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Monday, June 27, 2005 

Interview with Michael Smith

Michael Smith is the UK reporter many are likening to Woodward and Bernstein for his work in uncovering the Downing Street Memo and other leaked UK government documents. DowningStreetMemo.com recently interviewed Smith via email to ask him about how he came into those documents, what they mean, and what he would ask George W. Bush if he had the chance.

Q: There is some confusion as to what exactly was destroyed. RawStory reports that you burned YOUR copies of the original government documents. Other sites, such as Newsmax, are reporting that you burned the ORIGINAL government documents. See story here. Can you clarify? If you destroyed the copies, do you know if the originals you returned to the source are still in existence?

A: I was given the first six documents in September 2004. I have referred to these documents as the originals because they were the first documents that I was given. But these were of course not the "originals" of the actual documents. They were photocopies of the original documents.

Such documents have to be registered and the source could not have walked off with them without being found out. Quite apart from that there were a number of different copies of the documents in circulation within government. There was always more than one copy of each of the original documents held by the government. For instance, the Straw letter to Blair was marked strictly personal. But there would still have to have been at least two copies of it, one held by Blair's office and one by Straw's.

So the source made photocopies which he gave to me. I was told by the lawyers on the Daily Telegraph where I then worked that I had to copy them all and send the photocopies I had been given back to the source. This was because the photocopy paper used for the copies I was given by the source were made on a government photocopier. The paper they were printed on therefore in law belonged to the government and we could have been accused of theft and had the documents taken off us.

So having sent back those copies, we now have several photocopies of each document which are on paper that belongs to us. I worked from one of these. The editor has another, and the third goes to the lawyers, who have a secretary type the text up using a manual typewriter. This is not done in the same format as the original document. It is just a record of what the document actually says which we can keep without putting the source in danger. I did not at any time work from the typed up texts. I always worked from the photocopies.

There are any number of ways that the authorities could have tracked down the source using the photocopies of the documents. Photocopiers have their own signature, so the photocopier that was used could have been tracked down. A crease or mark of some sort on the original document the source copied could appear on the photocopy. Highly classified documents are often typed up again rather than photocopied, with deliberate mistypes inserted so that documents can be tracked down to a particular person. It was essential we destroyed any evidence.

At 6pm on the evening before the paper appeared, having finished off the two articles I was writing, I shredded the photocopies which I had made, leaving me with only the typed up versions. I then passed that typed up text version to two political parties, the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru (the Welsh Nationalists). Plaid Cymru gave them to an academic who put them on his own website. That website was taken down immediately by the British Police Special Branch, who also began investigating me for a potential breach of the official secrets act.

Under British law, anyone who passes on material which they know to be classified to someone else is guilty of breaching the official secrets act, whether or not they have signed it, and in fact I have signed it anyway while in the army. The typed up texts had also been passed by the academics Plaid Cymru were dealing with to the Cryptome website, which could not be taken down by the British police because it is not based in the UK. That is how they came to be passed into circulation a couple of weeks ago. I had nothing to do with the process whereby they have recently come into the public domain, although I am happy that happened.

When I received the latest batch of documents I followed a very similar procedure, typing up the text and shredding the copies I had. At no point was I ever in possession of an original document, only photocopies of those original documents. Everything I did was designed solely to protect the source. That is a responsibility that every journalist has.

Long answer but it is a complex issue and simplifying it only led to unscrupulous people deliberately, and rather desperately, misconstruing my motives for destroying leaked documents that could have led the authorities to my source.

One thing we did do was to scan in the front pages of three of the documents, clean any identification marks off them and then reproduce them in the paper. Two of these can still be seen on the Telegraph website alongside my original story. Although this does not authenticate the text, it does show that the documents actually existed. This is the url.

Q: Given the intense scrutiny on the language in the documents, how can the public be sure that the transcription of the copies of the documents is word-for-word accurate?

A: The Washington Post, the LA Times and the Associated Press have all
authenticated the documents independently.

Q: Without divulging any information that would jeopardize your source for the DSM, is this a person who supported the war or who was against it? In other words, what to you say to the possibility that the "original" documents you were given were initially forgeries themselves?

