Monday, June 13, 2005

New British Memo Contradicts Downing Street Memo, Raises New Questions

A new British memo from the summer before the Iraq war began paints a different picture than what can be found in the so-called Downing Street Memo.

The new memo makes it clear that President Bush had not in fact decided to go to war yet, although military plans were well advanced. It is also clear from the new memo that both the American and British governments sincerely believed in the existence of WMD.

First, the fact that the Bush administration had advanced war plans as early as July 2002 is no revelation. This was publicly known at the time. However, what the new memo says about planning for the post-war is interesting:

After noting the risks of a lengthy postwar occupation, the memorandum says that "U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us [Britain] to share a disproportionate share of the burden. Further work is required to define more precisely the means by which the desired endstate would be created, in particular what form of government might replace Saddam Hussein's regime and the timescale within which it would be possible to identify a successor."

While I think its unfair to say the Bush Administration should have had detailed post-war plans before they’d even made a definitive decision to go to war, this new memo does raise the whole issue of why the post invasion has been so difficult and has actually resulted in more deaths than the invasion itself. Have the problems been a result of truly unforeseeable situations or did the Bush administration simply fail to plan properly?

The answer to that questions is vital to ensuring, should a situation like this arise again, we are better prepared. We had not occupied a nation since the end of World War II. We couldn’t have expected perfection. But could we have planned better? And if we could have, why didn’t we?


At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless, the policy of preemptive militatry action should not be a part of civilized society. Did you feel Sadam was about to attack America and Bush and Rumi saved us? No. There was no threat and if we are to go around the world and overthrow every dictator that we don't like we will become just like the Roman empire.

At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wait a moment, we havn't occupied a nation since the end of WWII? i thought we had learned a number of lessons from vietnam about occupation... seems you might of had to go there to learn them

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it does not contradict the Downing Street memo -- that's completely false. the new document is a pre-meeting document that is under-informed of the US position. the Downing Street Memo is a document of what actually transpired at the meeting between the Brits and Americans. Get it straight.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

We never "occupied" Vietnam in the sense that we defeated them in war and then stationed troops there to manage the post war. We occupied Germany, Italy and Japan. We occupy Iraq and Afghanistan. But we haven't actually occupied anyone in between.

At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the article, it sounds like Tony Blair "dodged" a bullet then shoot himself on the toe. So it "kinda" sound like that the new memo contradict Downing Street Memo about "fix around policy". But the new memo also show that the British inteligent knows that there's no exit strategy for the war. Well, unless "virtually silent" meant something else for Blair.

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So there is no problem with diverting limited national security resources from the real war with alQaeda to the treasonous military excursion in Iraq.

The World Trade Center had not stopped smoldering yet and the right wing of America was planning to wage war in Iraq where eleven years of sanctions and U.S./Birtish bombing had reduced Saddam to a joke.

And all that you can do is mount a feeble out of context rationalization for the invasion of Iraq. The Iraq diversion gave "aid and comfort" to bin Laden and alQaeda. Your continued support for the Bush Iraq treason renders you complicit in that treason.

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gone Fishing on that one!!!!

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think it's particularly pathetic that half the country (who also claims to support the troops) continually makes excuses for the fact that BUSH LIED! I wonder if you're loyalty to Bush outweights the fact that our troops are dying over there. A true American would want an investigation into what really led to the invasion of Iraq considering the fact that lives are involved. Linda Tripp tipped off about the affair between Bill and Monica and that led to tax payers money going into the investigation of a stained blue dress, but yet this memo is being treated like a joke by the same people who wanted to lynch a president for a BJ which didn't cause any deaths. You should be ashamed. Get your priorities straight then perhaps we won't take you as the joke!

At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No occupation since WW2? That would be a surprise to the Korea's, where we have a puppet government installed in the south and 35,000 troops stationed at the border for the last 50+ years, right up to today. There are many other examples, but this one is the most obvious...

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From a Retired Marine With a Mind!

