bARABie – Hard Hitting Facts

HOW BUSH DECIDED TO GO TO WAR

CHAPTER 8

 

“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind…. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.”

“When I say I’m a patient man, I mean I’m a patient man and that we will look at all options and we will consider all technologies available to us, and diplomacy and intelligence.” – George W. Bush, Press Conference, August 2002, Crawford, Texas.

AN INEXPERIENCED PRESIDENT WITH A VENDETTA

 

George W. Bush’s dangerous unilateral approach to global politics triggered a wave of nationalism across the United States, reminiscent of the nationalism that swept across Europe in the nineteenth century. Americans held the attitude that their country was superior, as they bashed the French, Germans, and others who sought a diplomatic solution to war.

The Middle East crisis that Bush created did not center around Iraq. Instead, it revolved around the post-Cold War New World Order and how Bush would involve America — the only superpower nation – with the international community.

Bush’s policy of unilateralism, preemption, and regime change represented a dramatic and dangerous shift in emphasis away from more than 50 years of policy that was characterized by cooperation with allies, recognition of international norms, and support for arms control. With Bush in the White House, the United States was more isolated than at any time since before World War II and more unpopular in the world than ever before. Bush naturally attempted to play down its unilateralism, claiming that its foreign policy was always a multilateralist policy.

Bush’s uncompromising and fierce rhetoric about acting unilaterally to oust Hussein only magnified the unilateral course Bush chose to take. The president’s “Go-it-alone” attitude cost him respect from allies across the globe. The admiration of the United States that once accompanied it has been replaced by something else: fear. These diplomats say the U.S. has dropped persuasion as its main tactic and replaced it with intimidation.

In Bush’s “black-and-white” world, it was doubtful that he considered how an Iraqi attack would play with the Islamic world — particularly in the Middle East. In toppling the Hussein regime, Iraqi Muslims — as well as those in neighboring countries — would never tolerate an American-sponsored pro-oil dictatorship. The Islamic fundamentalists Shi’ites constituted a majority of 60 percent of Iraq’s population. Shi’ites and even the more moderate Sunnis throughout the Middle East would never tolerate the United States.

If the war was to make Iraq a safer place, then the Bush administration had a long ways to go. If it was to make the United States a safer place, more terrorist attacks on American soil were likely. If it was to democratize Iraq, Bush was expecting the inevitable to happen. If the war was about reducing the threat of terrorism, the war instead inflamed more resentment throughout the Arab world. If it was to bring the world together in combating future terrorist attacks, Bush failed miserably. If the war was to topple the Saddam Hussein regime because of a personal vendetta and to access Iraqi oilfields, then Bush succeeded.

Bush never considered the likelihood of reprisals. He failed to recognize the presence of three warring factions: Shi’ites, Sunnis, and Kurds. Once he did go to war, Bush was the one who drove thousands of moderate Muslims into the right-wing fundamentalist camp. Amidst the turmoil of the reconstruction phase, Bush ignored the influence of Ayatollah al-Sistani, the only key political rival who commanded a great deal of influence among Shia Muslims.

For Bush, it was a “jihad,” his “holy war.” The presence of the United States “Christian” army would only lead to increased anti-Americanism. He failed to rally Muslims around his cause and only succeeded in creating more anti-Americanism in the Muslim world.

It was Bush who was responsible for the increase in terrorist attacks around the globe. Yet he claimed that a regime change in Iraq would decrease terrorism. Bush also failed to grasp the fact that unequivocal support for Israel was a major cause of anti-Americanism among the Arab community. Bush ignored the premise that American imperialism was resented around the globe. He never conceded that “Big Oil” was one key reason to control the Middle East.

Bush rarely spoke of democratic institutions in the Middle East, when he called for the ouster of Hussein. He claimed that Iraq could be a model for political reform in the Islamic world. It was nothing but “double talk,” since Bush failed to address the undemocratic practices of authoritarian regimes nearly everywhere in the region.

Some Muslim countries — Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Egypt – already offered some elements of democratic culture and politics already in place. Turkey, Iraq’s northern neighbor, was the most striking example of Washington’s hypocrisy. With a little help from the United States, Turkey could be a good example that the White House imagined Iraq could become if Hussein was gone. Turkey already resembled a Western democracy, with regular elections, a secular constitution, civil rights for women, and an independent press.

However, Turkey’s democratic institutions remained hidden by an authoritarian military leadership. Turkey had long provided Washington with valuable military bases. During the Cold War, Turkey offered proximity to the Soviet Union. Since the Gulf War, Turkey provided air access to northern Iraq. Washington regularly sided with Turkey’s generals over its democrats, especially when the generals claim to be defending secularism against elected Islamic politicians. In August, under pressure from the military, Turkey’s highest electoral authority banned Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of the country’s most popular political party, from running in the 2002 parliamentary election.

If Bush were truly interested in promoting democracy, it would turn against Pakistan’s military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf. It would also increase its pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, to free Saad Eddin Ibrahim and other democracy advocates, end his intimidation of independent news media and permit genuinely free elections. And none in the Bush administration dared to speak out against authoritarian and oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia.

Bush failed to grasp the importance of history. After World War I, the British quickly filled the vacuum that had been created by the loss of the Ottoman Turks. In The British immediately and repeatedly promised sovereignty would be turned over to the Iraqi people. It never happened. Finally, the British departed in 1933 after 15 years of occupation. In 1979, Iran’s shah was toppled. A pro-western regime under Bani Sadr lasted only one year before an Islamic fundamentalist state under Ayatollah Khomeini was established.

Bush underestimated the number of troops despite studies by the Rand Corporation that called for as many as 500,000 Americans to maintain order in Iraq. General Eric Shinseki estimated that “several thousand” American troops would be required in the reconstruction era.

By going to war, Bush was responsible for increasing deficits on the domestic scene. He not only failed to form a true international coalition, but he also was unable to obtain global financing of the war. A weakened American dollar led to increased interest rates in order to bring in foreign investments.

