Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, May 9, 2005



I don't normally publish articles verbatim, but, after an enormous outcry by our regular readers, this one is going to be an exception"


The Sunday Times - Britain
May 01, 2005
The secret Downing Street memo


From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell


Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.


(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)


(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)
I believe in being honest when comes to economic data and find no satisfaction in cheerleading for bad results. The latest jobs numbers were somewhat encouraging. The only sector that continues to suffer is manufacturing where 6,000 jobs were lost. I sure wish we could figure out a way to help those folks. Information services finally had some gains - 12,000 jobs. The overall unemployment rate is still 5.2% as measured by the household survey.

There is no doubt that there is significant inflation - the Fed has signaled no pause in raising the federal funds rate now at 3.00%. There is some doubt that we are in stagflation. Perhaps, rising oil prices really did create "soft patches" in the recovery - time will tell. I don't think that the energy bill just passed will accomplish much except to sadly disturb the Artic National Wildlife Reserve.

To note, this recovery remains much weaker and longer than prior ones that typically produce 300,000 jobs per month. Thus far, year to year, the rate is 181,000 jobs per month. The length of unemployment is still historically high - 19.6 weeks. This remains a difficult job market particularly for older higher paid workers.

Stupid Quote

Real wages are "complex and tied to market forces... the demand for... IT engineers is so strong and the supply of workers so limited that wages are soaring."

-A regular reader of "Note From a Madman"

Itís not complicated. Just take a look at and youíll see. You certainly canít call Steve Forbes a ďliberalĒ now, can you?

IT Engineers:
So you donít know that Iím an IT engineer. I am a CCNA and an MCSE. There are NO jobs in IT in the US. If you have any doubts of that, just pick up any newspaper in the USon a Sunday and compare it to that same week 5 years ago. Additionally, IT workers are averaging less REAL WAGE pay than they did in 1999 (even as the IT bubble was bursting). I am relatively well paid in the IT field. The only IT jobs that stay in the US are on-site engineers. By the way, I retrained myself in 1998 in anticipation of an IT industry growth that never occurred. If it werenít for my dentist introducing me to the owner of an IT firm, I might still be looking for a job.

All of those things you say are just lies (about the IT industry). I am in the IT trade, so donít offer me advice on it. I was, and still am looking for a better job (I earned $10,000 more in 1999 as a junior engineer than I earn now as a senior engineer). I searched high and low in all major areas of the US.

I am not just speaking about the NY/NJ area. I went to school in Dallas for my CCNA just after 911. I went to school with engineers from Arthur Anderson (by the way, many of them are still looking for jobs after the Enron debacle, and they will go anywhere). I flew in October of 2001 to make a point.

There are no IT jobs.

Examine this site which I do almost every day. Then tell me how "good" it is (thatís the Bureau of Labor statistics, George W. Bush's Department of Labor.)

Thatíll show you the LOSS of IT jobs (3.7 million in March 2001; 3.4 million in March 2002; 3.2 million in March of 2003; 3.126 million in March of 2004; 3.120 in March of 2005)


(The chart shows IT jobs in thousands)

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
1995 2773 2805 2817 2827 2831 2846 2862 2864 2857 2865 2884 2890 2843
1996 2874 2884 2898 2904 2917 2943 2961 2974 2962 2969 2993 3003 2940
1997 2999 3017 3038 3050 3068 3099 3111 3122 3100 3115 3132 3151 3084
1998 3144 3161 3171 3184 3203 3223 3246 3245 3231 3249 3270 3293 3218
1999 3293 3322 3331 3348 3390 3421 3449 3467 3464 3487 3514 3537 3419
2000 3539 3561 3586 3601 3616 3656 3676 3599 3662 3665 3689 3716 3631
2001 3697 3704 3713 3677 3664 3656 3636 3614 3566 3549 3543 3532 3629
2002 3482 3458 3448 3426 3415 3417 3397 3386 3329 3340 3337 3302 3395
2003 3249 3221 3214 3200 3193 3199 3192 3176 3148 3141 3156 3165 3188
2004 3125 3127 3126 3128 3149 3172 3170 3146 3114 3125 3137 3139 3138
2005 3105 3105 3120                    

Like I saidÖ donít tell me how IT jobs are growing in the US under George W. Bush.

Now, for the ďimportationĒ of IT engineers from India. Hasnít happened and never will. You see, if you ďimportĒ them FROM India TO the US, then you have to pay them US wages. It just isnít happening, despite then dribble you read from the RIGHT. Itís all on the Department of Labor Website. Take a look.

By the way, my Arthur Anderson friends and the other IT engineers I know (and I know a lot of them - us geeks stick together) can't wait until 2010 to get a job. Our kids need to eat now, They need clothes now. They need their parents game-fully employed now.


After the initial "chat",  I was informed that ONLY Intel was looking for Engineers. I guess the "drought" is only at Intel (the chipmaker).

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg