Sunday, June 12, 2005

I DON'T AGREE with Kevin Drum when he says that the reason for the indifference in the U.S. press to the Downing Street minutes story is that everybody already knew that Bush was determined to invade Iraq in the summer of 2002, and even before that. Kevin feels that, for the mainstream media here, this was a no-news, "bit of a yawn" story, not worth making a huge fuss over.

I don't disagree with Kevin's assertion that there had been plenty of indications of Pres. Bush's desire to invade Iraq in 2002, and actually well before 2002. That is pretty much unarguable. But I do not agree that this is what has motivated the U.S. media's silence about the Downing Street minutes.

Desires and preferences are not the same thing as firm decisions. Of course it's obvious to anyone with brains that Donald Rumsfeld and Pres. Bush were obsessed with overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and hammered on about it continuously, especially after 9/11. But that in itself is not proof that Bush had made an actual decision to invade Iraq while telling Congress and the public that he had not made such a decision; or that he had instructed his staff to develop the intelligence that would justify the policy.

The Downing Street minutes do not constitute that ironclad proof, either -- but they are very compelling evidence that a decision had been made well before authorization had been obtained and that there was an actual intention and plan to find the intelligence that would make the invasion appear legal. If the policy revealed in the DSM and now in this briefing document can be proved to be accurate, that is grounds for impeachment.

And in my view, that is the reason why the corporate media in the U.S. has ignored the DSM: not because the DSM is old news, but precisely because it is explosive and new information about the Bush administration's planning for the invasion of Iraq. "Bush wanted to invade Iraq" is not the same as "Bush lied and manipulated the intelligence to justify a decision that had already been made." That story would make newspaper editors extremely nervous in the context of an administration that has done everything in its power to bully and intimidate the press whenever it has dared to utter even the mildest criticism of official policy.

So my point? The MSM ignored the Downing Street story because it was new and explosive and could lead to impeachment proceedings -- NOT because the story was old and boring and a big yawn.

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