Prelude to War


See also “War Planned Before Inauguration” 

That article is as follows:  Please understand that this article was written in mid - 2004, and the information cited in the article was available prior to that time.


George Bush’s New America

August, 2004


 Prelude to war:


Following my resignation from the Louisiana Senate in 2000, I began spending increasing amounts of time reading and organizing my files and newspaper clippings.  Early in the Bush administration it became apparent that the United States was going to go to war with Iraq, but the reasons for our country doing so were somewhat obscure.  Try as I might, I was unable to determine any substantive reason for these activities other than that the Oil and Gas Industry would love nothing better than to control the second largest known oil reserves in the world.  As the inevitable war approached, additional information became available and I had the opportunity to express my views on the war at an anti-war forum in Lockport, Louisiana.  I later participated in a debate at Louisiana State University and debated the head of the Louisiana Republican Party on a radio show from Baton Rouge. 


From the information coming from the White House, I had been convinced, as had most Americans, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but the evidence that he would ever use them against American interests was lacking. 


Even the CIA stated that the only likely circumstances under which he would use these weapons was as the result of an attack by the U.S.[1] and some CIA analysts had “…complained that senior administration officials have exaggerated the significance of some intelligence reports about Iraq, particularly about its possible links to terrorism, to strengthen their political argument for war...”[2] Other information indicated that CIA analysts were being pressured to “doctor” reports indicating a greater threat than actually existed from Saddam Hussein.[3]  The most prophetic of all of the warnings was, however, contained in an October 8, 2002 New York Times article titled “CIA warns that a U.S. attack may ignite terror.” 


Going to war with Iraq without the full endorsement of the United Nations was a nightmare scenario and attacking a country without provocation would make us an aggressor nation and we would lose the international support and sympathy we enjoyed after the tragedy of 911.  It wasn’t until the war had progressed for several months that many of us realized that we had been lied to about every aspect of the conflict.  It is ironic indeed that Saddam Hussein had been telling the truth while George Bush and his administration had been lying to us all of this time.


It had been speculated that George Bush Sr. had allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power after the Gulf war so that the country could be controlled by one individual, preventing splinter groups, especially religious groups controlled by Iran, from causing internal turmoil and disrupting the flow of oil from Iraq.  (Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991, Iraq remained one of the largest suppliers of oil to the United States)


No one in the region liked or trusted Saddam Hussein and the distrust was mutual.  The various terrorist networks of the region did not find safe haven with Saddam, as he knew that they would invariably turn against him if given a foothold in his country. In July of 2004, the 911 Commission indicated that “Saddam Hussen never had an Islamist agenda, and bin Laden had been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan.”[4]  Saddam Hussein was a cruel and sadistic ruler, but the President’s father knew that he was a stabilizing force in the region.


The following information was gleaned from several books, thousands of newspaper articles and multiple other sources.  Most of the information is substantiated by more than one source.  Although it is impossible to get a complete picture from such a secretive group as the Bush administration, compiling multiple sources of the same information eventually paints a mosaic of the actual activity being undertaken.


To the best of my knowledge, none of us knew that prior to the inauguration of George Bush war plans involving Iraq were being formulated by members of his administration.  Dick Cheney appears to have been the primary instigator of these plans, followed closely by Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.  Every distortion of fact, sleight of hand and manipulation of material imaginable was used to justify the eventual invasion of Iraq and the toppling of the regime of Saddam Hussein.


