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DOWNING STREET LOWDOWN

Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, NC)

The six so-called "Downing Street Memos" written by aides to British Prime Minister Tony Blair don't contain much new information regarding President Bush's early Iraq policies. But they add credibility to charges that Bush decided first to invade and then fashioned evidence and arguments for doing so.

The memos were leaked to British journalists in fall 2004, but they received little attention, except from anti-war activists, until recently. That is because they mostly repeat much of what the press had already reported and what administration critics, such as Richard Clarke, a former National Security Council counter-terrorism official, had said.

Downing memos deeper than White House lets on

Detroit Free Press

GRANTED, FINDING a way to end the bloodshed in Iraq is at present more pressing than re-examining the rationale that was developed to start the war there more than two years ago. But the so-called Downing Street memos are still too significant to be dismissed as simply old news -- as the White House would like -- or left to historians.

They speak to the credibility of the administration of President Bush, which is telling the American people that significant progress is being made in Iraq and the murderous insurgency there is in its final throes. Meantime, U.S. military leaders say rebel attacks have remained constant at 50-60 a day, and last month was the deadliest for Iraqi civilians since the March 2003 U.S. invasion.

Bush administration's supposed control over reality is starting to crumble

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By Eric Mink

Something is happening here, Bob Dylan wrote 40 years ago in a somewhat different context, but hyperventilating liberals don't seem to know what it really is.

Starting about seven weeks ago, impassioned lefties latched onto some secret British government memos that they regard as smoking-gun evidence of Bush administration deceptions leading up to the war with Iraq. The leaked documents, dating from the spring and summer of 2002, describe discussions about Iraq between top British officials and high-ranking Bush policymakers.

The authenticity of their contents is unchallenged, but even so, the memos only record the Brits' memories and impressions. They are not word-for-word transcripts of their encounters with the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz and others in the Bush power structure.

Cheney Comes Clean

Just kidding. But he does lie with a certain panache:

BLITZER: Did you read the so-called Downing Street memo?

CHENEY: No, I did not.

BLITZER: Well it suggests British officials came here before the war, months before the war and said the administration had already decided to go to war against Saddam Hussein. The intelligence wasn't there, and the memo says it will be fixed around the policy, the intelligence. In other words, they were going to make it up. You were going to make it up as you go along to justify removing Saddam Hussein from power.

You dispute that. I assume you dispute that.

Heads in the Iraqi Sand

Los Angeles Times
June 24, 2005 Friday

Vice President Dick Cheney has never been one to let reality get in the way of his message. With his credibility already strained after it turned out that none of his pre-war assertions about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were true, he is nonetheless still deluded by wishful thinking. A case in point: his recent assertion that increased violence in Iraq indicates the insurgency there is in its "last throes, if you will."

No, we won't, and neither, as it turns out, will the Army's top brass. Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Persian Gulf, essentially said that was nonsense while testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. "I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago," he said, adding that the strength of the insurgency is "about the same" as it was six months ago.

Oh Well That's Alright Then

John Podhoretz tells us in today's New York Post that the Downing Street Minutes are old news, because he, Mr. Podhoretz, was out there urging Bush to ignore international law, the Constitution, and public opinion and start the dang war to eliminate the weapons of mass destruction, BEFORE the meeting on Downing Street. But the DSM actually tell us that the arguments about WMD and terrorism were false excuses for a war, not reasons so strong that they justified a war at all costs. And Podhoretz's having to urge the President on to war doesn't seem the strongest proof that the President's decision to go to war was already public knowledge.

Iraqi PM meets Bush as memo questions grow

By Sam Knight, Times Online

The Prime Minister of Iraq will meet President Bush at the White House today, amid growing unease in Washington over the invasion and the continued presence of US soldiers in Iraq.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari arrived in Washington yesterday and visited wounded American soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Today he will meet Mr Bush at what the White House has described as "a critical time".

"The President looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Jaafari," said Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary. "This meeting does come at a critical time in Iraq's historic transformation."

Can't Find Reporters, But They've Got a Columnist!

The War President
By PAUL KRUGMAN
The New York Times

VIENNA--In this former imperial capital, every square seems to contain a giant statue of a Habsburg on horseback, posing as a conquering hero.