: : We had not occupied a nation since the end of World
: : War II. We couldn’t have expected perfection. But
: : could we have planned better? And if we could have,
: : why didn’t we?

: : We never "occupied" Vietnam in the sense that we
: : defeated them in war and then stationed troops
: : there to manage the post war.


Remember what I said previously about - "...your nitpicking word play and massaging of the facts!" ?

But that is beside the question you raised here:

: : We couldn’t have expected perfection. But could
: : we have planned better? And if we could have,
: : why didn’t we?

I expect perfection for I it was always expected of me to be perfect and I trained accordingly!

Now on the other part: Let us take a trip in the 'way-back' machine:

Easy pickings?

Defense Policy Board member Kenneth Adelman, who in February [2003] told the Washington Post that "demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq" would be easy as pie.

Fellow Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle: Saddam Hussein's terrorist-supporting, Al Qaeda-aligned and weapons-of-mass-destruction-concealing regime would "collapse like a house of cards" the instant it caught "the first whiff of gunpowder."

But I know I know - neither one of those fellas that this administration liberally used as mouthpieces were in an Official Government capacity . . .

But Cheney did say: "The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but that they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that."

And uh . . . Both Cheney and Rumsfeld, said the war would last "weeks, not months."

Now all we have to do is work out the details and sematics of what "..war.." is . . . or is not.

Although in defense of the Commander-in-Chief: He's been stable in his statements of, "However long it takes."

Thanks for this blog forum

At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this the joke Blog?

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Heiuan said...

To the new case this issue is your introduction to TYL, you might want to remember this is a CENTRIST site.

I'm not going to defend either Joe or Alan as both are quite capable of doing so themselves, if they feel the need.

I'd just like to remind my fellow readers that they shouldn't come here expecting partisan toadying-up to either Democrats or Republicans. It might save some indigestion when one of the owners says something that doesn't toe a party line or doesn't agree with the talking points of either side.

Get your priorities straight then perhaps we won't take you as the joke!

BTW...insulting someone while using the anonymous id is poultry excrement. You don't need to register, but at least use some kind of handle so someone could respond directly to you and not be mistaken by the other folks using 'anonymous' as well.

Just my $.02.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

First, I'm confused how anyone could read this post as some kind of pro-Bush ditto-head talk. Just because I refuse to 100% condemn this administration doesn't mean I 100% support them either. And I think this post makes it pretty clear that I question the planning that went into this war.

Secondly, I imagine the people of South Korea would be rather surprised to discover they are being ruled by a puppet government. Yes we have troops stationed there but they are there because South Korea asks them to be there (not all, of course, but the government does). It's hardly nitpicking to point out that we had no experience in occupying a foreign nation since WWII. Obviously we've had experiences with long, difficult wars, but not an occupation. And certainly we had no experience with an occupation in a nation like Afghanistan or Iraq.

Oh, and I seem to have to repeat this on a daily basis but before you waste your time condeming something I've written, try reading a bit more of this blog. As far as jokes go, it's almost comical that someone would assume I supported the Clinton impeachment based off of a 150 word post about Iraq. For the record, I was actively opposed to the impeachment. I know, shocker. We're all not neatly packaged into easily defined categories.

Feel free to diagree with me on a specific issue. But don't assume to classify me unless you are a regular reader.

And on that note--thanks for the support Heiuan.

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er, it seems to me the story in this memo is "Ok, chaps, the yanks are going to war, and they want us in with them, but they haven't thought it through: 1) They have no proper plan for what to do after their war. 2) They haven't thought about how to create a legal basis for the war (and we are not coming in unless they help us do this by either provoking Saddam into making an attack, or tricking him into violation of a Security Council Resolution.)

