Friday, June 03, 2005
On May 1 the London Sunday Times published a leaked document referred to as "The Downing Street Memo" (later noted to more accurately be termed "minutes"). The document seems to clearly show that the purpose of that meeting - held on July 23, 2002 - was to plan for the invasion of Iraq, and specifically states (referring to Washington) that "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."; thus contradicting assertions by the Bush and Blair administrations that they attempted to avoid military action. The document caused quite a stir in the run-up to the British national election, probably contributing to a significant loss of seats in Parliament for the Labour Party, even though Tony Blair was re-elected. But the American press has been remarkably silent on the issues raised by the document. Okay, not "remarkably" - after all there is the Michael Jackson trial to cover!
However, in the last thirty days, despite the absence of any significant press coverage, there have been serious efforts to place this document and its implications directly in front of the American people. Congressman John Conyers has stepped to the forefront in Washington; there are at least two well-done Internet sites devoted to the issue (DowningStreetMemo.com and AfterDowningStreet.org). A wealth of data has been collected at these sites and there are tools to help concerned individuals contact Congress. You can even buy a bumpersticker or t-shirt.
But still there is next to nothing about the Downing Street Minutes in the mainstream American media - yet. That may be about to change. On Wednesday, June 1, Senator John Kerry spoke with the editorial board of the Standard Times and had the following to say:
That leaked secret document, the minutes of a 2002 cabinet meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, says bluntly that Mr. Bush had decided to attack Iraq long before going to Congress with the matter, and that "intelligence was being fixed around the policy."
It caused an uproar in Great Britain and badly hurt Mr. Blair in national elections but went almost unnoticed in the United States.
"When I go back (to Washington) on Monday, I am going to raise the issue," he said of the memo, which has not been disputed by either the British or American governments. "I think it's a stunning, unbelievably simple and understandable statement of the truth and a profoundly important document that raises stunning issues here at home. And it's amazing to me the way it escaped major media discussion. It's not being missed on the Internet, I can tell you that."
He questioned Americans' understanding of the war and the sense that criticism equals disloyalty, saying, "Do you think that Americans if they really understood it would feel that way knowing that on Election Day, 77 percent of Americans who voted for Bush believed that weapons of mass destruction had been found and 77 percent believe Saddam did 9/11? Is there a way for this to break through, ever?"
News of Senator Kerry's statement has spread widely in blogworld, with posts at Light Up the Darkness, Article of Faith, After Downing Street, Rob's Blog, Watching the Watchers, and even a positively-received diary at DailyKos.
Are these the glowing embers that will finally catch into a bright flame?
Iraq Timeline(this is a draft that will be fleshed out as I have time)
- ?? - PNAC draws up plan for dominating the Middle East
- 12/13/2000 - The Gang of 5 declare George W. Bush the winner of the contested U.S. Presidential Election
- 9/11/2001 - September 11th.
- 11/21/2001 - Bush orders Rumsfeld to look at "what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to" (Source: 1).
- 7/23/2002 - The Downing Street meeting from which the minutes were generated.
- 10/?/2002 - Bush declares that he hopes military action will not be necessary. (Source: 1)
- 10/16/2002 - Congress passes the IWR, which gives Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq, only after all diplomatic measures are exhausted.
- 11//2002 - Mid-Term elections. (note that the vote on IWR is forced just before the elections, and members up for re-election were pressured to vote "yes" or be tarred as "unpatriotic" to their constituents).
- 11/8/2002 - UN Security Council passes Resolution 1441, restarting the weapons inspection program in Iraq.
- 3/19/2003 - U.S. Invades Iraq.
Related Links / References (more will be added as I find them)
- Mark Danner, The Secret Way to War. (May 12, 2005). New York Review of Books, 52 (10), June 9, 2005.
- Original News story in the London Sunday Times
- Iraq War Resolution (dkosopedia entry)
- Iraq War Timeline by Wage Peace
- Iraq War timeline by Infoplease