The Downing St. Minutes Smoking Gun

The mystery of the identity of Deep Throat in the Watergate Scandal has finally been revealed. W. Mark Felt, the second in command at the FBI, was the Woodward-Bernstein source who helped expose the corruption and attempted cover-up of illegal activities perpetrated by the Nixon administration. What headlines that scandal created 33 years ago! The two investigative journalists and their Washington Post editor fulfilled the duty of a free press to keep the public informed.

Is that duty being fulfilled today?

On May 1, 2005 the London Times published the minutes of a meeting at British Prime Minister Tony Blair's office that took place between him and various members of the British government July 23, 2002 to discuss Iraq. The minutes stated:

"'C' [Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's MI-6] 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."

The minutes went on to state:

"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 neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

Minutes differ from a memo in that they are an accurate record of a meeting and have to be approved and accepted by the members. They are an official record of what was discussed and what actions were taken.

It should be noted that this meeting took place eight months before the Iraq invasion when George Bush was telling Congress and the American people that war would be a last resort after all efforts at diplomacy were exhausted. This was also the period, that while the case against Saddam was "thin", Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld were feeding us the "fixed" intelligence about chemical and biological weapons and giving us visions of mushroom clouds that could erupt over our cities with weapons that could be deployed in 45 minutes. It was all lies. And they knew it was all lies!

Blair's office has not disputed the contents of the minutes, but a letter to the White House written by Rep. John Conyers, signed by 89 House Democrats asking for an explanation and calling the information in the minutes "an abuse of power", has thus far remained unanswered. (Note: you can and should sign on to the letter at the link. Timbuk.)

What has changed about us as a nation in the last 30 odd years? We were so outraged at a break-in into a political office back then that we brought down an administration. Today, the information that we and our Congressional representatives were manipulated through fear and lied into sending America's sons and daughters into a totally unnecessary war where they are continuing to be killed and maimed doesn't merit the same national headlines. Indeed, the few papers that mentioned it at all did so in a small article tucked somewhere between the tire ads and the classified ads.

Have we become resigned to the fact that politicians are corrupt and lie to us? Do we know that all of our news sources are owned by just a handful of big corporations that only tell us what's favorable to the White House? How much are we willing to accept? We quietly accepted the news that the White House provided TV stations with prepared film praising its policies that masqueraded as real news reports. We accepted Departments in the administration paying our tax dollars to columnists and radio hosts to hype its programs without a peep of protest. We accepted a report on intelligence failure by a commission whose members were selected by the president that never mentioned the Office of Special Plans (OSP). That office was set up by Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith in the Pentagon to cherry pick through intelligence the CIA had already discarded as unreliable. Whatever could be "fixed around the policy" was hand carried by the OSP to Cheney's office without vetting by analysts.

The sound of silence at these outrages is deafening.

If we don't demand accountability, there will be none. If we don't demand that our media tell us the truth, we'll continue to be lulled into ignorance and apathy with stories about the "Runaway Bride" and celebrity law suits. We'll be entertained but uninformed. If we don't demand that our representatives tell us the truth and honestly represent our best interests instead of the interests of big campaign contributors we won't be represented. If we don't take back our country now, we won't recognize it later.