"This is getting ridiculous. If we piled up all the evidence of Bushie prevarication we could sink Australia, you know. At what point does the overwhelming preponderance of evidence stop being a crazy conspiracy theory?"
There's an old Korean saying, "Would smoke come out of the chimney if the fire wasn't lit?" Now if it was just a wisp of smoke, there might be a way to dismiss the Downing Street Memo. But we're talking about a chimney billowing smoke for years.
The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus wrote a front-page story this weekend calling attention to information that has come out in other British memos that support the Downing Street Memo. For example, Pincus uncovered a British memo warning of post-war instability that would arise because the Bush administration was unrealistic about the post-war phase. Bush's failure to plan for post-war Iraq seems to be a leitmotiv running through both the British papers as well as testimony by military experts in the U.S. But the most damning feature of the memos is their confirmation that the Bush administration “fixed” the intelligence around its policy of attacking Iraq.
British Knew Iraqi WMD Were Not a Threat: “There is no greater threat now that [Saddam] will use WMD than there has been in recent years, so continuing containment is an option.” [Iraq: Options Paper]
Evidence Did Not Show Much Advance In Iraq’s Weapons Programs: “Even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years on [the] nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts: the programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.” [Ricketts Paper, 3/22/02]
Evidence Was Thin on Iraq/Al Qaeda Ties: “US is scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al [Qaida] is so far frankly unconvincing.” [Ricketts Paper, 3/22/02]
“No Credible Evidence” On Iraq/Al Qaeda Link: “There has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL and Al Qaida.” [Straw Paper, 3/25/02]
Wolfowitz Knew Supposed Iraq/Al Qaeda Link Was Weak: Wolfowitz said that “there might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11, and Iraqi intelligence (did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting?).” [Meyer Paper, 3/18/02]
A full set of links and an excellent discussion of these papers can be found at Think Progress.
As I was writing this post, I just heard that yet another memo [7/21/02] has been leaked confirming that it was "necessary to create the conditions" for the legality of the Iraq War.
The memo has been discussed by The Times , Shakespeare's Sister, The Heretik , Freiheit und Wissen and the St. Petersburg Times.
At some point, the preponderance of evidence has to be taken at face value. The question we must ask now is not, "Did Bush lie?" but rather, "Do we care?"
Personally, I care.