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Sign this petition to reform the Patriot Act!

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the USA Patriot Act was signed into law — legislation that was intended to protect the American people from future acts of terrorism.

Instead of being an effective means of identifying individuals with nefarious intentions, however, the Patriot Act instead facilitates ongoing instances of gross abuses and violations of Americans’ constitutional rights. In 2018, for example, the government collected 434 million records related to 19 million phone numbers — despite listing just 11 targets.

Sign the petition: We refuse to live in a police state under the PATRIOT Act.

SIGN THE PETITION
On March 15, the Patriot Act is up for reauthorization. If no reauthorization is passed, provisions of the Patriot Act would expire, partially reverting the U.S. back to a pre-9/11 surveillance policy.

The Patriot Act is an unethical and unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens. Reforming the Patriot Act is a critical priority! Extending these authorities for any period of time absent major reform reflects an abandonment of Congress’s most basic responsibilities.

Sign the petition: We demand clear and common-sense reforms to the Patriot Act now!

SIGN THE PETITION
Thanks for all you do,
Erin Tulley, Daily Kos

 

Daily Kos, PO Box 70036, Oakland, CA, 94612.

FREE 9/11 INFORMATIONAL FORUM FOR SURVIVORS NEXT MONTH IN NYC

Please pass this along to anyone you know who may find this useful.

180320-trump-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-ew-653p_79d8fe98f96ea6b5b7297bc6ee026b73.fit-760w

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), in partnership with Barasch & McGarry, invites you to attend a special Free 9/11 Informational Forum to learn about the free health care and compensation available to everyone who was downtown on 9/11 or during the 8 months following.

Join a panel of downtown teachers, students, residents and other 9/11 advocates who will be there to answer all of your questions.

Date: Monday, December 9, 2019
Time
: 6:00 – 8:00pm
Place:
 UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor, New York, New York

RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/rabbbgw

Seats available on a first come first served basis, so please RSVP ASAP.
For more information visit: www.911victims.com or call: (212)-385-8000

Thank you,

John Feal

Sweden Drops Sexual Assault Investigation into WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

H10 sweden drops sexual assault investigation julian assange

In Sweden, prosecutors have dropped an investigation into sexual assault allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which Assange has always denied. Assange took refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden on the charges. British authorities dragged him out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. He’s since been jailed in London’s Belmarsh Prison on charges related to skipping of bail in 2012 when he first entered the embassy, which he did in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over the now-dropped sexual assault charges. The United States is now seeking Assange’s extradition to the U.S., where he faces up to 175 years in prison on hacking charges and 17 counts of violating the World War I-era Espionage Act.

Ex-Twitter employees accused of spying for Saudi Arabia

Shocker.  Why do we still deal with these fascists? 
Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California

Two former employees of Twitter have been charged in the US with spying for Saudi Arabia.

The charges, unsealed on Wednesday in San Francisco, allege that Saudi agents sought personal information about Twitter users including known critics of the Saudi government.

Court documents named the two as Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, and Ali Alzabarah, from Saudi Arabia.

A third person, Saudi citizen Ahmed Almutairi, is also accused of spying.

The New York Times says it is the first time that Saudi citizens have been charged with spying inside the United States.

What are the charges?

Ahmad Abouammo appeared in a Seattle court on Wednesday and was remanded in custody pending another hearing due on Friday.

He is also charged with falsifying documents and making false statements to the FBI.

The criminal complaint says he provided the FBI with a falsified, back-dated invoice charging an unnamed Saudi official $100,000 for “consulting services”.

Mr Abouammo is said to have left his job as a media partnership manager for Twitter in 2015.

Mr Alzabarah, a former Twitter engineer, is accused of accessing the personal data of more than 6,000 Twitter users in 2015 after being recruited by Saudi agents.

One of the Twitter accounts he allegedly accessed also appeared in a note found in a Saudi official’s email account, revealing the level of detail Mr Alzabarah was able to obtain about the user.

According to the complaint, the note read: “This one is a professional. He’s a Saudi that uses encryption… We tracked him and found that 12 days ago he signed in once without encryption from IP [redacted] at 18:40 UTC on 05/25/2015. This one does not use a cell phone at all, just a browser. He’s online right using Firefox form [sic] a windows machine.”

