Wednesday, May 4

The Smoking Gun Appears

Secret US/British Plan to Attack Iraq Revealed

This week reports have arisen in the British Press of a Classified 2002 memo which details a Downing Street meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior staff that outlines a plot to manufacture WMD evidence in order to persue a regime change in Iraq.

Excerpts from the Downing Street Memo.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

...

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

The release of this memo has prompted a rather strongly worded letter to the President from Ranking Minority Judiciary Committe member John Conyers (D) and a scathing editorial by Greg Palast.

Conyers wrote on Dailykos:

Dear Mr. President:

We write because of troubling revelations in the Sunday London Times apparently confirming that the United States and Great Britain had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in the summer of 2002, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action. While various individuals have asserted this to be the case before, including Paul O'Neill, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Richard Clarke, a former National Security Council official, they have been previously dismissed by your Administration. However, when this story was divulged last weekend, Prime Minister Blair's representative claimed the document contained "nothing new." If the disclosure is accurate, it raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war as well as the integrity of your own Administration.

So far, Conyers has 50 signatures on his letter. Palast made the case in far stronger terms on Buzzflash:

The memo, uncovered this week by the Times, goes on to describe an elaborate plan by George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to hoodwink the planet into supporting an attack on Iraq knowing full well the evidence for war was a phony.

A conspiracy to commit serial fraud is, under federal law, racketeering. However, the Mob's schemes never cost so many lives.

...

A month ago, the Silberman-Robb Commission issued its report on WMD intelligence before the war, dismissing claims that Bush fixed the facts with this snotty, condescending conclusion written directly to the President, "After a thorough review, the Commission found no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons."

We now know the report was a bogus 618 pages of thick whitewash aimed to let Bush off the hook for his murderous mendacity.

Read on: The invasion build-up was then set, says the memo, "beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections." Mission accomplished.

You should parse the entire memo and see if you can make it through its three pages without losing your lunch.

The sad truth is most Americans have been so blase and accepting of each new horrific revelation concerning their government, I suspect they'll have no trouble swallowing this at all - then moving easily on to desert.

Most people forget that Saddam actually did allow the inspectors back into Iraq prior to the start of the war in 2003. They forget that in 1998 when he originally kicked the inspectors out, President Clinton responded with a massive bombing campaign that targeted each and every suspected WMD factory or storage facility. Wonder we're the WMD's went? They were already destroyed in 1998 - that's where.

Vyan

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