What Are the Downing Street Memos? :
The memos are named after 10 Downing Street, official home of the British Prime Minister, where the July 23, 2002 meeting was held.
What Was In the Downing Street Memos? :
"Bush wanted to remove Saddam, justified by...terrorism and WMD" and "...the intelligence and facts were being fixed around policy." It also observed that there was "little discussion...of the aftermath after military action."
Are the Downing Street Memos Authentic?:
The US press hesitated to report the May 1, 2005 leaking of these documents due to authenticity concerns. Of course, Dan Rather, former CBS anchor, suffered great embarrassment in 2004 when he reported on documents later found to be fraudulent. In mid June 2005, the Downing Street Memo disclosures became US headlines.
How and When Did the War in Iraq Start? :
In November 2002, the UN passed a resolution on the matter, but did not specifically authorize a US strike on Iraq. Instead, the UN continued to inspect for WMDs.
The US and Britain first attacked Iraq in March 2003.
Why Are the Downing Street Memos Important?:
As the world now knows, there were no WMDs in Iraq, and Saddam Hussein was not an imminent threat to the US or Great Britain. Thus, the reasons presented to Congress and UN for war were untrue.
What Have George Bush and Tony Blair Said About the Memos? :
President George Bush said at the same conference, "There's nothing further from the truth. Look, both of us didn't want to use our military. Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It's the last option."
Will Congress Investigate These Disclosures? :
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said that there is "no need" to respond to the letter.
On June 16, Conyers will hold an unofficial hearing into this matter. Unofficial because no Republicans will attend, and House Republicans refuse to schedule a formal hearing.
In late May, a coalition of veterans and activists launched AfterDowningStreet.org to urge Congress to investigate impeachable offenses related to the Iraq War. The group plans a protest rally on June 16 in front of the White House.
Can Bush Officials Be Impeached Over These Disclosures?:
The Five Questions Posed to President Bush in Congressional Letter:
1. Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked documents?
2. Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies. before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your administration obtain Britian's commitment to invade prior to this time?
3. Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war, as the minutes indicate?
4. At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
5. Was there a coordinated effort with the US intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?