Mr Alzabarah was confronted by his supervisors and placed on administrative leave before fleeing to Saudi Arabia with his wife and daughter, investigators said.

The charges allege the third person – Mr Almutairi – acted as an intermediary between the two Twitter employees and Saudi officials.

Mr Alzabarah and Mr Almutairi are both believed to be in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government allegedly paid the men hundreds of thousands of dollars. One man also received a luxury Hublot watch, worth about $20,000 (£15,500).

A key US ally

In a statement, Twitter said it recognised “the lengths bad actors will go to” to try to undermine its service.

It added: “We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable. We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work.”

Saudi Arabia is a key US ally in the Middle East.

President Donald Trump has maintained close ties with the kingdom despite international condemnation following the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Mr Khashoggi was murdered during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Wal-Mart: America’s #1 gun salesman.

After the recent tragic shootings in El Paso, it’s absolutely unthinkable that Walmart would continue to profit from gun sales. They must stop the sale of guns in their stores now!

Walmart must prioritize community safety over profits made from gun sales. They must stop the sale of guns in their stores now!Sign Matthew’s petition

Companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods have already taken actions to use their economic leverage to curb gun violence.1

Walmart is one of America’s largest gun sellers and must be part of the movement to end gun violence. The company has taken some steps in recent years—but the stores are still selling weapons of destruction and selling bullet-proof backpacks at the same time. Walmart has the power to make a real difference, not just cosmetic changes.

Please join with us and ask Doug McMillon, the Chief Executive of Walmart, to stop the sale of guns in his stores now.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

Thank you.

—Matthew Hildreth, Rural Organizing

Mueller report to be released on Thursday: 5 things to look for

US Attorney General William Barr plans to release a redacted version of Mueller’s report Thursday morning, the DOJ says.
Mueller concluded his investigation last month [File: Charles Dharapak/AP]
Mueller concluded his investigation last month [File: Charles Dharapak/AP]

US Attorney General William Barr has provided only a glimpse of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s report on the inquiry into Russia‘s role in the 2016 US election, with many details expected to emerge when a redacted version of the document is released later this week.

The Department of Justice said on Monday that Barr plans to release the redacted version of the nearly 400-page report to Congress and the public on Thursday morning.

Barr on March 24 sent a four-page letter to politicians detailing Mueller’s “principal conclusions” including that the 22-month probe did not establish that President Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign team conspired with Russia. Barr said he found insufficient evidence in Mueller’s report to conclude that Trump committed obstruction of justice, though the special counsel did not make a formal finding one way or the other on that.

Here are five things to look for when the redacted report is issued:

1. Obstruction of justice: why no exoneration?

Perhaps the biggest political risk for Trump is the special counsel’s supporting evidence behind Mueller’s assertion that while the report does not conclude the Republican president committed the crime of obstruction of justice, it “also does not exonerate him” on that point.

US Democrats to prepare subpoenas for full Mueller report

According to Barr’s March 24 letter, Mueller has presented evidence on both sides of the question without concluding whether to prosecute. Barr filled that void by asserting there was no prosecutable case. But Barr’s statement in the letter that “most” of Trump’s actions that had raised questions about obstruction were “the subject of public reporting” suggested that some actions were not publicly known.

Democrats in Congress do not believe Barr, a Trump appointee, should have the final say on the matter.

Although the prospect that the Democratic-led House of Representatives would begin the impeachment process to try to remove Trump from office appears to have receded, the House Judiciary Committee will be looking for any evidence relevant to ongoing probes into obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by the president or others in the administration.

Barr’s comment that most of what Mueller probed on obstruction has been publicly reported indicates that events like Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director in May 2017, when the agency was heading the Russia inquiry, are likely to be the focus of this section of the report.

2. Russian ‘information warfare’ and campaign contacts

The report will detail indictments by Mueller of two Kremlin-backed operations to influence the 2016 election: one against a St Petersburg-based troll farm called the Internet Research Agency accused of waging “information warfare” over social media; and the other charging Russian intelligence officers with hacking into Democratic Party servers and pilfering emails leaked to hurt its candidate Hillary Clinton.

The Mueller probe: What is it and how did we get here?