From the document:

1. The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it.

2. When the Prime Minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change, provided that certain conditions were met: efforts had been made to construct a coalition/shape public opinion, the Israel-Palestine Crisis was quiescent, and the options for action to eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors had been exhausted.
---end quote---

and later:

11. US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community. Regime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law. But regime change could result from action that is otherwise lawful. We would regard the use of force against Iraq, or any other state, as lawful if exercised in the right of individual or collective self-defence, if carried out to avert an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe, or authorised by the UN Security Council. A detailed consideration of the legal issues, prepared earlier this year, is at Annex A. The legal position would depend on the precise circumstances at the time. Legal bases for an invasion of Iraq are in principle conceivable in both the first two instances but would be difficult to establish because of, for example, the tests of immediacy and proportionality. Further legal advice would be needed on this point.

12. This leaves the route under the UNSC resolutions on weapons inspectors. Kofi Annan has held three rounds of meetings with Iraq in an attempt to persuade them to admit the UN weapons inspectors. These have made no substantive progress; the Iraqis are deliberately obfuscating. Annan has downgraded the dialogue but more pointless talks are possible. We need to persuade the UN and the international community that this situation cannot be allowed to continue ad infinitum. We need to set a deadline, leading to an ultimatum. It would be preferable to obtain backing of a UNSCR for any ultimatum and early work would be necessary to explore with Kofi Annan and the Russians, in particular, the scope for achieving this.

13. In practice, facing pressure of military action, Saddam is likely to admit weapons inspectors as a means of forestalling it. But once admitted, he would not allow them to operate freely. UNMOVIC (the successor to UNSCOM) will take at least six months after entering Iraq to establish the monitoring and verification system under Resolution 1284 necessary to assess whether Iraq is meeting its obligations. Hence, even if UN inspectors gained access today, by January 2003 they would at best only just be completing setting up. It is possible that they will encounter Iraqi obstruction during this period, but this more likely when they are fully operational.

14. It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject (because he is unwilling to accept unfettered access) and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the international community. However, failing that (or an Iraqi attack) we would be most unlikely to achieve a legal base for military action by January 2003.
---end quote---

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new memo makes it clear that President Bush had not in fact decided to go to war yet, although military plans were well advanced.

A contradiction within a single sentence if I ever read one.

Why would Bush have military plans, well advanced, if he hadn't planned on war? Sounds like he'd made the decision to me.

If you'd take your head out of Bush's Mushroom Cloud, and quit trying to "cherry pick" sentences, disregarding the document in its entirety, in an effort to support your view, maybe we could get down to the real Truth, which is that Bush lied.

Face it, the man you so clearly support, screwed the American People and Iraqi citizens.

At 4:36 PM, Blogger C.Y. said...

So the inital gripe with the "Downing Street Memo" was that we were in military planning to invade Iraq eight months beforehand, and the gripe from this new document is that two days before the DSM we hadn't done post-war planning yet.

Can anyone cite me of a single example of a war in U.S history where we had an exit strategy in place before going in? Of course you can't, as it has never happened in 230 years.


I know there is a lot of hatred for Bush by some people, but try being slightly objective.

As for the lack of post-war planning at this point in 2002, we were still working on invasion plans, and there was still eight more months of planning time before the invasion began. We do not know what level of post-war planning occured in those eight months, we can only speculate, and be relatively certain we underestimated what we would have to do.

There is zero information stating that we didn't do any post-conflict planning at this point based upon what we've seen, all we know is that the execution of post-war planning left a lot to be desired.

To praphrase from Walter Mitty, "your small minds as musclebound with suspicion from jumping to conclusions."

Just the facts, folks. Leave the screaming to Howard Dean.

At 4:40 PM, Anonymous joshowitz said...

I think you are confused about the second release of DSM-related docs.

The second batch were docs produced before the minutes that were published the week before.

Think of the second document dump as a "prequel" to the DSM.

The truth is, Bush spoke about toppling Saddam in 1999, so the idea was on his mind for a while; kind of like his Privatization Plan (hatched decades ago).

Congrats on making it onto Google's News search BTW.

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous joshowitz said...

