Congresswoman Waters Leading the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus Calls Attention to the 'Downing Street Memo'
Washington, DC - Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) announced the formation of the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus and co-hosted a hearing with other Members of Congress to call attention to the 'Downing Street Memo' which outlines the British government's belief that the Bush Administration had decided to go to war with Iraq as early as 2002 and that the Bush Administration was shaping intelligence to support the decision.
"This memo confirms what many of us already knew, the president was determined to go to war with Iraq no matter what the evidence told us," said Congresswoman Waters. "The President misled the American people about the threat that Iraq posed to the United States. The decision to go to war without unimpeachable evidence is shocking and dangerous. This war, which has cost more than 1,700 US service members their lives and more than $200 billion, could have been avoided."
Written on July 23, 2002, the 'Downing Street Memo' summarized a meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the British Defense Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General and other senior British officials eight months before the start of the war in Iraq.
The memo said, "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD). But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy .... There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."
The memo continued, "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."
Congresswoman Waters continued, "The war in Iraq has severely disrupted our efforts to bring those responsible for the 9-11 terrorist attacks to justice. Osama Bin Ladin and his terrorist network murdered 3,000 people on September 11th and yet we have only about 19,000 troops in Afghanistan trying to track him down. In Iraq, we have about 140,000 troops fighting and spending $5 billion a month to fight a war that has nothing to do with 9-11 and has not made us more secure."
Earlier this week, Congresswoman Waters formed the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus with Representative Lynn Woolsey, Representative John Conyers, Representative Charlie Rangel, Representative Barbara Lee, Representative Jan Schakowsky, and Representative William Delahunt. To date, the Caucus has forty-one members.
The "Out of Iraq" Caucus will coordinate anti-war activities of Congress, hold regular meetings to plan legislative and organizing strategies, organize press events, coordinate with national peace groups and work with families and veteran against the war.
Congresswoman Waters concluded, "The President has been misleading the American people for far too long. It is time to end our involvement in this illegitimate war. I urge the President to develop a plan to bring our troops home as soon as possible."