Mostly because of the notoriety of the basement meeting of congressional Democrats the mainstream media finally covers the Downing Street Memo. Democrats were huddled in a packed basement room on Thursday, June 16th because Rep. Sensenbrenner and the Republicans refused to give Rep. Conyers and progressive democrats an open forum. At first the only examples of mainstream press coverage came from newspapers like The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and to a lesser degree the Washington Post. On the morning of Friday, June 17th I was surprised to see that it was mentioned on ABC News, but of course it was immediately followed by a statement from White House spokesman McClelland, who basically brushed it off as no big deal when he said it was just Democrats rehashing an issue that was resolved a long time ago. This has to be considered a triumph because so many people have been writing to major media requesting coverage only to be rebuffed or ignored. Now I see that most major news organizations are at least mentioning the Downing Street memo.
Rep. John Conyers is going to present a petition to President Bush with the names of over 500.000 names requesting further investigation of the Downing Street Minutes. The featured speakers at basement meeting included John C.
Bonifaz, the driving force behind the website www.AfterDowningStreet.org, (which has had extremely high traffic over the past two weeks), Cindy Sheehan,
a parent who lost her son in Iraq, Former Ambassador Joe Wilson, whose wife was a CIA agent, exposed in a Robert Novak article and Robert McGovern, former CIA analyst. All four guests gave passionate testimony as to why President Bush has some explaning to do to the American public about his reasons for insisting on this illegal, unpopular war. Former Ambassador Wilson stated that when he informed the President that there was no evidence that Yellowcake Uranium was sought by Saddam Huessein in Niger he was ignored.
John Bonifaz emphasized the date of the memo (2002) is prior to the actual invasion of Iraq and shows that the invasion was unprovoked and premeditated. Mr. McGovern stated that many within the CIA were intimidated and eventually forced to quit if they did not support the administration point of view. McGovern also stated that as a result very experienced highly qualified individuals were replaced by administration "yes men". Rep. Zoe Lofgren was blunt. She referred to the entire incident as a
"cover-up" that represents an impeachable offense. Rep. Maxine Waters announced the creation of the "Out Of The War Caucus" which includes Sheila Jackson Lee, Barbara Lee, Bobby Scott and John Conyers among many others.
There is a memorable Confucious quote that says "The thousand mile journey begins with just a single step" The Democrats at that particular hearing have made that significant first step towards the impeachment of George W. Bush.