June 8th, 2005

[Update: 2207 EDT, 10 June. A coalition of citizen activist groups running the gamut of social and political issues will ask Congress to file a Resolution of Inquiry, the first necessary legal step to determine whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in misleading the country about his decision to go to war in Iraq.]

[Update: 1357 EDT, 10 June. My every-sharp friend Whymrhymer offers a source to answer some of my questions. On 17 May, Matthew Clark at the Christain Science Monitor asked the question: Why Has ‘Downing Street Memo’ Story Been A ‘Dud’ In US? Why indeed?

A quote from Thomas Patrick Carroll at Front Page Magazine in the final graph caught my attention. Writes Carroll:

But there is another aspect to this whole affair that is more troubling. We are now over three years into the war against militant Islam. It is simply inexcusable for opinion makers and public intellectuals (e.g., those who made such a fuss about the “revelations” in the Downing Street memo) not to grasp the strategic imperatives behind what we are doing in Iraq and elsewhere.

It”s certainly okay to disagree with our strategy, but for supposedly sophisticated commentators to miss the entire point and continue raving about WMD and UN sanctions is simply beyond the pale. Regardless of whether they support or oppose the Bush Doctrine and attendant strategies, critics have a responsibility to acknowledge those strategies and the goal of a new Middle East toward which they are driving.

I have a hard time understanding why focusing on the Bush administration’s fabricated reasons for destroying thousands of American lives is now beyond the pale. I wonder if Carroll remember a little incident in the Gulf of Tonkin.]

This really puzzles me. Why aren’t people calling for a Congressional investigation and the impeachment of President Bush for lying to America about his reasons for destroying thousands of American service personnel’s lives and expending billions of dollars of tax-payer’s money? Do we simply not care? Do we only express outrage when it involves oral sex, cigars and a blue dress?

How can it be any more clear than this:

From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

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.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC 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 US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

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. CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August. The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US 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. Use 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 US 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 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.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary. The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN. John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.


(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)


My Soundtrack: American Pie by Don McLean.

19 Responses to “THE MEMO…”

  1. whymrhymer says:

    Impeach a president based on a memo that “suddenly surfaces” after three years? A memo that may be a mixture of observations about actual scenerios for invading Iraq and the opinion of the mysterious “C” that Intelligence was being “fixed?”

    It sounds a little too convenient.

  2. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Whymrhymer,

    One of the reasons I’ve held off on commenting on this memo since the London Times first published it on 1 May is that I wanted to see what kind of vetting process it would undergo.

    Interestingly enough, instead of debunking a memo that suddenly surfaces, people are unusually quiet. It appears to me that there is a hope that if it is ignored it will just go away.

    Neither David Manning nor Matthew Rycroft have flatly denied that the memo is genuine. Their clear denial as to its authenticity would sink it faster than you could say swift boat, but that hasn’t happened.

    Finally, while I fully recognize as someone who was a working journalist for 15 years that even the big boys make mistakes you could steer the Titanic through, the London Times has a better than average credibility factor.

    Lying to the Congress and to the American people, especially when it involves the destruction of thousands of American lives, is an impeachable offense in my book.



  3. whymrhymer says:


    FYI, The Christian Science Monitor, about three weeks ago, published a story asking the same question you ask: Here’s The Link

  4. Jeff says:

    Shalom Whymrhymer,

    See, this is why I love the Internet.

    Thank you. I’ll read it ASAP.



  5. Dan Wismar says:

    Selective memory on the part of the Iraq war critics is perhaps one explanation for their puzzlement about the lack of “outrage” over the Downing Street memo. A part of this is the unwillingness to revisit the last few years of the Clinton administration, whose official policy was regime change in Iraq, and who was bombing Iraq in 1998 as punishment for WMD stonewalling, to the outrage of few. The “status quo” at the time was U.N. sanctions and U.S. “flyovers” designed to prevent Saddam from gassing more of his own citizens, and which cost U.S. taxpayers billions, with no end in sight. Remember?

    More selective memory is required by those who now trumpet the lack of WMD discoveries as evidence of Bush “lies”. In large part, anti-liberation folks have been getting away with pretending Saddam never had WMD’s or had no programs in place to produce them. Again, reminders may be in order. From a TWS article, this is just a partial list of what the Iraqis admitted to by 1998:

    * That in the years immediately prior to the first Gulf War, Iraq produced at least 3.9 tons of VX, a deadly nerve gas, and acquired 805 tons of precursor ingredients for the production of more VX.

