From Downing Street to Minneapolis

The Star Tribune isn't exactly the Washington Post, but those of you still waiting for the mainstream media to dive into the Downing Street memo can take some solace in the fact that the newspaper from Minneapolis and St. Paul has done so -- and with an editorial timed to coincide with Memorial Day, no less.

In an editorial entitled "Memorial Day: Praise bravery, seek forgiveness," the Star Tribune ties it all together: The American public, the paper says, has failed its fallen soldiers by allowing the Bush administration to spend "their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns" about Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction. "President Bush and those around him lied," the Star Tribune says, "and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes."

At the centerpiece of the paper's case? That memo from 2002. "At a time when the White House was saying it had 'no plans' for an invasion, the British document says [Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service,] reported that there had been a 'perceptible shift in attitude' in Washington. 'Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The ]National Security Council] had no patience with the U.N. route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.'

"It turns out," the Star Tribune says, "that former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill were right. Both have been pilloried for writing that by summer 2002 Bush had already decided to invade."

Both men, it now seems, were right.

The Star Tribune will surely be taking flak for its editorial -- especially for its timing, on a holiday when unquestioning allegiance to the military cause seems to be the order of the day. But the paper says it's exactly the right time to make its point: "As this bloody month of car bombs and American deaths -- the most since January -- comes to a close, as we gather in groups small and large to honor our war dead, let us all sing of their bravery and sacrifice. But let us also ask their forgiveness for sending them to a war that should never have happened. In the 1960s it was Vietnam. Today it is Iraq. Let us resolve to never, ever make this mistake again. Our young people are simply too precious."

Update: The Boston Globe devotes some ink to the Downing Street memo this morning, too, in the form of an op-ed piece by Ralph Nader and Kevin Zeese. Their conclusion: It's time to start talking about impeachment. [see post on this blog from Boston Globe]

-- Tim Grieve

[09:17 EDT, May 31, 2005]

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