The top-level government memo marked "SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL",
dated eight months before Bush sent us into Iraq, following a closed
meeting with the President, reads, "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."
Read that again: "The intelligence and facts were being fixed...."
For years, after each damning report on BBC TV, viewers inevitably ask me,
"Isn't this grounds for impeachment?" -- vote rigging, a blind eye to
terror and the bin Ladens before 9-11, and so on. Evil, stupidity and
self-dealing are shameful but not impeachable. What's needed is a "high
crime or misdemeanor."
And if this ain't it, nothing is.
The memo uncovered this week by the TIMES, goes on to describe an elaborate
plan by George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to hoodwink the
lanet into supporting an attack on Iraq knowing full well the evidence for
war was a phony.
A conspiracy to commit serial fraud is, under federal law, racketeering.
However, the Mob's schemes never cost so many lives. Here's more. "Bush had
made up his mind to take military action. But the case was thin. Saddam was
not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of
Libya, North Korea or Iran."
Really? But Mr. Bush told us, "Intelligence gathered by this and other
governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and
conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
A month ago, the Silberman-Robb Commission issued its report on WMD
intelligence before the war, dismissing claims that Bush fixed the facts
with this snooty, condescending conclusion written directly to the
President, "After a thorough review, the Commission found no indication
that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's
weapons." We now know the report was a bogus 618 pages of thick
whitewash aimed to let Bush off the hook for his murderous mendacity.
Read on: The invasion build-up was then set, says the memo, "beginning
30 days before the US Congressional elections." Mission accomplished.
You should parse the entire memo -- reprinted below -- and see if you
can make it through its three pages without losing your lunch. Now sharp
readers may note they didn't see this memo, in fact, printed in the New York
Times. It wasn't. Rather, it was splashed across the front pages of the
Times of LONDON on Monday.
It has effectively finished the last, sorry remnants of Tony Blair's
political career. (While his Labor Party will most assuredly win the
elections Thursday, Prime Minister Blair is expected, possibly within
months, to be shoved overboard in favor of his Chancellor of the
Exchequer, a political execution which requires only a vote of the
Labour party's members in Parliament.)
But in the US, barely a word. The New York Times covers this hard
evidence of Bush's fabrication of a casus belli as some "British"
elections story. Apparently, our President's fraud isn't "news fit to
My colleagues in the UK press have skewered Blair, digging out more
incriminating memos, challenging the official government factoids and
fibs. But in the US press nada, bubkes, zilch. Bush fixed the facts and
somehow that's a story for "over there."
The Republicans impeached Bill Clinton over his cigar and Monica's
affections. And the US media could print nothing else. Now, we have the
stone, cold evidence of bending intelligence to sell us on death by the
thousands, and neither a Republican Congress nor what is laughably
called US journalism thought it worth a second look.
My friend Daniel Ellsberg once said that what's good about the American
people is that you have to lie to them. What's bad about Americans is
that it's so easy to do.
Greg Palast, former columnist for Britain's
Guardian papers, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "The
Best Democracy Money Can Buy". Subscribe to his columns at GregPalast.COM.
Media requests to CONTACT(at)GregPalast.COM.
Permission to reprint with attribution granted.
[Here it is - the secret smoking gun memo
- discovered by the Times of London. - GP]
SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY
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
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
(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
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
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
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
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.
(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
(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 commissionthis follow-up work.)
(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)