Pre-Iraq War Memo Leaked

Pre-Iraq War Memo Leaked

Surprised I haven't heard a lick about this in the US media. Has Rathergate scared the media so much they're afraid to report the news, or is the liberal media an absolute myth?

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html

Times Online said:
The secret Downing Street memo

SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY

DAVID MANNING
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

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.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

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.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.

Conclusions:

(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)

MATTHEW RYCROFT

(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)
 
I don't quite know what to make of this. If it is truth, then we are indeed being duped by our own government and have gotten ourselves into quite a mess not only with Iraq but with the rest of the world.

How to extricate ourselves?

I'm eagerly awaiting llad's I-Told-You-So response to this.
 

Namyeknom

Diabloii.Net Member
I'm almost proud to be British after reading that. We might not be good at much any more, but our Govenment can be as sneaky, underhanded and generally corrupt as the best of them...
 
Interestingly, varying my search terms has come across what appears to be an article distributed by Agence France Press on May 1 reporting that this memo was declared a forgery after a police investigation, but I've yet to find a single reputable news agency carrying the story. The story above, on the other hand, I've seen in several reputable press outlets. Not really sure what the deal is.

EDIT: A search for tony blair iraq memo forged on google news only returns a handful of rather sketchy hits: http://news.google.com/news?q=tony blair iraq memo forged&hl=en&lr=&sa=N&tab=wn

Removing the word "forged" returns 10 pages worth of stories: http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&lr=&tab=wn&ie=UTF-8&q=tony+blair+iraq+memo&btnG=Search+News
 

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
DrunkCajun said:
Surprised I haven't heard a lick about this in the US media. Has Rathergate scared the media so much they're afraid to report the news, or is the liberal media an absolute myth?

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html
Perhaps there is concern about the legitimacy of the memo. -oops you've responded already.

EDIT - taking another look, there seems to be some confusion in the tenses used, plus it doesn't read much like bureaucratese. These things generally don't have a big juicy "I've Gotta Secret" heading; they have a big X on the cover sheet and small headers & footers. If you're high enough level to read them, then you know full well what happens if you're caught stuffing them in your socks & underwear to take home.

I bet there's a lot more care being exercised regarding memos that appear just in time to affect elections (ahem). If we don't hear anything further, my sleep patterns won't be affected.
 

Namyeknom

Diabloii.Net Member
DrunkCajun said:
Interestingly, varying my search terms has come across what appears to be an article distributed by Agence France Press on May 1 reporting that this memo was declared a forgery after a police investigation, but I've yet to find a single reputable news agency carrying the story. The story above, on the other hand, I've seen in several reputable press outlets. Not really sure what the deal is.

EDIT: A search for tony blair iraq memo forged on google news only returns a handful of rather sketchy hits: http://news.google.com/news?q=tony blair iraq memo forged&hl=en&lr=&sa=N&tab=wn

Removing the word "forged" returns 10 pages worth of stories: http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&lr=&tab=wn&ie=UTF-8&q=tony+blair+iraq+memo&btnG=Search+News
Thats probably because the whole Attorney General advice issue has been pretty big over here (not sure how much of our news filters over the Atlantic...), and the govenments more leaky than a sieve at the moment (ie. many leaked memo stories).

I have to admit this is the first time I've heard of an apparently forged memo, so I suspect most of the news agencies over here pretty much ignored it as soon as it was declared forged (hence the small number of hits for it...).

Also none of the faked memo stories relate the memo that you started this thread off with, so it still stands as far as I'm concerned.
 

Namyeknom

Diabloii.Net Member
Geeno said:
I heard a couple weeks ago that this was very old news over in the UK and the likes.
The Attorney Generals advice thing has been simmering away for 3 weeks or so, but has pretty much faded out of view since the election.

I think most people over here realise we were lied to in order to get us to go to war, but we'll never be able to conculsively prove it, so theres not much point worrying about it...

Also in response to jmervyn, Blair has give a couple of interviews about this leaked memo, and hasn't claimed its a forgery.
 

Ranger14

Diabloii.Net Member
I don't trust "secret" memos and documents too much. Based on the lack of attention to it out there in the media, I don't take it at face value. Some of it may not surprise me, but the one thing it does say, whether they pushed the issue further than they should of, they felt Hussein and Iraq were a threat. So even if they pushed the envelope too far with the WMD claims,etc. They did genuinely feel they were a threat.
 

dirkdig

Diabloii.Net Member
I can't for the life of me figure out why it's written in past tense if it's supposed to be before Iraq. I have doubts as to its validity.
 

maccool

Diabloii.Net Member
It's not really news for the simple reason that people's minds have been made up about the Iraq situation for too long. Well, that and the general populace is either unable or unwilling to look at new information and perhaps, horror of horrors, say, "Hmmm, maybe I was wrong."

