Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Downing Street Memo

On May 5 I wrote a draft posting called 'The inevitable war', a posting which I never published, commenting on the fact that the Downing Street Memo had received essentially no coverage in the mainstream media, despite the fact that it proved that the British and American peoples had been lied to by their respective governments. Since then, all hell has broken loose. I see no reason to cover the ground that everybody else has covered, but have a few comments:

  1. There is not a snowball's chance in hell that Bush will be impeached over this issue. The Republicans control everything: the Executive, both Houses of Congress, the Judiciary, and the Media. They have demonstrated over and over again that they only care about the retention of power. The only possible chance of impeachment is if the Democrats were to gain control of the Senate, something that cannot possibly happen as the same crooked voting system is still (!!!) in place. The only reason for making a big deal out of the lies over Iraq is to attempt to stop the current campaigns for attacks on Syria and Iran, campaigns clearly based on exactly the same fundamental lies being spread by the Bush Administration and its friends.

  2. The irony of this material coming out at the same time that Deep Throat is supposedly outed has been noted by some people. The American political system, based on the separation and balancing of powers, is supposed to have been sorely tested by Watergate, but met the test. Not so. Not all power was held by one party at the time of Watergate. The press was more diverse, there were moderate judges, there were moderate Republicans, there were Democrats with spines, and the voting system was not entirely crooked. When all these things are missing, and all the power vests in one extreme group, it is impossible to distinguish the United States, with all its meticulously crafted and balanced government, from an extreme right-wing dictatorship.

  3. The original memo was almost certainly leaked by a supporter of the Conservatives in an attempt to embarrass Blair enough to earn the Conservatives a victory in the British election. This failed only because the Conservatives were too stupid to oppose the attack on Iraq. I hope they kick themselves every day thinking they could be the government of Britain now if they didn't love war so much. It is probable that subsequent leaks were by Labour supporters attempting to force Tony Blair out sooner rather than later.

  4. Conspiracy theorists have a rough time because we never have any evidence. Of course, the reason we never have any evidence is that they hide it. There are similar minutes of meetings regarding the First World War that we're still not allowed to see. The CIA battles tooth and nail over material from fifty years ago. The only reason this stuff came out has to do with the extremely unusual occurrence that a nominally 'progressive' government participated in a transatlantic series of lies in order to fool people into an illegal war, and then found itself in an election where this fact could be used against it.

  5. Harry Shearer notes that the Downing Street Memo backs up Andrew Gilligan and the BBC in their coverage of David Kelly. Gilligan used the term "sexed up", while Sir Richard Dearlove used the term "fixed". Kelly only got into trouble because he tried to say the same thing to a reporter that Dearlove was saying in private to high British government officials. Gilligan and the BBC were crucified, not because they misled people, but because they attempted to tell the truth.

  6. The disgusting American media really got caught with its hands in the cookie jar on this one. The explicit deal with its customers is that the media is supposed to cover 'all the news that fits', but for years it has gotten away with hiding anything that doesn't fit the plutocrat agenda, and in particular, anything which doesn't fit the agenda of the arm's companies that own the media. Now it looks like the media in the old Soviet Union, covering up for some harvest failure only to have to implicitly admit it lied later when it had to report on all the starved people. Reading the New York Times today is like reading Pravda during the 1970's, and experienced readers have to learn to read between the lines in order to grasp some inkling of what is really going on. It's very sad when the Pravda of today gives you a more accurate summary of what is happening in the United States than all the major American newspapers (with the exception of the Knight Ridder chain, whose ownership appears to have made the business decision to try to gain a competitive advantage in a failing newspaper market by attempting to tell the truth!). The New York Times still hasn't properly covered the issue, and I keep waiting for the hilarious Judith Miller article on the subject, but Miller is apparently too busy packing for jail, talking on the phone with Martha Stewart about how to fashion a shiv out of a toothbrush (Miller can't see why it has to have gold spray-painted sea shells glued to the handle), and writing in an attempt, using her patented ultra-qualified style which seems to say something but actually says nothing, to back up the loony Republican campaign against Kofi Annan (Kofi apparently has some aluminum tubes in his garage, which he claims are part of a tent, but that's what they all say!).

