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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Sleight of Hand

While everyone is (understandably) up in arms over the Saudi royals playing the game of American politics, using their control over oil prices to dictate hopeful electoral outcomes, there is a much bigger and (again) impeachable offense here, and one that cannot be brushed aside as easily. We now know from Woodward's book that Gen. Tommy Franks was given a blank check with which to begin setting the stage for the Iraq war the president said he wasn't planning for. Of course, this was before the serious misinformation push began, before the spectre of mushroom clouds were pushed on the public by the administration, and therefore appropriating open-ended support for an Iraq-directed military build-up would have been a hard nut to get congress to swallow. Soution: act as though Bush's wistful longing for the ease of a Bush dictatorship was not (another) mis-statement by the president, but an executive order.

From CBS:

Woodward reports that just five days after Sept. 11, President Bush indicated to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that while he had to do Afghanistan first, he was also determined to do something about Saddam Hussein.

”There's some pressure to go after Saddam Hussein. Don Rumsfeld has said, ‘This is an opportunity to take out Saddam Hussein, perhaps. We should consider it.’ And the president says to Condi Rice meeting head to head, ‘We won't do Iraq now.’ But it is a question we're gonna have to return to,’” says Woodward.

“And there's this low boil on Iraq until the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 21, 2001. This is 72 days after 9/11. This is part of this secret history. President Bush, after a National Security Council meeting, takes Don Rumsfeld aside, collars him physically, and takes him into a little cubbyhole room and closes the door and says, ‘What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq? What is the status of the war plan? I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret.’"

Woodward says immediately after that, Rumsfeld told Gen. Tommy Franks to develop a war plan to invade Iraq and remove Saddam - and that Rumsfeld gave Franks a blank check.

”Rumsfeld and Franks work out a deal essentially where Franks can spend any money he needs. And so he starts building runways and pipelines and doing all the preparations in Kuwait, specifically to make war possible,” says Woodward.

“Gets to a point where in July, the end of July 2002, they need $700 million, a large amount of money for all these tasks. And the president approves it. But Congress doesn't know and it is done. They get the money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved. …Some people are gonna look at a document called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the Treasury unless appropriated by Congress. Congress was totally in the dark on this."

How much will it take?

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