A: I am not going to go into the source's motives but it is self-evident that they were unhappy about the way Blair took Britain to war. It is also difficult to see why I would have been investigated by the Special Branch for passing on information if the documents were fakes. Finally, there were a number of people at the July 23 meeting all of whom received a copy of the document. Surely one of them would come forward to say it was a fake. Surely Blair would have said the document didn’t exist when he was asked about it at the White House press briefing rather than dismiss it as an old document. The documents are authentic and the text is accurate.

Q: In your LA Times article, you cite two separate sources, each giving you a separate batch of documents. Did either source give you special instructions or state a reason as to why they were disclosing this information?

A: No

Q: As you have pointed out in your articles, the RAF and US bombing of Iraq started in the May 2002, with a large escalation of activity after the July meeting described in the DSM. Specifically, you wrote "By the end of August the raids had become “a full air offensive.” Do you believe that this intense bombing had anything to do with the fact that Saddam Hussein offered to hold internationally-monitored elections and full weapons inspections by the UN and US troops in the weeks before the "formal" launch of the war? See story here.

A. No. The missions were planned to destroy as much of Iraq's defences as possible beforehand. Nothing Saddam did had any effect on them. They were going to happen anyway. Lt-Gen T Michael Moseley's briefing to allied officers at Nellis air base, Nevada, on 17 July 2003 (as reported in today's Sunday Times) made it very clear that this was the air war.

Q: Some are equating the Bush administration's bombing in 2002 with the air strikes launched against Iraq under the Clinton administration. Is there any real difference? If so, what makes one more legal (or illegal) than the other?

A: The Desert Fox operation was launched by Clinton and Blair in December 1998 to punish Iraq for forcing out the weapons inspectors. Thereafter Iraqi air defences were attacked whenever the allies came under attack. The legality of this is disputed but the Foreign Office legal advice makes clear that both Britain and the US believed it to be legal. The period between December 1998 and May 2002 saw more bombs dropped than had been dropped before Desert Fox but nowhere near as many bombs as were dropped from May 2002 to the start of the war, or should I say the official start of the war. While what was going on between December 1998 and May 2002 was borderline legal. Spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime is illegal plain and simple. They were there to protect the ethnic minorities by preventing Iraqi aircraft overflying the areas inhabited by those minorities under UNSCR 688. That was not an Article VII resolution, which is the only type of UN resolution that allows for the use of military force to enforce it and the no-fly zones were certainly not put there to put pressure on the regime, for which read provoking the regime into giving the allies an excuse for war.

Q: At the bottom of the Options Paper (ods020808.pdf) on page 7, are the words "Eid festival." Do you know what the significance, if any, that has?

A: I don't. It is ten months since I looked at these documents last and that part of the document did not figure in my reporting at the time. It may be the title for that section of the document. It is likely to refer to the Eid al-Fitr festival that brings an end to Ramadan. There was a belief that we should not attack during Ramadan as this would offend other Arab nations. But I cannot find any other references to the festival.

Q: The "Iraq: Options" paper was written by the Overseas and Defence Secretariat Cabinet Office. Would the head of that office be Geoff Hoon? If not, who?

A: No it would not have been Geoff Hoon, who was British Defence Secretary. The Defence and Overseas Secretariat is a department within the Cabinet Office staffed by officials from the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence and its job is to provide options and briefing papers for cabinet ministers.. It is headed by the Prime Minister's Foreign Policy Adviser who at that time was Sir David Manning, who of course appears in the Downing Street Memo as the recipient. He is also the recipient of the memo from the then ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer in which Meyer describes telling Paul Wolfowitz that they have to have "a clever plan" that will allow them to "wrongfoot" Saddam. It is also Manning who writes the secret memo telling Blair that the Americans seem to have no idea of what happens "on the morning after".

Q: Regarding the RAF and US bombings/airstrikes in his article of May 29th, you wrote:

"THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, *new evidence has shown*."

What was that 'new evidence'? Is it publicly available? If so, where?

A: Yes it is available on Hansard in the form of written answers at the following urls. Although the questions were posed an answered some time ago, they have only recently emerged into the public light, hence the reference to new evidence. Journalistic licence I'm afraid but it was new to the reader.