The Bush administration’s strategy was to rally the country around its “war president.” After September 11, the president made his simplistic policy to global powers clear. They were with him or they were against him. In a complex world, there were no other options. When he was forced to speak extemporaneously and did not have a written script prepared for him, he repeatedly said, “We’re a peace-loving people. Terrorists hate freedom. They hate democracy.”

Those who refused to follow were branded unpatriotic obstructionists Bush’s policy was a blueprint of a high-level government official who said, “It is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. … All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for the lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” Those words were spoken by Hermann Goering, second in command to Adolf Hitler.

WHO’S RUNNING THE WHITE HOUSE?

 

From the outset, Cheney and Rumsfeld made clear that they were running the White House. Rumsfeld had been Cheney’s mentor and boss three decades earlier. It was Cheney who was really Bush’s national security advisor. He was the back channel to the Oval Office. (James Risen, State of War)

Rumsfeld told his subordinates that they were not to take orders from the NSC and the inexperienced Rice. She was never successful in influencing the Pentagon and even failed to engage the Pentagon in normal interagency processes. Rice was seen not only as a neophyte but also as a weak leader. (James Risen, State of War)

Even one of her own NSC staffers said, “Condi was a very, very weak national security advisor.” A CIA official agreed: “I think Rice didn’t really manage anything, and will go down as probably the worst national security advisor in history. I think the national security advisor was Cheney, and so Cheney and Rumsfeld could do what they wanted.” (James Risen, State of War)

Rumsfeld did not stop at Rice. He also had to deal with Tenet. Rumsfeld knew he could eliminate Tenet as an influential voice in the Bush administration. Rumsfeld chose his time after 9/11 when he proposed a series of initiatives to challenge Tenet’s power within the CIA. (James Risen, State of War)

Rumsfeld’s ploy was for his DOD to consolidate power over the intelligence community by creating an intelligence czar within the Pentagon to oversee all intelligence agencies: the NSA, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the intelligence arms of each major branch of the military service. That meant everything — except the CIA and the State Department’s small intelligence community — would be controlled by Rumsfeld. (James Risen, State of War)

Rumsfeld thought he could pull this power ploy. He used Rich Haver, his top intelligence aide, to intimate Tenet to get what he wanted. Tenet declined the offer, saying “It looks as if you are trying to do my job.” (James Risen, State of War)

Haver returned, scaling back on the degree Rumsfeld would cut into his power in the gathering of intelligence. This time, Tenet took the bait despite complaints of his aides and even Brent Scowcroft, the NSC advisor under the first Bush. Scowcroft saw Rumsfeld’s proposal as an assault on the intelligence community that was made up of 15 agencies. (James Risen, State of War)

Bush was also kept out of the loop in regard to the evidence that indicated that Saddam did not have a nuclear weapons’ program. At Bush’s daily Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs), such articles were removed or censored.

1. AN AMBIGUOUS FOREIGN POLICY

 

Bush came to office expressing his opposition to nation-building. Two years later, it appeared that he still was not concerned with the future of the world. He waited until the latter part of 2002 to assemble a national security team to make final plans for administering and democratizing Iraq if Hussein was ousted.

While many Europeans and Arabs continued to urge Bush to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict his first priority for the region, the president continued to claim that the upheaval of Hussein as the key to peace between Israel and its neighbors.

Where democracy was alien to a vast majority of the Middle Eastern countries, Bush envisioned a “free and peaceful Iraq” that would serve as a “dramatic and inspiring example” to the entire Arab and Muslim. He claimed that a democratic Iraq would stabilize influence in the Middle East and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict. (New York Times, February 27, 2003)

But Bush rarely attempted to sell that idea to the American people. In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, he described an undertaking that resembled American efforts in post-World-War-II Japan and Germany.

Bush’s plans called for a heavy American military presence in the country for at least 18 months, military trials of only the most senior Iraqi leaders, and quick takeover of the country’s oil fields to pay for reconstruction. (New York Times, January 5, 2003)

A civilian administrator — perhaps designated by the United Nations — ran the country’s economy, rebuilt its schools and political institutions, and administered aid programs. Placing those powers in non-military hands, administration officials hoped, would quell Arab concerns that a military commander would wield the kind of unchallenged authority that General Douglas MacArthur exercised as supreme commander in Japan.

Only key senior officials of the Hussein government “would need to be removed and called to account,” according to an administration document summarizing plans for war trials. People in the Iraqi hierarchy who helped bring down the government mighty be offered leniency.

The administration plan said, “Government elements closely identified with Hussein’s regime, such as the revolutionary courts or the special security organization, would be eliminated, but much of the rest of the government would be reformed and kept.”

While publicly saying Iraqi oil would remain what one senior official called “the patrimony of the Iraqi people,” the administration continued to debate how to protect oil fields during the conflict and how an occupied Iraq would be represented in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, if at all. (New York Times, January 5, 2003)

Within one year of a series of failures in the reconstruction process, the Bush administration made several significant reversals:

1. The White House stubbornly insisted that it did not need more troops in Iraq. But later, 20,000 additional troops were added.

2. From the outset, the Bush administration refused to give the United Nations a key role in the reconstruction effort. But it turned to the international organization to form an interim government that took over on June 30.

3. The administration disbanded the Iraqi Army and de-Ba’athicized Hussein’s former party. But later the Bush White House turned to former Ba’athists to play a role in forming the new government.

In July 2004, the National Intelligence Counsel spelled out “a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq.” The estimate outlined three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war. The most favorable outcome described was an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic, and security terms. (New York Times, September 16, 2004)

Yet, Bush said on August 5, “Iraq is on the path to lasting democracy and liberty.” (The White House, August 5, 2004)

On August 24, Cheney told voters in Iowa that “We’re moving in the right direction (in Iraq.)” (The White House, August 24, 2004)

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said Iraqis were “working at making a success out of that country. … And I think they’ve got a darned good crack at making it.” (United States Department of Defense, September 14, 2004)

In late 2004, the Pentagon’s Strategic Support Branch, designed to operate without detection and under Rumsfeld’s direct control, collected human intelligence (or HUMINT). Its recommendations were never publicized – not even given to Congress.