    * That Iraq had produced or imported some 4,000 tons of ingredients to produce other types of poison gas.

    * That Iraq had produced 8,500 liters of anthrax.

    * That Iraq had produced 500 bombs fitted with parachutes for the purpose of delivering poison gas or germ payloads.

    * That Iraq had produced 550 artillery shells filled with mustard gas.

    * That Iraq had produced or imported 107,500 casings for chemical weapons.

    * That Iraq had produced at least 157 aerial bombs filled with germ agents.

    * That Iraq had produced 25 missile warheads containing germ agents (anthrax, aflatoxin, and botulinum).

    Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright and others in the administration had made the decision by the late ’90’s that Saddam was a menace that would eventually have to be removed. This was an uncontroversial topic back then, which probably led to quotes like this from leading Democrats:

    – in June 2002 Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said, “There is broad support for a regime change in Iraq. The question is how do we do it and when do we do it.”

    Military action also had broad bipartisan support in Congress, and of course was backed by Security Council Resolution 1441, which had its “serious consequences” terms justified by Saddam’s refusal to account for WMD’s which he had previously admitted to possessing.

    All of which is merely to set up the point that it is altogether unsurprising and certainly not worthy of “outrage” that by the middle of 2002, President Bush and his close advisors were fairly sure that a military operation would be required to oust Saddam, and that plans to do so were well underway. It would have been irresponsible not to be doing so. The unspoken but logical rejoinder to those who are outraged that it appears from the DSM that Bush had pretty much made up his mind to invade Iraq by mid-2002 is: “So f’n what?”

    After all, by that time it was clear that “diplomacy” was not likely to be a successful way to get the Iraqi dictator to step down. By late 2001, the U.S. and Britain had already brought to the attention of the United Nations the fact that Saddam was taking kickbacks and paying bribes through the Oil-For-Food program, and it was clear that he had successfully bought the Security Council votes of France and Russia, along with numerous U.N. officials directly.

    The primary reason Bush went back to the U.N. in late 2002 was to provide political cover for the resident of 10 Downing Street. He had to know he had little chance to compete at the U.N. with Saddam’s millions in bribes to his business partners in Europe and the Arab world.

    A reading of the DSM shows that both British and American officials were concerned about Saddam’s potential use of WMD’s in an invasion. If they were fabricating (“fixing” is supposedly the damning word here) the evidence about WMD’s, why were their private strategy sessions exhibiting such concern about them?

    More selective memory is put to use ignoring the countless times George Bush stated clearly, in major speeches, the additional justifications for regime change in Iraq, namely the manifest humanitarian reasons, as well as the demonstrable links to radical Islamic terrorism.

    And as ever, the war critics do not like to talk about their proposed alternatives to the invasion of Iraq, because they had none, short of going back to the Security Council, where it was obvious that Saddam had feathered his nest with cash. We never hear Bush’s Iraq policy critics discuss Oil-For-Food, or Salman Pak terrorist training center, or Saddam’s terror “summits”. We don’t read anti-war critics’ book reviews of books like Stephen Hayes’ The Connection, and we sure don’t hear anyone acknowledging that Bush merely followed through on Clinton’s Iraq policy. We don’t hear these things addressed because doing so would draw more attention to the critics’ utter lack of a better idea.

    In addition, it is embarrassing for these folks to admit that following their stated policy would today have assured an entrenched and belligerent Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, with all of its attendant murder, torture, corruption, and repression. This would include an ongoing U.N. scam aid program, reconstituted WMD programs, and continuing financial and tactical support for Islamic terror.

    Implicit in their “Bush lied” rhetoric is the notion that the U.S. and the world would be better off had we not deposed Saddam. I have not heard this thesis convincingly argued by any of Bush’s critics. Wonder why.

    Yes, there’s a whole lot that must be conveniently forgotten or ignored to sit around today and demand outrage, investigation, and impeachment proceedings because George Bush demonstrated leadership in liberating 25 million Iraqis from a murderous scourge. It is beside the point that, as James Robbins said in his excellent piece on the DSM:

    the memo simply contains the impressions of an aide of the impressions of British-cabinet officials of the impressions of unnamed people they spoke to in the United States about what they thought the president was thinking.