Link #1
Link #2
Link #3

Q: And finally, if you were a member of the White House Press Corps, what would you ask President Bush with respect to the Downing Street Documents?

A: Mr President. Did you in any way whatsoever authorise Donald Rumsfeld to order US aircraft to step up bombing attacks on targets in southern Iraq during the summer of 2002 and if not why did you not point this out at the National Security Council meeting on August 5, 2002 at which Tommy Franks said he was using the increased flights over the southern no-fly zone to make the Iraqi defences "as weak as possible" in preparation for war?

I have a follow-up question Mr President. When did Congress authorise you to take military action against Iraq?

 posted by Georgia  # 1:46 PM  
Comments:
The Desert Fox operation was launched by Clinton and Blair in December 1998 to punish Iraq for forcing out the weapons inspectors. Thereafter Iraqi air defences were attacked whenever the allies came under attack. The legality of this is disputed but the Foreign Office legal advice makes clear that both Britain and the US believed it to be legal. The period between December 1998 and May 2002 saw more bombs dropped than had been dropped before Desert Fox but nowhere near as many bombs as were dropped from May 2002 to the start of the war, or should I say the official start of the war.


As has been stated already, just in 1999 (during the Clinton admin) 380 tons of ordance we dropped on the no-fly zones.

Between March 2002 and January 2003 approximently 230 tons were dropped. So unless during Febuary 2003 150 tons were dropped (which is nowhere close to the actual number) this "illegal war" as you like to call it does not come close to the illegal war waged during the Clinton admin.

So was Bill in on it too? Was Bill part of the PNAC too?

Could the "spikes of activity" coincide with Saddam's threats against our aircraft?

Month Coalition aircraft recorded threats

March 0
April 1
May 20
June 13
July 30
August 15
September 41
October 14
November 9
 
Mr President. Did you in any way whatsoever authorise Donald Rumsfeld to order US aircraft to step up bombing attacks on targets in southern Iraq during the summer of 2003 and if not why did you not point this out at the National Security Council meeting on August 5, 2002 at which Tommy Franks said he was using the increased flights over the southern no-fly zone to make the Iraqi defences "as weak as possible" in preparation for war?


Actually the full quote from Franks is:

"If it ever comes to war, we'll want their IADS (Integrated Air Defense Systems) as weak as possible."

That would show that war was not a definite plan, but instead was a possibility. And hadn't Iraq's firing on coalition aircraft doubled between 2001 and 2002, couldn't that contribute to the increased bombing...
 
"The RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, *new evidence has shown."


There was an increase in tonnage of bombs dropped between 2002 and 2001. But this is because 2001 was a below average year. Which kind of destroys the PNAC conspiracy theorists that think Bush wanted to invade Iraq from the begining.

Tonnage of bombs dropped:

1999-2000 (with Clinton in the White House)

535 tons

2001-2002 (with Bush in the White House)

330 tons



Again, it seems like Bill was the one trying to provoke a war...
 
Clinton received a very intimidating letter from the PNAC signed by Rumsfeld, Wolfy, John Bolton and others dated
January 26, 1998:

http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

The January 26, 1998 letter is considered by some as another "smoking gun" of the PNAC Neo-con's true agenda 5 years prior to actual invasion of Iraq:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century
 
Clinton received a very intimidating letter from the PNAC signed by Rumsfeld, Wolfy, John Bolton and others dated
January 26, 1998:

http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm




I don't think that would be considered
an intimidating letter, especially for a man like Clinton.

The PNAC wanted regime change in Iraq, and so did the entire US Government via the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.
 
PNAC is not a department of the government of the USA, so any invasion that it plans, plots, provokes & orders using the US military is not legal at all. It appears that PNAC and its members violate federal RICO racketeering laws among other things.

