The New York Times has confirmed the so-called “White House Memo” of January 31, 2003 is genuine. The memo, first reported several months ago, records a meeting at the White House between Blair, Bush and key advisors. Among the key points:
1. Bush had decided on war no matter what, even if UNMOVIC found nothing and they failed to get a second U.N. resolution.
2. Bush suggested creating a pretext for the war by painting a U.S. spy plane in the colors of the United Nations, in hopes Iraq would try to shoot it down.
3. Bush thought it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.”
So, how to deal with this embarrassing information? An unnamed “senior British official” tries this gambit:
“In all of this discussion during the run-up to the Iraq war, it is obvious that viewing a snapshot at a certain point in time gives only a partial view of the decision-making process.”
Huh, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before? Oh, rightâ€”it’s exactly what Tony Blair said about the Downing Street Memo:
“The trouble with having a political discussion on the basis of things that are leaked is that they are always taken right out of context. Everything else is omitted from the discussion and you end up focusing on a specific document.”
UK Defense Secretary John Reid also said this about the Downing Street Memo (via Nexis):
“You can produce one out of a thousand of memos that were flying about, which represented one person’s view about one particular issue.”
So now we have TWO British memos shamefully ripped out context. Or rather, eight memos ripped out of context, counting the six other documents related to the Downing Street Memo. Wait, I’m sorryâ€”nine memos, when you add in the one Paul O’Neill revealed showing the Bush administration already planning for “Post-Saddam Iraq” on January 31, 2001. Or actually, ten memos, counting the NSA memo about spying on the U.N. Well, to be fairâ€”eleven memos, given the one Blair aide John Sawer wrote in May, 2003 about the lack of post-war planning.
Okay: we have eleven internal memos ripped horribly out of context. And in a bizarre coincidence, they tell exactly the same story as a gigantic amount of public information.
But that’s irrelevant. What’s important is we know if we had access to all the relevant government documents, they would tell a completely different story. If only Tony Blair and George Bush had the authority to declassify them!
Sadly, of course, this is impossible. Blair and Bush are completely powerless in this matter. All they can do is tell us how they would be completely vindicated if only we knew things we aren’t allowed to know.