Posts filed under 'Downing Street Memo'

Incredible Mind-Blowing Surprise Of The Day

Saddam had nothing to do with al Qaeda OMG!!!

An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida terrorist network.

The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam’s regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East, U.S. officials told McClatchy. However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.

The new study of the Iraqi regime’s archives found no documents indicating a “direct operational link” between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaida before the invasion, according to a U.S. official familiar with the report.


Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld claimed in September 2002 that the United States had “bulletproof” evidence of cooperation between the radical Islamist terror group and Saddam’s secular dictatorship.

Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell cited multiple linkages between Saddam and al Qaida in a watershed February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council to build international support for the invasion. Almost every one of the examples Powell cited turned out to be based on bogus or misinterpreted intelligence.

As recently as last July, Bush tried to tie al Qaida to the ongoing violence in Iraq. “The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children, many of whom are Muslims,” he said.

Well, I reckon that’s true, Dubya. Care to tell us how they got there? ‘Cuz, I mean, they weren’t in Iraq before – at least not in the parts under Saddam’s control.

Why, it’s almost as if the entire invasion was based on a lie! But that can’t be right, can it?

March 11th, 2008 at 11:51am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Downing Street Memo,Iraq,Republicans,War

Downing By The Schoolyard

Oh, look. Yet another British memo documenting that Bush was hell-bent on invading Iraq. I’d like to get excited about the effect this will have, but if there’s anything the first wave of Downing Street Memos taught me, it’s that “if it comes from Great Britain, it doesn’t count.” Don’t ask me why, but if it’s a memo written by someone in a foreign government, it’s somehow… less real (it’s like how whenever there’s a plane crash or a disaster in a foreign country, the news media always has to tell us how many Americans were killed).

However, if you grant the premise that, despite its non-Americanness the memo is indeed still real, it contains some pretty eye-popping stuff. Even if it does cover some ground we’re already been over a few times.

[B]behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair’s top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” David Manning, Mr. Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

So… the diplomacy was being fixed around the policy?

“The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,” Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. “This was when the bombing would begin.”


The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.” Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

I see Bush is every bit the deep thinker and perceptive student of history and foreign cultures that I thought he was…

At their meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said. The president spoke as if an invasion was unavoidable….

Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.

“The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours,” the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. “If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”

It also described the president as saying, “The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam’s W.M.D,” referring to weapons of mass destruction.

A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.

This is the part that floors me every time. It sounds like a couple of not-very-bright high school kids trying to figure out an loophole that lets them do something illegal, not a serious strategy discussion between two world leaders. On the other hand, the first two ideas also sound like a lot like the kind of tricks Karl Rove would play on the campaign trail…

Mr. Jones, the National Security Council spokesman, declined to discuss the proposals, saying, “We are not going to get into discussing private discussions of the two leaders.”

Well, it’s not an ongoing investigation yet

Mr. Bush agreed that the two countries should attempt to get a second resolution, but he added that time was running out. “The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another [UN] resolution and would twist arms and even threaten,” Mr. Bush was paraphrased in the memo as saying.

The document added, “But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway.”

Regrettably, of course. Because no president wants war, as Bush explained to Helen Thomas. In fairness to the President, he did tell Blair that “he was not itching to go to war,” and that he was aware “there were uncertainties and risks” (i.e., what will happen to our, er, Iraq’s precious oil wells?). His actions make that awfully to believe, however.

So yes, to sum up, President Bush was not itching for war, but was prepared to fabricate a bogus provocation, and completely ignore the UN Security Council in order to start one. I suppose we should all be grateful to have a president so willing to put the good of the country ahead of his own personal feelings…

1 comment March 27th, 2006 at 12:03am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Downing Street Memo,Favorites,Iraq,Politics,Wankers,War

Basking In The Glow

Yes, I am a happy happy blogger today. Not only did the WSJ release the most encouraging poll numbers ever, not only was my blog the number one Google search result for both an althouse batshit crazy and hot liberal blogger, but The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin has winked kindly upon me. The very last item in his WaPo online chat session this afternoon:

Pittsburgh, Pa.: Longtime huge fan — your column is one of my favorite reads.

My question is, as all these revelations [come out] about how the administration gamed the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq, why haven’t the Downing Street Memos resurfaced? Not necessarily as a story in their own right, but as more of a data point, or an old story that has now been vindicated? I haven’t see any mention of it in either the conventional media or the blogosphere.

Dan Froomkin: I do think it’s about time for a retelling of the whole story, and from what I can tell, most of the facts support the Downing Street Memo version of things. (I have yet to see a single piece of evidence that Bush or his aides were, privately, even contemplating not going to war, for instance.)

Senator John Kerry mentioned the memo the other day, actually, which I suspect was a first for him. So maybe that’s a sign.

