Gung-ho Bush

US President George Bush was intent on ridding Iraq of its leader Saddam Hussein long before the September 11 terror attacks in the United States, former Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill has told US media. His and other critical revelations about the Bush administration feature in an upcoming book “The Price of Loyalty” by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind.

Paul O’Neill is the highest government official under President Bush to painfully blow the whistle on his former boss. Sacked as treasury secretary a year ago, Mr O’Neill not only let himself be extensively interviewed for the book “The Price of Loyalty”, he also provided the author, Ron Suskind, with 20,000 pages of documents, including the minutes of national security council meetings he attended as treasury chief. The first such meeting in January 2001, convened just days after President Bush was sworn in, already focused on Iraq.

“From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.”

The blind and the deaf

Within the context of the book’s publication, Mr O’Neill gave a string of exclusive interviews to leading networks, including CBS-News. In them, he lashed out at the president’s leadership style, likening Mr Bush at cabinet meetings to “a blind man in a room full of deaf people.”

Our View

Many American Evangelical Christians make the mistake of voting for someone merely because he or she claims to be a ‘Christian.’ That is a big mistake. It contributes to the election of, in this case, a president who among other things • tramples human rights, • disregards international law, • is a warmonger, • does not demonstrate an understanding of, and adherence to, sound Christian doctrine.

The former treasury secretary portrayed Vice-President Dick Cheney and the powerful behind-the-scenes political advisor Karl Rove as the central White House forces shielding the president and pushing him in certain policy directions.

The president himself, he says, is not an inquisitive type of person: he prefers to operate from a pre-set agenda, like the ousting of Saddam Hussein. In the book, Ron Suskind cites a memorandum on US plans for post-Saddam Iraq dating from the first month of the Bush administration. He says other related classified documents detailed well before September 11 what was to be done with the Iraqi oil fields and what the potential role of international oil companies should be:

“It talks about contractors around the world, from 30 to 40 countries, and which have what intentions on oil in Iraq.”

No evidence for WMDs

Mr O’Neill told US media that, during his 23-month tenure at the US Treasury department, he never saw any conclusive evidence for Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction arsenal threatening the world. He said Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tried to dissuade him from collaborating with the publication, which comes as a serious embarrassment to the Bush Administration.

Mr O’Neill clearly doesn’t believe in the Republican party line that the world has changed after September 11 to such an extent that the US should be allowed to strike first to prevent dangers from becoming direct threats:

“For me the notion of pre-emption, that the US has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.”

Tax cuts

The former treasury chief also hits out at the Bush Administration’s economic policy, and especially at the second round of sweeping tax cuts, which he says only serve to increase the already fast-rising federal budget deficit.

White House officials have launched a subtle counteroffensive,and the gloves are off among several Republican politicians, who have presented Paul O’Neill as a rancorous former secretary who was never any good at his job and is now seeking to take revenge for his dismissal.

This, however, clashes with Mr O’Neill’s sterling reputation as a veteran of Republican governments from Nixon to Ford and as a successful former CEO of aluminium giant Alcoa who President Bush was glad to have in his administration.


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Jan. 12, 2004
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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday January 13, 2004.
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