Monday, May 16, 2005

Fixing the intelligence: the smoking gun

The New York Review has just published a leaked copy of the minutes from the July 23, 2002 meeting of Tony Blair's cabinet meeting.

It's amazing to me that no one has commented on this more extensively in the American media. People apparently just don't care about getting deceived. But here it is in black and white, from the minutes of Bush's staunchest ally. Money quote:

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.

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.

To Bush's closest ally, the debate among the Bushies about whether to invade Iraq was already over by the summer of 2002. The fact that the decision had already been made means that the whole effort to enlist of intelligence and to court of the U.N. was nothing but a charade. (Which in turn explains at least half the reason why French refused to go along with it -- why should they acceed to being a mere shadow puppet in the Bushist wayang kulit?)

This memo sharply contradicts the claim that Condi made to Bob Woodward that Bush only made the decision to wage war on Iraq in early 2003.

1 comment:

rmockler said...

And you're only singling out the timing aspect. The memo also shows that:

The administration justified the war on the discredited rationales of WMD and connection to terrorism;
They conformed the "facts" and "intelligence" to their policy goals;
They rejected relying on the human rights justification now trumpeted; and
They did not plan for post-war Iraq.

Unbelievable that this isn't getting more play.