By Institute for Public Accuracy
Two days before Tony Blair's scheduled Tuesday meeting with President Bush in Washington, the chairman of the Republican National Committee faced questioning on NBC's "Meet the Press" about the festering Downing Street Memo scandal.
Tim Russert said: "This was a memo, July 23, 2002, from the head of British intelligence to Prime Minister Blair; in effect, notes taken from a briefing that was given to Prime Minister Blair after the head of British intelligence came back from a trip to Washington. It says this: '[The head of British Intelligence] reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.'"
Russert added: "This is July of 2002. We didn't invade until March of 2003. And the prime minister of Great Britain is being told by the head of his intelligence that he went to Washington and believes that a decision had already been made and that the administration was fixing or manipulating the intelligence to support the policy."
The following are available for interviews:
JOHN BONIFAZ, DAVID SWANSON, (202) 329-7847, firstname.lastname@example.org , Bonifaz and Swanson are two of the co-founders of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition. Bonifaz is a constitutional attorney and author of the book "Warrior King: The Case for Impeaching George W. Bush." He said today: "The 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: 'The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.'"
Swanson noted that Sunday, when asked about the Downing Street Memo on NBC's "Meet the Press," Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, claimed "that report has been discredited by everyone else who's looked at it since then. Whether it's the 9/11 Commission, whether it's the Senate, whoever's looked at this has said there was no effort to change the intelligence at all." Said Swanson: "Mehlman is pretending to claim that these bodies have investigated the Downing Street Minutes and discredited them, while really claiming that these bodies discredited the idea that the Bush administration cooked the intelligence to fit its desired policy. This amounts to claiming that a new piece of evidence can be dismissed on the grounds of what authorities allegedly concluded PRIOR TO discovering the new evidence. This is absurd."
RALPH NADER, KEVIN ZEESE, email@example.com , , Today on C-Span's "Washington Journal," Nader stated: "The president is never above the law and never above the Constitution. And if we read the Constitution carefully, we'll see that the accountability mechanism for a president who's out of control; who plunged us into a war in Iraq based on documented fabrications, deceptions, lies, ignoring his own intelligence advisors, was an impeachable offense in our judgment. And there should be an impeachment inquiry at least -- that is, a hearing in the House of Representatives -- if not an impeachment resolution." Nader and Zeese co-wrote the article "The 'I' Word: Impeachment," recently published in the Boston Globe.
On May 1 of this year, top-secret minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting of the foreign policy leadership of the UK, including Prime Minister Tony Blair, was published in the Sunday Times of London. The document -- known as the Downing Street Memo -- indicates that the leaders of the U.S. and British governments were determined to go to war with Iraq from at least mid-2002 (months before the U.S. Congress or the UN debated their resolutions on Iraq) and were resolving what their war pretexts should be for public consumption.
The document states: "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. ... It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force."
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and nearly 100 other members of Congress have written to Bush asking a series of questions about the Downing Street Memo [see: ].
Before the invasion of Iraq, President Bush had claimed:
* "I don't like war. ... That's why I first went to the United Nations to begin with, on September the 12th, 2002, to address this issue as forthrightly as I knew how." (March 6, 2003)
* "We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force." (March 8, 2003)
* "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." (March 17, 2003)