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Monday, June 13, 2005 

Deep Doc just doesn't stop

Several more high-level British government memos, authored by such authoritative figures as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and dating from the period between 9/11/01 and the meeting in July 2002 which begot the DSM, have found their way into the public arena, perhaps (one guesses) exposed by the same party or parties who gave us the DSM 6 weeks ago. Although portions of these documents have been floating around for a couple days, we at DowningStreetMemo have been waiting for some reliable indication that they are authentic before commenting on them. Tonight, NBC has declared them 'verified by NBC News' and that, along with both their internal and their external consistency, persuades us to call them to your attention.

A 'teaser', cited by Andrea Mitchell in the MSNBC story:

In yet another 2002 memo, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw asked, “What will this action achieve? Can (there) be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better? Iraq has had no history of democracy.”

The complete collection of documents, 2 of which are presented in PDF format and the others in text (with PDF links available), has been published at, to whom a big congratulations from all of us here.

Since our brief here is the Downing Street Memo - which is still the core document, summarizing officially the central planning meeting of Tony Blair with his closest foreign affairs advisers on 23 July 2002 - we will over the next 24 hours be studying these newly uncovered items from that perspective and reporting to you specifically on the light each may shine on and the support each may give - or not give - to that document.

From a quick scan, this looks like an exciting undertaking. For those who can't wait, please hie yourselves to The Raw Story and prepare to come back and participate in our discussions, that we may 'reason together'. For all others, keep checking back here as summaries and analyses of the individual items will be popping up unpredictably until we feel we have fulfilled our obligation to you for the trust you have given us these many (5? seems like many!) weeks.

Check back often!

The '8-month gap', and why it doesn't matter

Does the White House acknowledge that Tony Blair held a top-secret highest-level meeting on Jul 23, 2002, of which the DSM represents the minutes and the document released by the London Sunday Times over the weekend the agenda?

Sunday afternoon a WH spokesman David Almacy made public comments for which there is no transcript at the WH website but about which we have two reports, one from AP, the other from David Sanger of the NY Times. Sanger quotes Almacy as saying "he could not comment on [the latest document's] authenticity", but also as noting - somewhat peculiarly, doesn't it seem? - that it "was written eight months before the war began".

Now, it is easy to understand why the White House would prefer to contend that the documents are not authentic. If my wife, for instance, were to regale her closest friends with stories of what a clown I am and then explain to them how she was having to manipulate me to use a couple intermediaries in my (hypothetical, I assure you!) insider-trading plot so the illegality of my - our - acts would not be blatant, and then one of those friends showed up on Oprah with a tape . . . well, my wisest response would be to deny that my wife was there that day at all (at the same time, punishing my wife severely, maybe by refusing to accompany her to serve at the homeless shelter, or by putting ridiculous conditions on our contribution to the AIDS center, or . . .)

So, what did Almacy have to say? Apparently: if the meeting took place, and if the Brits snickered at the US administration for not having planned for the aftermath of the invasion, then they were just silly because "there was significant post war planning in the time that elapsed [between July 2002 and March 2003]."

Huh? The 'rebuttal' is that we are not stuck in the current endless quagmire because we did not begin planning early enough (since 8 months could in principle be adequate time); it is for an entirely different reason! Ain't that a classic 'gotcha'! And even if the DSM is real it is a silly document!

Although it is outside the portfolio of this site, I won't leave you without Almacy's characterization of that 'other' reason. Part 1 is that "Anytime you go to war you have to be flexible to adapt to the unexpected." That's straight Sun Tzu, and as unexceptionable as it is jejune. The zinger is in Part 2: "That is why we gave our commanders the flexibility to do so." Let's try that again:

That is why we gave our commanders the flexibility to do so.

So, the quagmire is the fault of a few rotten-apple generals! Is it time to search the Pentagon website for generals from West Virginia?


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