WCW Home News Recent News 6-23-09 What Bush Told Blair Could End the Wars
6-23-09 What Bush Told Blair Could End the Wars PDF Print E-mail

By David Swanson

From AfterDowningStreet.org | Original Article

In May 2005 we launched AfterDowningStreet.org
to publicize the Downing Street Minutes. By June we'd had great, if
fleeting, success. During the following months and years, mountains of
new memos and statements emerged on the Iraq War lies, many of them more
damaging than the Downing Street documents. But increasingly nobody
cared, because evidence of crimes was less interesting once Congress had
dropped the pretense that it might take action. The single most
powerful, and yet largely ignored, document yet to emerge, might, now in
2009, finally, produce results. And, of course, it is our friends over
in England who are, as always, two steps ahead of us.

This document, or rather, reports of it, emerged in February 2006. We
labeled it the White House Memo
and began promoting
awareness of it. We did not get far with the US corporate media.
This is the same document
that Vincent Bugliosi refers to as "the Manning Memo" in his book "The
Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder". Bugliosi rightly makes it
central to his case. Part of the conversation recorded in the memo is
recreated in Crawford, Texas, rather than the White House, in Oliver
Stone's 2008 film "W."

The memo was first mentioned in Philippe Sands' 2005 book "Lawless
World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules." And it was
Sands, an attorney from England, who publicized the memo in February
2006. Now the British media
is questioning whether the British government's upcoming review of the
Iraq War lies will include such damning pieces of evidence as the White
House Memo. And Philippe Sands

is advocating for its inclusion. Peace groups led by the Stop the War
in England are planning a rally at
on Wednesday to
demand that the governmental inquiry be public. Secrecy, after all, is
what allowed the war in the first place.

And what difference might it make if the public in the United Kingdom or
(can you imagine it!) in the United States knew about this memo? Well,
this is a document that goes beyond proving that Bush wanted war and
lied about the reasons for it (That's /so/ 2002). This document proves
that Bush was willing to provoke Saddam Hussein into attacking Americans.

On January 31, 2003, prior to the full-scale invasion of Iraq in March,
President George W. Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in
the White House. After their meeting, they spoke to the media (video)
claimed not to have decided on war, to be working hard to achieve peace,
and to be worried about the imminent threat from Iraq to the American
people. They claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and
had links to al Qaeda, and -- Bush implied, but avoided explicitly
stating -- to the attacks of September 11, 2001. They also claimed to
have UN authorization for launching an attack on Iraq. These were all
blatant lies, as revealed in the White House Memo, which recorded what
Bush and Blair had talked about behind closed doors just prior to the
press conference. And yet, to my knowledge, not one of the reporters you
see in the above video has made a peep about it.

Blair advisor David Manning took notes that day. The accuracy of his
memo has never been challenged by Bush or Blair. According to Manning,
Bush proposed to Blair a number of possible ways in which they might be
able to create an excuse to launch a war against Iraq. One of Bush's
proposals was "flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over
Iraq, painted in UN colours [sic]. If Saddam fired on them," Bush
argued, "he would be in breach" of UN resolutions. In other words, Bush
wanted to falsely paint US planes with UN colors and try to get Iraq to
shoot at them. This is what Bush really thought about the horrible, evil
threat of Saddam Hussein: he wanted to provoke him. He wanted to get US
pilots shot at in order to start a war that Congress would then fund for
years, and perhaps decades, on the grounds that doing so would "support
the troops."

Bush understood that the United Nations had not passed a resolution to
legalize an attack on Iraq. The White House Memo describes Bush telling
Blair that "the US would put its full weight behind efforts to get
another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'. But he
had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow
anyway." (These are Manning's notes of what Bush said.) In other words,
going to the United Nations was not actually an attempt to avoid war,
but an attempt to gain legal cover for a war that would be launched
regardless of whether that project succeeded. And Bush wasn't kidding
about twisting arms; that very same day the National Security Agency
(NSA) launched a plan
to bug
the phones and e-mails of UN Security Council members.

At this time, a month and a half before the full-on invasion of Iraq,
the US military was already engaging in hugely escalated bombing runs
over Iraq and redeploying troops, including to newly constructed bases
in the Middle East, all in preparation for an invasion of Iraq, and all
with money that had not been appropriated for these purposes. The
reporters who questioned Bush and Blair on January 31, 2003, did not
know about or ask about those activities.

That Bush was interested in provoking Iraq is confirmed by extensive
covert operations called DB/Anabasis
reported by Michael
Isikoff and David Corn in their 2006 book "Hubris: The Inside Story of
Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War." These operations
"envisioned staging a phony incident that could be used to start a war.
A small group of Iraqi exiles would be flown into Iraq by helicopter to
seize an isolated military base near the Saudi border. They then would
take to the airwaves and announce a coup was under way. If Saddam
responded by flying troops south, his aircraft would be shot down by US
fighter planes patrolling the no-fly zones established by UN edict after
the first Persian Gulf War. A clash of this sort could be used to
initiate a full-scale war. On February 16, 2002, President Bush signed
covert findings authorizing the various elements of Anabasis. The
leaders of the congressional intelligence committees -- including Porter
Goss, a Republican, and Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat -- were briefed."

A similar story came out about Dick Cheney with regard to Iran in 2008.
Journalist Seymour Hersh reported
at a
journalism conference in 2008 that at a 2008 meeting in the Vice
President's office, soon after an incident in the Strait of Hormuz in
which a US carrier almost shot at a few small Iranian speedboats, "There
was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that
interested me the most was why don't we build -- we in our shipyard --
build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy Seals
on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the
Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives. And it was
rejected because you can't have Americans killing Americans. That's the
kind of -- that's the level of stuff we're talking about. Provocation.
But that was rejected."

After the invasion of Iraq, with no weapons or ties to 9/11 having been
found, Diane Sawyer asked Bush on camera (ABC News, December 16, 2003)
about the claims he had made about "weapons of mass destruction," and he
replied: "What's the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could
acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger."

Iraqi deaths as a result of the invasion and occupation, measured above
the high death rate under international sanctions preceding the attack,
are estimated at 1.2 to 1.3 million by two independent sources (Just
Foreign Policy's updated figure based on the Johns Hopkins / Lancet
report, and the British polling company Opinion Research Business's
estimate as of August 2007). According to the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Iraqis who have fled
their homes has reached 4.7 million. If these estimates are accurate, a
total of nearly 6 million human beings have been displaced from their
homes or killed, as of August 2008. Many times that many have certainly
been injured, traumatized, impoverished, and deprived of clean water and
other basic needs.

That we can't prosecute torture is bad enough. That you have to cross an
ocean to even find a discussion of accountability for war lies is worse.


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