Downing Street Memo forum to be held June 16th in response to petition of 500,000

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The "Downing Street memo" is the subject of a forum at the Washington Capitol complex today headed by Congressman John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee and televised on C-SPAN 3. Conyers said that "there was a secret decision well ahead of the authority Congress had given" and that as the Bush administration "was assuring Congress, they were secretly planning war."

The Downing Street Memo is the leaked minutes of a July, 2002 meeting in British prime minister Tony Blair's office which occurred eight months before the war in Iraq. The minutes say that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Gold Star Families for Peace is a group of families of Americans who were killed in Iraq. They also have been focusing on the British document and asking members of Congress to press for answers. The organization's leader, Cindy Sheehan, said the forum is "calling on Congress to do the right thing, to investigate the memo. I would hope that we would get an investigation going into the lies that lead our country into war and hold somebody accountable for those lies."

Schneider said the minutes imply that "The Bush administration had already decided to go to war before asking for a vote of Congress, before going to the United Nations. The question the memo raises is, did the United States and Britain go to the United Nations to avoid going to war or to justify going to war?"

At their June 7 press conference, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair were asked about the issues raised by the memo:

TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: But the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.