Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Secret Memo: Bush Had War Early on Table

While there is considerable discussion over when George W. Bush committed to going to war
with Iraq, the documents leaked to the Times of London seem to show conclusively that it was sometime in 2002. The memo is dated July 23 of that year.

The Times quotes British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as saying:
“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.”
Naturally, the Times story dealt mostly with when Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to join Bush and go to war. The PM has insisted that no decision was made until the U.S. "proved" that Saddam Hussein was a threat with WMDs. But the meager minions of the American press that have picked up this incredible story -- Bush manipulated the intelligence to lead us into war! -- are taking a different approach.

Reports a Knight-Ridder dispatch as carried in Newsday:
A highly classified British memo, leaked in the midst of Britain's just-concluded election campaign, indicates that President George W. Bush decided to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by summer 2002 and was determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policy.
The story goes on to say:
A former senior U.S. official called it "an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during the senior British intelligence officer's visit to Washington. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Los Angeles Times' version of the story, by John , includes this paragraph:
The picture that emerges from the documents is of a British government convinced of the U.S. desire to go to war and Blair's agreement to it, subject to several specific conditions.
Not that this should be any news. In his book Plan of Attack Bob Woodward reported that the war plans were on the table even while Bush was assuring the world he was seeking a diplomatic solution -- which. William Hamilton reported in the Washington Post more than a year ago! The book also notes that Bush would have attacked sooner had he received unequivocal support from Blair earlier. Hamilton writes:
By early January 2003, Bush had made up his mind to take military action against Iraq, according to the book. But Bush was so concerned that the government of his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, might fall because of his support for Bush that he delayed the war's start until March 19 here (March 20 in Iraq) because Blair asked him to seek a second resolution from the United Nations. Bush later gave Blair the option of withholding British troops from combat, which Blair rejected. "I said I'm with you. I mean it," Blair replied.
But the news received little play then, and these latest disclosures -- which seem as damning to Bush's war as the Pentagon Papers were to Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam -- are receiving little play now. (You'll find it in today's Washington Post on page A18.) Even as dozens of innocents die daily in what appears to be an extraordinary escalation of violence in Iraq, most of us, and most of the media, seem content to let it play out.


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