Thursday, June 16, 2005

An On-Line Chat With Michael Smith

Michael Smith is a reporter for the London Sunday Times and has written a lot on the Downing Street memos. You can read an interview with him here. Some interesting snippets:

Austin, Tex.: Has there ever been a historical equivalent to the Downing Street Memo that may help put it in better context with the American public? Also, do you think that it's possible since few Americans know what 'Downing Street' is or means, the significance of the document is just not appreciated on this side of the Atlantic?

Michael Smith: I think in journalistic terms we need to go back to the Pentagon papers, in terms of a US context you have to look at the answer I gave earlier comparing that meeting to an NSC meeting. That is its significance, that is its equivalent. It is highly damning and some of the self-serving nonsense from people who should know better in some, and it is now only some, of the US media is frankly depressing.

Edinburgh, U.K.: What do you think of the argument reported in Howard Kurtz's article that Sir Richard Dearlove may have came to his conclusion by reading the newspapers?

Michael Smith: This is the head of British intelligence, a man who has just had conversations with America's most senior intelligence and national security figures. He is reporting back at the highest level, to what is effectively a war cabinet and as I know to my own cost has no great regard for newspapers. He has made his own judgement, no-one better qualified to tell that meeting what was happening. No shadow of a doubt.

Anonymous: George W. Bush once slipped during a speech and stated he was upset that Saddam Hussein had tried to kill his father. Is this a possible explantion for his fixation over Saddam Hussein? Indeed, perhaps if he had been more honest about it, it might have been understood more.

Michael Smith: Maybe. That was clearly the view of Peter Ricketts when he said in one of the memos that it looked like a grudge match