Friday, June 24, 2005
"Fixed" in the Downing St. Memo
The use of "fixed" comes from this line in the Memo: "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Most people think this obviously means manipulating and massaging the intelligence to "prove" Saddam had WMDs and/or was a threat to U.S. interests. That's certainly one way to look at it. However, given the nature of military and governmental language, I would suggest the word is being used exactly as defined in the dictionary. This still indicates a narrowing of focus and discarding possibly valuable theories and perspectives concerning Iraq's weapons capabilities or more to the point, lack thereof. I just don't think a government official would use the word fixed as in "putting the fix on the information." It's far too slangy I think. I'm thinking more along the lines of a "fixed gun emplacement" or "fixed bayonets".
Just for the record, let me put the definition of fix here. This is from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, Mass.: G.&C. Merriam Co., 1972):
fix vb 1a: to make firm, stable, or fast b: to give a permanent or final form to: as (1): to change into a stable compound or available form [bacteria that fix nitrogen] (2): to kill, harden, and preserve for microscopic study (3): to make the image of (a photographic film) permanent by removing unused salts c: AFFIX, ATTACH 2: to hold or direct steadily [fixes his eyes on the horizon] 3a: to set or place definitely: ESTABLISH b: ASSIGN [fix blame] 4: to set in order: ADJUST 5: to get ready: PREPARE 6a: REPAIR, MEND b: RESTORE, CURE c: SPAY, CASTRATE 7a: to get even with b: to influence the actions, outcome, or effect of by improper or illegal methods ~vi: to become firm, stable, or fixed syn see FASTEN.Note how far down the list of definitions is the illegal meaning of the word. Of course, this proves nothing; it's just an exercise to show that the current assumptions of the left of how the word was used in the minutes could be quite off. Even using the most obvious and plain interpretation of the word in the context of the memo indicates the "stabilizing" or "giving final form to" the intelligence around the policy.
This could be as innocent as finalizing and prioritizing the intelligence in service of the policy. There is nothing inherently wrong with that process. However there are many, many reports of the way the raw intelligence was actively shaped in a political manner, apparently deliberately disregarding evidence inimical to the ends already decided upon, i.e., war. It's clear to me that however the word was actually used, the process and end result were certainly completely in keeping with the general interpretation by progressive forces making noise about the memo.