George Bush, in meetings at the White House the afternoon of September 11, 2001 and the following days, wanted to attack Iraq, not Afghanistan, according to his top anti-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke.
Journalist Mickey Herskowitz said that Bush “was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999.” Bush told him:
“One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief…My father had all this capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and wasted it…If I have a chance to invade…if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.” For More.
Ron Suskind wrote “The Price of Loyalty,” utilizing Bush’s former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, a permanent member of the National Security Council, as his main source. O’Neill described the first meeting:
“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.” Saddam was the number one subject, ’10 days after the inauguration-eight months before 9/11.'”
“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we could do to change the regime. Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”
“It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’ “For me, the notion of pre-emption. that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is really a big leap.”
At the next NSC meeting two days later, briefing materials were provided. “There are memos. One of them marked, secret, says, ‘Plan for post-Saddam Iraq.'” He added that the Council “discussed an occupation of Iraq in January and February of 2001.”
“He (O’Neill) obtained one Pentagon document, dated March 5, 2001, and entitled ‘Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield contracts,’ which includes a map of potential areas for exploration.”
Clarke had tried to warn the administration about al Qaeda days after Bush had assumed office. He said, “…on January 24th, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently-underlined urgently-a cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack. And that urgent memo wasn’t acted on.”
“Clarke finally got his meeting about al Qaeda in April, three months after his urgent request.” But it was with the second-in-command of cabinet officers and without Bush.
He recalls briefing the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz:
“I began saying, ‘We have to deal with bin Laden; we have to deal with al Qaeda.’ Paul Wolfowitz…said, No, no, no. We don’t have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.’
“And I said, ‘Paul, there hasn’t been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States in eight years!’ And I turned to the deputy director of the CIA and said, ‘Isn’t that right?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, that’s right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States.”
Clarke added: “There’s absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever.”
Finally, the cabinet meeting he “asked for right after the inauguration, took place-one week prior to 9/11.”
“In that meeting, Clarke proposed a plan to bomb al Qaeda’s sanctuary in Afghanistan, and to kill bin Laden.”
On September 11th and after, Bush “and his advisers, including Clarke, began holding meetings” on a response to the attacks. Clarke said the conversation “quickly turned to Iraq.”
“Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq.” Advisers now had to correct him. “Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan. I said, “Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.”
Clarke under pressure from Bush:
“The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, ‘I want you to find whether Iraq did this.’ Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.
“I said, ‘Mr. President. We’ve done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There’s no connection.
“He came back at me and said, ‘Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there’s a connection.’ And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report.”
“It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, ‘Will you sign this report?’ They all cleared the report. And we sent the report up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, ‘Wrong answer…Do it again.'”
Clarke is highly critical of Bush “for not going to battle stations when the CIA warned him of a…threat in the months before Sept. 11. He (Bush) never thought it was important enough for him to hold a meeting on the subject, or for him to order his National Security Adviser to hold a Cabinet-level meeting on the subject.”
Bush attacked Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001 and drove the Taliban and al Qaeda forces into Pakistan. Osama bin Laden is believed to have escaped when an escape route “blocked” by a local tribe failed in its mission.
Both groups found a safe haven in Pakistan, a nation under threat from Islamic true believers. And so we became bogged down in another pointless war.
The Taliban were not a threat to America, only to Afghan citizens, especially women. Bush’s tactics in Afghanistan were doomed to failure by sending in forces to occupy and change the mindset of hardened Muslims still stuck in a time warp. And Islam, contrary to what you may have heard, is not compatible with democracy.
Protect the Afghan citizens from the Taliban and Islamic law? Only if you want to maintain a permanent presence there. And you still won’t have order. The plan should have been to attack al Qaeda, a proven threat to our nation, with special ops and continue to launch missions against them in their safe haven. It would be more effective and certainly more cost effective with a lot less American casualties.
Bush announced his National Security Strategy of the United States of America in 2002, which included a policy of preemptive strikes against any nation deemed a real and present danger to America. The first target-Iraq.
As members of his cabinet said, Bush wanted to attack Iraq from day one. There was no provocation, although his administration did invent some, including an al-Qaeda connection and having weapons of mass destruction. Many American soldiers were killed and horribly maimed so that he could be known as a “great leader.” He failed.
The bottom line: The Taliban aren’t going anywhere and Iraq is on shaky ground in a number of areas.
During his term, Bush set up forward bases among oil nations in the area. They are filled with weapons and supplies. In a crisis of a military nature, an American rapid response force would be flown in to begin defending oil nations under attack. We can look forward to a lot of action as the oil supplies decrease during an economic upturn.
As for a possible 80,000 more troops in Afghanistan, we don’t have them. I would suggest, instead, that we start bringing back a large number of our overseas troops, starting with Germany. What nation is threatening it now? Isn’t Germany a part of the European Union?