Paul O`Neill on War & Peace

Former Treasury Secretary (Pres. Bush Cabinet)

Contrary to O’Neill’s claim, planning for Iraq began in 2002

In his book The Price of Loyalty, O’Neill claimed that Bush began planning to invade Iraq as soon as he took office and wanted the NSC to “Go find me a way to do this.” O’Neill, a member of the NSC who did not see the most sensitive intelligence, also said he never saw any “evidence” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The claim that Bush came into office with his mind made up on Iraq and planning war was absurd on its face: Planning for the war required the participation not only of the NSC but the Defense Department and CIA, each of which is subject to leaks. Regime change in Iraq had been US policy since the Clinton administration, but it was not until after 9/11 that Bush began seriously to consider the need to deal with Saddam Hussein.

Contrary to O’Neill’s claim, planning for the war began slightly less than a year before the invasion. Even as the invasion approached, Bush gave Saddam a chance to avoid war by disclosing Iraq’s weapons programs or by leaving the country.

Source: A Matter of Character, by Ronald Kessler, p.233-34 , Aug 5, 2004

Bush planned to overthrow Saddam before 9/11

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill said he never saw any evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction-President Bush’s main justification for going to war.

In a new book chronicling his rocky two-year tenure and in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, O’Neill said removing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was a top priority at Bush’s very first National Security Council meeting-within days of the inauguration and eight months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

O’Neill told CBS the discussion of Iraq continued at the next National Security Council meeting two days later and that he was given internal memos, including one outlining a “Plan for post-Saddam Iraq.”

“In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction,” O’Neill told Time magazine in a separate interview. “There were allegations and assertions by people... To me there is a difference between real evidence and everything else.”

Source: Adam Entous, Reuters, on AOL News , Jan 11, 2004

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