The Washington Post this morning has a long feature about a new book that describes the planning for the Iraq war — which started months after September 11.
Beginning in late December 2001, President Bush met repeatedly with Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks and his war cabinet to plan the U.S. attack on Iraq even as he and administration spokesmen insisted they were pursuing a diplomatic solution, according to a new book on the origins of the war.
The intensive war planning throughout 2002 created its own momentum, according to “Plan of Attack” by Bob Woodward, fueled in part by the CIA’s conclusion that Saddam Hussein could not be removed from power except through a war and CIA Director George J. Tenet’s assurance to the president that it was a “slam dunk” case that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
… Adding to the momentum, Woodward writes, was the pressure from advocates of war inside the administration. Vice President Cheney, whom Woodward describes as a “powerful, steamrolling force,” led that group and had developed what some of his colleagues felt was a “fever” about removing Hussein by force.
… Woodward describes a relationship between Cheney and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell that became so strained Cheney and Powell are barely on speaking terms. Cheney engaged in a bitter and eventually winning struggle over Iraq with Powell, an opponent of war who believed Cheney was obsessively trying to establish a connection between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network and treated ambiguous intelligence as fact.
Powell felt Cheney and his allies — his chief aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby; Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz; and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and what Powell called Feith’s “Gestapo” office — had established what amounted to a separate government. The vice president, for his part, believed Powell was mainly concerned with his own popularity and told friends at a dinner he hosted a year ago celebrating the outcome of the war that Powell was a problem and “always had major reservations about what we were trying to do.”
… On Nov. 21, 2001, 72 days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Bush directed Rumsfeld to begin planning for war with Iraq. “Let’s get started on this,” Bush recalled saying. “And get Tommy Franks looking at what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to.” He also asked: Could this be done on a basis that would not be terribly noticeable?
Not only is this not surprising or a revelation or any sort; it points out how truly transparent this administration is. People — including me — have been saying this for a long time now. We all knew that he was itching for a fight in Iraq from the day he came to power.