Sunday, May 15, 2005

If the Brits Knew, Why Didn't Most Americans? 

The Washington Post has finally picked up a story from across the pond that shows British Foreign Intelligence briefed PM Tony Blair in July 2002 that the Bush Administration had already decided to go to war with Iraq. Blair would have to decide whether to get on board or break with his American counterparts in the aftermath of September 11.

"The case was thin," summarized the notes taken by a British national security aide at the meeting. "Saddam was not threatening his neighbours and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

The notes were first disclosed last week by the Sunday Times of London, triggering criticism of Blair on the eve of the May 5 British parliamentary elections…”

Blair’s Labour Party came out of the recent elections with a government greatly weakened by his lack of candor over Iraq, which most Britons oppose him on.

“The notes of the Blair meeting...disclose for the first time that Britain's intelligence boss believed that Bush had decided to go to war in mid-2002, and that he believed U.S. policymakers were trying to use the limited intelligence they had to make the Iraqi leader appear to be a bigger threat than was supported by known facts.”

Readers should thank Juan Cole for following the migration of this story from the Times of London to Knight-Ridder and finally to the Post. Once again, the British know more about what our government is doing than we do.

UPDATE: 'Meet the Press' has taken up the question this morning as well, with the BBC's Katty Kay bringing up the subject of the intel report in response to Russert cheerleading that Blair and Bush have put all this faf about Iraq to rest. Kay mentioned that the "one question" in Britain now is when Blair will step aside for Gordon Brown.

MORE UPDATE: For the entire text of the Downing Street Memo, click on the link.

Link via Richard Cranium.

STILL MORE UPDATE: Paul Krugman writes in Monday'sTimes about the Downing Street memo. It's on.

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