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Downing Street Memo: The Meaning Of The Word "Fixed"

Those pushing the Downing Street Memo have built their house of cards entirely on the pen of Matthew Rycroft, Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Prime Minister, in is role as meeting note taker. Especially drawing their attention is this curious line:

"But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
My initial take on the line was that it was the peculiarly British phrasing of intel speak regarding intelligence gathering and analysis related to Iraq's WMD program and terrorist ties.

The "smoking gun" crowd reads the word "fixed" conspiratorially to mean "doctored," as proof that intelligence was altered (or invented) to justify war.

With 372 liberal bloggers alligned to push for more media coverage of the story, it's ironic that none of them (to my knowledge) could be bothered to do a little background research on Rycroft. Clearly an understanding of the Rycroft's writing style and contextual use of the word "fixed" might help shed light on the meeting notes and further the understanding of the meaning of that oddly worded line.

In a matter of minutes I was able to find (via Google) this interoffice e-mail (Available in this PDF from the Hutton Inquiry) where we see how Rycroft (just a few months after the Downing Street memo was produced) uses the word "fixed" in everyday official correspondence. [Retyped from PDF]

From:          Matthew Rycroft
Sent: 18 September 2002 17:52
To: -snipped-
Subject: RE: Ann Taylor MP



This is now fixed for 0800 in John Scarlett's office tomorrow morning, followed by her
intelligence briefing at 0900, during which she will pass on her comments to John.
John will pass on her comments to us after that.
In the U.S. the word "set" would usually be used instead of "fixed." It seems that Rycroft uses the word fixed, when talking about making something set. Rewriting the sentence with the word set takes a lot of air out of the sails of those pushing the memo.
"But the intelligence and facts were being set around the policy."
Fails to sizzle, no?

Conspiracy theorists can move the goalposts all they want, but when the chair of the meeting (Blair) says intelligence was not "fixed", when The Butler Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee say intelligence was not "fixed," and when the author of the memo's use of the word "fixed" doesn't jibe with the moonbat spin; it's game over. In regards to the "fixed" line, the noted colloquialism, "that dog don't hunt" applies.

I have a request for comment in to Matthew Rycroft (who is now the British Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina), and will report back if he grants me an interview.

Update: Apparently I must continually rehash prior coverage to prove that this single post is not the entirety of the argument against the overreach of left on this issue. Click here for all of the previous memo coverage.

Commenters claiming that memo pushers are not arguing the word "fixed" proves that the intelligence was not doctored, manufactured, or stacked to justify war really should read more of the lefty blogs - that's exactly what they pitching. They're peddling lots of other stuff too, but go back to the beginning of their campaign and see where they started - they started with the three points James Robbins summarized as, "the timing of the decision to go to war with Saddam, the WMD rationale, and the use (read: abuse) of intelligence to create the casus belli."

The chair of the meeting denies their claims, the President denies their claims, commissions investigating the pre-war intelligence in both countries deny their claims, and I've shown that the authors use of the term "fixed" to be ambiguous. The memo pushers meanwhile offer one of several literal definitions of the word "fixed" to make their case. Yeah, that's some slam dunk for the left.

Update 2: I've also requested an interview with the head of MI6 at the time, Sir Richard Dearlove, whose words Rycroft was paraphrasing.


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Comments (80)

Kevin -- Just exap... (Below threshold)
frameone:

Kevin --

Just exaplain to me in all your linguistic precision why Rycroft didn't just write:

"The policy if being fixed around the intelligence."

Let's look at the sentences side by side:

"The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."

"The policy is being fixed around the intelligence and facts."

Now you are telling me that these two sentences mean the same thing?

It depends upon what the... (Below threshold)
mantis:

It depends upon what the meaning of the word is means.

-Pres. Bill Clinton, 1998

KevinI am from the U... (Below threshold)
gordon:

Kevin
I am from the UK. It is quite common to "fix" a time for a meeting or a date or anything else for that matter. Matthew Rycroft doesn't just say this, everybody says it.
His meaning of "fix" in the DSM however is exactly what everybody thinks it means here.
While your investigative study is no doubt commendable, "that dog don't hunt" unfortunately applies to your analysis.

His meaning of "fix" in... (Below threshold)

His meaning of "fix" in the DSM however is exactly what everybody thinks it means here.

Guess we can all go home now...

Even if you use the word "s... (Below threshold)
Charles Stanton:

Even if you use the word "set" in place of "fixed", it is still damning!

I have never thought that intel was being fabricated or made up (except from curveball and other defectors). They used (and misused) intel to sell the war and refused to disclose the volumes of exculpatory evidence that would refute the intel used for the pre-determined policy. If that is not "fixing the intel around the policy", it is its twin brother!

HELLO?Replace 'fix... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

HELLO?

Replace 'fix' with 'set' and it STILL means the same thing!

C'mon, Let's you and I read whole sentence with the word 'set' replacing 'fix'

"Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD, but the intelligence and facts were being set around the policy."

You notice that little word in there 'but' ?

If you wanna justify removing Saddam over weapons of mass destruction BUT the intell has to be 'set around the policy,' the use of that word BUT still means the intell doesn't support the policy.

That's why you have to 'set' it or 'fix' it beforehand.

That's still putting the cart before the horse. Don't you get that yet?

In order for the memo to mean what you want it to mean it would have to say:

"Bush wanted to find out if we needed to use military action to remove Saddam over Terror and WMD, and intelligence and facts shall being gathered to find out."

The memo just doesn't say that. It says intell is being fixed to fit the policy to JUSTIFY a desicion that was already made. That word 'justify' that Rycroft used is crucial too, and it is echoed later on in his memo when he wrote:

"If the political context were right, people would support regime change."

I mean how much more crystal-clear does it have to get?


Is this all they've got? S... (Below threshold)

Is this all they've got? Splitting hairs over the meaning of one single word in a memo?

No wonder this 'story' is going nowhere.

>Replace 'fix' with 'set' a... (Below threshold)
Jim:

>Replace 'fix' with 'set' and it STILL means the same thing!

Nope, sorry, wrong. Let's step back a second. I deal with conditional logic all the time. You know how common this mistake is? It's so common we train for it because the users make it ALL the time.

>C'mon, Let's you and I read whole sentence with the word 'set' replacing 'fix'

>"Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD, but the intelligence and facts were being set around the policy."

This means that intelligence and facts were being gathered to support removal of Saddam. Just as one would have EXPECTED at this time. We already had military plans in the works, and so too was intelligence gathering already ongoing.

Nowhere does this say that ANY decision was already made. And this is why "This dog won't hunt".

Jim, I guess it now depends... (Below threshold)
M Paulding:

Jim, I guess it now depends on what "policy" means. If you assume that Bush's policy was the one adopted by Congress in 1998, then it seems to me that you're saying

...the intelligence and the facts were being SET around REGIME CHANGE.

If you agree, then it would seem to me that you would also agree that Bush lied about the reason for going to war, which is what this is all about.

Kevin,You are sugg... (Below threshold)
R. Bers:

Kevin,

You are suggesting that the sentence containing the word 'fixed' is the only interesting thing about this memo.

How about this beauty:

"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."

- B.

Go to C-Span and watch the ... (Below threshold)
laura:

Go to C-Span and watch the press conference Bush and Blair gave yesterday. There is no question of the authenticity of the memo. What was said at that meeting was said and notes were taken. That's that. I am personally encouraged that Bush was not foolish enough to believe that Iraq was responsible for the actions of 20 Saudis in New York. I have always thought that was obvious anyway. A preset agenda on the part of the administration is not news. There were no WMD's because there couldn't be with our 12 year embargo that crippled their economy. The only weapons they could have had are the ones we sold them. And there would be no alliance between Al Queda and Sadam Hussein. Other than speaking the same language, they have nothing in common. Saddam was a secular leader, Bin Laden is a religious nut. They wouldn't even speak the same dialect of Arabic. With out a preset agenda there was no reason whatsoever to go into Iraq. Many have said it before from Richard Clarke to Victoria Plame & co - many people who were present and in the know.
So for the "old dog" cliche, how about "Denial is not a river in Egypt". Just accept it and move on.

