Thursday, June 16, 2005

Indymedia on the Downing Street Memo

As evidence exposing the dung heap of deception used by the Bush administration to mislead us into war continues to mount, no one in public life is doing more to seek accountability from the president than U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr.
"The truth is important," Conyers says. "And that's what we're looking for -- the truth."
The Detroit Democrat wants answers from the president, and a growing number of people are joining Conyers in his quest. This Thursday, following a hearing on the issue, he plans to deliver to the White House a petition signed by more than 500,000 people demanding that Bush come clean on the secret plans that brought this country to war.
That letter is a direct result of the so-called Downing Street Memo, first exposed by London's Sunday Times on May 1. Written seven months before the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq, the memo reveals that the head of British intelligence warned Prime Minister Tony Blair in July 2002 that, with the Bush administration determined to seek a military solution to the problem of Saddam Hussein, "intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy."
Despite the memo's explosive nature, the U.S. media virtually ignored it at first. As Salon’s Eric Boehlert recently reported, "ombudsmen for The New York Times, The Washington Post and National Public Radio have all gone on record admonishing their own news organizations for the slow-footed responses to the memo."
"In an age of instant communications," Boehlert wrote, "the American mainstream media has taken an exceedingly long time -- as if news of the memo had traveled by vessel across the Atlantic Ocean -- to report on the leaked document. Nor has it considered its grave implications -- namely that President Bush lied to the American people and Congress during the run-up to the war with Iraq when he insisted over and over again that war was his administration’s last option."

The above is from Curt Guyette's "Lies and Consequences: Detroit Rep. John Conyers Leads Attempts to Hold George Bush accountable for War Deception" (Metro Times Detroit) and Veronica e-mailed it to be highlighted for the Indymedia Roundup.

Next, Ruth and her granddaughter Tracey e-mailed to highlight Patrick Mulvaney's "What's the Deal With the Downing Street Memo?" (Village Voice). They note that it contains a link to an article on the Downing Street Memo from The Guardian, written by The Guardian. So that's one article the paper did on it. From Mulvaney's article:

Today on Capitol Hill, Democratic representatives Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and John Conyers of Michigan will lead a hearing on the so-called Downing Street Memo—minutes from a British leadership meeting that suggest the Bush administration first decided to go to war in Iraq and then built a case for it later.
In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Jackson Lee said the public needs to understand what happened. "This is just the beginning. I look to 2002 and the names many of us were called for opposing the war in Iraq, and then I look at where we are today," she said. "If this is to meet the test of history, we have to have a comprehensive answer to what happened."
The Memo has been big, big news in Britain, but has received little attention in the U.S. What follows is a primer on the Memo and its implications.

On July 23, 2002, British prime minister Tony Blair met with several of his top advisers to discuss plans for the future concerning the United States, Iraq, and the United Nations. The minutes from that meeting were marked "secret and strictly confidential." But on May 1, in the heat of Blair's campaign for re-election, those minutes--which have come to be known as the Downing Street Memo--surfaced in The Times of London.

Lyle e-mails to steer us to Jude's "A Damning Statement and A History Lesson:"

To me, the quote below is the most "telling" statement in the UK Cabinet Office Paper titled: "Conditions for Military Action." (Which showed that the U.S. had no post-war plan). Who knows if there may have been something even more "telling?" The paper, produced by the Cabinet Office on July 21, 2002, is incomplete because the last page is missing.
17. In the absence of UN authorisation, there will be problems in securing the support of NATO and EU partners. Australia would be likely to participate on the same basis as the UK. France might be prepared to take part if she saw military action as inevitable. Russia and China, seeking to improve their US relations, might set aside their misgivings if sufficient attention were paid to their legal and economic concerns. Probably the best we could expect from the region would be neutrality. The US is likely to restrain Israel from taking part in military action. In practice, much of the international community would find it difficult to stand in the way of the determined course of the US hegemon. However, the greater the international support, the greater the prospects of success.

So, there you have it - Australia and the UK owe the US; France might go along if she feels that she has no other choice; Russia and China might be "bought" for their cooperation; the U.S. is bound and determined; the writing's on the wall. Amen.

