[FoRK] The fever to fell Saddam

Contempt for Meatheads jbone at place.org
Fri Apr 16 11:01:04 PDT 2004

 From the war room...  sounds about right.  I just wish that:

   (a)  We'd stop undermining the legitimate war against al Qaeda by  
confusing it w/ Iraq
   (b)  We'd invest in real security, intelligence, and diplomacy  
instead of reconstruction


The fever to fell Saddam

The Washington Post [1] just put up its preview of Bob Woodward's new  
book Plan of Attack. This first section highlights Bush's shifting  
justifications of the invasion of Iraq. It doesn't matter that he sold  
the war on completely bogus pretenses, he says. He had another reason  
to invade: His duty to free people, by force if necessary.

 From the Post: "In two separate interviews with Woodward in December,  
Bush minimized the failure to find the weapons, expressed no doubts  
about his decision to invade Iraq, and enunciated an activist role for  
the United States based on it being 'the beacon for freedom in the  
world. I believe we have a duty to free people,' Bush told Woodward. 'I  
would hope we wouldn't have to do it militarily, but we have a duty.'

After giving the order to invade Iraq in March 2003, Bush prayed, he  
said. "'Going into this period, I was praying for strength to do the  
Lord's will. . . . I'm surely not going to justify war based upon God.  
Understand that. Nevertheless, in my case I pray that I be as good a  
messenger of His will as possible. And then, of course, I pray for  
personal strength and for forgiveness.' The president told Woodward  
that 'I am prepared to risk my presidency to do what I think is right.  
I was going to act. And if it could cost the presidency, I fully  
realized that. But I felt so strongly that it was the right thing to do  
that I was prepared to do so.' Asked by Woodward how history would  
judge the war, Bush replied: 'History. We don't know. We'll all be  

Woodward also describes the strained relationship between Dick Cheney  
-- who felt a "fever" to get rid of Hussein -- and Colin Powell. Cheney  
and Powell now barely speak, the book says.

 From the Post: "Powell felt Cheney and his allies -- his chief aide,  
Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz and  
undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith and what Powell  
called Feith's 'Gestapo' office -- had established what amounted to a  
separate government. The vice president, for his part, believed Powell  
was mainly concerned with his own popularity and told friends at a  
private dinner he hosted a year ago to celebrate the outcome of the war  
that Powell was a problem and 'always had major reservations about what  
we were trying to do.'"

"Before the war with Iraq, Powell bluntly told Bush that if he sent  
U.S. troops there 'you're going to be owning this place.' Powell and  
his deputy and closest friend, Richard L. Armitage, used to refer to  
what they called 'the Pottery Barn rule' on Iraq – 'you break it, you  
own it,' according to Woodward."

"But, when asked personally by the president, Powell agreed to present  
the U.S. case against Hussein at the United Nations in February, 2003  
-- a presentation described by White House communications director Dan  
Bartlett as 'the Powell buy-in.' Bush wanted someone with Powell's  
credibility to present the evidence that Hussein possessed weapons of  
mass destruction -- a case the president had initially found less than  
convincing when presented to him by CIA deputy director John McLaughlin  
at a White House meeting on December 21, 2002."

"McLaughlin's version used communications intercepts, satellite photos,  
diagrams and other intelligence. 'Nice try,' Bush said when he was  
finished, according to the book. 'I don't think this quite -- it's not  
something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of  
confidence from.' He then turned to Tenet, McLaughlin's boss and said,  
'I've been told all this intelligence about having WMD and this is the  
best we've got?' 'It's a slam dunk case,' Tenet replied, throwing his  
arms in the air. Bush pressed him again. 'George, how confident are  
you.' 'Don't worry, it's a slam dunk case,' Tenet repeated."

"Tenet later told associates he realized he should have said the  
evidence on weapons was not ironclad, according to Woodward."

But Bush had been looking for reasons to invade Iraq. As Richard Clarke  
says in his book, and as the White House admitted, [2] Bush pulled  
Clarke aside on Sept. 12, 2001, and told him to "go back over  
everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in  
any way."

Tenet may have told him it was a slam-dunk case, but it's clear that  
Bush didn't need one to do what he and Dick Cheney had dreamed of since  
taking office -- taking out Saddam.

-- Geraldine Sealey

[09:20 PDT, April 16, 2004]

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17347-2004Apr16.html

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