Friday, April 16, 2004

More Woodward Book Leaks...Surprise, Bush fixated on Iraqi War early on. I'm sure there is NO nepotism in the co-author of this article either. WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy. Bush feared that if news got out about the Iraq plan as U.S. forces were fighting another conflict, people would think he was too eager for war, journalist Bob Woodward writes in "Plan of Attack," a behind-the-scenes account of the 16 months leading to the Iraq invasion. Woodward says Bush pulled Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld aside Nov. 21, 2001 - when U.S. forces and allies were in control of about half of Afghanistan - and asked him what kind of war plan he had on Iraq. When Rumsfeld said it was outdated, Bush told him to get started on a fresh one. The book says Bush told Rumsfeld to keep quiet about it and when the defense secretary asked to bring CIA Director George Tenet into the planning at some point, the president said not to do so yet. Even Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was apparently not fully briefed. Woodward said Bush told her that morning he was having Rumsfeld work on Iraq but did not give details. In an interview two years later, Bush told Woodward that if the news had leaked, it would have caused "enormous international angst and domestic speculation." ... Woodward, a Washington Post journalist who wrote an earlier book on Bush's anti-terrorism campaign and broke the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, says Cheney's well-known hawkish attitudes on Iraq were frequently decisive in Bush's decision-making. Cheney pressed the outgoing Clinton administration to brief Bush on the Iraq threat before he took office, Woodward writes. In August 2002, when Bush talked publicly of being a patient man who would weigh Iraqi options carefully, the vice president took the administration's Iraq policy on a harder track in a speech declaring the weapons inspections ineffective. Cheney's speech was viewed as the beginning of a campaign to undermine or overthrow Saddam. Woodward said Bush let Cheney make the speech without asking what he would say. The vice president also figured prominently in an protracted decision March 19, 2003, to strike Iraq before a 48-hour ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to leave the country had expired. When the CIA and its Iraqi sources reported that Saddam's sons and other family members were at a small palace, and Saddam was on his way to join them, Bush's top advisers debated whether to strike ahead of plan. Franks was against it, saying it was unfair to move before a deadline announced to the other side, the book says. Rumsfeld and Rice favored the early strike, and Secretary of State Colin Powell leaned that way. But Bush did not make his decision until he had cleared everyone out of the Oval Office except the vice president. "I think we ought to go for it," Cheney is quoted as saying. Bush did. I'm sure the White House response from Spanky McSpokesman (whereabouts presently unknown) will be: "Obviously Mr. Woodward, who is known to his friends as "Dorothy's Best Friend" is just disgruntled that he has never broken a major story and is just trying to do so now so as to sell his book."
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