I'm starting to wonder whet... (Below threshold)
J. Raasch:

I'm starting to wonder whether you are falling into a Neocon trap. If you continue down the path of examining a single word, the ultra-right will dismiss your accusations with a chuckle.

The only way to resolve this problem is to focus on persuading the author of the memo to appear before Congress and tell us what he meant. Then invite G.W. Bush to appear before Congress to explain his actions.

Focus your energy on persuading Matthew Rycroft to tell us about this memo, preferably via some respectable channel.

What can we do to make this happen?

R Bers is right to point ou... (Below threshold)
M Paulding:

R Bers is right to point out this quote. Bush decided to invade Iraq long before he admits to havings done so, but had to sell the idea.

It's obvious that the way he sold it was to scare the hell out people with visions of mushroom clouds and pandemics. A classic Leo Straussian vision of the confrontation of good and evil, i.e., "axis of evil" and "those evildoers".

Those neoconservatives can slap each other on the back for having sold the American people a pile of shit.

The "smoking gun" crowd ... (Below threshold)
Wendigo:

The "smoking gun" crowd reads the word "fixed" conspiratorially to mean "doctored," as proof that intelligence was altered (or invented) to justify war.

Nyet. The "smoking gun crowd" is not saying that intelligence was doctored int he way one doctors a photograph; altering it to put something there that is not.

The smoking gun crowd is saying that this sentence suggests that Bush used intelligence to support decisions he had already made, rather than to inform decisions he was making currently.

Which it does.

This means that intelligence and facts were being gathered to support removal of Saddam. Just as one would have EXPECTED at this time. We already had military plans in the works, and so too was intelligence gathering already ongoing.

Cough. No, not what one would expect. One would expect intelligence to be gathered so that one could create a plan of action, not so that one could push one's chosen plan of action.

Nowhere does this say that ANY decision was already made. And this is why "This dog won't hunt".

Except where it says "Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action"?

We all know that the decisi... (Below threshold)

We all know that the decision to invade Iraq had been made months before the invasion. We knew it then and we know it now.

What I don't get is why wingnuts like Kevin don't simply stand behind that and say, "So what?" It looks foolish parsing a single word like "fix" to manufacture yet another denial of something everybody knows is true.

You're much better off sticking to the story that you like Bush because he is a man of action. A bald-faced liar, of course, but a liar who doesn't pull his punches.

You might as well just hand... (Below threshold)
minnie:

You might as well just hand the Liberals this one if you can't do any better than that.

The typewriters, when were they made? Were they IBM selectric? The fonts, stupid! The kerning!!

Not some twisty stupid illogic about the British using words to mean different things than we do. Jeez, you're embarassing all of us, that's so weak.

Jeez, you're embarassing... (Below threshold)

Jeez, you're embarassing all of us, that's so weak.

It's so weak that he's even embarassing us liberals!

"Conspiracy theorists can m... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"Conspiracy theorists can move the goalposts all they want, but when the chair of the meeting (Blair) says intelligence was not "fixed" "

Talk about moving the goalposts. What the hell would Blair know? I thought the minutes were third or fourth hand anyway. Now all of a sudden Blair is your go to guy for what Bush was thinking in July 2002? A few days ago you and Robbins were saying that all the British had were "impressions" and "hearsay." Indeed, that no one had asked Bush first hand what his intentions were. Now Blair knew them all along?

Moving on, Michael Jackson says he's innnocent too. The point being that Bush is innocent until proven guilty that's how the system works. But the system also works on the assumption that when there is credible evidence of wrongdoing, an independent invetigation wil be called to get to the bottom of the situation. Ultimately, that's all anyone wants -- expect you and the Republicans. If we can't get and independent investigation into this then the system is broke. You look at account from O'Neil, Woodward and Clarke and say oh the minutes are old news. But wait, a second, that's at least four separate accounts that suggestion Bush decided to lead this country to war long before he told us he had and that, once he decided this, he wasn't going to look at any evidence that suggested war was not necessary or useful. Oh sure he'd go through the motions of going to the UN but once inpsectors were back in Iraq and doing their jobs, all Bush did was complain about and confound their efforts.

On top of all this we learn today that a White House official regularly changed scientific findings to support the administration's environmental policies. Sounds like fixing the intelligence around the policy to me. Could someone please tell me why these things don't add up to a pattern of deception and denial, how they aren't symptoms of an administration that is out of control?

"Is this all they've got? S... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"Is this all they've got? Splitting hairs over the meaning of one single word in a memo?

No wonder this 'story' is going nowhere."

NO you are not a punidt yet because it is the right wing that's splitting hairs over the word. Everyone else on the planet knows exactly what the sentence means.

Which brings me to my question for Jay Tea. Hey Jay, if you love language so much how can you not chastise Kevin -- and so many others here -- for their hamfisted attempts to undermine meaning in this case?

"But the intelligence and facts were being set around the policy."

Please Jay, for the love of language make them stop.

What an useless argument.<b... (Below threshold)
Fran:

What an useless argument.
As stated in a previous fantasy war: "It's over Johnny. It's over!"
Nobody likes a looser.
If Bush II had won his war this would only be discussed by historians.
Nobody likes a looser.
His war, his plan, his generals…
But to get back on topic, I agree with previous post by *frameone* regarding the structure of the sentence.
"The policy if being fixed around the intelligence."
Let's look at the sentences side by side:
"The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."
"The policy is being fixed around the intelligence and facts."
If I could change international policy by saying:
The policy is being set around the intelligence and facts, I would.

This is a copy of a previous post regarding Kevin's appearance on C-Span regarding this same topic.
Downing Street Memo

Kevin
Saw you on C-Span.
Too bad you didn't have a decent argument.
1. 1998 policy of US to get rid of Saddam. True
What is not stated is that the policy called for using Iraqis.
2. WMD…all intelligence agencies believed Saddam had…True.
-No invasion was planned.
-N Korea and Iran had demonstrably larger arsenals.
3. 9/11…Bush et al continually linked 9/11 to Saddam and Iraq.
Emotions rule…the country was mad and wanted a target.
4. Saddam's atrocities…
Check policies of previous admin's…Reagan and Bush I.
They had more contact with Saddam than al Qaeda did.
5. Democracy…what a great guy Bush is, spreading democracy.
Unfortunately he's doing it with lies and other people's kids.
6. OIL…??? Absolutely not.
What a canard. Oil is only the primary concern of US foreign policy.

Think: OIL…OIL…OIL…


Clearly, none of the Neosoc... (Below threshold)
Rob:

Clearly, none of the Neosocialists on here have read past that one sentence they're harping on.

Loser. Loser. Los... (Below threshold)
a4g:

Loser. Loser. Loser.

The f'n word is LOSER.

Not looser. NOT LOOSER!!!!!!!

If I see one more comment with the word loose or looser, I'm going to go f'n CRAZY!!!!!

The last line of Kevin's po... (Below threshold)
Lew Clark:

The last line of Kevin's post is the logical and sensible approach. Why not ask Rycroft what he meant. Of course it really won't matter to most, what Rycroft says, if he does speak. Depending on which side of the issue one falls, they know what he meant and what he says he meant is of no importance.

