Leaked Top-Secret British Documents Revealing Bush Intended to Launch a War on Iraq --- No Matter What --- Have Been Proven Legitimate and Correct
John Conyers' Latest Report Provides a Point-by-Point Verification
By David Swanson on 12/30/2005, 12:13pm PT  


Guest Blogged by David Swanson, co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org and CensureBush.org

In the eight months since the so-called "Downing Street Documents" have been made public, certain media elites have claimed that it is all "old and uninteresting news" that…

1. Bush had already decided to go to war long before approaching Congress or the public or the UN about it, and had already started the attack with increased bombings;

2. Bush had already decided to lie about weapons of mass destruction and ties to 9-11;

3. The Brits were concerned by the illegality of an aggressive war, but the Bush Administration was not;

4. Going to the UN was an attempt to justify the war, and the hope was to craft an ultimatum that Saddam Hussein would reject;

5. The focus of the Bush and Blair administrations was on selling the war to the public, and not at all on trying to avoid it;

6. The Bush and Blair administrations were aware that Iraq was no threat, and were willing to attack Iraq precisely because it posed no serious threat of fighting back.

Of course, those who care about the world we live in do not find any of this "uninteresting." As well, given the shameful dearth of proper coverage by the Mainstream Media of these issues, many Americans still have yet to hear about these things. So it is hardly "old news" in any meaningful sense.

But still, some have maintained that the "Downing Street Documents", as well as all the other evidence that makes them old news in the eyes of some, are not credible. In fact, a right-wing group called Move America Forward is running television ads claiming that every Bush war lie was true, even the ones that Bush himself has admitted were "mistakes." (Yes, they even go so far as to claim in their ads that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction found in Iraq!)

Some people may be beyond the realm of rational persuasion, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to present those in doubt or poorly informed with a few pages of paper confirming the accuracy of the Downing Street Minutes and related documents, and listing other evidence that corroborates the Minutes point by point?

Now you can…

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/5769\">http://www.bradblog.com/...CrisisCover_121905.jpg\" hspace="6" vspace="3" border="0" align="left"> Simply print out pages 34 to 37 of Congressman John Conyers' new report, THE CONSTITUTION IN CRISIS: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War.

-- Here's are a couple of the points you'll find there confirming the authenticity of the Downing Street Minutes themselves...

When the Downing Street Minutes were first published by the Sunday London Times, shortly before the 2005 British election, the Blair Administration chose not to deny their authenticity. Shortly after the Minutes were released, sources within both the Bush and Blair Administrations confirmed their accuracy to the press. A former senior US official told Knight Ridder that the Downing Street Minutes were "an absolutely accurate description of what transpired." (Warren P. Strobel & John Walcott, Downing Street Memo Indicates Bush Made Intelligence Fit Iraq Policy, KNIGHT RIDDER, May 5, 2005.)

Two senior British officials, who asked not to be further identified because of the sensitivity of the material, told Newsweek in separate interviews that they had no reason to question the authenticity of the Downing Street Minutes. (Michael Isikoff & Mark Hosenball, From Downing Street to Capitol Hill, NEWSWEEK.COM, June 17, 2005, available here)

-- Here are some of the points you'll find there corroborating elements in the Downing Street Minutes...

By mid-July 2002, eight months before the war began, President Bush had decided to "remove Saddam, through military action."
This has been proven true --- on March 20, 2003, the U.S. military invaded Iraq and follow-up aspects of the Downing Street Minutes bear out that this decision was made well in advance of the war. In addition to the wealth of verification in Sections III(A)(1), (2), and (4) of Conyers' Report, and in particular as noted in the previous section, we know that in early August 2002, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair spoke by telephone. According to a White House official who has studied the transcript of the phone call, "The way it read was that, come what may, Saddam was going to go; they said they were going forward, they were going to take out the regime, and they were doing the right thing. Blair did not need any convincing. There was no 'come on Tony, we've got to get you on board.' I remember reading it then and thinking, O.K., now I know what we're going to be doing for the next year." (Bryan Burrough, Eugenia Peretz, David Rose, & David Wise, The Path to War, VANITY FAIR, May 1, 2004, at 228.)

