and from other sources regarding what was going on in top policymaking circles in Washington in the preparations for the invasion of Iraq.

All this can be expected to take some time.

Those who have read the most recent British cabinet documents know that they show senior U.K. lawyers and diplomats desperately trying to place a veneer of legality on Prime Minister Tony Blair's promise to President George W. Bush that Britain would join the United States in launching an unprovoked attack on Iraq.

The new memos provide a wealth of information supplementing what has already been revealed—like the relatively unsung example of Elizabeth Wilmshurst, then-deputy legal adviser to the British Foreign Office. Wilmshurst kept insisting that the attack could not be squared with international law, and said it would start "a war of aggression." When her superiors caved in to Blair, Wilmshurst did the honorable thing. She resigned.

But as the word on the memos is getting out and the case is being carefully formulated, the Downing Street memos and the media coverage they are receiving are already giving the Bush administration fits as they try to slow down a train that has already left the station. British Prime Minister Tony Blair's early decision that it would be a fool's errand to challenge the authenticity of the papers has prevented the White House from labeling them spurious. Thus, the administration has concluded that smoke, rather than denial, is what is indicated.

In their opening salvo, Bush supporters have chosen to target their smoke against the most damning sentence in the many official Downing Street memos; the 11 words with which the head of British intelligence unwittingly gave away the game:

"But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

So, while the evidence is being analyzed and timelines are being developed, it is important to muster what might be called an ad-hoc "smokescreen patrol" to identify and dispel the smoke being blown by Bush administration and its surrogates.

Woolsey's Tour de Force

Enter Washington insider and neoconservative favorite James Woolsey, the former director of Central Intelligence, who just a few days after 9/11 called publicly for war on Iraq. Rhodes Scholar Woolsey told MSNBC's "Hardball" Tuesday night that he is not clear on British usage of the word "fixed." Woolsey argued that what Blair was told by the U.K.'s intelligence chief does not mean that Washington was "cooking the books." Since there is no basis for that allegation, says Woolsey, "We ought to back off a bit."

An objective "source description" for intelligence reporting from Woolsey would have to include the following: "Source was assigned by then-chair of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle to facilitate reports like the since-disproved story of a meeting between 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague, as well as the other unfortunate ones about Iraqi mobile laboratories for producing biological weapons. Source's political views may cloud his objectivity."

Not surprisingly, other pundits have joined the Woolsey smoke machine. On June 19, Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler opined that "maybe 'fixed' means something different in British-speak." And Christopher Hitchens, in an article posted on Slate the same day Woolsey went on "Hardball," wrote: "Never mind for now that the English employ the word "fix" in a slightly different way—a better term might have been 'organized.'"

Michael Smith, the Sunday Times reporter who broke the story thinks he knows what "fixed" means. On June 16, he told The Washington Post:

There are a number of people asking about 'fixed' and its meaning. This is a real joke. I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed, as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence. If you fix something, you make it the way you want it. The intelligence was fixed...the head of MI-6 has just been to Washington. He has just talked with George Tenet. He said the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. That translates in clearer terms as the intelligence was being cooked to match what the administration wanted it to say to justify invading Iraq.

I contacted a number of British friends who are close observers of the political scene, to get their opinion. Here is one recent e-mail reply:

Nobody that I have come across here in London interprets the term 'fixed' in this context as other than cooked/manipulated/selected. Fixed refers to trickery-as in 'the fix is in.' What Woolsey & Co. may think…that is completely irrelevant. It is what we British think that counts. The memo was written to be read by us British, not by Woolsey. It appears that he and his "neoconservative" friends are getting a bit desperate. He would probably be one of the people to go to jail at the end of this, given the key role he has played.

Or, from VIPS colleague Col. Patrick Lang, USA (ret.), former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency's human intelligence section, who tends to be more succinct: "Fixed is fixed, man."

The Washington Post's Getler did offer a constructive suggestion; namely, that Blair produce the former intelligence chief and the drafter of the minutes of July 23, 2002, for a news conference or open parliamentary session and let reporters or legislators pursue clarification. Given the seriousness of the issue and the documentary nature of the evidence, my own suggestion would be to subpoena testimony from George Tenet and other senior U.S. officials whose views were reported to Blair—and the sooner the better.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Maybe in the Neocon dictionary "fixed" means "focused" (more like f**ked us)

and lied is lied and thousands died is thousands died

Awesome article - it says it all

I’m a Canadian who’s been looking on helplessly as our best buddies and only neighbours head for the nearest cliff. I liked it a lot better when you would brag about being the greatest nation on earth, we would claim to be just a bit morally superior to you, and we could all move freely across our common open border and enjoy each other’s hospitality. Now I’m split. Half of me wants the Blue-Staters to immigrate to Canada, get your citizenship, and help us keep our own version of neocon & holy-rollerism out of political office (indeed, emigration from the U.S. went up by 25 percent in 2004). The other half wants you to stay right there and do what you’re doing—carefully organizing to get that moron of a president of yours impeached. I think you can succeed, if you can take back the Congress next year, and if you can coordinate your activism with those Brits who want to see Blair in the dock. That’s a big job, but Americans have done bigger miracles. You are still the only nation on earth who ever got a war stopped by popular demand. So I’m wishing you all the best with this Downing Street Memo thing. If regular Google Alerts are any indication, the whole world is watching and keeping its fingers crossed for you. Go for it!

I (we) hope you'll tell your friends et al that there are many (MANY!) here on this side of our mutual border who know you spell War Criminal with a capital W! I for one am equally disgusted with our spineless jellyfish Dem reps that sit back being "cautious" while our children and innocent Iraqis die for the lies of the resident sock puppet. I hope also that you and yours will keep the faith. I am rapidly losing any faith that what's left of this c ountry will ever be able to dig itself out of the fascist dung heap we are now buried in.
There, I feel better.

There is no doubt in my mind that Bush came into office intending to go for regime change in Iraq. When he announced in March '99, he was mentored in "foreign policy" by the likes of Wolfowitz, Pearle and other neo-cons. The center piece of their foreign policy was to use the might and force of the only surviving super power to effect regime change in Iraq. Bush chose Cheney to pick his cabinet and Cheney flooded the Bush administration with his fellow neo-cons-Libby, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Bolton, etc., etc. Cheney picked himself as vice-president. Paul O'Neil who describes himself as an "honest broker" has said that regime change in Iraq was talked about from the start of the Bush administration in Jan. 2001. O'Neil is not a liar. The only thing they lacked politically was an excuse to send our boys into harms way. 9/11 provided them with that cover and they were able to put one over on the American people. Unfortunately, I have two nephews over there and I am hoping that we succeed or pull out. How many have to die and how much of our national treasure to we have to lose for this stupid mistake of a war. And I do not exempt the Democrats who gave Bush what the politically expedient vote to go to war. Bush and his cohorts have extended our volunteer force and have demonstrated to the world the limits of our power. Shame on all of them.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Speaking Events



August 2-6: Peace and Democracy Conference at Democracy Convention in Minneapolis, Minn.


September 22-24: No War 2017 at American University in Washington, D.C.


October 28: Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference

Find more events here.


Support This Site


Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.



Speaking Truth to Empire


Families United


Ray McGovern


Julie Varughese


Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.



Ca-Dress Long Prom Dresses Canada
Ca Dress Long Prom Dresses on

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.