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Old News Indeed: In 1999, Bush Craved Opportunity to Attack Iraq
GARY LEUPP, CounterPunch
June 20, 2005
Some time between January and May 1999 presidential aspirant George W. Bush was talking with Mickey Herskowitz, a former Houston Chronicle sports columnist who'd been signed on to ghostwrite his autobiography. And the future president spoke unto Herskowitz, saying:
"One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade---if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."
EXCLUSIVE dKOS INTERVIEW WITH Lt. Col. KAREN KWIATKOWSKI
Thu Jun 16th, 2005 at 11:41:33 CST
"The Downing Street Memo confirms what I witnessed and have been writing about... It all fits, and should lead to a deluge of related documents and witnesses." - Lt. Col Karen Kwiatkowski
As you know, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) is holding a hearing today to investigate, for the first time at the Congressional level, the now-infamous "Downing Street Minutes." Rep. Conyers is expected to begin connecting the dots, to work backward from the undisputed authenticity of the DSM to paint a fuller picture of exactly how the push to "fix" the case for invading Iraq was carried out here in the United States.
Michael Smith 18 Sep 04 Expose illegal Iraq
'Failure is not an option, but it doesn't mean they will avoid it'
Michael Smith - The Telegraph - 18th September 2004
The Prime Minister knew the US President was determined to complete what one senior British official had already described as the unfinished business from his father's war against Saddam Hussein.
There was no way of stopping the Americans invading Iraq and they would expect Britain, their most loyal ally, to join them. If they didn't, the transatlantic relationship would be in tatters. But there were serious problems.
A Secret UK Eyes Only briefing paper was warning that there was no legal justification for war. So Mr Blair was advised that a strategy would have to be put in place which would provide a legal basis for war. It was also vital that the Prime Minister should be able to persuade the public that war was justified and, just as importantly, convince those among his backbench MPs who were becoming increasingly vocal in their opposition to another US-led war.
Thursday 26 May 2005, 7:01 Makka Time, 4:01 GMT
Goldsmith argued the Iraq war was legal without UN backing
Ex-UK minister wants Iraq war probe
Britain's top legal officer has dismissed as fantasy the notion that he was pressured by the government into ruling the Iraq war did not contravene international law.
In an interview published on Thursday, Attorney-General Lord Peter Goldsmith told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that "I stand by my conclusion that military action was lawful".
This is the first time Goldsmith has broken his silence on what was a major issue of controversy in the British general election earlier this month.
Friday 25 February 2005, 11:26 Makka Time, 8:26 GMT
Clare Short wants the House of Lords to set up a committee
UK lawyer warned Iraq war was illegal
Former British cabinet minister Clare Short is demanding a parliamentary investigation into Attorney General Peter Goldsmith's advice on war with Iraq.
Short said on Thursday night that Lord Goldsmith breached the ministerial code by submitting a summary of his advice to senior ministers.
Two of Prime Minister Tony Blair's key allies were involved in drafting a ministerial answer issued in the peer's name, according to a leak published in the Guardian newspaper.
Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war
• Decision came nine days after 9/11
• Ex-ambassador reveals discussion
Sunday April 4, 2004
President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.
According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Monday June 20, 2005
A key Foreign Office diplomat responsible for liaising with UN inspectors says today that claims the government made about Iraq's weapons programme were "totally implausible".
He tells the Guardian: "I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too".
Carne Ross, who was a member of the British mission to the UN in New York during the run-up to the invasion, resigned from the FO last year, after giving evidence to the Butler inquiry.
NB: THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A TRANSCRIPTION UNIT RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT: BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF MIS-HEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY, IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS ACCURACY.
Tony & the Truth
RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC-1 DATE: 20:03:05
JOHN WARE: Two years ago tonight the Prime Minister was preparing to broadcast to the nation he was taking the country to war.
Published on Monday, June 20, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
by Thom Hartmann
Richard Nixon authorized the Watergate burglary and subsequent cover-up to advance his own political ambitions. Because Nixon's lies were done for the craven purpose of getting and holding political power, his lies - in the minds of the majority of the members of Congress - were elevated to the level of impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Bill Clinton had sex in the White House with Monica Lewinsky, but Congress concluded he'd lied about it to maintain political power. Another impeachable crime.
