Saturday, June 04, 2005

Follow the Memo
Arianna Huffington: Follow the Memo: Can Redford and Hoffman Play the Entire Blogosphere in the Downing Street Memo Movie?

In his otherwise terrific insider’s take on the Deep Throat story, former Washington Post editor and columnist Bob Levey says that the "next Watergate" won’t happen without "Big Journalism." I couldn’t disagree more. It will happen in spite of Big Journo... and because of the "little journalism" of the blogosphere.

Take the biggest under-reported story of the moment (at least in America): what the Downing Street Memo reveals about the Bush administration and how it led us into the Iraq war.

For those of you not up on the details -- and considering the woeful lack of coverage in the American mainstream media, who can blame you? -- the Downing Street Memo, disclosed by The Sunday Times of London, details a secret meeting on July 23rd, 2002 -- eight months before the invasion of Iraq -- at 10 Downing Street between Tony Blair and Richard Dearlove, the head of MI-6, who, just back from Washington, reported that Bush was determined to go to war. Here is the money quote from the memo:

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. [Bush's National Security Council] had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

It is, in short, as close to a smoking gun as you are going to find (a lot closer than the Bushies ever found on Saddam).

Big story, right? Possibly impeach the president big. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the bastions of Big Journalism. No, they are too consumed with the Jackson trial, the runaway bride, endless discussions over whether Mark Felt is a hero or a traitor, and whether Tom and Katie are more in love than Brad and Angelina.

So far, no mainstream media Woodward and Bernstein have taken up the charge of asking the grave questions raised by the Downing Street Memo. Luckily, the story is being kept alive by a small but growing number of bloggers and activist websites. They include After Downing Street, which describes itself as "a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups, which launched on May 26, 2005, a campaign to urge the U.S. Congress to begin a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war."

There's also, a clearinghouse for all things Downing Street, with an action center designed to force the mainstream media to do their jobs and investigate whether the invasion wasn’t a result of bad intelligence, but, as the memo suggests, the result of premeditated lies.

Also doing yeoman’s work on the issue is Rep. John Conyers, who besides being a Huffington Post blogger is also the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. Conyers devotes much of his website to the memo -- especially the letter he and 88 other Congressmen sent to President Bush thirty days ago demanding that the president address the "serious ramifications for the integrity of the United States Government" the memo raises.

The present-day mainstream press seems about as frail now as the present-day Mark Felt. We can only hope that if a Deep Throat emerges on Iraq, he will have the good sense to get in touch with a blogger.