Monday, March 27, 2006

Yet Another Secret Memo

The New York Times has dug up another secret memo from the British that confirms that the Bush administration had made up its mind to go to war in Iraq and even considering fabricating evidence to do so.

In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush’s public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair’s top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” David Manning, Mr. Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

“The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,” Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. “This was when the bombing would begin.”


The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.


The January 2003 memo is the latest in a series of secret memos produced by top aides to Mr. Blair that summarize private discussions between the president and the prime minister. Another group of British memos, including the so-called Downing Street memo written in July 2002, showed that some senior British officials had been concerned that the United States was determined to invade Iraq, and that the “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” by the Bush administration to fit its desire to go to war.

The latest memo is striking in its characterization of frank, almost casual, conversation by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair about the most serious subjects. At one point, the leaders swapped ideas for a postwar Iraqi government. “As for the future government of Iraq, people would find it very odd if we handed it over to another dictator,” the prime minister is quoted as saying.

The last time we had a secret memo released from the British, the famous Downing Street Memo, the administration obfuscated and denied that we were planning to go to war for whatever excuse we could come up with: WMD’s that weren’t there, uranium from Niger that was a hoax, aluminum tubes for centrifuges that didn’t exist, and phantom mobile chemical weapons factories. Now we find out that they were even willing to set up a fake incident with a false-color spy plane to provide an excuse to get a resolution from Congress and the UN to invade — call it Gulf of Tonkin II. This time there’s no doubt whatsoever that this is what they planned from the beginning, and if Saddam Hussein had come out of his palace with his hands up, offered to sit around the campfire, blaze a doobie and sing Kum By Yah with Rumsfeld (remember, they’d met before and shaken hands back in the 1980’s), we still would have invaded the country on the grounds of drug-use and bogarting the roach.

Aside from the almost banal way they discussed this matter (“Hey, Tony, let’s invade Iraq. Want to order up a pizza?”), it boggles the mind that if they had decided nearly two months before the actual invasion date to go ahead, why were our troops neither fully equipped nor adequately deployed when the actual invasion came off? Why were they still looking for decent body armor two years later? Why did we go to war with the army we had instead of the army we needed? And why isn’t someone being held accountable for this?