There is zero information stating that we didn't do any post-conflict planning at this point based upon what we've seen,

I guess you never saw that powerpoint document about the Iraq War Plan?

It was an official doc, created just before "Shock & Awe" started. It was very detailed, inasmuch as a powerpoint doc can be. The Final slide, which dealt with post-Baghdad-toppling, was left blank with a message that boiled down to "TBA."

I'd say that was evidence of the lack of planning.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

I'm not a military expert, but I'm pretty sure it is fairly standard procedure to draw up war plans on a contingency basis. It's not a great idea to declare war and then plan for it. Clinton is known to have drawn up plans for war with both Iraq and North Korea but obviously he never used them.

As for whether or not I support what Bush has done, it seems to me that a lot of people lump all his decisions into one huge ball and then declare it good or bad. I support some of what Bush has done but not all. I think he was over-eager to go into Iraq and should have taken more time with the decision, but I remain unconvinced that he lied about the reason or manipulated the facts. And I don't know if we planned well for the post-invasion. As I just said, I'm not a military expert. But my purely layman's feeling is that we did not adequetly plan and that we should have sent in more troops to secure the country.

I will say that my doubts were sufficient enough to prompt me to vote against Bush in 2004. However, that decision wasn't based entirely on Iraq and I did not feel good about voting for Kerry whom I still think would have been a sub-par President--I just hoped he'd find a way to heal some of the division I think Bush (or, more exactly, his handlers) have exploited for political gain. Although, had I lived in a state where the outcome was in question, I would have given more thought to my decision.

I don't think all of this is as black and white as many people on this thread seem to believe.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


This memo is dated two days before the first Downing Street Memo. Are you suggesting that policy radically changed in two days? I do not think it's appropriate to call this memo a prequel. It is concurrent and it contradicts some of the conclusions many have drawn from the first memo as to whether or not Bush was already decided on war.

At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be using anymous, but 1st time on your site (came up on Google news) and didn't think I would come back. maybe will sign up who knows-
Back the point regarding Korea and the original question of whether we have experience handling an occupation. You said Korea asked for our troops - didn't the new Iraqi goverment also ask for our troops? Didn't Karzai in Afganistan ask for our troops? We set up a government of pro-western politicians who ask for our military presence, but its unfair to characterize that as a puppet government?

As to the question of planning I think that the civilian leadership completely disregarded the advice of its own military commanders, but I think the question is why? Why did they knowingly walk into this mess? They had plenty of advice from qualified people who said A. Iraq was no threat, that the sanctions and inspections had been effective,(colin powell feb 2002) and B. We needed a larger force for post-war security.(general they replaced -sorry cant remember his name) All this has been in the public domain for a long time-

I disagree that the new memo makes anything clear regarding when the adminstration planned to go to war. Regime change in Iraq was on the adminstrations agenda the day they took office, and thats well documented. Anyone ever looked at Project for the New American Century's website? There's a report dated Sept 2000 called "rebuilding America's defenses" that goes in detail about the gulf region being of "vital strategic importance" and "unresolved conflict" in Iraq, as well as many other things that have since come to pass, (repositioning forces to reflect post-cold war world),etc.

Look at who is involved with PNAC, which was founded in 97, and you find the very architects of the Iraq war. They even wrote an open letter to Clinton in 98 asking him to invade-
Why is anyone even doubting the administrations intent was always there? Isn't it obvious by now? Do we really need a leaked british memo?

I walk the middle of the road too, am an independant voter and would love to see a viable third party- I don't think this is a right-left issue, its just whether you can think for yourself. This war was planned well in advance, and by that I mean the decision was made, the resolve was there, not just the military planning (or lack thereof)


At 10:39 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

JR--I don't mean to pick at details, but in regards to south korea, we did not "invade" South Korea initially. We showed up to help fight the Northern communists. We invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. We didn't have to pacify South Korea. That, I think, is the difference, but probably not really relevent.

