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:
I look forward to spending a good three hours talking to our friend about how to keep the peace. This world faces some serious threat—and threats—and we’re going to talk about it. We’re going to talk about how to promote freedom around the world. We’re going to talk about our shared values of—recognizes the worth of every individual.
What a moron. Most pitchmen are at least articulate. Bush continued:
And I’m looking forward to this time. It’s awfully thoughtful of Tony to come over here. It’s an important meeting, because he’s an important ally, an important friend. Welcome.
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:
Thanks. I’m looking very much forward, obviously, to discussing the issues that are preoccupying us at the moment with the President. And I thank him for his kind invitation to come here and his welcome.
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:
“First the threat, the truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein’s WMD programmes but our tolerance of them post 11th September.”
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:
“Mr. President, can you tell us what conclusive evidence of any nuclear—new evidence you have of nuclear weapons capabilities of Saddam Hussein?”
Bush’s reply was ludicrous at the time for its vagueness. Now we just know he was lying:
We just heard the Prime Minister talk about the new report. I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied—finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic—the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.
Blair, on the other hand, was a much more facile liar, adding:
Absolutely right. And what we—what we know from what has been going on there for a long period of time is not just the chemical, biological weapons capability, but we know that they were trying to develop nuclear weapons capability. And the importance of this morning’s report is it yet again it shows that there is a real issue that has to be tackled here.
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 problem for Mr Blair was that he knew there was no stopping the Americans. That much was clear from the Secret UK Eyes Only “options paper” on Iraq given to him on Friday, March 8, 2002.
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