Monday, June 20, 2005

Legitimate Questions Raised by DSM

Questions are beginning to swirl about the authenticity of the Downing Street Memo, based mostly on Michael Smith's burning of the photocopies. Captain's Quarters asks:

Why would a reporter do such a thing? While reporters need to protect their sources, at some point stories based on official documents will require authentication -- and as we have seen with the Killian memos, copies make that impossible. The AP gets a "senior British official" to assert that the content "appeared authentic", which only means that the content seems to match what he thinks he knows.

Indeed, the authenticity of the memos has been proven by no one, and the burning of the photocopies makes doing so impossible, unless Smith's source comes forward. All of the actual "confirmations" are to the tone of the reported meeting, or based on excerpts. Also, the sources for that authentication are all anonymous, which can be anybody.

Whether the DSM are real or not though, this will make it hard for them to be used for the purpose desired by the left, which is to fashion impeachment proceedings based on the information contained within, again, unless a source comes forward with the originals.

Captain's Quarter's has many more questions about the documents and Smith, all of which is at least worth reading.

Frankly, even if the DSM were authenticated, they are anything but the "smoking gun" the left has asserted. They are in fact, an exercise in contradiction. While an MI6 employee notes in the main document that he thought the intelligence was being "fixed" in the lead up to the war, they also demonstrate that the Brits were concerned about WMD; the existence of and possible use against coalition troops.

The documents confirm Blair was genuinely concerned about Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction, but also indicate he was determined to go to war as America's top ally, even though his government thought a pre-emptive attack may be illegal under international law.

It wasn't just the possiblity that Iraq had, or would use, the weapons against troops. The Brits were looking at the possibility differently in a post 9/11 world.

"The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September," said a typed copy of a March 22, 2002 memo obtained Thursday by The Associated Press and written to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

The AP story goes further to say that there was doubt among the Brits as to whether the programs had been "stepped up;" the assumption being that they did indeed exist and were, in fact, referred to by the Brit's as "worrying." The other assertion made by the document is that the Bush administration was considering circumventing the UN and would invade Iraq by January.

This seems to show the left that Bush was "rushing" to war based on bad intelligence. But, as we all know, Bush did indeed go to the UN and did not invade Iraq until March. So the charge by the left, than, is that Bush was mulling over not going before the UN at one time in the lead-up to the war.

So what?

Personally, I don't doubt the ultimate validity of the documents. Were they created by the left, they would have said something like "Bush noted in a meeting his clear intention to lie to the America people in order to fulfill his life-long dream of world domination," or some such nonsense. In short, the documents do not say what the left so desperately needs them to say.

Nevertheless it is important that such questions, like those by Captain's quarters, be asked about the DSM. One assertion that the Captain makes about the documents, that they are fake, is indisputable. This prompted Kevin "Fuck Off and Die" Drum to prove that he cannot tell the difference between the word "fake" and the word "fraud."

The wingnuts are getting desperate. Captain's Quarters, in a nostalgic attempt to recreate the glories of Rathergate, suggests that the Downing Street Memos aren't real. Why? Because Michael Smith, the reporter who got hold of them, had them retyped to protect his source and then returned the originals. Jonah Goldberg feverishly calls CQ's revelations a "must read."

Yes Kevin, they are not original documents but in fact are mock-ups and therefore fake. Now that we all agree...

Not to be outdone, Goldberg has a little fun at Drum's expense.

The bottom line is that, here we are again, looking at unauthenticated documents; documents that do not make the case that is being claimed. I'm not sure the point of this entire exercise. Is it to prove that Bush and the Brit's were making a case for war against Hussein? Is it that there was uncertainty regarding the levels of WMD production in Iraq?

I say again, so what? Of course they were making a case, based on the prevailing beliefs.

If, instead, the point is to prove that "Bush lied" about the reasons for going to war, they have a long, long way to go. The DSM does not say anything remotely close to that. With the war in Iraq for the most part in the past, with Iraqi's having held elections and in the process of writing a constitution, and with Hussein's butchery something for the history books, aren't there more important things to talk about?

It's like Drum said, the left's attachment to the DSM is just a continuation of a "nostalgic attempt" to create the glory days...of the Viet Nam era.

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