The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, May 23, 2005

Downing Street Memo

by now, some of you may have heard of the "Downing Street Memo," a document written before the invasion of Iraq that many (on both sides of the aisle) find disturbing politically.  The text can be found here:

http://www.tomjoad.org/downingstreetmemo.htm

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I am hoping that this will be investigated to the limits.  A friend believed that the American press' apparent reluctance to jump on this with both feet is a symptom of them being administration "lapdogs" (so much for hte liberal press!) but I think there are valid reasons to be cautious.  I'm no fan of the Bush administration, but the press has taken some whacking recently, and I can understand why they'd want to proceed carefully.
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Much of the bruhaha comes from the comment that "
But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of military action as the only way.  The interpretation is that the word "fixed" is synonomous with "fabricated." Let's be careful here.  I can see where the temptation would be high, but that MAY be an American euphemism, not in common usage in British speech, especially in official documents.  Looking at the dictionary, "Fixed" also means "to put in place" or "to repair."  In other words, it is possible that the sentence means that (to paraphrase) "Because the Bush administration believes military action is justified and inevitable, they are building their intelligence case to support this alternative."
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Later in the memo, it mentions Saddam's use of WMDs in a way that clearly indicates that the British believed he had them.  CLEARLY.  If they believed he had them, then they would hardly think America was "fabricating" evidence.  There would be no need.
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Having said that, the document is still disturbing, indicating that America was NOT doing all it could to avoid military confrontation, rather they were doing all they could to get to military confrontation as quickly as possible.  Quite possibly, they believed themselves justified.  But the American public was misled about how hard they were trying to avoid war.  As about all we've gotten when the WMD's didn't materialize was an "oops!  Well, we had other good reasons..." I think it reasonable to press this point.  WMDs were what was used to sell this to our public, and our allies.  They weren't there.  And I don't think enough heads have rolled for this.  I'm not suggesting jail time, but THOUSANDS of people have died for this mistake, and this memo, while not absolutely damning, is disturbing as hell.  I'd like to see it investigated and interpreted by cool, calm heads--not discounted, or used to inflame either Left or Right.

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