March 2003: The United States invades Iraq. October 2006: The world finds out why. What was really behind the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq As George W. Bush steered the nation to war, who spoke the truth and who tried to hide it Hubristakes us behind the scenes at the Bush White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, and Congress to answer all the vital questions about how the Bush administration came to invade Iraq. Filled with new revelations,Hubrisis a gripping narrative of intrigue that connects the dots between George W. Bush's expletive-laden outbursts at Saddam Hussein, the bitter battles between the CIA and the White House, the fights within the intelligence community over Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, the startling influence of an obscure academic on top government officials, therealreason Valerie Plame was outed, and a top reporter's ties to wily Iraqi exiles trying to start a war. Written by veteran reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn, this is the inside story of how President Bush took the nation to war using faulty and fraudulent intelligence.
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September 07, 2006
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Excerpt from Hubris by David Corn
A Warning at the White House
THE PRESIDENT'S message was direct: There was no time to wait; the showdown with Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, had to start right away.
It was the morning of September 4, 2002, and George W. Bush had summoned eighteen senior members of the House and Senate to the Cabinet Room of the White House. Talk of war with Iraq had been under way for months. The prospect had been debated on cable news shows, dissected on op-ed pages, discussed at think tanks. And within the White House, the Pentagon, and the CIA, the planning had long since begun. Now Bush was making it quite real for his guests. In a few days, his administration would launch a major public relations campaign to persuade the American people and the world that Saddam was such a pressing threat that war might be the only option. But before doing so, the White House wanted to get Congress in line.
When the House and Senate members had taken their seats at the imposing oval mahogany table, they were given copies of a letter from the president. "America and the civilized world face a critical decision in the months ahead," it began. "The decision is how to disarm an outlaw regime that continues to possess and develop weapons of mass destruction." Since September 11, the letter said, "we have been tragically reminded that we are vulnerable to evil people. And this vulnerability increases dramatically when evil people have access to weapons of mass destruction." Bush told the assembled leaders that he would work with them on Iraq. But he needed a quick vote in Congress on a resolution that would grant him the authority to take on Saddam, perhaps with military action. He didn't have the proposed language yet. But he wanted this vote within six weeks before Congress left town so members could campaign for reelection.
Listening to the president, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle felt trapped. Bush's promise to collaborate with Congress was a modest win for congressional leaders. Months earlier, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales had insisted that Bush had the power to launch a war against Iraq without consulting Congress. But the White House had decided not to make a stand on this point. Bush's concession, though, imposed a burden on him: he would have to present a case for war that could win over a majority of lawmakers. And that meant he would have to offer evidence that is, the administration's secret intelligence on Iraq. But Daschle feared this apparent victory for Congress was part of a larger ploy.
House and Senate members were gearing up for the final stretch of the campaign, with control of the Senate up for grabs. Bush was informing them that the national debate would now focus on Iraq, not health care, not tax cuts, not the environment or anything the Democrats wanted to talk about. You want to be involved, he was saying, well, here are the terms.