News Release

Downing Street Memo: Deception and Cover-Up


On Thursday June 16, 2005, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Room HC-9 of the U.S. Capitol, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and other members of Congress will hold a hearing on the Downing Street Minutes and related evidence of White House efforts to cook the books on pre-war intelligence.

Later on the same day at 5:00 p.m. ET in Lafayette Square Park, in front of the White House, Congressman Conyers will deliver to the White House a letter addressed to President Bush and signed by over 500,000 Americans and over 90 members of Congress. The letter asks the President to respond to questions raised by the Downing Street Minutes.

Among those speaking at the hearings will be: Joe Wilson, former U.S. ambassador and WMD expert; Ray McGovern, 27-year CIA analyst who prepared regular presidential briefings during the Reagan administration; Cindy Sheehan, mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq; and John Bonifaz, co-founder of

The following are available for interviews:

Bonifaz and Swanson are two of the co-founders of the coalition which is urging Congress to begin a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. The Downing Street Memo consists of minutes of a meeting with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top foreign policy advisors in July 2002 before the U.S. Congressional and UN votes on Iraq. The minutes state that: “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.”
More Information
Video on the controversy

Available for a limited number of interviews, McGovern was a 27-year career analyst with the CIA. The Washington Post in its lead editorial today writes: “The memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration’s prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002.”

McGovern said today: “If the editors of The Washington Post knew that as of July, 2002, the President had, in the words of the Downing Street Memo, ‘inevitably’ decided on war, if they knew that the president intended to use as justification the conjunction between terrorism and so-called weapons of mass destruction, and if they knew that the intelligence and facts were being ‘fixed’ around the policy, then why didn’t they say that clearly at the time?”

Former director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis, Christison said today: “The Downing Street Memo shows that war was not a last resort as the administration continues to claim, but a first resort. While many of us came to that assessment before the invasion, the Memo fits in with other things we have found out since the invasion — like revelations by former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill that Bush and others wanted to go after Iraq from the start.”

As members of the steering committee for Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, McGovern and Christison were among the authors of the article “Cooking Intelligence for War,” which appeared just before the invasion of Iraq.
More Information
More Information

Wilson is author of the book The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity. He also wrote the New York Times op-ed in July 2003 titled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” in which he stated: “The question now is how that answer [the finding that Iraq did not obtain uranium from Niger] was or was not used by our political leadership. If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why). If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses.”

Wilson said today: “My question appears to have been answered by the Downing Street Memo: The administration was fixing the facts to fit the policy it wanted. It’s incorrect for anyone to state that this is old news since we supposedly all knew that Bush wanted war under any circumstances. Until the 2004 election a majority of Americans mistakenly thought we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”
More Information

Sheehan is co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. Her son Casey was killed in Iraq. She said today: “Members of Congress — whether they are Democrats or Republicans — should do the right thing. They have a Constitutional duty to investigate the facts surrounding the Downing Street Memo. They didn’t ask my son if he was a Democrat or Republican when he joined the military. These are life and death questions and should be treated that way.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167