Sunday, May 15, 2005

My thoughts on the Downing memo

We have all heard of the Downing Memos by now. Or we would have if the leads didn't get buried deep within the bowels of our major newspapers. I decided to finally take a look at the memo. For the sake of brevity, I have selected a few paragraphs of note. Also, C is the notation for a spymaster of the British MI-6. Sort of like M in the 007 flicks. The memo dates July 23 2002. Remember, we attacked on March 19, 2003.
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.

How does this connect with what the White House was trying to say? The White house repeatedly said they hadn't decided to attack Iraq. From's piece on the same topic,
The background: Throughout 2002 and early 2003, the administration repeatedly insisted that they sought a peaceful solution to the Iraq question and that war was only a last resort. In October of 2002, for instance, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said , "We're going to seek a peaceful solution to this. We think that one is possible" [Source: CBS, 10/20/02]. Then in November of 2002, she said, "We all want very much to see this resolved in a peaceful way" [Source: White House Briefing, 11/21/02]. In March of 2003, she claimed "we are still in a diplomatic phase here" [Source: ABC News, 3/9/03].
Richard Perle knew better. From the German edition of Financial Times, translated and reproduced on
"I don't think there's anything (Iraqi leader) Saddam Hussein could do that would convince us there's no longer any danger coming from Iraq," said Richard Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board of the US Department of Defence and a top Rumsfeld adviser.

Perle, quoted in an interview with the German edition of the Financial Times at the Munich Security Conference, said the only thing that would convince the US regarding Iraq would be a change of regime.

US President George W. Bush was now on "a very clear path" heading toward war with Iraq, said Perle as quoted by the Financial Times Deutschland.

The newspaper said if Perle was right even Iraq's meeting the US demand for the return of international inspectors would do nothing to prevent American military strikes.
John McCain, either dumb or forced to suck up to the man who smeared his wife, says that he doesn't agree with the memo. He just can't believe that a man who let his operatives slander him and his family would set out to fix intelligence and march to war, regardless of what Iraq did. He's entitled to his opinion.

My opinion is that Bush wanted to be el Generalissimo all along.

by Robster @ 5/15/2005 07:38:00 PM PERMALink