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June 18, 2005

The Downing Street two-step

Memos, memos everywhere; some blame Bush, some blame Blair:

In one of the memos, British Foreign Office political director Peter Ricketts openly asks whether the Bush administration had a clear and compelling military reason for war.
“U.S. scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaida is so far frankly unconvincing,” Ricketts says in the memo. “For Iraq, `regime change’ does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam.”
… “The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September,” said a typed copy of a March 22, 2002 memo obtained Thursday by The Associated Press and written to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
“But even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programs will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile or CW/BW (chemical or biological weapons) fronts: the programs are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.”
… In the March 22 memo from Foreign Office political director Ricketts to Foreign Secretary Straw, Ricketts outlined how to win public and parliamentary support for a war in Britain: “We have to be convincing that: the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for; it is qualitatively different from the threat posed by other proliferators who are closer to achieving nuclear capability (including Iran).”
… On March 25 [2002] Straw wrote a memo to Blair, saying he would have a tough time convincing the governing Labour Party that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq was legal under international law.
“If 11 September had not happened, it is doubtful that the U.S. would now be considering military action against Iraq,” Straw wrote. “In addition, there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with OBL (Osama bin Laden) and al-Qaida.”

Will be interesting to see how many mainstream media outlets take this AP feed. Just noticed that MSNBC is now leading with it, so changed the link to point there.

More on the Downing Street memo(s) here.

Posted by Stephen at 9:11 PM in War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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