Planning for War


In early January, 2001, Vice-President elect, Dick Cheney contacted Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, and requested a meeting with Secretary Cohen and President elect Bush. Cheney instructed that the primary topic of discussion should be Iraq and Saddam Hussein.  Ten days before his inauguration, Bush met with Secretary Cohen, Vice-President elect Cheney, future Secretary of State Powell, future Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and future National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, in Cohen’s office.   After their meeting with Cohen, Bush and his entourage met with members of the joint chiefs of staff and were briefed on Iraq.[5]


A few days later Bush and his closest advisors had a meeting with George Tenet, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  The three major threats to American security that were discussed were Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorism network, the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the rise of the Chinese military.  Iraq was barely mentioned![6]


Ten days after George Bush’s inauguration the first meeting of the National Security Council was held.  During the meeting, in what was described as a scripted exchange, Condoleezza Rice began a lengthy discussion of Iraq which included satellite photos and other intelligence data from George Tenet, Director of the CIA. Neither Cheney nor Rumsfeld had much to say and Tenet’s pre-prepared presentation indicated that the whole discussion had been planned long before the meeting.[7]  Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neil felt that “Getting Hussein was now the administration’s focus, that much was already clear,”[8] and this observation was made in the first month of the Bush presidency.


The following month, on February 1, 2001, the second meeting of the National Security Council was held.  The cover sheet for the briefing material indicated that the “Purpose” of the meeting was to discuss Iraq.[9]  Secretary of Defense,  Donald Rumsfeld, led much of the discussion and intimated that the United States should get rid of Saddam Hussein and replace him with someone friendly with the United States.  Companies doing and hoping to do business with Iraq were discussed and Rumsfeld mentioned that it might take an “event” to justify action against Saddam.  “….the talk was mostly about logistics.  Not the why, but the how and how quickly.”[10]  Plans were actually being formulated as to “how the world’s second largest oil reserve might be divided among the world’s contractors made for an irresistible combination, (Secretary of the Treasury) O’Neill later said.”[11]


Early in his administration, George Bush was preoccupied with three main topics.  Tax cuts which would primarily benefit the wealthy, drilling for oil in Alaska and the “Star Wars” anti-missile defense system.  Regardless of the question being asked of the President, the answer always seemed to be that one of the above subjects was the solution to all of the problems facing the United States.  In spite of many early warning signs of an impending attack by al-Qaida, President Bush was oblivious to almost everything but his Big 3 issues.


On September 11, 2001, the United States came under attack by foreign terrorists and thousands of American lives were lost.  At the highest levels of government, it was clearly understood that the terrorist group, al-Qaida, was responsible for this disaster.  The president was at an elementary school and was being filmed when he was informed that the second tower had been struck by a second aircraft.  He remained dazed for over five minutes, not knowing what to say or do.  He apparently did not have a clue as to what was happening. Donald Rumsfeld had just witnessed his kingdom, the Pentagon, being attacked and with flames still flickering and with “dust and smoke filling the operations center as he was trying to figure out what was happening, Rumsfeld raised with his staff the possibility of going after Iraq as a response to the terrorist attacks.”[12]


Not surprisingly, when discussions with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and has assistant, Paul Wolfowitz began the following day, it was obvious that they were going to use this catastrophe as a reason for attacking Iraq.[13]   This was the “event” Rumsfeld had been looking for.


Richard Clark, National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism for both Clinton and Bush, was astonished by this perverse twist of events, especially with it coming during the first hours of an enormous national tragedy.  He described how the President had never been briefed on Terrorism until after the 911 attack[14] and how President Bush asked him, on 9-12-01, the day after the attack, to “…as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything.  See if Saddam did this.  See if he’s linked in any way….”


Thus, the President, his Secretary of Defense and the Assistant Secretary of Defense, after being told that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida were responsible for the 911 tragedy, were all focused on Iraq and an invasion of that country. Secretary of State Colin Powell represented a voice of sanity, urging a focus on al-Qaida.  In speaking to Powell after a meeting with Rumsfeld, Richard Clark remarked to Powell that “Having been attacked by al Qaida, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexcio after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.”[15]


In Bob Woodward’s interview with President Bush he describes how the President admitted that he had disregarded the threats of terrorism. Woodward writes, “Worse for Bush, CIA Director Tenet had explicitly warned him about the immediacy and seriousness of the bin Laden threat.  Focusing on domestic issues and a giant tax cut, Bush had largely ignored the terrorism problem.  ‘I didn’t feel that sense of urgency,’ the president acknowledged later in an interview.  ‘My blood was not nearly as boiling.’”[16]


