Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Downing Street Memo Has Had Babies!

That would be a wingnutty and sweet way of telling you that there are now many such memos, all written in 2002 and all showing that George Bush lied. Now I can finally call lying lying. This weekend the Washington Post wrote:

A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a "protracted and costly" postwar occupation of that country.

The eight-page memo, written in advance of a July 23, 2002, Downing Street meeting on Iraq, provides new insights into how senior British officials saw a Bush administration decision to go to war as inevitable, and realized more clearly than their American counterparts the potential for the post-invasion instability that continues to plague Iraq.

In its introduction, the memo "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action" notes that U.S. "military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace," but adds that "little thought" has been given to, among other things, "the aftermath and how to shape it."
The "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," said the memo -- an assertion attributed to the then-chief of British intelligence, and denied by U.S. officials and by Blair at a news conference with Bush last week in Washington. Democrats in Congress led by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), however, have scheduled an unofficial hearing on the matter for Thursday.

Now, disclosure of the memo written in advance of that meeting -- and other British documents recently made public -- show that Blair's aides were not just concerned about Washington's justifications for invasion but also believed the Bush team lacked understanding of what could happen in the aftermath.

In a section titled "Benefits/Risks," the July 21 memo states, "Even with a legal base and a viable military plan, we would still need to ensure that the benefits of action outweigh the risks."

Saying that "we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective," the memo's authors point out, "A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." The authors add, "As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."

You can see a timeline of the events that led to the war and the associated memos here.

Some have said (this is how it is done on Fox News: "some have said") that none of this matters at all because people were talking about these kinds of possibilities all along. Including one Echidne of the snakes. But of course this matters. The talk was idle, based on hypotheses and guesses. Now we have evidence:

That memo and other internal British government documents were originally obtained by Michael Smith, who writes for the London Sunday Times. Excerpts were made available to The Washington Post, and the material was confirmed as authentic by British sources who sought anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.

We have evidence to show that the Bush administration lied and that it was inept and never bothered to prepare for the aftermath of the war (which they probably saw as a computer game type event). Here are some of the things that we now have proof of:

British Knew Iraqi WMD Were Not a Threat: "There is no greater threat now that [Saddam] will use WMD than there has been in recent years, so continuing containment is an option." [Iraq: Options Paper]

Evidence Did Not Show Much Advance In Iraq's Weapons Programs: "Even the best survey of Iraq's WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years on [the] nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts: the programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up." [Ricketts Paper, 3/22/02]

Evidence Was Thin on Iraq/Al Qaeda Ties: "US is scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al [Qaida] is so far frankly unconvincing." [Ricketts Paper, 3/22/02]

"No Credible Evidence" On Iraq/Al Qaeda Link: "There has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL and Al Qaida." [Straw Paper, 3/25/02]

Wolfowitz Knew Supposed Iraq/Al Qaeda Link Was Weak: Wolfowitz said that "there might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11, and Iraqi intelligence (did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting?)." [Meyer Paper, 3/18/02]

Representative John Conyers will hold a hearing and a rally on these memos this coming Thursday. Information is available on www.afterdowningstreet.org.