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Bush 'Down And Out' on Downing Street Memo
Caught Between Rock And Hard Place With No Answers
A majority of Americans believe President misled country into war. Congress one step closer to formal investigation as 52 members file Freedom of Information Act request, seeking needed documents and witnesses. Further complicating a White House response, Tony Blair confirmed authenticity of minutes of Downing Street war meeting.
July 4, 2005
By Greg Szymanski
The infamous Downing Street Memo has suddenly grown wings in Washington, slowly floating through town like a feather in the wind during a two month media blackout but finally landing like a lead balloon on President Bush’s desk.
But despite a Congressional demand from 123 House members and a letter signed by over 560,000 Americans demanding answers, Bush has decided to tuck the British memo conveniently away in his bottom drawer.
Normally he moves quickly with short quirky answers to silence his critics or has Karl Rove out cutting them in half. But when it comes to the accusations leveled by the Downing Street Memo, our plain speaking President, who often times has trouble putting together a coherent sentence, has remained strangely silent.
His silence, however, is not due to grammatical shortcomings, but due to the fact he doesn’t want to put his foot in his mouth in what looks to be a fight to the finish over whether he doctored WMD intelligence reports to justify an Iraqi invasion.
For example, during Bush’s recent national speech seeking support for the growing unpopularity of the war, he was careful not to mention the WMD issue instead referencing 9/11 at least seven times, as it became obvious his political arsenal of war justifications has been reduced to a single bullet.
And while the Supreme Court nomination will likely take the heat of the WMD issue for the time being, the battle lines are already being drawn as to whether a formal Congressional hearings are merited, paving the way for future impeachment proceedings.
In the Bush camp, they’re of course hoping the issue will disappear like a bad B movie. But more than likely Rove and company are in a damage control mode, sealing internal leaks like an overworked plumber and taping shut media mouths like thugs in the old Chicago Al Capone gang.
A call to the White House this week to get an official response was like trying to ask a priest about someone else’s confession, a White House spokesman saying "no comment at this time."
In the other camp seeking an honest investigation into Bush’s war motives, the numbers of Americans in support is growing dramatically if recent polls are any indication.
A recent ABC/Washington Post poll reports 52 percent of Americans believe the President intentionally misled the country into war despite the fact a majority of people still are unaware of the serious implications of the Downing Street Memo due to a media blackout.
And a recent Zogby poll reported 42 percent of Americans favor impeachment if it can be proved Bush intentionally misled the country, again most without having any knowledge of the damaging British documents.
Although household words for Washington insiders, the beltway remains primarily unaware of the memo originally surfacing in early May after a British whistleblower leaked transcripts of a top level British meeting, including Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of the British Intelligence Agency, M16.
Dearlove, fresh from high-level meetings in Washington several months prior to the Iraqi 2002 invasion, reported to Blair and others that despite the lack of credible evidence of Iraqi WMD capability, Bush was determined "to fix the (WMD) intelligence to fit the (war) policy."
Already Rove and company have tried to spin the meaning of the word ‘fix,’ saying it has a different connotation in the English vernacular. However, critics were quick to point out ‘fix’ has the same simple and clear meaning on both sides of the Atlantic.
Further complicating matters, Blair recently confirmed the authenticity of the meeting and the statements, leaving Bush between a rock and a hard place when it comes to an explanation of who said what during Dearlove’s Washington visit.
Speculation is that Dearlove met with Condaleeza Rice and/or CIA Director George Tenet, considering his position as head of British intelligence.
Recently, Ray McGovern, a former CIA senior analyst and one of the top people leading the Capitol Hill charge to open congressional hearings, openly called Tenet to come out of the closet and tell what he knows about Dearlove’s statements.
"Wouldn’t it be nice instead of Tenet making $30,000 speeches, to have him come before the American people and explain what he knows about Dearlove’s visit," said McGovern, adding the credibility of the documents demands a formal l investigation with subpoena power to get at needed documents and witnesses.
Along with McGovern and the 560,000 Americans who signed a letter demanding Bush respond to the WMD allegations, on May 26 a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups and political activist groups formally started a nationwide campaign at www.afterdowningstreet.org demanding the U.S. Congress launch an official investigation into the memo’s allegations.
Since then 123 Congressmen are moving in that direction, led by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and 52 members have filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State, seeking all documents and materials concerning the ‘Downing Street Minutes’ and the lead up to the Iraq war.
Asked how the After Downing Street movement was progressing, one of its co-founders, David Swanson, said this week:
"It’s progressing beyond my wildest hopes, but we still haven’t gone nearly far enough. We've forced the story into the media through public pressure and use of the Internet, progressive radio, and alternative publications. But we need this story to achieve a higher level and the level of respect the media gives to a Michael Jackson trial."
Another of the movement’s founder’s, John Bonifaz a well-respected Boston constitutional attorney, said:
"The recent release of the Downing Street Memo provides new and compelling evidence that the President of the United States has been actively engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq. If true, such conduct constitutes a High Crime under Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution."
Some of the organizations forming the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition include: Global Exchange, Gold Star Families for Peace, Democrats.com, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, and Democracy Rising.
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