I had Meet the Press on this morning, as I was waking up, and couldn't believe my ears. Did Trent Lott just admit, in a seemingly off the cuff remark, that President Bush had set his sight on Iraq "not too long after 9/11"? Did he really just say that? As you know, we here at DowningStreetMemo.com, and many others, have been saying that for quite some time. Now one of the President's closest friends and allies is saying the same thing? (Remember, Lott was not forced to resign from his leadership post until a year after 9/11, in late 2002.)
The full transcript is available
already at MSNBC.com. You can also watch a Windows Media Player video of the exchange here (7.8 MB)
The Senator quickly tried to backpedal, but he clearly over did it. Right after saying "even in private discussions, it was clear to me that he thought Iraq was a destabilizing force, was a danger and a growing danger, and that we were going to have to deal with that problem" Lott turned around and claimed "How can I say what was in his mind?" NBC's David Gregory suggested the obvious answer for him, "Based on your conversations." You know, the conversations where you just said it became "clear to me that he thought Iraq was a destabilizing force, was a danger and a growing danger, and that we were going to have to deal with that problem"? If the President tells you what's on his mind, you don't need ESP to "say what was in his mind." He just told you himself what was in his mind! No telepathy required.From the Meet the Press transcript:
MR. GREGORY: Let me turn to something that you wrote in your book about Iraq and put it on the screen: "In the summer of 2002...the president began lobbying for an open-ended resolution empowering him to wage war on Iraq.... Bush had made clear his intentions to wage war on Iraq in several of our private meetings."
What are you speaking about precisely, Senator?
SEN. LOTT: Well, beginning in August that year and into the fall--in fact, beginning not too long after 9/11--as we had leadership meetings at breakfast with the president, he would go around the world and talk about what was going on, where the threats were, where the dangers were, and even in private discussions, it was clear to me that he thought Iraq was a destabilizing force, was a danger and a growing danger, and that we were going to have to deal with that problem.
MR. GREGORY: He has described going to war in Iraq as the last resort that was a war of necessity. Are you suggesting here that, in fact, before much of the diplomacy had begun, that the president thought or believed in his mind that war was an inevitability?
SEN. LOTT: How can I say what was in his mind? But I..
MR. GREGORY: Based on your conversations.
SEN. LOTT: I think he was very much concerned about Saddam Hussein and the--what he was doing to his people and to his neighbors and the threat of, you know, weapons of mass destruction.
This isn't the first time Senator Lott has slipped up and revealed his private conversations with the administration. There was also this quote from Fox News Sunday in October 2001, which might be referring to one of those conversations he had with Bush about Iraq "not too long after 9/11." You decide. From the Daily Telegraph:
The Senate Minority Leader, Trent Lott, a Republican, said action against Iraq could follow the military operation against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.
He said proposals to strike Iraq, made by senior Washington officials but played down in recent days, had not been entirely abandoned by the Bush administration.
"One adviser that we have met says to remember that revenge is better eaten cold," Mr Lott told Fox News Sunday before the strikes. "In other words, take your time, have a plan, go after your first target, second target.
"Somewhere down the line we're going to have to deal with Iraq. Clearly, they have their own form of terrorism, and they still have Saddam Hussein. So we're going to have to contend with that problem, but probably a little later down the line."
It appears we have had an impact on our good Senator...
Our Awaken the U.S. Senate campaign to ask the members of the Senate Select Committee to finish the hearings on the use of intelligence in the lead up to the war in Iraq, on DowningStreetMemo.com targeted DiFi several times during its run throughout the month of July.
Bob our spokesperson also faxed a request to speak with her and/or her staff regarding our concerns about the Intel Committee hearings. He was shuffled around to various people at her office here in SF and in DC, and we weren't too sure we had gotten our message across at all.
Now I can't absolutely say we all were responsible for this statement of intention from Ms. Feinstein, but the fact that her press office sent this to us before releasing it says a little bit I think :-)
So pat yourselves on the back, all you who participated and thank you very much. Now we need to reinforce the good behavior and show them we are watching for follow-up action...
