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MICHAEL SMITH IN LA TIMES The Downing Street Memos

by GraceReid Thu Jun 23rd, 2005 at 08:12:59 AM EST

The Real News in the Downing Street Memos

Los Angeles Times
By Michael Smith

Michael Smith writes on defense issues for the Sunday Times of London.

June 23, 2005

It is now nine months since I obtained the first of the "Downing Street memos," thrust into my hand by someone who asked me to meet him in a quiet watering hole in London for what I imagined would just be a friendly drink.

At the time, I was defense correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph, and a staunch supporter of the decision to oust Saddam Hussein. The source was a friend. He'd given me a few stories before but nothing nearly as interesting as this.
The six leaked documents I took away with me that night were to change completely my opinion of the decision to go to war and the honesty of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush.

They focused on the period leading up to the Crawford, Texas, summit between Blair and Bush in early April 2002, and were most striking for the way in which British officials warned the prime minister, with remarkable prescience, what a mess post-war Iraq would become. Even by the cynical standards of realpolitik, the decision to overrule this expert advice seemed to be criminal.

The second batch of leaks arrived in the middle of this year's British general election, by which time I was writing for a different newspaper, the Sunday Times. These documents, which came from a different source, related to a crucial meeting of Blair's war Cabinet on July 23, 2002. The timing of the leak was significant, with Blair clearly in electoral difficulties because of an unpopular war."



Welcome to America, Mr. Smith,

Consistently, for the last 3 years on his work with the Telegraph and with the TimesOnLine, Michael Smith has been the pre-eminent journalist on the subject of the illegal war in Iraq.

One could do no better than to spend several days reading Michael Smith like one would read a history book, as his information, his view and his analysis are not to be found ANYWHERE in the US media.

Why is this? Because US journalists were told not to report certain news, and if they did, only to report it with a certain slant.

I am delighted that more attention is being paid to Michael Smith in the US media, and that the public has more of a chance to get their information from so reliable a source.

However, it is more important now to demand that US media start toeing the line. The Washington Post and the New York Times were excellent in their coverage of the torture memos. But on the memos documenting the illegality of the war in Iraq, almost silent. And when they made a little noise it was only because the informed public put pressure on Michael Getler, ombudsman of the Washington Post, and Byron Calame, Public Editor of the New York Times.

I am not exaggerating when I say that there is a media blackout on the subject of the illegal war in Iraq. The last time those words were used in the US media is when Kofi Annan stated plainly, "The war in Iraq is illegal"

All of the articles we are now reading in relation to the Downing Street Documents are about nothing if not the maneuverings to make an illegal war seem legal. And yet, still, 90 days after the airing of the BBC programme, "Tony: Iraq & The Truth" we are still battling every day to get the media NOT JUST to pay attention to the subject but TO REPORT THOROUGHLY AND ACCURATELY.

I am glad that Michael Smith has crossed the ocean. I do not hope that he becomes a US journalist, because their fates are not to be envied. But I hope he continues to write for the LA Times and other major US newspapers. He might keep some of our journalists in the US informed; and he will raise the bar so high for standards in news writing that we may yet read some news that is accurate, fair and thorough about the war in Iraq.

Well, Michael, I guess you have found your reader base. Welcome to America !

June 23, 2005 14:58 GMT

Grace's Note: The opinions expressed in the above letter are mine alone. The spelling mistakes belong to me, too. The graphics and layout are mine as well, an adaptation of the first X Files "Deep Throat" issue.

michael smith is my ideal please fill my tip jar so i can go back to college to study journalism, history and law. maybe some US journalists will start getting to work. i hope so.
by GraceReid on Thu Jun 23rd, 2005 at 08:16:22 AM EST
..today... just moments ago..

Cheney on CNN

by zander on Thu Jun 23rd, 2005 at 02:31:32 PM EST

With Love From John & Yoko, Christmas 1974
by GraceReid on Thu Jun 23rd, 2005 at 03:19:03 PM EST
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