Again, we're focusing on the evidence that "disarming" Saddam Hussein's Iraq of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons was never a primary war aim of the Bush administration, only a convenient excuse for a war they wanted for other reasons.
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.
Once again we see that contrary to revisionist histories spun by the White House (and, to a great degree, the press), the US never wanted to send inspectors into Iraq. The totality of the Downing Street disclosures make it much more clear why this rift developed between the US and UK - MI6 believed sincerely that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. It is not at all clear that the CIA belived this; in fact the evidence strongly suggests that the majority view in the Company was that Iraq's WMD capability was negligible.
The Bush administration should be asked now - Why was the US resistant to sending weapons inspectors to Iraq, if the aim of the war was to rid Iraq of banned weapons?