The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, November 06, 2003

The Democrat memo on Iraq intelligence: the text, and more...

The nice people at have - where more august organs of the press have not, so far as I can see [1] - provided us at last with a copy of the memo drafted by minority staffers on the Senate Intelligence Committee with suggestions for Democratic strategy on the Iraq intelligence issue [2].

For any searching for sensation in tone or content - or looking for juicy quotes for their blogs! - it will come as a disappointment: no colourful language, no indiscreet revelations - a tribute to the age in which nobody should write anything they would not be happy to hear read out in open court.

But it's political - wow! - and the sensitive souls of the GOP, already tenderised by the l├Ęse-Gipper of the now-desaparecido CBS Reagan miniseries are crying out No fair! to any hack that will listen.

And the hacks, perhaps starved of red meat just lately, seem happy to make a mountain out of a pretty anorexic molehill: even a phrase like
We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation at any time...
is regularly pulled out in press reports as an indication, it seems, of some noxious conspiracy to undermine Truth, Justice and the American Way!

Plenty of diapers needing changing on the Hill right now...

Anything of substance added by the text? There's a namecheck of the Corzine Amendment [3], which would have created an indecent commission to investigate Iraqi intelligence - the memo suggests that the Dems would
castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry
and they would
then be in a strong position to reopen the question of establishing
a Corzine-type commission.

The investigation they talk about pulling the trigger on would, however, not be by such a commission, but would be an investigation of the Senate Intelligence Committee duly authorised by the Vice-Chairman (Jay Rockefeller) in accordance with the Rules of the Committee - as discussed in my November 3 piece.

The memo suggests that the trigger be pulled next year, either after an interim report has been issued (with the Dems' minority report appended) or
Once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue...

And the Dem staffers seem to refer to an even lower-profile type of investigation that the Dems have already initiated:
In the meantime, even without a specifically authorized independent investigation [4], we continue to act independently when we encounter foot-dragging on the part of the majority. For example, the FBI Niger investigation was done solely at the request of the vice chairman; we have independently submitted written questions to DoD; and we are preparing further independent requests for information.

(I note that both the Times and WaPo pieces refer to a member of the minority staff: I suspect that, as for anonymous sources, there is a code being used here to which the Great Unwashed is not privy. Does it mean that a named individual has been identified as the author - because, for instance, he gave himself a byline in the memo? If his identity is known, why don't the hacks let him take a bow? Is it because they suspect that he was the one who leaked the memo? Or are they just surmising that the memo had only one author?)

Will there be further enlightenment from the Crusaders of the Fourth Estate? I'm not holding my breath.

  1. Today, neither the New York Times piece not the WaPo piece (from the lovely Dana Priest) link to a copy.

  2. The final sentence on the page ends abruptly thus:
    The approach outline above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives and
    No sign that the evident omission is deliberate.

  3. On the FAS site, there's an extract from the Congressional Record of July 16 with the debate on the Amendment (#1275 to HR 2658, defeated in Roll Call #284) introduced by Sen Jon Corzine (D-NJ), The FAS page on Congressional intelligence business is useful.

  4. The context indicates that the memo is referring here to an investigation made by the SIC, not under any Corzine Amendment-type commission, I think.

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