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The Second Memo

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By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, June 13, 2005; 4:00 PM

A second British memo from 2002 emerged over the weekend chronicling how senior officials there saw the Bush administration as bent on war in Iraq and inattentive to postwar consequences.

Just last week, the MSM (that's mainstream media) turned its attention to the first DSM (that's Downing Street Memo) in earnest. (See my June 8 column for background.)

The new memo (can we call it DSM-II?) comes at a particularly bad time for Bush, as polls show that public sentiment is turning sharply against the war.

Whether you read the memos as a reminder of how the Bush administration was relentless in its drive to confront Saddam Hussein -- or whether you read them as evidence of cynical, deliberate and misguided manipulation -- the White House would much rather you weren't thinking about Iraq at all this week--it is focusing public attention on domestic issues instead.

About the Memo

Walter Pincus writes on the front page of Sunday's Washington Post: "A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a 'protracted and costly' postwar occupation of that country.

"The eight-page memo, written in advance of a July 23, 2002, Downing Street meeting on Iraq, provides new insights into how senior British officials saw a Bush administration decision to go to war as inevitable, and realized more clearly than their American counterparts the potential for the post-invasion instability that continues to plague Iraq. .....

"The July 21 memo was produced by Blair's staff in preparation for a meeting with his national security team two days later that has become controversial on both sides of the Atlantic since last month's disclosure of official notes summarizing the session."

The Sunday Times, as with the first DSM, Web-published the memo.

Reuters notes the official reaction: "The White House said on Sunday there was 'significant' postwar planning for Iraq and disputed the characterization of a memo produced for British Prime Minister Tony Blair eight months before the invasion that expressed concerns about a long occupation. .....

".'There was significant postwar planning,' David Almacy, a White House spokesman, said.

".'More importantly, the memo in question was written eight months before the war began -- there was significant postwar planning in the time that elapsed,' he said."

Michael Smith writes in the Sunday Times of London: "Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.


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