The group coordinated its efforts with the CIA while operating in Iraq and Afghanistan — as well as in unnamed “friendly countries” with which the United States was not at war. The group worked with the United States Special Forces, such as Delta Force, as well as recruited outside agents, including “notorious figures” whose “links to the United States government would be embarrassing if disclosed.” (Washington Post, January 12, 2005)

By invading Iraq without a plan for stabilizing the country and with too few troops, the Bush administration created a haven for terrorists where none existed before.

In May 2004, the London-based Institute for Strategic Studies reported that “Al Qaeda’s recruitment and fundraising efforts had been given a major boost by the U.S. invasion of Iraq.” Bin Laden’s network commanded some 18,000 men, of which about 1,000 were inside Iraq. (Time, May 26, 2004)

BUSH PREPARES FOR WAR

 

Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld led the parade of the hawks. They were followed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Pentagon advisor Richard Perle. In fact, Perle even hinted of invading Iran after the Iraqi regime had been toppled.

In March 2002, White House officials heard George W. Bush’s comment about Saddam Hussein: “F___ him. We’re taking him out.” (Time, March 31, 2003) Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill contended Bush was planning to topple the Saddam regime in mid-2002. (www.seattlepinwsource.com; January 13, 2004)

Cheney and Rumsfeld pushed for a plan to aggressively confront Hussein. They argued that he presented a serious threat and that time was not on the side of the United States. The first White House meeting of principals occurred on February 5, 2001. Bush met with Tenet, Cheney, Powell, and Rumsfeld to discuss Iraqi policy and to consider diplomatic, military, and covert operations. (Washington Post, August 1, 2002; Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

High-level administration officials were unclear as to which policy to pursue against Hussein. Two distinct factions emerged as Bush’s foreign policy team debated the best way to follow through on the administration’s pledge to increase pressure on Baghdad. The largest difference between the two camps involved the depth of American support for controversial opposition forces attempting to mobilize Iraqi exiles to oust Hussein. (New York Times, February 19, 2001)

One faction, including representatives of Cheney’s office, the Pentagon, and Congress, advocated an aggressive strategy designed to empower the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the main opposition group, to launch military operations against Hussein. (New York Times, February 19, 2001)

The other administration faction, centered within the State Department, favored a policy of sanctions against Iraq and more modest support for the opposition, limited largely to intelligence, propaganda, and aid for displaced Iraqis. Proponents of this approach believed they stood a better chance of enticing European and Arab allies back into a common policy fold. (New York Times, February 19, 2001)

Both groups shared a goal of forcing Hussein to honor the terms of the 1991 Persian Gulf War cease-fire, especially his pledge to surrender all weapons of mass destruction and stop threatening both his own people and neighboring states. But under Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Operation Desert Storm, the State Department was wary of the INC and of the potential dangers of even low-level military support that could become open-ended and increasingly costly. As secretary of state, Powell endorsed American support for an INC mission that would be limited to “public diplomacy” and humanitarian work. (New York Times, February 19, 2001)

The INC’s internal divisions were responsible for fighting that broke out in 1996 among its rival Kurdish wings, opening the door for Hussein to send troops to the north in Kurdistan. Both the INC and the CIA station operating in the region were forced to flee to Turkey. Subsequently, the INC developed a series of military options for U.S. consideration. They included launching operations from Kurdistan, from Iran, or from southern Iraq.

As the Bush administration considered its options, illegal oil shipments continued to flow by land through Turkey and Jordan and via Iran’s sea lanes, but they were very small loads compared with the Syrian route. The operations to Turkey and Iran were slow, logistically difficult, and costly due to transfers on both land and sea and heavy bribery along the way, on top of price discounts. (New York Times, January 23, 2001).

Senior White House officials reported that Hussein, by opening the oil pipeline to Syria in November 2000, generated at least $2 million daily in illegal funds since November 2000. The operation was carrying about 150,000 barrels per day, producing income that went straight into Hussein’s pockets rather than to the United Nations “oil for food” program. The capacity of this section of the pipeline was 200,000 barrels per day which could produce at least an additional $500,000 a day for Iraq. Baghdad and Damascus signed a memorandum of understanding in 1998 to reopen the pipeline, which was closed in 1982 because of disputes between the two. However, it was not to take effect until after United Nations sanctions were lifted.

General Tommy Franks, who was in charge of the Afghan war as head of Central Command, uttered a string of obscenities when the Pentagon told him to come up with an Iraq war plan in the midst of fighting another conflict. Rumsfeld gave Franks a blank check worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Woodward, but Congress was kept in the dark about it. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Cheney and Rumsfeld pushed for a plan to aggressively confront Hussein. They argued that he presented a serious threat and that time was not on the side of the United States. (Washington Post, August 1, 2002)

Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee in July that the situation with Hussein would not improve. Rumsfeld said there were “differing views about what one ought to do” but that the relationship between the top civilian and military leaders at the Pentagon was close. One advocate of confronting Hussein said he was concerned that the determined opposition of senior military leaders ultimately would dissuade Bush.

On the other hand, Secretary of State Powell and CIA Director George Tenet were skeptical about a military campaign which, they maintained, would be long and costly. Similarly, most of the senior uniformed military, with the notable exception of some top Air Force and Marine generals, opposed going to war soon. That position led to frustration among civilian officials in the Pentagon and in the White House. In addition, some suspect that Powell’s stance had produced an unusual alliance between the State Department and the uniformed side of the Pentagon, elements of the government that usually seemed to oppose each other in foreign policy debates.

Some top military officials argued that the policy of aggressive containment — through “no-fly” zones, a naval enforcement of sanctions, and the nearby presence of 20,000 American military personnel — had kept Hussein from becoming an immediate threat.

Two people involved in the Bush administration — one inside the Pentagon, one outside it — said Cheney and others at the White House were growing concerned that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military leaders had fought Rumsfeld and other civilian hawks to a standstill. He and others cited an atmosphere in which information about planning on Iraq was being tightly held in the administration, especially at the Pentagon.

