2,524. 9/12/2001

Counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke attended a series of meetings at the White House on September 12, 2001, where he expected to deal with the al Qaeda threat. ” ‘Instead, I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting Al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld and [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the [Bush] administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq. My friends in the Pentagon had been telling me that the word was we would be invading Iraq sometime in 2002. On the morning of the 12th DOD’s [Department of Defense’s] focus was already beginning to shift from Al Qaeda.’ …Having been attacked by Al Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.’ ”

 – James Bamford, A Pretext for War, Pages 285-286

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