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Friday, June 17, 2005 

Good point

From the mailbag:

What nobody in the media has noted is that the trembling reporter who brought [the DSM] up actually (consciously or unconciously - I have no way to tell) substantively MANGLED the quote from the DSM, reducing it to a benign piece of nothing (in fact it almost bolsters Bush's decision to go to war). Listen:

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. On Iraq, the so-called Downing Street Memo from July, 2002, says, "Intelligence and facts remain fixed around the policy of removing Saddam through military actions." Is this an accurate reflection of what happened? Could both of you respond?

What the head of the MI6 actually said in the memo was:

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

It's really just a couple words' difference, but they are huge. "Remain fixed" makes it sound like the facts were all there, and they just happened to point toward taking Saddam out. He said nothing of the kind. He said that the facts were BEING FIXED. Active, past-progressive tense. Being fixed, as in cooked, I have to presume.

Mark Willis
Kensington, MD

 posted by ukiyo1  # 4:11 PM  
I'm afraid the good doctor's presumption is in error. It would be uncharitable of me to suggest that this error is the result of predisposition, so I will merely assume that it is an innocent translation error.

While north americans commonly use the term "fixed" to mean dishonestly influenced, you must remember this was written in UK English, in which a much more common meaning is to fasten, or make secure. The context of the entire memo makes this a much more likely interpretation, especially when you consider the following quote:

"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."

Clearly, those present at the meeting had little doubt about the existence of WMD. This would seem to suggest that the veracity of the intel was not really in question.
Good People.
Be aware the due to the Stasi-like nature of our society news outlets have instituted certain email "spam filtering" versions of software. These programs are getting very specific and automatic.
Also do not under any circumstances email people from work. You may not know it but you can't and may get you red flagged and fired. Has anyone knowledge of this?
I may sound overly paranoid to some people but spend some time Google searching the topic and just drink in the propaganda.
Whistleblowers beware!
Someone in a right-wing think tank came up with the forced meaning of "fixed" you report, thirstyhart. Fact is, people were incensed about the Downing Street minutes in Britain well before the American public became aware of them -- and presumably, British people understand the plain meaning of British English very well. Nice try at a whitewash, thirstyhart -- but, doesn't wash.
Additionally, it is important to look at this sentence in its immediate context:

"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."

The word "but" is typically used to draw a contrast or present a contrary point. The issue is that Bush wanted to justify military action by citing terrorism and WMD. If the memo intended to say that the intelligence and other facts could in some sense "secure" the policy (which is an odd way to put it) or justify it, then why would this particular sentence begin with a word that is used to draw distinctions?

Furthermore, the quote presented by thirstyhart is also placed out of context. The preceding paragraph ends:

"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..."

Thirstyhart says these are questions posed by the people at the meeting. This appears to be incorrect. The text suggests that these were questions posed by the military that show the doubts they had about the US military plan. It is far from an admission that they believed WMD existed.
Thanks for the compliment, anonymous, I've never been called a right-wing think tank before. Actually, my sources were Encarta (N. American) and Encarta (U.K.). Either way, the real point is that people will hear what they want to. I would be interested to hear directly from "C" what he or she meant, but I'm not holding my breath.

On the issue of belief in WMD, if "the military" was planning on the assumption that Saddam might use them, that implies to me that they thought he had them. Also note the following (punctuation and identification added for clarity), "You [David Manning] said that Sadcdam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. 'Or on Isreal,' added the Defence Secretary." Are you suggesting that these people -- as I said, present at this meeting -- thought that Saddam might use WMD that he didn't posess?
Here's my thought about this issue, and a point I'd like to make regarding it.

The phrase is stated: "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." NOT "the policy is being fixed around the intelligence and facts." There is a world of difference there. That's just one way I look at it.

Secondly, Media Matters tackles this controversy on the meaning of "fixed" as it's used in the British venacular. They quote Michael Smith, reporter at the London Times, who first published the DSM. He says:

"SMITH: There are number of people asking about fixed and its meaning. This is a real joke. I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence. If you fix something, you make it the way you want it. The intelligence was fixed and as for the reports that said this was one British official. Pleeeaaassee! This was the head of MI6. How much authority do you want the man to have? He has just been to Washington, he has just talked to George Tenet. He said the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. That translates in clearer terms as the intelligence was being cooked to match what the administration wanted it to say to justify invading Iraq. Fixed means the same here as it does there."

