[Update] See “Put on Your Hairshirt and Repent,” BooMan’s latest analysis of the WaPo piece.

Oh, the timing. Tonight, at 8PM ET, Bush delivers his address to the nation, surely to be a patriot’s call to support the war. Today, the WaPo and Newsweek Int’l lead with this story.

On its side panel, there’s a WaPo list: “Top-secret British documents reveal provocative new information about the run-up to war in Iraq.” The document sub-headings are: “Documents from the Sunday Times of London,” and “Follow the debate about the Downing Street Memo” (and includes the Times‘s Michael Smith Q&A about which BooMan wrote).

From Memos, Insights Into Ally’s Doubts On Iraq War

British Advisers Foresaw Variety of Risks, Problems

By Glenn Frankel, Washington Post Foreign Service

Tuesday, June 28, 2005; Page A01

LONDON — In the spring of 2002, two weeks before British Prime Minister Tony Blair journeyed to Crawford, Tex., to meet with President Bush at his ranch about the escalating confrontation with Iraq, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sounded a prescient warning.

“The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few,” Straw wrote in a March 25 memo to Blair stamped “Secret and Personal.” “The risks are high, both for you and for the Government.” …

Will we remember this headline, and this day, as a turning point?

Will we diss Dana Milbank some more for his snotty “article” about the Conyers hearing on the DSM? (Oh yes, let’s.)

Amusingly, in today’s list of WaPo articles, just below the document list — and titled, “Follow the debate about the Downing Street Memo” — Dana Milbank’s June 17 story, “Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War ,” is not listed. (An analysis of how the WaPo ranked its own articles, and which it chose, may be in order.)

Related diaries:

  • DSM: Immediate Action Alert From Conyers – Catnip
  • Salvador Option: Death Squads in Iraq – Hal C
  • Iraq War Grief Daily Witness – RubDMC

More from the WaPo below:

In public, British officials were declaring their solidarity with the Bush administration’s calls for elimination of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. But Straw’s memo and seven other secret documents disclosed in recent months by British journalist Michael Smith together reveal a much different picture. Behind the scenes, British officials believed the U.S. administration was already committed to a war that they feared was ill-conceived and illegal and could lead to disaster.

The documents indicate that the officials foresaw a host of problems that later would haunt both governments — including thin intelligence about the nature of the Iraqi threat, weak public support for war and a lack of planning for the aftermath of military action. British cabinet ministers, Foreign Office diplomats, senior generals and intelligence service officials all weighed in with concerns and reservations. Yet they could not dissuade their counterparts in the Bush administration — nor, indeed, their own leader — from going forward.

“I think there is a real risk that the administration underestimates the difficulties,” David Manning, Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote to the prime minister on March 14, 2002, after he returned from meetings with Condoleezza Rice, then Bush’s national security adviser, and her staff. “They may agree that failure isn’t an option, but this does not mean they will necessarily avoid it.”


beyond the question of whether they constitute a so-called smoking gun of evidence against the White House, the memos offer an intriguing look at what the top officials of the United States’ chief ally were thinking, doing and fearing in the months before the war.

This article is based on those memos, supplemented by interviews with officials on both sides of the Atlantic — none of whom was willing to be cited by name because of the sensitivity of the issue — and written accounts. Spokesmen for the Foreign Office and the prime minister’s office declined to comment but did not question the authenticity of the documents. …

The article is quite long … I hope BooMan offers his needed insights today.

BooMan’s recent commentaries include “Fixing the Facts Around the Policy” and “Upping the Ante on Downing Street.”

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