America's founders knew all too well how war appeals to the vanity of rulers and their thirst for glory. That's why they took care to deny presidents the kingly privilege of making war at their own discretion.

But after 9/11 President Bush, with obvious relish, declared himself a "war president." And he kept the nation focused on martial matters by morphing the pursuit of Al Qaeda into a war against Saddam Hussein.

Iraq Occupation: This war can't be won

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD

The questions about U.S. presence in Iraq aren't about winning or losing. The driving factor must be improving, protecting and respecting the lives of the Iraqi people.

Those are people such as Hassan Juma Awad and Faleh Abood Umara, two oil worker union leaders from the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Visiting Seattle with the King County Labor Council yesterday, the two men had no doubt about what the United States can do next to help their country recover from the reign of Saddam Hussein, whom Awad refers to as "a criminal, in capital letters."

Forget You Heard About Those Memos

Published on Thursday, June 23, 2005 by The Free Lance-Star (Fredricksburg, VA)
by Rick Mercier

The smoke has just about cleared following the small brush fire caused by the Downing Street memos, and responsible observers agree that we can ignore them.
Perhaps I shouldn't have said smoke. I didn't mean to imply that the secret British documents are smoking guns that show the Bush administration made up its mind to invade Iraq as early as March 2002 even though the intelligence did not support such action.

These memos certainly aren't smoking guns. In fact, they don't even tell us anything new, and if you had any sense you'd know that, just like you'd know that our leaders choose war only as a last option, that we invaded Iraq because we were attacked first, and that the Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes.

Letter: Vital evidence

Daily Astorian
Link

Bush is a visionary. He apparently had the foresight to anticipate that something like the Downing Street minutes would leak, exposing his early decision and preparations for the Iraq Invasion. There was insufficient legal reason to invade so he exaggerated Iraq’s WMDs: “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

Fixing the facts

Missoula Independent
by Andisheh Nouraee

Memo to Blair: “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.

Anatomy of a Coverup

ZNet | Iraq
by Sanjoy Mahajan; June 23, 2005

On May 1 the London _Sunday Times_ published leaked minutes -- the Downing Street Memo -- of a high-level British cabinet meeting held on 23 July 2002 that discussed contingencies, political and military, for invading Iraq.

In the Cabinet meeting, C [the head of MI6, Richard Dearlove] 'reported on his recent talks in Washington', where 'military action was now seen as inevitable' and 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.' In other words, the books were being cooked to give Bush his war.

The planners assumed 'that the UK would take part in any military action.' So they had to consider the illegality of the war. Unfortunately, 'the Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action.' The Attorney-General dismissed the three possible excuses: 'self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation'. Self-defense couldn't work partly because, the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: 'the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.' How could the government overcome the illegality? The memo, and the _Sunday Times_, quotes this puzzle-solving contribution from Jack Straw:

Washington Post Dot Com Seems to Have All the Talent: Does the Print Edition Need New Editors?

Why the Mainstream Media Is Catching On
Internet Bloggers Push Downing Street Memo Onto the News Agenda

By Jefferson Morley
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, June 23, 2005; 12:20 PM

The Downing Street Memo continues to spread in American political discussion despite efforts to dismiss its significance.

The DSM story, as the top-secret British document it is known on the Internet, has legs because it really represents two stories: an emerging alternative history of how the United States came to attack Iraq and a story of how the New Media has usurped some of the Old Media's power to set the agenda.

Just say Noruba

Arianna Huffington - Arianna Online

06.23.05 - I was thinking a lot over the weekend about the news and about how the news becomes the news, and then I read Jay Rosen's brilliant take on the Downing Street Memo coverage [to read Jay Rosen's whole piece go to huffingtonpost.com]. Rosen elaborates on Josh Marshall's assertion that "news stories have a 24-hour audition on the news stage, and if they don't catch fire in that 24 hours, there's no second chance." Rosen's theory is that blogs have become the news cycle's appeals court, and that the Downing Street Memo story is still alive because it won on appeal. And thank God.