We'll have to agree to disagree on this. I do think reasonable people can think Bush made mistakes but did nothing criminal. I would hope you come back if you are middle-of-the road. I can assure you our positions aren't usually so divisive. But I have learned that I could post "Iraq. Discuss." and get heated comments.

At 12:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


As a dedicated Independent, my blog title is 'LeftIndependent', I came here expecting to see a more patriotic nonpartisan perspective. Instead I found shills and apologists for the Bush administration's treason in a time of war.

At 3:56 PM, Alan Stewart Carl

"And I think this post makes it pretty clear that I question the planning that went into this war."

I, and millions of others around the world, questioned the distraction of going to this war while we had not achieved the neutralization our real enemy. an enemy who is still at large proving our concerns of the summer of 2002. Centrist like you stood by silently while the right wing denounced us. Or you participated in denouncing citizens who opposed the war. For whatever reason. Either way you are not a centrist. You may delude yourself into thinking that you are a centrist but I assure you you are not.

It is in no way centrist to rationalize or justify the Iraq diversion. A centrist American would put our national security above the emotional blood lust that Bush used to drive the world to a war that was not necessary and that has given real aid and comfort to our sworn enemy.

At 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree, picking at details can be tiresome, but this whole thread starts with mistatement of fact regarding the US and miltary occupation. Prior to WW2 Korea was a colony of Japan. After WW2, Koreans wanted contral over Korea, their own country. No elections were held, no one asked the Koreans for their preferences or recognized thier right to self-determination. We partitioned the country into North and South, not the Koreans. We had just finished backing the losing side in China's internal power struggles and Korea divided up. Although the Chinese never invaded the North or had an occupying force there, we absolutely invaded. I'm not sure what you would call sending hundreds of thousand of troops and munitions, who then killed upwards of 2 million Koreans, but I think the Koreans would say it was a military invasion. I think perhaps you are influenced by the fact that it was a UN sanctioned "police action" but hey, those were the good old days when the US dictated UN policy. We were "defending" the Koreans from "internal aggression", the same legal basis later given for the subsequent invasion of Vietnam, where we killed 3 to 4 more million people so they would not have to live under communism.

In the end China prevented us from swallowing up all of Korea with a large scale military response of their own, and we signed an armistice agreement in 1953, requiring us to retreat back to our original position, the 38th parallel. As of right now, the southern half of Korea is still occupied by US troops.

So my initial response to your assertion we had no experience with occupations was that you were unfamiliar with our nations history, or perhaps have been influenced by the whitewashing of said history by our teaching of it. Korea is the blatantly obvious example with which to refute your mistatement, there are others less obvious.

Either way I think it is safe to say that yes, we could have expected better out of the planners of this war, but then if they had told us the truth, that the war would take a long time, that there would be sacrifice, etc they might not have got the blank check that they did. Instead they said no problem, they going to welcome us as liberators, it will be over fast, ther won't be a draft, we won't even have to raise your taxes, the oil will pay for the war- all lies from the start, or at best, wishful thinking. They got what they wanted because now that we are there, "we can't pull out now" and so on...


At 3:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the "Yellow Line" blogger ever took the time to google the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, he would have known years ago about Fieth's handy work in cherry picking intelligence to fix the facts around the policy. The OSP is where the lies were manufactured. This office was set up by Bush, Cheney and Rummy to lie to America and the world to justify their war. The OSP had Chalabe, a known criminal on their payroll. The OSP circumvented normal intelligence reporting. The CIA made no mistake but was scapegoated to protect the hired liars and war criminals. The media looks the other way and never shined the spot light on the OSP. Meanwhile, while we talk about intelligence failures by the CIA, the members of the OSP and those who worked closely with them got rewarded by Bush/Cheney. For example: Wolfowitz got promoted to head the World Bank, and now Boltan will head the UN.

In America, we reward war criminals. That is the message we send to the world.

Boy, am I proud of the American flag.

