More Leaked Documents Add Credibility to Downing Street Memo That Bush 'Doctored' WMD Reports
The new documents shed light on Bush's early decision to invade Iraq and force regime change without WMD threat and contrary to international law. More than 150,000 Americans and 89 Congressmen have signed a letter addressed to Bush demanding accountability and anwers.
By Greg Szymanski
June 14, 2005

The heat is on the White House to explain the infamous Downing Street Memo as President Bush may be tip-toeing on hot coals with the release of at least six more confidential documents, adding credibility he "doctored" WMD intelligence reports to justify an Iraqi invasion.

A letter signed by over 150,000 Americans and 89 Democratic Congressmen, led by Rep. John Conyers, is demanding answers. But six weeks after the explosive memo hit London newsstands and the underground American press, President Bush and the mainstream media have remained strangely silent regarding the accusations.

"The signatures are pouring in," said a spokesman for Rep. Conyers. "We expect to reach 250,000 soon."

Several other documents, listed as highly confidential, were released by the London press this week in an attempt to bolster credibility on the original memo leaked to The London Times six weeks ago, claiming Bush manufactured a WMD scare to fit his pre-arranged Iraqi war policy

 First reported as a memo from Matthew Rycroft, a British foreign policy advisor, further reporting showed the explosive statements were also part of minutes of a top-secret meeting in Downing Street on July 23, 2002, when Tony Blair gathered senior ministers for a briefing on the Iraq situation.

Among those they heard from was Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of the UK foreign intelligence agency MI6, who was identified only as 'C'.

'C' then stated as written by Rycroft in a later memo:

"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."

Since the beginning, President Bush insisted Iraq’s possession of WMD presented an imminent threat justifying war. But now the release of the new documents further puts Bush’s claims in serious doubt.

Adding credibility to the Downing Street Memo, a leaked "confidential" document entitled the "The Iraqi Options Paper," prepared in March 2002, quotes British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as saying:

"The US administration has lost faith in containment and is now considering regime change… A legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to Law Officers advice, none currently exists. This makes moving quickly to invade legally very difficult. We should therefore consider a staged approach, establishing international support, building up pressure on Saddam, and developing military plans. There is a lead-time of about 6 months.

"But there is no greater threat now that he will use WMD than there has been in recent years, so continuing containment is an option. The US has lost confidence in containment. Some in government want Saddam removed. The success of Operation Enduring Freedom, distrust of UN sanctions and inspection regimes, and unfinished business from 1991 are all factors."

Straw’s comment about the lack of an imminent WMD threat from years past clearly puts Bush’s claims for war in doubt, especially when Straw refers to Washington’s plans for regime change in Iraq.

Put these words together with the original memo, indicating in July 2002 Bush had already fixed intelligence reports to fit his war policy, and even a stronger case can be made that the Iraqi invasion was manufactured around a false threat..

This is further bolstered by Straw’s admission that Iraq was not in violation of mandated WMD security sanctions imposed by the Gulf War cease fire agreement, making the accusation that Iraq was an imminent threat to U.S. interests even more tenuous.

"Currently, offensive military action against Iraq can only be justified if Iraq is held to be n breach of the Gulf War cease fire resolution, 687. 687 imposed obligations on Iraq with regard to the elimination of WMD and monitoring these obligations

"They (United Nations) would need to be convinced that Iraq was in breach of its obligations regarding WMD, and ballistic missiles. Such proof would need to be incontrovertible and of large-scale activity. Current intelligence is insufficiently robust to meet this criterion."

Another memo written by Prime Minister’s Tony Blair foreign policy advisor, David Manning, indicates Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice had already made up her mind about regime change in Iraq as early as March of 2002, months prior to the invasion.

Manning’s memo, written on March 25, 2002, refers to a dinner engagement with Rice where she purportedly expressed desire for a regime change, but expressed increasing concerns about the political risks. She also told Manning that President Bush was still unsure about how to justify an Iraqi invasion and was searching for answers.

"Condi’s enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed. But there were some signs, since we last spoke, of greater awareness of the practical difficulties and political risks," said Manning to Blair about his dinner conversation with Rice

"From what she said, Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions as to how to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified; what value to put on the exiled Iraqi opposition; how to coordinate a US/allied military campaign with internal opposition (assuming there is any);and what happens on the morning after?"

To add even more fuel to the WMD fire, another confidential memo obtained from P.F. Ricketts, a political advisor to Blair, dated March 22, 2002, purportedly advised the Prime Minister how to deal with the impending problems of an Iraqi invasion and how Blair could help influence Bush’s final decision.

"First, the (Iraqi) threat:. The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September. This is not something we need to be defensive about, but attempts to claim otherwise publicly will increase skepticism about our case document. My meeting yesterday showed that there is more work to do to ensure that the figures are accurate and consistent with those of the US.

"But even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programs will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts: the programs are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.

"The U.S. is scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al Qaida is so far frankly unconvincing. To get public and Parliamentary support for military operations, we have to be convincing that the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for; and is it qualitatively different from the threat posed by other proliferators who are closer to achieving nuclear capability (including Iran)."

Critics of President Bush’s lack of candor about his true motives behind the Iraqi invasion, claim the release of the new documents further illustrate the necessity for the White House to address the accusations beyond merely dismissing them as a "political vendetta."

Further, critics are calling for the media to take a more serious look at information presented by the leaked documents, a well as insisting Bush answer tough questions posed by the allegations.

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