John Conyers, the veteran Democratic congressman from Michigan, is getting a lot of attention lately for his persistent questioning of the Bush administration, particularly on the Downing Street Memo ("DSM"). Conyers has been writing letter after letter on issues of late, requesting information from the administration on such matters as Jeff Gannon's access to the White House Press room, etc. Many of these inquiries have failed to gain any traction but with this DSM, things may be changing.
That memo, as many are aware at this point, indicates that British intelligence officials, after returning from a visit in Washington in 2002, reported that Bush was determined to go to war to topple Saddam Hussein and that "The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
So is this something new? Richard Clarke, the former anti-terrorism official from the administration, claims that Bush told him & others in the days after 9/11 to look into Saddam, to find the connection between 9/11 & Saddam. Sounded like Bush was certainly headed in Iraq's direction at that time. Now, this instruction from Bush was explained away as being a common sense approach, we have to look into all possibilities to explain 9/11, including a state that might have sponsored the terrorists.
That's partly why I'm not sure this DSM focus at this time will produce much in terms of getting any accountability from Bush et al. People generally feel in hindsight that the WMD rationale was either a lie or negligence on the Bush administration's part. The question now surrounding the DSM is whether it will make any difference if there is evidence that proves the administration lied. It likely won't, unless the Democrats take back control of the House (more likely) or Senate (less likely) in the 2006 elections.