With those two indictments already public and bearing no apparent link to the president, the focus may be on what Mueller concluded, if anything, about other incidents that involved contacts between Russians and people in Trump’s orbit. That could include the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York in which a Russian lawyer promised “dirt” on Clinton to senior campaign officials, as well as a secret January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles investigated as a possible attempt to set up a back channel between the incoming Trump administration and the Kremlin while Democrat Barack Obama was still president.

Any analysis of such contacts could shed light on why Mueller, according to Barr’s summary, “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities”.

3. Manafort, Ukraine policy and polling data

In the weeks before Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced in March to seven and a half years in prison mostly for financial crimes related to millions of dollars he was paid by pro-Russia Ukrainian politicians, Mueller’s team provided hints about what their pursuit of him was really about.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told a judge in February that an August 2, 2016 meeting between Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a consultant Mueller has said has ties to Russian intelligence, “went to the heart of” the special counsel’s investigation.

The meeting included a discussion about a proposal to resolve the conflict in Ukraine in terms favourable to the Kremlin, an issue that has damaged Russia’s relations with the West. Prosecutors also said Manafort shared Trump campaign polling data with Kilimnik, although the significance of that act remains unclear.

One focus will be on what Mueller ultimately concluded about Manafort’s interactions with Kilimnik and whether a failed attempt to secure cooperation from Manafort, who was found by a judge to have lied to prosecutors in breach of a plea agreement, significantly impeded the special counsel’s work.

4. US national security concerns

Although Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy with Russia, according to Barr, there is a chance the report will detail behaviour and financial entanglements that give fodder to critics who have said Trump has shown a pattern of deference to the Kremlin.

One example of such an entanglement was the proposal to build a Trump tower in Moscow, a deal potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars that never materialised. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, admitted to lying to Congress about the project to provide cover because Trump on the campaign trail had denied any dealings with Russia.

Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation: Who are the key players?

In the absence of criminal charges arising from Mueller’s inquiry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has shifted his focus to whether Trump is “compromised” by such entanglements, influencing his policy decisions and posing a risk to national security.

Some legal experts have said the counterintelligence probe Mueller inherited from Comey may prove more significant than his criminal inquiry, though it is not clear to what degree counterintelligence findings will be included in the report. Barr has also said he planned to redact material related to intelligence-gathering sources and methods.

5. Middle East influence and other probes

Another focus is whether Mueller will disclose anything from his inquiries into the Middle Eastern efforts to influence Trump.

Erik Prince ‘certainly not telling the truth’: Adam Schiff

One mystery is what, if anything, came of the special counsel’s questioning of George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and consultant to the crown princes of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia who started cooperating with Mueller last year.

Nader attended the Seychelles meeting. He too was present at a Trump Tower meeting in August 2016, three months before the election, at which an Israeli social media specialist spoke with the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, about how his firm Psy-Group, which employed several former Israeli intelligence officers, could help the Trump campaign, according to the New York Times. Mueller’s interest in Nader suggested the special counsel looked into whether additional countries sought to influence the election and whether they did so in concert with Russia.

A lawyer for Nader did not respond to a request for comment.

Barr has said he will redact from the Mueller report information on “other ongoing matters”, including inquiries referred to other offices in the Justice Department. That makes it unclear if any findings related to the Middle East will appear in the report.

Ilhan Omar: Muslim lawmaker sees rise in death threats after Trump tweet

Trump and Ilhan OmarOne of the first ever Muslim members of the US Congress has said that a tweet by President Donald Trump has led to an increase in threats against her life.

Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar said the threats were sparked by “violent rhetoric”, accusing Mr Trump of stoking right-wing extremism. “It has to stop,” she added.

It comes after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a new “security assessment to safeguard” the lawmaker.

The tweet showed Ms Omar talking to a US-Muslim group about the 9/11 attacks.

On Monday Mr Trump stepped up his attacks against Ms Omar, calling her “out of control”.

He also said Mrs Pelosi “should look at the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful US HATE statements Omar has made” before defending her.

What’s the background?

Congresswoman Omar has become a lightning rod for criticism following her 2018 election.

Mr Trump tweeted on Friday “WE WILL NEVER FORGET” alongside a 43-second edited video showing footage of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, spliced with a speech by Ms Omar.

“Some people did something,” she is seen saying, in between footage of planes hitting the World Trade Center, damage to the Pentagon and people fleeing buildings.