IRAQ WAR MEDIA TRACKING

IRAQ WAR MEDIA TRACKING -- Thanks For Your HelpGrace ReidJune 22, 2005

MEDIA TRACKING TO BRING END TO WAR IN IRAQThanks for your help, KossacksI have been receiving loads of replies on my media tracking project, and some surprising breaks in the US media reporting of the illegal war in Iraq.I have started four blogs for media trackers who want to help in this project.
PURPOSE OF THIS PROJECT
To break through media blackout.  To bring the news to the US, (via the UK, if necessary)  To counterattack falsehood with fact, to expose the illegal war as it was developing and reported in the US.  Ultimately the goal of this project is to bring a speedy end to the war in Iraq through the public becoming more aware of the insidious origins of the illegal war of aggression against Iraq.Pick a target area, and dates to work within (Google lets you search between certain dates) when you get your list, find US sources for stories, then a list of UK stories.THERE ARE FOUR BLOGS YOU CAN POST TO. (e mail me if you want itsgrimm at hotmail dot com)

What to Make of a Memo

Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - Bangor Daily News

"Our goal is not merely to limit Iraq's violations of Security Council resolutions, or to slow down its weapons program. Our goal is to fully and finally remove a real threat to world peace and to America. Hopefully this can be done peacefully. Hopefully we can do this without any military action."
- George W. Bush, October 16, 2002

"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 neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

Limbaugh baselessly suggested Downing Street memo "may be a fake"

Media Matters, June 21, 2005

Syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh suggested that the Downing Street memo "may be a fake" and compared it to the disputed memos used by CBS in its controversial story about President Bush's National Guard service.

From the June 20 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: I purposely haven't talked about this Downing Street memo much because, frankly, a) it didn't interest me and, you know, if it doesn't interest me, I'm not going to talk about it. And the reason it didn't interest me is because it was just another one of these ginned up things by the libs, and it looks like it's got some similarities to Bill Burkett and the forged documents of CBS and Rathergate.

Cindy Sheehan on Hardball

Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of After Downing Street coalition member Gold Star Families for Peace, appeared last night on Hardball on MSNBC.

GREGORY: Welcome back to HARDBALL. I'm David Gregory, in tonight for Chris Matthews.

Sue Russell and Cindy Sheehan have suffered pain and loss in such a personal way because of the Iraq war. Sue Russell's son, Lance Corporal Joshua Doyle (ph) was ambushed while on patrol in Iraq July 19, 2003. His thigh bone was shattered, his sciatic nerve severed. And he was shot through the knee. He is still recuperating from the physical and emotional trauma of that attack.

GOOGLE ZEITGEIST

Lexington Herald Leader
________________________________________
Google.com gainers
1. Batman Begins: Summer blockbuster had big opening last weekend.
2. Christian Bale: Newest Batman star portrays Bruce Wayne and his alter ego.
3. U.S. Open: Michael Campbell won the annual golf competition Sunday.
4. Earthquake: Mid-size quakes rocked Japan and Northern California on Sunday.
5. Tom Cruise: War of the Worlds star was doused with a water gun at the London premiere Monday.
6. Karla Homolka: Notorious female convict completed 12-year sentence for manslaughter, is set to leave Canadian prison shortly.

The news, please, not celebrity junk

Arizona Republic
Jun. 23, 2005 12:00 AM
I would like the news media, both print and electronic, to stop insulting my intelligence and please provide some real news.

I do not care about Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton or Tom Cruise. I do not care about car chases in California. I have heard all I want to hear about this week's unfortunate young blond woman who has disappeared.

I would like to know about the failing status of a number of pension funds and the government guarantee of those funds. I would like to know more about Iraq than just a body count or a video of a shootout. I would like to know about our balance of trade and about our lack of a national energy policy. I would like to know more about the Downing Street memo.

Downing Street memo turns eyes to war’s start

The Billings Outpost (Montana)
By CATHY SIEGNER

Regardless of your opinion about George W. Bush or whether the United States should have invaded Iraq or whether American soldiers should still be fighting and dying there now, emergence of the so-called “Downing Street Memo

'Downing Street memo': The second draft of history

Posted on Mon, Jun. 20, 2005
By PAUL WALDMAN
Philadelphia Daily News

FOR THE LAST month, newspapers large and small across the country have featured mentions of the "Downing Street memo," the British document from July 2002 describing meetings between British and American officials about Iraq.

"Military action was now seen as inevitable," reads the memo, first revealed in the Times of London on May 1. "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

But most of these mentions in American papers weren't news stories. They were letters to the editor asking why there haven't been more news stories.

