$1000 Reward Offered For Bush Iraq Question
Democrats.com Offers $1,000 Reward to Any Reporter Who Will Ask Follow-Up Question to Bush
Democrats.com & afterdowningstreet.org
At a White House press conference on June 7, 2005, Steve Holland of Reuters asked President Bush and Prime Minister Blair the $1,000 question: (1)
"On Iraq, the so-called Downing Street Memo from July, 2002, says 'Intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of removing Saddam through military actions.' Is this an accurate reflection of what happened? Could both of you respond?"
The responses that first Blair and then Bush gave were widely reported by the White House press corps. But a new "White House Memo," reported in the British media on Feb. 2, 2006 (2), has now exposed both responses as lies.
Blair brushed aside, and Bush did not speak at all to, the first part of the question: that the "intelligence and facts" had been "fixed." (3)
Instead, Bush and Blair tried to rebut the second part of the question: that there was a " policy of removing Saddam through military actions " at the time of the Downing Street Memo on July 23, 2002 - 8 months before Bush and Blair actually invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003.
To rebut the existence of a plan for war in July 2002, Blair insisted their plan was to avoid war by resolving their concerns about Iraq peacefully through the United Nations Security Council. (4)
"[L]et me remind you that that memorandum was written before we then went to the United Nations. Now, no one knows more intimately the discussions that we were conducting as two countries at the time than me. And the fact is, we decided to go to the United Nations and went through that process, which resulted in the November, 2002, United Nations resolution to give a final chance to Saddam Hussein to comply with international law." (5)
Bush also chose the second part of the question - whether there was a "policy of removing Saddam through military actions" - and ignored the first part about the "intelligence and facts" being "fixed":
"And somebody said, Well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth. My conversations with the prime minister was how could we do this peacefully, what could we do. And this meeting, evidently it took place in London, happened before we even went to the United Nations — or I went to the United Nations. And so it's — look, both of us didn't want to use our military. Nobody wants to commit military into combat. That's the last option. (6)
"WHITE HOUSE MEMO" CONTRADICTS STATEMENTS FROM JUNE 2005
The new "White House Memo" records a meeting between Bush and Blair at the White House on January 31, 2003, in which Bush told Blair:
"The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway.'' (7)
This "White House Memo" proves Bush had decided to go to war long before March 18, 2003 - a direct contradiction of Bush's 2005 denial that " we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth."
Moreover, the "White House Memo" shows Bush and Blair were focused on manufacturing a justification for war, not on avoiding it. Bush was so desperate for war that he even tried to provoke Saddam to attack a fraudulent "U.N." plane.
"The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."
NEW $1,000 REWARD OFFERED
Based on Bush's previous lie, Democrats.com is now offering $1,000 to any reporter who will directly ask Bush this question:
"How can you claim you were trying to avoid war through the UN, when you told Prime Minister Blair on Jan. 31, 2003, that if you failed to get a resolution from the UN authorizing war, 'military action would follow anyway' - including a scheme to paint a U.S. spy plane in U.N. colors to provoke an Iraqi attack on the U.N. itself?
The following reporters were among those lied to by Bush and Blair last June. These are the ones who were good enough to cover the story, so be nice to them, but we hope they have a personal interest in asking a follow-up question to debunk the lies they were previously told directly by Bush and Blair:
Bumiller, New York Times
Froomkin, Washington Post
Mason, Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau
Memmott, USA TODAY
Milbank, Washington Post
Jefferson Morley, Washington Post
Riskind, Columbus Dispatch
Stockman, Boston Globe
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
(1) Holland said he never heard of the reward and did not claim it when it was offered to him.
(2) The memo was obtained by Philippe Sands and reported by the Guardian and Channel 4 (UK). See: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/whitehousememo
(3) While all pre-war claims by Bush and Blair about Iraqi WMD's and Al Qaeda ties have been proven false, Bush and Blair have refused to accept responsibility for promoting falsehoods, many of which (such as the Niger uranium hoax) were known to be false at the time by senior U.S. officials.
The Senate Intelligence Committee was supposed to investigate White House manipulation of intelligence more than a year ago, but Republicans led by chairman Pat Roberts have repeatedly blocked this investigation.
(4) Bush and Blair insisted they were trying to avoid war with Iraq for 8 months - right up to the day before the invasion began: http://thinkprogress.org/index.php?p=1042
(5) Blair then insisted that Saddam Hussein refused to comply with U.N. requirements - both destruction of WMD's and surprise inspections to verify such destruction - when of course Saddam Hussein complied fully with both requirements.
" He didn't do so. And that was the reason why we had to take military action. But, all the way through that period of time, we were trying to look for a way of managing to resolve this without conflict."
This lie - Saddam's alleged non-compliance with U.N. Resolution 1441 - was told by Bush and Blair when the invasion began, and has been repeated regularly by both men ever since. But this lie has never been challenged by reporters on either side of the Atlantic. Robert Parry of ConsortiumNews.com is the only reporter who has even addresses this shocking pattern of Bush's lies about Saddam's "defiance" of U.N. 1441.
(6) Just like Blair, Bush continued his answer by falsely claiming that Saddam failed to comply with U.N. Resolution 1441:
The consequences of committing the military are very difficult. You know, one of the hardest things I do as the president is to try to comfort families who've lost a loved one in combat. It's the last option that the president must have, and it's the last option I know my friend had as well. And so we worked hard to see if we could figure how to do this peacefully, to put a united front up to Saddam Hussein, so the world speaks. And he ignored the world. Remember, 1441 passed the Security Council unanimously. He made the decision. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power."
(7) Bush's arm-twisting and threats were not idle remarks. That same day, the NSA circulated an internal memo planning the bugging of UN Security Council members phones and email.
It makes clear that Bush and Blair were at that time very much aware that Resolution 1441 did not authorize war. Bush promised Blair he would do everything he could to get a second resolution that did authorize war.
(8) As new memos like this one surface it is worth remembering that Blair and members of his administration have claimed the Downing Street Memo gives a picture very different from the one we would have if we saw the full range of memos. This is from CNN on Nov. 6, 2005:
WOLF BLITZER: Your government was told, almost a year before the war, that this intelligence was being concocted.
UK DEFENCE MINISTER JOHN REID: No, they weren't, with great respect. You can produce one out of a thousand of memos that were flying about, which represented one person's view about one particular issue.