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Memo demo

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What’s that? You say you didn’t hear about the 300 or so people who packed an auditorium to overflowing at Wayne State University last week to participate in a town hall meeting marking the creation three years ago of what has come to be known as the Downing Street memo?

What’s that? You say you didn’t hear that the Detroit forum was one of five being held around the country by congressional Democrats wanting a definitive answer to the question: Did George Bush use a quarry-full of lies to pave this country’s path to war in Iraq?

What’s that? You say you didn’t hear about the roughly 300 house parties, rallies, protests, etc., held in conjunction with the more formal forums?

Well, if you’re in the dark about all this, you can be forgiven, because the vast majority of the mainstream media didn’t think all this was worth covering. News Hits went searching online Monday to see who’d written about the meetings and got only a handful of hits. The Detroit News and Free Press weren’t among the few print outlets covering the story.

We think it’s important.

We think it’s important that Bush, according to documents produced by British diplomats preceding our invasion of Iraq, had already decided on war at a time he was assuring Congress and the American public that our use of military force might be avoided. Those same documents also purport to show that the Bush administration was willing to “fix” intelligence to justify that war.

And we think it’s important that, despite little attention by the mainstream media to all this, folks out there are continuing to push the issue.

It is alternative media — Web sites, liberal talk radio and rags like this one — and a few Democrats in Congress who are attempting to make sure all this brewing scandal doesn’t go flat.

The event last Saturday at Wayne State’s law school drew an impressive list of speakers — who were in turn impressed by the number of people who showed up to hear them.

“I was astonished at the number of people who were there,” says professor Robert Sedler, an expert in constitutional law. “And they weren’t the usual people you see at these kinds of liberal gatherings. There were a lot of unfamiliar faces there.”

Among the other speakers was Lila Lipscomb, a Flint resident featured in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. After her son was killed in Iraq, she went on to help start the group Gold Star Families for Peace. There was Sedler, who explored questions about instituting impeachment proceedings against Bush. A key force behind the event was Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) one of the few national leaders who refuses to let this issue die the quiet death Bush and his minions would prefer.

“The message is getting out,” says David Swanson, one of the co-founders of the Web site AfterDowningStreet.org, which is using a coalition of more than 700 bloggers to keep fanning flames where the mainstream sees no smoke.

“I’ve been involved in starting up a number of coalitions, but I’ve never seen anything start this quickly,” Swanson says. “We’re tapping into something out there.”

The next step, Swanson says, is to use that coalition to generate congressional support for a resolution introduced last week by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). That resolution, if passed (admittedly a long shot given that both houses of Congress are controlled by the GOP), will require the White House and the State Department to “transmit all information relating to communication with officials of the United Kingdom between January 1, 2002, and October 16, 2002, relating to the policy of the United States with respect to Iraq.”

“The message is getting out,” Swanson says. “People are out there ahead of legislators on this.”

And, thanks to the Internet, they’re way ahead of the mainstream media on this as well.

Or so we’ve heard.

Send comments to NewsHits@metrotimes.com

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