Media Matters Catalogues Gibson-Bush Interview Spin, Omits PNAC!

By Erik Larson

Bush gave an interview to ABC’s Charlie Gibson, in which Bush referred to the “intelligence failure” about WMD as his “biggest regret”., supposedly a right-wing spin watchdog, ignores PNAC and pre-Bush Administration Iraq War plans, but notes the corporate media’s failure to point out that there are many instances in the public record that make it clear that the Bush Administration was planning to go to war with Iraq after 9/11. The ones Media Matters notes include as the “Downing Street Memo”, Richard Clarke’s statement in his book that Bush asked him the day after 9/11 to find a link to Hussein, his report to Condi Rice a week later that there was none, the Senate Intelligence WMD Inquiry, and other media reports. 

However, for some reason, (perhaps connected to Media Matters’ funding sources?), this “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media” omits ANY mention of the fact that Bush had talked of war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein during his first presidential campaign, or anything about the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). As Media Matters should be well aware, many members of Bush’s cabinet, including Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, Rumsfeld and others were also members of PNAC. 

This PNAC “think tank” had written to Clinton advising him to remove Saddam Hussein and also wrote to Bush on Sept 20, 2001 that he should remove Hussein. PNAC published on its website a documented titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses, in which they said things like “while the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification [for U.S. military presence], the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein”, advocated massive increases in military spending, and a policy of “full spectrum dominance” including space and preventing the emergence of military rivals in the world. PNAC candidly admitted this kind of policy would not be popular with the American people, absent some “catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor” 

Media Coverage of PNAC-9/11-Iraq connections 

Is this the “Roadmap” that Bush and Blair keep talking about? April 9, 2003 

Inquiry into the Decision to Invade Iraq Timeline – 

The Complete 9/11 Timeline – 

Profile: Project for the New American Century (PNAC) Timeline –

 While not nearly as striking as the omission of any mention of PNAC’s influence in the Bush Administration and their history of advocating for global domination by the US, including regime change in Iraq, also neglected to mention the following widely-reported statements by former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, that Bush was looking for excuses to invade Iraq, days after taking office: 

Bush Sought ‘Way’ To Invade Iraq?: O‘Neill Tells ’60 Minutes’ Iraq Was ‘Topic A’ 8 Months Before 9-11  

“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic “A” 10 days after the inauguration – eight months before Sept. 11. 

“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.” 

As treasury secretary, O’Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as “Why Saddam?” and “Why now?” were never asked. 

“It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this,’” says O’Neill. “For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.” 

And that came up at this first meeting, says O’Neill, who adds that the discussion of Iraq continued at the next National Security Council meeting two days later. 

He got briefing materials under this cover sheet. “There are memos. One of them marked, secret, says, ‘Plan for post-Saddam Iraq,’” adds Suskind, who says that they discussed an occupation of Iraq in January and February of 2001.

Based on his interviews with O’Neill and several other officials at the meetings, Suskind writes that the planning envisioned peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals, and even divvying up Iraq’s oil wealth. 

He obtained one Pentagon document, dated March 5, 2001, and entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield contracts,” which includes a map of potential areas for exploration. 

“It talks about contractors around the world from, you know, 30-40 countries. And which ones have what intentions,” says Suskind. “On oil in Iraq.” sued for and obtained these documents, which partially reveal plans to divide up Iraq’s oil:

CHENEY ENERGY TASK FORCE DOCUMENTS FEATURE MAP OF IRAQI OILFIELDS – Media tout Bush’s purported candor in ABC interview, ignoring substantial evidence to the contrary 

“Summary: Several media outlets touted President Bush’s purported candor during an ABC interview with Charles Gibson in which Bush said the “biggest regret” of his presidency was the “intelligence failure” regarding the absence of WMD in Iraq and declined to “speculate” whether the administration would have invaded Iraq if the intelligence had shown no WMD. But none of these reports noted the substantial evidence that Bush had already decided to invade Iraq regardless of the available intelligence, or mentioned the substantial uncertainty about the evidence the administration cited in support of the war.”

Instead of reporting all the relevant facts in the public record to expose corporate media spin, distorts history and truth with their omissions and further establishes their reputation as a “left gatekeeper.”

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