April 16, 2004


Woodward book: Bush hid Iraq war plan: CIA chief said to see 'slam dunk' on weapons of mass destruction (MSNBC, April  16, 2004)

President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy.

Bush feared that if news got out about the Iraq plan as U.S. forces were fighting another conflict, people would think he was too eager for war, journalist Bob Woodward writes in “Plan of Attack,” a behind-the-scenes account of the 16 months leading to the Iraq invasion.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the book, which will be available in book stores next week.

“I knew what would happen if people thought we were developing a potential war plan for Iraq,” Bush is quoted as telling Woodward. “It was such a high-stakes moment and ... it would look like that I was anxious to go to war. And I’m not anxious to go to war.”

According to a report Friday by the Washington Post, Woodward also claims that:

* Starting in late December 2001, Bush met repeatedly with Army Gen. Tommy Franks and his war cabinet to plan the U.S. attack on Iraq even as he insisted he was pursuing a diplomatic solution.

* CIA Director George Tenet assured the president that it was a "slam dunk" case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

* Some of Vice President Dick Cheney's colleagues felt he had a "fever" about removing Saddam Hussein by force.

* Secretary of State Colin Powell felt Cheney and his allies — among them the undersecretary of defense for policy, Douglas Feith, and what Powell called Feith's "Gestapo" office — had established what amounted to a separate government.

Asked about the book Friday, the president said the subject of Iraq came up four days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when he met his national security team at Camp David to discuss a response to the assault.

If true this would be disappointing. Paul O'Neill swore they came to office with plans to attack Iraq and if they didn't actually start on one until November of 2001 you have to wonder what they were waiting for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2004 5:12 PM

Do you think this book will hurt or help Bush?

Posted by: Jana at April 16, 2004 7:24 PM

President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq [but] . . . did not tell everyone on his national security team.

Was he ordering himself to do it, or does he have secret war plan elves?

Posted by: David Cohen at April 16, 2004 7:30 PM

Jane --

Talking about the war helps the President.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 16, 2004 7:31 PM

Are they seriously suggesting that we shouldn't have planned a war plan just in case while attempting to pursue a peaceful solution? Exactly how dumb are they?

Every so often there's a big dumb furor in the press when some reporter "reveals" that the Pentagon "has a secret plan to attack X." Well, duh. The Pentagon is supposed to plan for every contingency.

Posted by: John Thacker at April 16, 2004 8:55 PM

David - I'd normally agree but given the unprecedented effort being put forth by the press to make Bush look as bad as possible it could hurt him.

Posted by: AWW at April 16, 2004 9:44 PM

Between David and AWW, I am with AWW, but it's close.
There are plans and there are plans. Some squirrelly bureaucrat in the Pentagon is right now working on Normandy Invasion No. 2 (hey you have to be ready for all contingencies)

Posted by: h-man at April 17, 2004 4:12 AM


Why think small? There's probably a file locked away somewhere at the Pentagon detailing the new version of War Plan Red and Crimson.

(According to the old color scheme used by the War and Navy Departments to designate foreign countries, Red was Great Britain and Crimson was Canada.)

Posted by: Joe at April 17, 2004 3:22 PM

What John said.

All powerful states plan for contingent wars of more or less likelihood. Orrin's right about the delay, if, in fact, there was one.

I wouldn't trust anything Woodward wrote.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 17, 2004 10:36 PM

Do you think this book will hurt or help Bush?

Well, it will hurt him only if the American people continue to mistakenly (and inexplicably) view our action in Iraq as some isolated event. If, on the other hand, Americans suddenly remember THAT BIG THING THAT HAPPENED ON SEPT. 11, 2001, he'll be just fine.

From a rhetorical point of view, Bush certainly hasn't been helping his own cause, continuing to refer to the invasion of Iraq as a "war" (or at least letting such references go uncontested). But that's just Bush being a poor communicator. Underneath, he knows what all the other smart people do: that Iraq is simply a battle in a war, a war that was declared upon us on Sept. 11, 2001.

I'd be furious if I found out Bush weren't thinking about Iraq -- and a whole bunch of other places -- in the immediate aftermath of that attack.

Right now the world can wrap itself up in inane minutiae about "WMDs" and commission testimony and political campaigning, but time will set everything straight. We got attacked a couple of years ago, and we're going about taking care of that. It's all pretty simple.

Posted by: tomcat at April 18, 2004 12:50 AM