Use the link to continue reading. Lyle also wanted it noted that Jude and Iddybud got a mention on CNN. Congratulations to Jude on that. Now we need to figure out to get her booked on Air America.

Dallas e-mails Judy Munro-Leighton's "Questions Prompted by the Downing Street Memo" (BuzzFlash):

As a result, only Democrats will attend Conyers' hearing on Thursday. No Republicans will attend this session, which will address the most important question of our time--when and why did Bush and Blair decide to invade Iraq? Conyers' hearing will focus on the five questions that he and 89 Members of Congress submitted to President Bush more than six weeks ago. To date, Bush has not responded to Conyers or answered these questions prompted by the Downing Street Memo:
1. Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?

2. Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?
3. Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
4. At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
5. Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

Belinda e-mails to note David Sirota's "The Real Question About the Downing Street Memos" (Sirota blog):

In all honesty, the question has never been whether the President misled Congress and the public about when he decided to go to war, even though the media pathetically refused to admit that. The question is why the people who were demanding answers about these lies were marginalized by the media and the political establishment before the war, when the conflict might have been prevented. The other question is whether the media will ultimately marginalize the people who are now demanding the Bush administration answer for its dishonesty, and provide Congress with concrete details about when our troops are coming home.

Use link to go to the In These Times article or click here to continue reading Sirota's post. [And note, that's not the best part. Check out the link. The section Belinda wanted highlighted keeps turning the entire excerpt into a link -- every word -- and then it starts blending into the excerpt below.]

Trisha directs us to corrente and Lambert's "Downing Street Memo: A real reporter shows how it's done :"

Get up off your knees, Judy! And Howie—stop looking at your watch!WaPo, to its credit, posted an online interview with Michael Smith, the reporter who broke the Downing Street Memo story. Here are the parts I found most interesting, but you should read the whole thing. It's an outsider's perspective (Smith says he is "not some mealy-mouthed left-wing apologist") on the surreality-based community that is DC under Bush these days:
[SMITH:] It is one thing for the New York Times or The Washington Post to say that we were being told that the intelligence was being fixed by sources inside the CIA or Pentagon or the NSC and quite another to have documentary confirmation in the form of the minutes of a key meeting [i.e., the Downing Street Memo] with the Prime Minister's office. Think of it this way, all the key players were there. This was the equivalent of an NSC meeting, with the President, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, George Tenet, and Tommy Franks all there. They say the evidence against Saddam Hussein is thin, the Brits think regime change is illegal under international law so we are going to have to go to the U.N. to get an ultimatum, not as a way of averting war but as an excuse to make the war legal, and oh by the way we aren't preparing for what happens after and no-one has the faintest idea what Iraq will be like after a war. Not reportable, are you kidding me?

Ty e-mails to note Atrios' "Opening Move:"

There are/were two factions in the Democratic party - those who supported the Iraq war and those who didn't. Most of the Iraq war supporters have been unwilling to admit their error, and some like Lieberman are fully on board with The Tinkerbell Strategy. However, "hawks," the ones who get treated as "serious" and are called on to the gab fests to give the Democratic views on foreign policy have never been able to craft a position or a policy which made any sense or had any political traction - largely because at this stage the only plan is hope. As a consequence there has really been a complete leadership vacuum on Iraq (on the Republican side, too, as Cuckoo Bananas hasn't exactly been displaying any either).Now, for better or for worse, the anti-war faction is going to step up. They will be marginalized and largely ignored by the media, but they will have what the hawk faction doesn't have and probably can't - a clear message and position.I don't know what the right politics are and I don't know what the right policies are, really, but the question now is whether the rest of the Democrats, those "centrists" and "hawks" start to tear the party apart over this issue by distancing themselves from the dirty hippies. There was a leadership vacuum, and now it might be filled.
(Washington, D.C.) - Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) has informed Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) that she and Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. John Conyers, and Rep. John Lewis are leading a newly formed Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus, with 41 members as of today.

