If Martin Sieff keeps this up, he’s never going to land a job at AP.
On Sunday, the president’s own former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, one of the most senior figures to serve in his administration, appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” to blast Bush as determined to invade Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein from as soon as he entered office, regardless of the lack of evidence that Iraq possessed any weapons of mass destruction.
The administration responded with alacrity. Only a day later it called for a probe into how government documents labeled “secret” could be aired on the O’Neill interview on national network TV in prime time.
But this response contrasted strikingly with the far slower response the White House had in approving a probe on who leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak last July. The issue flared again last week when Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York claimed the White House had so far only “partially cooperated” with a Justice Department probe into the affair.
The O’Neill embarrassment Sunday was followed the very next day with reports about a major 56-page Army War College study completed last month that scathingly described the invasion and conquest of Iraq as “a strategic error of the first order.”
The report, written for the Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute in Carlisle, Pa., by veteran defense expert Jeffrey Record, described the three-week campaign in March and April that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein as “an unnecessary preventive war of choice against a deterred Iraq” and said it had only succeeded in creating “a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault by an undeterrable al-Qaida.”