Some civilians in the debate worried that military planners consistently called for more troops in every plan because they lacked an appreciation of how technological advances had improved the military’s offensive capabilities since the Persian Gulf War in 1991. (Washington Post, August 1, 2002)

In July 2002, Bush needed $700 million for an Iraqi war. He approved it. But Congress did not know and it is done. “They get the money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved. … Some people are gonna look at a document called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the treasury unless appropriated by Congress. Congress was totally in the dark on this.” (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Prince Bandar enjoyed easy access to the Oval Office. His family and the Bush family were close. Woodward reported that Bandar has promised the president that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election – to ensure the American economy is strong on election day.” (60 Minutes, April 19, 2004)

Bandar understood that economic conditions were key before a presidential election. ”Their oil prices high. And they could go down very quickly. That’s the Saudi pledge. Certainly over the summer, or as we get closer to the election, they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly.” (60 Minutes, April 19, 2004)

With CIA Director Tenet’s approval, Saul, Deputy Director John McLaughlin and James Pavitt, the deputy director for operations, worked on a new “Top Secret” intelligence order for regime change in Iraq that Bush signed on February 16, 2002. It directed the CIA to support the United States military in overthrowing Hussein and granted authority to support opposition groups and conduct sabotage operations inside Iraq. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

The cost was set at $200 million a year for two years. The leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees were informed secretly. After some disputes in Congress, the budget was cut to $189 million for the first year. Saul would be able to run what he called “offensive counterintelligence” operations to prevent Hussein’s security apparatus from identifying CIA sources. But most important, the CIA could then work actively with anti-Hussein opposition forces inside Iraq and conduct paramilitary operations inside the country. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

In March, Tenet met secretly with two individuals who would be critical to covert action inside Iraq: Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, the leaders of the two main Kurdish groups in northern Iraq. The two controlled separate areas of a Kurdish region roughly the size of Maine. The areas were effectively autonomous from Hussein’s Baghdad regime, but Iraqi military units were stationed just miles from the Kurdish strongholds. Hussein could easily send them to fight and slaughter the Kurds as he had done after the 1991 Persian Gulf War when they had risen up expecting United States protection, which was not provided. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Tenet had one message for Barzani and Talabani: The United States was serious, the military and the CIA were coming. It was different this time. The CIA was not going to be alone. The military would attack. Bush meant what he said. It was a new era. Hussein was going down. Of course, Tenet did not know if what he was saying was true, whether war was going to happen. But he had to raise the expectation of the Kurds to win cooperation and engagement. He was about to send some of his paramilitary and case officers into a very dangerous environment. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Tenet could pay millions, tens of millions of dollars in $100 bills. If Defense Department civilians or officers, or State Department diplomats, paid money to get anyone to act or change policy, it could be illegal bribery. The CIA was the one part of the United States government that was authorized to pay off people. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Tenet told Bush that some money was going to be paid on speculation in order to establish relationships and demonstrate seriousness. Saul knew solid intelligence and effective lethal operations could not be done from the sidelines. Though the CIA had a massive effort going on all of Iraq’s borders, the agency needed to be inside. Saul sent out messages seeking volunteers. At least one entire CIA station from the chief on down volunteered. Saul drafted Tim, a former Navy SEAL fluent in Arabic who was a covert operations officer at a CIA station in the region, to lead one of two paramilitary teams he was sending into northern Iraq. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Saul issued Tim instructions: “I want Hussein’s military penetrated. I want the intel service penetrated. I want the security apparatus penetrated. I want tribal networks inside Iraq who will do things for us — paramilitary, sabotage, ground intelligence. Work the relationship with the Kurds. See if it is feasible to train and arm them so they can tie down Hussein’s forces in the north.” (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

In mid-June, Bush issued an executive order for the toppling Hussein received support from Republicans on Capitol Hill. The directive directed the CIA to use all available tools, including:

1. It increased support to Iraqi opposition groups and forces inside and outside Iraq including money, weapons, equipment, training and intelligence information.

2. It expanded efforts to collect intelligence within Iraqi government, military, security service and overall population where pockets of intense anti-Hussein sentiment have been detected.

3. It made possible the use of CIA and United States Special Forces teams, similar to those that have been successfully deployed in Afghanistan since the September 11 airliner attacks. Such forces would be authorized to kill the Iraqi president if they were acting in self-defense. (Washington Post, June 15, 2002)

Tenet told Bush and his Cabinet that the covert program alone — without military action or diplomatic and economic pressure — had only about a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of succeeding. One source told the newspaper “the CIA covert action should be viewed largely as ‘preparatory’ to a military strike so the agency could identify targets, intensify intelligence gathering on the ground in Iraq, and build relations with alternative future leaders and groups if Saddam were ousted.” (Washington Post, June 15, 2002)

But some Democrats were skeptical of the president who had no experience in the international arena. Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle expressed some reservations about the timing of any such effort. “There is broad support for a regime change in Iraq,” Daschle told the “Fox News Sunday” program. “The question is how do we do it and when do we do it. … I think the timing of all this is very important but we want to work with the administration and try to find the best way and the best time to do this.” (New York Times, June 17, 2002)

Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he hoped the White House would “make sure that we have a plan that we don’t miss on. If the covert action doesn’t work, we better be prepared to move forward with another action, an overt action. And it seems to me that we can’t afford to miss. … We need a plan. And to the best of my knowledge, I know of three distinct plans being discussed within the administration and three distinct points of view as to how to proceed.

Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee in July that the situation with Hussein would not improve. Rumsfeld said there were “differing views about what one ought to do” but that the relationship between the top civilian and military leaders at the Pentagon was close. One advocate of confronting Hussein said he was concerned that the determined opposition of senior military leaders ultimately would dissuade Bush. (Washington Post, August 1, 2002)

On the other hand, Powell and Tenet were skeptical about a military campaign which, they maintained, would be long and costly. Similarly, most of the senior uniformed military, with the notable exception of some top Air Force and Marine generals, opposed going to war soon. That position led to frustration among civilian officials in the Pentagon and in the White House. In addition, some suspect that Powell’s stance had produced an unusual alliance between the State Department and the uniformed side of the Pentagon, elements of the government that usually seemed to oppose each other in foreign policy debates. (Washington Post, August 1, 2002)

In late August, Cheney spelled out the Bush administration’s rationale for ousting Hussein, saying he believed that the dictator would add the nuclear bomb “fairly soon” to his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. He added, “In the past decade, Saddam has systematically broken each of these agreements.” Moreover, he said, “We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. … Many of us are convinced that Saddam Hussein will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon. Just how soon, we cannot really gauge.” (Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2002)

Cheney’s comments came as the president’s lawyers concluded that he could launch a military strike against Iraq without new approval from Congress. But Senate Democrats disputed the White House claim that Bush was not legally bound to seek congressional approval for a military strike against Iraq. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said the decision to go to war “should not be treated like a technicality.” (Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2002)

In September, Powell added more fuel to the fire when he finally came out publicly in an interview on British Broadcasting Corporation (September 1, 2002) and announced his differences with the inexperienced Bush. Before the Bush administration were to launch an invasion of Iraq, Powell called on United Nations weapons inspectors to return to Iraq and to prove that Hussein posed a threat before any action should be taken.

Powell said inspections should be a first step, but he made it clear it had to be a “very firm inspections regime” because the Iraqi government was still committed to acquiring nuclear weapons and other instruments of mass destruction. Powell said, “The president has been clear that he believes weapons inspectors should return. Iraq has been in violation of many U.N. resolutions for most of the last 11 or so years. And so, as a first step, let’s see what the inspectors find. Send them back in. Why are they being kept out?” (Washington Post, September 2, 2002)

After months of quarreling with the inexperienced Bush on a wide variety of issues, it appeared as if Powell had had enough. Time (September 10, 2002) reported he planned to step down at the end of Bush’s term in January 2005. The magazine quoted sources close to Powell as saying that he had a firm plan for an exit after serving out the entire term. “He will have done a yeoman’s job of contributing over the four year,” a close aide was quoted as saying. “but that’s enough.” The aide stressed that Powell was determined to serve out the entire term, even if the United States launched an invasion of Iraq. (Washington Post, September 2, 2002)

Meanwhile, Rice claimed that the United States and other nations had little choice but to seek the removal of Hussein from power. She cited “a very powerful moral case” for action. (Washington Post, August 16, 2002) Rice told British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), “This is an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbors and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, on all of us. There is a very powerful moral case for regime change. We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing.”

Rice noted that after September 11, the most immediate threat was Al Qaeda. But she said Hussein posed a looming threat that could not be ignored. “Clearly, if Saddam Hussein is left in power doing the things that he is doing now, this is a threat that will emerge, and emerge in a very big way. … The case for regime change is very strong. This is a regime that we know has twice tried and come closer than we thought at the time to acquiring nuclear weapons. He has used chemical weapons against his own people and against his neighbors, he has invaded his neighbors, he has killed thousands of his own people. He shoots at our planes, our airplanes, in the no-fly zones where we are trying to enforce U.N. security resolutions.” (Washington Post, August 16, 2002)

While Bush had tremendous difficulty drumming up support from the international community as well as from Americans on the homefront, he remained intent on attacking Iraq. In a speech in South Dakota on August 15, Bush said, “And we got a lot of work to do, we’ve got a lot of work to do. And that’s why this budget I submitted is a significant budget. The House passed its version, the Senate passed its version. They’ve now got to get together as quickly as possible, as soon as possible, and get the defense appropriations bill to my desk nearly upon arrival. In other words, as soon as they get back from the recess, I need to sign the bill “so we can plan for the war.”

Another White House hawk, Richard Perle, gave also gave away the fact that Bush had already decided on war. According to Perle (New York Times, August 16, 2002), if the president did not invade Iraq, it would lead to “a collapse of confidence.” From that, one could infer that Bush was concerned that if he did not topple Hussein, he would be discerned as the biggest wimp since his father.

Not all former and present high-ranking administration officials were hawkish. Some from the elder Bush’s administration opposed an incursion of Iraq. These included Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor, and James Baker, secretary of state and chief of staff, and Larry Eagleburger. Even the “master” of the Gulf War, General Norman Schwarzkopf, and former hawkish secretary of state from the Nixon administration, Henry Kissinger, criticized Bush’s plans.

Kissinger said in an interview with the Washington Post (August 12, 2002) that there would be severe international complications of any military campaign. He added that American policy “will be judged by how the aftermath of the military operation is handled politically. … Military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed.” Kissinger also said the challenge was to build a careful case that the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction calls for creation of a new international security framework in which pre-emptive action may sometimes be justified.

Others opposing an Iraqi incursion were Senators Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar and House majority leader Dick Armey. It took four months of pressure from the White House to convince the influential House majority leader to change his stance and support an attack on Iraq.

Bush’s critics favored the eventual removal of Hussein, but some said they are concerned that Bush was the proceeding in a way that risked alienating allies. They also charged that Bush was creating greater instability in the Middle East, and harming long-term American interests. They added that the administration had not shown that Iraq posed an urgent threat to the United States. (New York Times, August 15, 2002)

Scowcroft dealt another blow to Bush, who appeared determined to avenge his father’s “defeat” in Iraq, because he was virtually a member of the Bush family during the elder Bush’s term and had maintained close relations with the former president.

Scowcroft was quoted in the Wall Street Journal (August 12, 2002) as saying that if the United States “were seen to be turning our backs” on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute “in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us. … There is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive.” Scowcroft also warned that “an attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counter-terrorist campaign we have undertaken.” According to Scowcroft, an attack might provoke Iraq to use chemical or biological weapons in an effort to trigger war between Israel and the Arab world.

