In Donald Rumsfeld’s new book, Known and Unknown, out February 8, Rumsfeld offers an account of George W. Bush’s early interest in Iraq. This was just days after the 9/11 attacks. There were no apparent reasons for Bush to focus on Iraq, instead of on the actual perpetrators of the attacks.
Here’s the Rumsfeld version as reported in an advance peek from The New York Times,
Just 15 days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush invited his defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, to meet with him alone in the Oval Office. According to Mr. Rumsfeld’s new memoir, the president leaned back in his leather chair and ordered a review and revision of war plans — but not for Afghanistan, where the Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington had been planned and where American retaliation was imminent.
“He asked that I take a look at the shape of our military plans on Iraq,” Mr. Rumsfeld writes.
“Two weeks after the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, those of us in the Department of Defense were fully occupied,” Mr. Rumsfeld recalls. But the president insisted on new military plans for Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld writes. “He wanted the options to be ‘creative.’ ”
When the option of attacking Iraq in post-9/11 military action was raised first during a Camp David meeting on Sept. 15, 2001, Mr. Bush said Afghanistan would be the target. But Mr. Rumsfeld’s recollection in the memoir, “Known and Unknown,” to be published Tuesday, shows that even then Mr. Bush was focused as well on Iraq.
What Rumsfeld seems to be saying, without saying it explicitly, is hugely important: that Bush’s rush to war with Iraq seemed to make no sense. More than that, it was downright fishy.
Rumsfeld suggests that Bush had some kind of prior agenda that had nothing to do with any role Iraq might have had (and in any case did not) in the events of 9/11. Bush simply wanted to invade that country.
If so, why? Rumsfeld apparently doesn’t speculate. But he doesn’t need to.
In my book, Family of Secrets, I recount interviews with Mickey Herskowitz, a Texas journalist who was George W. Bush’s co-author on a preliminary version of the latter’s 2000 book A Charge to Keep. Bush admitted, Herskowitz told me, that he was actually hoping to find an excuse to invade Iraq. Here’s an excerpt from Family of Secrets: Read more