The answer? DowningStreetMemo.com.
In response to U.S. media silence surrounding a pre-war memorandum leaked on the eve of the recent British elections, the foursome created a website referencing the memo written in the heart of British government, 10 Downing Street .
Authored by a foreign policy aide to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the memo is perhaps the most damning ammunition in the arsenal of those seeking to demonstrate that the decision to go to war in Iraq was fixed.
“Military action was now seen as inevitable,” Blair aide Matthew Rycroft penned in his account of a July, 2002 meeting. “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.”
Rycroft quoted Sir Richard Dearlove, director of British Intelligence, MI6.
This remark inspired the creators of DowningStreetMemo.com.
“The memo itself is very good in that in a few sentences it just summarizes the core of the problem,” DowningStreetMemo co-creator Bob Fesmire told RAW STORY. “It just lays bare the fact that we were misled, in very simple terms, and from a very credible source.”
Since the site’s creation the memo has been covered—albeit cursorily—by major American newspapers and cable television outlets. The site has four core founders: Georgia , a Chicago Law Student and Kos diarist; Mike, a Canadian civil servant; Gina, a California graphic designer; and her husband, Fesmire, who works as a communications manager for ADB. Others have also contributed research.
“The whole thing was germinated from a diary on [Daily] Kos written by Georgia ,” Fesmire said. “If you look at the diary, it’s a discussion about making a TV ad.”
Four hours later, a preliminary site was built.
“The whole thing came together very quickly, and the momentum has carried it forward,” Fesmire added.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman linked to the site in his May 16 column; MichaelMoore.com made it link of the week. It was recently covered by Fesmire’s local NBC affiliate.
More than 130,000 have visited the site since its May 13 inception.
“The primary purpose of the site is just to act as a resource,” Fesmire remarked. “While I think its fair to say that [the site] leans to the left, an effort was made to present the information in a way that would not push away people of any particular political stripe.”
“I think this issue transcends partisan politics,” he added. “It’s important to our democracy. To quote something from Georgia ’s original post, ‘If the media won’t report on it, we will take it directly to the viewers.’”
What stands out most about the memo to the site’s founders?
“I think that phrase, ‘But the intelligence was being fixed around the policy,’” Fesmire said. “The fact that the decision to go to war was made in the summer of 2002 and that everything that happened after that was really marketing.“
“I mean, we’re talking about taking a nation to war,” he added. “It’s mind-boggling how cavalier this administration has been about this whole thing.”
Fesmire asserted that the site’s creators are “realistic” in what they will be able accomplish, given that Republicans—who have shielded the president from serious inquiries about Iraq intelligence—control both chambers of Congress.
“I think that people could become informed; I would hope that the media would give it the credit that it’s due,” he said. “From there, a congressional hearing would be great. I think that would be a very therapeutic outcome.”
But at the very least, he said that the site—and the exposure given it by larger outlets—demonstrates the ability of a small group to influence the discourse of a nation.
“We may be separated physically, but the Internet and specifically Daily Kos allows us to meet people who are also concerned and in some cases take action,” he remarked. “This project is an example of how people who are thousands of miles apart can get something done. It speaks to the power of the Internet and blogs in particular.”
RAW STORY brought attention to the memo with a May 5 article detailing a letter signed by 89 House members calling on President Bush to answer questions about whether he misled the nation into Iraq (it was 88 at the time of our report).
“We have of course known for some time that subsequent to the invasion there have been a variety of varying reasons proffered to justify the invasion, particularly since the time it became evident that weapons of mass destruction would not be found,” the members, led by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), wrote. “This leaked document—essentially acknowledged by the Blair government—is the first confirmation that the rationales were shifting well before the invasion as well.”
According to the Sunday Times of London, Conyers is “considering sending a delegation to London to investigate Britain ’s role in preparations for the war in Iraq .”