[QODLink]
Archive
Bush 'gunning' for Iraq after 911

A former White House anti-terrorism adviser has said the Bush administration considered bombing Iraq in retaliation after 11 September 2001. 

Last Modified: 20 Mar 2004 09:13 GMT
Bush's justification for the war was WMD's evidence

A former White House anti-terrorism adviser has said the Bush administration considered bombing Iraq in retaliation after 11 September 2001. 

Richard Clarke, who headed a cybersecurity board that gleaned intelligence from the internet, told CBS 60 Minutes in an interview to be aired on Sunday he was surprised administration officials turned immediately towards Iraq instead of al-Qaida and Usama bin Ladin. 

"They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12," said Clarke. 

Clarke said he was briefing President Bush and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld among other top officials in the aftermath of the devastating attacks. 

"Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq. ... We all said, 'but no, no. Al-Qaida is in Afghanistan," recounted Clarke, "and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.'" 

Clarke, an adviser to four presidents, left his position in February 2003 after the White House transferred functions of the cybersecurity board to Homeland Security. 

Clarke's comments are the latest to raise the question of the Bush administration's focus on overthrowing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, one year after the US-led occupation of Iraq.

The administration has struggled to put up any credible evidence to link al-Qaida, blamed for the 911 attacks, with Saddam Hussein's regime.

No evidence

"They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12."

Richard Clarke,
A former White House anti-terrorism adviser

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, fired in a shake-up of Bush's economic team in December 2002, told 60 Minutes in an interview aired in January he never saw any evidence Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - Bush's main justification for going to war. 

O'Neill also charged that Bush entered office intent on invading Iraq and ousting its leader, Saddam Hussein. 

"I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection" between Iraq and al-Qaida, Clarke told 60 Minutes. 

"But the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there, saying, 'We've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection,'" said Clarke. 

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.