posted on Jun, 12 2005 @ 09:22 PM
Full Text of the Downing Street Memo
SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally
Morgan, Alastair Campbell
IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY
Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.
This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its
John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to
overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not
convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army
morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted
to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around
the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little
discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad US options were:
(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of
90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).
(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60
days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.
The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were
also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:
(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.
(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.
(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been
taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military
action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than
that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also
help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases:
self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of
three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change
and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran.
If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had
the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.
On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that
Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK
interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the
ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.
John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.
The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many
in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to
(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we
could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.
(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.
(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.
(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.
(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.
(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.
(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)
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Updated news on the memo and related stories.
ATS Discussion: Bush in hot hot water over the Downing Street memo, its about time!
"Well it looks like there is going to be some explaining to do from the Bush Administration finally about the Downing Street memo and I must say it
is about time. Its been all over the internet for weeks and very ittle in the mainstream news and finally they are calling for some answers. Kerry is
already catching the devil from the repubican pundits over saying he is going to raise the issue on the memo. Can anyone say impeachment? Sing it
"The Downing Street "Memo" is actually a document containing meeting minutes transcribed during the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23,
2002—a full eight months PRIOR to the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. The Times of London printed the text of this document on Sunday, May 1,
2005, but to date US media coverage has been limited. This site is intended to act as a resource for anyone who wants to understand the facts revealed
in this document."
The secret Downing Street memo
The original publication on May 1st, 2005 of the leaked memo.
The Downing Street Memo Story Won't Die
"More than a month after its publication, the so-called Downing Street Memo remains among the top 10 most viewed articles on The Times of London
It's not hard to see why this remarkable document, published in The Times on May 1 (and reported in this column on May 3), continues to attract
reader interest around the world, especially with British Prime Minister Tony Blair visiting Washington Tuesday."
The "Downing Street memo", sometimes described as the "smoking gun memo", is a document obtained from an undisclosed source that contains the
minutes taken during a meeting among United Kingdom government and defense and intelligence figures on 23 July 2002 discussing the build-up to the
2003 Iraq War.
Why has 'Downing Street memo' story been a 'dud' in US?
There may have been a point at which the US news media would have been all over a story about a British official's report that the Bush
administration appeared intent on invading Iraq long before it sought Congress' approval – and that it "fixed" intelligence to fit its
But May 2005 is apparently way past that point.