The Bush Administration infiltrated by the PNAC is operating illegally by invading & overthrowing a regime and occupying a sovereign nation with malice aforethought via falsehoods of WMD's that do not exist, not to mention all the provocations of Saddam before the invasion. The end result is that we find out after thousands of deaths that Bush is really in Iraq for oil reserves, Israel's lobbying, and a logistical permanent base. (So Bush lied about this being a quickie exit as well, thus the continuing death and mayhem). This has been the PNAC's true agenda for years in all their documents, even before Bush (PNAC's puppet) got to the Presidency in 2000. Every reason Bush gave about WMD's and freeing the Iraqui people is just more "smoking guns".
 
PNAC is not a department of the government of the USA, so any invasion that it plans, plots, provokes & orders using the US military is not legal at all. It appears that PNAC and its members violate federal RICO racketeering laws among other things.


So if I write an op/ed piece and it urges regime change in Iran and 5+ years later there is regime change in Iran, am I going to get prosecuted and charged with RICO violations.



The Bush Administration infiltrated by the PNAC is operating illegally by invading & overthrowing a regime and occupying a sovereign nation with malice aforethought via falsehoods of WMD's that do not exist, not to mention all the provocations of Saddam before the invasion.


Well prior to the invasion, didn't most everyone think that Iraq still had WMD and WMD programs, hence Iraq's refusal to comply with the cease-fire and multiple UN resolutions.


The end result is that we find out after thousands of deaths that Bush is really in Iraq for oil reserves, Israel's lobbying, and a logistical permanent base. (So Bush lied about this being a quickie exit as well, thus the continuing death and mayhem). This has been the PNAC's true agenda for years in all their documents, even before Bush (PNAC's puppet) got to the Presidency in 2000. Every reason Bush gave about WMD's and freeing the Iraqui people is just more "smoking guns".


So how exactly are we going to take over Iraq's oil reserves? Right now they are free to sell them on the open market to any country/company they choose.

Israel's lobbying, of course, blame the jews.

Permanent bases along the lines of what we have in Germany and Japan, that would be horrible.
 
"So if I write an op/ed piece and it urges regime change in Iran and 5+ years later there is regime change in Iran, am I going to get prosecuted and charged with RICO violations."

The PNAC did not write on op/ed... they wrote a 90 page blueprint of global domination (among multiple other documents and letters over the years) and then PNAC members positioned themselves as governmental officers. Once in power, they followed the PNAC's Statement of Principles, and they broke their oath to Constitution of the United States that they swore to.

"Well prior to the invasion, didn't most everyone think that Iraq still had WMD and WMD programs, hence Iraq's refusal to comply with the cease-fire and multiple UN resolutions."

No, not everyone did , but Bush would not listen because he was going to war no matter what anyone else told him. He did not want to listen to Joe Wilson or Richard Clarke or anyone . Blair's war council obviously was upset that the case was fixed, and Carne Ross of UK thought Wmd's were "implausible"... he said all his colleagues thought that too.

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,1510259,00.html


"So how exactly are we going to take over Iraq's oil reserves? Right now they are free to sell them on the open market to any country/company they choose.
Israel's lobbying, of course, blame the jews.
Permanent bases along the lines of what we have in Germany and Japan, that would be horrible."

The point is Bush slaughtered a sovereign people under completely false pretenses... he never presented his true PNAC motives to the American people or Congress. He lied many lies to us instead.
 
The PNAC did not write on op/ed... they wrote a 90 page blueprint of global domination (among multiple other documents and letters over the years) and then PNAC members positioned themselves as governmental officers. Once in power, they followed the PNAC's Statement of Principles, and they broke their oath to Constitution of the United States that they swore to.


LOL @ blueprint for global domination.

Anyways it was nothing more than an op/ed piece.

Here is the Statement of Principles:

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;

• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;

• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;

• we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.


I am sure you would oppose all these things... if you are a dictator like Saddam.



No, not everyone did , but Bush would not listen because he was going to war no matter what anyone else told him. He did not want to listen to Joe Wilson or Richard Clarke or anyone . Blair's war council obviously was upset that the case was fixed, and Carne Ross of UK thought Wmd's were "implausible"... he said all his colleagues thought that too.


Of course not 100% believed it, but the overwhelming consensus from Clinton and Gore on down was that Iraq still had WMD and WMD programs.

When did Richard Clarke say that there were no WMD or WMD programs in Iraq?

