Monday, February 20, 2006

Jay Bookman: Eyewitnesses peel back lies on war debate

Columnist Jay Bookman at "A hundred years from now, historians will still be regaling readers with the all-too-true tales of ignorance, arrogance, dishonesty and outright incompetence that drove our nation to invade Iraq. As stories go, nothing in our country's previous 225 years of history quite matches it. And for our children's sake, we better hope that nothing in our future comes close to it, either.

A lot of the raw material for those historians is available already in the growing number of eyewitness, inside accounts of how we got into this mess. At almost every point, those accounts contradict the version of events peddled by the Bush administration and its dwindling core of supporters.

For example, take the claim that the administration decided to invade Iraq because 'Sept. 11 changed everything.'

Paul O'Neill, President Bush's first treasury secretary, long ago revealed that administration officials were intent on invading Iraq from the moment the president took office.

'It was all about finding a way to do it,' O'Neill says of Cabinet meetings he attended before Sept. 11. 'That was the tone of it. The president saying, 'Go find me a way to do this.' '

In his new book 'State of War,' James Risen confirms that account by reporting that in April 2002 --- long before most Americans had even heard war was a possibility --- CIA officers in Europe were summoned by agency leaders and told an invasion was coming.

'They said this was on Bush's agenda when he got elected, and that 9/11 only delayed it,' one CIA officer recalled to Risen. 'They implied that 9/11 was a distraction from Iraq.'"


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