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The Trouble with the D. St. Memo

06.30.2005 05:19 | DISPATCHES

From the Dossier of an Ex-Patriot.

Actually, there are two problems. No, not with the probity of the memo(s), but with why it gets stuck in America’s craw. First, most of us not only don’t object to a president lying – to us, for us, it’s all the same – about war and, in fact, regard it as evidence he’ll fight dirty for us. Second, its pet connotation notwithstanding, there's the word “fixed.”

As the estimable Ray McGovern says in his article “Fixed Is Fixed” on, former CIA director James Woolsey and Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler speculate that British usage of the term differs from American. But Michael Smith, the British reporter who broke the story, said, “I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed, as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence.”

Meanwhile, however contrary for contrary’s sake Christopher Hitchens can be (see – better yet, skip – his piece defending neocons for keeping their children out of Iraq), he proves useful at times. In his article “Conspiracy Theories” on Slate, he maintains that the British, “employ the word ‘fix’ in a slightly different way - a better term might have been ‘organized’.”

I contend that Americans can’t wrap their minds around the concept of intelligence being “fixed around” because to them either something is fixed or the fix is in. We’d all have been saved a lot of grief if Richard Dearlove, or whoever was taking notes for him, had just said that the intelligence is being made to conform to a preconceived plan to go to war.


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