The Plot Sickens


Ex-CIA man McGovern on the Brits’ pre-war problem of squaring a circle


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Agent for change: Retired CIA veteran Ray McGovern, in a scene from Uncovered: The War on Iraq (2004)

Why not let a former CIA guy who used to prepare intelligence briefs for Ronald Reagan remove the scandalous Downing Street Memo and other leaked papers from the spin cycle and examine them for you?

That’s basically what Ray McGovern does in “Downing Street II,” posted today on And, my, my, my, aren’t those Bush-Blair drawers all soiled and nasty? Those two boys are a caution!

This isn’t the first time McGovern has come up against the dirt about the unjustified invasion of Iraq. A leader of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, he was perhaps the most cogent talking head in Bob Greenwald‘s well-meaning but somewhat jumbled Uncovered: The War on Iraq, a quickie documentary from 2004. (See my review from last August 10.)

In this piece, however, McGovern gets to make his own points at his own pace about those smokin’ documents revealed May 1 by Michael Smith of the Sunday Times (U.K.). The “Cabinet Office paper,” as ace reporter Smith referred to it yesterday, is another morsel atop the previously released Downing Street Memo. And McGovern’s analysis of the July 23, 2002, document is sharp:

Pervading the briefing paper is the British leaders’ need to square a circle: how to render legal an illegal, unprovoked attack on Iraq — or in the words of the briefing paper, how to go about “creating the conditions … in which we could legally support military action.”

And this from McGovern:

The document reeks not only of obsequiousness toward the United States, but also wonderment at Washington’s policies — particularly with respect to international law.

I also like that McGovern picked up on the British familiarity with Iraq’s brutal summers, something that the Pentagon neocons were obviously ignorant of. The briefing paper suggests that, geez, if there has to be an invasion of Iraq, don’t do it any later than January, man, ’cause it gets hot as shit there.

It keeps getting hotter. And the bodies are piling up.