    The point is that Bush and Blair were sitting down in late 2002 devising their strategy on how to depose Saddam Hussein. That is, to do what needed to be done. That which the United Nations would eventually say would have to be done if Saddam violated S.C. Resolution 1441. The fact that their intelligence, and that of the entire Western world, proved to be in some measure faulty, changes none of that.

    Impeachment advocates should be called upon to explain how they would have better handled Saddam then, and how they would be dealing with an emboldened Saddam now. Or how they would have somehow achieved the desired “regime change” without military action, given the reality of a compromised Security Council (or even with a squeaky clean U.N. for that matter). They should be asked how Clinton’s military actions to remove an oppressive tyrant in the Balkans were justifiable, especially since they lacked U.N. sanction, if Bush’s liberation of Iraq is not.

    I don’t for a moment minimize the loss of life and limb among U.S. and coalition troops. But I also think it’s fair to say that if a Democrat had effected the liberation of 25 million Middle Easterners from dictatorship with the same casualty numbers, many of today’s Bush critics would be doing self-congratulatory cartwheels down the avenue.

    Which makes this DSM stuff mostly about Bush hatred then. Focusing on minutiae like what the word “fixing” meant in some British bureaucrat’s memo instead of on the demonstrably positive results of the Bush-led Middle Eastern democratization process is what makes Bush haters feel better these days.

    It also keeps the subject off of their lack of a coherent strategy to deal with the war that Islamic fundamentalists are waging on the West and all of modernity.

  6. Jeff says:

    Shalom Dan,

    Ends do not justify the means. Failure is not an option is not a sound principle on which to base policy.

    I, for one, would have supported the President if he had come to the American people with a cohesive, comprehensive plan to remove Saddam Hussein from power based on the indisputable fact that he was a tyrant and a despot.

    But that was not what President Bush did. He lied. He fabricated a threat that did not exist to justify a specific military action that it is now clear was on his agenda from the first days of his term in office.

    If our President had stepped up and said that in the 21st century the world can no longer tolerate dictators of any stripe, and that if the United Nations could do nothing to bring democracy to the nations of the world then the United States, as the world’s greatest nation and only remaining superpower, would do it country by country, I would have supported him.

    But that was not what President Bush did. He lied. He engineered a media campaign worthy of any master that convinced the American people that not only was Saddam Hussein involved in the attacks on 11 September, but that he presented a clear and present danger to not only the peace of the Middle East but to the rest of the world as well.

    We can’t rewrite history. It’s all on tape. The President and the people in his administration said what they said.

    They lied.

    American deserves better.


    Jeff Hess

  7. Dan Wismar says:


    You provide zero specifics on Bush’s “lies”. You have not demonstrated “fabrication” of a threat. Ask the families of gassed Kurds if Saddam’s “threat” of WMD’s was a fabrication. You ignore the many times that Bush enumerated the “big 3” justifications for regime change in Iraq. I mentioned them above, but the other two are humanitarian relief for the people (please don’t try to say this was not a common and recurring theme of Bush’s rhetoric on Saddam), and cooperation with terrorists, yes, including al Qaeda, (read the 9/11 Commission Report, please)

    Yes, persuasion of the voters (and others, too) is a big part of politics, and it is documented now that parts of the intelligence Bush and Blair used to persuade the people of the need to depose Saddam was faulty, but that’s where your documentation ends. The “fabrication” you repeatedly refer to has not been demonstrated anywhere, by anybody, least of all in this bureaucrat’s memo.

    And yes, from his first days in office he knew what would probably have to be done, as did his predecessor. You say you “would have supported the President if he had come to the American people with a cohesive, comprehensive plan to remove Saddam Hussein from power based on the indisputable fact that he was a tyrant and a despot.”

    If your threshold for backing his removal from power was that low, you surely didn’t need George Bush to make the case for you. How indisputable did you need that case to be? Unless of course, by “cohesive and comprehensive” you mean a plan under which no Americans get killed, and Iraq’s nascent democracy immediately takes the shape of small town Nebraska.

  8. Jeff says:

    Shalom Dan,

    The record speaks for itself on the number of times that President Bush and those in his administration made specific mentions about Saddam Hussein’s possession of chemical and biological weapons. (The use of the term Weapons of Mass Destruction conveniently allowed the administration to imply possession of the third leg in the triad, nuclear weapons, without ever specifically claiming that Iraq was on the brink of joining the nuclear club.)