To send a Thank You and let her know we are watching and waiting for follow-up:
Senator Dianne Feinstein, California
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
331 Hart Senate Office Building?Washington, DC 20510
Chief of Staff: Mark Karesh
The Press Release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
-- this news release will be posted later today on:
Senator Feinstein Urges Progress in Completion of Investigation into Pre-War Intelligence
Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is urging the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to complete its investigation into the use of intelligence by policymakers prior to the Iraq War, with additional attention paid to the "Downing Street Memo" and the "CURVEBALL" case. Senator Feinstein is a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Following is the text of a letter Senator Feinstein sent Friday, July 29, to Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee:
"I am increasingly dismayed by the delay in completing the Committee's 'Phase II' investigation into intelligence prior to the Iraq War. As you know, the Committee voted unanimously on February 12, 2004 to investigate five questions on pre-war intelligence, including use of intelligence by policymakers. Nearly eighteen months later, much work remains before these questions will be satisfactorily answered.
In addition to the terms set out early last year, the Committee should address the significant issues raised by the so-called 'Downing Street Memo' - whether the 'intelligence and facts were being fixed' to support the policy of using military force against Iraq. This claim raises serious questions about the use of intelligence, and whether intelligence resources were unduly focused away from other priorities in order to provide additional - and as we have found, flawed - intelligence on Iraq.
It would also be my preference to include in Phase II any new revelations concerning the CURVEBALL case since the Committee's first Iraq report.
It is important that the Committee complete its study of these questions, both to fulfill our oversight responsibilities and because there is no other body capable of doing this work. The Committee's report assessing the intelligence on Iraq's WMD capabilities was of outstanding quality and demonstrated both our ability to inform the American public and uncover needs for intelligence reform. I urge you to take whatever steps are needed to complete the Phase II investigation and produce a report as comprehensive and thoughtful as the first phase of the Committee's investigation. I stand ready to participate in this investigation in any way possible."
In August of 2002, two months before the Congressional resolution was passed that would allow the use of force in Iraq, a joint US, British and Turkish strike force of commandos and Special Forces troops crossed the border from Turkey into Iraq and engaged a unit of enemy armor in what would become the opening salvo of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Preceded by two days of aerial bombardment to destroy the Iraqis ability to detect and defend against the incursion, on Aug. 8 at 5 PM an armada of helicopters swept over the Turkish border towards the strategic Bamarni military airbase laying 50 miles north of the oil-rich city of Mosel. After a brief skirmish with the ill-equipped Iraqi defenders, the base fell into Allied hands.
Coming six months prior to the official start of hostilities, the attack not only heralded events to come in Iraq, it represented the culmination of planning and preparation that began in the weeks and months that immediately followed 9/11.Events leading up to the attack
Immediately following the attacks of September 11th the White House began to question just how far the powers of the executive branch could extend to engage in military activities in the new “war on terror”. The justice department was asked to review the constraints put upon them by both the War Powers Act and the legislative branch as a whole. On September 25, 2002 the Attorney Generals Office came back with an answer. In “The President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them
”, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C.Yoo advised
the President that:
“the President's broad constitutional power to use military force to defend the Nation… would allow the President to take whatever actions he deems appropriate to pre-empt or respond to terrorist threats from new quarters” and that “Military actions need not be limited to those individuals, groups, or states that participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon: the Constitution vests the President with the power to strike terrorist groups or organizations that cannot be demonstrably linked to the September 11 incidents, but that, nonetheless, pose a similar threat to the security of the United States and the lives of its people, whether at home or overseas"
Having received the constitutional authority to engage in pre-emptive activity
, the administration’s war planning for Iraq was in full swing by the winter of 2002. During the first few weeks of December, General Tommy Franks and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met numerous times to hone the plans which were finally presented
to the Presidentat his Crawford ranch on December 28th. Although the plans for regime change in Iraq would evolve over the coming months, two key elements remained in all the early war scenarios: The use of Iraqi opposition
groups as key allies in the overthrow of Saddam, and the need to “prepare the battlefield” by degrading
the air defenses and command and control systems of the Iraqi military prior to any invasion.
In the first week of February the initial phases of the plan went into effect when the President signed an Executive Finding that gave the go ahead
for the CIA and military Special Operations Forces to operate inside Iraq. Within weeks of that finding, the 5th Group Special Forces were pulled from Afghanistan
where they had been hunting for Bin Laden and sent to work in Iraq
to begin the preliminary work on the next phase of the war on terror. By mid- March, there were reports of upwards of 1800 US unconventional
forces operating in Iraq, most in the northern Kurdish Region where they had been sent to set up local militias
and train them for battle.
According to Israeli intelligence
sources, in April large numbers of Turkish ground forces also began entering the Turkman regions around the big oil towns of Mosul and Kirkuk.
