Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Memo Reality

Three days ago in Memo Paranoia I wrote that "the Downing Street memo" (actually, several memos) is old news and isn't worth all the attention. It's interesting to see The Washington Post taking the same view in an editorial today:

After lagging for months, debate on Iraq in Washington is picking up again. That's a needed and welcome development, but much of the discussion is being diverted to the wrong subject. War opponents have been trumpeting several British government memos from July 2002, which describe the Bush administration's preparations for invasion, as revelatory of President Bush's deceptions about Iraq. Bloggers have demanded to know why "the mainstream media" have not paid more attention to them. Though we can't speak for The Post's news department, the answer appears obvious: The memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration's prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002. ...

One observation in the memos is vague but intriguing: A British official is quoted as saying that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Yet it was argued even then, and has since become conventional wisdom, that Mr. Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration spokesmen exaggerated the threat from Iraq to justify the elimination of its noxious regime. And the memos provide no information that would alter the conclusions of multiple independent investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, which were that U.S. and British intelligence agencies genuinely believed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and that they were not led to that judgment by the Bush administration.

The editorial goes on to make the very valid point that there are enough problems to worry about in Iraq today without obsessing on a few British memos that add nothing to the discussion. However, I'd guess it's unlikely that the anti-war leftists who are so worked up about this will back off. After all, these are the same people still frothing at the mouth over the 2000 election.

Update: Fred Kaplan at wrote a fair, reasonable, and detailed analysis of the British documents. It's worth a few minutes to read.


Blogger Francesca said...

Trust me, I've let the 2000 election go and I'm no longer smarting over 2004.

But just because a newspaper says that these Minutes are not important doesn't make it so.

Same goes for Bush and Blair denying that this is controversial stuff. I wasn't old enough to hear "I am not a crook!" but I know bullsh*t when I hear it.

There are enough media sources--gasp! some even are mainstream ones--finally saying that these documents that have come out over the past six week are significant that I feel pretty justified in my outrage.

Yes, there are plenty of problems in Iraq to worry about. Rumsfeld even said yesterday that Iraq is not "statistically" safer than it was when Saddam was captured.

But these memos and minutes are demonstrating that those problems could have been avoided, that the Coalition rushed into war with no real plan and without proper justification.

Six out of ten Americans believe that the Iraq War was not worth fighting. How many more would say that if they actually understood what these memos mean?

10:27 AM, June 15, 2005  
Blogger carla said...

What Francesca said!!

7:25 PM, June 15, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Francesca and Carla, I know you're not going to give up on this. But you're devoting a lot of time and energy to something that isn't going to make any difference. Take that as a prediction, and we'll see how it plays out.

7:01 AM, June 16, 2005  
Blogger carla said...


As Dan Froomkin of the post said about a month ago...this bomb isn't a's just got a long, slow fuse.

You'll see.

9:36 PM, June 16, 2005  

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