nthposition online magazine

Hoist with her own petard

by Jason Leopold

[ politics - april 04 ]

Richard Clarke was right. So was Paul O'Neill. During the six months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration paid little attention to the threat from al Qa'ida and instead set the stage for a war with Iraq.

Two weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, national security wasn't even a top priority for the Bush administration. Security - job security, health security and national security - was last on a list of major issues Bush planned to deal with in the fall of 2001, according to a transcript of a speech Bush gave on 31 August, 2001, to celebrate the launch of the White House's new website.

National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, who is scheduled to testify on Thursday before the commission investigating the 9/11 terrorist attacks, says Clarke, President Bush's counterterrorism specialist, is a liar after Clarke told the commission two weeks ago that the Bush administration failed to deal with al Qa'ida seriously before 9/11.

Clarke exposes the Bush administration's attitude toward Islamic terrorists in his book, Against All Enemies and says the Bush administration was obsessed with Iraq before the terrorist attacks. Paul O'Neill, the former Treasury Secretary, made similar statements a few months ago in the book The Price of Loyalty and he too was branded a liar and a disgruntled former White House employee.

Rice is expected to be grilled by the commission. She'll try and prove that the Bush administration dealt with al Qa'ida seriously. But there's no denying that the allegations Clarke, O'Neill and other whistleblowers have made, that the White House was obsessed with Iraq, are rock solid. Here's the proof.

As early as January 2000, Rice was trying to sell a war with Iraq. It was then that she wrote an article for Foreign Affairs magazine entitled Campaign 2000 - promoting the national interest in which she promotes regime change in Iraq, but fails to mention threats from Islamic fundamentalist groups such as al Qa'ida.

"As history marches toward markets and democracy, some states have been left by the side of the road. Iraq is the prototype. Saddam Hussein's regime is isolated, his conventional military power has been severely weakened, his people live in poverty and terror, and he has no useful place in international politics. He is therefore determined to develop WMD. Nothing will change until Saddam is gone, so the United States must mobilize whatever resources it can, including support from his opposition, to remove him. These regimes are living on borrowed time, so there need be no sense of panic about them."

She echoed that line in August 2000, during an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, where Rice said Iraq posed the gravest threat to the US and the world.

"The containment of I