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

O.k., Korea is a very unique history and my choice not to consider them as an occupied nation has nothing to do with my misunderstanding of history so much as my choice to use a limitted idea of occupation. You could say we occupied Panama and Somalia as well.

Again, it's not really relevent to my point as we had no experience with a large-scale occupation in a a long time--I simply do not expect 100% perfection from the Government on this. Mistakes happen. That said, I do think we could and should have done a much, much better job in securing the nation.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


I'm not going to argue with you what is and is not a Centrist. I will say that there ARE rationale reasons to support the war. To think otherwise is to have a very cynical view of the millions of your fellow Americans whom you disagree with. Are we all shills, or just not as smart as you?

I would also urge you to check out many of the other Centrist blogs. You will find half support the war and half are uncomfortable with it.

And who says I stood by in the lead-up to this war?

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Before posting her, please read this.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger baldegret said...

Centrist blog! What a concept. I like it.
Does the military plan before an action? I would certainly hope so. The fact that the Bush administration planned the invasion of Iraq months and even years earlier is no revelation. It's called contingency. By itself, it does not reflect anything more than prudence. Fixing the intelligence around that's subterfuge.

When I e-mailed one of my conservative friends about the DSM, her response was that if there was anything to it the liberal media would have been all over it.

Liberal journalists under the thumb of conservative ownership? Is that left or right? That debate is beside the point. I want to know why the issue of "fixing intelligence around policy" is not filling editorial pages across the country? Could it be that most Americans aren't even aware that the DSM exists? Is there a problem when the major media outlets are not informing the public about anything more essential than celebrity trials and runaway brides? (a rhetorical question, sorry)

OK, so I'm a liberal, but I want a serious dialogue. Where is the outrage over a preemptive war which was justified under false pretenses? Disregarding the DSM as "tabloid journalism" (an offhand comment on FOX) is specious at best. Statements that it has been discredited without elaboration are not earnest. Does the Bush administration get a free pass because they have a bold agenda for spreading democracy and transforming the Middle East? Do the ends justify the means? Can we "not handle the truth"? An informed public is essential for a viable democracy.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


I can almost guarantee you that most Americans have never heard of the DSM. The failure to report on it I think is neither a sign of left or right media bias, but rather that the whole thing is so difficult to explain or investigate that the media would rather report on Michael Jackson.

"facts were being fixed around the policy" legitimately means different things to different people. I've read enough blog coverage of this and talked to enough friends and colleagues about this to know that some people read it to mean "facts were being manipulated" and some read it to mean the goverment was making sure the facts truly did justify the policy. I think both interpretations are reasonable and I have found that which interpretation you believe is directly related to whether or not you already think Bush is a liar.

This memo isn't changing minds.

But still, it is absolutely ridiculous that we haven't had an honest and serious national debate about whether or not we should have gone into Iraq. A lot of people on the right act like it is a non issue because we are already there and a lot of people on the left get so caught up in the "Bush lied" anger that they are unable to rationally discuss the situation. And a lot of Centrits are just ignoring the whole debate.

It's a problem.

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Ayana said...

"Get your priorities straight then perhaps we won't take you as the joke!"

Did ya catch the name, Alan? And BTW, re-read your original comment then maybe you can understand why MOST of us think that you are joke. No insults, just the facts!

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


wow, if you think a fairly middle-of-the-road guy with no particular affection for Bush is a joke, real right wingers must have you rolling in the aisles.

And I never complained about being called names. Call me whatever you want. I wouldn't post my opinions for the world to see if I didn't expect that some people would get angry.

Just remember, good people can differ for good reasons. And intelligent people can differ for intelligent reasons.

Maybe you think I am neither good nor intelligent. But that would probably say more about you than me.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Ted Carmichael said...

quote: Maybe you think I am neither good nor intelligent. But that would probably say more about you than me.

LOL! Good line.

