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New Bush Advisers Key to old Bush ‘Mistake’

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WASHINGTON — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledged on Wednesday that “there were mistakes made in Iraq” under his brother’s watch — but he’s hired a number of the same policy advisers that shaped that very policy, and were complicit some of those very mistakes.

During a question-and-answer session following his speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Bush said, “There were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure,” under President George W. Bush’s watch.

He said intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction “turned out not to be accurate,” and also that the U.S. failed to “create an environment of security” in the country after Saddam was toppled.

The critique of his brother’s policy came unprompted, as Bush works to carve out his own identity — independent of his brother and father — in preparation for a potential presidential run.

But he could undermine that effort with the roll out of a list of 21 diplomatic and national security policy advisers for his nascent campaign, many of whom were familiar faces from his father’s and brother’s presidencies.

A few had key roles in crafting and executing those Iraq “mistakes” he sought to distance himself from.

Stephen Hadley, then-President George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser, was listed as a member of Jeb’s national security team. According to a 2005 New York Times report, Hadley “took responsibility” for including the incorrect idea that the Iraq invasion was needed to find the WMDs in Bush’s State of the Union in 2002.

Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush’s deputy secretary of defense and a key architect of the Iraq War, testified in 2002 at a congressional hearing that Iraqis would “welcome us as liberators.” He’s also on board with Jeb’s policy team.

“These are Arabs, 23 million of the most educated people in the Arab world, who are going to welcome us as liberators. And when the message gets out to the whole Arab world, it’s going to be a powerful counter to Osama bin Laden … It will be a great step forward,” he said during the hearing.

And Jeb Bush is being advised by Meghan O’Sullivan, who was portrayed in a 2006 New York Times profile as a close adviser to the President but too close to the problems going on in Iraq to have a clear-headed view of them. Larry Diamond, a U.S. official who worked alongside her in Iraq, said she would be inextricably linked to the outcome of the Iraq War.

“The reality is that if Iraq implodes, she’ll probably go nowhere,” Diamond said. “Because she will have been associated in an integral way with one of the biggest failures in the history of American foreign policy.”

A Bush spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the new hires, and how their experience with him would diverge from their experience with his brother.

But the staff ties could underscore a broader problem Bush is likely to continue to encounter as he gears up for a probable run, and searches for ways to frame himself as a candidate both independent from his family’s legacy, and offering a new vision for the future.

According to The Washington Post, all but four of his announced foreign policy advisers also served under his elder brother; two of the remaining four advised his father. And one of the other two worked for President Ronald Reagan.

7 comments

  • aightball

    It’s time for fresh blood, but no one can afford to beat the Clinton’s and Bush’s. And if you vote 3rd party, you’re vote, while not wasted, doesn’t really count if the families are running.

  • tim

    if we elect a clinton or a bush, then we will be a dictatorship.

    if someone else gets elected, it will still be a dictatorship, only most people still wont know it

  • John Smith

    First off, I certainly didn’t hear Jeb Bush doing anything yesterday but trying to revise the history of the Neocon debacle in Iraq, which is costing the US blood and treasure to this day. THAT is Jeb Bush’s “Foreign Policy”. Brought to you by the very same Neocons, not even “new” ones.

    Secondly, for all you False Equivalency devotees: THERE ARE NOT ANY CLINTONS RUNNING FOR OFFICE. Zero, Zip, Nada. The SoS, if she even runs at all, is related to Bill Clinton by MARRIAGE ONLY. Last I checked, that’s not the same as being the son of one former POTUS and the brother of another. At all.

    Beside all that, only ONE member of the Clinton family has EVER attained the Presidency anyway; he presided over a relatively peaceful and prosperous country in his eight years, and handed over a budget that was at least on track to start paying down the national debt. The US will be lucky indeed if we can get BACK to that kind of situation.

    None of which is equivalent in any way to a son and grandson of a wealthy NAZI investor.

    • marcopolish

      No Clinton is running? If that’s the best you can do, you can retire now. Even a Martian will not be so as to believe that. And Hilary’s only qualification has been who she was married to; apart from being the most Marxist secretive bribe-extracting “what difference does it make” elitist without a conscience, which are all from her own resume. Please. Why bother even posting if you are going to post such weakness? But if you need to get personal, fine, shows your credibility even further.

      • John Smith

        Learn to read and comprehend the English language, dimwit. Then, see if you can discover the difference between the FACTS I presented, and the LIES you regurgitated.

        Here, let’s start with a simple brain teaser: Tell us all the individual letters of the alphabet that are in common to both of these names: 1) RODHAM 2)CLINTON. Take the rest of the afternoon to puzzle it out. Show your work.

  • do ur job

    Maybe his standard should be if you are a relic of the Nixon administration, a policymaker or runningmate you should not be. It was the same standard used when I didnt vote for his brother.

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