Morning Report 6/17/05
The Jig Is Up
The bullshit was so thick at a July 17, 2003, White House press conference that someone should have declared a smug alert.
Nearly two years later, the air is finally starting to clear, with the help most recently of the Downing Street Memo and other documents exposed by such reporters as Michael Smith of the Sunday Times (U.K.)
But the fog of war was still dense when George W. Bush and Tony Blair danced into the room in July '03 and started crowing about their invasion of Iraq.
Keep in mind that, at the time, the search was still on for Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Here's how they talked about it:
- Q: Mr. President, in his speech to Congress, the Prime Minister opened the door to the possibility that you may be proved wrong about the threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Q: Do you agree, and does it matter whether or not you find these weapons?
BUSH: Well, you might ask the Prime Minister that. We won't be proven wrong—
BUSH: I believe that we will find the truth. And the truth is, he was developing a program for weapons of mass destruction.
Now, you say, why didn't it happen all of a sudden? Well, there was a lot of chaos in the country, one. Two, Saddam Hussein has spent over a decade hiding weapons and hiding materials. Three, we're getting—we're just beginning to get some cooperation from some of the high-level officials in that administration or that regime. — But we will bring the weapons and, of course—we will bring the information forward on the weapons when they find them. And that will end up—end all this speculation. I understand there has been a lot of speculation over in Great Britain, we've got a little bit of it here, about whether or not the—whether or not the actions were based upon valid information. We can debate that all day long, until the truth shows up. And that's what's going to happen.
And we based our decisions on good, sound intelligence. And the—our people are going to find out the truth, and the truth will say that this intelligence was good intelligence. There's no doubt in my mind.
Yeah, well, I hope "our people are going to find out the truth." But they'll have a better chance of understanding the unjustified invasion of Iraq if they look at the documents pouring out of Great Britain.
And if you want someone else to help cut through the bullshit for you, Michael Smith fielded questions online yesterday on the Washington Post site. Naturally, he addresses the issue of why the U.S. press didn't jump on his Sunday, May 1, 2005, story. (Don't blame me: I started writing about Smith's scoop on April 30: "Bush, Blair Decided in '02 to Invade Iraq and Worry About Justification Later, Say Brit Papers" and filed two other reports that weekend.)
Here's a long excerpt from Smith's online dialogue yesterday with questioners that ought to help clear things up:
- Q: To what do you attribute the seeming lack of interest by the American public and mainstream media, at least initially, in the revelations contained in the Downing Street Memo?
SMITH: Firstly, I think the leaks were regarded as politically motivated. Secondly there was a feeling of "well, we said that way back when." Then of course as the pressure mounted from the outside, there was a defensive attitude. "We have said this before, if you the reader didn't listen well what can we do" seemed to be the attitude. I don't know if you have this expression over there, but we say someone "wants to have their cake and eat it." That's what that response reeks of. Either it was politically motivated and therefore not true or it was published before by the U.S. newspapers and was true, it can't be both can it?
The attitude they have taken is just flat wrong, to borrow an expression from the White House spokesman on the Downing St Memo.
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 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?
One point I would make though, everyone keeps saying it is continually making waves over here. We at the Sunday Times are not going to let it go but no-one else is interested in the U.K. press. The Washington Post came to it late but look at everything it is doing now. Ignore today's silly editorial article. The Post is now working away at this and I know they are planning to try to do more on it. Sadly there is no sign of the New York Times changing its sniffy we told you this already view!
The sad truth is that there was plenty of evidence of Bush-Blair pre-war plotting that was reported in dribs and drabs before Smith and others started perusing the Foreign Office documents. But the new documents, as Smith says, are unprecedented confirmation.
In any case, the music has now stopped, and the jig is up. Time for a detailed autopsy of how all those soldiers and civilians have died.