The real scandal of the Downing Street Memos, with the greatest potential to leave the Bush presidency in permanent disgrace, is their implication that lies may have been put forward to help Bush, Republicans, and Blair politically. If Bush lied to gain and keep political power, precedent suggests he and his collaborators in the administration may even be vulnerable to impeachment.
The "Decision to Invade Iraq" timeline on the Center for Cooperative
Research's website http://www.cooperativeresearch.org has been updated.
Several entries and categories have been added or updated that relate to
issues raised by the Downing Street Memo controversy. Categories that
relate to DSM:
* Key events related to DSM
* Decision to invade Iraq
* Politicization of intelligence
* Diversion of resources to Iraq
* Legal justification
* Planning for postwar Iraq
* Public statements about the decision to invade
We now have a chronology of events on the forced removal of Jose Bustani
The Washington Monthly
The wingnuts are getting desperate. Captain's Quarters, in a nostalgic attempt to recreate the glories of Rathergate, suggests that the Downing Street Memos aren't real. Why? Because Michael Smith, the reporter who got hold of them, had them retyped to protect his source and then returned the originals. Jonah Goldberg feverishly calls CQ's revelations a "must read."
Now, unlike the Killian memos that were at the center of Rathergate, there are quite a few principals in this case who either wrote or received these memos and therefore have absolute knowledge of whether or not they're genuine. The first memo, for example, was written by Matthew Rycroft and distributed at the time to David Manning, Geoff Hoon, Jack Straw, Peter Goldsmith, Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, Richard Dearlove, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, and Alastair Campbell. So far, not a single one of these people has claimed they're fake.
Julian Borger reports on the shadow rightwing intelligence network set up in Washington to second-guess the CIA and deliver a justification for toppling Saddam Hussein by force
Thursday July 17, 2003
As the CIA director, George Tenet, arrived at the Senate yesterday to give secret testimony on the Niger uranium affair, it was becoming increasingly clear in Washington that the scandal was only a small, well-documented symptom of a complete breakdown in US intelligence that helped steer America into war.
It represents the Bush administration's second catastrophic intelligence failure. But the CIA and FBI's inability to prevent the September 11 attacks was largely due to internal institutional weaknesses.
Scott Ritter, Aljazeera.net
Sunday 19 June 2005 - Americans, along with the rest of the world, are starting to wake up to the uncomfortable fact that President George Bush not only lied to them about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (the ostensible excuse for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of that country by US forces), but also about the very process that led to war.
On 16 October 2002, President Bush told the American people that "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope that the use of force will not become necessary."
We know now that this statement was itself a lie, that the president, by late August 2002, had, in fact, signed off on the 'execute' orders authorising the US military to begin active military operations inside Iraq, and that these orders were being implemented as early as September 2002, when the US Air Force, assisted by the British Royal Air Force, began expanding its bombardment of targets inside and outside the so-called no-fly zone in Iraq.
By Warren P. Strobel
WASHINGTON - Highly classified documents leaked in Britain appear to provide new evidence that President Bush and his national security team decided to invade Iraq much earlier than they have acknowledged and marched to war without dwelling on the potential perils.
The half-dozen memos and option papers, written by top aides to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, buttress previous on-the-record accounts that portray Bush and his advisers as predisposed to oust Saddam Hussein when they took office -- and determined to do it at all costs after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
This is the forum to discuss Evidence relating to the Downing Street Minutes and similar documents, testimony etc. Please limit discussion to this topic, and discuss other topics under the other forums - Congress, Activism, Media, or General.
This is the forum to discuss evidence such as testimony and documents re: the Downing Street minutes and related evidence. Please limit discussion to the evidence topic, and discuss other topics under the other forums - Activism, Congress, Media, or General.
Statement Regarding the Importance of the Downing Street Memo
By Karen U. Kwiatkowski, Ph.D.
As a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who worked for Bill Luti, Deputy Under Secretary for Defense, Near East South Asia Directorate, Under Secretary for Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense from May 2002 to March 2003, I am providing the following assessment for the Congress and Congressional investigators interested in determining the importance of the so-called Downing Street Memo dated 23 July 2002.
My background is described at www.militaryweek.com/kwiatkowski.shtml, which also provides links to my public statements regarding the fabrications aggressively and incautiously used by the administration to justify the invasion of Iraq to the Congress, the American people, and the United Nations during the summer, fall and winter of 2002. I am also a member of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (www.nswbc.org).