Scowcroft also said, “Saddam is a familiar dictatorial aggressor, with traditional goals. There is little evidence to indicate that the United States itself is an object of his aggression. Rather, Saddam’s problem with the U.S. appears to be that we stand in the way of his ambitions. He seeks weapons of mass destruction not to arm terrorists, but to deter us from intervening.” (Los Angeles Times, August 28, 2002)

Lawrence Eagleburger, who was briefly secretary of state for Bush’s father, told ABC News (August 14, 2002) that unless Hussein “has his hand on a trigger that is for a weapon of mass destruction, and our intelligence is clear, I don’t know why we have to do it now, when all our allies are opposed to it.” Similarly, conservative GOP House leader Dick Armey raised similar concerns.

Finally, the elder Bush’s Secretary of State James A. Baker III opposed an American invasion. Baker, who said he supported the goal of “regime change,” argued in a column in the New York Times (August 27, 2002), “Seeking new authorization (from the United Nations now is necessary, politically and practically, and will help build international support.”

Even though the White House tried to play down the differences, Bush still maintained a hard-line position, charging that Hussein had failed to show any indication whatsoever that he had disarmed or intended to do so. (Washington Post, September 2, 2002)

On August 14, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, and CIA Director George J. Tenet met without the president. Powell said they needed to think about getting a coalition for action against Iraq. The British supported an Iraqi invasion, but their support was tentative in the absence of some international coalition. Most of Europe and the Arabian peninsula also felt Bush should go to the United Nations. Bush’s inner circle finally agreed that the president should not go to the United Nations to ask for a declaration of war. They all agreed that a speech about Iraq made sense. But there was no agreement about what the president should say. (Bob Woodward, Bush at War)

The NSC met with Bush on August 16. The sole purpose of the meeting was for Powell to make his pitch about going to the United Nations to seek support or a coalition in some form. Powell again said that a unilateral war would not be acceptable. Bush finally approved the approach — a speech to the United Nations about Iraq. (New York Times, November 17, 2002)

Meetings on the drafting continued for days. The speech assailed the United Nations for not enforcing the weapons inspections in Iraq, specifically for the four years since Hussein had evicted UNSCOM inspectors. Powell argued that Bush “can’t say all of this without asking them to do something. There’s no action in this speech. It says, ‘Here’s what he’s done wrong; here’s what he has to do to fix himself,’ and then it stops? You’ve got to ask for something.” (Bob Woodward, Bush at War)

As the war drums resonated louder and louder, Powell hoped to explain his position on an Iraq. Opposing an American incursion, Powell’s proposal was to continue the Clinton administration’s policy of handling Hussein as a public relations problem – to ease economic sanctions on Iraq and to show the Muslim world the United States was an honorable nation.

Bush told aides in December, “Make sure no one stretches to make our case” about WMD. However, records showed it was Bush and Vice President Cheney who, well before this cautionary statement, were aggressively hyping intelligence. For instance, Bush claimed in October that Iraq had “a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons.” (White House release, October 2002) That allegation was rejected by the Air Force at the time.

Bush also claimed definitively that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons” despite warnings from United States intelligence agencies that there was no solid proof. Similarly, Vice President Cheney was even more assertive, claiming without proof in August 2002 “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has WMD.” (White House release, August 2002)

Even after Bush made his cautionary statement, the overhyping continued, with Cheney saying, that Iraq had, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. Bush claimed, “We found the WMD,” and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said, “We know where the WMDs are.”

On December 19, National Security Adviser Rice asked Tenet and McLaughlin how strong the case was on WMD and what could be said publicly. The agency’s October national estimate had concluded that Hussein has chemical and biological weapons had been out for more than two months. The congressional resolutions supporting war had passed by nearly 3 to 1; and the Security Council, where a weapons inspection resolution had passed 15 to 0, was actively engaged in inspections inside Iraq. Still something was missing. Even Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz had commented recently on the inconclusive nature of judgments about Hussein’s WMD. Woodward wrote of a White House meeting on December 21, attended by CIA Director Tenet and his top deputy John McLaughlin, who briefed the president and vice president, assuring them that Hussein definitely possessed WMD. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Two days later, Tenet and McLaughlin went to the Oval Office. The meeting was for presenting “The Case” on WMD as it might be presented to a jury with “top secret” security clearances. There was great expectation. In addition to the president, Cheney, Rice, and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card Jr. attended. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

According to Woodward, Bush turned to CIA Director Tenet and asked. “George, how confident are you?” Tenet replied, “It’s a “slam-dunk.” But that “slam dunk” case fell apart after United States forces occupied Iraq and failed to find the stockpiles the administration insisted had been there. (60 Minutes, April 19, 2004)

Bush told Tenet several times, “Make sure no one stretches to make our case.” Tenet and McLaughlin made it clear they did not want to write a speech for a political appointee or an elected official. That would be crossing the line. They cleared speeches for facts. They also did not want to write a document that had any sales or marketing element. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

The president was determined to hand the evidence over to experienced lawyers who could use it to make the best possible case. The document was given to Rice’s deputy, Stephen Hadley and Cheney’s chief aide, Scooter Libby. They visited the CIA and posed a series of questions that the agency answered in writing. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

As far as Libby was concerned, the CIA had made the case that Hussein had WMD and significant terrorist ties. The CIA had been collecting intelligence on Iraqi WMD for decades. There was no doubt where the agency stood: The October NIE had said Hussein had chemical and biological weapons, and Tenet had declared the case a “slam dunk.” Libby believed that the agency, which had the hard job of sifting and evaluating so much information, at times missed or overlooked potentially important material, intelligence that might not be definitive,. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

