Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cheney urged Bush to bomb Syrian nuclear reactor

New York – Burned once by false reports of weapons of mass destruction, President George W. Bush refused to bomb a Syrian nuclear reactor at Israeli urging in June 2007.

According to an autobiography to be published next week by Simon & Schuster, Vice President Dick Cheney was the only member of the cabinet who agreed with then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in an effort to persuade Mr. Bush to attack the Syrian nuclear reactor.

In his book, "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” Mr. Cheney wrote of a high level meeting during which CIA chief Mike Hayden could confirm that there was a reactor, but not that the program was military.

“I again made the case for U.S. military action against the reactor,” Mr. Cheney wrote about a meeting on the issue. “But I was a lone voice. After I finished, the president asked, ‘Does anyone here agree with the vice president?’ Not a single hand went up around the room.”

In his own autobiography, Mr. Bush wrote of his disagreement, saying that "bombing a sovereign country with no warning or announced justification would create severe blowback."

Ehud Olmert, who was then the Prime Minister of Israel, requested the U.S. should bomb the reactor in a military briefing at the White House. He later called from Jerusalem to make a personal appeal. When rebuffed, he told the President he found his refusal “very disturbing.”

Similarly, Mr. Bush denied ever giving his approval to the later military action in which Israel Defense Forces preemptively bombed the reactor. He wrote in his book, "Prime Minister Olmert hadn't asked for a green light, and I hadn't given one...He had done what he believed was necessary to protect Israel."

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