More than two weeks after its publication in London, a previously secret British government memorandum that reported in July 2002 that President Bush had decided to "remove Saddam, through military action" is still creating a stir among administration critics. They are portraying it as evidence that Mr. Bush was intent on war with Iraq earlier than the White House has acknowledged.
Eighty-nine House Democrats wrote to the White House to ask whether the memorandum, first disclosed by The Sunday Times on May 1, accurately reported the administration's thinking at the time, eight months before the American-led invasion. The letter, drafted by Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said the British memorandum of July 23, 2002, if accurate, "raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war as well as the integrity of your own administration."
And Mclellan's response?
The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, told reporters on Tuesday that the White House saw "no need" to respond to the Democratic letter. Current and former Bush administration officials have sought to minimize the significance of the memorandum, saying it is based on circumstantial observations and does not purport to be an authoritative account of American decision making.Might I remind Mr. Mclellan that the 89 Representatives who wrote that letter were democratically elected to represent the interest of the citizens of their districts. I would also remind him that in a democratic society the government is to be accountable to the people for its actions, so when members of Congress ask the President to address a document which questions the integrity of a war engaged in the name of the American people there most certainly is a need to respond.