New Yorker staff writer and Berkeley professor Mark Danner has a new book exploring America’s scandalous indifference to the Downing Street Memo—the “smoking gun” that all but proves Bush was set on going to war in Iraq eight months before the actual invasion.
Journalist Mark Danner likes to tackle the tough subjects. He wrote one book about the illegitimacy of the 2000 election, and another about America’s use of torture. Now, in The Secret Way to War, Danner dissects the original government document that shows Bush and Blair concocted a phony rationale for invading Iraq. It’s there, in plain English, in the two and a half page Downing Street Memo: “... the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Although that memo came to light one year ago, the media and the American public are just beginning to come to grips with it. Mark Danner helps us understand what our leaders wanted to do, versus what they decided to tell the world. The question now is, what do we do with that knowledge?
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BuzzFlash: We are offering The Secret Way to War ? The Downing Street Memo and the Iraq War?s Buried History as a premium to our BuzzFlash readers. This book includes a series of articles you wrote for The New York Review of Books at a time that the issue of the Downing Street memo found no traction in the mainstream media. Why did you think the memo and its phrase about fixing intelligence to fit the policy were so important, but the mainstream media gave it such short shrift?
Mark Danner: I first read the memo on May 1st of 2005, after I read about it having been published in the Sunday London Times. I expected that the American press would cover it and publish it fairly quickly. A few days passed ? there was no interest whatever. I called up Robert Silvers, the co-editor of The New York Review of Books, and urged them to publish it. What is fascinating about the Downing Street memo, which is simply the record of a Cabinet meeting ? is that there?s nothing obscure about it. It?s just the minutes of a Cabinet meeting on July 23, 2002, held at 10 Downing Street, the British White House.
To me, the importance is that it confirms a number of things that we know anyway ? confirmation because it records what actually was said by the highest officials of the British government - the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, the Attorney General, and others, including the head of MI6, which is the British equivalent of the CIA. And because all of these officials are in very close touch with their American counterparts, the memo gives us a very clear picture of what?s going on, not only in the British government, but in the American government, in July of 2002, which is about eight months before the war against Iraq is actually launched.