The latest memo showing what a mess U.K. and U.S. thinking were before the two invaded Iraq is already old news - really old news if you consider that this latest memo story was in the U.K. papers five weeks ago. Still, there's good coverage of it here from Ron and here from Tas.
The NYT is excited enough about the story to have front paged it. I'm guessing that's because they can act as if they broke something significant. They always like to do that:
Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.
It's taken all this time to read a five-page memo.
The January 2003 memo is the latest in a series of secret memos produced by top aides to Mr. Blair that summarize private discussions between the president and the prime minister. Another group of British memos, including the so-called Downing Street memo written in July 2002, showed that some senior British officials had been concerned that the United States was determined to invade Iraq, and that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" by the Bush administration to fit its desire to go to war.
The latest memo is striking in its characterization of frank, almost casual, conversation by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair about the most serious subjects. At one point, the leaders swapped ideas for a postwar Iraqi government. "As for the future government of Iraq, people would find it very odd if we handed it over to another dictator," the prime minister is quoted as saying.
"Bush agreed," Mr. Manning wrote. This exchange, like most of the quotations in this article, have not been previously reported.
It's not only that the story is old news, it's also that the story, as reported in the NYT, is unreasonably hard to piece together. Anyone who hasn't been following it very closely is bound to get lost. It needs charts and timelines like you can find on DowningStreetMemo.com. Either this is a big deal or it isn't.
But this story has never been a favorite of Bill Keller. Just for laughs, look back at where the fearless NYT was on this when the story of the Downing Street Memos broke. There was the first story, Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made, in which David Sanger told us that the memos proved that "no political decisions" had been taken to invade Iraq. That was fun. And then there was the follow-up, written by Todd Purdom, which tells us to calm down, the Downing St. memos don't tell us anything we don't already know.
These memos were the story of 2005 and the NYT did its best to bury them. There aren't enough disjointed,isolated front page strories in the world to make up for that.