When George Bush agreed to allow Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) to interview him and his Cabinet for Mr. Woodward’s book, “Plan of Attack,” it had to be suspected that the interviews were coordinated and scripted in such a manner as to tell a story which would provide political cover and legal protection to the President and his staff.[17]   In reading Mr. Woodward’s book it was readily apparent that CIA Director George Tenet was scheduled to be the individual who took the blame for the Administration’s misadventures.  That suspicion was recently realized with Mr. Tenet’s resignation in July of 2004 and subsequent reports about his failure to accurately advise the President and Congress on the pre-war status of Iraq.


Repeated passages regarding CIA mistakes were emphasized in Mr. Woodward’s book with Tenet being left to hold the bag.  However, as alluded to earlier, Tenet and others were skeptical about Iraqi ties to terrorism and were less than certain about Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.  Administration officials were eager to exert pressure on the CIA and do everything possible to mislead congress, the nation and the world in their quest for Iraqi blood and oil. 


A small group of retired CIA officers went public with an appeal to their colleagues to go public with any evidence that the Bush administration was slanting intelligence to support its case for war. In response to the accusations, “the administration stated that its intelligence was sound.”[18]


Since issuing iron-clad assurances to the world of the presence of weapons of mass destruction and the association between Iraq and al-Qaida, the Bush administration’s house of cards has crumbled.  In January of 2003, at a press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush admitted that there were no known connections between Iraq and the September 11, 2001 attack by al-Qaida.[19] Secretary of State Colin Powell likewise “conceded that he had no smoking gun, concrete evidence that Saddam Hussein ever had any ties to al-Qaida…”[20]  Later that month, Powell additionally stated that there might not have been any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.[21]


Also in January, David Kay, the American arms inspector who spent 3 months and $300 million performing a search for the elusive weapons of mass destruction, resigned from his position and returned to the United States.[22]  Interviews with Kay indicated that “Based on his team’s interviews with Iraqi scientists, reviews of Iraqi documents and examinations of facilities and other materials, Kay said that the United States was also almost certainly wrong in its pre-war belief that Iraq had any significant stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.”[23]


“I’m personally convinced that there are not large stockpiles of newly produced weapons of mass destruction,” Kay said.  “We don’t find the people, the documents or the physical plants that you would expect to find if the production was going on.”[24]


A very interesting passage caught my attention in Mr. Woodward’s book.  That was when Mr. Tenet stood up at a high level meeting and assured the President and those present that the finding of Weapons of Mass Destruction was a “Slam Dunk.”  That is hardly the type of response I would expect from Mr. Tenet and Mr. Woodward’s book is the only source I have found for this comment.  Other incidents in the book also provided cover and excuses for the President and his Cabinet at the expense of the CIA director.


Mr. Bush’s pre-emptive excuses to attack an adversary who had not threatened the United States finds parallels in his pre-emptive legal opinions to justify torture of the people he was attacking.  His pre-emptive scripting of the demise of George Tenet could be considered in the same light.  He is one pre-empting son-of-a-gun!


In spite of these apparently misleading and dishonest issues, Mr. Woodward’s book was both interesting and informative.  In one section he describes how the President anguished over the possible deaths of innocent individuals in the first air strike of the war at a site called Dora Farms. The site was supposed to contained a deep bunker (which it did not) and Saddam Hussein and his sons were allegedly at the site. Bush wished to kill them if at all possible. 