    I do not dispute that Saddam had acquired chemical and biological weapons and their precursors before. We sold most of them to him. But the reality in 2001 when President Bush stood on the steps of the capital and took an oath to defend our nation from all enemies foreign and domestic was that Saddam Hussein and the military of Iraq was a pale shadow of the force that rolled into Kuwait 10 years earlier.

    If President Bush’s vision in 2001 had been to shape a legacy of democracy with universal suffrage and liberty in all the nations of the world, then that would have been a noble and honorable cause worthy of some of our greatest leaders. And, more importantly, worthy of the supreme sacrifice our nation would ask of those in uniform.

    But that wasn’t what our President did. Instead he lied.

    I say he lied because I don’t believe the alternative. I don’t believe that our President was either too ignorant or too stupid to know that what he was saying was a lie. I do not subscribe to the idea that President Bush is some kind of idiot. Anyone who believes that is a fool. And so, since I cannot excuse his lies that way, I must accept that he knowingly lied to the American people.

    There is nothing romantic about dying for your country. But it is a risk that those of us who chose to serve our country take. And when we take that risk we must rightly believe that we are only be asked to make that sacrifice when it counts.

    Three times our military has been called to service in the Persian Gulf. The first time was in 1979-80 (what we veterans of that conflict refer to as the real Part I of the Gulf War) when we were mobilized to devastate Iran if a single hostage died. Brave service personnel, most unknown to the public, died in those 15 months. The second time was in 1990-91 when the target was Iraq and it’s occupation of Kuwait. And now we find ourselves in the third year of a war in Iraq with a maddeningly steady drum beat of our troops loosing limbs and lives with no clear end in sight.

    One of the things that continues to puzzle me in all of this that one of the men who could shed a tremendous amount of light on the subject, the first President Bush, has remained silent. On 28 February 1991 he made a decision that only he, as Commander and Chief of U.S. Forces, had the power to make: to end hostilities in Iraq and leave Saddam in power with an intact military.

    Why didn’t we roll into Baghdad? President Bush had crafted with superb diplomacy a brilliant coalition of 34 nations. He had broad support in the Middle East, Europe and the rest of the world. He had assembled a fighting force the likes of which had not been seen since the Second World War. But he chose not to use it. Why? Only he knows the answer to that question, and he has decided to keep his counsel.

    Our nation invested millions of dollars and untold hundreds of thousands of man-hours investigating and deliberating the question of whether or not President Bill Clinton lied about illicit sexual encounters. I believe that our nation deserves at least that much attention be paid to whether or not President Bush lied about his reasons for sending our troops into harm’s way.


    Jeff Hess

  9. Dan Wismar says:


    A couple of points before I put this thing to bed. First of all, I appreciate the dialogue with a civil, reasonable correspondent, regardless of political viewpoint. Thanks for that.

    I must also address the canard that the United States sold Saddam his WMD’s, because it’s simply not true. This chart shows that over the course of thirty years, the U.S. was responsible for only about 1% of arms sales to Saddam’s Iraq. My understanding is that Russia and Germany were the principal suppliers of chemical weaponry to Saddam.

    And I must again blame selective memory use for those who oppose Bush’s liberation of Iraq, but insist they would have been perfectly OK with a march on Baghdad to depose Saddam in 1991. GHWB had a lot less Congressional support in Gulf War I than his son had later. Bush was operating with a strictly defined U.N. mandate to liberate Kuwait, and nothing more. Schwartzkopf and other Pentagon types were roundly mocked and derided for even suggesting that while they were in the neighborhood they should just take him out. The very same people who opposed Bush in 2003 would have been screaming bloody murder in 1991 as well, if we had marched on Baghdad. To pretend now that they wouldn’t have is to conveniently forget that the reason GHWB was supported in his war was that he adhered strictly to his U.N. mandate, (and frankly had no stomach for anything more than that.)

    But back one more time to “lies”. You keep saying that “the record speaks for itself”, but it doesn’t. Saying that just just dodges my point. That noone has proven that Bush “lied” about anything. It is an article of faith, as you admit. It is something you “believe”. And it really does seem to be quite personal for you, and that’s where your credibility breaks down.