I'll wait to hear from Rycroft, and will believe what he says, since to the best of my knowledge, Matthew Rycoft has never lied to me.

Stop sleeping with your cou... (Below threshold)
Banjo Boy:

Stop sleeping with your cousin.

a4gmany grammatical ... (Below threshold)
Fran:

a4g
many grammatical apologies…
I have yet to read any convincing arguments regarding Bush's status as a loser.
Nor have read any convincing arguments regarding whether policies should be set or fixed by the intel…or if the intel should be set or fixed around the policy.
If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?
Not if it's a republican tree.

If that wasn't enough of a ... (Below threshold)
Fran:

If that wasn't enough of a reason to go to war what about these.

Provided by Bush II:

For those who just can't get enough excuses as to why Bush II took us to war just follow with the policy ping pong ball.
As provided by:
http://www.rojisan.com/blog/2004/12/21_reasons_to_invade_iraq.html
21 reasons to invade iraq

with a nod to devon largio recently of the university of illinois, and via foreign policy, i direct your attention to the chart included in this story.

between september 2001 and october 2002, george w. bush, dick cheney,richard perle, colin powell, condoleezza rice, donald rumsfeld paul wolfowitz, tom daschle, joseph lieberman and john mccain came up with no fewer than 21 reasons to go to war with iraq. the foreign policy article gives you a handy graphic representation. i'm going to put them on the text record here:

1. to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
2. for regime change.
3. to further the war on terror.
4. because of iraq's violation of united nations resolutions.
5. because of saddam hussein's evil dictatorship and actions.
6. because of a lack of weapons inspections in iraq.
7. to liberate iraq.
8. because of iraq's ties to al qaeda.
9. because iraq was an imminent threat.
10. to disarm iraq.
11. to conclude the gulf war of 1991.
12. because hussein was a threat to the region.
13. for the safety of the world.
14. to support the united nations.
15. because the united states could (easy victory).
16. to preserve peace around the world.
17. because iraq was a unique threat.
18. to transform the region.
19. as a warning to other terrorist nations.
20. because hussein hates the united states and will act against it.
21. because history calls the united states to action.

F-the fixed or set debate.

I must agree that for eithe... (Below threshold)

I must agree that for either side to hinge their collective stand upon the word "fix" is relatively weak. That said, there are three things about the "Downing Street Memo" that I have yet to see addressed.

First, the memo is, essentially, no matter how official it may look, a subjective interpretation of the events of the meeting in question. It does not appear to be any formal account of the meeting, not being nearly detailed enough to be the actual "minutes" of the meeting. Further, the "smoking gun" passages consist nearly entirely of subjective assessments, and devoid of verifiable information.

Second, there is much talk in the memo of WMDs, and more than a few references to Saddam's UN sanction violations. For the same people to be pushing the "buzzwords" in this memo as are repeating the "Bush Lied" mantra with regard to WMDs is absolutely absurd.

Thirdly, but possibly the point of greatest import, is the fact that the memo is marked confidential. If that is the case, the silence about the memo's validity from Blair (Bush couldn't be in a position to know) could very well be due to the memo being incomplete or inaccurate. To challenge its contents would essentially make necessary the disclosure of the actual documentation that would disprove the memo (i.e. the actual minutes of the meeting, if any exist), documents which are most assuredly still classified as a matter of national security.

It's a nonissue. The memo, regardless of your political convictions is anything but "hard evidence" one way or the other. It may not be accurate in the first place, but even if it is accurate to some degree, it may be read to say either too little or too much towards either stance. For example, was Saddam a threat or not? The memo says yes, and that any military action should be tempered with the knowledge that WMDs would likely be deployed by Saddam. Was military action fairly certain at the time of the memo? Yes, the memo makes clear that not only is regime change necessary, but that the change would only come through military action.

Herein lies the reason why the memo doesn't play in the MSM. When taken in its entirety, it reflects presuppositions about Iraq that don't mesh well with the idea that "Warmonger Chimpy McBusHitler" was wrong to attack Iraq. If anything, it indicates that the UN sanctions were pitifully inadequate to keep Saddam in check.

Frame, I can't believe I'm ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Frame, I can't believe I'm actually falling for your baiting, but you've given me a chance to indulge in one of my favorite activities -- quoting Winston Churchill.

"The United States and Great Britain are two people divided by a common language."

One of my favorite stories about the English-English language barrier is a meeting between American and British negotiators. Both sides wanted to discuss a certain issue, but a huge row developed because the British used the term "table" to mean "put on the table for discussion," while the Americans took "table" to mean "to set aside to discuss later.

From the outset, I fixed on the word "fixed" and pegged that as the Achilles heel of the whole "memo scandal." It was the classic tempest in a teapot.

And Fran, I've always believed that there were numerous, often overlapping reasons why going to war was the right decision. What's your problem with that? Where is it written that there must be a single, overwhelming, unique casus belli?

J.

We all know that the dec... (Below threshold)
snowballs:

We all know that the decision to invade Iraq had been made months before the invasion. We knew it then and we know it now.

Bullshit.

It was known years before. So what if it was? Albright's goal was to do the same for Milosevic - which was also the right stance at the time.

"Clearly, none of the Neoso... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"Clearly, none of the Neosocialists on here have read past that one sentence they're harping on."

The minutes clearly state that the British understanding of American policy in July 2002 was that Bush had decided war was the only solution. The entirety of the minutes to follow records a discussion of the feasability of the American war plan and the best way to create political cover for it. I'm not sure what else you're talking about.

As for Robbins' challenges: What challenges? Not only is his argument all over the map the ultimate crux of it still depends on his own hamfisted argument about the meaning of "fixed."

First he argues the "Big Deal" line suggesting that, well, we all knew Bush wanted war anyway. Then he argues that, well, the minutes are all hearsay so we don't really know what Bush thought, only what the head of British intelligence thought were Bush's intentions, essentially attacking Dearlove's credibility, as if his job isn't to find and out and know what other leaders are thinking.

But then he goes back to the "Big Deal" argument suggesting that we knew regime change was the policy of the United States but that this doesn't mean Bush had decided war was the only way to achieve that aim, as if critics were confusing the two. Except the only one confusing the policy of regime change and what's in the minutes is Robbins.

Then he gets into the details of British war planning, as evidenced in the minutes, and their attempt to find political cover for an invasion which, the British attorney general, clearly beleived was on shaky legal ground no matter what argument could be made for it short of direct self-defence. Robbins praises the cunning British political maneuvering -- goading Hussein into a breach of UN resolutions -- completely ignoring his earlier argument that the British were apparently formulating their policy based on hearsay. Not very bright chaps if that were the case. Of course, it wasn't. The British were forumating their response to what they knew was the American position. And they knew it for a fact. Otherwise, why go into such detail? Of course, Robbins flat out ignores the fact that Hussein did allow the inspectors back into Iraq and that Hans Blix reported he was receiving the necessary co-operation from the Iraqi government. Robbins also fails to note, as do most of the neo-cons, that UN resolution 1441 clearly states that another vote of the UNSC was necessary to sanction an invasion of Iraq. We all forget that Bush and Blair blew right past this requirement suddenly declaring the UN irrelevant, that they had all the authorization they needed and then forced the inspectors to withdraw from Iraq so they could begin their invasion.

Put it all together and the minutes are pretty good evidence that Bush had decided to go to war in 2002 and that only intelligence which supported that decision would be taken into account. That's reason enough to begin an independent inquiry into how intelligence was used for political reasons to make the case for war.

"The United States and Grea... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"The United States and Great Britain are two people divided by a common language."

