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Bush And Blair Address Downing Street Memo

A a joint news conference yesterday British Prime Minister Blair and President Bush denied that either side had "fixed" the intelligence about Iraq's weapons to justify war.

(Steve Holland/Reuters): Thank you, sir. On Iraq, the so-called Downing Street memo from July 2002 says intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of removing Saddam through military action. Is this an accurate reflection of what happened? Could both of you respond?

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, I can respond to that very easily. No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all. And let me remind you that that memorandum was written before we then went to the United Nations. Now, no one knows more intimately the discussions that we were conducting as two countries at the time than me. And the fact is we decided to go to the United Nations and went through that process, which resulted in the November 2002 United Nations resolution, to give a final chance to Saddam Hussein to comply with international law. He didn't do so. And that was the reason why we had to take military action.

But all the way through that period of time, we were trying to look for a way of managing to resolve this without conflict. As it happened, we weren't able to do that because -- as I think was very clear -- there was no way that Saddam Hussein was ever going to change the way that he worked, or the way that he acted.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I -- you know, I read kind of the characterizations of the memo, particularly when they dropped it out in the middle of his race. I'm not sure who "they dropped it out" is, but -- I'm not suggesting that you all dropped it out there. (Laughter.) And somebody said, well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth.

My conversation with the Prime Minister was, how could we do this peacefully, what could we do. And this meeting, evidently, that took place in London happened before we even went to the United Nations -- or I went to the United Nations. And so it's -- look, both us of didn't want to use our military. Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It's the last option. The consequences of committing the military are -- are very difficult. The hardest things I do as the President is to try to comfort families who've lost a loved one in combat. It's the last option that the President must have -- and it's the last option I know my friend had, as well.

And so we worked hard to see if we could figure out how to do this peacefully, take a -- put a united front up to Saddam Hussein, and say, the world speaks, and he ignored the world. Remember, 1441 passed the Security Council unanimously. He made the decision. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.

From the Boston Globe grabs this comment from AfterDowningStreet.org (who are pissing in the wind about impeachment):''We now have official government minutes of an official government meeting putting down what a lot of people suspected. If these minutes are accurate, Bush lied to the American people and to Congress."

The person who chaired the meeting (Blair) just denied the accuracy of the minutes, leaving you with precisely squat. Even The Washington Post has signed the certificate of expiration on the manufactured controversy.

But his query [Steve Holland] ended a slightly strange episode in the American media in which the potentially explosive report out of London had become a seldom acknowledged elephant in the room.

The Times report was intriguing: It showed that the head of British foreign intelligence told Blair seven months before the invasion of Iraq that Bush saw military action against Saddam Hussein as "inevitable" and that intelligence in Washington was "being fixed around the policy." In part, the memo never gained traction here because, unlike in Britain, it wasn't election season, and the war is not as unpopular here. In part, it's also because the notion that Bush was intent on military action in Iraq had been widely reported here before, in accounts from Paul O'Neill and Bob Woodward, among others.

I'll have one more giant nail in the coffin of the story - proof as to what "fixed" actually means - in a separate exclusive story later today.

Update: Here's the "fixed" story


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Comments (12)

I was immediately suspiciou... (Below threshold)
Adjoran:

I was immediately suspicious of the word "fixed," as well.

Is it likely American slang for rigging of results would be used by a British bureaucrat? Or was the usage in context more likely to mean "fixated upon?"

I'll address 2 points in my... (Below threshold)
Mark:

I'll address 2 points in my comment as a disclaimer I am from the left side of things but do not mean to be trollish.

1. The denial is no surprise, but far from your earlier critisim that this will be a test the Lefty bloggers will fail at I believe the ability to keep this story alive for 6 weekes and finally get a questioned answered does show that this is a victory. Also I think the real benifit of this document is that while yes most Americans have made up there mind about Bush some haven't but this may be the straw that....

2. The memo itself is not the key piece of information....what follows it what we are really concerned with, it validates lefties feelies of the Bush admin and will harden Democrats in 2005. Also given time, Bolton Nominations, RAF increased attacks etc etc etc it will be shown that infact Bush planned to invade well before even July 2003.

