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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Daily Kos: Blast from the Past: Downing Street Memo - July 23, 2002

For those of you who have heard the phrase "Downing Street Memo" and didn't know what it was or thought it was some conspiracy theory nut news, here is a brief education on what they actually were.  Downing street is where Prime Minister Tony Blair lived and the memo was of one of his meetings with his top advisers.

Six years ago today, Matthew Rycroft, private secretary to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, wrote a secret memorandum to the U.K.’s ambassador to the U.S., David Manning. The memo contained the minutes of a meeting held that same morning between Blair and a few senior foreign policy advisers. It was exposed by the Sunday Times nearly three years later. Two paragraphs stood out.

Rycroft spoke about a trip that Sir Richard Dearlove had recently taken to Washington. Dearlove, the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service or MI6, is referred to officially as "C":

C 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.

And there was this:

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. 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 neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

Daily Kos: Blast from the Past: Downing Street Memo - July 23, 2002

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