Downing Street's Smoking Gun
June 13, 2005
Often since the election the question has been asked: Is there any scandal, any revelation of lying, corruption, or just plain dangerous policy, that could bring down this Administration or motivate voters to deliver a sound rebuke at the polls ( the next chance being at the midterm elections for Congress in 2006)?
Outrage after outrage emerges from the Bush White House. Maybe part of the problem is that people expect the President to speak in thin catch-phrases, and are not surprised to learn that his words have no connection to the truth. They may even let him off the hook, thinking he's a tough, likable guy who doesn't have such a firm grasp on the details of his own policies.
In the lead-up to the Iraq invasion there were many plainly false justifications for going to war. The President and his spokesmen repeatedly implied a connection between 9-11 and Iraq, for example. There were the manipulative references to "mushroom clouds." While many Americans, in public opinion polls, showed confusion about the Iraq/9-11 connection and whether Saddam posed a direct threat to the U.S., it's not like the relevant information wasn't widely available.
So now we get the Downing Street memo, a smoking gun if ever there was one. Read the short, clear text on the excellent website http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/.
As the times of London reported on May 1, the memo--minutes of a secret meeting of top British officials held on July 23, 2002, long before the invasion of Iraq the following March--states: "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 memo makes it perfectly clear that Tony Blair and his cabinet knew that the United States was manufacturing a justification for war with Iraq, "fixing" intelligence, misleading the public, determined to get the result they wanted.
Most compelling on the downingstreetmemo.com website, aside from the memo itself, are the side-by-side comparisons of what the memo says and concurrent quotes from President Bush asserting the opposite of what the facts really showed. ("I've not made up our mind about military action," "We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq," etc.)
And then there is the British government's assessment that "there was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."
Well, we are living in the aftermath today. Chaos, anarchy, hardening hatred of the United States, and more than 1.680 U.S. soldiers and untold tens of thousands of Iraqis dead.
Despite the spin and the intimidation campaigns by the Bush Administration, the American public is largely disapproving of the way things are going in Iraq, and of this Administration in general. They are also, according to the polls, skeptical of the Democrats' ability to provide a better alternative.
Making sure that people see the facts, and hammering home the point that the lies we were told led us to the mess we're in now, has got to be part of the solution.