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October 9th, 2012 11:45 AM

OCTOBER 9, 2002, TEN YEARS AGO TODAY: Ari Fleischer Claims Oil "Is Not a Factor" in Bush Plans to Invade Iraq



Q And I have a question -- how much does oil have to do with the assessment of the threat from Saddam Hussein? President Bush didn't mention it.

MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not sure I follow your question.

Q Well, you keep talking about blackmail. You're talking about blackmailing the region to get control of the oil supplies. How significant is that in the President's thinking?

MR. FLEISCHER: I see. Well, if you take a look at what the President said when he went to the United Nations, and what Congress said when it passed the Iraq Liberation Act for regime change in 1998, that issue is not in play.

The issue is the enforcement of the United Nations resolutions urging -- calling on Iraq to make certain that they disarm, that they cease the development of weapons of mass destruction, they cease the hostility towards its neighbors, the repression of minorities. And Congress stated similar positions in 1998. Those are the factors, Terry, that threaten the peace...

Q But if his neighbors didn't have so much oil -- there are countries in Africa which invade each other and we don't get involved -- most security analysts take a look at it and say oil is a central aspect to the nation's security. And Saddam Hussein getting control of the world's oil supplies -- are you saying oil is not at all a factor in the President's thinking?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think when you take a look at what the United Nations voted for, what the Congress voted for, what President Clinton signed, and what President Bush supports, that is not a factor.

Q So oil is not a factor?

MR. FLEISCHER: That is not a factor. This is about preserving the peace and saving the lives of Americans. And it's also -- a factor that is new is what took place on September 11th, and the awakening here that we are vulnerable to attacks on our own soil, now, and that Saddam Hussein, if he links up with terrorists, has an interest in harming us.

Q So the stability of oil prices is not a national security or an economic matter -- how can you say that it's not a factor? I just don't understand that.

MR. FLEISCHER: The question is about any potential use of military force. And this is about saving the lives of American people.

Q Saddam Hussein's oil reserves are not at all a factor in any of the geopolitical calculations?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, the question as I took it was about whether or not this is a factor in what makes us --

Q -- on a broader question.

MR. FLEISCHER: I think the reasons are exactly as the President stated. Now, there are implications as a result of any action that will have effects on the economy. And no one can predict what those will or will not be. The past history, at least in 1991, shows that the projections and the predictions were dire and were wrong, but I think it's impossible to state what the impact will be if this comes to pass.

Q But the White House doesn't have anybody looking at what those implications would be?

MR. FLEISCHER: Again, I think it's impossible to state with any precision what that effect might be. But the question as I took it -- get back to cause and motive for why we are considering military action.


Five years later, Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve during the build up to the invasion of Iraq, wrote in his memoir The Age of Turbulence:

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.

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