Downing Street Memo hearings at 2:30 Eastern, on C-SPAN3: The Empire gets thwacked

Can't keep my eyes from the circling sky: The Democrats' hearings on the Downing Street Memo and the distortion of pre-war intelligence will happen at the Capitol at 2:30 Eastern time Thursday afternoon. I really hope they spring some new documents, wouldn't that be fantastic? John Conyers, "A Busy Day Today, and an Important and Historical Day Tomorrow" [Thurs]:

The pace will not let up tomorrow either. At 9am [all times Eastern], I will be on C-Span’s Washington Journal for a half hour. Shortly after 10, I will be appearing on Stephanie Miller’s show to break some news I am very excited about. Finally, at a time to be determined, I will appear on the Al Franken Show at 12:15pm.

For those commenters who were concerned (or hoping) that there would be a media blackout of the forum, that will not be the case. I have every major network, other than Fox, bringing cameras to the hearing. Nightline is taping the event, which I think represents a welcome development from a well respected investigative program. In addition, C-Span 3 and Radio Pacifica are carrying it live.

Member interest in the hearing has been stellar and participation is expected to be very high. My friends Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters, Chris Van Hollen, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Sheila Jackson Lee, Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott, Lynn Woolsey, Major Owens, barney Frank, Cynthia McKinney, Corrine Brown, Jay Inslee, and Charlie Rangel are all likely to attend. A number of other Members are attempting to adjust their schedules to attend as well.

Following the hearing, I will personally deliver a letter with stacks and stacks of signatures to the White House. This is the culmination of all of your efforts and I hope Thursday makes you very proud. I also hope at the end of the day tomorrow, we will all feel that the truth has begun to be known by more and more Americans and that we are all re-invigorated to do the critical work that comes next.

the C-Span entry is a peach:

Conyers, John Jr., U.S. Representative, D-MIBonifaz, John C., Founder, National Voting Rights InstituteWilson, Joseph, Deputy Chief of Mission (1988-91), IraqMcGovern, Ray, Member, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for SanitySheehan, Cindy, Mother [of 9-11 victim]

Rep. John Conyers, Jr., and other Democrats hold a public meeting concerning the "Downing Street Memo" and pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

On May 1, 2005 a Sunday London Times article disclosed the details of a classified memo, also known as the "Downing Street Minutes", recounting the minutes of a July 2002 meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair with his advisers that depicted an American president already committed to going to war in the summer of 2002, despite contrary assertions to the public and the Congress. The minutes also described apparent efforts by Bush administration officials to manipulate intelligence data in order to justify the war to the international community.

Rep. Conyers is also going to be on C-SPAN's call in show "Washington Journal" at 9 AM Eastern., a pretty good spot these days, (earlier story) has the press release:


WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Thursday June 16, 2005, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of House Judiciary Committee, and other Democratic Members will hold a Democratic hearing to hear testimony concerning the Downing Street Minutes and the efforts to cook the books on pre-war intelligence.

On May 1, 2005 a Sunday London Times article disclosed the details of a classified memo, also known as the Downing Street Minutes, recounting the minutes of a July 2002 meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair that describes an American President already committed to going to war in the summer of 2002, despite contrary assertions to the public and the Congress. The minutes also describe apparent efforts by the Administration to manipulate intelligence data to justify the war. The June 16th hearing will attempt to answer the serious constitutional questions raised by these revelations and will further investigate the Administration's actions in the lead up to war with new documents [OOH?!!] that further corroborate the Downing Street memo.

Directly following the hearing, Rep. Conyers, Members of Congress, and concerned citizens plan to hand deliver to the White House the petition and signatures of over a half million Americans that have joined Rep. Conyers in demanding that President Bush answer questions about his secret plan for the Iraq war.

WHAT: Democratic hearing on Downing Street Minutes and Pre-war intelligence

WHEN: Thursday, June 16, 2005, 2:30pm

WHERE: HC-9 The Capitol

(Overflow Room - 430 S. Capitol Street, The Wasserman Room)

WITNESSES: Joe Wilson, Former Ambassador and WMD Expert, Ray McGovern, 27-year CIA analyst who prepared regular Presidential briefings during the Reagan administration, Cindy Sheehan, mother of fallen American soldier, John Bonifaz, constitutional lawyer

It is nice that they're going to deliver the petition. I signed it. Maybe if you do, you might get somewhere in that pile of 500,000 people for intelligence sanity... Raw Story also has a nice timeline about how the War started, with what I assume is a newly labeled section about "fixing the intelligence" in 2002. Also a pretty god damned sweet PDF collection of British government documents.

The LA Times also totally harshed their mellow. Kerry is going to finally make a statement about it. There's also a jolly good editorial from the Star Tribune called "Fig Leaf for war/Paper indicates UN was misled".

...more important [that the Pentagon's lack of postwar planning] is the use of the United Nations to fashion a rationale for war. The British briefing paper says that when Blair met Bush at his ranch in Texas, in April 2002, Blair said "the UK would support military action to bring about regime change...." But in order to do that, the paper continues, it "is necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action."

The paper goes on to explain that "Regime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law." But it would be lawful if "authorized by the U.N. Security Council." It goes on to say that this is the preferable route, provided the Security Council does not allow the weapons-inspections process to continue indefinitely.

This is where the plot really thickens. Perhaps readers will recall that Bush's nominee for U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, recently was accused of orchestrating the 2002 ouster of Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, a U.N. agency. Why did Bolton want Bustani replaced? Because Bustani was aggressively seeking to reinsert chemical weapons inspectors into Iraq. The conclusion of many observers is that the United States did not want inspectors in Iraq because it undercut the U.S. case for an invasion.

Many Bush critics accused him of "using" the United Nations to justify war, rather than truly working to avoid military conflict. But they were naturally suspect because they oppose U.S. policy. The British briefing paper is especially significant because it comes from a government that is not only astute, but is also quite friendly to Bush's objective of invading Iraq. The unavoidable conclusion is that both British and American citizens were duped into hoping that the United Nations would make such a conflict unnecessary. In fact, Britain eagerly and the United States reluctantly went to the United Nations to get a fig leaf of respectability for a war on which they had already decided.

In the end, the Security Council refused to play its role, arguing that the weapons inspectors needed more time (actually ample time) to complete their mission. Then the United States threw up its hands, branded Security Council members a bunch of hand-wringing pansies, and went to war. As the British briefing paper makes clear, that was pre-ordained.

It makes me happy when the Strib seems to Get It, and their ombuds[wo]man's perspective on why it took the Strib so long to talk about the Downing Street Memo struck me as a forthright admission of how newsrooms wait around to get their cues from wire services like the AP, which has been criticized for failing to write anything at all about the story. It was also great to hear Juan Cole about how bloggers managed to pressure the corporate media into finally starting to explain how they helped co-opt public opinion with the bad intel. Awkward!

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