Sunday, March 13, 2005

Did you catch this a couple of days ago? On Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviewed Professor Juan Cole and Osama Siblani, publisher of Arab-American News. Siblani -- a Republican whose Arab-American Political Action Committee endorsed Bush in 2000, according to a 2004 article in Lebanon's Daily Star (available here and here) -- told Goodman that he met Bush in early 2000:

OSAMA SIBLANI: ...I met with the President, and he wanted to go to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, and he considered the regime an imminent and gathering threat against the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: You met with the President of the United States?

OSAMA SIBLANI: Yes, when he was running for election in May of 2000 when he was a governor. He told me just straight to my face, among 12 or maybe 13 [R]epublicans at that time here in Michigan at the hotel. I think it was on May 17, 2000, even before he became the nominee for the Republicans. He told me that he was going to take him out, when we talked about Saddam Hussein in Iraq. And I said, 'Well, you know, I totally disagree with you. You just can't go around taking leaders out of their countries, you know. Let the Iraqi people do it. They can't do it on empty stomachs. Lift sanctions. Keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein, but lift the sanctions on the Iraqi people. People can't make moves on an empty stomach. Once they start establishing, you know, a connection with the United States and helping democracy inside, they will overthrow him.' And then he said, 'We have to talk about it later.' But at that time he was not privy to any intelligence, and the [D]emocrats had occupied the White House for the previous eight years. So, he was not privy to any intelligence whatsoever. He was not the official nominee of the Republican Party, so he didn't know what kind of situation the weapons of mass destruction was at that time.

May 2000? Interesting.


(And do read the interview to be reminded that, as both Cole and Siblani note, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories have had elections recently -- elections aren't some sort of gift to the Palestinians and Lebanese from the Democracy Fairy in the Bush White House.)

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