President Bush: 'I Think I Was Right' to Wage War in Afghanistan Former U.S. President George W. Bush. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty)
By Eric Mack | Thursday, 02 September 2021 11:58 AM
The president who started the war in Afghanistan is defending his decision.
"I made some big decisions, starting with the big thought of America being at war," George W. Bush told BBC in a new documentary "9/11: Inside the President's War Room," the U.K.'s Independent reported.
"And those decisions were not made out of anger, they were made with a goal in mind, which was to protect the American people. I think I was right."
Bush pointed to the lack of a significant, coordinated terrorist attack in the U.S. after 9/11, when al-Qaida terrorists directed by the late Osama bin Laden hijacked U.S. commercial airliners and crashed them into both World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.
"You know, there weren't any other attacks on America," Bush says in the documentary, according to the report. "We'll let the historians sort all that out.
"Let's just say this – I'm comfortable with the decisions I made."
Bush waged the War on Terror in Afghanistan to root out al-Qaida terrorist training camps and remove the Taliban from power for having harbored terrorists. During President Joe Biden's withdrawal from the nearly 20-year war, that same Taliban has once again risen back to power in Afghanistan, walking into the capital city of Kabul unopposed as U.S.-backed Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani fled to exile.
Bush's administration has once claimed they "eliminated" the Taliban and al-Qaida from Afghanistan, the Independent reported, but current events show otherwise.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks killed 2,996 people, while the war in Afghanistan has cost the lives of an estimated 2,800 U.S. service members, allies, and contractors.
The documentary homed in on the events of the morning of 9/11, including the initial confusion of the attack unfolding.
"At first I thought it was pilot error," Bush says in the documentary, according to the report. "I couldn't imagine anything other than a lousy pilot getting loose."
Bush was reading to elementary school children when he was informed of the first tower being struck, and kept reading for seven minutes after the second tower was hit.
Senior adviser Karl Rove initially told the president of the attack.
"[She] says 'we don’t know if it's commercial, or private prop or jet.' That's all the details she had," Rove told the BBC.
"So I went over – the president was 10 feet away or so – and I walked over and told him. And he had a quizzical look of his face, and he said: 'Get more details.'"
Bush was reading to the class when a photographer snapped the famous photo of aide Andrew Card leaning in to Bush's ear in front of the class to tell him about the second tower strike.
The president's team set up a temporary situation room at the school before boarding Air Force One, believing it might be the next target.
"There was a call into a switchboard that said 'Angel's next,' and Angel was the code word for Air Force Once," Bush told BBC.
Air Force One confiscated all weapons on board to avoid anyone conducting "an inside job and take down Air Force One."
The Obama administration, reportedly against the advice of then VP Biden, conducted a covert, overnight strike in Pakistan to kill bin Laden at his then-secret Islamabad compound.