Appearing in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday night to promote Suskind’s book, O’Neill sharply criticized the Bush administration:
“O’Neill says that the president did not make decisions in a methodical way: there was no free-flow of ideas or open debate. At cabinet meetings, he says the president was ‘like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people. There is no discernible connection,’ forcing top officials to act ‘on little more than hunches about what the president might think.’
… And what happened at President Bush’s very first National Security Council meeting is one of O’Neill’s most startling revelations. ‘From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,’ says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic ‘A’ 10 days after the inauguration – eight months before Sept. 11.
… ‘It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this,’’ says O’Neill. ‘For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.'”
Less than 24 hours after O’Neill made his critical remarks on CBS, the Treasury Department said it is looking into how a Treasury document marked “secret” came to appear on the show. Although Treasury officials have been very careful not to use the word “investigation”, the quick move looks like retaliation. Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said the department’s request for a probe should not be viewed as a way to strike back at O’Neill. “This is standard operating procedure,” he said. Still, the fact that the administration was so quick in calling for a probe into the matter is in odd contrast with the slow pace another investigation — the one into who outed former ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame as a CIA operative.