The memo is damning, as it reveals that the President was lying when he made public statement expressing a desire to avoid war, as he had already made the decision to invade Iraq, regardless of whether the UN approved, and regardless of whether or not any evidence of WMD's was obtained. The significance is obvious, yet, as Media Matters notes, the mainstream media has under reported the fact that what is revealed in the memo direcly contradicts the public statements that President Bush made about Iraq leading up to the invasion in March 2003.
What is most disturbing, to me, is the media's ambivalence towards the feeble response to this memo that has been put forth by the White House. Think Progress reports that Scott McClellan claimed in a press briefing the day of the Times story that the President's public and private statements about Iraq were "fully consistent"
This was a meeting that took place back in January of 2003. Even if I know exactly what was said in that meeting, I wouldn’t get into discussing private conversations between world leaders like this. Again, I reiterate to you: The comments that we are making publicly and privately are fully consistent with one another.As one can see from the Think Progress link, this is absurd. There is no way that the public and private statements of the President can be said to be consistent - the public and private statements of the President are in direct contradiction.
So we have a memo that reveals the President had privately determined to invade Iraq at a time when he was publically claiming that he was still undecided about an invasion and the only defense that the White House can offer is that being undecided about invading and decided about invading are consistent.
One should recall that in the first Downing Street memo the head of British intelligence, Richard Dearlove, reported to Prime Minister Blair upon returning from a July 2002 meeting with top American officials that:
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.The media ignored this as well, despite the startling implication.
In science there is a concept known as consilience which refers to the way multiple lines of inquiry converge to reveal a bit of knowledge. The more consilient the evidence is, the more confident we can be that what we believe is true. What this new memo does is increase the amount of consilient evidence we have that the administration presented a disengenous case for invading Iraq.
Other recent news stories which increase the consilient evidence of this conclusion are ex-CIA agents Paul Pillar's allegations that the intelligence on Iraq was cherry-picked and the National Journal revealing that Bush lied about intelligence on Iraq.
This is in addition to other such lines of evidence such as former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neal alleging that the decision to invade Iraq was predetermined and Bob Woodward revealing in his book Bush at War that plans for invading Iraq were begun shortly after the attack of 9/11, with Donald Rumsfield advocating an invasion of Iraq not because it had anything to do with al Qaeda, but because he thought it would be an easy invasion.
Were the press doing its job, the public would be presented with the narrative that is clearly emerging.