After Downing Street (ADS) is a coalition of anti-war groups and activists that was founded in May of 2005, in response to the publication in the mainstream press of the so-called “Downing Street Memo.” The leaked memo, a brief document recording the minutes of a July 23, 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior national security advisors, was seized on by anti-war activists as proof that the Bush administration had manipulated evidence about weapons of mass destruction in order to prosecute an allegedly illegal war against Iraq.
ADS accordingly describes its mission as “working to expose the lies that launched the war and to hold accountable its architects, including through censure and impeachment.” To that end, it has called on “the U.S. Congress [to] launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war.” ADS co-founder John Bonifaz also sent a memo to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), urging him to use his position as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee to pass a “Resolution of Inquiry” to determine whether impeachment proceedings could be commenced against President Bush. Related resolutions have been introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA.), whose office coordinated closely with ADS, failing each time to garner sufficient votes.
One of ADS’s co-founders is John Bonifaz, a “progressive” Democrat and Boston-based attorney. In February and March of 2003, Bonifaz acted as the lead counsel in the case of John Doe I v. President Bush, which sought an injunction to prevent President Bush from taking military action against Iraq and challenged his authority to “wage war against Iraq, absent a clear declaration of war by the United States Congress.” The case was dismissed by a U.S. District Court, and the subsequent appeal was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The following year, however, Bonifaz co-authored a book with Congressman Conyers called Warrior-King: George W. Bush and the Looming Irrelevancy of Our Courts, Congress, and Constitution, contending that, the legal verdict notwithstanding, the President had waged an “illegal and unconstitutional” war.
Other ADS co-founders include: (a) Tim Carpenter, National Director of Progressive Democrats of America; (b) Steve Cobble, who is currently a policy advisor to Progressive Democrats of America, and has worked as Political Director for the National Rainbow Coalition, a speechwriter for Jesse Jackson, strategist for the Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign, and Executive Director of the Arca Foundation; (c) Bob Fertik, a “lifelong progressive and Democratic Party activist” who co-founded the Pro-choice Resource Center, Eleanor’s List, Political Woman Newsletter, omen Leaders Online, and the Women’s Voting Guide; and (d) David Swanson, a Board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and the Washington Director of Democrats.com and ImpeachPAC.org.
Notable ADS-affiliated activists include, among others, Medea Benjamin, Leslie Cagan, Tom Hayden, Ray McGovern, and Cindy Sheehan. Listed among ADS member groups are Code Pink, Global Exchange, Historians Against the War, and Rainbow/PUSH.
ADS has concentrated on publicizing the Downing Street Memo, and especially its putative implications for the President’s impeachment, on the website afterdowningstreet.org. But it has also organized rallies advocating impeachment. In June of 2005, ADS held a rally outside the White House and collected signatures in support of a letter attacking the war in Iraq that Rep. Conyers reportedly delivered to President Bush.
On July 23, 2005–the three-year anniversary of the meeting from which the famous memo emerged–ADS claimed to have organized 300 “public events” across the country, among them several town-hall style forums with leftist Democratic Congressmen John Conyers, Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA.), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Maxine Waters (D-CA.). In August of 2005, ADS played a lead role in promoting the Crawford, Texas anti-war protest staged by Cindy Sheehan, and launched the activist’s personal website, MeetWithCindy.org (now called Gold Star Families for Peace).
As of March 2006, ADS was actively working to promote four congressional resolutions aimed at undermining the war effort in Iraq: Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill to ban permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq; Rep. Jim McGovern‘s bill to cut off funding for the war; Rep. John Murtha‘s (D-PA) resolution for immediate withdrawal from Iraq; and a Discharge Petition on another bill seeking to force a debate on ending the war to the floor of the House, sidestepping the committee process.
ADS is funded in part by VelvetRevolution.us, a network of 120 self-styled “progressive” organizations.
ADS is a member organization of the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition.