Back in May, when the Downing Street Memos first went public, I like many others thought; ” finally this is the watershed moment that will awaken the American people to the duplicitous actions that took this country into a war that has cost so much in blood and treasure.” In the weeks that followed the release, the netroots/ blog communities worked feverishly to force an apathetic press to take notice. Web sites like DSM sprung up, letter-writing campaigns were organized and daily updates posted on the progress to Awaken the Media.
Slowly but surely the media began to take notice, but the public seemed to turn a deaf ear. Having become accustomed to being lied to, even many hardened Bush opponents saw nothing new in the revelations, and “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers” could do nothing to persuade them any differently.
Out of frustration, I began discussing the situation with fellow Kossaks. We tied to figure out what it would take to finally force the public to come to its senses. Out of those discussions, I eventually met the people behind DSM.com and the “Misled into War: a Timeline” project was born.
(“Misled to War; a timeline” is a complete, searchable database of all the events, statements, news reports, military activity, and press releases dealing with the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. With well over 500 individual entries thus far, it is poised to become a one-stop resource for all information on the subject, and a valuable research tool for those interested in finding out just how the American people were bamboozled. And if I may say so ,it’s a very compelling read. But- this story has as much to do with what I learned from the experience of working on the project, as it does with the project itself.)
So it’s late May-Early June, and the blogosphere is all abuzz about the Downing Street Memo, Kossacks are writing diaries like mad, Conyers is starting his campaign to collect signatures, DowningStreetMemo.com is well on it’s way and Smintheus is in full swing with the “Awaken the Media” campaign. All of this activity is starting to have an effect and the media is taking notice. First in the op-eds, then the main pages and finally on TV. “This is great,” I think, “finally the truth will come out and the American people will wake up.” But as time went on, the fickle public and ever changing news cycles moved on to juicier, sexier stories, and the Memos seemed to slip from most people’s consciousness.
Around this time I started talking about the situation with fellow Kossack, Nydem25. We both felt that the public had become so immune to revelations of lying by this administration that it would take something more concrete to catch their attention. We finally reached the conclusion that if we could separate Bush’s deeds from his words, people might start to see the light. We decided to start looking at the actions taken by the Administration; funding, troop deployments, military contracts, base construction, covert actions, increased bombing in the NFZ and such. Figuring that making war on this scale is not something you throw together on the fly, there would be a trail leading back to it’s inception. To that end, we started to do research and put together a timeline and some diaries, and formed a working group we named IraqFact.
To make a long story short, the folks over at DowningStreetMemo.com had also started to look at ways to further the story and were working on their own timeline of statements, memos, press releases and news stories. They became aware of our work, and contacted us to see if we’d like to come on board their project. So began my little journey into the Bush administration’s heart of darkness.
After a few days of e-mails and introductions, the work on the database began. Each with his or her own area of specialty, we started working and the entries began to be logged in. Date, Title, Published, Source, Link, Summary, one after another, individual pieces of data, minutia by themselves, began to be entered into the database. After time these seemingly random events and words started to form a complete picture of an administration that had lost all moral bearing on an insane quest to take a nation to war.
Fueled by caffeine and the passion of zealots, the entries flew in day and night. Check a link, Google up a better source, enter…. Date, Title, Published, Source, Link, Summary, enter…over and over this same ritual was repeated by people you only knew through e-mail addresses and blog names. People with KOS names you knew like Ukiyo1, Topdog08 and Highacidity. People whose work you read and admired like Smintheus and Terre, each working towards a common goal. Every once in a while you’d pull up the master to see what the others were up to. Holy shit 100 entries, then 200, then 300…wow this is going to be cool. But then, sometime in the wee hours when you became too tired to trust your spelling or typing, it was time to just sit back and read the titles that had been entered so far.
“President vows to get Bin Laden Dead or Alive”, ” Special forces moved from Afghanistan to Iraq”, “Rumsfeld orders deployment of 35,00 more troops to gulf “, “Bush assures war only as last result”. One after the next the entries told a story. Not as individual facts, but more like the brushstrokes in an impressionist painting. When viewed at close range they’re nothing more than dots and squiggles, but step back, view the picture as a whole and the real subject appears. “Cheney’s Energy Task Force issues maps of Iraqi oil fields”, “Saddam tries to buy yellowcake from Niger.” This is what began to happen as the database took form. Events taking place thousand of miles apart, separated by time and space began to come together. “Bush signs increased funding for CIA” “Iraqi opposition groups begin weapons training in Texas”. “Tenet meets with Kurdish opposition”…. The picture became clearer with each new entry.
As of today I think we’re approaching the 550th entry. I don’t know how many more there will be, or how much longer it will take to finish this project, but I do know that when it’s completed, no rational thinking person could ever read this timeline and think that the Bush administration and it’s allies were nothing less than evil, manipulative liars who purposely squandered the lives of nearly 2000 young people on some personal quest for empire.
Cross- posted at: My Left Wing , Daily Kos