Smoking Gun Still Smoldering

From Holden:

Dougla Jehl actually covers the Downing Street Memo as if taking the country to war on the basis of lies matters

Eighty-nine House Democrats wrote to the White House to ask whether the memorandum, first disclosed by The Sunday Times on May 1, accurately reported the administration’s thinking at the time, eight months before the American-led invasion. The letter, drafted by Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said the British memorandum of July 23, 2002, if accurate, “raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war as well as the integrity of your own administration.”


The White House has always insisted that Mr. Bush did not finally decide to carry out the invasion of March 2003 until after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented the administration’s case to the United Nations Security Council, in a speech on Feb. 5, 2003, that relied heavily on claims, now discredited, that Iraq had illicit weapons and was supporting terrorism.

Two former Bush administration officials, Richard A. Clarke, the former terrorism adviser, and Paul H. O’Neill, the former treasury secretary, have written books saying that Mr. Bush decided to invade Iraq by the summer of 2002. But the British memorandum, which records the minutes of a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s senior foreign policy advisers, does provide some contemporaneous validation for those accounts, though only through secondhand observations.


The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, told reporters on Tuesday that the White House saw “no need” to respond to the Democratic letter. Current and former Bush administration officials have sought to minimize the significance of the memorandum, saying it is based on circumstantial observations and does not purport to be an authoritative account of American decision making.