kentbye's picture

The Post Analyzes the UK Path to War

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Today the Washington Post finally digs into what the DSM reveal about the UK's doubts about the path towards war.

I'm not sure if Jay Rosen's recent Pressthink pleas helped the Post decide to do a front page news analysis of the DSM, but it looks like there is a growing movement to reanalyze the build-up to war in Iraq -- which is good news for The Echo Chamber Project.

During the build-up, the US media largely ignored many of the controversial details of the proposed intervention that were coming in from the overseas press. But now that the war is becoming more and more of a political liability for our allies, we're starting to see a lot more dissent and leaks that are reintroducing a lot of questions about the purpose and intent of the war.

The Post distances itself from the "He Said / She Said" debate over the DSM documents by starting two paragraphs with allegations from both sides -- "Critics of the Bush administration contend" & "Supporters of the administration contend." The Post then discloses the intent of their article:

But beyond the question of whether they constitute a so-called smoking gun of evidence against the White House, the memos offer an intriguing look at what the top officials of the United States' chief ally were thinking, doing and fearing in the months before the war.

There was a lot of lively political discussion about the DSM over in the comments section of Rosen's post -- and in the last comment Rosen speculates

I think the Brits and getting them on board was a substitute United Nations for the Bush war planners & strategists. Bush was prepared to go without even the fig leaf of the UN. They figured that America plus one was coalition enough, and the British were the one.

I think Rosen's speculation is probably right, and that the historical record of US documents would bear this out if any of it is ever leaked or formally declassified. But there's already enough evidence for this by connecting the dots of the Bush Administration's rhetoric and behavior towards the UN leading up to the war...

Rosen also asks, "Put that way, how much choice did Tony Blair really have?"...

kentbye's picture

New Media Blogs Discuss Downing Street Memos

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A discussion of the Downing Street Memos has kicked up briefly in the New Media blogosphere after Jay Rosen's post on Sunday.

I thought I'd drop a few signposts from my daily blog surfing from this morning [my Internet connection went down delaying this post.]

All of these following posts have interesting discussions going on in their comment sections.

Dan Gillmor weighs in by excerpting the following passage from Russ Baker's Why Bush Went to War -- "Bush wanted a war so that he could build the political capital necessary to achieve his domestic agenda and become, in his mind, 'a great president."

Jeff Jarvis says that the Downing Street Memos aren't a big deal because everyone knows "the truth is that WMDs were never the real justification" and that this is all just "a scandal of bad PR."

Gillmor updates his post in response to Jarvis "What Jeff fails to note is that Congress would never have backed the war so fecklessly had the phony WMD issue been off the table..."

kentbye's picture

Why US Media Ignores International Law Insights from Downing Street Memos

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Jay Rosen's latest essay deals with why the Downing Street memos weren't originally covered by the US media, and quotes Josh Marshall as saying, "New stories have a 24 hour audition on the news stage, and if they don’t catch fire in that 24 hours, there’s no second chance."

But now with the Internet, the attention span of news editors have been extended by Internet Activism and political blogs. Rosen says that "when the second look was taken, some key editors judged themselves at fault" and concludes that this is "called winning on appeal."

There are many other stories that have broken over in Britain both before the war and after the war that have failed to break through the US media bubble, and deserve a second look and "appeal" to US editors and investigative journalists.

The US bureau chief of the Guardian of London Julian Borger describes the myopia of the US media in an interview with the Echo Chamber Project:

If a story breaks abroad, especially in Britain, and the American press haven't got there, the instinctive reaction is, "Well, Ah. Those Brits -- Who knows if it's true?" And there's almost more of a tendency to ignore the story rather than even to check it out. And I found that again and again. If a story breaks in Britain, there's almost the automatic reaction is "Ah. It's the British press. It's tabloid. It's sensational" -- which is justified in many, many instances. The tabloid press and some of the broadsheet press in Britain can be fairly wild, and a lot of unsubstantiated stories get out. But on top of that instinctive reaction of "Well, it must be sensational because it was in the British press" is a reluctance to check it out properly. Or an over-readiness to accept assurances from the institutions -- the White House, whatever -- that although -- "There's nothing to the story. It's just a British story. Ignore it." There's a lack of -- almost a lack of hunger when it comes to stories that question the Administration's position. Until, that is, the Administration was so weakened by the failure of any WMD to appear. There was almost a turning of tides sometime last year, in 2003, when you suddenly saw a greater readiness to go over these stories. It was like the herd changing direction. It was very visible.

The tide seems to be shifting again with the Downing Street Memos because they provide documentary evidence for theories about the justifications and true motivations for the war that have long been suspected but never confirmed by primary sources or documents.

Almost all of the focus in the US media up to this point has been on the question of WMD and the intelligence around it, but this is only half of the story of how the Bush Administration sold this war. The other half has to do with how they used the UN as a legal pretext for going war, and the documentary evidence has started to pour out of the UK press like a sieve.

Yesterday The London Times published yet another "Downing Street" memo -- legal advice that goes through all of the options that the United Nations could be used as a pretext for going to war in Iraq -- the Associated Press actually published the same document in PDF on Saturday.

What is clear is that the United Kingdom cares about the normative standards of International Law while the United States could care less about what the rest of the world thinks.

There are new revelations regarding the United States' controversial positions on International Law in this latest memo, but since there has never been a news peg for Iraq and International Law in the United States up to this point, then this latest memo will be inevitably be completely ignored by the US media.

But there are some revealing insights that confirm that the UK had many of the same doubts that academics have had about the legality of the war

What does this legal document transcribed by the The London Times and published in full by the Associated Press reveal about the United States and International Law?

kentbye's picture

A Flood of Downing Street E-mail Alerts

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I've been flooded this week with e-mail notices about the upcoming Downing Street Memo Congressional hearings being held tomorrow initiated by Representative John Conyers (D-MI).

I think it's interesting to watch how these progressive grassroots organizations have helped keep this issue alive through the Internet. I'll pass along all of these e-mails for you to read through down below.

I used to consume about 90 minutes of political news a day, but I've parsed that down to about 10 minutes of scanning headlines per day with the rest of my 30 minutes of spent surfing blogs covering the New Media movement.

I pick up the slack by scanning the titles of e-mails that I'm sent by a number e-mail lists (mostly progressive but a few conservative).

If more opposition Congressmen and Senators pick up on this, then this story could have legs -- especially if more documentary evidence or testimony turns up tomorrow. Otherwise this story will have a hard time breaking out of progressive anti-war circles and into the mainstream consciousness.

I personally think the Downing Street documents contain some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence that the Bush Administration never took the United Nations weapons inspection process seriously. It reinforces the hypothesis that the US only went through the UN because Tony Blair's demanded it as one of two conditions for being a part of the Coalition of the Willing -- (the other being a concrete plan for Israel & Palestine).

The UK takes International Law seriously, and the US political establishment and therefore media don't think it's all that important. But these latest memos have helped introduce these International Law issues into the US media bubble where they have been almost universally ignored leading up to the war and up to the present moment.

After the Congressional resolution passed in early October 2002, war was seen as inevitable by the US media and the inconsistencies in the Bush administration's arguments presented at the UN and the ones presented at home were largely overlooked by a myopic US media.

A more detailed overview is here and here are all of my blog postings tagged International Law.

Plenty more about the latest Downing Street developments can be found in the flood e-mails listed below...

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