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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Did Kinsley Miss the Memo's Message?

June 15, 2005

In "The Left Gets a Memo," Commentary, June 12: Michael Kinsley minimizes the significance of the so-called Downing Street Memo concerning the timing of the decision to go to war in Iraq and the distortion of the related intelligence. He dismisses the memo because Robert Scheer had already told us the go-to-war policy was in place early, and the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Time magazine had issued similar opinions. So, in Kinsley's view, the Downing Street Memo was old news.

The aspect of the memo that Kinsley ignores is the significance of the source of its messages about the "fixing" of the intelligence around the policy and the lack of concern about the war's aftermath. That source was Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British foreign intelligence. He must be viewed as a high-level insider among the leaders of the two governments that initiated the Iraq war. He thus joins Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke as knowledgeable inside sources who have asserted that removal of Saddam Hussein by military means was adopted as policy far earlier than the administration would have us believe.

In contrast, Scheer and the various opinion editors do not qualify as high-level inside sources.

James K. Knowles

Sierra Madre

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Kinsley's pooh-poohing of the Downing Street Memo, along with his self-satisfied chuckles at the expense of the left, show him to be the most amiable of lap dogs. Of course, nothing in the Downing Street Memo is new; rather, it crystallizes the lying and arrogance as never before. The role of a free press is to maintain an informed public. The fact that the information about this perfidy has been available yet the public knows little about it is evidence of a massive failure to perform this role.

Kinsley's column is a good example of the media's cowardice, fence-sitting and wind-testing that has led to this sorry state of affairs.

Charles Berezin

Los Angeles

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In spite of the fact that you'd like to brush off those of us who want more investigation of the Downing Street Memo as freak liberal conspiracy theorists, the fact remains that further investigation could lead to written proof that President Bush lied about his reasons for going to war. Remember what proof of one lie led to in President Clinton's case? The death count in Iraq is now at 1,689, and that's just American soldiers. The count on Iraqis, innocent or otherwise, seems elusive.

Shame on the press for not being more aggressive on this issue. Your la-de-da, this-has-been-written-about-before attitude is exactly what's wrong with this picture. Whatever happened to investigative journalism?

Carine Fabius

Los Angeles

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