Woohoo! Okay, I’m done grinding my wee axe. I think. For now.

I’m pretty sure I’ve also set a new personal record for most links in a single post. Huzzah!

5 comments November 23rd, 2005 at 06:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Downing Street Memo,Eli's Obsession With The Google,Iraq,Media,War

Poll Lotta Trouble For The Republicans

Wow. Maybe we really have turned the corner. Latest WSJ poll, by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin (more on him later today):

“A majority of U.S. adults believe the Bush administration generally misleads the public on current issues, while fewer than a third of Americans believe the information provided by the administration is generally accurate, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds.”

Overall, 64 percent of Americans believe the Bush administration “generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends” — including 91 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and 28 percent of Republicans.

The Journal also reports: “When asked about former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, who has been indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements, more than half of U.S. adults say the situation indicates ‘a larger problem in the Bush administration,’ while 35% say it was an ‘isolated incident.’ About 82% of Democrats say it indicates a larger problem, while 70% of Republicans feel the Libby case is an isolated incident.”

This really is huge. Public perceptions that the Bushies or Republicans in general are lying on a specific issue are damaging, but as long as they’re seen as isolated incidents rather than part of a pattern of Republican behavior, the damage can be contained. But now, even without any high-profile Democratic effort to frame each scandal as part of an underlying pattern of Republican dishonesty and incompetence, that message is clearly getting through to all but the most diehard and unreachable of the Kool-Aid drinkers. I think it’s telling that these questions were even asked, and by the WSJ, no less.

I can’t understate this enough: Even as Bush’s approval rating slouches toward 30%, this is the most encouraging poll result I’ve seen in the 5 long years of the Bush II Dynasty. There is one last remaining step that I am eagerly awaiting: for the cancer on the presidency to metastasize and begin rupturing red cells outside the White House. It would be the first time cancer ever made its host healthier.

6 comments November 23rd, 2005 at 03:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Downing Street Memo,Libby/Plame,Politics,Polls,Republicans

Looking For A Brassy Noel

As a political junkie and blog addict, it’s often hard to put on my Everyman hat and remember that the news stories the general public is seeing are not the same as the ones that we’re seeing, nor are they necessarily interpreting them in the same way.

However, with the latest frantic hysteria over the weekend, with Rep. Murtha’s great speech at the center (increasingly stepped-up dissent-is-treason/cowardice rhetoric and attempts to weasel out of it after the fact; the sham withdrawal resolution; another indictment looming on the horizon), it looks like the Republicans are becoming increasingly desperate. It feels to me like things are about to come to a head, that all but the most diehard true believers are on the verge of realizing just how horribly this country has gone astray under Republican rule.

It would be interesting to see just how much damage such a realization would do to the Republican party in the short-term and long-term, as well as to the corporate media and right-wing pundits who serve as the Republicans’ censors and memory-scrubbers. Also, what happens if the Republicans’ last hurrah is to get Alito or someone similar confirmed to the Supreme Court? What happens if we have a Democratic executive and legislature, but a resolutely Republican judiciary? Will the Democrats be able to use the Republicans’ “judicial activism” rhetoric against them when the courts start striking down Democratic legislation?

But I digress a bit from my intended point, which is to ask the question: As more and more revelations about dodgy intelligence surface (Curveball, al-Libi, discrepancies between the intelligence the administration saw vs. the intelligence they showed Congress), why haven’t the Downing Street Memos made a comeback? Maybe I’ve just missed it, but I haven’t seen a single post about them since midyear, when the Big Brass Alliance was hammering away at them relentlessly. I think they usefully crystallize what this country is just now learning, that the intelligence was “fixed around the policy,” and that it was a nudge-nudge-wink-wink open secret. The memos reinforce the more recent evidence of fixed intelligence and vice versa, and I think we should start reminding people about them again.

Thanks to my coworker who put this idea in my head, and wants to see the Democrats rub the Republicans’ noses in it every time they prattle about how “the Democrats saw the same intelligence and drew the same conclusions.”

2 comments November 21st, 2005 at 12:00pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Downing Street Memo,Iraq,Media,Politics,Republicans,War

I Am So Sick Of This Excuse

As the heat has turned up on the Plame investigation and the increasingly-obvious dodginess of the pre-war intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq, I am seeing a revival of the “Everyone thought Saddam had WMDs; even Clinton thought so!” canard.

I just want to point out two things that these arguments oh-so-conveniently overlook:

1) Assuming Jonah Goldberg’s cutesy little gotcha piece is representative, Clinton’s belief in Saddam’s WMDs is past-tense, as his sanctions and inspections were instrumental in eliminating them. It’s a bit like Truman using FDR’s warnings about Hitler as a rationale to invade Germany in 1947 (“Even FDR thought Germany was a threat!”).