And did you hear Joe Wilson's statement from a couple weeks ago by any chance?

If not here it is: "I believe the threat to the United States posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction -- which we all believed he had..."


The point is Bush slaughtered a sovereign people under completely false pretenses... he never presented his true PNAC motives to the American people or Congress. He lied many lies to us instead.

So Bush "slaughtered" the Iraqi people? That is funny I thought he liberated them from a genocidal dictator and brought democracy to the Iraqi people.
 
The question posed by Michael Smith should reference summer 2002 not summer 2003.
 
Say it isn't so, sloppy journalism from the second coming of Woodward and Bernstein?!?
 
"The question posed by Michael Smith should reference summer 2002 not summer 2003.

And it does... "2003" is our transcription error alone, and has been corrected. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

-the downingstreetmemo.com team-
 
If it was an email interview, why would there be a transcription error?

Did he reply in Chinese or something?

Lets just hope there were no "transcription errors" in the Downing Street Memo...
 
Dear anonymous above-

If you have experience with any type of publishing at all, online or print, you know you can't use text straight out of an email. The formatting between different email client apps is incredibly messed up and not suitable for publishing as is.

This was our error alone. I am sure the vetting done by three major newspapers, and an major network news team made sure there were none of this type of error in the document text.

Thanks for the "constructive" comment.
 
Thanx for publishing the interview. One of the counter-memes by the traitorous wingnuts is that the memos are forgeries and this clears up that lie.
 
"LOL @ blueprint for global domination.

Anyways it was nothing more than an op/ed piece.

Here is the Statement of Principles...":

Apparently you are not taking the time to look at the R. A. D. document that PNAC generated in September 2000 on the PNAC website, or you would realize it is a 90 page PDF file. Also, you left out most of the entire PNAC " Statement of Principles" without mentioning that you were excerpting. The entire "Statement of Principles" is clearly a manifesto for Pax Americana. In other words, "spread democracy" , the end justifies the means. You are right, I do not want to live under an un-Constitutional dictatorship like Bush.

"..Of course not 100% believed it, but the overwhelming consensus from Clinton and Gore on down was that Iraq still had WMD and WMD programs.

When did Richard Clarke say that there were no WMD or WMD programs in Iraq?

And did you hear Joe Wilson's statement from a couple weeks ago by any chance?

If not here it is: "I believe the threat to the United States posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction -- which we all believed he had..." .."

Again, not true, even Bush's own people, Colin Powell & Condoleeza Rice, just a few months before 9/11
said Saddam was not a WMD threat to the U.S. I mentioned Richard Clarke to illustrate Bush's pattern , because Clarke told publicly that he was pressured by Bush to make a connection between Iraq and 9/11.
Again, you are taking Joe Wilson's quote out of context without mentioning that you are excerpting, so no , I did not hear what he said a couple of weeks ago.
I have heard what Joe Wilson has said for almost 2 years now about how his CIA wife's cover was revealed after he disputed the White House claims of WMD.
The Bush pressure to fix the facts even reached Downing Street, but now all the Londoners are leaking.



"So Bush "slaughtered" the Iraqi people? That is funny I thought he liberated them from a genocidal dictator and brought democracy to the Iraqi people."

And I thought we were there for the oil and the military-industrial complex?! I'm sure the Iraqui people, the ones that are living and not maimed for life that is, just can't wait to work for Wal-mart and "invest" in hero Bush's privatized plans.
 
It's Watergate II. We have a smoking gun (the DSM), a Dean exposing the administration, now all we need is a Woodward & Bernstein!

Check these out (funny):

http://www.airfarceone.net/newtoons/dsm.gif

http://www.internetweekly.org/images/bush_memogate.jpg

: )
 
If you have experience with any type of publishing at all, online or print, you know you can't use text straight out of an email. The formatting between different email client apps is incredibly messed up and not suitable for publishing as is.

This was our error alone. I am sure the vetting done by three major newspapers, and an major network news team made sure there were none of this type of error in the document text.

Thanks for the "constructive" comment.




I am certainly aware that there are formatting issues as I have experience with web development.

