Rumsfeld, 9/11 and Saddam Hussein

Thad Anderson, a law school grad student who runs, has posted some interesting documents that show the Bush administration immediately started looking for ways to link Saddam Hussein to the attack on September 11th, 2001:

On July 23, 2005, I submitted an electronic Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Defense seeking DoD staffer Stephen Cambone’s notes from meetings with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. Cambone’s notes were cited heavily in the 9/11 Commission Report’s reconstruction of the day’s events. On February 10, 2006, I received a response from the DoD which includes partially-redacted copies of Cambone’s notes. The documents can be viewed as a photo set on Flickr.

The released notes document Donald Rumsfeld’s 2:40 PM instructions to General Myers to find the “[b]est info fast . . . judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time – not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]” (as discussed on p. 334-335 of the 9/11 Commission Report and in Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack).

Sometimes, in an investigation, it is handy to start off with a hypothesis and look for supporting evidence. On the other hand, in most situations it is usually best to keep an open mind and let the facts speak for themselves, in order to avoid hasty or false conclusions or wrongful associations. It is always hard in a crisis to move quickly and yet practice caution. According to these notes Rumsfeld not only started with a hypothesis, but he seems to actually have ordered his staff to work under a foregone conclusion and find facts to support it/him.

Finally, these documents unveil a previously undisclosed part of the 2:40 PM discussion. Several lines below the “judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. at same time” line, Cambone’s notes from the conversation read: “Hard to get a good case.”

The Guardian has picked up the story here, with the obvious conclusion:

…these notes confirm that Baghdad was in the Pentagon’s sights almost as soon as the hijackers struck.

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