Monday, March 27, 2006

Read It and Weep

Posted By on Mon, Mar 27, 2006 at 7:55 PM

In the months of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the head of British intelligence (identified as "C") drafted what would become known as The Downing Street Memo summarizing the conversations between President Bush and Tony Blair. What gave the memo its notoriety (after it was leaked) was its full revelation that Bush intended to go to war irrespective of allied support or UN sanction, and irrespective of the lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Further, Bush was not willing to allow the UN weapons inspector Hans Blix to continue his work, even though Blix and all of America's allies (except Britain) urged him to. As "C" succinctly put it, "the intelligence and facts" developed by our intelligence agencies were to be "fixed around the policy," already in place, to invade. That seems to be certainly what happened. The Downing Street Memo is analyzed in detail in a new book, The Secret Way to War, by Mark Danner to be published in April by the New York Review of Books.

Now, today's New York Times reports yet another damning memo from Blair's staff. David Manning, Blair's chief foreign policy adviser, reports that Bush and Blair knew there was no evidence of WMD only days before the invasion and that Bush, lacking clear justification for the attack, envisioned painting an American U-2 in UN colors and flying it over Iraqi gun emplacements hoping to draw fire and trigger a war, much like Lyndon Johnson did with the Gulf of Tonkin "incident." Finally, in response to a British question, Bush was confident that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between different religious and ethnic groups," something he apparently continues to believe.

Read it and weep.

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