The eight memos — all labeled "secret" or "confidential" — were first obtained by British reporter Michael Smith, who has written about them in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.
Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.
The AP obtained copies of six of the memos (the other two have circulated widely). A senior British official who reviewed the copies said their content appeared authentic. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secret nature of the material.
So, an un-named source, without seeing the orginals, says the content "appeared authentic". Have jounalistic standards slipped so far, that the Sunday Times accepted Smith's story, without asking to see the original documents, using an un-named source to verify them and whose best opinion was they "appeared authentic"? This being the case, all of the AP's assertions in the rest of the article are baseless and meaningless.
If all this sounds familiar, it should, Dan Rather of CBS, had to resign after using these same tactics in an attempt to smear Bush just before the last US presidential elections. And CBS had to issue and apology. Time for Smith to go and the Sunday Times to apologize.
After pounding the Downing Street memo drum, watch the media now play the fake but accurate horn.
Since the memos cannot be authenticated and an un-named sources best guess is they "appeared authentic", all stories based on them are meaningless; including this Times (UK) article whose headline screams:
British bombing raids were illegal, says Foreign Office
If you would like to complain to the Times, their email address is email@example.com
It appears the originals may still exist after all. Raw Story has this tid bit:
“I first photocopied them to ensure they were on our paper and returned the originals, which were on government paper and therefore government property, to the source,” he added. [...]
“It was these photocopies that I worked on, destroying them shortly before we went to press on Sept 17, 2004,” he added. “Before we destroyed them the legal desk secretary typed the text up on an old fashioned typewriter.”
Smith appears to be tripping up here. He says he returned the originals because they were on government paper and therefore government property. So, photocopying a page out of a book makes the words no longer the property of the author?
Now let me get this straight. Dan Rather's forged documents were typed up on a computer using the default setting of Microsoft Word. And now Smith wants us to believe that his legal secretary used "an old fashioned typewriter" to forge the Downing Street memos? When was the last time you saw an old fashioned typewriter, let alone use one? Why would you want to type them up on a typewritter instead of a computer? Was Smith trying to make them look more authentic? Was he trying to avoid his own Rathergate?
This is nonsense.