The lead editorial in today’s Washington Post seeks to explain the paper’s lagging coverage of the Downing Street Memo(s) by claiming that they offered nothing new.
AFTER LAGGING for months, debate on Iraq in Washington is picking up again. That’s a needed and welcome development, but much of the discussion is being diverted to the wrong subject. War opponents have been trumpeting several British government memos from July 2002, which describe the Bush administration’s preparations for invasion, as revelatory of President Bush’s deceptions about Iraq. Bloggers have demanded to know why “the mainstream media” have not paid more attention to them. Though we can’t speak for The Post’s news department, the answer appears obvious: The memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration’s prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002.
Three summers ago the pages of this and other newspapers were filled with reports about military planning for war to remove Saddam Hussein and Mr. Bush’s determination to force a showdown. “Debate over whether the United States should go to war against Iraq,” we stated in a lead editorial on Aug. 4, “has lurched into a higher gear.” [emphasis added.]
Of course that’s utter bulshit. If the Downing Street Memos had revealed that there was “debate over whether the United States should go to war against Iraq” then they would have indeed contained no new information. However, the memos (and meeting minutes) reveal that the Bush assministration had already decided to initiate a war of aggression against Iraq. The only debate was how to justify said war, as John Daniszewski explains in the Los Angeles Times :
In March 2002, the Bush administration had just begun to publicly raise the possibility of confronting Iraq. But behind the scenes, officials already were deeply engaged in seeking ways to justify an invasion, newly revealed British memos indicate.