Blinded by the light at the end of the tunnel

The American public is increasingly disillusioned by the Iraq war, and Bush's triumphalism only makes things worse

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday June 23, 2005
The Guardian

On June 21, network news reported that the Pentagon had claimed that 47 enemy operatives had been killed in Operation Spear in western Iraq. Last month, the Pentagon declared 125 had been killed in Operation Matador, near the Syrian border. "We don't do body counts on other people," Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defence, stated in November 2003.
On January 29 this year, the day before the Iraqi election, President Bush announced that it was the "turning point". On May 2 2003, he stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln behind a banner saying "Mission Accomplished" and the next day proclaimed that the "mission is completed". On June 2 this year, he declared: "Our mission is clear there, as well, and that is to train the Iraqis so they can do the fighting."

Yucking It Up In the Post

By Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher
Posted on June 21, 2005, Printed on June 22, 2005
http://www.alternet.org/story/22278/

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, in a column on Friday, suggested that the congressional forum the previous day on the Downing Street memos was something of a joke. In his opening sentence he declared that House Democrats "took a trip to the land of make-believe" in pretending that the basement conference room was actually a real hearing room, even importing a few American flags to make it look more official.

Oddly, he seem less interested in the far more serious "make-believe" that inspired the basement session: the administration's fake case for WMDs in Iraq that has already led to the deaths of over 1,700 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. No, Milbank used the valuable real estate of the Post -- its only coverage of the event -- to mock Rep. John Conyers, who arranged the meeting, and his "hearty band of playmates."

Downing Street Is For Liars

Why isn't the media screaming about the latest proofs of Bush's war scams? Don't you know?
- By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

This is the white-hot question right now gushing forth from the Far Left, from progressive blogs and liberal patriots and blue staters and angry anti-Bushers alike, and it is like a plea, a rallying call, an indignant stomp of deep frustration. It is this:

Why is the major American media not swarming all over the Downing Street Memos thing? Why is the entire nation not just appalled and disgusted and aghast at finding seemingly irrefutable proofs about what we all already knew, which is that BushCo planned to invade Iraq long before 9/11 and needed to find a way to justify it?

Secret admirers: The Bushes and the Washington Post

Part 1 of a two part-series
Secret admirers: The Bushes and the Washington Post

By Michael Hasty
Online Journal Contributing Writer

February 5, 2004—Ever since the days of the Watergate scandal, when a series of front-page articles by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, the Post has had a reputation among many Americans as one of the elite bastions of the "liberal media."

This opinion is especially prevalent among conservatives, who also fault the Post for its publication (along with that other "liberal" icon, The New York Times) of the Pentagon Papers—an action they correctly view as having made a major contribution to undermining domestic support for the war in Vietnam. During the '70s, there was an angry conservative boycott of the paper in the Washington, DC, area, with "I Don't Believe the Post" bumper stickers appearing on cars and WP vending boxes.

OTHER VOICES: The Downing Street memos

Detroit Free Press
June 22, 2005

Excerpts of commentary on the Downing Street memos:

Another confidential British memo has surfaced to fan fresh criticism about the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war. This time, the issue is whether the Bush administration ignored warnings to plan for the war's complicated aftermath. ...

The force of the British memo comes from the clarity of its language. It was written July 21, 2002, and its warning -- that "a postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise" -- now looks prophetic. ...

A White House spokesman said the memo was off base. "There was significant postwar planning," said David Almacy. "More importantly, the memo in question was written eight months before the war began; there was significant postwar planning in the time that elapsed." ...

Americans inching closer to a reckoning

ROBERT STEINBACK
DOWNING STREET MEMO
The Miami Herald

Do you want to know?

That's the only popular division that matters in the United States today: Those who want to determine once and for all if President Bush knowingly ''fixed the facts'' regarding Iraq, thereby misleading Congress and the American people into supporting an unnecessary war, and those who will cover their ears and hum loudly in order to maintain their belief that Bush and his advisors remain above reproach.

You're in one camp or the other. Either you want to know if you've been lied to, or you don't.

The American public is inching tentatively toward a reckoning unlike any this nation has ever experienced. The oh-so-clever Bush administration strategists and their quasi-media acolytes, who have kept the reckoning at bay with a deft combination of we're-at-war patriotic fervor and fear-the-evil-liberals rhetoric, are running out of parlor tricks.

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