BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Downing Street

I'm begging ya to take the time today.

To get into the "Downing Street Memo" thing."

Here we go --

Back on MAY IST, I posted the following bits on the memo, from the story in the Times UK --

*

Hey...speaking of Iraq:

Blair hit by new leak of secret war plan

Uh oh:
A SECRET document from the heart of government reveals today that Tony Blair privately committed Britain to war with Iraq and then set out to lure Saddam Hussein into providing the legal justification.

The Downing Street minutes, headed “Secret and strictly personal — UK eyes only”, detail one of the most important meetings ahead of the invasion.

It was chaired by the prime minister and attended by his inner circle. The document reveals Blair backed “regime change” by force from the outset, despite warnings from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, that such action could be illegal.

The minutes, published by The Sunday Times today, begins with the warning: “This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. The paper should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know.” It records a meeting in JULY 2002, attended by military and intelligence chiefs, at which Blair discussed military options having already committed himself to supporting President George Bush’s plans for ousting Saddam.
Here's the key sentence again:
It records a meeting in JULY 2002, attended by military and intelligence chiefs, at which Blair discussed military options having already committed himself to SUPPORTING President George BUSH'S PLANS for ousting Saddam.
JULY 2002, people. JULY, 2002. Bush already had a plan...at least as early as the summer of 2002.
(Blair) had not revealed to MPs or the public that in April 2002 he had told Bush “the UK would support US military action to bring about regime change”, as recorded in the Foreign Office briefing paper.
Oh, sorry; SPRING, 2002. Just SEVEN MONTHS after 9/11.

Hmm.

Anyone remember what the Bushies were telling us in the spring of 2002?

"No. We don't."

Well, ONE quick Google search (White House, plans, Iraq, Hussein, 2002) gives you this CNN article from July 5, 2002:

White House downplays Iraq invasion report

Uh.
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (CNN) -- The Bush administration refused comment Friday on a reported preliminary plan to attack Iraq, saying it never comments on military plans.

"We don't comment on military plans or military planning," a senior administration official told CNN.

According to a report in Friday's New York Times, the U.S. military has put together a preliminary planning document that calls for air, land and sea-based forces to attack Iraq. The assault would involve tens of thousands of U.S. Marines and soldiers, the newspaper reported.

About three weeks ago, BUSH REPEATED HE HAD NO WAR PLANS ON HIS DESK. The senior aide said that remains the case today.
Fine.

There were no war plans on his desk.

There were war plans on the couch, on the filing cabinet, and on Bush's Lifecycle, but they weren't on his desk.

Glad we finally cleared that up.

Man.

Another key passage from the Blair article:
“IF THE POLITICAL CONTEXT WERE RIGHT, people would support regime change,” said Blair. He added that the key issues were “whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan space to work”.

The political STRATEGY proved to be ARGUING Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed such a threat that military action had to be taken.
In otherwords...if the political context is not "right?"

"You make it right."

Right.

*

CUT TO June, 2005.

For some reason (and, gee, I wonder "why"), this story NEVER "got legs" in the national, mainstream media. Because we had more important things to worry about.

"Like the Runaway Bride, Jacko, Tom & Katie, and Jessica Simpson's new body."

(BTW - the cover of the new US is simply a "screen shot" from Jessica's new vid, the one where she's washing a car in a bikini. The headline basically says, "How can Nick leave something this hot?!" Important stuff.)

Having said that, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is on the case. They're posting the key bits of the memo. Outright:

Secret no more: Downing Street memo

Like this stuff. READ CAREFULLY:
IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
That's a chilling statement.
John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC [Joint Intelligence Committee] assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the U.S. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C [Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's foreign intelligence service] 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 [National Security Council] 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.

CDS [Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the defense staff] said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad U.S. options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 U.S. troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).
(b) Running Start. U.S. forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.
The U.S. saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.
(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.
(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the U.S. had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime.
THAT IS HUGE.

The U.S - had already begun - SPIKES OF ACTIVITY - to put pressure on the regime.

They increased pre-war activity to provoke the old regime.

How? Secret bombings? Mercs on the ground in Iraq? What's the true story?

"You can't handle the truth!"
No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in U.S. minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the U.S. congressional elections.
WITH THE TIMELINE BEGINNING 30 DAYS BEFORE THE US CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS.

Hello? McFly? Hello, McFly? McFly!!!

THAT BENEFITS -

"Republicans! Wahoo!"

Right.
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 MILTARY 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 "situation" did change.

"Because now...we're fighting for their freedom!"

I'll break down more bits from the memo later.

(Self-promotional plea: Pass the blog on to a new person or two today. Thanks much, BJS.)

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