WRITTEN TESTIMONY BY
FORMER US DIPLOMAT AND US ARMY COLONEL
MARY A. (ANN) WRIGHT
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DOWNING STREET MEMOS
FOR THE PUBLIC HEARINGS
CONDUCTED BY US CONGRESSMAN JOHN CONYERS, JR.
JUNE 16, 2005
My name is Mary A. (Ann) Wright. I was one of three US diplomats who resigned from the federal government in 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq. I served my country for over thirty-five years. I was a US diplomat for sixteen years and was the Deputy Chief of Mission in our embassies in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan (briefly) and Mongolia. I was a member of the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001. I had also had assignments in Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada and Nicaragua. I received the State Department's Award for Heroism as Charge d'Affaires during the evacuation of Sierra Leone in 1997. I also was 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and participated in civil reconstruction projects after military operations in Grenada, Panama and Somalia. I attained the rank of Colonel during my military service.
Testimony of Ray McGovern
Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Introduction: (45-second video clip from 'Breaking the Silence' by John Pilger showing former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice making the following remarks)
'Saddam Hussein has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.' Colin Powell, Feb. 24, 2001
'We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.' Condoleezza Rice, July 29, 2001
Testimony of retired Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, IV
Good morning. It is an honor to appear before this gathering to discuss the so-called 'Downing Street Memo' of July, 2002, and the assertion contained therein that in the Bush administration, 'the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy' to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.
I served my country as a diplomat for almost twenty-three years, including tours in Niamey, Niger, and in Baghdad, Iraq as Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d'Affaires, (acting Ambassador) during the Desert Shield phase of the first Gulf War. I was also appointed Ambassador to Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe by President George Herbert Walker Bush, and concluded my public service career as Special Assistant to President Clinton and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. I am the recipient of numerous awards from the Department of State as well as the Distinguished Defense Service Award from the Department of Defense for my service as Political Adviser to the Commander in Chief of American Armed Forces in Europe during the deployment of American troops to Bosnia.
My Testimony for the Downing Street Memo Hearings
By Cindy Sheehan
Congressman Conyers and all, it is an honor to be here to testify about the effect that the revelations of the Downing Street Memo has had on me and my family. It is an honor that I wish never had to happen. I believe that not any of us should be gathered here today for this reason: as the result of an invasion/occupation that never should have occured.
My son, Spc Casey Austin Sheehan, was KIA in Sadr City Baghdad on 04/04/04. He was in Iraq for only 2 weeks before L. Paul Bremer inflamed the Shi'ite Militia into a rebellion which resulted in the deaths of Casey and 6 other brave soldiers who were tragically killed in an ambush. Bill Mitchell, the father of Sgt. Mike Mitchell who was one of the other soldiers killed that awful day is with us here.
This is a picture of Casey when he was 7 months old. It's an enlargement of a picture he carried in his wallet until the day he was killed. He loved this picture of himself. It was returned to us with his personal effects from Iraq. He always sucked on those two fingers. When he was born, he had a flat face from passing through the birth canal and we called him "Edward G" short for Edward G. Robinson. How many of you have seen your child in his/her premature coffin? It is a shocking and very painful sight. The most heartbreaking aspect of seeing Casey lying in his casket for me, was that his face was flat again because he had no muscle tone. He looked like he did when he was a baby laying in his bassinette. The most tragic irony is that if the Downing Street Memo proves to be true, Casey and thousands of people should still be alive.
STATEMENT BY JOHN C. BONIFAZ
CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY AND CO-FOUNDER, AFTERDOWNINGSTREET.ORG
BEFORE THE CONGRESSIONAL FORUM
ON THE DOWNING STREET MINUTES
THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 2005
Congressman Conyers and Members of the Committee: Thank you for hosting this congressional forum today and thank you for your leadership.
My name is John Bonifaz. I am a Boston-based attorney specializing in constitutional litigation and the co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org. AfterDowningStreet.org is a national coalition of veterans groups, peace groups, public interest organizations and ordinary citizens across this country calling for a formal congressional investigation into whether the President of the United States has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. We launched this campaign on May 26 of this year in response to the revelations which have emerged from the release of the Downing Street Minutes.
The recent release of the Downing Street Minutes provides new and compelling evidence that the President of the United States has been actively engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq. If true, such conduct constitutes a High Crime under Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution: 'The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.'