What wasn’t mentioned by Mr. Woodward (and apparently by the President) was that approximately 50 similar strikes were launched against high profile targets in the early days of the conflict resulting in numerous civilian deaths.  President Bush had apparently not agonized over the possible casualities from these attacks, as they were not mentioned in Mr. Woodward’s book.  Incidentally, not a single targeted member of Saddam’s Regime was killed in these bombings.[25]


Anyone reading Mr. Woodward’s book would be hard pressed to state that the President was not planning to go to war with Iraq in early 2002, in spite of his public pronouncements that he would give Saddam Hussein a chance to disarm and to tell the truth about his weapons of mass destruction.  In interviewing Secretary Rumsfeld, the wary Secretary of Defense was cornered by Mr. Woodward into admitting that Saudi Arabia had been informed of the impending invasion two months before it actually occurred.  When the Pentagon released a transcript of that interview, the section indicating the early warning for Saudi Arabia had been eliminated and Mr. Woodward’s account of the interview were disputed by the Administration. Unfortunately for the Secretary of Defense, Mr. Woodward had kept his own tape of the meeting that verified his version of the story.[26]


In addition to Mr. Woodward’s book, there are three other informative books, all written by Republicans, with two of the authors being early members of the Bush administration. All three of these books clearly portray the same themes and realities.  Paul O’Neil, a brilliant businessman, was Bush’s first Secretary of the Treasury, and Richard Clark was National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism at the time of the 911 attacks.  The fourth author, John Dean, was a former member of the Nixon White House during the Watergate scandals.


As each of the books appeared, the White House took issue with many of the statements made by the authors.  In recent months these individuals have been vindicated and their observations have been proven to be accurate as additional information has become available.[27],[28]


It would be an enormous exercise to describe the lies and distortions that were presented by President Bush and his cronies in their drive to war.  Rather than detailing them all, the reader is directed to a report prepared for Congressman Henry Waxman that describes misleading statements made by five members of the President’s administration.  They include:  President George Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.  “It (the report) finds that the five officials made misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 125 public appearances.  The report and an accompanying database identify 237 specific misleading statement by the five officials.”[29]


The report concludes the following:

“Because of the gravity of the subject and the President’s unique access to classified information, members of congress and the public expect the President and his senior officials to take special care to be balanced and accurate in describing national security threats.  It does not appear, however that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Powell and National Security Advisor Rice met this standard in the case of Iraq.  To the contrary, these five officials repeatedly made misleading statements about he threat posed by Iraq.  In 125 separate appearances, they made 11 misleading statements about the urgency of Iraq’s threat, 81 misleading statements about Iraq’s nuclear activities, 84 misleading statements about Iraq’s chemical and biological capabilities, and 61 misleading statements about Iraq’s relationship with al Qaida.” (http://www.house.gov/reform/min/features/iraq_on_the_record/)


There is little question that George Bush and his administration plotted and planned to go to war with Iraq from the moment he took office.  His arrogance and dishonesty has not only resulted in the deaths and permanent crippling of thousands of Americans, but his bumbling and cruel attitude has managed to alienate millions of people throughout the world who were previously friends of the United States. 


George Bush began office with a huge surplus of money, then went to war and cut taxes for his wealthy supporters.  We are now in a deficit situation and accumulating massive debts which will have to be paid by our children, our grandchildren, their children and generations to come.  The President has been promoting the health of our economy.  What he fails to mention is that the economy is being supported by borrowed money!


The great dream of Newt Gingrich and the Republican party, to control both houses of the legislature and the presidency has come true.  Their dream has turned into the American Nightmare.


Our current fiscal crisis, our enormous national debt, our war without an end in sight, our loss of good paying jobs to foreign countries, the rape of our environment, the rape of our elderly by pharmaceutical companies, and the torture and murder of prison inmates all conjure up an image of a diabolical leader, driven by greed, motivated by power, inspired by his ability to deceive and characterized by his utter dishonesty. 


If George Bush is given another 4 years in office, our country will be lucky to survive intact.  Four more years of a Bush dictatorship will decimate our nation and will set the stage for our eventual demise.  To allow individuals such as George Bush and John Ashcroft to manipulate the Bill of Rights is an abomination and a slap in the face of Thomas Jefferson and our country’s other founding fathers.


How can we, as Americans and citizens of the greatest nation on earth, participate in the destruction of the institutions for which our fathers and forefathers fought and died?  How can we continue to make excuses for the blatant dishonesty practiced by this administration and how can we support activities which are clearly cruel, dishonest and in many cases, illegal?


