Jeb Bush, whose name is a redundancy (“Jeb” stands for John Ellis Bush), has quite the quandary on his hands. He wants to be his own man, but has an awfully strange way of executing that plan. All of his foreign policy advisors worked for his father and brother. On one hand, after several misfired answers on the subject of the Iraq war, he said, “Knowing what we know now, I would not have gone into Iraq.”  Of course, Mr. John Ellis “I am my own man” Bush later said that the United States may have to send more troops back to Iraq to defeat ISIS. Right, another Bush presidency and another Iraq invasion. That makes it three for three!

Over the last few days, Jeb! has been falling all over himself to defend his brother. He has been repeating the mantra he started chanting earlier this year (and at the debate). It has been getting more attention since Donald Trump made the astute observation that 9/11 happened during George W. Bush’s presidency. Jeb!’s response has been, “He kept us safe.” Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

In January 2001, President Bill Clinton’s top National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, had a sit-down with President George W. Bush’s top National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice. He told her, “I believe that the Bush Administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.” They ignored him.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It gets worse. On August 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a security briefing that told him Osama bin Laden wanted to attack the United States and hijack airplanes to do it. That’s more than a month before 9/11. Later his White House would be asked about the a memo entitled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” Their response was that the memo was an “historical document.”

When Bush 43’s counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke,  testified before the 9/11 commission, he told them that he had spent the six months leading up to that day trying to get the administration to take terrorism seriously, but wasn’t getting anywhere.  He said, “Your government failed you, and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn’t matter because we failed you. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness.”

What was the second Bush administration focusing its energies on? Going after Saddam Hussein. Bush’s first treasury secretary was Paul O’ONeill. In his 2004 book, he details the first cabinet meeting of the new administration in 2001 and asserts the president showed his eagerness to go into Iraq within days of getting into the White House. O’Neill told CBS, “From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go. For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.”

The CNN piece goes on to say:

Suskind said O’Neill and other White House insiders gave him documents showing that in early 2001 the administration was already considering the use of force to oust Saddam, as well as planning for the aftermath.

“There are memos,” Suskind told the network. “One of them marked ‘secret’ says ‘Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq.’

Suskind cited a Pentagon document titled “Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts,” which, he said, outlines areas of oil exploration. “It talks about contractors around the world from … 30, 40 countries and which ones have what intentions on oil in Iraq.”

In the book, O’Neill is quoted as saying he was surprised that no one in a National Security Council meeting asked why Iraq should be invaded.

“It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this,'” O’Neill said.

A number of news outlets have been looking over the newly-released emails that Hillary Clinton sent when she was Secretary of State. They are practically foaming at the mouth over the idea that the war in Iraq was discussed between then- Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair and George W. Bush in 2002. We have known since at least 2004 that the planning of that war was started much earlier than that. I don’t make many predictions but in 1999, I said if George W. Bush got into the White House, we’d end up invading Iraq. I guess I am confused about why people are just getting the memo on this.

What’s the “take home message?”

  1. George W. Bush did not “keep us safe.”
  2. Planning for the Iraq war was already underway when George W. Bush took office.
  3. People need to pay more attention. Don’t wait 11 years to be outraged. Seriously.

Photo by Gage Skidmore