- WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld almost immediately urged President George W.
Bush to consider bombing Iraq after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks
on New York and Washington, a former senior administration counterterrorism
- In a forthcoming book, Richard Clarke, the White House
counterterrorism coordinator at the time, recounts details of a meeting
the day after the terrorist attacks during which top officials considered
the U.S. response. Even then, he said, they were certain that al-Qaeda
was to blame and there was no hint of Iraqi involvement.
- "Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq,"
Mr. Clarke said. "We all said, ëBut no, no, al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan.'"
- Mr. Clarke, who is expected to testify Tuesday before
a federal panel reviewing the attacks, said Mr. Rumsfeld complained in
the meeting that "there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and
there are lots of good targets in Iraq."
- A spokesman for Mr. Rumsfeld said he couldn't comment
- Mr. Clarke makes the assertion in a book, "Against
All Enemies," that goes on sale Monday. He told CBS News he believes
the administration sought to link Iraq with the attacks because of long-standing
interest in overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Mr. Clarke appears Sunday night
on the network's program 60 Minutes.
- "I think they wanted to believe that there was a
connection" between Iraq and the al-Qaeda attacks in the United States,
Mr. Clarke said in an interview segment that CBS broadcast Friday evening.
"There's just no connection. There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq
was supporting al-Qaeda."
- Mr. Clarke also criticized Mr. Bush for promoting the
administration's efforts against terrorism, accusing top Bush advisers
of turning a blind eye to terrorism during the first months of Mr. Bush's
- The Associated Press first reported in June 2002 that
Mr. Bush's national security leadership met formally nearly 100 times in
the months prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, yet terrorism was the topic during
only two of those sessions.
- The last of those two meetings occurred on Sept. 4 as
the security council put finishing touches on a proposed national security
policy review for the president. That review was finished on Sept. 10 and
was awaiting Mr. Bush's approval when the first plane struck the World
- "Frankly, I find it outrageous that the President
is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things
about terrorism," Mr. Clarke told CBS. "He ignored it. He ignored
terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something."
- There have been earlier published accounts of the administration's
suspicion during the week after the 2001 attacks that Iraq might have been
involved, but none by a direct participant in such senior-level meetings
and none that suggested there was a push to attack Iraq so soon afterward.
- A discussion among Mr. Bush and Cabinet members at Camp
David. Md., on Sept. 16, for example, included remarks about whether it
was prudent to attack Iraq after the terror attacks.
- Mr. Bush told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward that
he decided not to heed advice on Iraq by some officials who also had served
his father's administration during the first Gulf War.
- "One of the things I wasn't going to allow to happen
is, that we weren't going to let their previous experience in this theatre
dictate a rational course for a new war," Mr. Bush told Mr. Woodward
for his 2002 book, Bush at War. He said discussion later that day "was
focused only on Afghanistan."
- Mr. Clarke retired early in 2003 after 30 years in government
service. He was among the longest-serving White House staffers, transferred
in 1992 from the State Department to deal with threats from terrorism and
- Mr. Clarke previously led the government's secretive
Counterterrorism and Security Group, made up of senior officials from the
FBI, CIA, Justice Department and armed services, who met several times
each week to discuss foreign threats.
- © 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights