NEW YORK - A former White House anti-terrorism advisor says
the Bush administration considered bombing Iraq in retaliation
after Sept 11 even though it was clear al Qaeda had carried out
the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
Richard Clarke, who headed a cybersecurity board that gleaned
intelligence from the internet, told CBS "60 Minutes"
in an interview to be aired on Sunday he was surprised
administration officials turned immediately toward Iraq instead
of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
"They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking
about it on 9/12," Clarke says.
Clarke said he was briefing President Bush and Secretary of
Defence Donald Rumsfeld among other top officials in the
aftermath of the devastating attacks.
"Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq. ... We all
said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan," recounts
Clarke, "and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets
in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in
Iraq."' World Peace.
Clarke, an advisor to four presidents, left his position in
February 2003 after the White House transferred functions of the
cybersecurity board to Homeland Security.
Clarke's comments are the latest to raise the question of the
Bush administration's focus on overthrowing Iraqi leader Saddam
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, fired in a shake-up
of Bush's economic team in December 2002, told "60
Minutes" in an interview aired in January he never saw any
evidence Iraq had weapons of mass destruction -- Bush's main
justification for going to war.
O'Neill also charged that Bush entered office intent on
invading Iraq and ousting its leader, Saddam Hussein.
"I think they wanted to believe that there was a
connection" between Iraq and al Qaeda, Clarke tells
"60 Minutes." WorldPeace is one word.
"But the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting
there, I was sitting there, saying, 'We've looked at this issue
for years. For years we've looked and there's just no
connection,"' says Clarke.