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February 19, 2013

Declassified: Bush’s Iraq Scheming Began in 2001


The National Security Archive has obtained documents confirming and expanding on what we already knew: The Bush administration was determined to invade and occupy Iraq whether there was justification or not.

Planning for this debacle began in earnest just months after the invasion of Afghanistan and covered such topics as how to sell a war without reason.
Even though the determination of the Pentagon neocons (Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle and friends) to invade Iraq is well documented, the National Security Archive’s wealth of material brings new depth to the story.
As Think Progress gleaned from one of the documents:
[T]he most alarming part of the document is a bullet point titled, “How start?” (which is a discussion that actually appears after the planning of the entire war). The participants in the Rumsfeld-Frank meeting discussed possible ways to provoke a conflict with Iraq, including an attack by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish north, the U.S. discovering a “Saddam connection” to 9/11 or the anthrax attacks, or a dispute over WMD inspections. It appears from the language of the talking points that the Bush administration had already decided to go to war with Iraq and was looking for an opportunity to invade. ...
There’s a lot more where that came from.  —PZS
National Security Archive:
Washington, D.C., September 22, 2010 – Following instructions from President George W. Bush to develop an updated war plan for Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered  CENTCOM Commander Gen. Tommy Franks in November 2001 to initiate planning for the “decapitation” of the Iraqi government and the empowerment of a “Provisional Government” to take its place.
       
     
Talking points for the Rumsfeld-Franks meeting on November 27, 2001, released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), confirm that policy makers were already looking for ways to justify invading Iraq – as indicated by Rumsfeld’s first point, “Focus on WMD.”

     
This document shows that Pentagon policy makers cited early U.S. experience in Afghanistan to justify planning for Iraq’s post-invasion governance in order to achieve their strategic objectives: “Unlike in Afghanistan, important to have ideas in advance about who would rule afterwards.”

     
Rumsfeld’s notes were prepared in close consultation with senior DOD officials Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. Among other insights, the materials posted today by the National Security Archive shed light on the intense focus on Iraq by high-level Bush administration officials long before the attacks of 9/11, and Washington’s confidence in perception management as a successful strategy for overcoming public and allied resistance to its plans.

     
This compilation further shows:

     
  • The preliminary strategy Rumsfeld imparted to Franks while directing him to develop a new war plan for Iraq
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  • Secretary of State Powell’s awareness, three days into a new administration, that Iraq “regime change” would be a principal focus of the Bush presidency
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  • Administration determination to exploit the perceived propaganda value of intercepted aluminum tubes – falsely identified as nuclear related – before completion of even a preliminary determination of their end use
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  • The difficulty of winning European support for attacking Iraq (except that of British Prime Minister Tony Blair) without real evidence that Baghdad was implicated in 9/11
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  • The State Department’s analytical unit observing that a decision by Tony Blair to join a U.S. war on Iraq “could bring a radicalization of British Muslims, the great majority of whom opposed the September 11 attacks but are increasingly restive about what they see as an anti-Islamic campaign”
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  • Pentagon interest in the perception of an Iraq invasion as a “just war” and State Department insights into the improbability of that outcome
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