An AP report on John Bolton adds strength to the Downing Street Memo. Here's the summary:
In 2002, Bolton was key in ousting Jose Bustani, the head of a global arms-control agency, because Bustani was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad, which, as pointed out by the report in Newsday, “might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.”
Here's the timeline (thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for breaking it down):
1997—Bustani, a Brazilian arms-control specialist becomes founding director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Based in The Hague and operating under a 168-nation treaty banning chemical weapons, OPCW’s inspectors oversee the destruction of such weapons and to inspect chemical plants in the US, Russia, and elsewhere to ensure chemicals aren’t put to military use.
1998—Bustani steps up his initiative in an attempt to bring Arab nations, including Iraq, into the chemical weapons treaty. The article notes quite bluntly: “Bustani's inspectors would have found nothing, because Iraq's chemical weapons were destroyed in the early 1990s. That would have undercut the U.S. rationale for war because the Bush administration by early 2002 was claiming, without hard evidence, that Baghdad still had such an arms program.”
2000—“[O]ne year ahead of time and with strong U.S. support, Bustani was unanimously re-elected OPCW chief for a 2001-2005 term. Colin Powell, the new secretary of state, praised his leadership qualities in a personal letter in 2001.”Sometime between 2000 and 2002, it was suggested that Bustani should be removed. The idea, according to Ralph Earle, a veteran US arms negotiator, and Avis Bohlen, a career diplomat and former Bolton deputy, was not Bolton’s, but “Bolton ‘leaped on it enthusiastically,’ Bohlen recalled. ‘He was very much in charge of the whole campaign," she said, and Bustani's initiative on Iraq seemed the "coup de grace.’”
2001—Bolton makes a menacing telephone call to Bustani, trying to interfere “in decisions that are the exclusive responsibility of the director-general” of OPCW. Additionally, Bolton “sought to have some U.S. inspection results overlooked and certain Americans hired to OPCW positions. The agency head said he refused.”
2002—A “white paper” from “Bolton's office said Bustani was seeking an ‘inappropriate role’ in Iraq, and the matter should be left to the U.N. Security Council -- where Washington has a veto.” The US then moved to terminate Bustani’s tenure. “On the eve of an OPCW Executive Council meeting to consider the U.S. no-confidence motion, Bolton met Bustani in The Hague to seek his resignation, U.S. and OPCW officials said. … In the Executive Council, the Americans failed to win majority support among the 41 nations. A month later, on April 21, at U.S. insistence, an unprecedented special session of the full treaty conference was called. … Only 113 nations were represented, 15 without voting rights because their dues were far in arrears. The U.S. delegation had suggested it would withhold U.S. dues -- 22 percent of the budget -- if Bustani stayed in office, stirring fears of an OPCW collapse. This time the Americans, with British help, got the required two-thirds vote of those present and voting. But that amounted to only 48 in favor of removing Bustani -- and seven opposed and 43 abstaining -- in an organization then with 145 member states.” Bustani appealed, but in the interim, a new director-general of OPCW was named.
2003—A three-member UN tribunal sternly rebuked Bustani’s dismissal and “said the U.S. allegations were ‘extremely vague’ and the dismissal ‘unlawful.’ It said international civil servants must not be made ‘vulnerable to pressures and to political change.’”
The AP also notes (emphasis mine):
The Iraq connection to the OPCW affair comes as fresh evidence surfaces that the Bush administration was intent from early on to pursue military and not diplomatic action against Saddam Hussein's regime. An official British document, disclosed last month, said Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed in April 2002 to join in an eventual U.S. attack on Iraq. Two weeks later, Bustani was ousted, with British help.
This information about the US’ Bolton-led actions against Bustani, in conjunction with the Downing Street Memo, seem clearly to indicate that the US would stop at nothing to manufacture justification for a war with Iraq. Fixing intelligence around the policy, using “spikes of activity” to try to provoke Saddam into doing something that would justify an invasion, and removing any obstacles, like the unfortunate Bustani, that might hinder their path to war. We must continue to demand a formal inquiry into these actions. If the US was taken to war based on deceit and a rationale conjured out of thin air, we must know. And the administration who took us there must be held accountable.
---End of Transmission---