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We can define a path toward truth
Fauquier Times Democrat (Virginia)
By Linda W. Swanson, Warrenton
This Saturday, July 23, is an important anniversary. Over 300 events are being planned nationwide to recognize it, one right here in Warrenton.
If you don't know what happened on July 23, 2002, you are not alone.
Most of our media have not reported fully on the secret meeting held that day at Number 10 Downing Street, London, the Prime Minister's residence. The minutes of that meeting about the United States' involvement in Iraq (which were leaked to The Sunday Times of London and printed on May 1, 2005) have become known as the "Downing Street Minutes (or Memo.")
The 2002 meeting was a secret briefing called by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British Intelligence, so that he could report on his recent meeting with high US government officials. It was attended by Prime Minister Tony Blair and the heads of his intelligence and defense departments.
The minutes and several other documents tell us that by the summer of 2002 President Bush had:
Secretly decided to go to war with Iraq;
Decided to deceive and mislead Congress and the American people with false claims about both weapons of mass destruction and ties between Saddam Hussein and 9/11;
Secretly diverted $700 million from the war in Afghanistan and started bombing Iraq to provoke a war;
Agreed to go to the United Nations only to "legalize" an illegal invasion -- and then walked out of the U.N. when inspections worked.
The chronology of events is different from what we were led to believe, and possibly from what is legal.
In 2002, the British Royal Air Force and US military aircraft doubled their rate of bombing in Iraq, trying to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war. The attacks were intensified in May of that year, and by late August they had become a full air offensive.
Yet it was not until October 10, 2002 that Congress passed the "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq." And President Bush did not declare war on Iraq until March 2003, many months after bombing actually began.
Committing American citizens to war is one of the most serious actions a president can take. Every alternative should be explored before a single life is put at risk.
It is clear that we were lied to in 2002. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.Yet Bush proceeded with his own agenda, putting the lives of civilians and military personnel in jeopardy without authority or justification.
On June 16, Rep. John Conyers delivered to the White House a letter bearing 560,000 signatures in addition to those of 122 members of Congress. He asked five simple questions:
Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war; did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?
Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?
Concerned citizens need to demand answer to these questions from their elected officials. They need to insist upon actual investigative reporting, not just stenography, from their media.
They need to become active in any number of ways, possibly including participation in an event on July 23.
At http://www.afterdowningstreet. org, they can add their signatures to Rep. Conyers' letter, register for any of the events scheduled for July 23, read and chat about current news reports and opinion pieces, and find many of the tools necessary for responsible citizenship.
Each of these steps is a place to start. Working together, we can define a path toward truth, accountability, and the restoration of our nation's integrity.