A tale from September ’02, when Bush and Blair discussed ‘keeping the peace’
The documents continue to flow out of Britain about the Bush regime’s phony war and the Downing Street Memo—which, I note with some defensiveness, I first wrote about on April 30. But you just have to laugh at the brazen lies that gushed from the White House and Pentagon in 2002 after the Bush regime had already decided to go to war.
Yes, I mean the lies that were actually spoken by George W. Bush and Tony Blair. All we can do now is evaluate their skill as liars.
On September 7, 2002, the POTUS propaganda machine announced:
“President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Discuss Keeping the Peace.” Don’t you just love it?
Blair had just arrived at Camp David, and the first anniversary of 9/11 was approaching. While “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of invading Iraq, as the Downing Street Memo put it, Bush and Blair were propagandizing. You can almost see the script that the two followed during their September 7, 2002 press conference. Bush was the host, and he began by saying:
What a moron. Most pitchmen are at least articulate. Bush continued:
Oh, yes, it was thoughtful of Tony to visit. Especially because Bush’s handlers no doubt realized that Blair, infinitely quicker on his feet than the doofus POTUS, had to do the heavy lifting. The prime minister said:
The point that I would emphasize to you is that the threat from Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, potentially nuclear weapons capability, that threat is real.
We only need to look at the report from the International Atomic Agency this morning showing what has been going on at the former nuclear weapons sites to realize that. And the policy of inaction is not a policy we can responsibly subscribe to. So the purpose of our discussion today is to work out the right strategy for dealing with this, because deal with it we must.
As we now have it confirmed, that’s not what Blair’s advisers were telling him.
Digression: Incredibly, this was publicly revealed back on September 18, 2004, by Michael Smith, writing for the Telegraph (U.K.). As Smith reported back then, Peter Ricketts, the Foreign Office political director, wrote in a March 22, 2002, memo to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw:
OK, back to the September 7, 2002, press conference at Camp David: After Blair’s cock-and-bull, Bush called on a reporter in his own inimitable way, saying, “AP lady.”
And “AP lady” asked a hard, specific question:
Bush’s reply was ludicrous at the time for its vagueness. Now we just know he was lying:
Blair, on the other hand, was a much more facile liar, adding:
I mean, I was just reading coming over here the catalog of attempts by Iraq to conceal its weapons of mass destruction, not to tell the truth about it over—not just over a period of months, but over a period of years. Now, that’s why the issue is important. And, of course, it’s an issue not just for America, not just for Britain, it’s an issue for the whole of the international community. But it is an issue we have to deal with. And that’s why I say to you that the policy of inaction, doing nothing about it, is not something we can responsibly adhere to.
What neither of them mentioned at the press conference was that the die had been cast way back on March 8, 2002, as far as the British officials were concerned. That’s when they realized that Bush and his handlers had made up their mind even before then. This supposed “catalog” Blair mentioned wasn’t the only thing the prime minister had read about Iraq. As Smith’s September 2004 story in the Telegraph (U.K.) put it:
The Prime Minister was at Chequers [the British equivalent of Camp David] when he sat down to read it and in need of some good news. He and other ministers had repeatedly told MPs and television interviewers that no decision had been made to go to war but the increasingly belligerent talk coming out of Washington was making even members of his Cabinet jittery.
Mr Bush had reportedly told one aide: “F*** Saddam. We’re taking him out”. It no longer seemed to be a question of if; all the discussion was of how soon, with increasing talk of an invasion that autumn when conditions on the ground in Iraq would be ideal.
But the Blair and Bush regimes couldn’t get it together in time for a fall 2002 invasion. March 2003 would have to do.
More:DOWNING STREET MEMO