Elaine e-mails to note Amanda's "Keep on flogging the Downing Street Memo" (Pandagon):

But you aren't going to get better than the Downing Street Memo, where everything you need to know is right there in the document. The intelligence was fixed. Repeat it until it sinks in. Flaunt it until people get it. The intelligence was fixed.
Blogs to read to get the whole story:
Shakespeare's Sister, Norbizness, the Heretik, and the Big Brass Alliance. And American Street gives credit to the bloggers.
This is worse than Watergate. Thanks to those who aren't turning the heat down until this is treated as worse than Watergate.

Randy e-mails to note Joseph's "The road to Downing Street goes through the basement" (Cannonfire):

The mainstream press may be running out of reasons to avoid this story. Check out the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "Editorial: Fig leaf for war/Paper indicates U.N. was misled":
Perhaps readers will recall that Bush's nominee for U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, recently was accused of orchestrating the 2002 ouster of Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, a U.N. agency. Why did Bolton want Bustani replaced? Because Bustani was aggressively seeking to reinsert chemical weapons inspectors into Iraq. The conclusion of many observers is that the United States did not want inspectors in Iraq because it undercut the U.S. case for an invasion.Many Bush critics accused him of "using" the United Nations to justify war, rather than truly working to avoid military conflict. But they were naturally suspect because they oppose U.S. policy. The British briefing paper is especially significant because it comes from a government that is not only astute, but is also quite friendly to Bush's objective of invading Iraq. The unavoidable conclusion is that both British and American citizens were duped into hoping that the United Nations would make such a conflict unnecessary. In fact, Britain eagerly and the United States reluctantly went to the United Nations to get a fig leaf of respectability for a war on which they had already decided.In the end, the Security Council refused to play its role, arguing that the weapons inspectors needed more time (actually ample time) to complete their mission. Then the United States threw up its hands, branded Security Council members a bunch of hand-wringing pansies, and went to war. As the British briefing paper makes clear, that was pre-ordained.

Pru e-mails to note Blairy England's "Downing Street's Deep Throat:"

Left wing bloggers celebrated at the publishing of the first front page story in the Washington Post about the memos.
And the Post declared that Downing Street now has a Deep Throat, a reference to the recently unmasked famous Watergate informant, FBI second-in-command Mark Felt.The Post said a high level official "seems to have taken up a mission of helping an investigative reporter probe allegations of misconduct and cover-up."Meanwhile in England the memos are not getting onto the BBC
Why not?

Pru adds that she's not seeing the reporting on this that we seem to think is going on. (Pru lives in England.) She says Ruth was correct to note that "the 'myth' of this getting huge play here is a myth when it comes to most of our publications and broadcasts."

Robert e-mails to note Luke's "corrupt little defense:"

* wapo ed: "Bloggers have demanded to know why "the mainstream media" have not paid more attention to (thememo). Though we can't speak for The Post's news department, the answer appears obvious: The memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration's prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002." LINKthis answer is bulls**t. while it might be valid to argue that theres nothing particularly new in the memo, its not valid to argue that therefore it isnt news. thats simply disingenuous. the story was demonstrably 'news' because the TImes A1'd the story a few days before the election, yet the media here virtually didnt even mention it, even in passing, even in discussing the brit election. so the wapo team is flat-out lying. heres a question - how many stories in the last year have hit the front page of the SundayTimes about iraq but got near-zero attention in the US?
not very f**king many. and this one involved the egadministration directly. and if it didnt qualify as amnews originally, then it certainly qualified once conyers got 90 sigs on his letter to investigate the claims. surely that is news, even if you think its bonkers. even your own f**king ombudsman knows that. as does the nyt's. and theyve both stated it publicly. and both of them actually seem a bit alarmed by it to be frank. remember, we arent arguing about the degree of the coverage, we're talking about the *existence* of their coverage. for a month. and here they are indignantly snorting: "Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002."