FROM: Greg Palast
TO: Rep. John Conyers
It's official: The Downing Street memos, a snooty New York Times "News Analysis" informs us, "are not the Dead Sea Scrolls." You are warned, Congressman, to ignore the clear evidence of official mendacity and bald-faced fibbing by our two nations' leaders because the cry for investigation came from the dark and dangerous world of "blogs" and "opponents" of Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush.
On May 5, "blog" site Buzzflash.com carried my story, IMPEACHMENT TIME: "FACTS WERE FIXED," bringing the London Times report of the Downing Street memo to US media which seemed to be suffering at the time from an attack of NADD -- "news attention deficit disorder."The memo, which contains the ill-making admission that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed" to match the Iraq-crazed fantasies of our President, is sufficient basis for a hearing toward impeachment of the Chief Executive. But to that we must add the other evidence and secret memos and documents still hidden from the American public.
More on Blair's Big Lie
By David Morrison
'The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors.'
The Prime Minister said this at a high-powered meeting on Iraq on 23 July 2002: he didn't want UN inspectors to enter Iraq again.
Could there be more conclusive proof that the peaceful disarmament of Iraq by inspection, as prescribed in Security Council resolutions, was the last thing on his mind?
* * * *
RawStory.com has published a timeline that should prove very helpful in understanding the significance of events from two or three years back as they become known to the public now.
Below are past statements on the WMD issue from After Downing Street coalition member Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Published by Sunday Times of London, June 12, 2005
The paper, produced by the Cabinet Office on July 21, 2002, is incomplete because the last page is missing. The following is a transcript rather than the original document in order to protect the source.
PERSONAL SECRET UK EYES ONLY
IRAQ: CONDITIONS FOR MILITARY ACTION (A Note by Officials)
Ministers are invited to:
(1) Note the latest position on US military planning and timescales for possible action.
(2) Agree that the objective of any military action should be a stable and law-abiding Iraq, within present borders, co-operating with the international community, no longer posing a threat to its neighbours or international security, and abiding by its international obligations on WMD.
By Russ Baker
Originally published Wed, 27 Oct 2004
Two years before 9/11, candidate Bush was already talking privately about attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer
Houston: Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.
"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."
Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker."
That President Bush and his advisers had Iraq on their minds long before weapons inspectors had finished their work – and long before alleged Iraqi ties with terrorists became a central rationale for war – has been raised elsewhere, including in a book based on recollections of former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. However, Herskowitz was in a unique position to hear Bush's unguarded and unfiltered views on Iraq, war and other matters – well before he became president.
In 1999, Herskowitz struck a deal with the campaign of George W. Bush about a ghost-written autobiography, which was ultimately titled A Charge to Keep : My Journey to the White House, and he and Bush signed a contract in which the two would split the proceeds. The publisher was William Morrow. Herskowitz was given unimpeded access to Bush, and the two met approximately 20 times so Bush could share his thoughts. Herskowitz began working on the book in May, 1999, and says that within two months he had completed and submitted some 10 chapters, with a remaining 4-6 chapters still on his computer. Herskowitz was replaced as Bush's ghostwriter after Bush's handlers concluded that the candidate's views and life experiences were not being cast in a sufficiently positive light.
According to Herskowitz, who has authored more than 30 books, many of them jointly written autobiographies of famous Americans in politics, sports and media (including that of Reagan adviser Michael Deaver), Bush and his advisers were sold on the idea that it was difficult for a president to accomplish an electoral agenda without the record-high approval numbers that accompany successful if modest wars.
The revelations on Bush's attitude toward Iraq emerged recently during two taped interviews of Herskowitz, which included a discussion of a variety of matters, including his continued closeness with the Bush family, indicated by his subsequent selection to pen an authorized biography of Bush's grandfather, written and published last year with the assistance and blessing of the Bush family.
Herskowitz also revealed the following:
-In 2003, Bush's father indicated to him that he disagreed with his son's invasion of Iraq.
-Bush admitted that he failed to fulfill his Vietnam-era domestic National Guard service obligation, but claimed that he had been "excused."
-Bush revealed that after he left his Texas National Guard unit in 1972 under murky circumstances, he never piloted a plane again. That casts doubt on the carefully-choreographed moment of Bush emerging in pilot's garb from a jet on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 to celebrate "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. The image, instantly telegraphed around the globe, and subsequent hazy White House statements about his capacity in the cockpit, created the impression that a heroic Bush had played a role in landing the craft.
