Downing Street Memo Revisited Due To Edmund Richter's Comment
Edmund Fruchter's Post Article
The author of that column read my blog and commented on it here.
Edmund seems like a smart, articulate, and decent guy. I'd still say Edmund is certainly left of center in his views and reporting based on his Post article and his comments here on my blog, but that's ok, I'm right of center. Out of respect for him taking the time to read my blog and comment on it, I decided to do additional research on the whole Downing Street Memo question that Edmond had written on and obviously feels so strongly about.
My opinion has not changed much from the original post. I don't believe that the memo comes close to a smoking gun and I don't believe the premise the left is trying to advance with it are true. I think that its pretty much just an interesting memo, that the left is falling all over themselves thinking they finally have something that will damage the President and will give the left some much needed traction. One of the best articles I found on the subject was at NRO by James S. Robbins (senior fellow in national-security at the American Foreign Policy Council)
Robbins Downing Street Memo
Robbins does a good job in discussing each of the key points raised by those who think this is some type of smoking gun:
The memo raises three issues dear to the hearts of President Bush's critics — the timing of the decision to go to war with Saddam, the WMD rationale, and the use (read: abuse) of intelligence to create the casus belli. One paragraph in the memo conveniently contains all three:
C [Richard Dearlove, Head of MI-6] 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.
Was the President Committed To War With Iraq?
Robbins makes the perfectly correct observation that given the issue of Iraq at the time, of course we were preparing contingency plans for Iraq. Any President who would not have done that after the 911 attacks, would be incredibly negligent. He also points out all the steps that were being taken both covert and diplomatic to remove Saddam and ensure that WMDs that were believed to be in Iraq were not used against America.
Was the WMD Focus Appropriate?
Robins makes the point that Saddam was the one who banned the inspectors and with the intelligence that was available showing Iraq had them, it is perfectly correct for us to use Saddam's obstruction of inspections to strengthen support for the invasion. The policy for many years had been to replace Saddam, intelligence said he had WMD's and we had just suffered a terrible attack. There was strong bipartisan concern that Iraq and WMDs were a huge threat to America, and the intelligence of the day supported that Saddam had WMDs. Using Saddam's refusal of inspections to strengthen support for military action was the correct and appropriate steps given the intelligence and circumstances.
Was The Intelligence Fake?
The left is seizing on the "fixed" reference in the memo as meaning the intelligence was fake. Forgive me if I like Robbins "put more faith in a bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and their findings after exhaustive investigation, over a memo that has the word "fixed" reporting out an aids impression, of a British Cabinet members impressions, of unnamed people they spoke to in America" (per Robbins). As Robbins points out, " The investigation found no evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities or that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments.” If Richard Dearlove has more to tell, that will provide facts related to his memo, then by all means I would love to hear what he has to say and will consider what he has to say. If he has no factual info or proof that there was intentional efforts by the Bush Administration to use "fixed" if that means "fake" intelligence as the reason for the Iraq invasion, then this memo has no incriminating qualities. Without proof that Bush Administration officials promoted "fake" intelligence then there really is nothing to talk about on the memo.
I think the President acted as he should have, given the intelligence that he had (all be it that some was proven to be flawed but that is a CIA issue not a Bush issue). It was not only a CIA issue, but a world wide intel issue because the Egyptian, Saudi, Jordanian, Israeli, Russian, and British intel all said the same thing, that being Saddam had WMDs.
Even though the intel has been proved wrong and no WMDs have been found, there are important and valuable things on the verge of happening in Iraq and the Middle East. Iraq is moving towards a true democracy all be it slow and with death and violence along the way. It's a war and that's what happens in a war. Democracy sparks are being seen in other countries in the region like Lebanon, Egypt, and even in Iran. Democracy in the Middle East will not only vastly improve the rights and lives of people in those countries but also strengthen American security. Besides that, liberating Iraq from Saddam bottom line, was just the right thing to do. Go online and look at the killing fields and torture that Saddam inflicted on the Iraq people. We liberated the Balkans, why not Iraq for far worse conditions and crimes and at the time serious risks to the security of America. Democracy is exactly what Al Qaeda fears, why they send terrorist to Iraq to blow themselves up and why they attacked us on 911. It's a Democratic Middle East that keeps them up at night. Today proof that is the case from number II Al-Zawahiri:
It's About Democracy
It's very unfortunate that brave American soldiers have died and will die in Iraq completing the liberation. No one wants that. However, I think that the long term security that a liberated Iraq and democratic region in the Middle East will bring, will be a great tribute to our fallen American heroes. I'm glad Edmon read my post and commented. It caused me to consider my position on this issue that I felt I had a good understanding of, and to look even deeper. My further research has deepened my belief that the Downing Street Memo is no smoking gun and has no standing. It's interesting but not incriminating, unless someone comes up with hard facts that the Bush Administration promoted known "fake" intelligence. I believe that the President under took action on Iraq because of the intelligence at the time and for the purpose to protect America and the world from what he felt based on the intelligence was a serious threat. I also think that had Clinton, Gore or Kerry been the President they also would have done the exact same thing.
So thanks Edmund for giving me a reason to dig deeper into the matter, it was rewarding and worthy of the time invested. I would say that is the purpose of any journalistic format, that being to challenge people to consider their own position and gain deeper knowledge of the matter and then decide what their opinion is based on their deeper understanding. That's a very healthy process I'd say.
That said, I don't see any moonbat dances around the full moon anytime soon over a Bush impeachment proceedings because of the Downing Street Memo...............