2) The “everyone” who thought Saddam had WMDs was not privy to all the CIA warnings and caveats about Saddam’s alleged WMDs, including those about the unreliability of sources like Chalabi, “Curveball”, and al-Libi, who the administration nevertheless relied heavily upon in building their case for war. This, to me, is far more damning than the timeshift dodge, because it speaks directly to the Bush administration’s fundamental duplicity. It knowingly promoted flawed intel while suppressing knowledge of said flaws, then used the wool-pulling result of its own deceptions as the cover of consensus.

If this doesn’t come crashing down around Bush and the Republicans, this country is in deep, deep trouble. I estimate our chances are 50-50 at best (see previous post on the parlous paucity of the pauper press).

1 comment November 7th, 2005 at 12:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Downing Street Memo,Iraq,Libby/Plame,Republicans,War

Talking Downing

The Big Brass Alliance bloggers are probably all over this already, but if you haven’t read WaPo’s online chat with Michael Smith, the Sunday Times reporter who’s been covering all the Damning Downing Documents, you should do so right away.

He has all kinds of interesting tidbits, like his belief that there’s more out there that could ultimately create a public outcry for impeachment, the fact that he’s a Conservative- voting ex-soldier who initially supported the war, and that the Geneva Convention obligates an occupier to stay until the occupied country can stand on its own (how quaint!).

He also agrees with me that all the impeachment talk is probably counterproductive right now, and makes Democrats look, well, a lot like Republicans did in ’98.

Go! Read! Now!

2 comments June 16th, 2005 at 06:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Downing Street Memo,Iraq,Politics,War

Why I’m Not Impeachy Keen

The Downing Street Memo/Minutes revelations and the various other damning documents originating from those loose-lipped Brits have a whole bunch of my liberal brethren talking giddily about impeachment, but I have to confess to considerably less enthusiasm. Not only do I consider it unlikely, but I actually think it could be counterproductive.

Firstly, while there are some tentative signs of principled Republican resistance to the Bush agenda and questioning of the war and the Bolton nomination, and even Social Security reform, it looks more like butt-covering than genuine opposition. When it’s come right down to it on votes like bankruptcy reform and confirming horrible, unqualified right-wing judges, they’ve been in perfect, bootlicking lockstep. If they’re not going to vote against Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown, they’re sure as hell not going to vote to impeach Bush himself, enthralling a fantasy as it may be (I do have a caveat about that, which I’ll get to later).

Secondly, I have to ask the question, what does impeachment buy us, really? Yes, we all hate Bush, and I think we all agree that he’s the worst president of all time and want to see him humiliated and exposed for the criminal he is, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture here. Bush himself is not truly the problem, but only a symptom of the corruption and arrogance that has become the Republican core. What Democrats need to do is discredit and expose the entire Republican party and its media mouthpieces, allowing them to retake control of Congress and start fixing everything that’s been broken. They need to cast themselves as the party of grown-ups, who sometimes ask us to make sacrifices and take our medicine and do our homework so we stay healthy and smart and get good jobs.

Impeachment does nothing to advance this; in fact, it essentially absolves congressional Republicans of all responsibility, by allowing Bush to take the blame for everything that’s gone wrong, while portraying themselves as innocent dupes. Worse yet, unless there is overwhelming public demand for it (the only scenario in which I can see any realistic chance of a successful impeachment), the attempt would backfire badly and make Bush a heroic martyr of the Republican cause, unfairly attacked by small-minded liberal Democrats blinded by hate and vengeance. Just imagine the backlash against the Clinton circus, magnified by a Republican media avidly hyping the Bush-Under-Siege meme. And if there is overwhelming public demand for it, then the Republicans will see which way the wind is blowing and vote for impeachment, thus making themselves noble heroes who heavy-heartedly put country before party, thus inoculating themselves even more thoroughly from any accountability for Bush’s depredations.

And for what? What would impeachment buy us, beyond the I-told-you-so satisfaction? Even if we do manage to impeach Bush, that still leaves us with President Cheney, which is even worse (yes, I know he has zero charisma, but this has consistently been spun as a positive – proof of Cheney’s seriousness and steady competence). If we manage to impeach both of them, we end up with President Hastert, which is only a marginal improvement at best. Yes, it could potentially be President Pelosi, but the chances of Democrats retaking the house next year are slim, and I don’t think the pro-impeachment people are really looking to wait until 2007 anyway.

My gut feeling is that impeachment talk is premature, and maybe makes us look a little fanatical and crazy. We absolutely need to keep the story alive, and keep hammering away at the message that Bush is a sociopathic liar, but we need to focus more on ways to make the war an albatross around all the Republicans’ necks in 2006, not just the lame duck’s.

7 comments June 13th, 2005 at 01:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Downing Street Memo,Impeachment,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans

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