Thursday, June 16, 2005

Holy Crap, More Fodder!, or Downing 3: The Reckoning

Just as I’m bitching about the media covering Downing Street, here comes another bombshell! Apparently not satisfied with how the Downing Street Memos are being ignored, out own British Deep Throat has released a crapload more documents. This is high-level stuff; Cabinet Office papers, a memo from the Foreign Secretary to the PM... it blew my fucking socks off.

According to MSNBC , “The memos were first obtained by Michael Smith, a London-based reporter who previously wrote for The Daily Telegraph and now works for the Sunday Times of London. Smith told NEWSWEEK he obtained a first batch of six documents last summer when he still worked for the Telegraph from a source inside the British government who he could not otherwise identify. On the advice of the Telegraph’s lawyers, the paper had a secretary retype the documents verbatim on separate paper—then returned the originals to his source. Smith received another three documents when he went to work for the Sunday Times.”

I'm guessing this is coming from a reasonably high-up civil servant in the Foreign Office, namely, someone with access to Cabinet Office/JIC documents as well as letters from ambassadors and FO ministers. The FO is most likely body to be pissed off with the Iraq situation, from what I understand. I think that at a large chunk of upper-tier Brits are probably pissed that Bush went into Iraq without a significant coalition and with Saddam completely giving into inspections. It's not surprising at all that we're seeing such high-level leaks, especially after Bush had the gall to think he could get away with saying war was a last option. These all clearly spell out that war was the only option. They prove that, while Bush said war was our last option, the truth was there was no other possible alternative.

It seems clear that intelligence was poor in regards to what Saddam was doing and it appears that they knew his nuclear program wasn't going anywhere. At the very least, they knew Iran was a bigger threat and that they had to somehow convince the public otherwise. A lot of the convincing was done by playing on the fear that Saddam had an advanced nuclear program and that he was an imminent threat.

The 9/11 and terrorism connections were clearly the weakest part of the case and it was known that these links were weak. The memos claim that the US was "scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and AL Qaeda". Why were we scrambling? That can only mean we didn't have a case in March, 2002. One of the main links was already cast doubt on but on 12/9/01, Cheney said the Prague meeting was "pretty well confirmed". Yeah, right. The Meyer memo says: "There might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague". There are some serious inconsistencies if you look at what we were saying in public and what officials were saying to each other.

All I know is that it’s about damned time this tattered rug of lies came undone.

The memos can be seen at the sites below, and I’ve offered my own mini-capsule of the juiciest pieces. You can read up more, if you dare.

Paper 1: Iraq Options. This shows that they had weak intelligence that Saddam may have been continuing WMD development, but mostly that their goal was to reintegrate a “democratic” Iraq into the Middle East. The paper discusses the possible options, including continued containment and possible regime change. The most interesting line is that “A legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to Law Officers advice, none currently exists…we should therefore consider a staged approach, establishing international support, building up pressure on Saddam, and developing military plans.”

Paper 2: The Manning Memo This one is from David Manning to Tony Blair and covers a meal that Manning had with Condoleeza Rice and her NSC team regarding Iraq. It continued the theme of how to draw in international support for an unjustified invasion. Some choice quotes: “Condi's enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed. But there were some signs, since we last spoke, of greater awareness of the practical difficulties and political risks…Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions…Bush will want to pick your [i.e., Tony Blair's] brains…I think there is a real risk that the Administration underestimates the difficulties. They may agree that failure isn't an option, but this does not mean that they will avoid it.

Paper 3: The Ricketts Memo. This one is from Political Director PP Ricketts to Tony Blair. It basically says that Iraq has not stepped up nuclear, or other WMD production, but we have to convince people that the threat is more imminent than that of countries that have stepped up their nuclear programs. This contradicts Bush in a couple ways. Bush and conservatives have claimed the war was never sold as Iraq being a imminent threat. Choice quotes: "We can help Bush make good decisions by telling him things his own machine probably isn't"; "The [WMD] programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up"; "US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al Qaida is so far frankly unconvincing. To get public and Parliamentary support for military operations, we have to be convincing that: the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for; it is qualitatively different from the threat posed by other proliferators who are closer to achieving nuclear capability (including Iran)”; "For Iraq, 'regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam."

Paper 4: The Straw Memo. The Straw Memo is, presumably, from Jack Straw to Tony Blair, and covers the Prime Minister’s trip to Crawford. Choice quotes: "The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few. The risks are high, both for you and for the Government"; "If 11 September had not happened, it is doubtful that the US would now be considering military action against Iraq"; Iran, Iraq and North Korea needed to be "delinked", in contrast to the Bush "axis of evil" speech, in order to justify invading Iraq only; "Iraq has had NO history of democracy so no-one has this habit or experience", and the US has not established how regime change is to happen so that the new regime is better than Saddam's.”

Paper 5: The Meyer Memo This one is from Ambassador Christopher Meyer to David Manning and covers a meeting with Paul Wolfowitz. It’s interesting to see that Wolfowitz wanted to push the human rights angle.

Paper 6: Background Paper. This final paper is the UK’s official Legal Background stance on the invasion of Iraq. Not too juicy, but interesting to see how things evolved from the discussions described in the other memos.

Read up on all of these, I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot more about them soon!

Posted by crimnos @ 1:18 PM

Read or Post a Comment

The six "new" memos were reported on in the British press last year.

They have been on the net at and its mirror since october 2004 (see )

Interest was awoken in the US recently when someone posted a transcription of the Meyer memo, and later the Manning memo, at Democratic Underground.

The Meyer memo was picked up by and started being news again.

See a dailykos comment here for the story, and other posts by "kolinowski" in that thread for additional information.

The original Democratic Underground thread that started the ball rolling is at: here

Posted by Blogger kolinowski @ 2:31 PM #
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