Jay --

For the love of God, for the of language, for the love all you claim to hold dear, please, please tell me that you're joking. We're not talking about fish and chips here. Even if "fix" is taken to mean "set" that doesn't change the meaning of the sentence!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even if "fix" is taken to mean "cement" or "glue" or "nail" or "congeal" the sentence means the same damn thing. I don't care if there are people arguing it means "fixed" as in the "the fight is fixed." That argument is irrelevant. Even if we take "fixed" in the sense of "I fixed my broken bike" the sentence still means pretty much the same damn thing:

The policy of going to war with Iraq was established before anyone did anything with the intelligence or the facts.

No one has yet to explain why this order of events is a good thing. Robbins says this happens all the time in Washington but does that mean it's a good idea to decide a course of action and THEN go out and figure out if it was a good or the right course of action?

At the very least, deciding to go to war first may have colored the way in which the intelligence and facts were gathered, fixed, set, cemented, decided upon. You know, a predispostion to look for the things that support a decision already made -- regardless of what other information is out there. At the very least, might the existence of an a priori filter on the president's thinking explain why he fell for BAD INTELLIGENCE?!?!?!?!

Please, Jay, for God's sake, I know you know that this sentence:

"But the intelligence and facts were being set around the policy."

Means the exact same thing as this sentence:

"But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The exact same thing: The the policy came first and the intelligence and facts were then gathered around it. It's about the freaking order of events!!!

Please, Jay, if nothing else use all you linguistic knowledge and grammatical prowess to explain to me why the British didn't just say:

"The policy was being fixed around the intelligence and facts."

Sorry....Fixed, Set, howeve... (Below threshold)
Glen:

Sorry....Fixed, Set, however you want to say it. These folks wanted to go to war whether or not they could find justification. A relative of mine in the upper echelon of the Air Force said this was the case in 2001 prior to 911. Smell the coffee folks... Bush lied and thousands died and are continuing to die. Supporting this madness is unconscionable.

Again, even if Bush decided... (Below threshold)

Again, even if Bush decided in advance that he wanted war with Iraq, so what?

What were the chances that Saddam Hussein was going to back down and allow unfettered inspections, and adhere to the UN Security Council resolutions?

The chances were precisely zero, as we found out.

Wars need to be planned, even if the wars are not carried out. And yes you need to fix/place/pin intelligence around that plan, so you know where to attack.

And why is it at all controversial that the RAF and the USAF would step up missions in advance of a planned war? Could it possibly be that this was an attempt to get Saddam to realize that military action was being seriously considered against him? This was not some heinous act as our neosocialist friends would have us believe.

And sorry, after all the hateful things the Left has said about our troops ever since the Vietnam War, your crocodile tears over the loss of our troops in Iraq just rings hollow.

Hmmm.The only pers... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

The only person, who couldn't have immediately recognized the writing style, is someone who has never read an English novel.

This use of the word "fixed" is classic English.

Please please let's hope th... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Please please let's hope that Bush thought war was the only option to carry out our long-standing policy to remove Saddam. Umteen years of experiece with Saddam should have proved this to anyone -- man, chimp, or liberal. He tried to assassinate a US president. He used WMD. He shot at our planes. He started 3 wars. He is responsible for over 2,000,000 people killed in those wars. My question is what the hell took us so long? And my second question for liberals is why do you ignore 2000000 dead, and obsess instead with 2000? When will you realize that future historians will judge you harshly for your support of tyranny?

Hmmm.It's like get... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

It's like getting invaded by multi-level marketers.

"Wars need to be planned, e... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"Wars need to be planned, even if the wars are not carried out. And yes you need to fix/place/pin intelligence around that plan, so you know where to attack."

You see this? I mean look at how Pundit (not yet) completely ignores the context of the sentence he blithely writes off as no big deal. The paragraph in question is about deciding to go to war and how to justify going to war. It is not about where all the good targets are. But then again, the controversy here is not whether Bush had a plan to go to war, the controversy is about whether or not Bush planned to go to war as a first resort. See the difference? Or do we need more hairsplitting about the meanig of "plan." Given the extent of the obfuscation just this one graph from Pundit (not yet)'s me thinks no amount of arguing is going to get through to you guys, since, you know, you've so thoroughly fixed your facts and intelligence around you main goal of carrying Bush's water no matter what.

From the minutes:
"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."

I wrote about this on my bl... (Below threshold)

I wrote about this on my blog XDA a while back and the guy named frameone (is he a bowler?) tried to sell me the same bill of goods he's hawking in multiple comments here. The British don't often use fix to mean influence by improper means and no English speaker on either side of the Atlantic says fixed around to mean influence by improper means. You have it right.

Umteen years of UN resoluti... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Umteen years of UN resolutions is not a first resort. You have blinders on, misunderstanding that US foreign policy can and does span presidencies. The Monroe doctrine, enhanced considerably, is still in effect. As was the stated US policy to remove Saddam. It was a long long time in coming.

Regardless, it seems that Tony Blair's position carried the day. As you know, the NSC position you just quoted LOST. The material was published, the case for war was made, Bush went to the UN 3 months later, and the UN passed the resolution. This subsequent decision by Bush to go the UN route at the urging of Blair was well reported. There is no news here.

Frameone, it is obvious fro... (Below threshold)

Frameone, it is obvious from the existence of this post that the precise meaning of that sentence is far from clear.

You guys have not nailed it down, nor will you, so just accept that it is open to interpretation.

I gotta tell ya, when I first read the Downing Street Memo, honest to god that is what I thought that sentence meant. Only later did I find out that this was the supposed 'smoking gun' and I couldn't believe it.

Again, it just strikes me a very very odd that an Americanism like 'fix' as in 'the fix is in' would be used in this British memo.

I have read this memo from top to bottom several times, and I am well aware of the 'context' of this sentence - and the context just does not help you either.

In fact the entire memo kinda cuts the other way. Like this quote:

"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 Defence Secretary."

Now just why are they going on about these fears of WMD's if Tony Blair knew with certainty they weren't there?

Frameone, we could accuse y... (Below threshold)

Frameone, we could accuse you of the very same thing, not being willing to see that there could be a different meaning to this sentence and memo because it does not fit your agenda.

It is obvious from the existence of this post that the precise meaning of that sentence is far from clear.

You guys have not nailed it down, nor will you, so just accept that it is open to interpretation.

I gotta tell ya, when I first read the Downing Street Memo, honest to god that is what I thought that sentence meant. Only later did I find out that this was the supposed 'smoking gun' and I couldn't believe it.

Again, it just strikes me a very very odd that an Americanism like 'fix' as in 'the fix is in' would be used in this British memo.

I have read this memo from top to bottom several times, and I am well aware of the 'context' of this sentence - and the context just does not help you either.

In fact the entire memo kinda cuts the other way. Like this quote:

"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 Defence Secretary."

Now just why are they going on about these fears of WMD's if Tony Blair knew with certainty they weren't there?

Just add those 2,000,000 in... (Below threshold)
gordon:

Just add those 2,000,000 into the Rumsfeld column since he sold Saddam the weapons. Nice bit of business that. I hope Rummy has a free pass when he gets to the pearly gates.

Oh for god's sake I double ... (Below threshold)

Oh for god's sake I double posted.

** slinks away with his tail between his legs **

Gordon,Are we goin... (Below threshold)

Gordon,

Are we going to have to pimp-slap you again with the list of what Saddam bought from whom as percentages of his arms purchases. Here's a little hint: We don't make AKMs, RPG-7s, YW-531s, EE-9 Cascavels, T-72s, T-55s, BMPs, SCUDs, SA-7s, SA-6, Crotales, Mirage IIIs, MiG-29s, Exocets, and on and on. And for the record, most of his chemical precursors were from West Germany. Yes, the CDC did send anthrax to Iraq, as they would to any acreditted medical lab at the time. No special strings needed to be pulled.