    You see, if Bush “lied”, then what that means is that Colin Powell lied, and Bill Clinton lied, and Madeline Albright lied, and Tony Blair lied, and William Cohen lied, and even Jacques Chirac lied, because they all said the same thing, many of them long before GWB became the President. If it was all a lie, why wouldn’t the devious liar Bush have simply planted some WMD’s? Don’t his detractors ever wonder about this? The fact is that there was no embarrassment at not finding the WMD’s we thought were there, for two reasons. First there is ample evidence that they were in fact there, and were moved before the liberation. And second, to remake my earlier point, the WMD’s were but one of three main justifications for deposing the monster, and the lack of WMD in Iraq didn’t detract from the accomplishment of Iraq’s liberation one iota, at least in the minds of George Bush and many of us who supported him.

    You don’t address my points about the lack of plausible alternatives to a military intervention by the anti-liberation folks, nor do you go near the obvious positive geopolitical developments resulting from Bush’s actions. For starters, 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq are free today because of George Bush’s leadership. Millions of others in many countries are closer to freedom today than they were in 2001, and they openly thank George Bush for his vision and his steadfastness. Liberals used to care about things like liberation. Their silence on the “liberal” accomplishments of George Bush is deafening.

  10. Jeff says:

    Shalom Dan,

    I too appreciate the discourse. It is only through dialogue that we can achieve clarity. And as my friend and frequent foil Whymrhymer wrote recently: clarity is more important than agreement.

    First, to the matter of arms sales to Iraq. Yes, the Soviet bloc – predominantly the Soviet Union, but also the puppet states of Poland and Czechoslovakia – sold most of the weapons to Saddam Hussein between 1973 and 2002. That fact, however, does not address my statement that:

    I do not dispute that Saddam had acquired chemical and biological weapons and their precursors before. We sold most of them to him.

    We cannot assume that since the Soviet Union sold 57 percent of the total weapons to Saddam Hussein between 1973 and 2002 that it follows that the Soviet Union sold 57 percent of the chemical and biological weapons and their precursors to Saddam Hussein in the same period. Saddam bought a lot of armor and artillery from the Soviet Union; most of it, fortunately, far inferior to our own front-line equipment.

    The ‘70s were also a period of military adventurism for the Soviet Union when it found it advantageous to sell off its older equipment (some of WW II vintage) as it began to bring on line knock-offs of more modern equipment in the West. Arming Iraq was advantageous to the Soviet Union because of the tensions between that country and Iran. An Iran engaged with Iraq would be less likely to interfere with Soviet expansion into Afghanistan.

    Tanks and artillery are proverbial big-ticket items. In terms of total cost and a much narrower time window of acquisition, the shopping list you presented in your original comment would be miniscule in comparison.

    The 15 July 2000 report: U.S. Diplomatic and Commercial Relationships with Iraq, 1980 – 2 August 1990 provides an overview of the more specific issue of chemical and biological weapons and the involvement of the United States and our allies in providing those weapons to Saddam Hussein.

    On the issue of why the first President Bush did not continue onto Baghdad, he has not told us so we can only speculate as to his reasons. But I don’t think lack of support was a significant issue. In February 1991, President Bush was riding one of the highest presidential approval ratings ever recorded. Of course he had his detractors in Congress, but the American people were behind him and that counts in the halls of Congress.

    Yes, Collin Powell lied (a fact that troubles me because he was a personal hero): And I will grant you that Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright may have lied (I say that not to dispute your assertion, but rather to admit that I’m not familiar with the lies you’re referring to in this case.) I will stipulate that the others you list lied as well. None of that, however, changes the fact that the second President Bush lied. Being surrounded by liars does not make anyone less a liar.

    President Bush, and those around him, lied.

    On a few of your other points:

    Why didn’t President Bush plant weapons of mass destruction if he knew that none existed? I don’t know. I might suggest the logistics of procuring the weapons, transporting them to Iraq and planting them so that credible officials could discover them would involve too many in a very risky conspiracy.

    That the Weapons of Mass Destruction were but one of three main justifications does not in any way eliminate the lies told by President Bush and those around him. He could have chosen to simply use the two main justifications that did not involve telling lies. But he did not.

    The 28 May 2003 statement by Paul Wolfowitz on this point, however, is illuminative:

    For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue — weapons of mass destruction — because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.

    No. I do not address alternatives to invasion because the presence or absence of alternatives cannot justify an action. An action must stand on its own merits.

    No. I do not address the positive results of our invasion and occupation of Iraq. I have written to praise those results elsewhere. But ends cannot justify means.