  7. One of the arguments the disgusting American media is using to cover its embarrassment at being caught red handed at hiding the Downing Street Memo and its implications is that this is 'old news', and everybody knew that Bush was lying, so they saw no reason to cover it again. As has been pointed out, this would only be a good argument if they had made the slightest effort to point out these lies at the time - a time when the truth could have stopped an illegal war - and to try this argument now is simply pathetic. Michael Kinsley's opinion piece is the most embarrassing example of this revisionist history, but Kinsley, a man about whom it can be said that he is not a liberal but he played one on TV, apparently suffers from some horrible disease which has clearly, on the basis of this opinion, made its way to his brain.

  8. Another amusing argument made by American newspapers is that they really wanted to cover the issue, but couldn't because the Associated Press hadn't written about it. Really! News doesn't exist in the United States unless and until the Associated Press covers it. The Apocalypse could be occurring, with molten lava falling from the sky and everyone's hair on fire, and the entire American press would sit huddled around their computers waiting on the story until the Associated Press deemed it to be news by mentioning it. This is the most pathetic of all the 'dog ate my Downing Street Memo' excuses. It tells you a lot about who you need to control - just one company! - in order to control the entire scope of the news in the United States.

  9. This issue only started to take off when a BBC reporter had the nerve to raise the issue at a joint Blair-Bush news conference (at the meeting when Blair flew to Washington to get action from Bush on Africa and global warming, and got absolutely nothing). Blair lied by saying he cured the discussions in the Downing Street Memo by going to the United Nations and obtaining a resolution, when he knew that the United Nations resolution concerned weapons of mass destruction that Blair knew Saddam did not have, and he knew that his own legal advice was that he needed another UN resolution in order to go to war (a problem he fixed only by strong-arming the guy who was giving him his legal advice, a step he took only when it was certain he wouldn't get the second UN resolution).

  10. If you're not entirely sick of this, I recommend:

    • the Michael Smith interview in the Washington Post (Smith is a formidable guy to be carrying the can here, as he doesn't fit into the America-hater, liberal paradigm that the Republican media attack dogs use in their usual ad hominem attacks, and he doesn't fall into traps set by questioners);

    • Justin Raimondo's excellent article putting the matter into the neocon context;

    • the Warren P. Strobel article from (natch) Knight Ridder; and

    • the John Conyers smackdown of snivelling idiot Dana Milbank's effort to continue the mainstream media cover up.

Watergate was a chickenshit cover-up of a chickenshit burglary. International law wasn't damaged by it, billions of dollars weren't wasted because of it, and no one died as a result of it (except for Dorothy Hunt and those flying with her!). The conspiracy here was huge. It is not hyperbole to say it is perhaps the greatest conspiracy in American history. Bush started illegally funding the attack on Iraq without authorization by Congress, and bombed Iraq with increased frequency months before the declared start of the war in an attempt to enrage Saddam into making a mistake. Both countries bugged the United Nations while twisting arms and lobbying for the support Bush and Blair never could get, and bugged the weapons inspectors. Bush and Blair both attempted to trick Saddam into kicking out the weapons inspectors (Blair explicitly notes this trick in the Downing Street Memo), they consistently lied to the whole world about the weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's alleged ties to al Qaeda, and they lied to their respective legislatures in order to trick them into approving the attack. Afterwards, when the war started turning into a debacle, they lied about all their lies again, and invented new ones to attempt to justify what can never be justified.

Of course, the biggest lie was that there was anything that Saddam could possibly have done to stop the attack. It was inevitable, and all the lies were simply the minimum window dressing they needed to convince public opinion that the attack was necessary (this lie worked much better in the United States than it did in Britain). An inevitable war is by definition one that does not depend on any possible threat, and is thus a war of aggression and clearly illegal under international law. There was no approval for it in the United Nations, and no real approval for it in the American and British legislative bodies, as the approvals were obtained by deceit. Bush and Blair been caught in their lies, and the American media has been caught trying to cover it up. We can only hope that our knowledge of what they've done goes some way to saving the people of Iran and Syria from a fate as grim as that facing the people of Iraq.