Mark, I resent being called... (Below threshold)
M Paulding:

Mark, I resent being called a "lefty blogger", as I was a Goldwater Republican. I am a conservative, not a fanatical neoconservative. If you continue to describe people like me using such terms, maybe I'll start calling you a "right wing fanatic".

This story is far from over. No one expected either Blair or Bush to offer a mea culpa.

The evidence of Bush's determination to go to war is mounting. For example, the Associated Press report on Saturday, June 5 of Bolton's trip to Europe within days of the Downing Street Memo's creation to prevent chemical weapons inspectors from entering Iraq.

Bush and his poodles are squandering the finest army ever created.

Didn't mean an insult....I ... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Didn't mean an insult....I was refering to terms that Kevin had used in the past.

I personally believe that every US citizen should be concerned about why they went to war and what reasons there leaders gave to justify it.

I would also like to say that with an 58% dis approval rating on Iraq, no WMD's and this memo people will want stronger arguements against this memo then everyone thought Saddam had WMD. ANd as a point in Fact no other countries other then US AUstralia and the UK thought Saddam had Nukes and yet the USA used fear of Nukes to justify this war.

The President and Blair sai... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

The President and Blair said they did not fix the facts. So I guess they didn't.

That answers that.

Just like it answered everything and the case was closed when Nixon said: "The people want to know if their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook!"

And just like when Clinton said: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinski." That statement closed his case too, right?

So Im'm so glad everything is all cleared up now, and he case is closed by Bush and Blair repeating the same boilerplate language they've repeated for nearly three years now.

We always should appreciate these sorts of in-depth investigations.

Q:"Did you do it?" A:"Um...NO!"

Well that answers everything then.

Bush or Blair didn't 'fess ... (Below threshold)
gordon:

Bush or Blair didn't 'fess up?
Oh well, that's it then, nothing more to see. Let's move on. Anybody got any news on Michael Jackson?

No matter what the word 'fi... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

No matter what the word 'fix' means...the memo still says...if the political climate is right, we can sell this war. So the whole TONE of the memo itself screams 'media manipulation.'

ALSO: I just love how there was no follow-up question. The obvious one is..."Well, Mr. Blair if what you say is true, and 'the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all,' as you say...then why does your memo say the facts are being fixed?

Do you notice how there was NO attempt to explain the contents of the memo? There was no attempt to say..."well 'fix' in this case doesn't mean 'manipulate,' and then explain what it means.

Odd, isn't it?

And then Bush started trying to shift the question to the motives of messenger. Claiming that because the document was leaked during Tony Blairs re-election, that implies the document is suspect. But NO ONE disputes the authenticity of the documents, so WHEN it came out is not the issue. The contents of the memo are the issue.

PS: These are the questions Rep. Conyers wants to ask Bush.

1)Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?
3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

While absolute trust is all... (Below threshold)
Wendigo:

While absolute trust is all well and good, Nixon denied the Watergate burglary too.

Which I guess means he had nothing to do with it!

When I read the line "intel... (Below threshold)
Neo:

When I read the line "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," my first thought was that "fix" was short for "affix" as in stick, attach or fasten. Surely any intelligence would have to be vetted for sources and methods, and you can't apply that to all intelligence, so only the stuff that applies would be screened .. and attached.

Nixon had nothing to do wit... (Below threshold)
J_Crater:

Nixon had nothing to do with the Watergate burglary.

He got in trouble for trying to cover for the idiots that thought it up, then tried to retreat to a saner position, but the damage was done.

Isn't it wonderful how Bush... (Below threshold)

Isn't it wonderful how Bush and Blair wrapped the distraction of African aid and global warming around their joint denial of the truth, as if issues other than the Downing Street memo caused Blair to cross the Atlantic? I smell Karl Rove.

Yes, most Americans have ma... (Below threshold)
kma:

Yes, most Americans have made up their mind about Bush -- we like him. We're keeping him for another 4 years. This memo is only the moonbats once again trying to make something out of nothing. Yawn.




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