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Impeach Bush

Bush planned Iraqi invasion pre-Sept. 11
Reuters/Forbes/CBS Minutes Jan 11, 2004
01.10.04, 12:56 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill charges in a new book that President Bush entered office in January 2001 intent on invading Iraq and was in search of a way to go about it.

O'Neill, fired in December 2002 as part of a shake-up of Bush's economic team, has become the first major insider of the Bush administration to launch an attack on the president.

He likened Bush at Cabinet meetings to "a blind man in a room full of deaf people," according to excerpts from a CBS interview to promote a book by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind, "The Price of Loyalty."

To go to war, Bush used the argument that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and had to be stopped in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world. The weapons have never been found.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," O'Neill said in the "60 Minutes" interview scheduled to air Sunday. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap."

CBS released excerpts from the interview Friday and Saturday.

The former treasury secretary and other White House insiders gave Suskind documents that in the first three months of 2001 revealed the Bush administration was examining military options for removing Saddam Hussein, CBS said.

"There are memos," Suskind told CBS. "One of them marked 'secret' says 'Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq."'

Another Pentagon document entitled "Foreign suitors for Iraqi Oil Field Contracts" talks about contractors from 40 countries and which ones have interest in Iraq, Suskind said.


O'Neill was also quoted in the book as saying the president was determined to find a reason to go to war and he was surprised nobody on the National Security Council questioned why Iraq should be invaded.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it," said O'Neill. "The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this."'

White House spokesman Scott McClellan rejected O'Neill's remarks.

"We appreciate his service. While we're not in the business of doing book reviews, it appears that the world according to Mr. O'Neill is more about trying to justify his own opinions than looking at the reality of the results we are achieving on behalf of the American people," he said Saturday.

O'Neill also said the president did not ask him a single question during their first one-on-one meeting, which lasted an hour. The president's lack of engagement left his advisers with "little more than hunches about what the president might think," O'Neil told "60 Minutes."

Suskind's book, whose full title is "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill", uses interviews with O'Neill, dozens of White House insiders and 19,000 documents provided by O'Neill.

O'Neill, who was fired due to disagreements over tax cuts, spent a difficult two years in Washington, joining the Bush administration with a background as a no-nonsense corporate executive.

Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service

Be sure to reread John Dean's article at or go to a copy on this site at John Dean: Worse than Watergate?.

Dean argues that a president who knowingly lies to Congress about his reasons for going to war commits a felony and that such a scandal would be worse than Watergate.

'"To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."'