Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Just before the British elections, on May 1, 2005, The Times of London published a classified memo which reflected a meeting between British and American officials concerning Iraq. The memo is dated July 23, 2002, and occurred while the UN Weapons Inspectors were still trying to do their jobs in Baghdad.

This memo served as a kind of ‘minutes’ of the meeting:

C 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. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action. (Emphasis added)

The entire memo is a fascinating read on just how the British and US governments colluded in justifying the military action taken months later. Even more fascinating (because more educational) is the exegesis of the memo provided here by an ex-CIA employee. Ray McGovern served 27 years as a CIA analyst.

In emotionless English, Dearlove tells Blair and the others that President Bush has decided to remove Saddam Hussein by launching a war that is to be "justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction." Period. What about the intelligence? Dearlove adds matter-of-factly, "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."

At this point, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw confirms that Bush has decided on war, but notes that stitching together justification would be a challenge, since "the case was thin." Straw noted that Saddam was not threatening his neighbors and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.

In the following months, "the case" would be buttressed by a well-honed U.S.-U.K. intelligence-turned-propaganda-machine. The argument would be made "solid" enough to win endorsement from Congress and Parliament.

Actually, politicization is far too mild a word for what happened. The intelligence was not simply mistaken; it was manufactured, with the president of the United States awarding foreman George Tenet the Medal of Freedom for his role in helping supervise the deceit. The British documents make clear that this was not a mere case of "leaning forward" in analyzing the intelligence, but rather mass deception—an order of magnitude more serious. No other conclusion is now possible.

So, that memo was written July 23, 2002. Presumably the meeting being described occured some time before then, perhaps a week before. It's interesting to recall just what was happening at the UN just prior to the mid-July, and then what happened from July, 2002 until the start of Shock and Awe.

A wonderful and complete time line can be found here

Iraq, knowing full well the US intentions to attack, capitulated a step at a time to each of the UN Security Council demands. The US response to the capitulation was always "that's not enough." All of this culminated in the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But invading Iraq was clearly on this Administration's mind long before July, 2002. Testifying before the 9/11 Commission, Richard Clark, recognized as an expert on terrorism by President George H.W. Bush, in whose administration he served, made it clear that Bush wanted to go after Saddam on September 12, 2001. The text of his CBS interview after that testimony is here.

"The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

"He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."

Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'

Now, I think it fairly clear that the release of the damning British memo so close to the British elections was a calculated attempt to weaken, if not destroy, Tony Blair, and it appears to have been successful. And, to be fair, it is entirely possible that this kind of information simply wasn't accessible in this country to the mainstream media before the November,2004 election. It is available now, and has been since May 1, 2005. Today is May 11. Other than blogs and a brief article or two internet sites, it still hasn't been publicized in this country.

The silence is telling.

UPDATE (I hate when this happens):

Well, FINALLY SOMEBODY commented on the British memo. Interestingly, the thrust of the article is not the contents of the memo, but the fact that some Democrats wrote the President and asked him about the contents, but CNN still left enough in the article that the right questions can be inferred:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Eighty-nine Democratic members of the U.S. Congress last week sent President George W. Bush a letter asking for explanation of a secret British memo that said "intelligence and facts were being fixed" to support the Iraq war in mid-2002 -- well before the president brought the issue to Congress for approval.


Blogger DominoLady said...

I've been following this and finally did a search today in the NYT and it looks like it has been 'mentioned' there, in 2 articles at the NYT Foreign Desk by Alan Cowley. I don't have a paid subscription so I could not read them, but the articles were printed April 28 and 29, 2005.

9:17 AM  

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