Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New British Memos Raise Even More Questions

More secret British memos concerning the lead up to the Iraqi war have been released, this time to the Las Angeles Timea. Unlike the original leaked memo, the so-called Downing Street Memo, these provide a lot more details about preparations for war with Iraq that were happening as early as March of 2002.

Just a small excerpt from what the Times has learned:

"The issue of weapons inspectors must be handled in a way that would persuade Europe and wider opinion that the U.S. was conscious of the international framework, and the insistence of many countries on the need for a legal basis. Renewed refusal by Saddam to accept unfettered inspections would be a powerful argument," [chief foreign policy advisor, David] Manning wrote Blair.

Four days after the Manning memo, Christopher Meyer, then the British ambassador in Washington, wrote to Manning about a lunch he had with Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the U.S. deputy secretary of Defense and a leading proponent in the administration of confronting Hussein. Meyer said in the memo that he had told Wolfowitz that U.N. pressure and weapons inspections could be used to trip up Hussein.

"We backed regime change," he wrote, "but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option. It would be a tough sell for us domestically, and probably tougher elsewhere in Europe."

Clever? Clever how? Clever is not necessarily a good thing when you're talking about persuading people to go to war. There’s more:

Another memo, from British Foreign Office political director Peter Ricketts to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on March 22, 2002, bluntly stated that the case against Hussein was weak because the Iraqi leader was not accelerating his weapons programs and there was scant proof of links to Al Qaeda.

"What has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September," Ricketts wrote. "Attempts to claim otherwise publicly will increase skepticism about our case….

"U.S. scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda is so far frankly unconvincing," he said.

Ricketts said that other countries such as Iran appeared closer to getting nuclear weapons, and that arguing for regime change in Iraq alone "does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam." That was why the issue of weapons of mass destruction was vital, he said.

There’s a lot more and it all pretty much lays out the British leadership’s impressions of Bush administration strategy. And that strategy appears to have been to create the conditions that would make regime change by military action justifiable—both by prodding Saddam and by convincing the world that Iraq was a real threat even though the evidence of that was slim.

I honestly don’t know what to make of all this. We have to be careful mainly because these are British memos and not United States memos and their impressions might not be accurate portrayals of what our leadership was thinking. But even if it’s in the ballpark, this all raises a lot of questions.

Why were we focusing on Iraq while the war in Afghanistan was still going fairly strong and we still thought we could capture Bin Laden?

How intent was the Bush administration on using forceful regime change in Iraq? Were other strategies seriously considered? Could anything have deterred them?

There’s a fine line between pushing very hard for a desired outcome and using deception to achieve those ends. Did Bush or anyone in his administration cross that line?

I’m sure many people could provide me with very reasonable explanations for all of this. But I have a feeling that many more people are going to see this new info as evidence that the administration wasn’t exactly straight with the American people. But, if so, how “not exactly straight” were they? These memos don’t tell us. But do they point us in the direction?

I need to think about all of this. I reserve judgment for now. The situation would be so much clearer if we were hearing this through American memos or if these memos provided concrete policy decisions rather than just discussions of strategy. Discussions of strategy don’t prove that the strategy was followed. But it’s got to make us wonder.

4 Comments:

At 4:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Retired Marine Vet with a Mind:

Good morning Alan . . . you said:

: But it’s got to make us wonder.

In my mind my skepticism began and my hackles went up on the back of my neck and I went to red alert after I heard the following. . .

Do you recall a September 4, 2002 report by David Martin related to:

: : "...notes taken by aides who were with Rumsfeld
: : in the National Military Command Center on
: : Sept. 11--notes that show exactly where the road
: : toward war with Iraq began." ???

: : "Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working
: : on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote
: : Rumsfeld as saying he wanted 'best info fast.
: : Judge whether good enough hit S.H.' – meaning
: : Saddam Hussein – 'at same time. Not only UBL'
: : – the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden."

- - -cut - - -

: : " 'Go massive,' the notes quote him as saying.
: : 'Sweep it all up. Things related and not.' "

September 4, 2002 Full Text

That was my 56th birthday. . .

Taking into consideration the pressure cooker conditions of that fateful day I can understand Rumsfeld's stance of who the possible culprits would most likely of been. But with what I knew of Saddam and his mobster mentality - I seriously knew he wouldn't be the one to pull the tail of Tiger.

And now taken with what has transpired what with Cabinet member Snow's revelation and Richard Clarke's testimony about pre 9/11 - the Plame affair - in addition to Woodward's tome and the latest revelations - the picture has become more clear to my old skeptical military mind. . .

They wanted that son-of-bitch Saddam and they'd go as far as lying to We the People to get him!

"Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

Thanks for the blog forum . . .

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger KMSweet said...

I agree with you, sir. Of course, people who thought that the country was being misled into a war and being decieved by the President were convinced of this from the beginning. These "damn liberals", as so many people like to call them (pejoritively, by the way), seemed to have a better feel for what was happening. Of course, they had no proof of their claims at the time, but that should not mean there may not be proof out there. If there's anything American's should have learned by now, its that those in power will do whatever it takes to stay in power. Frankly, we are deluding ourselves by not recognizing this fact of political life.

Anyways, what I am trying to get at is that now that the crescendo of information is surfacing, ALL Americans need to look at this situation with honest eyes. There should be no politics involved, and unfortunately some on the far right are already saying that the shadow liberals are attacking the President (what exactly does that mean?).

The gravity of the charges, the preponderance of the evidence, and the fact that high-level American officials have been saying the same thing the British Memo's have said since 2002 is astounding.

In the end, the greatest disservice Americans can do to their country is to NOT do what is right. This is not about liberals versus conservatives; not about the US versus the rest of the world; and certainly not about people brining down the administration. What this is about is doing what is right in the face of immense pressure to do otherwise. If, in fact, our President misled and lied to us, and his cabinent willingly followed, then at the very least, it would be unamerican to tolerate the deception.

That said, I hope that people would stop saying that the only way an elected offical can be proven guilty of any misgiving is by there being a document from some American official , practically with his signature on it. If all the evidence points to one place and all other explainations are proven wrong, then that official is wrong.

As a side note, it would be interesting to see how many of the Administration's explainations/excuses/reasons for their actions have been proven wrong, and how many times their reasoning has changed. Perhaps a really saavy blogger could do that.

Great forum, thanks Alan

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Eliki said...

Do any of you remember the Project for a New American Century? (PNAC) We have known this whole time that what the DSM implies is true. Seeing the memo sheds some light on the particulars and, at best - shows how complicit the UK was in the web of lies.

http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

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.

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Eliki said...

I might not have made myself clear... The link I sent is a letter that PNAC sent to Clinton in 1998 - and look at the list of people who signed it.

When Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bolton and all the other croonies say that military action in Iraq was not a long standing goal - they are flat out lying. Regime change was ALWAYS the goal.

On that site there are PNAC "position papers" and other various commentary that is startling and a little sickening.

 

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