The only crime that I can think of that is greater than the destruction of our republic by this diabolic administration, is the sin of accommodation and the crime of being an enabler to these heinous actions.  How can any of us with a decent education and an even slight understanding of the activities of the last four years remain a supporter of George Bush?


[1] CIA Director suggests Iraq may not strike unless provoked, Associated Press, October 8, 2002. 

[2] CIA, FBI dispute al-Qaida ties to Iraq, (James Risen & David Johnston, The New York Times) Times Picayune, 2-2-03,

[3] CIA faces demands to doctor reports on Iraq, Times Picayune, 10-11-02.  “The sources stressed that CIA analysts, who are supposed to be impartial, are fighting to resist the pressure.”

[4] Report says al-Aaida links to Iran, Iraq weak, The Advocate, 7-23-04, (By The Associated Press).

[5] Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, 2004, pp. 9-11.  Reader Notes per Mr. Woodward…..”Information in the book comes from more than 75 key people directly involved in the events, including war cabinet members, the White House staff and officials  serving at various levels of the State and Defense Departments and the CIA.  …..I Interviewed President Bush on the record for more than three and a half hours over two days, Dec. 10 and 11, 2003.  I also interviewed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the record for more than three hours in the fall of 2003.”

[6] Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, 2004, p. 12.

[7] The Price of Loyalty, George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill.  Ron Suskind, Simon & Schuster 2004, , pp. 72-75.

[8] Ibid. at 7, p. 75.

[9] Ibid. at 7, p. 83.

[10] Ibid. at 7, p. 96.  Documents were being prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency, Rumsfeld’s intelligence arm, mapping Iraq’s oil fields and exploration areas and listing companies that might be interested in leveraging the precious asset….“One document, headed “Foreign Suitors of Iraqi Oilfield Contracts” lists companies from thirty countries – including France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom…An attached document maps Iraq with markings for “Supergiant oilfield,”….

[11] Ibid. at 7                                     , p. 96.

[12] Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, 2004, pp. 24-25.

[13] AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, Inside America’s War on Terror, Richard Clark, Free Press, pp. 30-31, “Then I realized with almost a sharp, physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try  to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq.”

[14] Ibid. at 13, p. 26. 

[15] Ibid. at 13, pp. 30-31.

[16] Plan of attack, Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, 2004p. 24.

[17] Ibid. at 16, general comment of author.

[18] Ex-CIA Officers Questioning Iraq Data, John J. Lumpkin, Associated Press, 3-14-03.

[19] Presidential Press Conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Presidential web site, 1-31-03.

[20] More evidence of mass deception, Times Picayune, Ruth Rosen, 1-15-04.

[21] Powell says there may be no WMDS, Sunday Advocate, George Gedda, AP, 1-25-04.

[22] Friendly Fire, what David Kay really found, Bob Drogin, The Nation, p 23.

[23] Ex-inspector calls intelligence about Iraqi weapons off target, Times Picayune, 1-26-04.

[24] Ibid. at 20.

[25] U.S. aim was off during 50 early raids in Iraq, Times Picayune,  June 13, 2004. (Written by Douglas Jehl and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times)

[26] Pentagon deleted Rumsfled comment, Mike Allen, Washington Post, 4-21-04, p. A01,

[27] White House rebuts allegations of former Treasury secretary, Times Picayune, 1-13-04, “In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction,”….”There were allegations and assertions by people….To me there is real evidence and everyting else.  And I never saw anything in the intelligence that I would characterize as real evidence.” 

[28] White House hits back against former counterterrorism aide, The Courier, 3-22-04.

[29] Iraq on the Record, The Bush Administration’s Public Statements on Iraq, Prepared for Rep. Henry A. Waxman, March 16, 2004, http://www.house.gov/reform/min/features/iraq_on_the_record/

© Michael Robichaux 2013