Friday, March 19, 2004

This, from Reuters, is worth reprinting whole:

Ex-Advisor Says Bush Eyed Bombing of Iraq on 9/11

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former White House anti-terrorism advisor says the Bush administration considered bombing Iraq in retaliation after Sept. 11, 2001 even though it was clear al Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Richard Clarke, who headed a cybersecurity board that gleaned intelligence from the Internet, told CBS "60 Minutes" in an interview to be aired on Sunday he was surprised administration officials turned immediately toward Iraq instead of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

"They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12," Clarke says.

Clarke said he was briefing President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld among other top officials in the aftermath of the devastating attacks.

"Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq. ... We all said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan," recounts Clarke, "and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq."'

Clarke, an advisor to four presidents, left his position in February 2003 after the White House transferred functions of the cybersecurity board to Homeland Security.

"I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection" between Iraq and al Qaeda, Clarke tells "60 Minutes."

"But the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there, saying, 'We've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection,"' says Clarke.

Like Agent Mulder says, "I want to believe".

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