The Pentagon (news – web sites) deleted from a public transcript a statement Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made to author Bob Woodward suggesting that the administration gave Saudi Arabia a two-month heads-up that President Bush (news – web sites) had decided to invade Iraq (news – web sites).
At issue was a passage in Woodward’s “Plan of Attack,” an account published this week of Bush’s decision making about the war, quoting Rumsfeld as telling Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, in January 2003 that he could “take that to the bank” that the invasion would happen.
The comment came in a key moment in the run-up to the war, when Rumsfeld and other officials were briefing Bandar on a military plan to attack and invade Iraq, and pointing to a top-secret map that showed how the war plan would unfold. The book reports that the meeting with Bandar was held on Jan. 11, 2003, in Vice President Cheney’s West Wing office. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also attended.
Pentagon officials omitted the discussion of the meeting from a transcript of the Woodward interview that they posted on the Defense Department’s Web site Monday. Rumsfeld told reporters at a briefing yesterday that he may have used the phrase “take that to the bank” but that no final decision had been made to go to war.
Showing war plans and a “top secret map showing how the war plan would unfold” to freakin’ Prince Bandar? Pop Quiz: how many Iraqis were involved with 9/11? How many Saudis? Even if Bandar is and was trustworthy, were they 100% certain — top secret war plan sharing certain — that no Wahhabists had infiltrated his staff?
Oh, and scrubbing transcripts isn’t cool either, but I’m sadly becoming inured to that.