Declassified documents show that Bush administration officials wanted Saddam Hussein out of Iraq and were ready to start a war in order to achieve it.
Just hours after the 9/11 attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met in the Pentagon with Air Force General Richard Myers, then vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other top aides.
Notes taken by Rumsfeld aide Steve Cambone (and referred to pages 334 and 335 of the 9/11 Commission Report) show the secretary asked for the “best info fast..judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] @ same time—not only UBL [Osama bin Laden].”
Rumsfeld also tasked Jim Haynes, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, “to talk w/ PW [Paul Wolfowitz] for additional support [for the] connection w/ UBL.” Other comments from the notes: “Need to move swiftly…go massive–sweep it all up things related and not.”
Although the defense secretary had yet to be presented with any evidence linking the Iraqi leader to the World Trade Tower attacks, he was already considering whether the terrorist acts could be used as to justify a war on Iraq.
By late November, Rumsfeld was meeting with Gen. Tommy Franks, Centcom commander, to plot the “decapitation” of the Iraqi government, according to the now declassified talking points agenda from the sessions (shown on television for the first time in the documentary).
The talking points suggest that Rumsfeld and his team were grappling with a tricky issue: “How [to] start?” the war.
In other words, what would the pretext be? Various scenarios were outlined: “US discovers Saddam connection to Sept. 11 attack or to anthrax attacks?” reads one of them. “Dispute over WMD inspections?” reads another. “Start now thinking about inspection demands.”
By Michael Isikoff
This article was originally posted at MSNBC