What we learned from the Report of the 911 Commission XXIV.

At about 9:45 the President told the Vice President that “We’re at war… somebody’s going to pay.” (p. 61.) According to Richard Clarke, on the evening of 12 September 2001 President Bush told him to “See if Saddam did this. See if he’s linked in any way.” (p. 478.)

 

In a Principals meeting on 13 September 2001 the group “concluded that if Pakistan decided not to help [deal with al Qaeda and the Taliban], it too would be at risk.” Richard Armitage then gave the ambassador from Pakistan and the head of Pakistan’s intelligence service a list of American requirements that same day. (p. 473.) Pakistan immediately (that same day) agreed with the American requests. (p. 474.)

 

On 9/11 the Chairman of the Joint-Chiefs, General Hugh Shelton, was out of the country. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld therefore worked closely with the Vice Chairman, General Richard Myers. (p. 59.) On the afternoon of 9/11, Rumsfeld told Myers that his instinct was to attack Saddam Hussein as well as Bin Laden. Rumsfeld explained to the Commission investigators that he considered it possible that either one of them was responsible for the attack. (pp. 478-479.)  In a conference of leading officials late on 11 September 2001, “Secretary Rumsfeld urged the President and the principals to think broadly about who might have harbored the attackers, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, and Iran. He wondered aloud how much evidence the United States would need in order to deal with these countries, pointing out that major strikes could take up to 60 days to assemble.” (p. 472.) NB: Decide who you are going to hit, get the preparations going, then turn to looking for evidence so that you can act as soon as you lay the evidence out in the court of international public opinion.

Between 12 and 14 September 2001 the Defense Department prepared a paper for inclusion in the briefing book for the Camp David meeting. This paper argued that al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Iraq formed the most pressing targets in the war on terrorism. Iraq was linked to support for terrorism and to the quest for WMDs. (p. 479.)

On the week-end of 15-16 September 2001 Bush brought his war council to Camp David. According to Condaleeza Rice, at the first session Rumsfeld asked what should be done about Iraq and Wolfowitz argued in favor of hitting Iraq during “this round” of the war on terrorism. (p. 478.)   According to Colin Powell, “Paul [Wolfowitz] was always of the view that Iraq was a problem that had to be dealt with. And he saw this as one way of using this event as a way to deal with the Iraq problem.” (Quoted, p. 479.) Wolfowitz’s views did not prevail in the discussion. President Bush subsequently told Bob Woodward that the council decided against attacking Iraq in the first session on the morning of 15 September 2110. (pp. 479-480.)

Wolfowitz is not a guy to take “No” for an answer. On 17 September 2001 he sent Rusmfeld a memo in which he reviewed Saddam Hussein’s record of supporting terrorism and the theories that Ramzi Yousef had been an Iranian agent. He concluded by arguing that Saddam Hussein should be eliminated even if there was only a ten percent chance of Iraq’s involvement in the attacks. (p. 480.) On 18 September 2001 Wolfowitz sent Rumsfeld another memo or a note adding the information that Ramzi Yousef’s co-conspirator in the Manila plot had also talked about crashing a plane into CIA headquarters. (p. 480.)

On 18 September 2001 Clarke sent to Rice a memo on a “Survey of Intelligence Information on Any Iraqi Involvement in the September 11 Attacks.” Clarke found no compelling evidence of Iraqi involvement and several reasons why Iraq and al Qaeda would not cooperate. (p. 478.)

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