By Ray McGovern
The Downing Street papers are proving a formidable challenge to the White House PR machine as it desperately tries—in often-ludicrous ways—to slow down a train that has already left the station. And interest continues to build. The leaked British documents are now on the top-ten list of Google queries.
One huge fly in the ointment for the administration was British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s early decision that it would be a fool’s errand to challenge the authenticity of the papers. Why? Because there is still a relatively free Fourth Estate in the U.K. together with patriotic whistleblowers willing to risk jail for exposing government dishonesty.
This has prevented the White House from labeling the documents spurious. And Michael Smith, the British journalist who was given them has now acknowledged that more than one such patriot has been involved.
Smoke Rather Than Denial
With Blair forced to acknowledge that the documents are authentic, the White House could hardly label them spurious. Smoke, rather than outright denial, had to be the chosen course.
Thus, many too-clever-by-half interpretations are now being offered for the eleven words with which the head of British intelligence, fresh back from Washington in July 2002, unwittingly gave the game away:
“But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.