Monday, June 06, 2005

Iraq: Denial and Deception

"With this resolution, Congress has now authorized the use of force. I have not ordered the use of force. I hope the use of force will not become necessary. Yet, confronting the threat posed by Iraq is necessary, by whatever means that requires. Either the Iraqi regime will give up its weapons of mass destruction, or, for the sake of peace, the United States will lead a global coalition to disarm that regime. If any doubt our nation's resolve, our determination, they would be unwise to test it. "

-- President George W. Bush, October 16, 2002



"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 Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

"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 Downing Street Memo, July 23, 2002


"The origins of the false contention that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction remain a serious and lingering question about the lead up to the war. There is an ongoing debate about whether this was the result of a 'massive intelligence failure,' in other words a mistake, or the result of intentional and deliberate manipulation of intelligence to justify the case for war. The memo appears to resolve that debate as well, quoting the head of British intelligence as indicating that in the United States 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.'

As a result of these concerns, we would ask that you respond to the following questions:
1)Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?
3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to 'fix' the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

--Senator John Conyers's letter to President Bush

Click here to add your name to Senator Conyers's letter.

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