Sunday, August 14, 2005

Downing Street memo

[I scan newswire of websites daily using a "back door approach" and search engine technology for a better balance of reports]

I'm a journalist. A journalist is a person who practices journalism, the gathering and dissemination of information about current events, trends, issues and people. As a journalist, I'm expected to report in the most objective and unbiased way to serve the public good. And I do my best to explore, expose, explain and present both sides of every issue to fulfill my commitment to journalism.

Along with mining the Web for news and information, I sometimes go out into the field and explore issues in person to further develop my experience of a topic. My eventual goal is to do on location reporting for a well known Web site or local newspaper when I'm strategically positioned to cover a story better than the mainstream journalists. My goal is to add something, show a different slant or bring attention to a story, not to restate what's already being well covered.

So... to get back on topic, the Downing Street memo, I thought it would be a good idea to review the context in which this controversial and now famous July 23, 2002 e-mail appeared. It's been rather easy for all of us to "rearview mirror" post-9/11 events and jump on the bandwagon just in the nick of time before it rolls out of town, so I think it's a good idea sometimes to stop for a minute and go back to what the consciousness of the nation was "when things were coming down."

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 was a resolution by the UN Security Council offering Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations," notably to provide "an accurate full, final, and complete disclosure, as required by Resolution 687 (1991), of all aspects of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles," reads Wikipedia.

I for one read much of the Iraqis report in response to the 1441 Resolution, updated daily just before the invasion of Iraq, and got the feeling that Saddam Hussein was desperate and willing to telling the truth in a "last ditch effort" to avoid another war with the US and it's allies. I also got the feeling that George W. Bush was pressing the issue of invasion too much (The secret Downing Street memo), too quickly, and that there was no way out of this for Hussein. Iraq wasn't a major terrorist threat to the US at that time, but Iraq's vulnerability, due to the Resolution 1441 issue, offered the US a unique opportunity to further inject democracy into the Middle East, as it had already begun to do in Afghanistan, without having to deal with the more sensitive issue of Saudi Arabia.

Whether spreading democracy in the Middle East, if even possible, in an effort to fight terrorism will work has yet to be seen. The U.S. fortunately hasn't experienced another successful terrorist attack since "9/11," but it's still too early to tell if this will hold and other more easily reached countries (Spain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Kingdom) have had major attacks. One thing for sure, terrorism is going to be a worldwide, top-of-the-list" issue for most of us for quite a while.

I would also be willing to bet that as we go along day to day and event unfold your thoughts and feelings are going to be jerked around. Commonsense will be my defense.

Reporting from the underground...

Stan Morris