Democrats claimed the video does not provide context to Ms Omar’s 20-minute speech to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) on 23 March.

She was discussing civil rights for Muslim Americans in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Cair, she said, was founded “because they recognised that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties”.

Republican critics said that her comment “some people did something” was offensive to the nearly 3,000 Americans killed in the attacks.

How has Ms Omar responded?

In a statement on Sunday, Ms Omar said: “Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life – many directly referring or replying to the president’s video”.

She thanked security officials for “their attention to these threats” and accused Mr Trump of fuelling a rise in “violent crimes and other acts of hate by right-wing extremists and white nationalists”.

She also expressed concern that Mr Trump’s visit to her home state of Minnesota on Monday could lead to an increase in hate crimes and assaults.

“Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s Commander in Chief.

“We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop,” she said.

Earlier this month a man was charged with threatening to kill Ms Omar over her Muslim faith.

Presentational grey line

The Republican strategy on Ilhan Omar

Analysis by Jon Sopel, North America Editor, BBC News

Ilhan Omar is taking one helluva kicking. But this is brutality with a purpose for Republican strategists.

In his State of the Union address the president said he would save America from Socialism. As ‘radical’ ‘progressive’ Democrats become ever more vocal – whether on the environment, Israel, raising taxes, pushing socialised medicine – so the president sees this as a way of peeling away ‘moderate’ Democrats and independents. The political centre of gravity in the US is way to the right of what it is in Europe.

But the president has also got his shovel out and dug a deep hole, covered it with some brush and leaves, and is lying in wait for the Democratic Party leadership to fall into the trap he’s set.

Are they going to ally themselves with the young Minnesota congresswoman, in which case he will hang those four words around their necks too, or will they abandon her – allowing the president to proclaim how divided the Democratic Party is? But the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is a wily operator, and she doesn’t blunder into much blindly – much though Donald Trump wants her to.

Read more analysis from Jon Sopel

Presentational grey line

What is reaction?

On Sunday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Mr Trump wishes “no ill will and certainly not violence” towards the first-term lawmaker.

Referring to her previous controversial comments, in which Ms Omar questioned US support for Israel, Ms Sanders added: “It’s absolutely abhorrent the comments that she continues to make and has made and they look the other way.”

The tweet, which had been posted to the top of Mr Trump’s Twitter feed on Sunday, was removed after Mrs Pelosi made the request to the White House, but is still viewable on his feed.

“The President’s words weigh a tonne, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,” she said in a statement while travelling in London.

“President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video,” she said, adding that security officials are reviewing Ms Omar’s protection and “will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces”.

Ilhan Omar: The 9/11 row embroiling the US congresswoman

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in front of US flag (file photo)A Democratic congresswoman says she will not be silenced after facing a barrage of criticism over comments she made about the 9/11 attacks – including from Donald Trump.

The US president tweeted “WE WILL NEVER FORGET” alongside a video showing footage of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks spliced with a speech by Representative Ilhan Omar.

“Some people did something,” she is seen saying, in between footage of planes hitting the Twin Towers and people fleeing the buildings.

Republicans have accused her of downplaying the attacks, but Democrats have largely rallied to her defence, saying she had been quoted out of context and some accusing Mr Trump of inciting violence against her and Muslims. Here is how the row developed.

Who is Congresswoman Omar?

Ms Omar won a Minnesota seat in the House of Representatives last November, becoming one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to the US Congress.

Her family originally came to the US as refugees from Somalia and she is the first congresswoman to wear the hijab.

Despite being a newcomer to Washington, this is not the first time Ms Omar has made headlines.

She has been accused of anti-Semitism over comments she made about Israel and pro-Israel lobbyists. After being rebuked last month, including by Democrats, she apologised and said she was “listening and learning”.

The congresswoman has also raised the alarm about anti-Muslim rhetoric surrounding her, in response to a Republican poster that showed her alongside the Twin Towers.

Just last week, police arrested a 55-year-old man in New York state for allegedly calling her office with a graphic death threat in which he reportedly labelled her a “terrorist”.

What did she say?

The “some people did something” quote was from a speech Ms Omar gave to a civil rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), on 23 March.