But I have never in my life heard of those formatting issues causing someone to have to retype or change text. Just strip it out to plain text and your problem is solved.

And lets hope the people who typed up the DSM (the first or the second time) didn't have any of these transcription errors...
 
Apparently you are not taking the time to look at the R. A. D. document that PNAC generated in September 2000 on the PNAC website, or you would realize it is a 90 page PDF file. Also, you left out most of the entire PNAC " Statement of Principles" without mentioning that you were excerpting. The entire "Statement of Principles" is clearly a manifesto for Pax Americana. In other words, "spread democracy" , the end justifies the means. You are right, I do not want to live under an un-Constitutional dictatorship like Bush.


I think everyone should read the opinion of the PNAC group regarding Rebuilding America's Defenses:

http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

The "blueprint for global domination" mentions Iraq 25 times (mostly in historical context) during 90 pages.

Instead if you lose the conspiracy theory glasses and look at the document for what it is, a review of America's defense and the opinion of a group of people, then it is not at all what you want to make it out to be.

Pax Americana translates to American Peace, a very scary thought I am sure, if you are a dictator or terrorist...


Again, not true, even Bush's own people, Colin Powell & Condoleeza Rice, just a few months before 9/11 said Saddam was not a WMD threat to the U.S. I mentioned Richard Clarke to illustrate Bush's pattern , because Clarke told publicly that he was pressured by Bush to make a connection between Iraq and 9/11. Again, you are taking Joe Wilson's quote out of context without mentioning that you are excerpting, so no , I did not hear what he said a couple of weeks ago. I have heard what Joe Wilson has said for almost 2 years now about how his CIA wife's cover was revealed after he disputed the White House claims of WMD. The Bush pressure to fix the facts even reached Downing Street, but now all the Londoners are leaking.


So when did Powell and Rice say that Iraq no longer had WMD and WMD programs.

And I made an exact quote of Joe Wilson to show that even he admits that "we all believed" that Iraq still had WMD's. It is not out of context one bit. It does show that most everyone thought that Iraq still had the WMD's and WMD programs.

And the whole "fixing facts" idea is BS. Even in the memos the British make clear that they thought Iraq still had WMD's. That is why the focus has shifted to the air war starting early, which is more BS considering that significantly more tonnage was dropped in 1999 and 2000 than in 2001 and 2002...


And I thought we were there for the oil and the military-industrial complex?! I'm sure the Iraqui people, the ones that are living and not maimed for life that is, just can't wait to work for Wal-mart and "invest" in hero Bush's privatized plans.


Well we have not gotten any free oil so far. So I guess we aren't there for the oil.

LOL @ military-industrial complex

I am sure you are right and the Iraqi people all want Saddam back because genocide was so much fun. I bet they all want the good old days back where there was no democracy and 100K people were dying each year.
 
"I am certainly aware that there are formatting issues as I have experience with web development.

But I have never in my life heard of those formatting issues causing someone to have to retype or change text. Just strip it out to plain text and your problem is solved."


You have never had to retype anything? Wow, that is a level of perfection we can only hope to approach! I *wish* I were that perfect, my life would be so much easier.

"And lets hope the people who typed up the DSM (the first or the second time) didn't have any of these transcription errors..."

Like I said in my reply, I think the combined resources of those heavy-hitter news orgs have already made sure of that.

As we have explained ad nauseam to press and visitors alike, we are just a group of concerned citizens embarking on a project of this type for the first time. If we make the occasional amateur mistake, well that is part of the learning process. All we can do is acknowledge the error, make the correction and resolve to try harder next time.

Thanks for reading.
 
Like I said in my reply, I think the combined resources of those heavy-hitter news orgs have already made sure of that.

As we have explained ad nauseam to press and visitors alike, we are just a group of concerned citizens embarking on a project of this type for the first time. If we make the occasional amateur mistake, well that is part of the learning process. All we can do is acknowledge the error, make the correction and resolve to try harder next time.

Thanks for reading.




While I certainly will disagree with some of the conclusions you may reach regarding these memos, I for one certainly appreciate you facilitating open discussion about this which is certainly important these days.

Perhaps if you could take a moment to explain what technically happened while you were fixing the formatting issues that would cause one number to be altered?