    I do believe that you and I have written more words on this subject in the last 18 hours than either of us normally write in a week. I do hope our combined readers are enjoying it as much as we are.



  11. […] iginal post. Ifou’re not watching them, you miss the fun. Thiss the case with my own The Memo… from Wednesday, 8 June. Posted by Jeff @ 0558 […]

  12. whymrhymer says:


    Dan’s fact-filled comment (#5) regarding the “selective memory” of the ‘impeach Bush forces is the most overwealmingly comprehensive, convincing argument on the subject I’ve read yet.

    I realize that you believe that Bush “lied” and that you are committed to that position — you state it as a ‘fact’ many times; that bothers me. Accusations and suppositions regarding Bush’s knowledge and motives, however damning they may appear to be, have never even approached the status of ‘fact.’

    For my part, until those “lies” can be proven by something more substantial than the DSM memo or the accusations and suppositions of those who are ‘convinced’ he lied, I can’t bring myself to say a word in support of impeachment.

    If a “Resolution of Inquiry” is filed and hearings are held they will (I believe) come to nothing but they will have an effect . . . they will create still another recruiting tool for Al Qaeda and their supporters. I believe that as emphatically as you (and many others) believe that Bush lied. As we see everyday here in America, propaganda has much more power than fact.

  13. […] 8230; Another memo has emerged in Great Britan related to what is now known as the Downing Street Memo. This eight-page memo, written on 21 July 02 in preparation for the 23 July […]

  14. Jeff says:

    Shalom Whymrhymer and Dan,

    Because I believe both of you to be intelligent and reasoning individuals, I have a suggestion.

    In my most recent comment (No. 10 above) I linked to a long list of quotes from statements made by President Bush and those associated with him. I propose that we each select one of those quotes and agree to explore first, whether or not the quote is accurate, and then to discuss whether or not the quote is truthful.

    We would proceed in a round-robin fashion to discuss the three quotes. After we have explored all three, we would then mutually consider if we wished to proceed to a second group of three and so on.

    Because I also believe that neither President Bush nor those close to him to be ignorant individuals we would need to come to some kind of agreement regarding an “ignorance” defense of any of the quotes.

    I want to engage in this process precisely because of Whymrhymer’s statement regarding clarity, (mine, yours and any other readers who wish to follow our discussion) being more important than agreement.

    What do you two say?



  15. dan says:


    I realize that your suggestion is in the spirit of discussion and inquiry, and I have no objection to it on its face. But I do question the objective of such an exercise, and I wonder if we three civilians are able to say, even in hindsight, which or how many of these statements are truthful or accurate.

    What you have done is quote Bush and administration officials making statements about Saddam and WMD’s, and you have categorized them (in total, I guess) as “lies”. However, as whymrhymer says, you have no proof that any of them are lies. What we DO know is that Saddam historically DID possess and DID use WMD’s, and had programs in place to manufacture them. The partial list in comment #5 should be enough to convince anyone that this was a man with a commitment to manufacturing WMD. He employed hundreds of scientists in weapons programs. (Did Bush “fabricate” them too? And just what were they employed to do?) Western intelligence agencies, going back to a time when Bush was the owner of a baseball team, expressed their concerns about Saddam’s WMD’s and his demonstrated capacity for killing people with them.

    We also know now that when we got to Iraq and began looking for them, we did not find actual stockpiles of them. You like to use logical “truisms”. How about “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”? The Kay Report says that the programs were in place, with dual use equipment, etc. to reconstitute prior WMD programs (presumably as soon as U.N. sanctions were lifted, or he stopped being bothered by pesky inspectors)

    Your comments never seem to acknowledge these well known facts about Saddam’s history, the weapons and systems that he has ADMITTED having. But when George Bush says he has these programs, he’s a LIAR. Even a reliable liberal like Michael Kinsley said yesterday that, as much as he has enjoyed the flap over it, the DSM has nothing in it that remotely proves that Bush KNEW that the actual WMD programs were not in as active a stage as we all thought they were, and LIED about it as a pretext for an invasion. Sorry, but your long list of administration quotes doesn’t do that either.

    You say you don’t think Bush is stupid or ignorant (and so, apparently, must be sinister and/or evil). If he isn’t stupid, then why on earth would he and his associates spout this unsupportable “lie” for months on end, when he knew that it would be shown to be a lie once we got to Iraq?