It depends on how the word ... (Below threshold)
Jonathan:

It depends on how the word "fixed" is fixed? Like how the word "is" is parsed? Seems we've got more oral promiscuity in the White House again. This time people died.

I think this is one of the ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I think this is one of the most pronounced incidences of a re-enactment of the monolith appearing before the apes in the cave...and they're still trying to figure out what it means.

Let's see...you have conditions...that suggest...solutions...because the conditions...are inherent...to the problem...and the solution is...what was the condition again...that first one, no the second one, no the third one...but isn't that the solution...no, it was the fourth condition...

And now the Left, as the Left is just obligated to do, is throwing bones and anything else they can pick up just because the monolith isn't supposed to be there, but there it is...but...

Obviously, as in, obviously, Saddam Hussein and a range of horrible problems related to him and his peers were posing immense problems to our world and for a number of reasons. Such that, had the U.K. and the U.S. and others NOT been considering removing him from "power" and/or otherwise making drastic changes to the MidEast, as per whatever was feasible...I mean, to think that someone DID NOT consider a move toward military use prior to when it occured is mindboggling to me.

Thank God that someone took the initiative.

Hearing Rosie O'Donnell yel... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Hearing Rosie O'Donnell yell out that "Yes, but, the U.S. invaded a sovereign nation!" on television yesterday/today (with to Hannity on THE VIEW yesterday) was just confirmation to my view as to how insane some in the Left are: they still think "sovereign nation" means their grandparents cozy family room and that "the U.S. (invading)" means we used crowbars and stole the television.

I could barely believe the mental and emotion disturbance displayed by Rosie O'Donnell at that moment, as with others. Unfortunately, she's simply mimicking much of the drech that she probably reads on DU and in Indymedia and hears from peers.

The memo indicates forethought and planning, yes, but nothing of "arch criminality" while Rosie and the Rosie peers indicate insanity. I'm thinking the memo is the least of our worries.

Please stop responding to '... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Please stop responding to 'frameone.' He/she does not understand what any/everyone else is writing. Just stop responding, because this one user manages to use every single thread that involves the U.S. to service and incite exactly what most of us work to defend.

I think if everyone just lets "frameone" write whatever -- as that user is compelled to do -- they'll wither away from lack of reason otherwise. Just let it be.

Sorry...should have read, "... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Sorry...should have read, "serves to incite opposition/threat to what most of us work to defend."

To hell with the "Downing S... (Below threshold)
M Paulding:

To hell with the "Downing Street Memo". It's going to end up a footnote compared to Ambassador Christopher Meyer's 18 March 2002 memo to Sir David Manning concerning his interesting 17 March 2002 lunch meeting with Paul Wolfowitz.

You neoconservative morons have a great day!

Doesn't matter what the mem... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Doesn't matter what the memo means... the left will interpret it to fit their needs. If not this, then they'll find something else. Forget about what was actually said. Forget about what actually happened. Where's the outrage over the U.N. failing to act, because THEIR hands were dirty with IRaqi oil?

The Downing Street Memo's b... (Below threshold)

The Downing Street Memo's been debunked.

Perhaps the biggest hit to it is the fact that 'c' (ie Sir Richard Dearlove), testified in the Hutton Inquiry that the intel was not manipulated or pressured or 'fixed' but that it was handled appropriately.

This link shows plenty to tick off the average Downstreet Memo headcase.

[quote]The secret Downing S... (Below threshold)

[quote]The secret Downing Street memo
SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY

DAVID MANNING
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[/quote] So, Saddam's a tough guy expected an eventual weak attack....
[quote]Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based. [/quote]Wait...how does that make him tough if his army morale is weak, and public support is minimal? ;)
[quote]C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. [/quote]Sorry, but Pres Clinton and VP Gore expressed this back in 98. Pres Clinton said in his Desert Fox announcement that it was likely going to take an invasion to remove the Saddam threat, and VP Gore said that next time there wouldn't even be a need for diplomacy.
[quote]Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. [/quote]Yeah, that was stated in the State of the Union 6 months before this memo.
[quote]. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. [/quote]Nine international, independent, and bi-partisan investigations have found this not to have been the case-though there were many who accused it of being so.
[quote]The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. [/quote]Interesting...Dr Blix' book, Disarming Iraq shows quite the opposite as NSA Rice repeatedly met with Dr Blix to see what the US could do to help the UN, and after such meetings the US produced intel which uncovered a handful of chemical munitions, a secret and denied UAV program, and the illegality of missiles deliberately designed not to fit in UN specs and restrictions (in fact, the intel provided by the US as a result of Dr Rice's meetings with Dr Blix resulted in the ONLY resolved disarmament issues that UNMOVIC and Iraq were able to clear up).[quote]There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.[/quote]I like this one a lot since the plan for the assault wasn't even comlpete until August, and it's hard to determine how to deal with a post-war plan if you don't know what's gonna be left after the assault. Further, it's in complete contrast to the idea that the Administration planned the Iraq war long before 911 and planned to steal Iraqi oil long before 911. How does one plan to steal oil if there's no plan to do anything?
[quote]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.
[/quote]Lots of problems here.
The 'generated' start idea seems to describe an attack like the one that actually occurred, but the problem is that the initial plan-the one on the books until March 03-was to have US forces come in from the North(Turkey), South (Kuwait and Saudi), and possibly West (Jordan-in fact, special forces troops did just that). The memo also describes a lead time of 90 days with only 30 days prep and 60 days deployment to Kuwait. This is COMPLETELY inconsistent with military realities which required 6-7 months of buildup/deployment/training all at the same time. Does anyone remember Desert Shield or the three buildups to invasion under Pres Clinton? Each took 6+ months not 60 days.
The 'running start' idea is far less likely. I mean, let's face it...if one plan requires 250,000 troops, and the other 18,000....does that seem like continuity of threat assessed by Saddam? No. Again, we see the 60 day lead time which is about 120-150 days too short. Sure, the memo calls it hazardous, but using 1/10 the forces...that seems really stupid-especially when that number could be doubled in an instant just by including the 82nd Airborne Div which is always ready for a 48hr deployment.
Where's the Turkish option? The core of the plan was always-even reported in the mainstream media-as being an attack from Turkey and Kuwait. It wasn't until Mar 03 that the Turkish option was taken off the table-and very very reluctantly. It seems odd that the original core plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom...doesn't appear anywhere on this secret document.
[quote]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 involvement were:

(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 Iraqi divisions.
[/quote]Compeletey contrary to history here. Turkey and the Gulf States were seen as critical-not 'less vital' In fact, Gen Franks had to re-do his entire plan in Feb because of the problems of getting basing rights from the Gulf States, and in March because of the inability to bring in the 4thID through Turkey.
[quote]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 Congressional elections.[/quote]Ironic since July 02 was the quietest month in American/Iraq relations since 1996. In fact, there were no spikes of activity, and if anything...there was an absence of activitity. Further, the idea that a timeline was to start 30 days before the US elections is off 1) if there had already been 'spikes of activity' and 2) since the war rhetoric from the Bush Admin began with the President's address to the UN on 9/12/02-closer to two months before the elections. Also, when the assault plan was finally completed it was designed to be ready for an attack in February-not January 02.
[quote]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.[/quote]This is remarkable since Libya's WMD capability stemmed from Iraqi WMD materials, personnel, and equipment, but almost nothing was known about it until late 02 when the AQ Khan network was being unveiled and traced back to Libya. Also, it's clear that many govts and independent intel services assessed Saddam's WMD capability as being larger than it was-not just the US and/or UK. I particularly find it interesting in that talks to get inspectors back into Iraq collapsed just days before this secret memo was written, and would've presented the casus belli then. OR at anytime the US could have made demands on Iraq unilaterally as it did in 98 rather than working through the UN, and this would have made it far easier to make unreasonable demands of Iraq leading to a breakdown in letting inspectors back in and thus a casus belli described in this memo.
[quote]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 course change.[/quote]Contrary to popular belief, the US could have used any of the thousands of attacks on its planes enforcing the no-fly-zones as a casus belli re self-defence, OR it could-and did-use the still active resolutions 678 and 687 that authorized Operation Desert Storm. Since Saddam had broken the cease-fire agreement thousands of times, and never complied with a single UN resolution...those were clearly still in effect. Many point to Kofi Annan's statment that the war was illegal, but he was referring to the war as a basis of pre-emptive self-defence, regime change, or UN 1441. It was perfectly legal as part of UN678 and 687. Pre-emptive Self-Defence and regime change were never UN accepted policies, and UN 1441 required a second resolution authorizing the use of force.
[quote]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.[/quote]The British never embraced regime change from day one. It was strictly a US 1998 policy that was originally intended to support an insurgency, but after the insurgency was a complete failure, and after Desert Fox, the policy was adapted to include regime change by any means.
[quote]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 Defence Secretary.
[/quote]It seems odd that if they were making up the case for WMD-and inventing Saddam's WMD-then why be so scared about something they allegedly knew was a lie?
[quote]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.[/quote]Ironically, on 9/12/02 the President openly and strongly demanded of the UN an ultimatem to Saddam to resolve his disarmament issues fully, immediately, and unconditionally...in the form of what would later become UN1441. There was nothing subtle or discreet about it. BUT if the US really wanted war, they could have just said that Saddam was shooting at US planes and had refused to let inspectors back in, and that's why they'd invade.



The memo also claims that the intel was being manipulated in July 02, but a quick search of the British Butler Report and the WMD Commission report shows just the opposite-that intel reports were being called for at the time (by the Pres, by the PM, and by the SSIC). Intel wasn't being manipulated, it was being called for to assess the threat.

Further:

[quote]68. By July 2002, the JIC had concluded that AQ Khan’s network was central to all aspects of the Libyan nuclear weapons programme. Since Khan had access to nuclear weapon designs and had been involved in the development of Pakistani missiles, the Government feared that he might not only pass on the technology for enriching uranium but that he might also enable his customers to build nuclear warheads for missiles. As intelligence continued to build up, the JIC assessed that this was the first case of a private enterprise offering a complete range of services to enable a customer to acquire highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.
-British Butler Report

287. The next key stage was a meeting on 23 July chaired by the Prime Minister with those Ministers and officials primarily involved in UK policy formulation and military contingency planning. This meeting considered, on the basis of a briefing from the Chairman of the JIC, the current intelligence assessment of Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes, noting that Iraqi capabilities were smaller in scale than those of other states of concern. The meeting discussed the re-engagement of United Nations inspectors, against the background of intelligence advice that the Iraqi regime would allow inspectors into Iraq only when the threat of military action was thought to be real. It also commissioned work on legal issues.
-British Butler Report

[Blair] . . . I remember that during the course . . . of July and August . . . I was increasingly getting messages saying . . . “are you about to go to war?” and I was thinking “this is ridiculous” and so I remember towards the end of the holiday actually phoning Bush and saying that we have got to put this in the right place straight away . . . we’ve not decided on military action . . . he was in absolute agreement.
-British Butler Report
[/quote]

It looks like there are plenty of holes in the Downing Street memo.

....and the claims that the anti-war crowd tends to cling to in the memo have already been investigated and found false:

[quote]22. We found no evidence of JIC assessments and the judgements inside them being pulled in any particular direction to meet the policy concerns of senior of?cials on the JIC.
-Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction; British Butler Report

Committee staff did interview five individuals who had come to the Committee's attention as possibly having information that intelligence analysts' assessments had been influenced by policymakers. None of these individuals provided any information to the Committee which showed that policymakers had attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their analysis or that any intelligence analysts changed their intelligence judgments as a result of political pressure.
-REPORT ON THE U.S. INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY'S PREWAR INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTS ON IRAQ ;Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Conclusion 102, The Committee found that none of the analysts or other people interviewed by the Committee said that they were pressured to change their conclusions related to Iraq's links to terrorism.
-REPORT ON THE U.S. INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY'S PREWAR INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTS ON IRAQ ;Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Conclusion 26: The Intelligence Community did not make or change any analytic judgments in response to political pressure to reach a particular conclusion, but the pervasive conventional wisdom that Saddam retained WMD affected the analytic process.
-The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction

4.28The Foreign Affairs Committee, which reported on 3 July 2003, made 33 conclusions and recommendations....In the absence of specific complaints from intelligence staff, the committee did not accept allegations of politically inspired meddling.41 It cleared Alistair Campbell of inserting the 45 minute claim into the dossier and of exerting improper influence on its drafting;
-Australian WMD investigation

4.29 The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), reported in September 2003. Unlike the Foreign Affairs Committee, this committee had access to and reviewed all the JIC assessments produced from Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 onwards. It accepted the assurance of the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee that ‘he did not at any time feel under pressure, nor was he asked to include material that he did not believe ought to be included in the dossier.’ The ISC concluded that the ‘independence and impartiality [of the JIC] has not been compromised in any way.’ [and] ‘The dossier was not ‘sexed up’ by Alistair Campbell or anyone else.’
-Australian WMD investigation
[/quote]

....and all found the claims of pressured, manipulated, faulty intel to be false.

So, why cling to the 1 line claim in the Downing street memo from 'C' ?

*****
ONE
(my favorite)
The Sen Intel Com investigation
[url]http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/congress/2004_rpt/iraq-wmd-intell_toc.htm[/url]

They specifically looked at this in re WMD pressure and manipulation, and
AQ/Iraq ties information.....

WMD pressure/manipulation/etc:
[url]http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/congress/2004_rpt/iraq-wmd-intell_chapter9.htm[/url]

AQ/Iraq ties pressure/manipulation/etc:
[url]http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/congress/2004_rpt/iraq-wmd-intell_chapter14.htm[/url]

*****

TWO
Independent WMD Commission
[url]http://www.wmd.gov/[/url]
(see also conclusion 26 which specifically looked into
pressure/manipulation/etc, and found none)

*****

THREE

British Butler Report
(Independent and bi-partisan investigators)
[url]http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/reports/2004/butler-report.pdf[/url]

*****

FOUR
Australian inevstigation into their intelligence agencies
(independent and bi-partisan investigators)
[url]http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/reports/2004/australia_intell-inquiry_contents.htm[/url]

*****

FIVE
British WMD claims about Iraq inquiry
[url]http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/reports/2003/isc-iwmdia_sep2003.pdf

*****

SIX
Australian investigation into WMD claims about Iraq
(independent and bi-partisan investigators)
[url]http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/reports/2004/butler-report.pdf[/url]

*****

SEVEN
Hutton Inquiry
[url]http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/report/2004/hutton-report_28jan2004.htm[/url]

*****

EIGHT
The Iraqi Survey Group Duelfer Report
(I include this one because of the associated testimony from Dr Kay and Dr
Duelfer explaining that that their analysts were not pressured-links to the
testimony and quotes included below)

The Duelfer Report itself:
[url]http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/[/url]

Dr Kay testimony:
[url]http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/KAY401A.html[/url]

Dr Duelfer's testimony re manipulation of intel:
[url]http://www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/speeches/2004/tenet_testimony_03302004.html[/url]

Dr Duelfer explains that No stockpiles doesn't mean No Threat
[url]http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A48562-2003Oct5¬Found=true[/url]

*****

NINE
CIA's investigation into the mobile bio labs claims
[url]http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/report/2003/iraq-mobile-bw-plant_cia28may2003.htm[/url]

*****

I can point to maybe a half dozen international, independent, and/or
bi-partisan reports that came out before the war that were almost identical
to the Bush Admin claims.

