Thanks to the activity of the many bloggers who have argued strenuously that President Bush be asked about the Downing Street Memo, a question finally got asked this afternoon. Blair jumped to answer the question before Bush could get a chance. And he proceeded to deliver the talking point of the day: the Downing Street Memo was written before the U.S. went to the U.N. Your first question might be: what does that have to do with anything? Answer: nothing. Either the intelligence was being fixed or it wasn’t.
President Bush, for his part, never rejects the idea that the intelligence was being fixed around his policy of attacking Iraq. (Wouldn’t that be the most damaging claim you’d want to rebut?) Instead, Bush takes the same tact as Blair and emphasized that he hadn’t gone to the U.N. at the time the memo was written. Bush’s argument appears to be that, because the administration had not yet gone to the U.N., there’s no way he could have already decided to attack Iraq.
Upon closer examination, however, the U.N. process itself strongly indicated that Bush had already made up his mind. Consider:
1) Bush never wanted to go the U.N. in the first place to get Resolution 1441
Ex: Bush derided any talk of delaying for UN resolution, saying opponents were waiting “for somebody else to act”
2) Bush claimed the resolution never prevented him from attacking Iraq
Ex: Bush: “[T]he resolution does not prevent us from doing what needs to be done.”
3) After claiming he would get a 2nd resolution before attacking Iraq, Bush recognized he had little support for it and instead dashed off to war with his “coalition of the willing”
Ex: Bush said he would ask countries to “show their cards” by calling for a vote on a 2nd U.N. resolution, but he dropped that call after seeing little support.
4) Bush made it clear the U.N. wouldn’t impact his timeline
Ex: Bush: “This is a matter of weeks, not months. Any attempt to drag the process on for months will be resisted by the United States.”