    When Bush’s CIA Director, George Tenet (a Clinton appointee) tells him that the WMD case is a “slam dunk”, should he act on that advice? Or is George Tenet lying too?

    I have looked over your list of quotations, and it is populated with lots of “ifs” and qualifiers like “whether or not he has WMD’s”…and words like “capacity” and “rebuilding”, in addition of course to quite a bit of rhetorical certainty, based I’m sure on intelligence reports he was getting from all over the world, and of course, based on Saddam’s track record, to which I have yet to hear you even refer.

    As for your call for an “investigation” (in the context of impeachment proceedings of course), remember that we just recently HAD a major and costly one which took up precisely the topics we’re talking about, i.e. the faulty intelligence we seem to have acted on with regard to Iraq, and the possibility of “politicization” of that intelligence to suit administration objectives. The findings of that commission cleared the Bush administration of any such politicization of intelligence. How many more investigations would it take to convince you?

    I think I know the answer to that one. As many as it takes to get a finding that suits your “belief”.

  16. whymrhymer says:


    I glanced through the (long, long) list of quotes you referred to; my impression is they (the quotees?) each simply said what they believed, thought, intended to do or etc. No smoking guns there that I can see.

    I find myself continuing to agree with Dan, we need to leave the world of supposition and accusation and focus on what we know for sure.

    Would a prolonged debate find a new truth? I doubt it — we would simply rehash our beliefs.

    Clarity? Can we get any more clear about our beliefs than we already have? Certainly not! It’s clear you think Bush is an evil liar and Dan and I (not that I would assume to speak for Dan) would need a lot more evidence than now exists to even approach that conclusion.

    What Andrew Sullivan would call the “money quote from Dan’s post: “You say you don’t think Bush is stupid or ignorant (and so, apparently, must be sinister and/or evil). If he isn’t stupid, then why on earth would he and his associates spout this unsupportable “lie” for months on end, when he knew that it would be shown to be a lie once we got to Iraq?”

    Believe me, if I knew for a fact that the things you allege were true, I’d be on the impeach Bush bandwagon in a New York minute because that would, indeed, make Bush an evil person unfit for office.

  17. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Y’all,

    Well, I guess not. It was an idea.

    I wasn’t aware that the opposite of stupid or ignorant is sinister or evil. I’d like to think that President Bush has more options in that regard.

    While I cannot know what is in his head, I would suggest that we have a clear Historical model as to why a sitting President:

    and his associates [would] spout this unsupportable lie for months on end, when he knew that it would be shown to be a lie once we got to Iraq?

    We only have to turn the clock back 41 years to July and August of 1964 when U.S. Naval forces were reported to have engaged in combat on the high seas with naval forces from North Vietnam. Then President Lyndon Johnson used those reports to obtain from Congress on 7 August 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that led directly to broad escalation of the Vietnam War.

    It would not be until 1971, when Daniel Ellsberg leaked what would become known as The Pentagon Papers, that we would learn that the engagement with the USS Maddox, DD 731 and USS Turner Joy DD 951 had been fabricated and used to lie to Congress and to the American people. President Johnson had been planning the expansion of the war even while he was publicly saying that not only did he not intend to expand the war, but that he had a plan to end it.

    Great personalities all too often suffer from hubris. But there may be other reasons as well known only to President Bush.

    On the subject of acknowledging that Saddam Hussein is a evil despot. I believe I made that very clear when I said I would have supported military action to achieve regime change just for that reason. It is well documented that he was a power mad and ruthless ruler. No one, that I’m aware of, disputes that.

    That he desired the largest, most powerful military he could afford, there is no question. That he was happily willing to deploy chemical weapons, there is no opposition. But a toothless dog is little threat, and the American people, sadly, have little interest in regime change for moral reasons as evidenced by the cadre of dictators around the world who do not fear invasion.

    Only by convincing the American people through a relentless drum beat of public lies (that long, long list) concerning Saddam Hussein’s involvement with the attacks on 11 September and the direct threat he posed to the United States with his chemical, biological and (less clearly stated by implied) nuclear weapons could President Bush and his advisors hope to create support for what had been their goal all along: The removal of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of Iraq.

    A more detailed discussion on the specific lies would have been illuminating. But such is life.



  18. […] ne 2005 THE MEMO CONTINUES… In our on-going discussions concerning the Downing Street Memo, Dan Wismar pointed me to Michael Kinsley’s piece The Left Gets A Memo […]

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