-Bush described his own business ventures as "floundering" before campaign officials insisted on recasting them in a positive light.
Throughout the interviews for this article and in subsequent conversations, Herskowitz indicated he was conflicted over revealing information provided by a family with which he has longtime connections, and by how his candor could comport with the undefined operating principles of the as-told-to genre. Well after the interviews—in which he expressed consternation that Bush's true views, experience and basic essence had eluded the American people —Herskowitz communicated growing concern about the consequences for himself of the publication of his remarks, and said that he had been under the impression he would not be quoted by name. However, when conversations began, it was made clear to him that the material was intended for publication and attribution. A tape recorder was present and visible at all times.
Several people who know Herskowitz well addressed his character and the veracity of his recollections. "I don't know anybody that's ever said a bad word about Mickey," said Barry Silverman, a well-known Houston executive and civic figure who worked with him on another book project. An informal survey of Texas journalists turned up uniform confidence that Herskowitz's account as contained in this article could be considered accurate.
One noted Texas journalist who spoke with Herskowitz about the book in 1999 recalls how the author mentioned to him at the time that Bush had revealed things the campaign found embarrassing and did not want in print. He requested anonymity because of the political climate in the state. "I can't go near this," he said.
According to Herskowitz, George W. Bush's beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion dating back to the Reagan White House – ascribed in part to now-vice president Dick Cheney, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee under Reagan. "Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade."
Bush's circle of pre-election advisers had a fixation on the political capital that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands War. Said Herskowitz: "They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at [Thatcher] and her getting these standing ovations in Parliament and making these magnificent speeches."
Republicans, Herskowitz said, felt that Jimmy Carter's political downfall could be attributed largely to his failure to wage a war. He noted that President Reagan and President Bush's father himself had (besides the narrowly-focused Gulf War I) successfully waged limited wars against tiny opponents – Grenada and Panama – and gained politically. But there were successful small wars, and then there were quagmires, and apparently George H.W. Bush and his son did not see eye to eye.
"I know [Bush senior] would not admit this now, but he was opposed to it. I asked him if he had talked to W about invading Iraq. "He said, ‘No I haven't, and I won't, but Brent [Scowcroft] has.' Brent would not have talked to him without the old man's okaying it." Scowcroft, national security adviser in the elder Bush's administration, penned a highly publicized warning to George W. Bush about the perils of an invasion.
Herskowitz's revelations are not the sole indicator of Bush's pre-election thinking on Iraq. In December 1999, some six months after his talks with Herskowitz, Bush surprised veteran political chroniclers, including the Boston Globe's David Nyhan, with his blunt pronouncements about Saddam at a six-way New Hampshire primary event that got little notice: "It was a gaffe-free evening for the rookie front-runner, till he was asked about Saddam's weapons stash," wrote Nyhan. ‘I'd take ‘em out,' [Bush] grinned cavalierly, ‘take out the weapons of mass destruction…I'm surprised he's still there," said Bush of the despot who remains in power after losing the Gulf War to Bush Jr.'s father…It remains to be seen if that offhand declaration of war was just Texas talk, a sort of locker room braggadocio, or whether it was Bush's first big clinker. "
The notion that President Bush held unrealistic or naïve views about the consequences of war was further advanced recently by a Bush supporter, the evangelist Pat Robertson, who revealed that Bush had told him the Iraq invasion would yield no casualties. In addition, in recent days, high-ranking US military officials have complained that the White House did not provide them with adequate resources for the task at hand.
Herskowitz considers himself a friend of the Bush family, and has been a guest at the family vacation home in Kennebunkport. In the late 1960s, Herskowitz, a longtime Houston Chronicle sports columnist designated President Bush's father, then-Congressman George HW Bush, to replace him as a guest columnist, and the two have remained close since then. (Herskowitz was suspended briefly in April without pay for reusing material from one of his own columns, about legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.)
