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When Bush First Vowed to "Take Out" Saddam...December 1999

When Bush First Vowed to Take Out Saddam

by JASON LEOPOLD

Hopefully, by now, most Americans will agree that President Bush’s war mongering against Iraq is purely personal. To prove this point, go back to December 1999 when Bush was still governor of Texas and wasn’t even the Republican candidate for President yet. Back then, Bush Jr. had said that if elected President of the United States he would use military force to “take out” Hussein and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Bush said publicly last year that Saddam Hussein tried to kill his father, George Bush, Sr., when he was President a decade ago as if that should be reason enough to attack Iraq. But Bush still can’t prove that Iraq poses a threat to the United States.

Back in 1999, just as today, there was no evidence that Iraq concealed any such weapons. Bush was governor of Texas at the time and the presidential race was still one year away. Bush couldn’t have possibly had any intelligence information, which he claims he presently has but refuses to make public, that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Still, Bush knew exactly what he would do first when he got to office: bomb Iraq.

“Gov. George W. Bush of Texas talks about contingencies in which he would use American military power to ”take out” Iraq’s illegal weapons” if elected president, according to a Dec. 12, 1999 editorial in the New York Times. The Times editorial was headlined Rhetoric and Reality on Iraq and it too presumed that Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction but the editorial offered no evidence.

“More than eight years after American-led military forces triumphed in the Persian Gulf war, Saddam Hussein still rules Iraq and continues to cheat on the surrender terms that require him to eliminate all biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and missiles capable of delivering them. His galling defiance and America’s frustrations in dealing with him have again made Iraq an issue in a United States presidential campaign,” the editorial says.

But then, two years later, the terrorist attacks of September 11 took place. Bush war plans for Iraq were sidelined while he dealt with this new war. Americans forgot about those statements he made pre-9/11, but Bush uses that date to push his war and wants the public to believe we are in grave danger if our troops don’t topple Iraq. Hussein is a tyrant and he has done despicable acts against his own people, but that is no reason for the United States to attack. This is Bush’s war. He made that clear as far back as 1999.

But asking Bush not to go to war is like, unfortunately, asking Bush when he was governor of Texas to put a moratorium on the death penalty. That request also fell on deaf ears.

“As far as I’m concerned there has not been one innocent person executed since I’ve become governor,” Bush said in June 2000 during a presidential campaign trail visit to Los Angeles.

While Bush was governor, there were 134 executions in Texas, despite the fact that many activists and lawyers said that some executed prisoners may not have received fair trials.

One particular death penalty case that celebrities including the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Amnesty International activist Bianca Jagger have called on Bush to stay was the execution of Gary Graham, who was for shooting to death a Houston man during a supermarket holdup in 1981.

Graham was convicted on the basis of testimony from one eyewitness. But that witness also gave police a statement saying the shooter she saw had darker skin and a narrower face than Graham.

Graham’s lawyer at the time slept through parts of the trial and failed to call six other witnesses who either were not able to identify Graham as the suspect or described the killer differently.

“I’ve thought about it. We don’t need a moratorium,” Bush said about the Graham case. “I’m going to continue to uphold the laws of the land. I believe the system is fair and just.”

Now, some of those same celebrities now oppose the possibility of a war in Iraq and are asking Bush not to use military force in the region. But Bush won’t listen.

JASON LEOPOLD can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com