Derrick Z. Jackson / The Washington Post – 2006-04-05 21:28:39
WASHINGTON (April 3, 2006) — President Bush said he invaded Iraq to rid the world of a madman. It is ever-more clear Bush went mad to start it.
This week, The New York Times reported on a confidential memo about a meeting between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Jan. 31, 2003. It was just before Secretary of State Colin Powell would go before the United Nations to convince the world of the planetary threat of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and ask for a second UN resolution to condemn him.
In his Feb. 5 presentation, Powell used excerpts of conversations and satellite photographs to paint a picture of an Iraq where Hussein was concealing weapons of mass destruction.
Powell, whose credibility lay in his image as one of the few members of the Bush team to have actually fought in war, said, “We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.” He said Iraq’s “sophisticated facilities” could produce enough biological agents in a single month “to kill thousands upon thousands of people.”
Powell’s punch line was, “Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions.”
But Bush already had realized the sources were not panning out. According to a Times review of the entire Jan. 31 memo, written by Blair’s foreign policy adviser, David Manning, it showed that “the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq.”
With no weapons, Bush talked about provoking Hussein. “The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colors,” the Times quotes the memo as saying. “If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”
Bush had come up with an official start date of March 10 that, according to the memo, “was when the bombing would begin.” The war actually began March 19. The memo summarized the president as assuming, “The air campaign would probably last four days, during which some 1,500 targets would be hit. Great care would be taken to avoid hitting innocent civilians.”
Bush thought the air onslaught would ensure the early collapse of Hussein’s regime. Bush thought the air strikes “would destroy Hussein’s command and control quickly,” Iraq’s army would “fold very quickly,” and Hussein’s Republican Guard would be “decimated by the bombing.” Bush also assumed in the rebuilding of Iraq that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.”
Even though his growing fears about finding no weapons of mass destruction had reached the incredible point of considering fakery to make it look like Hussein started the war, Bush had the gall to go before the press on Jan. 31 after his meeting with Blair and show no doubt. A reporter asked Bush, “Mr. President, is Secretary Powell going to provide the undeniable proof of Iraq’s guilt that so many critics are calling for?”
Bush responded, “Well, all due in modesty, I thought I did a pretty good job myself of making it clear that he’s not disarming and why he should disarm. Secretary Powell will make a strong case about the danger of an armed Saddam Hussein. He will make it clear that Saddam Hussein is fooling the world, or trying to fool the world. He will make it clear that Saddam is a menace to peace in his own neighborhood. He will also talk about Al Qaeda links, links that really do portend a danger for America and for Great Britain, anybody else who loves freedom.”
Powell would deliver on Bush’s boast five days later, saying: “There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. … With this track record, Iraqi denials of supporting terrorism take their place alongside the other Iraqi denials of weapons of mass destruction. It is all a web of lies.”
The web spun by Bush has now cost the lives of 2,300 US soldiers, another 200 British and coalition soldiers, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Iraq is closer to civil war than stability. Three years later, it is the United States that is not disarming, with Bush admitting last week that our troops will be needed there past his presidency. We took out a madman with madness. At a minimum, there should be hearings, with Bush under oath. With any more details like this, the next step is impeachment.
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