Saddam had not bothered the outside world since Bush 1 put him in a box. Most of his weapons had been destroyed under UN inspections. In 2001, Iraq was not an issue; both Secretary Powell and National Security Advisor Rice said publicly that Iraq posed no threat. Many have wondered how and why such an imminent threat suddenly appeared on our radar screen. The following is based on actual facts, only Bush’s conversations with himself and his aides are speculative.
Well, I made up my mind early on that I wasn’t going to suffer my dad’s fate — a one-term presidency. Things didn’t go smoothly, though. I’ll tell you what happened; then tell me what you would have done.
It all started when Clinton and his top aides told us al-Qaeda would be our number one problem and gave us a plan to put them out of business. Clinton was so upset with these guys that he authorized the CIA to kill the leader, Osama bin Laden.
Well, we certainly weren’t going to let the democrats set our priorities. Besides, there were other threats, such as Iraq, to worry about and we already had a full plate. For example, I had to get those big tax cuts through to save the economy. And, for our big contributors, we needed to reverse some of Clinton’s policies, particularly those in the environmental field.
The missile shield was important too. Congress tried to shift some of my missile shield money to anti-terrorism but Rummy told them to go jump in the lake. He even threatened a veto — and I would have done it too! I like playing hardball with those goons in Congress.
Then, during a briefing received by Cheney, Osama was confirmed as the guy behind the USS Cole attack. But, there was no hurry — we would eventually deal with him. Next, some folks from a counterterrorism commission came over to the White House to warn us of a national catastrophe. They actually tried to tell us how to reorganize the government — something about a Homeland Security Department! Well, we listened and then politely excused them.
As summer approached, our intelligence people were picking up all sorts of alarms of impending attacks on our country, but as you know by now our intelligence is, at best, questionable. Besides, the economy was shaky. I didn’t want to scare the American people and make things worse.
Meanwhile, the FBI requested $50 million for their anti-terrorism program. We rejected that, of course; these guys will say anything to get more money.
By early August, the warnings of impending attacks had become more intense. So, while on vacation at the ranch, some CIA people came down to give me the latest scoop. They mentioned the possibility of airplane hijackings and gave me some history on Osama. I love my ranch and had a lot of brush to clear. So, I figured these problems could wait a few more weeks until September.
Then, to our shock and amazement, 9-11 happened. We didn’t believe they’d really do it. Well I handled the aftermath like a pro. After my aggressive response to the tragedy, I was “lookin’ good” — until some do-gooders in Congress tried to create a commission to find out why we were caught so flatfooted. What would you have done? Just what I did, of course — oppose the commission on the grounds that it would interfere with national security.
Well, that worked for almost a year. But, it was just my luck that those 9-11 families and do-gooders in Congress persisted with this commission idea. I don’t mind telling Congress where to get off (which I sometimes do in private) but no president in his right mind would oppose those 9-11 families. I’m sure you would have caved in, too.
Give me some credit though; I modified the commission as best I could. In the final deal we got a Republican to chair the commission and more limited subpoena power. Cheney pulled the strings behind the scenes with Congress. He and others on my staff feared the commission might send us what amounts to a “pink slip”, just when the presidential campaign heats up. So, here comes the tough part — how could we neutralize the commission’s work?
Well, first we had to set up an obstacle course for the Commission. We insisted that Ashcroft screen all the Commission’s requests for information and that agency monitors be present at Commission interviews (like Saddam did when we tried to interview his scientists). I’m just as tough as Saddam and we simply can’t have our people talking out of turn with no retribution. As far as full access to all my CIA briefings and minutes of our national security meetings — well, over my cold, dead body!
NEEDED: A WARRIOR PRESIDENT
Meanwhile, Rove told me “It’s the terror, not the economy, Stupid!” You’ll never know how happy I was to hear that — except I didn’t like the way he used the word “Stupid.” Anyway, we decided it would be a good idea to promote my image as a warrior president for the upcoming midterm elections.
