January 11, 2004
The Sunday Herald (Scotland)

Former Bush Aide: US Plotted Iraq Invasion Long Before 9/11

by Neil Mackay

GEORGE Bush's former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill has revealed that the President took office in January 2001 fully intending to invade Iraq and desperate to find an excuse for pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein.

O'Neill's claims tally with long-running investigations by the Sunday Herald which have shown how the Bush cabinet planned a pre- meditated attack on Iraq in order to "regime change" Saddam long before the neoconservative Republicans took power.

The Sunday Herald previously uncovered how a think-tank - run by vice-president Dick Cheney; defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; Bush's younger brother Jeb, the governor of Florida; and Lewis Libby, Cheney's deputy - wrote a blueprint for regime change as early as September 2000.

The think-tank, the Project for the New American Century, said, in the document Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, that: "The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein". . . .

O'Neill and other White House insiders have given the journalist Ron Suskind documents for a new book, The Price Of Loyalty, revealing that as early as the first three months of 2001 the Bush administration was examining military options for removing Saddam Hussein.

"There are memos," Suskind told CBS. "One of them marked 'secret' says 'Plan for Post- Saddam Iraq'."

Another Pentagon document entitled Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oil Field Contracts talks about contractors from 40 countries and which ones have interests in Iraq.


Letter: "The Honorable William J. Clinton", Project for the New American Century (PNAC), January 26, 1998

Letter: "The Honorable Newt Gingrich and The Honorable Trent Lott", Project for the New American Century (PNAC), May 29, 1998

Eric Margolis, "The Lust for Blood and Oil ", Toronto Sun, March 10, 2002

Enver Masud, "A Clash Between Justice and Greed Not Islam and the West", The Wisdom Fund, September 2, 2002

[CBS News has learned that barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq - even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.--"Plans For Iraq Attack Began On 9/11," CBS News, September 4, 2002]

[President Bush announced the attack in a four-minute television speech . . .

Minutes before the speech, an internal television monitor showed the president pumping his fist. "Feels good," he said.--Martin Merzer, Ron Hutcheson and Drew Brown, "War begins in Iraq with strikes aimed at 'leadership targets'", Knight Ridder Newspapers, March 20, 2003]

Bernard Weiner, "How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle: A PNAC Primer," Information Clearing House, May 28, 2003

Julian Borger, "White House 'Lied About Saddam Threat'", The Guardian (UK), July 10, 2003

Julian Borger, "The Spies Who Pushed for War", The Guardian (UK), July 17, 2003

Michael Meacher, "'This War on Terrorism is Bogus'", The Guardian (UK), September 6, 2003

Glenn Frankel, "U.S. Mulled Seizing Oil Fields In '73 ", Washington Post, January 1, 2004

[And what happened at President Bush's very first National Security Council meeting is one of O'Neill's most startling revelations.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," says O'Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

"From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime," says Suskind. "Day one, these things were laid and sealed."

As treasury secretary, O'Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?" were never asked.

. . . Suskind writes that the planning envisioned peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals, and even divvying up Iraq's oil wealth.

He obtained one Pentagon document, dated March 5, 2001, and entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield contracts," which includes a map of potential areas for exploration.--" No Dialogue In Bush Cabinet?," CBS News, January 11, 2004]

Mike Allen, "O'Neill: Plan to Hit Iraq Began Pre-9/11," Washington Post, January 11, 2004

[The official, who asked not to be identified, was present in the same National Security Council meetings as O'Neill immediately after Bush's inauguration in January and February of 2001.--John Cochran, " Corroborating O'Neill's Account: Official Confirms Claims That Saddam Was Bush's Focus Before 9/11," The Guardian (UK), January 13, 2004]

VIDEO: "Rogue nation?," BBC News, January 13, 2004

Jason Leopold, "O'Neill's Claims Supported by 1998 Memo," CounterPunch, January 14, 2004

Richard W. Stevenson, "Iraq Illicit Arms Gone Before War, Departing Inspector States," New York Times, January 24, 2004

Gareth Smyth and Thomas Catan, "UN slams US over spending Iraq funds," Financial Times, June 21, 2004

[The Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks sparking a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil--Greg Palast, "SECRET U.S. PLANS FOR IRAQ'S OIL," BBC Newsnight, March 17, 2005]

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