Because, you know the worst possible thing you could ever do in your life would be to admit wrongdoing. You can wear white after Labor Day, spit on the sidewalk, or beat your wife/dog/kids, but you can never ever admit that what you're doing is wrong - that would be unAmerican.

To some this memo is unequivocal proof of the administration's bald-faced lies and secret devil pacts to obtain oil, to others it's an obvious forgery in a pathetic attempt to discredit all the good work the U.S. has been doing in Iraq, restoring freedom and democracy to people who have been under the yoke of opression for so long. To me, it's more interesting to watch the reactions.
 

Namyeknom

Diabloii.Net Member
jmervyn said:
So we're in "Have you stopped beating your wife?" territory already? Doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
Sorry, I'm not entirely sure what your trying to say with this? All I was trying to say is that if it was just made, up sure Blair wouldn't have bothered giving interviews on it, and just said it was forged.

Although as the info in the leaked memo isn't overly damning, it wouldn't suprise me if even if it was made up, the govenment would be happy to treat it as real.

dirkdig said:
I can't for the life of me figure out why it's written in past tense if it's supposed to be before Iraq. I have doubts as to its validity.
Its written in the past tense because its a effectively minutes of a meeting on the Iraq subject. Hence the events described happen in the past from the time of writing.
 

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
Namyeknom said:
Sorry, I'm not entirely sure what your trying to say with this? All I was trying to say is that if it was just made, up sure Blair wouldn't have bothered giving interviews on it, and just said it was forged.

Although as the info in the leaked memo isn't overly damning, it wouldn't suprise me if even if it was made up, the govenment would be happy to treat it as real.
Bureaucracies generally move at geological speed, particularly once something comes into the public domain - the memo needs to be examined, the leak located & slaughtered, etc. etc. Blair would NEVER have commented in public on something like this unless there's an official position; just imagine how scandalous it would be if, say, someone was to go before the U.N. and make an official presentation on material that turned out wouldn't stand up in international court?

Er, wait a minute :D

Namyeknom said:
Its written in the past tense because its a effectively minutes of a meeting on the Iraq subject. Hence the events described happen in the past from the time of writing.
Again, this casts a very bad light on the material. Writing a memorandum for record that makes suppositions of this nature seems more than a little unusual; usually there would be either a blow-by-blow recounting (or tape), or there would be the sort of summary that you see at the very end without all the 'smoking gun' expository stuff. Letting opinion into official documentation can land you in a world of hurt - something that is certain for the 'author' Rycroft if he spun something in a way that was unintended, then published his spin.
 
At the same time, merv, after observing the impact (or really the lack thereof) of the "memo" during the Bush/Kerry election cycle, do you think that the Brits would still decide that "hey, we should forge a memo to drag Blair down, even if it didn't work in the US!"

I dunno. I agree that there's something sketchy about the memo, but I'm not willing to write it off so easily. And you know I'm not one to buy into tinfoil BS, either. I just think that if the memo were hogwash, or if that information was so far off from what might have been in an official memo at the time, someone on Blair's crew woulda figured it out before he gave public interviews on the matter and didn't dismiss it as false. If they couldn't brief him on the matter in time, they weren't doing their jobs properly and shouldn't be there in the first place.
 

llad12

Diabloii.Net Member
jmervyn said:
Oh, and to beat Ill to the punch, here's what Juanito says:
http://www.juancole.com/2005/05/secret-british-memo-shows-bush.html
Sorry, Jman. I had already linked Juan Cole's statement on this memo in an earlier thread, but apparently it went right past most of you.



Cole's additional comments on the article are below:

Here is the smoking gun:

"C [Dearlove] 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.

It is not surprising on the face of it that Bush had decided on the Iraq war by summer of 2002. It it is notable that Dearlove noticed a change in views on the subject from earlier visits. By summer of 2002, the Afghanistan war had wound down and al-Qaeda was on the run, so Bush no longer felt vulnerable and was ready to go forward with his long-cherished project of an Iraq War. What is notable is that all this was not what Bush was telling us.

Bush was lying to the American people at the time and saying that no final decision had been made on the war.

