By now, most of you are aware of the “Downing Street Memo” – the document that quotes a high-ranking British official as stating that by July of 2002, Bush had made up his mind to take military action against Iraq. The memo flatly states that “the facts and intelligence were being fixed around the policy” in order to justify a decision that already had been made.
Another memo — the “Personal Secret UK Eyes Only” briefing paper from that July 2002 meeting — shows that British officials worried about creating the conditions in which they could legally support military action because they knew the facts made no case for the war Bush had decided to wage. Yes, you heard that correctly – “creating” the conditions. In the Introduction, Section I states:
“The US Government’s military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it.”
And in Section 3 of the Introduction:
This is particularly important for the UK because it is necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action. Otherwise we face the real danger that the US will commit themselves to a course of action which we would find very difficult to support.
One can only imagine what’s going through the minds of parents who already have buried their U.S. soldier/children, or parents and spouses who might face burying their loved ones in the future? And all these deaths for military action where political conditions had to be created?
In response to these revelations, Representative John Conyers – ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee – is calling on the Administration to level with the American public about the decision to go to war. He has created a petition calling on the Bush Administration to answer five very important questions regarding the timing of its decision. The Bush Administration, however, has not yet replied to Representative Conyers’ letter, nor have they responded to 89 Members of Congress who submitted the very same questions on May 5, 2005.
Yesterday, members of Gold Star Families for Peace, a national organization of families whose loved ones died as a result of the war in Iraq, met with Members of Congress to call on them to support a “Resolution of Inquiry” into the so-called Downing Street Memo.
Today at 2 pm GSFP co-founder Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville, California will join others in testifying at a Democratic hearing before Rep. Conyers as well as other congressional members. Sheehan’s son, Army SPC Casey Sheehan, was killed in Sadr City, Baghdad, on April 4, 2004.
On the website Military Families Speak Out, member Lisa Gill put together her own list of (15) questions she would like to ask Congress, including (to name a few):
— Are you aware that over 1685 of our American children/soldiers have been killed as a result of “your” decision?
— Are you aware that over 6407 of our American children/soldiers have been so severely wounded that they have had to come home, most with lost limbs or other disabilities that will prevent them from doing the jobs they dreamed about doing when leaving the military?
— Are you aware that over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed or severely wounded as a result of your decision to go to war?
The last two, however, are real zingers:
— Is whatever political gain you personally received by supporting this war worth it?
— Do you have trouble sleeping at night?
You may want to click on the “Letters” section of the MFSO site, but grab your tissues first. These are Real families of military members with profound stories of anger and loss.
Writes one mother: “I had been conned, and this realization broke my heart. Was my son’s life and the lives of other mothers’ sons and daughters of so little value that our country would enter a war and put them in danger without concrete evidence?” She goes on to say:
“Sadly, on this Mother’s Day, mothers of U.S. service people in Iraq are confronted with the disconcerting knowledge that our government has been manipulating the news such as the TV shot depicting Iraqis carrying an American flag crying “Thank you, Bush, Thank you, United States” shown to Americans during the prime-time news. It was not filmed spontaneously in Iraq as the American public was led to believe, but rather filmed in the United States by our government. Our tax dollars at work, to deceive us.”
Another member writes: “God help us for who we have given privilege to the highest office in the land.”
Robert Kennedy, Jr., also has many concerns about the press and voters behaving irrationally. In an interview with “Planet” editor Tom Valtin, Kennedy calls the “Endless Negligence of Press” a “Top Threat to Democracy.” He says:
“The press is letting this president get away with policies without ground truth in them, and by that I mean the easily discernable lies of this White House on so many issues—from Medicare to the environment, the Iraq war to the budget. If we had an active, independent press that was willing to speak truth to power, the voters in this country would not be behaving irrationally. A democracy relies on an aggressive, independent press, and we no longer have that.”
If you’ve seen little media coverage of the Downing Street Memo and Eyes Only briefing, now you know why. Hopefully, if you’ve gotten this far in this post, you’ll want to click here to read Rep. Conyers’ letter and five questions and add your name as a co-signer.
Military families – indeed, all Americans – deserve answers to these questions.