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(DV) Petersen: Damage Control Over the Downing Street Memo







Damage Control Over the Downing Street Memo
by Kim Petersen
June 8, 2005

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During the UK elections, the minutes of a meeting between high-ranking UK officials was leaked and published in The Times of London. The memo, written prior to the US/UK aggression against Iraq by Matthew Rycroft, a top aide to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, indicates that the invasion of Iraq was “inevitable” and policy-driven.

The authenticity of the minutes is undisputed and, according to one anonymous former senior US official, is “an absolutely accurate description of what transpired.” [1]

Although the corporate media has been characterized as relatively silent and lackadaisical in pursuit of a “hot” story, agitation by some Democratic Party politicians has kept the Downing Street Memo issue simmering. In damage mode, Bush and Blair faced the meekly probing media together in Washington yesterday at a joint White House news conference that focused mostly on aid to Africa.

The most damaging remarks in the minutes were attributed to Richard Dearlove, chief of Britain’s secret intelligence service, MI6: “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.” [italics added]

British Prime Minister Blair contrarily stated at yesterday’s conference, “No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all.” Given that this statement is coming from a lawyer and a politician, one wonders what exactly is meant by “any shape or form.” A shape is a form. But why not simply state: “No, the facts were not being fixed”? Now, one is left to wonder in what other ways facts may be fixed in the mind of Blair.

Bush also took issue with the minutes. He declared, “There’s nothing farther from the truth.” This statement would be most appropriate in reference to the oft-repeated bogus asseverations from Bush regime officials about the certainty of Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Bush, the self-declared war president stated, “Look, both of us didn’t want to use our military.” Bush, who avoided military action to the point of being singled out as a deserter, added, “Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It’s the last option.” A Knight Ridder report contradicts this attitude. Bush was described as pumping his fist in the air, as captured on an internal TV monitor, and gleefully shouting “Feels Good” just minutes before announcing the start of war. [2]

The two politicians were depicted as seeming “happy to have survived their re-elections after the war in Iraq.” [3]

Bush congratulated Blair on his “great victory.” Blair's “landmark victory” saw his majority government reduced by just over 100 seats in the UK Parliament despite an uninspiring opposition party that also supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Bush also looked forward “to spread[ing] freedom and peace over the next years” with his British partner. Ostensibly, the Bush-Blair Doctrine sees peace being spread through war.

A meekly probing corporate media is complicit in this doctrine.

Kim Petersen is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: 

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(1) “Bush asked to explain UK war memo,” CNN News, 12 May 2005; “Memo: Bush manipulated Iraq intel,” Knight Ridder Newspapers, 9 May 2005


(2) Martin Merzer, Ron Hutcheson, and Drew Brown, “War begins in Iraq with strikes aimed at ‘leadership targets,’” Knight Ridder Newspapers, 20 March 2003


(3) Elisabeth Bumiller, “Bush and Blair Deny ‘Fixed’ Iraq Reports,” New York Times, 8 June 2005.

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