In the 20-minute speech she discussed issues affecting the community like Islamophobia and the recent mosque attack in New Zealand.

The comments in Mr Trump’s video were taken from a point she made about the treatment of US Muslims in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks:

“Here’s the truth. For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. Cair was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

After the Washington Post fact-checked the statement to clarify Cair was actually founded in 1994, a spokesman for Ms Omar told the paper that she misspoke and meant to say the organisation’s size had doubled after the attacks.

How did the row develop?

Her speech began getting attention on 9 April, when a clip was shared by Texas Republican Representative Dan Crenshaw, who described her phrasing as “unbelievable”.

Conservative media outlets, including Fox News, then started discussing it in-depth.

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, described the congresswoman as “anti-American”.

Twitter post by @GOPChairwoman: Ilhan Omar isn’t just anti-Semitic – she’s anti-American.Nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives to Islamic terrorists on 9/11, yet Omar diminishes it as  “Some people did something.”Democrat leaders need to condemn her brazen display of disrespect.

Ms Omar responded by calling some of the comments as “dangerous incitement, given the death threats I face” and comparing her remarks to ones made by former President George Bush.

On Thursday, the New York Post published a front-page spread of an image of the attack with the headline: “Here’s your something”

The cover proved divisive. Some on social media praised it, but others heavily criticised the use of 9/11 images.

Then, on Friday, President Trump posted the video of Ms Omar. It is currently pinned to the top of his account and has been shared tens of thousands of times.

What was the response?

Many social media users responded by using #IStandWithIlhan – which trended worldwide on Twitter on Friday.

CNN showed the clip in discussions, but then presenter Chris Cuomo apologised for airing it. MSNBC host Joy Reid also refused to show it.

A number of high-ranking Democrats, including many in the running for the 2020 presidential nomination, have come out to criticise Mr Trump and defend Ms Omar.

Elizabeth Warren accused the president of “inciting violence against a sitting congresswoman”.

Bernie Sanders referred to “disgusting and dangerous attacks” against Ms Omar.

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris both accused the president of spreading hate.

Kirsten Gillibrand did not defend Ms Omar’s comments but she also called Mr Trump’s rhetoric “disgusting”.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, said Mr Trump was wrong to use the images but also suggested Ms Omar had been dismissive of the attacks.

One reply to Ms Pelosi, by film director and frequent Trump critic Ava DuVernay, which said Ms Pelosi’s comment was “not enough”, has been liked thousands of times.

Rashida Tlaib, the other Muslim serving in Congress, and another Democratic Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have both called on senior Democrats to do more to support Ms Omar.

Responding directly in a series of tweets on Saturday, the congresswoman thanked people for their support and vowed that she “did not run for Congress to be silent”.

More on this story

  • Ilhan Omar: US House votes amid anti-Semitism row
    7 March 2019
  • Democrats 2020: Which candidates have joined the race?
    10 April 2019
  • Video Fox v MSNBC: How the news divides America
    26 July 2018
  • Roger Ailes and the dawn of hyper-partisan television
    18 May 2017

Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

In a 2002 column, Jonah Goldberg coined the “Ledeen Doctrine”, named after neoconservative historian Michael Ledeen. The “doctrine” states: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

  • Then President George W Bush is seen addressing the US Army soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas about the possibility of military action against Iraq in January 2003 [File: Jeff Mitchell/Reuters]
Then President George W Bush is seen addressing the US Army soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas about the possibility of military action against Iraq in January 2003

Sixteen years after the United States invaded Iraqand left a trail of destruction and chaos in the country and the region, one aspect of the war remains criminally underexamined: why was it fought in the first place? What did the Bush administration hope to get out of the war?

The official, and widely-accepted, story remains that Washington was motivated by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. His nuclear capabilities, especially, were deemed sufficiently alarming to incite the war. As then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “We do not want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

Despite Saddam not having an active WMD programme, this explanation has found support among some International Relations scholars, who say that while the Bush administration was wrong about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, it was sincerely wrong. Intelligence is a complicated, murky enterprise, the argument goes, and given the foreboding shadow of the 9/11 attacks, the US government reasonably, if tragically, misread the evidence on the dangers Saddam posed.

