By Joy Williams, member, AfterDowningStreet.org
On June 16th Rep. John Conyers and 122 other members of Congress presented a letter to the White House which included 5 simple yes or no questions regarding the Downing Street Memo, which were minutes from a meeting between the British Prime Minister and his top advisors -- and indicate that Bush was already committed to going to war by the summer of 2002 and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" -- meaning they made up evidence to go to war.
. These five questions were first asked on May 5th and were the following:
1)Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
2) 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?
3) 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?
4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
5) 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?
The President did not even pay attention to this, even though 88 members of Congress had signed the letter as of May 5th. Since the House of Representatives is a co-equal branch of government whose duty is to be a check and balance against the Executive Branch, the Executive Branch must answer them. By June 16, an additional 34 members of Congress had signed, and a petition was presented that was signed by over 560,000 American citizens. Congressman John Conyers held a hearing on the 16th with witnesses such as Ambassador Joe Wilson, whose wife was outed by the White House as a CIA agent to retaliate for Wilson having revealed in the New York Times that there was no yellow cake uranium from Niger, as Bush had claimed; Ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern; and Cindy Sheehan, who founded Gold Star Families for Peace and lost a son in Iraq. The Republican controllers of the House would not grant them a normal meeting room so they were forced to have a meeting in an almost closet sized room in the Capitol. They then took the letter and the signatures to the White House, and were not even invited in the gates and had to hand them to a White House aide.
The contempt and arrogance of both the White House and the Republicans is just appalling and is a slap in the face to all Americans and to Democracy itself. Scott McClellan, the White House Press Representative, when asked about the Downing Street Memo on the 17th, brushed it off and said they had already addressed these issues months ago, but that's not true, as the minutes, and subsequent documents were released May 1, 2005 by the Sunday London Times, and last week.
We call on the President to respond to the Downing Street Memo. For the nearly eight months between the time when the Downing Street memo was created and Bush's March 2003 speech in Ohio declaring his intention to invade Iraq, Bush maintained that he was trying to peacefully resolve the dispute over Saddam's (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction. He lied to us. And the Downing Street minutes and subsequent documents show us that. He made up evidence to push us into war, which is against international law, and thus an international war crime. The invasion into Iraq is also a war crime because it is a war of aggression. He has the blood of 1700 of our troops and 100,000 Iraqis on his hands, and should be impeached for lying us into war.
We have spent over $200 billion on a war and lost thousands of lives to basically help war-profiteering companies like Haliburton steal from both Iraq and the American people. Mr. Bush owes it to the soldiers, their families, America and the world to address these five simple questions. That he "brushed" them off shows his contempt for anyone who believes that war should be the very last resort.
If Bush continues to stonewall, Congress must compel the administration, through subpoena if necessary, to tell the American people the truth about how and why they went to war in Iraq. Because they never told us the real reason. They just LIED, and people died.