Alan, you have delved into semantics about the DSM and, though I disagree with your interpretation, it is not unreasonable. (Nor do I disagree entirely.) Allow me to respond in kind regarding the second, earlier memo. You said, "It is concurrent and it contradicts some of the conclusions many have drawn from the first memo as to whether or not Bush was already decided on war."

Similarly, the NY Times wrote that the second memo "explicitly states that the Bush administration had made 'no political decisions' to invade Iraq, but that American military planning for the possibility was advanced." Curious, I read the entire memo, found here (that is, if I did my html properly.)

After carefully reading through the new memo, I believe the NYT article erred in assuming it contradicts the DSM. And most subsequent discussions of this memo have also erred in running with that interpretation.

First of all, the key passage is a curious British construction: "Although no political decisions have been taken, US military planners have drafted options for the US Government to undertake an invasion of Iraq." This does NOT say, explicitly or otherwise, that the US has not decided to invade Iraq. In fact, it doesn't refer to the matter at all. It merely states that no political decisions have been made (taken), almost certainly refering to the "political framework" for invading Iraq.

You have to look at the other uses of the word "political" in the memo.

"The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework."

"We need now to [...] encourage the US Government to place its military planning within a political framework."

"An international coalition is necessary to provide a military platform and desirable for political purposes."

And, right in the beginning, "to engage the US on the need to set military plans within a realistic political strategy, which includes identifying the succession to Saddam Hussein and creating the conditions necessary to justify government military action."

It seems clear, from the context, that "political decisions" refer to how to justify the war, both nationally (In England) and Internationally, not whether or not war is the policy. It may also be construed as refering to the "political" landscape in a post-Saddam Iraq. Regardless, is it most certainly not a contradiction to any alledged decision to invade Iraq.

At 11:40 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


You make a very good point. Dang those Brits. Can't they just write what they mean?!?

Of course the original DSM doesn't explicity say that a decision had been made either--just that it was perceived as inevitable. One can perceive something as inevitable without actually deciding fully on a course of action. Maybe that's a technicality.

But here's just a thought, let's assume that Bush had decided to go to war but was telling us and the world that no definite decision had been made. Now, he did make it very clear that war was a very real possibility. And, if Saddam had stepped down and held real elections, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have gone to war so (again here with the technicality) Bush can legitimately say he hadn't made a decision until the final moment.

I think it comes down to: if you think Bush lied, the DSM looks like clear proof to you, but if you think Bush didn't lie, the memo doesn't look like much proof at all.

If there really was deceit going on, hopefully all this attention will prompt someone to come out and admit it and provide s real smoking gun rather than another tantalizing but ultimately inconclusive todbit. Conspiracies never stay hidden forever. Of course, if there was no intent to deceive, no one's going to show up and we'll probably go the rest of our lives with some contending a conspiracy and other's saying it's bunk.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Kevin Baas said...

the memo that supposedly "contradicts" the downing street memo was written BEFORE the downing street memo. Therefore, it can't contradict the downing street memo.

Especially consider the line in the DSM "there was a perceptible shift in attitude", attributed to Cheif Intelligence Officer Richard Dearlove - that the UK was just informed of Bush's decision, in a sense "inbetween" those two documents. The timeline is coherent.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

The memos are dated two days apart. It's really stretching to say the Administration made up their minds in those two days and we just happen to have the memos that prove it.

Nevertheless, as Ted pointed out, the second memo released doesn't exactly say that no decision had been made. Semantics. Semantics.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Maargen said...

It seems so many people are taking the authenticity of these memos for granted. I think this is a mistake. Before relying on these as evidence of anything, I think the first step is make sure (as far as we can) that the sources are credible. people are jumping from the memos to Bush, but I think that what we should be calling for at this step is some confirmation from the people mentioned in the memo that these memos are authentic.