If you'd like to read the entire piece, please visit:
thirstyhart, I don't think you ARE a right-wing think tank -- no compliment intended. I think you are parroting lines penned by Robin Niblett. See:
Sorry, anonymous, you can think what you like, or what you're told to, or whatever. I prefer to do my own thinking. I never heard of Robin Niblett, but he (she?) may be parroting my lines, since everyone knows Bush apoligists are incapable of thinking for themselves.

I'm certainly not letting Michael Smith, whose attitude is obvious (and who has a vested interest in the importance attached to the DSM) do my thinking for me. I would be interested in how he established that "C" was head of MI6, though.
I am a native British English speaker, and I would like to confirm that for me the only possible understanding of the words "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" is that the policy was decided upon first, and that after that had been done the persons responsible decided to slant or distort the intelligence and facts so as to fit in with the policy. 'Fix' in such a context cannot be a mere neutral description - it is always used to suggest that there has some kind of unjustifiable manipulation to achieve the end in view. I would say too that in a British cultural context use of such language implies a considerable degree of disapproval on the part of the writer.

It is common knowledge that 'C' is the (once secret) code designation of the head of MI6: on this see a BBC website
As a native of the US the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear that something has been "fixed" is that it has been neutered. One would "fix" an animal if one did not want it breeding anymore. The second definition that comes to mind is of fixing something that is borken. The first definition makes the memo have an interesting "flair" the second; well I dunno.. But that's my US English take on the memo.
One may argue many things about the word fixed, but in this case is shows and means that Bush had formulated his policy and was justifying it even though there was not real evidence establishing that WMDS etc. existed. So he fixed this problem by inducing factors that were in fact lies.

In plain words he fixed the race so he could win, or in this action he could try to justify his actions taken under his policy which had already been established.
Seems that the confusion would be settled by a full investigation with witnesses called to testify. Oh, and please make sure the mikes are not turned off and that it is broadcast on C-SPAN 1.
The DSM's are so vehemently hawk-like in writing that they practically are shouting right off their pages with a vocal war-cry , no matter what version of English you intrepret them with... and remember there were Scotts & Welsh that were reading DSM's obvious hawkishness for the first time as well.

Include the members of the PNAC in the full Congressional Hearing.
It is clear to me that Bush, Cheney, Rove and company have consistently lied to the American public to further their personal agenda. Since the Senate and Congress are held by the "Rich white boys club" (the Republicans) there will be no charges. It seems to me that we need a grass roots movement demanding the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. If we can impeach Clinton for lying about a blow job, we can certainly impeach for taking the country to war under false pretense. Not to mention questionable no bid contracts the VP's company.
It's a very sobering thought when you consider that the future of this planet may very well be balanced on the word "pull" (in the context of WTC7), and the word "fixed" in the context of the Downing Street Memos.

But, does it? Well, possibly not.

You see, the text in the memo is question was "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

So let's run a little experiment. Let's invert that, and see what happens.

Inverting that sentence we get "But the policy was being fixed around the intelligence and facts."

How's that? "The policy is being fixed around the facts?". Hey, that sounds very reasonable, doesn't it? I, personally, wouldn't argue with that.

Now, remember, it doesn't matter what was meant be the word "fixed". You can choose any interpretation you like thirstyhart, just as long as you are consistent in both cases.

So let's take a step back. The complete inversion of what was written in the memo is highly reasonable?

Does this not mean, therefore, that the original contents must be 180 degrees away from it. A complete reversal of something highly reasonable, must be something highly UN-reasonable. Something pretty evil, I think one could say. Whichever interpretation of "fixed" you choose.

When I was young, I used to wonder how so many ordinary Germans could have been taken in by the Nazis, so as let WW2 occur. Now, I think I know. From 1939 to 1945 they must have been totally pre-occupied discussing the meaning of a word like "fixed".
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