On January 25, Libby gave a presentation in the Situation Room to Rice, Hadley, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Wolfowitz, White House communications director Dan Bartlett, and speechwriter Michael Gerson. White House political director Karl Rove was in and out of the meeting. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Libby outlined the latest version of the case against Hussein. He said evidence was being dug up, moved, and buried. No one knew for sure what it was precisely, but the locations and stealth fit the pattern of WMD concealment. He began each section with blunt conclusions — Hussein had chemical and biological weapons, was producing and concealing them; his ties to Al Qaeda were numerous and strong. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Libby said that Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 attacks, was believed to have met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer and cited intelligence of as many as four meetings. The others knew the CIA had evidence of two meetings perhaps, and that there was no certainty about what Atta had been doing in Prague or whether he had met with the Iraqi official. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Wolfowitz, who had been convinced years ago of Iraq’’ complicity in anti-American terrorism, thought Libby presented a strong case. He subscribed to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s notion that lack of evidence did not mean something did not exist. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

The Bush-Saud connection was reflected by the close relationship that Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, enjoyed with the Bush family. Bandar had easy access to the Oval Office. In a visit to Bush’s ranch at Crawford, Texas, Bandar promised the president that Saudi Arabia would lower oil prices in the months before the election – to ensure the American economy is strong on election day.” Bandar specifically wanted Bush to know that the Saudis hope to “fine-tune oil prices” for the 2004 election. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack; 60 Minutes, April 19, 2004)

Bandar understood that economic conditions were key before a presidential election. ”Their oil prices high. And they could go down very quickly. That’s the Saudi pledge. Certainly over the summer, or as we get closer to the (November 2004) election, they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly.” (60 Minutes, April 19, 2004)

On January 11, 2003, Rumsfeld met with Bandar and looked him in the eye: “You can count on this. You can take that to the bank.” Cheney added, “Prince Bandar, once we start, Saddam is toast.” (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Incredibly, senior Bush administration officials waited until February to discuss the probability of something going wrong during and after an American invasion. Secretary Rumsfeld’s five-page list included a “concern about Saddam Hussein using weapons of mass destruction against his own people and blaming it on us, which would fit a pattern.” Rumsfeld noted that Hussein “could do what he did to the Kuwaiti oil fields and explode them, detonate, in a way that lost that important revenue for the Iraqi people.” The oil fields were of great concern to the White House, since it was counting on Iraqi oil revenues to help pay for rebuilding the nation. (New York Times, February 18, 2003)

Although administration officials were also concerned about the ultimate number of American casualties, they declined to discuss the issue and it was not known how that risk figured in Rumsfeld’s list. One senior White House official said that a protracted war could lead to increased casualties. He said, “How long will this go on? Three days, three weeks, three months, three years?” (New York Times, February 18, 2003)

The Rumsfeld document also warned of Hussein hiding his weapons in mosques or hospitals or cultural sites, and using his citizenry or captured foreign journalists as human shields. The risks, Rumsfeld said, “run the gamut from concerns about some of the neighboring states being attacked, concerns about the use of weapons of mass destruction against those states or against our forces in or out of Iraq.” (New York Times, February 18, 2003)

Another concern was the uncertainty of how American forces would be received in Iraq. The official asked, “Will it be cheers, jeers or shots? And the fact is, we won’t know until we get there.” (New York Times, February 18, 2003)

On March 18, Bush spoke with Russian President Putin. They agreed that the United Nations would be involved in a post-war Iraq. Bush never kept his promise.

Bush suffered a number of setbacks as he was set to attack in the spring of 2003:

1. Bush’s popularity began and continued to slide.

2. The elder Bush lectured his son on his decision to virtually ignore the United Nations.

3. World-wide protests intensified.

4. Bush became increasingly frustrated that United Nations inspector Hans Blix failed to find “weapons of mass destruction.”

5. The Bush administration considered the use of nuclear armaments as a part of the president’s “doctrine of preemption.” (Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2003)

6. Projections of the cost of an Iraqi war began mounting.

7. Iraqi documents linked United States and European corporations to the sale of technology to Baghdad in the 1980s.

8. The world community could not understand why Bush failed to explain plans to rebuild a war-torn Iraq, if an American invasion would materialize.

9. A political counselor at the American Embassy in Athens became the first diplomat to resign over Bush’s Iraq policy.

10. Tensions continued to increase in northern Iraq, as the Kurds feared a Turkish invasion from the west once Hussein was overthrown.

11. Bush said he would probably order Iraqi’s Saddam Hussein’s death “if we had a clear shot” at the Iraqi leader.

12. France, Russia, and Germany balked at Bush’s insistence to give him the green light to wage war.

13. Turkey’s Parliament voted against allowing American troops to stage an invasion from its soil.

14. By Iraq destroying medium-range Al Samoud 2 missiles and empty warheads, Bush had one less reason to launch his war.

15. The Pentagon reluctantly acknowledged that 250,000 faulty battle-dress overgarment (BDO) suits were manufactured by Isratex Inc. Another 800,000 other BDO suits were manufactured correctly. The Pentagon was unable to distinguish between the defective and dependable BDOs.

16. News broke that Rumsfeld had business ties to North Korea, and Bush had connections to an accused terrorist.

17. In early 2003, the Bush administration was embarrassed when it was revealed that Sami Amin al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor charged with being the American leader of a Mideast terrorist group, was photographed with the president during the 2000 campaign.

18. The IAEA charged that the United States used faked and erroneous evidence to support the claims that Iraq was importing enriched uranium and other material for the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

19. Powell falsely claimed that Iraq had created a “poison factory” in the northeast part of the country.

20. Bush’s dangerous unilateral approach to global politics triggered a wave of nationalism across the United States, reminiscent of the nationalism that swept across Europe in the nineteenth century.

21. While Bush repeatedly declared that democracy would bring peace to the Middle East, the State Department expressed doubt that installing a new regime in Iraq would foster the spread of democracy.