KeShawn e-mails to note Chris' "Truth and Consequences" (Interesting Times):

It isn't the revelations of torture and war mongering that are endangering the United States. It is the acts of torture and war mongering that are endangering the United States. It is the approval of acts of torture and war mongering that are endangering the United States. Responsibility for the consequences of an act comes from committing the act, not the revelation of the act. It is self-serving naivete (or worse) that leads people to think that remaining silent about acts of torture and warmongering are the true signs of patriotism.
But then, respond the critics of the critics, even if the responsibility lies with those who commit the acts, doesn't the act of revealing these acts also bear with it a responsibility for the consequences? Wouldn't it be better to just "move on" and not risk the consequences that will inevitably come from the revelation of bad behavior?
No, and there are several reasons why:
The information will get out anyway. Even if there is no full blown press media storm and/or Congressional investigation with the revelation of "smoking guns"?, the stories about what is happening still manage to get out. Our enemies are incredibly media savvy. They know how to find out about this stuff. They know how to use google just as well as we do. So avoiding talking about these acts will not stop the consequences. At best it will just delay them.
The information that inevitably leaks out comes through less reliable sources, therefore it is inevitable that that information will be distorted and appear even worse then it actually is. A negative opinion of the United States and its leadership will be the ground upon which the seeds of rumor will blossom into the most outrageous claims of attrocities. And you don't have to be a terrorist to be susceptable to this. The average citizen of the world already has the necessary negative opinion. By trying to clamp down on revelations of these acts out of some misguided notion of protecting us from the consequences we are only encouraging the wildest of speculations. It is better to get the true facts out in front of the ordinary citizens of the world before the wild facts grow like weeds in their place.
Those who comitted these acts and approved the committing of these acts cannot be removed from their positions of authority without at least a partial revelation of the reasons for their removal. And if they are not removed then they will do it again. And when they do it again they just further damage the reputation of the United States. You don't leave a criminal in charge of your finances just because revealing that a criminal was in charge of your finances might damage your reputation.
Finally, torture and war mongering are wrong. They are evil. A moral nation does not allow people to represent them who commit such acts. The failure to remove them is the approval of their acts and thus the guilt for those acts becomes the shared responsibility of all who want to bury the truth. Do we want to be accessories to evil?

In Dallas e-mails to note Ron's "Misleading & Lying" (Why Are We Back In Iraq?):

(hat tip to Atrios)
MSNBC poll (
Do you believe President Bush misled the nation in order to go to war with Iraq?
As of 10:50 PM, there are 10,967 responses: 94% voted yes while 6% must have misunderstood the question.
(hat tip to
The Raw Story)
US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war

Rod notes that Kat's talking about it in terms of history and in terms of how it happened in "History Before Our Eyes and Ears" (Kat's Korner):

So I'm really excited that the word got out on Pacifica broadcasting the hearing live. I can't imagine anything more dull than sitting in front of the TV. I'm too nervous and mobile to sit and watch TV. But I could listen to the hearing and walk around the place doing what I needed to do (the usual daily nonsense like dusting, et al) and take part in hearing history live.
I hope that some of the people who made a point to check out Pacifica today will remember that it gave them live coverage and think to check it out again.
There is a clampdown going on and I think it's really important that we support the independent media that's refused to take part in the clampdown. That means radio, blogs, alternatives, web sites. Everyone's learned of it from some place. For me, it was at The Third Estate Sunday Review. The mainstream failed us. So make a point to give props to the sources who provided you with the information you needed.
I'm worried, everyone here is, that when the papers get tossed tomorrow morning, we'll find either nothing on the hearing or we'll get snide and snarky from the likes of little junior Tom Zeller in the New York Timid.
But I think a difference was made today and that's another reason I was excited when I got knocked off the Pacifica stream. That so many people were listening, making a point in their day to hear some truth that they couldn't get in a lot of other places speaks highly of the number of people who are paying attention to this issue.

Keesha notes that Folding Star's addressing the meaning of today in "A Winding Road):

Today should be just the start of we the people demanding answers. The cry needs to grow louder and stronger with each and every passing day. We owe this much to the over 1,700 American men and women who've given their lives in Iraq, not to mention the countless more who've been wounded and the many thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children who have died.

