Helen Thomas ist 85 Jahre alt, eine erfahrene Journalistin beim Weißen Haus in Washington. Drei Jahre lang (!) bekam sie keine Möglichkeit, eine Frage an den Präsidenten Bush Jr. zu stellen. Am 21.März durfte sie fragen.
THE PRESIDENT: Helen. After that brilliant performance at the Grid Iron, I am — (laughter.)
Q You’re going to be sorry. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, let me take it back. (Laughter.)
Q I’d like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet — your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth — what was your real reason? You have said it wasn’t oil — quest for oil, it hasn’t been Israel, or anything else. What was it?
THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise — in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist — is that — I didn’t want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect —
Q Everything —
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.
Q — everything I’ve heard —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it’s just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We — when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I’m never going to forget it. And I’m never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.
Part of that meant to make sure that we didn’t allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that’s why I went into Iraq — hold on for a second —
Q They didn’t do anything to you, or to our country.
THE PRESIDENT: Look — excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That’s where al Qaeda trained —
Q I’m talking about Iraq —
THE PRESIDENT: Helen, excuse me. That’s where — Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That’s where they trained. That’s where they plotted. That’s where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.
I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That’s why I went to the Security Council; that’s why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences —
Q — go to war —
THE PRESIDENT: — and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.
Am nächsten Tag hat die „New York Times“ den nächsten Zug gemacht:
But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair’s top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.
„Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,“ David Manning, Mr. Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.
„The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,“ Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. „This was when the bombing would begin.“…
The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.
In weiteren Weblogs wurde die Story komplett zu Ende geführt. Eine Zusammenfassung der (wohl gemerkt anders klingenden!) Bush-Äußerungen zum Thema hat ein Blogger aus Pittsburgh online gestellt. Verschiedene Videoaufnahmen runden das Bild ab. Hier – die offizielle Aufnahme, hier – eine qualitativ bessere Fernsehübertragung, hier – eine Satire. Einige Kommentare sind auch nicht schlecht – hier ein Artikel aus der „Washington Post“ mit einigen Hintergrundinfos, hier – ein Versuch, hinter den Zeilen zu schauen. Und hier kann man noch mehr von Helen Thomas lesen, die jetzt Dutzende von Rosen bekommt…
Und „Der Spiegel“ will von der Brisanz der Story nicht viel wissen:
Der oberste Befehlshaber der US-Army klingt neuerdings weniger martialisch: Der Irak-Krieg habe seinem Ansehen geschadet, räumte Präsident Bush nun erstmals ein. Er selbst habe den Krieg nicht gewollt.
Na gut. Dann lesen wir halt mehr in Weblogs weiter. :-)