Fat Steve's Blatherings

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Another Example of MSM Unreliability


      The Washington Post reports on a poll, and can't resist the temptation to do a little editing-as-lying.

At Length:

      The Washington Post did a poll on Iraq.  In it, they say:
      Part of the administration's apparently growing credibility problem may be the result of recent disclosures about prewar planning, including what has come to be known as the Downing Street memo, reflecting notes of a July 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers.  The memo said that the Bush administration had decided to go to war and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

      The administration has dismissed the conclusions of that memo, but the memo's wide circulation may have raised new doubts or reinforced old suspicions about Bush's motives for going to war.  For the first time, a narrow majority -- 52 percent -- said the administration deliberately misled the public before the war, a nine-point increase in three months. Forty-eight percent said the administration told the public what it believed to be true at the time.

      What were the conclusions of the Downing Street Memo?  I have them here:


(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 [Chief of the Defense Staff --St.O.] 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 [Head of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) --St.O.] 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.

      Now, do you see anything in those conclusions that would lend support to the belief that Bush lied?

      Wait, you say, they didn't mean the conclusion in the memo, they meant the conclusions drawn about the memo.  Well, I have dealt with that before.  The portions of the memo dealing with intelligence and weapons of mass destruction read (my paragraph numbers):
3) 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.

4) 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.

14) 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.

16) 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.

18) 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.

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

      That clearly supports the view that the British believed there were WMDs in Iraq.

      How long will they bore us with this nonsense?



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