In March 2003, Tony Blair reportedly said, "[l]eft to himself, Bush would have gone to war in January. No, not January, but back in September." (ROBIN COOK, THE POINT OF DEPARTURE, Simon & Schuster, 2003).

Bush had decided to "justify" the war "by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD."
This statement is borne out by the entire "marketing campaign," which fixated on these twin justifications (see Section III(A)(4) of Conyers' Report). For example, the Bush Administration formed the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) in August 2002 to persuade the public of Saddam's supposed threat and to market the war. The Administration waited to introduce the WHIG's product to the public until September 2002, because, as White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told The New York Times in an unusually candid interview, "[y]ou don't introduce new products in August." (Elisabeth Bumiller, Bush Aides Set Strategy to Sell Policy on Iraq, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 7, 2002, at A1.)

Already "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
The statement that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" is confirmed by the multi-layered effort by the Administration to pressure officials within the Administration to find links between Saddam and September 11 and to manipulate intelligence officials and agencies into overstating WMD threats (see Section III(B) of Conyers' Report).

Many at the top of the administration "had no patience" with "the UN route."
This statement is consistent with the realities of the Bush Administration's intentions at the time. For example, Vice President Cheney's stated opinion was that there was no need to seek any approval from the UN to invade. He has stated: "A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with UN resolutions. On the contrary, there is great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow 'back in the box.'" (Mark Danner, The Secret Way to War, N.Y. REV. OF BOOKS, June 9, 2005, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18034\">available here.)

"There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath of military action."
Unfortunately, this statement has been verified by events following the war (see Sections II and III(A)(3), (4) of Conyers' Report). Among other things, in an ironic assessment of the events to follow, Vice President Dick Cheney made an appearance on Meet the Press and stated that the war was not going to be long, costly or bloody because "we will be greeted as liberators." (Meet the Press: Interview with Vice-President Dick Cheney, NBC television broadcast, Mar. 16, 2003, available here.)

The US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime.
The statement that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to pressure Iraq has been subsequently confirmed by numerous accounts (see Section III(A) of Conyers' Report). As reported in the Sunday London Times, in May 2002, with a conditional agreement in place with Britain for war, the US and UK began to conduct a bombing campaign in Iraq described by British and US officials as "spikes of activity" designed to put pressure on the Iraqi regime. In his autobiography "American Soldier," retired U.S. General Tommy Franks, who led the 2003 invasion of Iraq, invoked the "spikes" phrase as far back as 2001: "I'm thinking in terms of spikes, Mr. Secretary," he wrote, referencing a conversation with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in December 2001, "spurts of activity followed by periods of inactivity. We want the Iraqis to become accustomed to military expansion, and then apparent contraction." (GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, AMERICAN SOLDIER 366, Regan Books, 2004.)

The bombing campaign was initiated a full ten months before the Bush Administration determined that all diplomatic means had been exhausted and six months before Congressional authorization for the use of force. A total of 21,736 sorties were flown over southern Iraq between June 2002 and the beginning of the war. According to a document found by Larisa Alexandrovna of RawStory.com, Lieutenant-General T Michael Moseley said that the "spikes of activity" were part of a covert air war. According to Moseley, the attacks, "laid the foundation" for the war. (John Byrne, U.S. changed Iraq policy to begin air strikes months before war, Rawstory.com, available here.)

The British believed "[w]e 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 initiative of the British to go back to the UN to force an "ultimatum" has also been proven true (see Section III(A)(5) of Conyers' Report). The U.S. and Britain asked for UN authorization to demand the reintroduction of weapons inspectors, which they received on November 8, 2002.

DAVID SWANSON is a co-founder of After Downing Street, a writer and activist, and the Washington Director of Democrats.com. He is a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and serves on the Executive Council of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, Media Coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as Communications Coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Swanson obtained a Master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1997.