As I said before, to hell w... (Below threshold)
M Paulding:

As I said before, to hell with the "Downing Street Memo". It's going to end up a footnote compared to Ambassador Christopher Meyer's 18 March 2002 memo to Sir David Manning concerning his interesting 17 March 2002 lunch meeting with Paul Wolfowitz.

You neoconservatives have a good day, because it's going to be while before you have another one.

dear kevin,it's di... (Below threshold)
jude:

dear kevin,

it's difficult for me to understand how you believe this is a relevant defense or criticism.

you say 'to-mah-to' i say 'to-may-to'..

whether it's "fixed" or "set", both are damning.

The two words have little need for reconciliation in this case, when both are considered side by side.

- "fix" would mean set or place definitely.

- "set", in this case, would mean to adjust, alter or regulate so as to 'achieve' accuracy or conform to a standard. in other words, to "fudge."

dear heavens, "fix" would be no worse than "set". why the fuss? no matter how you parse linguistics, it's still a sizzler.

Now, if the words had been "The policy was being set around the intelligence and facts," no one would need to be having this conversation, would they?

By all means....please....l... (Below threshold)

By all means....please....let's have another investigation into what happened with the intel on Iraq's pre-war WMD. I encourage it! Let's have a Downing Street Memo Commission-c'mon....step up :) I want to see what people who look to it as a smoking gun say when yet another investigation shows the intel wasn't a masterminded plot by the brilliant mind of Pres Bush.

Yep...let's have another investigation.
:lol:

I contacted a British woman... (Below threshold)
unclejohn:

I contacted a British woman I have known for some years. She is a well-educated, highly cultured professional musician with no interest in politics. When I mentioned the Downing Street Memo to her, she had no idea what I was talking about. Needless to say, she does not currently live in the UK, nor did she pay much attention to the recent election during which the London Times published the confidential minutes of a Blair cabinet meeting. Nor did she have any idea that these minutes could perhaps bring down the current US administration.

To get her impression of the meaning of "fixed around", I read her the phase "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

She said, "That's ambiguous. It could mean that the intelligence and facts are being organized around the policy. Or, it could mean that they are being changed to fit the policy. I can't tell from the context. Besides, they would never say in a news paper article that they were corrupting their intelligence."

I explained to her that the text was from a highly confidential document that had been leaked to the press and that had never been meant to be seen by the general public. This additional information, of course, changed her perception of what "fixed around" could mean. Then, I read her the context in which the term was used:

"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."

Her reply was was, "Oh, it definitely means that the information was being made to fit the policy. It's like when you talk about fixing a horserace or price fixing. It's an underhanded thing to do."

Case closed. The minutes mean what they seem to mean. To fix means the same thing in the US and the UK in this context.

Why is everyone calling for... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

Why is everyone calling for an investigation? Don't you know those sorts of investigations were banned after The Republicans took charge of all branches of Government?

We have one-party government now, we no longer have investigations because the system of checks and balances has been eroded, and is well on it's way to being eliminated totally.

So don't look for investigations, because they do not exist anymore. The 9/11 Comission was the last one, and Bush fought that every step of the way. The only reason it ever happened is because it looked too politically incorrect for Bush to stand in opposition to the grieving widows of 9/11. Even so, the 9/11 commission was BARRED from investigating the financial links to terror, because Bush feared it would implicate his beloved Saudi Royal Family and other high-level Saudis that Bush loves to (literally) hold hands with.

We will never have another independent investigation, (unless the Dems take back the House and Senate.) But I don't know if that shall happen. I do know this though,

If there were independent investigations someone would be investigating where the 8.8 Billion dollars mysteriously missing from the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority has gone to. That scandal is outrageous. But because it's clearly the Bush administrations' fault that it went missing, there are no investigations, and there never will be.

BY THE WAY - Since the question has degenerated to what the meaning of the word "fix" is to the English, I also decided to ask someone in England. Here's what I wrote, and the response I got:

Q: What's going on in America right now is Americans are debating what the word 'fixed' means to the English.

When Rycroft's memo says, "the intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy" no one can agree what it means.

Some Americans are saying 'fixed' means Bush was going to be deceptive and manipulate facts to justify an already-made final decision to go to war, (all the while he was claiming war was his last resort.) They call the Rycroft memo a 'smoking gun,' and say it should be a centerpiece in the impeachment proceedings of Bush, for knowingly starting a war without factual justification.

Other Americans claim the English do not use the word 'fix' that way. They say when Brits say 'fixed' it doesn't mean "to influence the outcome by improper or illegal methods." They claim that's a uniquely American interpretation, and English people only use the word 'fix,'to mean "to correctly set something in it's proper place."

My question is: What does the word 'fix' mean to people in England, and is it really straining crediblity to the breaking point to presume use of the word 'fix' suggests something intentionally dishonest?

A: We wouldn't say 'fixed' for something honest, at least not in a document like this. Fixed here suggests to me something dishonest.

This is more Bushit.<... (Below threshold)
Bubba Ram Dos:

This is more Bushit.

"Conspiracy theorists can move the goalposts all they want, but when...[Blair] says intelligence
was not "fixed", when the Butler Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee say intelligence was not "fixed"...it's game over".

Now I know why he calls himself Mr. Wiz. He just whizzed all over himself. I would like him to
show us exactly where in the Butler Commission report, released on June 14, 2004, the Butler Commission evaluated the Downing Street memo which was released on May 1, 2005. I would like him to show us exactly where in the 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee report--in the Republican Senate--analyzed the Downing Street memo, which was released on May 1, 2005. I would like him to explain why we should believe someone who participated in what may be war crimes. Under Mr. Whizzed-all-over-himself's theory, all a person has to do to be acquitted of a crime is to deny the crime and then submit as evidence a preliminary police report that did not evaluate evidence that was discovered later. I suggest he commit a crime and try that strategy and then let us know how he made out, if he can.

Pathetic.

: Proof that one just cann... (Below threshold)
-S-:

: Proof that one just cannot speak reason to nonsense.

For those who believe George Soros is Santa Claus, no amount of information otherwise will ever reveal reality. You cannot speak sense to nonsense.

It's a memo. People discussed and planned. I'm glad that they did. Not all of us consider running into the street with torches and rocks to be a preferred method of dealing with substantial and serious threat.

Okay, set = fix folks, let ... (Below threshold)

Okay, set = fix folks, let me know next time you go to set your plumbing or car when what you need to do is fix your plumbing or car. Personally, I like situated best and scheduled is next best, but I, like Rycroft, would be choosing words to put in someone else's mouth.

The decision was made to go to war long before we went? Well, it couldn't be that the admin had a possible outcome that looked the most likely, given the history and the intent on extending terrorism to American soil. No, these are "facts" (which are really just interpretations of motives or politics) that indicate premeditation if we stick with the "No WMD / BUSH LIED!" superscript. You can spin that all you want (and apparently many of you will keep at it), but if it were Clinton, it would be an option or outcome; with a Repub, it's a sekrit evil war plan.

By all means let's have Pha... (Below threshold)
Becca:

By all means let's have Phase II of the Senate WMD investigation that was put off until after the election and then allowed to drop off the end of the earth since Bush's re-election.

Phase II would look at the administration's use of intelligence comparing the intelligence they had on hand with their public pronouncements. During previous investigations no one was allowed to go near that aspect.

