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Hinchey presses for Iraq probe
By Hallie Arnold , DailyFreeman.com
NEW PALTZ - The Downing Street memos, a series of communications that some say proves the Bush administration fabricated its justification for the war in Iraq, should be the subject of a full-blown Congressional inquiry, U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey told the crowd assembled for a presentation on the memos on the SUNY New Paltz campus Thursday night.
But the lack of checks and balances in the "monolithic" government, in which both the Congress and Senate favor the administration, will make mounting such an investigation a difficult prospect for those lawmakers who have questioned and continue to question both the impetus for the war in Iraq, and America's continued involvement there, Hinchey, D-Hurley, said.
"The Congress of the United States has allowed itself to become corrupted, corrupted by the administration, and (is) working (in) complicity with it. There is, in effect, a conspiracy being engaged in by the executive and legislative branches, contrary to the direct, specific provisions of the American Constitution," he said. "If that were not the case, there would have been, long before tonight, deep, serious, intense investigation on the part of Congressional committees."
The Downing Street memos are a series of 3-year-old British government memorandums which administration opponents have seized upon as proof that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was not based on facts, but on contrivances created by the administration to justify its goal of regime change there.
"The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," reads a line from the communication now referred to as the Downing Street memo, notes from a prime minister's meeting that took place on July 23, 2002.
Hinchey said these communications lend merit to his long-held position that the war in Iraq was unjustified, and that the Bush Administration employed "criminal activities" to gain sufficient support for the war in Congress and with the public.
"The president has said it was an act of last resort. The Downing Street memos show clearly that that is not true, that it was a war of first resort," he said. "It was what the president wanted to do all along, for his own private, personal and political reasons."
Hinchey, and SUNY New Paltz journalism professor Rob Miraldi were well-received by the decidedly Democratic crowd of about 300 who came to the SUNY campus Lecture Center to hear them speak about the Downing Street memos and the American media's failure to get the story of them out to the public.
Miraldi said there are many factors which have led the American media to shy away from the story, including the fact that the memos are 3 years old and as such do not follow the media mandate of being "timely and fresh"; that media has been increasingly consolidated into a few corporate hands; and that the media monopoly, coupled with the press's increasing reliance on government sources, has forced many news organizations to seek a middle-of-the-road approach, rather than "making waves."
"The Downing Street memos make waves. The Downing Street memos raise the question of should this president be impeached," Miraldi said, to wild applause. "That question is difficult for the press to raise. It's difficult in part because you have corporate owners, who you know are Republicans, that will be very nervous about asking that question."
Hinchey, a member of the recently formed "Out of Iraq" congressional caucus, held a similar forum in Binghamton, the western end of his 22nd Congressional District, earlier this week.