The year's must-Skip series!

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March 3 2002 2:55 PM

Ten Years in September

This season's must-Skip series!

(Continued from Page 4)

4) Bush: "My attitude all along was, if we have to go it alone, well go it alone, but I'd rather not." Later he says, "At some point we may be the only ones left. That's okay with me. We are America." Powell thinks Bush "made such statements knowing they might not withstand a second analysis." Cheney takes Bush at his word.

5) Rumsfeld, as reported elsewhere, repeatedly brings up the possibility of attacking Iraq, while his deputy Wolfowitz pushes it insistently. Powell ("What the hell, what are these guys thinking about?") and outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman Henry Shelton oppose him. At the crucial Camp David meeting, Rumsfeld abstains, with Cheney, Powell, Tenet, and Card opposing an attack.

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6) Bush has "strong reservations" about attacking Iraq. He says he worried that doing too many things at once would mean a loss of focus. At a 9/17 meeting, he says, "I believe Iraq was involved, but I'm not going to strike them now. I don't have the evidence at this point."

7) Secret CIA paramilitary teams had been "going in and out of Afghanistan without detection for years."

8) A slide, slated for inclusion in a Pentagon briefing for Bush, has as its subject: "Thinking Outside the Box—Poisoning Food Supply." The slide is pulled at the last minute by a shocked NSC aide, who notes such a "chemical or biological attack" is banned under various treaties. Pentagon officials tell W & B they were going to pull the slide anyway. But that doesn't answer the question of what it was doing there in the first place.

9) Rice says the problems of Afghanistan are so complex, "We're going to wish this was the Balkans."

10) Bush says of the Taliban government, "We're going to hurt them bad so everyone in the world sees, don't deal with bin Laden." Is this a principle he will be able to extend to, say, al-Qaida sanctuaries in Lebanon? (Bush explicitly says one purpose of the Afghanistan attack is "to cause other countries like Syria and Iran to change their views.")

What Norman Podhoretz was worried about:

"In his memo to Bush, Blair had emphasized the importance of making a concerted effort to restart the peace process in the Middle East as a way to solidify support in the Arab world for the war on terrorism."

Suspiciously self-serving (but not necessarily untrue!) accounts:

"Through much of the summer, [C.I.A. Director George] Tenet had grown increasingly troubled by the prospect of a major terrorist attack against the United States …"