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INSIDE TRACK ON WORLD NEWS
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis
THE DOWNING STREET MEMOCopyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2005
June 13, 2005
PARIS - Anyone who still believes all the Anglo-American propaganda about the Iraq invasion is now faced by deep disillusionment.
On July 2002, the head of MI-6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, briefed PM Tony Blair and his cabinet on US plans to attack Iraq. Leaked to the British media, the document has become infamous as the `Downing Street Memo.’
Sir Richard Dearlove (`Q’ to James Bond fans) reported that President George Bush had decided to invade oil-rich Iraq eight months later on March, 2003, in a war `to be justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy.’
Translation: the US and British governments would concoct false charges against Iraq to justify war. After Britain’s Attorney General warned unprovoked invasion of Iraq would violate international law, Dearlove noted with oily cynicism, `If the political context were right, people would support regime change.’ Translation: use propaganda and scare tactics to whip up war fever.
British and US intelligence agencies were ordered to produce `evidence’ to justify a war. In the US, faked `evidence’ and grotesque lies were fed to the frightened public by neoconservatives and a frenzied national media. The US Congress, supposedly an independent and equal arm of government, clapped for the war like trained seals in a circus.
In Oct 2002, President Bush actually claimed in a national speech that Iraqi drone aircraft were poised to shower germs and poison gas on America. The Iraqi `drones of death’ were supposedly being carried aboard Iraqi freighters lurking in the North Atlantic.
VP Dick Cheney insisted this absurd, comic book fantasy was `the smoking gun’ that justified invading Iraq.
The vice president, who more often than not resembles Dr. Strangelove in the wonderful film of that name, had the nerve this week to accuse Democrat Howard Dean of being `over the top’ for speaking the truth about American politics. What chutzpah. It is the rarely-seen Cheney, an equivalent of Shia Iran’s Hidden Imam, who has been over the top for a very long time.
Cheney’s wild claims about mushroom clouds and the absolute certainty of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq made him appear both highly irrational, even downright unstable – what the French term `un enragé.’
Bush, in his state of the Union speech, warned Iraq was importing uranium from Niger to build nuclear weapons aimed at the US. Bush’s ludicrous claim was based on a forged document created by a leading Israeli agent of influence in Washington who had played a major role in the Iran-Contra arms scandal during the Reagan Administration. The forgery was back-channeled to the Pentagon through neo-fascists in Italian military intelligence closely linked to the neoconservative network in the United States.
And so it went. Lie after lie. Scare upon scare. Fakery after fakery, trumpeted by the tame US media that came to resemble the lickspittle press of the old Soviet Union. Ironically, in the end, horrid Saddam Hussein turned out to be telling the truth all along while Bush and Blair were not.
MI-6’s smoking gun memo would have forced any of Europe’s democratic governments to resign in disgrace. But not Bush and Blair. Far from it. Though hounded over his Iraq lies by Britain’s media, Blair squeaked through a tight election only thanks to the pathetically inept opposition Conservatives, who also backed the Iraq war.
By contrast, US mass media amply confirmed charges of bias, politicization, and acting as government mouthpieces that are being leveled against it. The US media at first ignored the Downing Street memo, then grudgingly devoting a few low-key stories to the dramatic revelation. The cowardly White House press corps never dared raise the issue until a British journalist for Reuters committed lese majesté by asking the president about it. Such is the depths to which the US mainstream media has sunk.
At the same time, front-pages of major newspapers and TV broadcasts featured revelation about the identity of the Nixon era’s `Deep Throat’ leaker of secrets. He turned out to be part of a self-serving cabal of Nixon-haters rather than a selfless patriot as long believed.
In retrospect, President Nixon’s misdeeds appear minor compared to George Bush’s illegal, unnecessary and catastrophic war against Iraq that has so far killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans, cost US $275 billion(plus another $55 billion for Afghanistan), and made America’s name mud around the globe.
But as Nazi leader Herman Goering correctly observed, a government can get way with anything provided it scares its citizens enough.
France and Germany both knew from their own intelligence services that the Anglo-US accusations against Iraq were nonsense and that Saddam was no threat to anyone save his own miserable people. That is why they refused to join the war in spite of US threats and tempting offers of oil concessions in postwar Iraq. Britain, by contrast, readily accepted and joined in concocting justification for war – viz, the notorious `Dodgy Memo’ about Iraq from HM Government that turned out to be a pastiche of erroneous press reports and a plagiarized graduate thesis that was also dead wrong.
The US ordered its intelligence services to shut their eyes, toe the White House party line, and accept as genuine patently false reports about the Mideast from known disinformers and self-serving sources that wanted to see Iraq destroyed.
Two well-known crooks, Iranian Manuchar Gorbanifar and Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, both with close ties to Israel’s Mossad and the neocon network, became the principal source of lies about Iraq for the White House and US media, including the august New York Times.
But Bush and Blair were not the only dissemblers . Vice President Dick Cheney, CIA boss George Tenet, aka `Dr Yes,’ Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and other senior administration officials who tirelessly promoted falsehoods over Iraq and war fever were just as guilty of deceiving and misleading the American people and Congress.
The only Anglo-US official who can hold his head high over the sordid Iraq scandal is Britain’s former Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, who refused to be party to the Blair-Bush lies and resigned. No senior US official had the guts or ethics to follow Cook’s admirable example.
To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here
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