Washington: In a stunning disclosure, former US president George Bush has revealed that apart from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he had during his presidency also planned an attack on Iran`s nuclear facilities, besides a ‘covert attack’ on Syria.
Bush in his soon to be published memoir titled ‘Decision Points’ revealed that he had directed the Pentagon to study what would be necessary for a strike. He writes that some of his advisers argued that destroying "the regime`s prized project" – its nuclear facility – would help the Iranian opposition, while others worried it would stir up Iranian nationalism against the US.
"This would be to stop the bomb clock, at least temporarily. Such an attack would almost certainly have produced a conflagration in the Middle East that could have seen Iran retaliating by blocking oil supplies and unleashing militias and sympathisers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon,” he writes.
Two other options under consideration by Bush were direct US-Iranian negotiation, which Barack Obama favours but Bush ruled out, saying talking to a tyrant seldom worked out well for democracies; and joining the Europeans in a mixture of sanctions and talks with Iran, the option he finally chose.
"Military action would always be on the table, but it would be my last resort," he said. He added that he discussed all the options with Blair, who in his memoirs, published earlier this year, revealed he is now leaning towards military action.
Bush says: "One thing is certain. The United States should never allow Iran to threaten the world with a nuclear bomb."
On Syria, Bush mentions a request from the then Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear plant. Bush convened his national security team to discuss an air strike or a covert raid. He says of the latter: "We studied the idea seriously, but the CIA and the military concluded it would be too risky to slip a team into and out of Syria." He said no to a disappointed Olmert. The Israelis then did it themselves in September 2007.
The 497-page long book, which is likely to hit the book stores Tuesday, is aimed at presenting the former president’s side of the story.
Surely, the book will open a can of worms as primarily what it does is that it justifies his government’s actions on Iraq, Afghanistan, hurricane Katrina, the Wall Street meltdown and torture at Guantanamo.
In the book, Bush also strongly defended the use of waterboarding as critical to his efforts to prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He says waterboarding was limited to three detainees and led to intelligence breakthroughs that thwarted attacks.
Bush has also justified waterboarding to break up terrorist plots to attack Heathrow airport, Canary Wharf, US diplomatic missions and a number of targets in the US.
In an interview with `The Times`, publicising his new book, 64-year-old Bush has said that British lives were saved by use of information obtained from terror
suspects by the "enhanced interrogation technique", regarded as "torture" by many opponents.
"Three people were water boarded and I believe that decision saved lives," he told the newspaper.
When asked, Bush has also confirmed that he had authorised the use of "waterboarding" to extract information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda mastermind behind
the 9/11 attack.
"Damn right! We capture the guy, the chief operating officer of al-Qaeda, who kills 3,000 people. We felt he had the information about another attack. He says: `I`ll talk to
you when I get my lawyer`. I say, `what options are available and legal?`" the former US President said.
Bush writes: "Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and
multiple targets in the United States." He says that although the procedure was "tough", it
The British government has long viewed waterboarding as torture. Last month Sir John Sawers, the head of spy agency MI6, said in a speech that Britain had "nothing whatsoever" to do with torture.
Bush`s first call after 9/11 was with Blair. "The conversation helped cement the closest friendship I would form with any foreign leader," Bush writes. Blair is referred to at various points as "Tony", whereas the French president, Jacques Chirac, who kept France out of the Iraq war, is referred to simply as "Chirac".
One thing that surely came across in his book is the man himself, George Bush, he writes: “Whatever the verdict on my presidency, I`m comfortable with the fact that I won`t be around to hear it. That`s a decision point only history will reach."