By June, American and Turkish construction engineers had started working in the mountains of the Kurdish Region, building and expanding airfields and air strips to make them fit for military use
. That same month CIA director George Tenet was reported
to have taken a side trip from Israel and Palestine to meet with
Kurdish opposition leaders and US operatives in Kurdistan to discuss possible scenarios
for the overthrow of Saddam.
Against this backdrop, the USAF began to step up its effort to destroy
Iraq’s Air defenses and communications capabilities when Operation Southern Focus
began in May. All this increased activity created a need to secure more substantial landing strips within Iraq where equipment and materials could be brought in for both the increasing US forces and the fledgling militias they were trying to organize. They were also needed to be used as staging bases for further air attacks.The attack begins
The campaign to take Bamarni Air Field began
on August 6, at 8AM Middle East time when US and British bombers went into action to destroy the Iraqi air command and control center at al-Nukhaib in the desert near the Saudi Arabian border, just under 300 miles southwest of Baghdad. The center had recently installed a new advanced fiber optic network. It was later confirmed
that the Allies had deployed an "enhanced" version of the Paveway Weapon system for the first time during the raid to knock out the mobile Chinese manufactured fiber-optic air defense system. The upgraded weapons system was installed only four months before the raid, and its refined laser guided system enabled it to strike a target with an accuracy of plus or minus six feet.
Less than twenty- four hours later two squadrons of US warplanes flew from Prince Sultan airbase in Saudi Arabia and from American aircraft carriers in the Gulf to test the effectiveness of the previous raid. Flying over the Iraqi capital there was no anti-aircraft activity, telling them that the early warning radar system protecting Baghdad and its environs from intrusion by enemy aircraft and missiles was now inactive.
On August 8, the first major military assault inside Iraq began
. That night a fleet of Turkish troop-carrying helicopters with Turkish Commandos backed by American Special Forces left air bases in Turkey for northern Iraq. Eye-witnesses
on the ground claimed air support and/or protection for the mission was provided by Turkish, American and British aircraft. The Allies seized the critical Bamerni airport in northern Iraq after a brief skirmish with an ill-equipped force from an armored section of the Iraqi army. The airport, just outside the Kurdish region, lies 50 miles north of the big Iraqi oil cities of the north, Kirkuk and Mosul. After the base fell several C130 transport planes were guided on to the airstrips from bases in Turkey to deliver engineering units, heavy machinery and electronic support equipment, which were put to work at once on enlarging the field and widening its landing strips.
As Turkish troops reinforced security around the airport, the American unit, reinforced, went on to capture
two other strategic military points on either side of the airbase in the Dahuk province of Iraq. The two bases which consisted of very basic army barracks on two hills, one 565 ft above sea level and the other 2160 ft provided the US and Turkish forces with strategic look out posts over the immediate area, and air superiority over the entire region that includes the cities of Mosal and Kirkuk. Also falling under Allied control was the strategic railroad linking Syria and Iraq and the major oil production facilities of northern Iraq.
Seven hours after the attack which resulted in the first face-to face engagement between US led forces and Iraqi troops, Saddam Hussein was delivering a national televised speech celebrating the 14th anniversary of the eight year Iran-Iraq War. Saddam, with his usual bravado, threatened American troops going to war against Iraq that they would return home in coffins.The coverage in the press
Although this story was covered extensively in the world press, it received little attention from the US media. Clearly the evidence is incontrovertible that although it would be more than two months before Congress authorized the use of force
in Iraq, the military had already gone forward with the Administration's plans for war.
."..on Wednesday night, August 8, Turkey executed its first major military assault inside Iraq. (Israeli) military sources learn from Turkish and Kurdish informants that helicopters under US, British and Turkish warplane escort flew Turkish commandos to an operation for seizing the critical Bamerni airport in northern Iraq. This airport, just outside the Kurdish region, lies 50 miles north of the big Iraqi oil cities of the north, Kirkuk and Mosul. With the Turkish commandos was a group of US Special Forces officers and men. Bamerni airport was captured after a brief battle in which a unit of Iraqi armored defenders was destroyed, opening the airport for giant American and Turkish transports to deliver engineering units, heavy machinery and electronic support equipment, which were put to work at once on enlarging the field and widening its landing strips.