Since we couldn’t find my old friend Osama “dead or alive,” we had to find a substitute.And, my far-right buddies, Cheney, Rummy, and Wolfie insisted on our old nemesis Saddam. They had long wished for his overthrow. Saddam was in trouble with the UN and had little international standing. They argued that we couldn’t wait –we had to get him before he got us.
Saddam had kicked the UN inspectors out several years ago, so by now we figured he must have amassed quite a few illegal weapons. To make this situation really explosive, we decided to link Saddam to both al-Qaeda and 9-11 — after all they probably were in cahoots. Also, he probably had a nuclear capability in the works. Wow! All I have to do is mention “mushroom cloud” and the public will insist we preempt the evil one.
Then, Rove gave me this idea … why not build a strong case, surface it just before mid-term elections and back Congress into a corner? Few would dare oppose me and risk their chances for reelection? A congressional ok would also eliminate any danger of impeachment. After all, my potential impeachers had agreed with me. How do you like this idea, so far? Not bad, huh?
As for the war itself, that should be a slam dunk. Several of our states are larger than pathetic, defenseless little Iraq. It doesn’t have air or sea power or smart bombs like us. Should be a piece of cake! This idea was really beginning to appeal to me. Of all my presidential duties, I sure enjoy most being Commander-in Chief.
The icing on the Saddam cake, of course, would be the distraction from our domestic problems. The wartime situation will silence our critics and, in the upcoming elections, we might even regain full control of Congress.
As you mull this over, you’ll have to admit that your President is a lot smarter than most people think. This “simple plan” will distract the public from my pre-9-11 responsibility and domestic problems, and perhaps get us back in the driver’s seat in Congress. Talk about “wagging the dog!” I’m sure Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman would be proud of me. Before reading any further, tell me what you think of my plan — you would have done the same thing, right?
NO WEAPONS FOUND: WHAT DO I DO NOW?
There was just one hitch. The war went really well, except that Saddam fooled me; he didn’t use a single unlawful weapon against us and we’ve found no visible signs of any weaponized chemical or biological agents. Bummer! To make things worse, we’ve not been able to find a nuclear program or a link to al-Qaeda and 9-11.
I wonder what happened to all those dangerous chemical and biological agents and the 30,000 munitions to deliver them that I so confidently spoke about in my State of Union speech. Darn, I was banking so much on those weapons to justify the war. I thought we were being guided by God’s hand; how could we have been so wrong?
Well, I guess I’ll have to throw thousands of people into the hunt for those outlawed weapons that Saddam must have hidden somewhere. If we don’t find them, we’ll settle for some WMD scientists, buried remnants of earlier programs and bad intentions of the evil one.
Of course, it’s possible that Iraq destroyed its weapons before the war but that would mean the UN inspections, backed with the threat of military power, were actually working. Say it ain’t so! I guess (just between you and me) it’s also possible that my daddy’s war and many long years of UN sanctions and inspections had transformed Iraq into a minor threat.
The American people do have a short attention span, so I’m just not going to worry about it. Besides we can dream up lots of new justifications for the war. Of course, (and please don’t tell anyone) had we used these new justifications, we probably wouldn’t have gotten support for the war.
Wasn’t all this worth sparing me my daddy’s fate … the agony of defeat at reelection time? Sure, Kennedy accepted responsibility for the Bay of Pigs disaster, but 9-11 was much worse. If things really get bad, we can always blame Clinton for 9-11 — just like we did for other things that went wrong in my Administration.
REELECTION STILL IN THE BAG
I think I’ll push back the Republican National Convention in New York City and my acceptance speech so that I can commemorate the third anniversary of 9-11 with all those firemen. That would mean a campaign built around national security and combating terrorism. This should really work to our advantage. We can have a big celebration right there in Madison Square Garden, near ground zero. Then, with a couple of hundred million dollars in my campaign coffers, the election is mine … all mine.
Like greed, aggression is good. Aggression has marked the upward surge of mankind. Aggression breeds patriotism, and patriotism curbs dissent. Aggression has made Democrats cower, the press purr and the world quake. Aggression –” you mark my words –” will not only save humanity, but it will soon color all the states Republican red.
— Maureen Dowd, NY Times, May 4, 2003