And I don't think you can have anyone on the record who attended any of these meeting verify the accuracy. And without a transcript it would be hard to verify. I am confident that you can find anonymous "senior government employees" who will say it "appears authentic" though.
 
The issue of the authenticity has been put to bed by:

* The LA Times and Washington Post which both independently verified the documents

* The Sunday Times, which verified them at the outset

* The fact that NOBODY in the Bush or Blair administration has denied their authenticity, even given numerous chances to do so

* The fact that sources (yes, they're anonymous) in both the Bush and Blair administrations have acknowledged the documents' authenticity and accuracy.

The only people questioning the memos' authenticity at this point in time are those who will likely never accept them as real government documents.

I wonder if these people would have applied the same standard of rigorous verification to the president's ridiculous uranium-from-Africa claim? Or any of the other single-source, unverified intel that was served up to the public as rock-solid fact.

I would think it's as important for a president to make sure his facts are right as it is for a reporter.
 
To anonymous that has an issue with the numbers 2 and 3 in the year:

Get real. You're going to base the authenticity of the British documents on a recent one digit error either by Michael Smith or the DSM.com website people?

Anyone reading the question he posed, with a date that didn't make sense, should use the brain they have to arrive at the fact that it may have been a typographical error. That's the conclusion I came to anyway. Your mileage obviously varies.

What Mr. Smith would ask the President now, typos and all, for me, doesn't in any way negate the content of what Mr. Smith has revealed now or in the past.

You simply need to come to terms with the fact that Blair hasn't been screaming bloody murder that the documents are in any way false or fabricated, and the fact that 3 major media sources have confirmed their authenticity.

Stop nit-picking and discuss the content of those documents and what they mean to this nation as a whole.
 
The issue of the authenticity has been put to bed by:

* The LA Times and Washington Post which both independently verified the documents

* The Sunday Times, which verified them at the outset

* The fact that NOBODY in the Bush or Blair administration has denied their authenticity, even given numerous chances to do so

* The fact that sources (yes, they're anonymous) in both the Bush and Blair administrations have acknowledged the documents' authenticity and accuracy.

The only people questioning the memos' authenticity at this point in time are those who will likely never accept them as real government documents.

I wonder if these people would have applied the same standard of rigorous verification to the president's ridiculous uranium-from-Africa claim? Or any of the other single-source, unverified intel that was served up to the public as rock-solid fact.

I would think it's as important for a president to make sure his facts are right as it is for a reporter.



Again, when has the Sunday Times, LA Times, or Washington Post verified these as authentic using the actual transcript from the meetings or an on the record confirmation from someone who was in attendance at one of these meetings?

One of the first rules of journalism is that a non-denial does not equal a confirmation. I think that certainly some of the things covered in the memos are factual since they are already known as being accurate, others there is certainly some doubt.

And the Niger claim was based on more than one source, in fact it has been believed by many in the European intelligence community that Niger was a source of the illicit uranium trade and that Iraq was one of the customers.
 
To anonymous that has an issue with the numbers 2 and 3 in the year:

Get real. You're going to base the authenticity of the British documents on a recent one digit error either by Michael Smith or the DSM.com website people?

Anyone reading the question he posed, with a date that didn't make sense, should use the brain they have to arrive at the fact that it may have been a typographical error. That's the conclusion I came to anyway. Your mileage obviously varies.

What Mr. Smith would ask the President now, typos and all, for me, doesn't in any way negate the content of what Mr. Smith has revealed now or in the past.

You simply need to come to terms with the fact that Blair hasn't been screaming bloody murder that the documents are in any way false or fabricated, and the fact that 3 major media sources have confirmed their authenticity.

Stop nit-picking and discuss the content of those documents and what they mean to this nation as a whole.




The whole point is that there were no other obvious errors and that there would be no reason to have one a 2002 changed into a 2003 if there wee formatting issues, so we are left with the likely scenario that Mr. Smith made an error.

If so it certainly leaves open the possibility that more errors were made. And when it comes to an important story like this, that is worrisome.
 
It amazes me that some people still attempt to deny what stares them in the face, so here it is one more time.