The American unit, reinforced, went on to capture two small Iraqi military airfields nearby.-snip-
...military experts explain that with Bamerni airport and the two additional airfields the Americans have acquired full control of the skies over the two oil cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as over the Syrian-Iraqi railroad, which they can now cut off by aerial bombardment."
From Debka Net Weekly 8/10/02 (Israel)
"08 August 2002: According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet
, Turkish troops have taken control of the strategically important Bamerni Airport in south Kurdistan, as a preparation for a future attack on Iraq and to prevent the creation of a Kurdish State. Apparently, Turkey took control of the airport as a preparation in case of a chaos during attacks against Iraq and the possiblity of a Kurdish State. The Bamerni Airport is from the Saddam era. Hurriyet reported that Turkey has also sent civil and military personnel to the airport for maintenance and technical support. Several logistics-electronic machinery has also been sent to further improve the condition of the airport."
"On August 9, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported that 5,000 Turkish troops had entered northern Iraq and taken over the Bamerni air base north of Mosul.
But in part the actions go well beyond that. In Kurdish Iraq - according to Israeli sources - US army engineers are working around the clock to build a series of six to eight airstrips to serve fighter planes and helicopters that will provide air cover for invading ground forces. The airfields are strung along a western axis from the city of Zako southwest to the city of Sinjar; a central axis from Zako south to Arbil; and an eastern axis from Arbil to Sulimaniyeh."
From Asian Times 8/17/2002
"Two interesting stories recently appeared in the Turkish press about northern Iraq:
First, according to the dailies, Bamerni Airport near Dhohuk, across the border from Sirnak, is now completely under the control of Turkish troops. This development has been evaluated as a sign of imminent US intervention against Saddam Hussein since Turkey has brought the flurry of activity in the region under stricter control. However, as yet we don't have enough information about the actual story. Soon after Ankara's official denial that Turkey had deployed troops at the airport, we received information about struggles in the region."
(Turkey) via Turkish Press Review
On August 9,2002 future Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, then head of the Patriot Union of Kurdistan (PUK), spoke with CNN-TURK. He confirmed that the airport was in fact under Turkish control, but with an odd twist.
"A prominent Iraqi Kurdish leader said in a broadcast Friday that the Turkish army had controlled an airport in the Kurdish-held north of neighbouring Iraq for several years, but the general staff in Ankara promptly denied the claim.
"But it has been under the control of Turkish forces for a long time, since 1995 or 1996," said Talabani, who left Turkey on Thursday for a meeting of the Iraqi opposition in Washington.
The Turkish army however denied it had control over the airport, a claim widely reported in the Turkish press for the past few days. "These reports are incorrect and do not reflect the truth," said an army statement, adding that the airport had been extensively damaged during the Gulf War and rendered inoperational."
From Kurdish Observer 8-9-02
By August 18, 2002 the news finally made it into the British press. The Sunday Express reported:
"...around 5pm on Wednesday, August 8 the Iraqi early warning systems were tested yet again as a fleet of troop-carrying helicopters from the Turkish Army swept over the Turkish border and into the strategic Bamarni military airbase which lies 50 miles north of the oil-rich Al Mawsil city.
The military invasion involved 5,000 Turkish Commandos backed by American Special Forces. Eye-witnesses on the ground claimed air support and/or protection in the northern no-fly zone was provided by Turkish, American and British aircraft. Claims of a British air involvement in this particular action drew a strong denial by the MoD.
After a brief skirmish with ill-equipped Iraqi troops from an armoured section of Saddam's war machine, Bamarni airbase fell into the control of Allied troops and several C130 transporter planes were guided on to the airstrips from bases in Turkey.
Heavy earth-moving machinery and electronic support equipment were unloaded over several days and as rumours of an invasion began to circulate, Turkish television issued strong denials and broadcast old pictures of the air base showing it abandoned and derelict. As Turkish troops reinforced security around the airport which lies just outside of the Kurdish district, American Special Forces and a crack unit of Turkish commandos seized two other strategic military points on either side of the airbase in the Dahuk province of Iraq."
From The Sunday Express 8/18/2002
via Global Intel.net
Summary at The Edge.Org
When the Downing St Memo was first published in beginning of May, one of the oft quoted lines was John Reid's report that: "The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime". Two weeks after Tony Blair and his cabinet met at #10 Downing to discuss how they would balance the increasing pressure from Washington to go to war with the actual political realities of doing so, the realities of Rumsfeld's "spikes of activity" became evident in the mountians of Northern Iraq.