Critical Issues For Conyers To Explore At Next Week's DSM Hearing
As you can see from Eriposte’s fine piece below, even though the corporate conservative media has largely failed to cover the Downing Street Memo here in this country, the memo is finally getting the attention it deserves. The British media has been all over this story, to the point that Tony Blair will soon be sued by Military Families Against the War to demand an independent public inquiry into the background behind the decisions taken by Blair and Bush to take the two nations into war. Here in this country, several groups, spearheaded by AfterDowningStreet.org have focused on getting more congressional and media attention to the memo and what it portends, namely that Bush and Blair had plans in place in the Summer of 2002 to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein regardless of what happened subsequently at the United Nations, which is contrary to what Bush told Congress and the American people.
The leading congressional Democrat who has taken up the charge to push the Downing Street Memo into public view has been Michigan Democratic congressman John Conyers, who with the support of the House Democratic leadership has scheduled a Democratic policy committee hearing for next Thursday, June 16 to take testimony and hear from witnesses on the issues of whether or not Bush planned to go to war anyway and whether or not the Bush Administration “fixed” the collection of intelligence to support a decision that had already been made in the Summer of 2002 to go to war, even if Saddam totally capitulated to Bush’s demands. Blog coordination work is being done by the BigBrassAlliance.
The White House, as might be expected, is brushing off the memo, and hiding behind Blair himself who is trying to downplay it without denying its authenticity. As usual with the White House and Bush, they will either say things like “conspiracy theories,” or “this has been answered and dealt with before”, or “numerous investigations have been done and have shown that ….” without ever directly answering the charges themselves. And the corporate conservative media lets it go at that. However, Conyers is going to force the media to pay attention to the memo by staging a news event that will package evidence for them, doing the work for a lazy and disinterested media.
The White House to date has dismissed one of the memo’s basic conclusions, that the intelligence was “fixed around the policy”, and Conyers can expect the same treatment in response next week. One way to make it more difficult for the White House to slither away this time would be for Conyers to not only focus on the intelligence, for which the administration holds many corrupted cards in its favor, but to build an argument of related events around and leading up to the period addressed by the memo to prove that in the context of other developments in the run up to the war, the memo’s contentions are quite plausible and invulnerable from White House challenge. Namely, if Conyers can build a strong argument that goes beyond the intelligence and deals with the issue of whether or not the decision had already been made to go to war, then the White House is in a more precarious position.
I’d like to suggest that Conyers focus on three issues and call these individuals as possible witnesses next week in his efforts to build a case that the decision had already been made in the summer of 2002. All three of these supporting arguments have already been covered here at the Left Coaster:
First and most damaging to me, as we first reported back in October 2003, why would the White House see a need to build a strategic information campaign using White House staff to manipulate media coverage in favor of a war months in advance of going to the UN, Congress, and the American people if the issue and decision had not already been made? Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner wrote a little-noticed but never disputed paper that outlined the steps the Bush Administration took to build what in essence was a strategic influence and disinformation campaign to manipulate the media and sway public opinion in favor of a war that Bush says he hadn’t yet decided upon. These efforts started with the creation of the Coalition Information Office by none other than Karen Hughes at about the same time the Downing Street Memo said that Bush had made up his mind. Colonel Gardiner feels that the organization was in fact put together at the time of the memo, and that the “marketing” of the war began in September when Congress returned from summer recess. Since his study came out, Colonel Gardiner has received confirmation from a number of sources including sources inside the Bush Administration that almost all of his initial conclusions were correct. Even though the whole study is chilling, pay particular attention to his material from Page 50 onward to see how the Downing Street Memo can be supported with Gardiner’s work. Perhaps Congressman Conyers can call Colonel Gardiner as a witness next week to lay out the involvement of the White House and outside GOP public relations firms in selling a war to the Congress and the American people through an intimidated and spoon-fed media, a campaign that actually commenced around the same time that the Downing Street Memo indicated a decision had already been made. And yes, I've talked with Gardiner today, and Colonel Gardiner is willing to share his information with Conyers.
Second, none other than Bob Woodward himself in his wet-kiss book “Bush at War” reported that Bush authorized Rumsfeld to move approximately $700 million from Afghanistan reconstruction to the establishment of a logistical infrastructure to support an Iraq invasion, without the required congressional notice and authority. When did this happen, as Woodward notes with a great deal of risk of legal problems for the White House? It happened in July 2002, at about the same time as the Downing Street Memo was written saying the decision had already been made by Bush, within a month of the Downing Street Memo. Perhaps Conyers can call Bob Woodward as a witness to testify about what he found in researching his book on this congressionally-unauthorized transfer of funds from Afghan reconstruction to Iraq war planning during the Summer of 2002.
And lastly, it has been reported that Bush dropped in on a White House meeting in Condi Rice’s office in March 2002, and blurted to the three startled US senators Rice was meeting with “Fuck Saddam, we’re going to take him out.” Perhaps Conyers can call the three senators as well as Michael Elliott and James Carney of Time Magazine to confirm what Bush said and did, three months before the Downing Street Memo said that a decision had already been made.
Again, the key for Conyers is not to get trapped into building his case primarily upon the fixed intelligence claim in the memo, but to build also a circumstantial case as well that supports the bigger claim that the decision had already been made by the White House to go to war in the Summer of 2002, despite what was being told to Congress and the American people.Steve Soto