The New York Times runs a lengthy article today on how the 9/11 attacks contributed to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) foreign policy, particulary his aggression towards Iraq. “A terrorist resides in Baghdad,” he said in Feb. 2002, adding, “A day of reckoning is approaching”:
Within a month he made clear his priority. “Very obviously Iraq is the first country,” he declared on CNN. By Jan. 2, Mr. McCain was on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, yelling to a crowd of sailors and airmen: “Next up, Baghdad!” [...]
“These networks are well-embedded in some of these countries,” Mr. McCain said on Sept. 12, listing Iraq, Iran and Syria as potential targets of United States pressure.
In written answers to the Times, McCain blamed “Iraq’s opacity under Saddam” for any misleading remarks he made about the threat. Weeks after 9/11, McCain told Larry King that he would have named Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell to a McCain cabinet. “Oh, yes, and Cheney,” McCain added, saying he would have offered Dick Cheney the vice presidency.
One month after 9/11, McCain was already warning that “the second phase is Iraq.”