Saturday, June 25, 2005

Downing Street excerpts

Excerpts from secret Downing Street memos written in 2002. The information, authenticated by a senior British government official, was transcribed from the original documents.

In a memo dated March 14, 2002, Tony Blair's chief foreign policy adviser, David Manning, tells the prime minister about a dinner he had with then-U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice:
"Condi's enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed. ... From what she said, Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions: How to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified; What value to put on the exiled Iraqi opposition; ... What happens on the morning after?"

From a memo dated March 22, 2002, from Peter Ricketts, British foreign office political director, to Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, on advice Blair had been given on Iraq:
"Military operations need clear and compelling military objectives. For Kosovo, it was: Serbs out, Kosovars back, peacekeepers in. For Afghanistan, destroying the Taliban and Al Qaeda military capability. For Iraq, `regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam."

From minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Blair and top government officials. C refers to Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of Britain's intelligence service:
"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. ... Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. ... There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military
action. ...
"It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."


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