There is a major problem with this thesis: there is no evidence for it, beyond the words of the Bush officials themselves. And since we know the administration was engaged in a widespread campaign of deception and propaganda in the run-up to the Iraq war, there is little reason to believe them.

My investigation into the causes of the war finds that it had little to do with fear of WMDs – or other purported goals, such as a desire to “spread democracy” or satisfy the oil or Israel lobbies. Rather, the Bush administration invaded Iraq for its demonstration effect.

A quick and decisive victory in the heart of the Arab world would send a message to all countries, especially to recalcitrant regimes such as Syria, Libya, Iran, or North Korea, that American hegemony was here to stay. Put simply, the Iraq war was motivated by a desire to (re)establish American standing as the world’s leading power.

Indeed, even before 9/11, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saw Iraq through the prism of status and reputation, variously arguing in February and July 2001 that ousting Saddam would “enhance US credibility and influence throughout the region” and “demonstrate what US policy is all about”.

These hypotheticals were catalysed into reality by September 11, when symbols of American military and economic dominance were destroyed. Driven by humiliation, the Bush administration felt that the US needed to reassert its position as an unchallengeable hegemon.

The only way to send a message so menacing was a swashbuckling victory in war. Crucially, however, Afghanistan was not enough: it was simply too weak a state. As prison bullies know, a fearsome reputation is not acquired by beating up the weakest in the yard. Or as Rumsfeld put it on the evening of 9/11, “We need to bomb something else to prove that we’re, you know, big and strong and not going to be pushed around by these kinds of attacks.”

Moreover, Afghanistan was a “fair” war, a tit-for-tat response to the Taliban’s provision of sanctuary to al-Qaeda’s leadership. Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith considered restricting retaliation to Afghanistan dangerously “limited”, “meager”, and “narrow”. Doing so, they alleged, “may be perceived as a sign of weakness rather than strength” and prove to “embolden rather than discourage regimes” opposed to the US. They knew that sending a message of unbridled hegemony entailed a disproportionate response to 9/11, one that had to extend beyond Afghanistan.

Iraq fit the bill both because it was more powerful than Afghanistan and because it had been in neoconservative crosshairs since George HW Bush declined to press on to Baghdad in 1991. A regime remaining defiant despite a military defeat was barely tolerable before 9/11. Afterwards, however, it became untenable.

That Iraq was attacked for its demonstration effect is attested to by several sources, not least the principals themselves – in private. A senior administration official told a reporter, off the record, that “Iraq is not just about Iraq”, rather “it was of a type”, including Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

In a memo issued on September 30, 2001, Rumsfeld advised Bush that “the USG [US government] should envision a goal along these lines: New regimes in Afghanistan and another key State [or two] that supports terrorism [to strengthen political and military efforts to change policies elsewhere]”.

Feith wrote to Rumsfeld in October 2001 that action against Iraq would make it easier to “confront – politically, militarily, or otherwise” Libya and Syria. As for then-Vice President Dick Cheney, one close adviser revealed that his thinking behind the war was to show: “We are able and willing to strike at someone. That sends a very powerful message.”

In a 2002 column, Jonah Goldberg coined the “Ledeen Doctrine”, named after neoconservative historian Michael Ledeen. The “doctrine” states: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

It may be discomfiting to Americans to say nothing of millions of Iraqis that the Bush administration spent their blood and treasure for a war inspired by the Ledeen Doctrine. Did the US really start a war – one that cost trillions of dollars, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, destabilised the region, and helped create the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – just to prove a point?

More uncomfortable still is that the Bush administration used WMDs as a cover, with equal parts fearmongering and strategic misrepresentation – lying – to exact the desired political effect. Indeed, some US economists consider the notion that the Bush administration deliberately misled the country and the globe into war in Iraq to be a “conspiracy theory”, on par with beliefs that President Barack Obama was born outside the US or that the Holocaust did not occur.

But this, sadly, is no conspiracy theory. Even Bush officials have sometimes dropped their guard. Feith confessed in 2006 that “the rationale for the war didn’t hinge on the details of this intelligence even though the details of the intelligence at times became elements of the public presentation”.

That the administration used the fear of WMDs and terrorism to fight a war for hegemony should be acknowledged by an American political establishment eager to rehabilitate George W Bush amid the rule of Donald Trump, not least because John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, seems eager to employ similar methods to similar ends in Iran.