Here's the timeline.
You can use this timeline to give yourself a better sense of what the documents linked on Raw Story are all about. Here I provide them, with dates of authorship:
March 8, 2002
Iraq Options Paper. This document lays out the basic options that the British perceived as being on the table WRT dealing with Iraq in March of 2002. Relevant quote:
A refusal [by Saddam] to admit UN inspectors, or their admission and subsequent likely frustration, which resulted in an appropriate finding by the Security Council, could provide the justification for military action.
March 14, 2002
The US Ambassador's report on a dinner he had with Condi Rice. Here David Manning, the UK Ambassador to the US, describes his feelings of trepidation, speculating with some prescience that the U.S. officials do not have a realistic picture of the difficulties inherent in an Iraq invasion. Relevant (chilling) quote:
I think there is a real risk that the Administration underestimates the difficulties. They may agree that failure isn't an option, but this does not mean they will avoid it.
March 18, 2002
Manning again, this time reporting on a conversation with Paul Wolfowitz. The document sheds further light on the fact, already known because of public statements Wolfowitz made in 2003, that Wolfowitz considered ridding Iraq of WMD to be largely a public relations invention, rather than a primary war aim. Relevant quote:
Wolfowitz said he fully agreed [that it would be necessary to marshal strong public opinion against Saddam]. He took a slightly different position from others in the Administration, who were focused on Saddam's capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction.
March 22, 2002
Previously cited Ricketts memo to Blair. I've already gone over this one in some detail in the post below.
March 25, 2002
Jack Straw's assessment of the case for war on Iraq. Here we see a skeptical foreign minister effectively telling Tony Blair and his intelligence people that they are unlikely to gain much new information by going to the ranch at Crawford. Relevant quote:
Regime change per se is no justification for military action; it could form part of the method of any strategy, but not a goal. Of course, we may want credibly to assert that regime change is an essential part of the strategy by which we have to achieve our ends- that of the elimination of Iraq's WMD capacity, but the latter has to be the goal...
July 21, 2002
Conditions for Military Action is a document produced by the UK Cabinet Office detailing the necessary conditions for a nominally legal invasion of Iraq. Key to the strategy, in the language of the March 18 memo on the Manning/Wolfowitz meeting, is the idea of "wrongfooting" Saddam by making inspection demands with which he could not comply. This strategy ultimately failed. Relevant quote:
It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject (because he is unwilling to accept unfettered access) and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the international community. However, failing that (or an Iraqi attack) we would be most unlikely to achieve a legal base for military action by January 2003.
July 23, 2002
The Downing Street Memo itself is actually Matthew Rycroft's minutes, prepared for Ambassador Manning, of Rycroft's meeting with Richard Dearlove, then head of MI6, and MI6 underling (later promoted to the top job) John Scarlett. In the document "C" refers to Dearlove. Other allusions that might be unfamiliar to American readers are CDS - Centre for Defense Studies (a parliamentary committee), and FCO/MOD - Foreign & Commonweath Office and Ministry of Defense (analagous to the State Dept and Department of Defense). Relevant quote:
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.
Now here's a fun project for all you sleuths out there in blogland - find some quotations from this period from Rice, Wolfowitz, or any other administration official and see how they stack up against what they were telling the British behind closed doors.