So, the "Downing Street memo" and a few others were released from the Times of London today to the L.A. Times. First, I want to give a big thank you to Michael Smith, the writer from the London Times, whose reporting made these memos available to the world. You can read the whole AP story (note that this is the AP, not some wacko leftist web site - but then we all know that the Associated Press is controlled by the Reds and only Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network have any true objectivity) here.
These memos are basically the reports of some in the British Government to Secretary Straw and Prime Minister Blair about their discussions with counterparts in the U.S. Some important sections:
"Another memo, from British Foreign Office political director Peter Ricketts to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on March 22, 2002, bluntly stated that the case against Hussein was weak because the Iraqi leader was not accelerating his weapons programs and there was scant proof of links to Al Qaeda.
"What has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September," Ricketts wrote. "Attempts to claim otherwise publicly will increase skepticism about our case….
"U.S. scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda is so far frankly unconvincing," he said.
Ricketts said that other countries such as Iran appeared closer to getting nuclear weapons, and that arguing for regime change in Iraq alone "does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam." That was why the issue of weapons of mass destruction was vital, he said.
"Much better, as you [Straw] have suggested, to make the objective ending the threat to the international community from Iraqi WMD before Saddam uses it or gives it to terrorists," he said. A U.N. Security Council resolution demanding renewal of weapons inspections, he says, would be a "win/win." "
So let us get this straight. The U.S. government had decided to take out Saddam for unspecified reasons. They didn't think those reasons would play well with their own citizens or the International Community. So, they decided to focus on Weapons of Mass Destruction as the reason military action was necessary, despite the fact that the WMD program had not advanced any and that both Iran and North Korea were in fact much further along. Additionally, U.S. officials were off trying to find any possible link between Al Qaeda and Iraq to justify the military invasion. Note what this says. The reason for the invasion was not because there were ties to Al Qaeda; they looked for ties to justify a decision they had already made. This is not an "intelligence failure." It is a policy decision.
And in a memo from Jack Straw himself:
"Regime change per se is no justification for military action; it could form part of the method of any strategy, but not a goal," he said. "Elimination of Iraq's WMD capacity has to be the goal."
So, even though WMDs had to be the goal, the fact that there were no WMDs of course is now dismissed as irrelevant.
'Washington believes the legal basis for an attack already exists. Nor will it necessarily be governed by wider political factors. The U.S. may be willing to work with a smaller coalition than we think desirable,' it said.
The paper said the British view was that any invasion for the purpose of regime change "has no basis under international law."
The best way to justify military action, it said, would be to convince the Security Council that Iraq was in breach of its post-Gulf War obligations to eliminate its store of weapons of mass destruction.
So, under the British view an invasion of Iraq for regime change alone was illegal. Now, of course, both the U.S. and the U.K. say it is fine.
What I get from all this is that the U.S. government for unspecified reasons wanted Saddam out. But no one thought these reasons were good enough to convince anyone. So they trumped up WMD and Al Qaeda links to make it sound better.
Now we come back to the Independent Counsel title. Is any of this illegal or is it just managing the press - a marketing scheme. It seems clear that the current administration deliberately mislead its own citizens and made up things at the United Nations. I do not know if any of them are under oath. You would think that people would be upset about this, but that is naturally not how humans work. We are all on teams, you see. And if I am on the Bush team, then I must think it is OK for him to lie to me. And if I am on the other team, I must criticize him, even when he does something right. However, beyond marketing, I suspect that there will be some substantial material presented to Congress - which is under oath - and if so, any issues of perjury should be prosecuted fully.
To finish this off, I must admit that I think I was wrong previously. I used to think that Clinton should not have been impeached for lying about having an affair when he was under oath. It just did not seem important enough to bring down a President over. I think this view is wrong. I made a mistake. I had let myself get attached to Power like others, meaning I viewed it as some great tragedy to bring down a President over something little. However, I think it would be quite healthy for me and all Americans to get over this. It really is not a big deal to get a new President mid-term. Gore would not have been that much different from Clinton, and Cheney wouldn't really be all that much different from Bush. It really does little harm. Cheney would aggressively kill people he decides are bad just as well; hell he'd probably push amendments to prevent two adults who are in love marrying each other just as much, etc. I think it is time for us to get over this obsession with power and having to maintain it. If you lie, you don't get to be leader of the world's only Superpower anymore. That's not a disgrace. It is responsibility. It's really not such a big deal. Same goes for CEOs. So what if you end up flipping burgers. It is not the material of Greek tragedy. It's just something that happens. As long as you can feed your family and eventually recover your own dignity, get over it. And there you go.