Godfrey Sperling of the Christian Science Monitor could write on August 27, 2002, "Indeed, Bush has said he welcomes a 'debate' on Iraq from those in Congress and from the public. But he has made it clear that he will make his decision based on what his intelligence people are telling him."

But Dearlove's report makes it clear that Bush had already decided absolutely on a war already the previous month, and that he had managed to give British intelligence the firm impression that he intended to shape the intelligence to support such a war. So poor Sperling was lied to twice. Any "debate" was meaningless if the president had already decided. And he wasn't waiting to make his decision in the light of the intelligence. He was going to tell the intelligence professionals to what conclusion they had to come. "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Why would it even be necessary to turn the intelligence analysts into "weasels" who would have to tell Bush what he wanted to hear?

It was necessary because the "justification" of the "conjunction" of Weapons of Mass Destruction and terrorism was virtually non-existent.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw admitted it at the meeting: "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."

So the "justification" would have to be provided by "fixing" the intelligence around the policy. Bush was just going to make things up, since the realities did not actually justify his planned war! The British cabinet sat around and admitted to themselves that a) there was no justification for the war into which they were allowing themselves to be dragged and b) that the war would be gotten up through Goebbels-like techniques!

It is even worse. British Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith was at the meeting. He had to think up a justification for the war in international law. Britain is in Europe, and Europe takes international law seriously. You could have war crimes trials. (Remember that Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet almost got tried in Spain for killing 5000 people in the 1970s).

Goldsmith was as nervous as a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs: "The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change."

The driness of the wit is unbearable. "The desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action"! Naked aggression is illegal, he could have said. Then he reviews the three possible grounds for a war. You could have a war if Iraq attacked you. Iraq had not attacked the US. Or you could have a war if it was a humanitarian intervention (e.g. under the genocide convention). But Saddam's major campaigns of death had been a decade before. Or you could get a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the war, in accordance with the UN charter. But Goldsmith makes it clear he thought you would need a new resolution, that the old ones wouldn't work for this purpose.

The Attorney General of the United Kingdom thought the reports Dearlove and Straw were bringing back from Washington reeked of an illegal war. People who plan out illegal wars are war criminals. He knew this. He was stuck, however. They were all stuck.

The man from Connecticut with the Crawford ranch had decided to cut down some trees. And they were all hostages in his guest house and he was going to put chain saws in their hands and make them help, whether they liked it or not. Goldsmith's hands trembled as he reached out for the chainsaw rig. He saw himself and the others sitting in the Hague, one day, facing the same judges that Milosevic harangued. Charged.

But it is a long way from Crawford to the Hague. The man from Connecticut with the cowboy boots and the fake twang would get away with it. They would all get away with it.

But people would know they had lied.
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MixedVariety said:
I'm eagerly awaiting llad's I-Told-You-So response to this.
It did not surprise me.

If you had read Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke, you would have known how NeoCons like Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld had long planned on such an invasion ... that they were utilizing the tragedy of 9/11 as a catalyst for their long-awaited goal.

Clarke was clear in his book that Bush demanded he find a link between Saddam/Al Qaeda/9-11.

Per Clarke:

Later, on the evening of the 12th (Sept 2001), I left the Video Conferencing Center and there, wandering alone around the Situation Room, was the President. He looked like he wanted something to do. He grabbed a few of us and closed the door to the conference room. "Look," he told us, "I know you have a lot to do and all ... but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way ..."

I was once again taken aback, incredulous, and it showed. "But Mr. President, al Qaeda did this."

"I know, I know, but ...see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred ..."

"Absolutely, we will look ... again." I was trying to be more respectful, more responsive. "But, you know, we have looked several time for state sponsorship of al Qaeda and not found any real linkages to Iraq. Iran plays a little, as does Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, Yemen".

"Look in to Iraq, Saddam," the President said testily and left us. Lisa Gordon-Hagerty stared after him with her mouth hanging open.

Paul Kurtz waked in passing the President on the way out. Seeing our expressions, he asked "Geez, what just happened here?"

"Wolfowitz got to him," Lisa said, shaking her head.
Later when Clarke completed and submitted an additional report to Bush's presidential aides (which stated, once again, that there was no credible ties between Saddam and al Qaeda) , they rejected it and told him: "Wrong answer."

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I can't vouch for the authenticity of this latest memo, but it shouldn't surprise you about the intent of this administration. They used any and all means to gather support for this invasion. It was pre-determined ... all the way.
 
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