J. D. Heyes
November 9, 2012
An elaborate, well-sourced blog posting alleges that Bush-era officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, may have used the 9/11 attacks as a false justification to strike the late Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
The Washington’s Blog entry begins by quoting Rumsfeld, who claimed just hours after the attacks that left nearly 3,000 Americans dead, the World Trade Center in ruins and the Pentagon smoldering, that his “interest is to hit Saddam Hussein,” – a statement attributed to him by NBC‘s chief Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski, who said he got it from a source inside the White House Situation Room.
‘Sweep it all up’
Next, the blog cites a CBS News story, which reported that notes taken by aides who were with Rumsfeld said he was already telling them to come up with a plan to strike Iraq though there was no evidence linking Iraq to 9/11:
With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H.” – meaning Saddam Hussein – “at same time. Not only UBL” – the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden. “Go massive,” the notes quote him as saying. “Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”
In the days following the attacks, the blog notes, President George W. Bush was told during a highly classified meeting that the U.S. intelligence community had no good intel linking the 9/11 attacks to Saddam or Iraq, and that there was scant, little evidence linking his regime to al Qaeda in general.
In fact, the Defense Department said Hussein’s government did not cooperate with al Qaeda prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, CBS News reported in 2009, a claim refuted by Cheney.
“However,” CBS said, “a declassified Pentagon report released Thursday said that interrogations of Saddam and two of his former aides as well as seized Iraqi documents confirmed that the terrorist organization and the Saddam government were not working together before the invasion.” In addition, the 9/11 Commission’s report, issued in 2004, said there was no evidence linking Saddam to al Qaeda, the network reported.
In 2005, The New York Times said the Bush administration pinned its Iraq-al Qaeda storyline on intelligence gleaned from an operative of the terrorist organization that intelligence officials later determined was providing false information:
A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.
The intelligence document, dated February 2002, said the operative, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading debriefers” about claims that Iraq was assisting al Qaeda in the development of weapons of mass destruction.
Thousands of troops died in Iraq
Several Bush administration officials used the dubious connection as justification nonetheless, with Bush himself declaring during a speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.”
Another operative, an Iraqi whose codename was Curveball, was also determined later to have provided false information about Iraq and mobile biological weapons labs.
Before Bush issued the order to the Pentagon in March 2003 to invade Iraq, he made official the al Qaeda narrative in his letter to Congress authorizing the use of force:
(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
It wasn’t until December 2005 that Bush finally admitted publicly that there had been no evidence directly linking Iraq to al Qaeda
As of this writing, 4,488 American troops have been killed in Iraq.