This would be their chance to disprove the "Bush Lied, Troops Died" once and for all, yet Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) said let's forget it and just move on...

"What the President and the Congress used to send the country to war was information that was...flawed," declared Pat Roberts, the Republican chairman of the committee. Jay Rockefeller, the committee's senior Democrat, noted that the report outlined "one of the most devastating...intelligence failures in the history of the nation."

But the committee's report did not cover a crucial area: how the Bush Administration used--or abused--the prewar intelligence to build support for the Iraq invasion. Roberts claimed his committee was hot on that trail: "It is one of my top priorities," he said. The problem, he explained, was that there was not enough time before the November election to complete the assignment. Rockefeller took issue with that and complained that the "central issue of how intelligence was...exaggerated by Bush Administration officials" was being relegated into a "Phase II" investigation that would not begin until after the election. A Democratic committee staffer said that such an inquiry could easily be completed within months.

Still, Roberts succeeded in his transparent effort to kick that inconvenient can down the road. (Imagine the headache for the Bush campaign if news stories appeared before the election reporting that the committee had found Bush had stretched an already stretched truth.) Now--with Bush re-elected--Roberts no longer considers Phase II a priority. In mid-March, Roberts declared further investigation pointless."

http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20050411&s=corn

*****FLASH*****... (Below threshold)
M Paulding:

*****FLASH*****

The Downing Street Memo is FLUFF! Check this out!

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0506/S00116.htm

*****FLASH*****

Wow that's wild.It... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

Wow that's wild.

It's written by the UK ambassador to Wolfowitz, and the document says they're knowingly concocting a "clever plan" to "wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors..."

Dear Dave, et al:F... (Below threshold)
M Paulding:

Dear Dave, et al:

For those of you who are interested, here is the definition of "wrongfoot", courtesy of www.freesearch.co.uk:

1 {T} UK
in a sport, to hit or kick the ball so that the other player believes the ball will go in the opposite direction...

2 {T often passive} to cause someone to be in a difficult situation by doing something unexpected: -The company was completely wrong-footed by the dollar's suddenly recovery.

If you speak English, it's a football term. If you don't, it's a soccer term.

If it don't werke, fix i... (Below threshold)
SA:

If it don't werke, fix it?

Semantics will kill us all!

Perhaps some of our British... (Below threshold)

Perhaps some of our British linguists could explain why so much of the memo is in the past tense, which doesn't makes sense if the memo was being written when it supposedly was:

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.

Isn't it obvious that if written in 2002, it should say, "Saddam is worried and expects an attack...."

Brainster lives up to his m... (Below threshold)
kma:

Brainster lives up to his moniker. :-)

The reason behind the need ... (Below threshold)
Becca:

The reason behind the need to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy is spelled out in the memo:

"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."

How else to get the masses to sacrifice their children and tax dollars when the case for war is "thin"?

What, no "yeeeeaaaaarrrrrgh... (Below threshold)
-S-:

What, no "yeeeeaaaaarrrrrghhhhhh" from Dean right about now?

Did some looking into the "... (Below threshold)

Did some looking into the "wrongfoot" memo. It was mentioned in the Guardian in September 2004. Yep, the crack(pipe) investigators of the left have discovered something that was "news" nine months ago. Try Googling "wrongfoot Saddam".

Lots of knee jerk goose ste... (Below threshold)
Bill:

Lots of knee jerk goose stepping Bushies on this board. You are cut from the same cloth as those who were bolstering Joe McCarthy in his day and your the same boobs who supported Nixon til the end and probably still do. Theres no arguing with that kind of blind allegiance......

Lots of knee jerk goose ste... (Below threshold)
Bill:

Lots of knee jerk goose stepping Bushies on this board. You guys are cut from the same cloth as those who were supporting Joe McCarthy in his day and your the same boobs who supported Nixon til the end and probably still do. Theres no arguing with that kind of blind allegiance and black and white mentality....you were pandering to these types then and you're pandering to them now.

Kevin's observation has cer... (Below threshold)
Carrick Talmadge:

Kevin's observation has certainly drawn a lot of fire. I just wanted to point out that this same observation appeared in a USA TODAY article:

Robin Niblett of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, says it would be easy for Americans to misunderstand the reference to intelligence being "fixed around" Iraq policy. " 'Fixed around' in British English means 'bolted on' rather than altered to fit the policy," he says.

Like Kevin, I would has to say for most liberals that their whole case initially was based on cherry-picking one sentence and particularly the phrase “… and facts were being fixed around the policy” to justify the conclusion that Bush 1) knew that there were no WMD and 2) manipulated the intelligence to make it seem as if there were.

In reading the entire memo, instead of this one cherry-picked line, one is forced to accept that the above conclusion is not supported by the rest of the memo. For example:

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.

and

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.

Quite obviously, the author and the others in attendance accepted the reality of Saddam’s WMD. Hence “fixed around the policy” clearly meant putting together a narrative using the facts as they were known to support a particular policy decision, and not to manufacture facts to support a policy.

At the worse (as the liberals admit), the memo suggests that Bush had made a policy decision in the fall of 2002 to invade Iraq. Even if true, where’s the meat? First Bush as CIC has the authority to make a policy decision to initiate a course ending in hostile action with an enemy. (However, it is a conflation of issues to argue whether this was a good policy or not.) In order to initiate hostile actions, he was required by law to get approval from Congress, which he did. No laws broken, no big deal. All I have left for the libs is a big yawn and a so what? Inquiring moderates want to know when you will move on to your part of governing the country instead of trying to bring everything to a screeching halt.

Disclaimer: parts of these comments previously appeared in a long and pointless discussion with liberal trolls on SayAnythingBlog.com

unclejohn: Perhaps you sho... (Below threshold)
Carrick Talmadge:

unclejohn: Perhaps you should try reading the entire memo and seeing if your linguistic expert's analysis makes sense in that context. If the WMD evidence is being manufactured or altered to fit into Bush's policy, then perhaps you can explain why the people on Downing Street were so concerned by Saddam eventually using the WMD??? Your interpretation of this cherry-picked sentence is simply incongruous with the remainder of the memo.

Twice Kevin has written 'Th... (Below threshold)
Clive Tolson:

Twice Kevin has written 'The Chair of the meeting has denied their claims...'

Proof? Links?

And there would be no al... (Below threshold)
DrSteve:

And there would be no alliance between Al Queda and Sadam Hussein. Other than speaking the same language, they have nothing in common. Saddam was a secular leader, Bin Laden is a religious nut. They wouldn't even speak the same dialect of Arabic. With out a preset agenda there was no reason whatsoever to go into Iraq. Many have said it before from Richard Clarke to Victoria Plame & co - many people who were present and in the know.

Interesting juxtaposition of facts there, as Clarke was the very person who wrote the line "old wily Osama will likely boogie to Baghdad."

Newp, not a thing in common.

Hey, who's Hikmat Shakir?

"The individual is handicap... (Below threshold)
Harry:

"The individual is handicapped by coming face-to-face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists." J. Edgar Hoover

Everyone in the MSM is tryi... (Below threshold)
John:

Everyone in the MSM is trying to be the next Woodward and Berbstien, in taking down a GOP President they seem to do the simple things like check facts, word meanings, wasn't this an English Reporter? Words mean different things in England such as lets have a fag. Does that mean a cigerette or a man? Have to wonder about those English.

Should we not wait to ask R... (Below threshold)
Stephen:

Should we not wait to ask Rycroft what exactly he meant by this statement and then base our conclusions thereupon? Why all this outrage and panic? Are we mere children that are incapable of restraining ourselves?
"react in haste, repent at leisure"




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