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After first being mostly ignored in the U.S., the Downing Street Memo is gaining traction. The Memo is actually a series of memos leaked to the British press. Here's a link to excerpts of the memos from the Associated Press via the New York Times. In sum, the memos appear to show that George W. Bush had decided to go to war with Iraq and that the intelligence was arranged to support that policy. The word impeachment is now being used in public (see below) and the early days of Richard Nixon's downfall are being recalled -- that's Nixon in the background of the strip with the reference "I am not a misleader" being to Nixon's saying "I am not a crook." I haven't checked this out, but read this week that misleading Congress is a ground for impeachment. The following provocative, but measured passage, is from the Nelson Report as it appeared in Josh Marshall's TalkingPointsMemo.com:

(June 16, 2005 -- 06:53 PM EDT // link // print)

From this evening's Nelson Report ...

[There is] an increased press and Congressional focus on the so-called “Downing Street Memo”, from the then-head of Britian’s secret service to Prime Minister Blair, stating flatly that President Bush and his top advisors had determined to go to war with Iraq well in advance of playing out the UN process.

Such an interpretation is, of course, arguable, as per the Bush/Blair press conference last week, about which you will have read, and will read more tomorrow, given a suddenly large push by more than 100 Hill Democrats. Our point for tonight is that this memo, really a series of memos, has had a strange life...but after a delayed reaction in this country, it seems to be leading somewhere...where, exactly, is the question.

We can report, not as a partisan, but as an observer who happened to be working for a Congressman deeply involved in the Pentagon Papers fight of 1971, that old hands note eerie similarities to the start-up process of questions raised, and the potential for Congress to become more seriously involved.

Two examples of related concerns to the “Downing Steet” memos: DOD Secretary Rumsfeld’s pre-positioning of thousands of troops and large stores of equipment, months before the final decision was made; the top-level White House involvement in the “torture memo” process that led directly to the international humiliation of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, despite internal warnings from then-Secretary of State Powell and Deputy Secretary Armitage.

Add those up, add your own examples, and you will know why you hear conversations in the past couple of days using the “impeachment” word...not as a prediction, this is way too soon and/or extreme for now...but as part of an attempt to measure historic parallels, and to think aloud on how far this process might go. Maybe nowhere? Or, maybe we’re just seeing the beginning of something. We mention it tonight because the conversation is being held less quietly than before, and politics in Washington may be about to get even worse, if you can imagine anything worse.

06.19.05