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'Downing Street memo'

From Brian Todd
CNN

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Wolf Blitzer Reports
White House
Great Britain
Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Nearly three years after it was written, the "Downing Street memo" on pre-war intelligence on Iraq is spotlighted in the U.S. Congress, with one man leading the charge.

"Many of us find it unacceptable to put our brave men and women in harm's way, based on false information," says Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, who's pestering the Bush administration for answers about the memo.

Conyers called four known critics of the Bush administration's war record to a meeting, including former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who was at the center of the pre-war intelligence debate.

"It is increasingly clear that the intelligence and the facts were indeed fixed around the policy, and we sent our troops to war under dubious pretenses," Wilson said, referring to a meeting between British Prime Minister Blair and his security team in July, 2002, before the White House began making its public case for the Iraq war.

Minutes of that meeting -- first reported last month by the Times of London newspaper -- were written by the head of British intelligence:

"Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy."

Contacted again by CNN, an official in Blair's office doesn't dispute reports of that meeting.

But the prime minister and the president have responded to the charge of a pre-conceived plan for war.

"The facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all," Prime Minister Blair said at a joint news conference with President Bush on June 7.

"Somebody said, 'Well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing further from the truth,'" said Bush.

But the White House still hasn't responded to a letter sent last month from Conyers, seeking answers about the Downing Street memo.

CNN questioned White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who said, "This is an individual who voted against the war in the first place and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed."

Rehash or not, Conyers is pounding on the White House door, backed up by people like Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed last year in Baghdad.

"The deceptions and betrayals that led to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq cost my family a price too dear to pay and almost too much to bear, the loss of my boy Casey," Sheehan said at Conyers' hearing Thursday.


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