The NY Times has finally gotten around to reporting on the latest British Memo that the Guardian UK and Channel4.com reported on in early February. My original post on the story is here. The NY Times reports:
In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush’s public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.
But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair’s top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.
“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” David Manning, Mr. Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.
“The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,” Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. “This was when the bombing would begin.”
The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.
Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.
The January ’03 memo is the latest secret memos exposed by top aides to Mr. Blair that “summarize private discussions between the president and the prime minister.” Before this memo there was the Downing Street Memo which was written in July 2002 and showed “that some senior British officials had been concerned that the United States was determined to invade Iraq, and that the “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” by the Bush administration to fit its desire to go to war.” On June 22, 2005 John Kerry sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee requesting an investigation of pre-war Iraq intelligence failures (and the Downing Street Memo). The letter was co-signed by Sens. Tim Johnson, Jon Corzine, Jack Reed, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer, Edward Kennedy, Thomas Harkin, Jeff Bingaman, Richard Durbin. To date there has been no investigation.
The latest memo is striking in its characterization of frank, almost casual, conversation by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair about the most serious subjects. At one point, the leaders swapped ideas for a postwar Iraqi government. “As for the future government of Iraq, people would find it very odd if we handed it over to another dictator,” the prime minister is quoted as saying.
“Bush agreed,” Mr. Manning wrote. This exchange, like most of the quotations in this article, have not been previously reported.
The NY Times concludes that “Despite intense lobbying by the United States and Britain, a second United Nations resolution was not obtained. The American-led military coalition invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003, nine days after the target date set by the president on that late January day at the White House.”
So there you have it… the MSM has now collaborated what the British press told us weeks ago. The question that remains is when will the Senate Intell Committee get off their tails and investigate these memos that show that Bush was willing to provoke Saddam into war?
Note to John Kerry: Can we get a follow up on the request for an investigation of pre-war Iraq intelligence failures (and the Downing Street Memo)?