Every excuse used by the Bush administration to take us into war was a LIE, and they were well aware that their information wasd flimsy and based on less than reliable information. You are attempting to shoot the messengers by casting aspersions on those that report on these memos.

They do not need to make their method of publishing privy to you, nor do they have to give their continual respectful comments to your snide attacks. I myself would have lost my patience after your first slam.

So Bush "slaughtered" the Iraqi people? That is funny I thought he liberated them from a genocidal dictator and brought democracy to the Iraqi people.

Over 112 THOUSAND Iraqi civilians dead. You tell me how liberated those folks feel.
 
"Well we have not gotten any free oil so far. So I guess we aren't there for the oil.

LOL @ military-industrial complex

I am sure you are right and the Iraqi people all want Saddam back because genocide was so much fun. I bet they all want the good old days back where there was no democracy and 100K people were dying each year."

Are you still looking for the phantom WMD's?...Bush's lies and his "brain" Karl Rove and his propaganda machine PNAC="Project for a New American Century" may have brainwashed you, but more than half the country ain't buyin' it anymore, and most of the world never did (older more mature nations). History is repeating itself , but I do not know if you are old enough to remember or if you follow history, so there is no point in making references to the past ... However , if you are willing to hear it from the IRAQ VETS AGAINST THE WAR:
http://www.ivaw.net/
 
It amazes me that some people still attempt to deny what stares them in the face, so here it is one more time.

Every excuse used by the Bush administration to take us into war was a LIE, and they were well aware that their information wasd flimsy and based on less than reliable information. You are attempting to shoot the messengers by casting aspersions on those that report on these memos.

They do not need to make their method of publishing privy to you, nor do they have to give their continual respectful comments to your snide attacks. I myself would have lost my patience after your first slam.

So Bush "slaughtered" the Iraqi people? That is funny I thought he liberated them from a genocidal dictator and brought democracy to the Iraqi people.

Over 112 THOUSAND Iraqi civilians dead. You tell me how liberated those folks feel.



Katie,

First please don't tell me you are using the Lancet study to come up with your civilian deathtoll. If you are it is likely because you are not aware of how flawed it is. They did a survey of less than 1,000 Iraqi households primarily in some of the more war torn Baghdad neighborhoods and then applied that for the entire country. If you are familiar with statistical analysis, that is a laughable way to conduct a survey. iraqbodycount.net may be a more accurate site if you are curious.

Anyways if we are to question everything from our government now, then why doesn't the same apply to a foreign journalist?

If Bush lied about WMD then so did most prominent democrats from Clinton on down.

And Since you are so concerned about the Iraqi deathtoll, how about the +100,000 that according to the UN were dying each year due to the flawed sanctions. And what about the 10's of thousands more than were being executed, maimed, raped, and just disappearing under the Saddam regime. It is very easy for you to sit back and reminisce about the good old days from behind the computer, but for damn sure the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who are alive today in a democratic Iraq due to our actions thank us for actually acting and holding Saddam accountable to the 18 UN resolutions and the cease-fire...
 
Bush objectives were not to go to Iraq to rescue the people, that was another "selling point" that is no longer believed, along with WMD. Now that a pre-emptive and/or
pro-active war has been set as precedent,how many other nations are we going to "spread democracy" to, using our youth and reserves as fodder?
PNAC has been planning to change the regime in Iraq whether Saddam was in charge or not...PNAC tried to bully Clinton into doing it, but since he did not, PNAC did a regime change in America first (breaking Constitution here in America by fixing 2000 election) and placing Bush in power illegally here at home... today America, tomorrow Pax Americana.
 
anonyfuckwit:

"But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass
destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about." -Ari Fleischer Press Briefing 4/10/03

 
anonymous above seems to love the idea of a Pax Americana, a phrase that reflects the Pax Romana. Here's what Tacitus had to say about the latter:

"They make a desolation and call it Peace."
 
Now you are censoring me from your comments? The truth is too much to handle?

Look at my blog and tell me how much Smith isn't lying.
 
Errr...
Here you can clearly see that Michael Smith is trying to dupe all of you into believing a lie. How ironic.
 
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