In 1999, when Herskowitz turned in his chapters for Charge to Keep, Bush's staff expressed displeasure —often over Herskowitz's use of language provided by Bush himself. In a chapter on the oil business, Herskowitz included Bush's own words to describe the Texan's unprofitable business ventures, writing: "the companies were floundering". "I got a call from one of the campaign lawyers, he was kind of angry, and he said, ‘You've got some wrong information.' I didn't bother to say, ‘Well you know where it came from.' [The lawyer] said, ‘We do not consider that the governor struggled or floundered in the oil business. We consider him a successful oilman who started up at least two new businesses.' "
In the end, campaign officials decided not to go with Herskowitz's account, and, moreover, demanded everything back. "The lawyer called me and said, ‘Delete it. Shred it. Just do it.' "
"They took it and [communications director] Karen [Hughes] rewrote it," he said. A campaign official arrived at his home at seven a.m. on a Monday morning and took his notes and computer files. However, Herskowitz, who is known for his memory of anecdotes from his long history in journalism and book publishing, says he is confident about his recollections.
According to Herskowitz, Bush was reluctant to discuss his time in the Texas Air National Guard – and inconsistent when he did so. Bush, he said, provided conflicting explanations of how he came to bypass a waiting list and obtain a coveted Guard slot as a domestic alternative to being sent to Vietnam. Herskowitz also said that Bush told him that after transferring from his Texas Guard unit two-thirds through his six-year military obligation to work on an Alabama political campaign, he did not attend any Alabama National Guard drills at all, because he was "excused." This directly contradicts his public statements that he participated in obligatory training with the Alabama National Guard. Bush's claim to have fulfilled his military duty has been subject to intense scrutiny; he has insisted in the past that he did show up for monthly drills in Alabama – though commanding officers say they never saw him, and no Guardsmen have come forward to accept substantial "rewards" for anyone who can claim to have seen Bush on base.
Herskowitz said he asked Bush if he ever flew a plane again after leaving the Texas Air National Guard in 1972 – which was two years prior to his contractual obligation to fly jets was due to expire. He said Bush told him he never flew any plane – military or civilian – again. That would contradict published accounts in which Bush talks about his days in 1973 working with inner-city children, when he claimed to have taken some of the children up in a plane.
In 2002, three years after he had been pulled off the George W. Bush biography, Herskowitz was asked by Bush's father to write a book about the current president's grandfather, Prescott Bush, after getting a message that the senior Bush wanted to see him. "Former President Bush just handed it to me. We were sitting there one day, and I was visiting him there in his office…He said, ‘I wish somebody would do a book about my dad.' "
"He said to me, ‘I know this has been a disappointing time for you, but it's amazing how many times something good will come out of it.' I passed it on to my agent, he jumped all over it. I asked [Bush senior], ‘Would you support it and would you give me access to the rest of family?' He said yes."
That book, Duty, Honor, Country: The Life and Legacy of Prescott Bush, was published in 2003 by Routledge. If anything, the book has been criticized for its over-reliance on the Bush family's perspective and rosy interpretation of events. Herskowitz himself is considered the ultimate "as-told-to" author, lending credibility to his account of what George W. Bush told him. Herskowitz's other books run the gamut of public figures, and include the memoirs of Reagan aide Deaver, former Texas Governor and Nixon Treasury Secretary John Connally, newsman Dan Rather, astronaut Walter Cunningham, and baseball greats Mickey Mantle and Nolan Ryan.
After Herskowitz was pulled from the Bush book project, the biographer learned that a scenario was being prepared to explain his departure. "I got a phone call from someone in the Bush campaign, confidentially, saying ‘Watch your back.' "
Reporters covering Bush say that when they inquired as to why Herskowitz was no longer on the project, Hughes intimated that Herskowitz had personal habits that interfered with his writing – a claim Herskowitz said is unfounded. Later, the campaign put out the word that Herskowitz had been removed for missing a deadline. Hughes subsequently finished the book herself – it received largely critical reviews for its self-serving qualities and lack of spontaneity or introspection.
So, said Herskowitz, the best material was left on the cutting room floor, including Bush's true feelings.
"He told me that as a leader, you can never admit to a mistake," Herskowitz said. "That was one of the keys to being a leader."
The following chapter is taken from the forthcoming set on the Iraq war, Neo-CONNED! and Neo-CONNED! Again, from Light in the Darkness Publications. The comprehensive two-volume work deals with the run-up to and aftermath of the war with groundbraking and uncompromising analysis from 84 different contributors. Order this one-of-a-kind, must-read collection at email@example.com, or (toll-free) 877-447-7737. To be released August 1, now taking pre-publication orders.