Last week Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid shut down the Senate. Frustrated, angry and seeking answers, Reid threatened to delay legislative action until the Intelligence Committee followed through on its promised investigation of prewar Iraq intelligence failures. Democrats are demanding answers…and now, so are the American people.
But let’s remember… 9/11 and faulty intelligence alone did not lead to the invasion of Iraq. This war was being planned in the minds of some for many years. George Bush’s former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill revealed in his book that at one of the very first National Security Council meetings after Bush took office in January 2001 he discussed the notion of invading Iraq and that he seemed desperate to find an excuse for pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein.
Many of Bush’s inner circle are members of Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-conservative think-tank that promotes an ideology of total U.S. world domination through the use of force. Back in 1998, PNAC sent an open letter to President Clinton urging his administration to implement a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This letter was signed by Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton and Richard Perle. These men, along with fellow PNAC members Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, were the primary architects of the Iraq war 5 years later. In 2000, PNAC produced a document entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century. The plan outlined how the US should go about taking military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein is in power.
Let’s remember some of our recent history with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The United States’ relationship with Saddam has been vastly contradictory. In the 1980’s, the U.S. heavily supported Saddam against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam was in violation of human rights laws by gassing the Kurds. However, the US turned a blind eye, instead opting to retain a friendly relationship with Saddam in order to access intelligence. The US government furnished Saddam with weapons. We even have pictures documenting Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, shaking hands with Saddam in 1983! In 1990, Saddam invaded Kuwait, stating that he believed he had the silent permission to do so by then US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie. However, the United States, under George H.W. Bush, responded with Operation Desert Storm to quell the invasion. The same weapons we had given to Saddam to defeat the Iranians a decade earlier, were now being used to kill US soldiers. Although the Persian Gulf War was considered a victory for the United States, ultimately Saddam was not removed from power. This was a tremendous disappointment for the conservative hawks emerging in the Republican party.
Since the Gulf War, there has been a covert but persistent mission by neo-cons to overthrow Saddam Hussein by any means necessary in order to reorganize the Middle East in the name of democracy. However democracy was not the reason Bush gave to the country when he decided to invade Iraq….it was the presence of WMDs, which UN inspectors did not find. Former US top weapons inspector David Kay testified before congress asserting this fact. And Director General of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, requested more time from the administration to investigate the weapons claims in Iraq before rushing to war. Those in the Bush inner circle had tremendous influence on his final decision to unilaterally attack Iraq in 2003 without the support of the United Nations and the rest of the world.
The notion of invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam was gaining momentum long before the terrorists attacked on September 11, 2001. Only once America was attacked did Bush and his war mongering neo-con colleagues have the perfect opportunity to utilize faulty intelligence in order to make a case for war and garner the blind support of most of the American public. However, we now know that this war, where thousands of young American soldiers have died, was years in the making. Let’s hope that the frustration, anger and determination felt by Democrats and the American public continue to fuel this investigation to uncover the truth.