4. INSULATING THE PRESIDENT: TELLING HIM WHAT HE SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT KNOW

 

1. THE CIA. One year before Bush went off to war, the CIA had only one case officer in Iraq. He was posing undercover as a diplomat working in the embassy of another country. The CIA also developed sources within the Iraqi military, largely through the Iraqi National Accord that was an exile group led by Ayad Allawi who eventually became the interim prime minister. But one of the military officers had knowledge about Iraq’s WMD. (James Risen, State of War)

As a result, the CIA turned to the United States to recruit Sawson Tawfig whose brother Saad was identified as a senior figure in Iraq’s nuclear program. Sawson had emigrated from Iraq to the United States several years earlier. Using her married name, the Iraqi government did not know her identity since she used her married name upon returning to Iraq under the pretense of visiting a sick relative. (James Risen, State of War)

The CIA had given Sawson a series of questions to ask her brother. How close were the Iraqis to a nuclear weapon? How much weapons-grade fuel did Iraq have? How advanced is the country’s centrifuge program? What process was Iraq using for isotope separation? Where were the weapons’ factories? What other scientists were involved in the program? (James Risen, State of War)

Saad denied the existence of any such program. Sawson said “he just kept saying there is nothing.” The nuclear program had been dead since the first Gulf War in 1991. Saad said that even before that 1991 war, Iraq was three years away from producing a nuclear weapon and that the program had been abandoned after the war. He added that there was no effort to rebuild the nuclear program. (James Risen, State of War)

When Sawson returned to the United States, she was debriefed by several CIA officials. They thanked her for her efforts, saying that the information was very important to them. (James Risen, State of War)

But the CIA never passed the reports to senior policy makers in the Bush administration. The CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence, responsible for collecting information from spies, ignored the report from Sawson. (James Risen, State of War)

Meanwhile, the Bush administration continued to “cherry-pick” only the reports that indicated Iraq might have a nuclear program, For example, the National Intelligence Estimate confidently stated that Iraq “is reconstituting its nuclear program.” (James Risen, State of War)

Many CIA officials — from case workers to senior managers — knew they did not have evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear program. Tenet and his top lieutenants only used intelligence reports that supported Bush’s allegation that Iraq possessed WMD and was moving ahead in its nuclear program. Tenet told Bush what he wanted to hear. The CIA director either ignored or censored reports that suggested Iraq was not a nuclear threat. He did not want to create a rift between the CIA and the Bush administration. (James Risen, State of War)

However, some CIA officials knew Saddam did not pose a threat.

1. The chief of the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) of the Directorate of Operations was in charge of recruiting spies and collecting intelligence in Iraq and in other countries. He told another CIA officer that the agency “did not have much intelligence on Iraqi WMD.” The officer also said, “There were a lot of people who said we didn’t have enough intelligence.” (James Risen, State of War)

2. Alan Foley, the director of the CIA’s Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) told a colleague on the day that Powell delivered his Security Council speech in February 2003 that the CIA simply did not have the evidence to back up what Powell was saying about WMD. (James Risen, State of War)

3. Two CIA analysts raised doubts when they suggested Iraq did not have a nuclear program. According to another CIA official, they were promptly “smacked down” by senior analysts in WINPAC. (James Risen, State of War)

On the other hand, reports from hawkish junior analysts were welcomed by senior officials in WINPAC – as long as their reports suggested Saddam had WMD. (James Risen, State of War)

At one WINPAC meeting, Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin said that analysts from the Department of Energy were skeptical that Saddam’s aluminum tubes could be used in a uranium enrichment program. Then a young WINPAC analyst, less than 30 years of age, responded, “No, that’s bullshit, there is only one use for them (aluminum tubes).” Tenet responded, “Yeah? Great.” (James Risen, State of War)

One WINPAC weapons’ analyst, identified as “Joe,” was the only primary advocate who argued that the aluminum tubes were being used in Saddam’s uranium program. The CIA had no other physical evidence. But “Joe” was able to circumvent the chain of command and speak directly with McLaughlin. (James Risen, State of War)

2. WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS PROTECT THE PRESIDENT. High-level Bush administration officials wanted to insulate Bush from an intra-White House struggle over doubts that Saddam had the capability to develop a nuclear program. In mid-2003, Karl Rove cautioned other White House aides that Bush’s 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. (National Journal, March 31, 2006)

Rove was particularly concerned when the Bush administration was warned that it was not true that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon. (National Journal, March 31, 2006)

Even though the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate said that Iraq’s aluminum tubes were “related to a uranium enrichment effort,” the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department’s intelligence branch said they “believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons.” (National Journal, March 31, 2006)

Stephen Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor, and other administration realized that it would be much more difficult to shield Bush from criticism for his statements regarding the aluminum tubes for three reasons:

1. Hadley’s review concluded that Bush had been directly and repeatedly apprised of the deep rift within the intelligence community over whether Iraq wanted the high-strength aluminum tubes for a nuclear weapons program or for conventional weapons.

2. Bush and others in the administration had cited the aluminum tubes as the most compelling evidence that Saddam was determined to build a nuclear weapon — even more than the allegations that he was attempting to purchase uranium.

3. Full disclosure of the internal dissent over the importance of the tubes would have almost certainly raised broader questions about the administration’s conduct in the months leading up to war. (National Journal, March 31, 2006)

The President’s Summary was only one of several high-level warnings given to Bush and other senior administration officials that serious doubts existed about the intended use of the tubes. In mid-September 2002, two weeks before Bush received the October 2002 President’s Summary, Tenet informed him that both State and Energy had doubts about the aluminum tubes and that even some within the CIA were not certain that the tubes were meant for nuclear weapons. Even Powell had doubts that the tubes might be used for nuclear weapons. (National Journal, March 31, 2006)

The White House’s damage control was largely successful, because the public did not learn until after the 2004 elections the full extent of Bush’s knowledge that the assessment linking the aluminum tubes to a nuclear weapons program might not be true. The most crucial information was kept under wraps until long after Bush’s re-election. (National Journal, March 31, 2006)

After 25 months and five days in the White House, George W. Bush finally got his war.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] George W. Bush’s dangerous unilateral approach to global politics triggered a wave of nationalism across the United States, reminiscent of the nationalism that swept across Europe in the nineteenth century. Americans held the attitude that their country was superior, as they bashed the French, Germans, and others who sought a diplomatic solution to war. Read more… […]

    Pingback by HOW BUSH DECIDED TO GO TO WAR « Arab bARABie blog — November 2, 2007 @ 11:20 am


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