Sometimes it seems to me that so much information about Bush and his Not So Excellent Iraq Adventure has come to light that it’s hard to keep track of it all. One thing follows another so rapidly that a coherent story is difficult to assemble from all the various pieces, much less remember them all. So, I thought a diary which attempts to pull together and place in context what we do know about Bush and his Iraq folly might prove beneficial.
So – What do we know?
(More after the break . . . )
BEFORE BUSH BECAME PRESIDENT
We know that the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which included many individuals who would become members of Bush’s administration, including Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, proposed that the US promote “regime change” in Iraq and use our military’s unparalleled worldwide supremacy to establish hegemony over the region and the oil and gas resources located there.
We know Bush, in a 1999 conversation with a family friend who was ghostwriting Bush’s autobiography, stated that he wanted to have a war while President so he could be viewed in the role of Commander in Chief and use the political capital he gained from that to pass his political agenda.
We know that Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, shortly after Bush’s 2001 inauguration, attended meetings with, and obtained memos from, senior Bush officials in which they made clear their desire to go to war with Iraq and overthrow Saddam.
We know Bush spent the month of August 2001 on his ranch rather than pay attention to a national security briefing report from his own intelligence services that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack the US.
We know Bush spent seven minutes staring at My Pet Goat after he found out about the attack on the second tower of the WTC on the morning of September 11, 2001.
We know that Bush told Counter-terrorism Chief Richard Clarke to find a way to pin the blame on Saddam Hussein when he met with Clarke on September 12, 2001.
We know Rumsfeld proposed attacking Iraq at the very first meeting of Bush’s national security team on September 12, 2001 because “there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.”
We know that by failing to have enough US troops on the ground in Afghanistan we allowed Osama bin Laden and other senior members of the Taliban and Al Qaida to escape either because the Northern Alliance and other tribal allies who provided ground troops were bribed, or because the US military failed to completely encircle the Taliban/Al Qaida position in the caves of Tora Bora.
We know that Tommy Franks was complaining to Senator Lindsey Graham in February 2002 that resources earmarked for Afghanistan were being diverted in preparation for taking on Iraq, and that our intelligence on Iraq was “shoddy.”
We know that, also in February, 2002, Colin Powell told a House committee that President Bush was considering “the most serious set of options one might imagine” to bring “regime change” in Iraq, including the possibility of unilateral action, while at the same time Bush was telling German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that he had no plans to attack Iraq.
We know that Bush told a group of three senators meeting with Condoleeza Rice about Iraq in March 2002, “Fuck Saddam. We’re taking him out.”
We know that by the Spring of 2002 members of Bush’s government were already having discussions about attacking Iraq with their counterparts in the Blair government, and that the British had proposed using the UN to demand the return of inspectors to “wrong foot” Saddam and thus give the proposed war a legal justification under international law and legitimacy with the US and UK general public.
We know British and US air forces stationed in the Middle East began to intensify their bombing campaign against Iraq, beginning in April, 2002.
We know that members of the British government who met with Blair in July 2002, including the head of their intelligence service, MI-6, stated for the record that the Bush administration had already decided to invade Iraq, and that the intelligence “was being fixed around the policy.”
We know that the US failed to adequately plan for the post-invasion phase of the Iraq operation, a fact which concerned their British allies.
We know that the Bush Administration in the summer of 2002 illegally diverted $700 million in funds intended for our troops Afghanistan in order to plan the attack on Iraq without informing Congress of the transfer or its purpose.
We know the British and Americans on August 5, 2002 opted for a “hybrid plan” in which a continuous air offensive and special forces operations would begin while the main ground force built up in Kuwait ready for a full-scale invasion.
We know the members of Blair’s government, including the head of British Armed Forces, his own Foreign Secretary and lawyers in the office of the UK Attorney General were uncomfortable with using regime change as justification for the war, and wanted UN resolutions authorizing the war to avoid charges of illegality.
We know Blair had his intelligence services “sex-up” their September 24, 2002 dossier in order to claim Saddam had chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction which he could deploy within 45 minutes, and an active nuclear program, a dossier which even the official report commissioned by the Blair government later declared “seriously flawed” and over relied on questionable human intelligence sources.
We know that the Bush administration also distorted a CIA National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq (“NIE”) in October, 2002 in order to support the case for aggressive war against Saddam to eliminate the threat of his wmd capabilities.
We know Bush and his officials made exaggerated and false claims about the danger of Saddam’s wmd even before the NIE was issued by the CIA, and ignored any evidence or qualifications and caveats regarding the intelligence that did not support the claims they had already been making.
We know the UN weapons inspectors had found no significant evidence of wmd or active wmd programs in Iraq prior to the invasion of Iraq.
We know the UN weapons inspectors considered the intelligence tips provided to them by the US were “garbage” which led to one dead end after another.
We know Bush and administration officials lied about the extent and quality of the intelligence which suggested Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and delivery systems.
We know Bush and administration officials lied about, or grossly exaggerated, the extent and quality of the intelligence which suggested a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida.
2003 TO THE PRESENT DAY
We know that despite the lack of UN authorization for the war, and despite UN weapons inspectors finding no evidence of wmd, Bush and his “coalition of the willing” attacked Iraq in March 2003.
We know that Bush barred the return of UN weapons inspectors post invasion claiming that all investigation of wmd in Iraq was the responsibility of th US.
We know Bush’s own weapons inspectors, the Iraq Survey Group, determined that Iraq’s WMD program was essentially destroyed in 1991 and Saddam ended Iraq’s nuclear program after the 1991 Gulf War, after a thorough post-invasion investigation of all suspected sites in Iraq.
We know UNMOVIC determined that, after the US led invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003, material that could be used to make biological or chemical weapons and banned long-range missiles has been removed from 109 sites.
We know that US forces were insufficient to secure all the weapons, high explosives and ammunition from bunkers and other facilities in Iraq after the invasion, and that hundreds, if not thousands, of tons of such weapons and explosives had been removed from those facilities and are likely helping to fuel the insurgency.
We know that the Coalition Provisional Authority, the agency we put in place to govern occupied Iraq prior to the so-called turn over of sovereignty to an Iraqi provisional governing council in June 2004, failed to account for $8.8 billion in funds it controlled according to the report issued by US Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction.
We know the United States has used napalm in its attack on Iraq in 2003, and against Fallujah in 2004, and lied about it to the British Government.
We know that over 1700 and counting US service people have died in Iraq.
We know that civilian refugees from Iraq equal or exceed 700,000 people in Syria alone.
We know our military has been stretched thin, if not past the breaking point, by the Iraq occupation and the recurring troop deployments it requires, and that the Army and Marine Corps are falling dangerously short of their recruitment goals leading to persistent rumors of the return of the draft.
We know many military commanders in Iraq feel that a military solution to the insurgency is highly unlikely and that only a political approach to the problem can succeed.
We know that despite the doubts of their own military commanders Bush and Cheney continue to paint a rosy picture of the situation in Iraq.
We know the Iraq War and Occupation has cost us approximately $200 billion with no end in sight.