Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 16, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

FIXED....Via Atrios, the Washington Post has an online conversation today with Michael Smith, the London Times reporter who originally published the leaked Downing Street Memos. Here, he responds to a questioner who wants to know if there's any ambiguity about the meaing of "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy":

This is a real joke. I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence. If you fix something, you make it the way you want it. The intelligence was fixed and as for the reports that said this was one British official. Pleeeaaassee! This was the head of MI6. How much authority do you want the man to have? He has just been to Washington, he has just talked to George Tenet. He said the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. That translates in clearer terms as the intelligence was being cooked to match what the administration wanted it to say to justify invading Iraq. Fixed means the same here as it does there.

Administration apologists have done yeoman work suggesting that (a) "fixed" doesn't mean what you think it means and (b) the head of MI6 was just shooting the breeze with the PM based on conversations with DC taxi drivers anyway. These are both obviously ridiculous. "Fixed" means exactly what you think it means, and the observations in the memo were based on conversations with extremely high level American officials.

And don't forget: the memos also make it plain that Bush was deliberately timing the war to coincide with midterm elections. And that postwar planning was abysmal. And that democracy promotion was really not something the Bushies cared much about. It's true that a lot of people had guessed much of this even at the time, but you'd think the editorial boards of the nation's newspapers would be just a wee bit more interested than they are by finding documentary proof for it.

After all, suppose someone dug up a memo from Winston Churchill that said "Spoke to FDR. Asks patience. Says Japs targeting PH. Will join us after that." Do you think that might spark some lively debate in newsrooms across the country? Or would editors scratch their beards and suggest that "PH" might mean something different to those inscrutable Brits than it does to us?

Kevin Drum 2:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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