I do not support Bush and his neocon administration. My personal belief is that they're a bunch of criminals, and I do mean that literally. But I do know the difference between belief, knowledge, and proof. I think it would be such a wonderful awakening to this country if Bush and Cheney were actually impeached. It would remind us (and them) that elected officials are our servants. It is not their job to decide what they want for this country and manipulate the public into supporting their policies, using our money to pay for their vision, and our children as cannon fodder. I think that there is something undefinably wrong in the system that says that those who will sacrifice the most for this war (rank and file members of the armed forces and their families) are the ones who will benefit the least, while the war machine executives, the majority of whose children will never see combat, are being enriched.

That being said, these memos should not be ignored, nor should their authenticity be taken for granted.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Maargen said...

I am finding that many staunch Bushies are resorting to arguing semantics, rather than the actual issues.

Alan (no, I'm not implying that you're a staunch Bushie), I do think that you're using semantics to find a reason to excuse Bush.

You say that " 'facts were being fixed around the policy' " legitimately means different things to different people. I've read enough blog coverage of this and talked to enough friends and colleagues about this to know that some people read it to mean "facts were being manipulated" and some read it to mean the goverment was making sure the facts truly did justify the policy. I think both interpretations are reasonable and I have found that which interpretation you believe is directly related to whether or not you already think Bush is a liar."

What difference does it make what interpretation people put on the phrase "fixed around the policy"? What is important is what the writer of the minutes and the attendees at the meeting mean by the phrase. I know that when Tony Blair, who was at the meeting, was asked about this, he did not go into some lame semantic argument of the British meaning of the word 'fixed' as I've seen so many extreme right-wingers put so much energy into doing. What he said was: "The facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all." Now, I don't think I need to comment on whether a politician would lie at a press conference, but I don't think his statement is sufficient to deny or confirm the accuracy or authenticity of the memo. However, it is enough to indicate to any open-minded, fair and logical person that "fixed around the policy" means the same thing here as it does to Brits. Only Bush apologists refuse to see this.

It's weird how Bushies try to redefine the English language in order to excuse their dear leader of any responsibility for the Iraq fiasco.

From Merriam-Webster:
1 a : an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive b : an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker

Those who want to pick and choose definitions to suit their positions keep saying Bush did not lie. Those who know the English language can correctly say that BUSH LIED.

At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Period, Bush lied about the war. You wanna dance around that fact by concentrating on being called a joke, fine. But I lost a loved one in this war, and yes, it upsets me when evidence upon evidence proves that Bush wanted a war from the start and still people look for the finest print to discredit the lies of Bush. There's needs to be some accountability because most of us are tired of the excuses. If I offended you I'm sorry. And if a perception is made based on the comments we post, Alan dear, by your standards, you're no better than me.

At 11:18 PM, Blogger baldegret said...

The authenticity of the DSM could certainly be debated, and proof of it's authenticity would be questionable unless we were at the meeting.
Realistically, when we look at the totality of what unquestionably occurred, the build-up (propoganda) to the war, the rationale to our action (poor intelligence vs. manufactured intelligence), the defensive posture of conservative talking heads (I particularly recall Hannity ridiculing Howard Dean for having the temerity to suggest that the Iraqi people may not be better off post invasion), the absence of any WMD, the shift in rationale for the invasion to deposing an evil dictator and spreading democracy, etc.,etc....When we take an objective look at the outcome, we cannot disregard the credibility of the DSM without some more answers from the Bush administration with more credibility than "trust me, I'm Joe Isuzu!

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Eliki said...

Do any of you remember the PNAC? We have known this whole time that what the DSM is true. This sheds some light on the particulars and at best - shows how complicit the UK was in the coup.

Surf around this site. Grok the full power of the dark side. These elitist people truly have a plan for American World Dominance, openly stated, openly and publicly shared. What marvels me is the lack of resistance they meet.... the white bread SUV driving Americans are either too addlebrained or too apathetic to even get the picture. I have a hard time with the Left/Right talk. I see a few people who get heavily compensated for very little work, and many who work their butts off and make next to nothing, just enough to pay their mortgage (which is just flowing into the pockets of the pleutocrats anyway.) It's trickle-up economics.


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