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June 11, 2005

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars? (And We Could Use a Better Press Corps...)

The Downing Street Memo acquires more steam:

Ministers were told of need for Gulf war "excuse" - Britain - Times Online: Michael Smith: MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal. The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier... since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal. This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases....

The paper was circulated to those present at the meeting, among whom were Blair, Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, and Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of MI6.... The document said the only way the allies could justify military action was to place Saddam Hussein in a position where he ignored or rejected a United Nations ultimatum.... But it warned this would be difficult. “It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject,” the document says....

The suggestions that the allies use the UN to justify war contradicts claims by Blair and Bush, repeated during their Washington summit last week.... There has been a growing storm of protest in America, created by last month’s publication of the minutes in The Sunday Times. A host of citizens, including many internet bloggers, have demanded to know why the Downing Street memo (often shortened to “the DSM” on websites) has been largely ignored by the US mainstream media. The White House has declined to respond to a letter from 89 Democratic congressmen asking if it was true — as Dearlove told the July meeting — that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” in Washington.

The Downing Street memo burst into the mainstream American media only last week after it was raised at a joint Bush-Blair press conference....

The complaints of media self-censorship have been backed up by the ombudsmen of The Washington Post, The New York Times and National Public Radio, who have questioned the lack of attention the minutes have received from their organisations.

Posted by DeLong at June 11, 2005 08:12 PM