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Sunday, October 01, 2006 

A year in advance, Jack Abramoff knew Bush would invade Iraq

Blogger jorndorff makes an important observation today based upon one of the emails of corrupt Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose texts were released recently. In this message, dated March 18, 2002, Abramoff mentions in an off-hand manner "the upcoming war on Iraq". Here is Abramoff's email (from page 26 of this PDF):

From: Jack Abramoff
To: 'octagon1'
Monday, March 18, 2002 8:31 AM
Subject: RE: Sunday

I was sitting yesterday with Karl Rove, Bush's top advisor, at the NCAA basketball game, discussing Israel when this email came in. I showed it to him. It seems that the President was very sad to have to come out negatively regarding Israel, but that they needed to mollify the Arabs for the upcoming war on Iraq. That did not seem to work anyway. Bush seems to love Sharon and Israel, and thinks Arabfat, is nothing but a liar. I thought I'd pass that on.

March 2002 is precisely the time when, as a series of leaked British documents show, the Blair government was gearing up to coordinate with Bush to engineer an invasion of Iraq. And in April 2002, as we learn from the British Cabinet Briefing Paper dated July 22, 2002, Tony Blair would make a promise to Bush that Britain would take part in an invasion of Iraq as long as a few preconditions were met.

1. The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it.

2. When the Prime Minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change, provided that certain conditions were met: efforts had been made to construct a coalition/shape public opinion, the Israel-Palestine Crisis was quiescent, and the options for action to eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors had been exhausted.

Abramoff's email shows that in the U.S. this lobbyist with close connections to the White House was also talking about the invasion as if it were a foregone decision.

The politics of the situation, as described cynically by Abramoff, fits neatly with what the Briefing Paper tells us about Blair's precondition for British support--forcing the Israelis to make nice for a while to the Palestinians. When Abramoff refers to negative comments about Israel, he is referring to this statement by Bush on March 13, 2002 at a press conference:

Q Do you agree with Kofi Annan that Israel must end the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands? And how is the Israeli offensive going to complicate General Zinni's mission?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, it is important to create conditions for peace in the Middle East. It's important for both sides to work hard to create the conditions of a potential settlement. Now, our government has provided a security plan that has been agreed to by both the Israelis and the Palestinians called the Tenet plan. And George Mitchell did good work providing a pathway for a political settlement, once conditions warranted.

Frankly, it's not helpful what the Israelis have recently done in order to create conditions for peace. I understand someone trying to defend themselves and to fight terror. But the recent actions aren't helpful. And so Zinni's job is to go over there and work to get conditions such that we can get into Tenet. And he's got a lot of work to do. But I didn't think he could make progress, I wouldn't have asked him to go.

It's interesting to note that later in that press conference Bush was asked, regarding Cheney's mission overseas to build support for invading Iraq, first whether he would act unilaterally if he did not get any support, and second whether the increased violence in Palestine was affecting Bush's case for invading Iraq. Bush dodged the first question, and on the second question he asserted that his peace efforts in Israel/Palestine had nothing specifically to do with his plans for Iraq.

And so while I understand the linkage, for us the policy stands on its own. The need for us to involved in the Middle East is to help save lives.

As always, straight talk from George Bush. Tony Blair? Who's he?

Of course, Abramoff is a notorious crook too, and one has to be careful about swallowing what he has to say. In this case, though, the evidence is pretty credible. First of all, it is a private rather than public statement, and there's no indication that Abramoff would have gained personally by suggesting falsely that the invasion was essentially certain.

And secondly, Abramoff's comment is made in passing. For historians, off-hand statements are generally thought to be pretty reliable reflections of reality, more so than assertions that a dubious source has put some thought into framing. A statement made in passing is akin to one that is blurted out. Abramoff takes it for granted that the recipient of this email, whoever it was, also knew or assumed that the invasion of Iraq was 'upcoming'.

So, yet more evidence that insiders knew what many Americans merely suspected in spring 2002, that George Bush intended to have his war in Iraq no matter what the world wished, and no matter what the intelligence agencies might reveal about Iraq's alleged WMD program.

In the comments on jorndoff's post, AnneElizabeth made a potentially important contribution to our information about the run-up to war.

At a book reading last night I heard former NPR reporter Sarah Chayes, who is promoting her book about her development work in Afganistan. In the course of taking questions for over an hour, she mentioned that as a reporter, she had a deep source in the US military who had been sent to the Mid East by the Bush Administration WAY PRIOR TO 911 to map out invasion routes into Iraq.

That will not come as a surprise to anybody who has perused the Iraq War Timeline assembled at It demonstrates in excruciating detail that Bush and Cheney were obsessively planning an invasion of Iraq years beforehand.

Crossposted at Inconvenient News

 posted by smintheus  # 10:53 AM  
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