Downing Street memo and the war in Iraq

Published 5:06 am Monday, June 13, 2005

By Staff
Eight pages written for a July 23, 2002, meeting on Iraq have been dubbed the Downing Street memo.
It suggests Bush administration officials decided to invade Iraq long before bombs started dropping and were more concerned about justifying war than preventing one.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's staff produced the July 21 memo for a meeting of his national security team two days later.
British officials had just returned from Washington, where the Bush administration already believed war was inevitable and was determined to use intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and his relations with terrorists to justify invading Iraq.
Eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, America's allies concluded that the military was not adequately prepared for what would be a "protracted and costly nation-building exercise" in the postwar occupation, including instability that continues to plague Iraq.
The memo said "little thought" was given to "the aftermath and how to shape it."
Indeed, insurgents set off three bombs inside Baghdad in less than 18 hours, killing more than 30 Iraqis around the capital Friday night and Saturday.
The lull in violence after January elections suggested rebels were in disarray, but they have apparently regrouped, contrary to Marine Lt. Gen. John Sutter's prediction of Nov. 18, 2004, that the U.S.-led offensive against Fallujah had "broken the back of the insurgency."
With the meter running on a tab exceeding $200 billion, the United States carries out military missions whose collateral damage alienates the people we are trying to help.
In April, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency testified, "The insurgency has grown in size and complexity over the last year."
In other words, we are spawning terrorists faster than we can kill them.
Sometimes it seems hard to remember we are at war, with the distraction of 2,200 media members milling around in California as they await the Michael Jackson verdict - an encamped army more than twice the size of the O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson murder trials combined.
We have also not done ourselves any favors so far as creating more enemies of the United States than we take out of circulation by the shameful way this nation has treated terror war detainees.
Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan went so far as to describe prisons where the United States has held untold numbers of detainees without formal charges or basic legal rights as "gulags."
The administration attacked that one word to conveniently deflect attention from the fact that the "land of the free" has swept thousands of people off the streets and held some for as long as three years in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan and other secret locations we can only imagine.
We do know prisoners were tortured at Abu Ghraib.
If we abandon the rule of law and trash our own sacred ideals, what kind of "America" will we have left when we prevail?