As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 25, 2005
U.S. Rep. Tom Udall has signed onto a letter asking that President Bush answer questions about a top-secret document written in 2002 by an adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair indicating the U.S. had already made up its mind to invade Iraq and planned to manipulate intelligence to justify it.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, and 88 other Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Bush earlier this month asking whether the July 2002 memo, unveiled by The Sunday Times of London on May 1, accurately portrayed the administration's thinking at the time. It also asks whether there was a coordinated effort to “fix” intelligence to justify an invasion.
Conyers’ letter said the memorandum — which has come to be known as “The Downing Street Memo” or to some war opponents as “The Smoking Gun Memo” — “raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war as well as the integrity of your own administration.”
Udall — who voted against the Iraq war resolution in October 2002 — wasn’t among the first wave of Congress members to sign Conyers’ letter.
“So many reps didn't get a chance to sign it that they've done a second letter and he's on that one,” Udall spokesman Glen Loveland said in an e-mail Tuesday.
“Rep. Udall signed the (second) letter because he feels that the allegations need to be addressed,” Loveland said. “Many of our constituents still want answers about the planning that happened before the beginning of the war.”
A spokeswoman for Conyers said Tuesday that “four or five” Congress members, including Udall, had asked to sign on the request for Bush to answer questions about the memo.
Conyers’ second letter, dated May 23, chides Bush about not answering the original letter.
Bush spokesman Scott McClelland has said there is “no need” to respond to Conyers.
The Downing Street Memo, written by Blair foreign policy aid Matthew Rycroft, consists of secret minutes of a British cabinet meeting eight months before the invasion of Iraq and three months before Congress passed the resolution authorizing military force in Iraq.
No British official has challenged the authenticity of the memo.
The minutes quote the British intelligence chief Richard Dearlove saying who said of his American counterparts: “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and (weapons of mass destruction). But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
The memo quoted British foreign secretary Jack Straw saying “the case was thin” for an invasion because Saddam Hussein “was not threatening his neighbors” and because “his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”
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