Rachel e-mails to note Rebecca's "how will today's hearing play in the press?" (sex and politics and screeds and attitude):

so what do i think is going to happen, that was wally's question?
what do i think will happen. i think the bully boy will hold a press conference/photo op tomorrow afternoon. i think it will be about nothing. i think he will kiss ass to the reporters who will be happy to laugh with him (as ray mcgovern noted in today's hearing) and that the corporate media will bury the story.
but i don't think it matters in a way because i think that this is a snow ball that's gathering and gathering with each day. i think people who knew nothing about it today got the basics and then some from watching it on c-span. i think word traveled despite the corporate media and that it will continue to travel. it's really like we've become a 3rd world nation and have to depend upon 1 another to pass things along. but that's okay because we are strong and resilient enough to do that.
say for every 10 who already knew about the downing street memo, 1 new person found out today as a result of c-span or some other outlet. that's fine. if the corporate media won't get the story out we will. it's like the shampoo commercial 'and they'll tell 1 person, and they'll tell 1 person, and they'll tell 1 person and so on and so on . . .'
the corporate media demonstrated that they weren't interested in balance. to them, there was only 1 side of this story, the side that they jeered at and ignored. look how far we came without them today. we can go even further.i'd love to wake up tomorrow and have it be on all the morning news shows. that'd be great. but i never underestimate the corporate media's ability to defocus. so i'm preparing for that and remembering we didn't need them before and we can continue this without them. it will be hard work but we're hard workers.

Liang e-mails to note Anne's "Because I Do Think, Sometimes" (Peevish...I'm Just Saying)
because "this get's to why the minutes are important in the first place." From Amanda's post:

But where is it written that it's our choice to pick a country we don't like and to decide to turn it into a battleground? What gives us the right?
Nothing gives us the right, okay? This invasion was unconscionable.
The Iraqi people weren't consulted. They didn't get a vote. They don't have a choice. And they're dying by the thousands.
We had the option. We had a choice. And we chose to invade their country and kill tens of thousands of them.
It's just wrong.

Cedric e-mails to note Kos' "Training Democrats to do the right thing."

Cedric: I have a feeling Downing Street Memo will be spotlighted in some form tonight. If it is, I'd like to note this because although it's not about the minutes, it does go to the power shift that's ongoing.

From Daily Kos:

Things have changed, and they'll keep improving for the better. We're increasingly able to provide cover for courageous Democrats when barraged by the Right Wing Noise Machine, while punishing those who act against the people's interests.
Many Democrats -- especially those that act hurt when faced with a barrage from our side -- don't realize that the rules are changing. We reward the courageous, and punish those too comfortable in the minority.
And as our media machine grows, we'll soon be able to take the fight to the enemy. And then things will change some more.

From Eugene Weekly, Portland e-mails this news item from their news roundup which we'll close with (on a hopeful note):

The UO law school is now offering an interdisciplinary master's degree in conflict and dispute resolution (CDR). Although more than 80 U.S. colleges and universities — including PSU — offer graduate degrees in conflict resolution studies, the UO is the second institution in the nation to house the program in a law school. The first was Pepperdine University in California.
"It's a big development for our community to have this," says Jane Gordon, Knight Law School associate dean of student and program affairs.
The CDR program evolved from the law school's Appropriate Dispute Resolution Program, founded in 2000. U.S. News and World Report ranked the UO ADR program as the nation's fourth best public conflict resolution program for 2006.
Gordon says that the CDR interdisciplinary master's program is unique because it will emphasize both theoretical and practical skills, including hands-on practice and classes in mediation and negotiation. "Though the world seems always to be full of conflict, there seems to be less focus on resolutions," Gordon says. "We recognize the need for people to learn what different disciplines can teach about it."
A master's degree in conflict and dispute resolution can lead to careers in education, government, health services and human resources, among others, Gordon says.
The first group of students will enter the CDR program in fall 2005, and the law school is still accepting applicants. For more information, visit — Kera Abraham

The e-mail address for this site is

[Note: This post has been corrected. My apologies to Anne of Peevish...I'm Just Saying. I called her "Amanda"by mistake. ]