The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was an obscure non-profit started in 1997 that played a key role in planning, advocating and eventually executing the Iraq War.

PNAC’s public advocacy for a US invasion of Iraq — including statements signed by prominent Bush-era figures — as early as 1998, is troubling evidence that the Iraq War was planned and executed in a manner that is illegal under international law.

Incredibly, few people know about PNAC’s role in planning the invasion — or the fact that people associated with PNAC include key Bush Administration officials such as Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

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Pentagon Holds Departure Ceremony For Rumsfeld

In 1997, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, through PNAC, signed an open letter in which they advocated for a significant “increase [in] defense spending” and a “need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.”

In 1998, through PNAC, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz signed a letter to President Clinton advocating for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein, which they stated had to become the “aim of American foreign policy.”

Military action had to happen regardless of rules – even UN rules. According to Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, “American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.”

They concluded, “We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.”

From 1997 to 2000, PNAC issued reports with such titles as, “A Way To Oust Saddam,” and “How To Attack Iraq.”

On September 20, 2011, a mere 9 days after the 9/11 attacks, PNAC members continued to advocate for war against Iraq. In an open letter to President Bush, PNAC stated, “[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”

By then, PNAC members and supporters — Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz — were in key government positions in the Bush Administration.

The planning and executing of a war under international law without proper legal authorization constitutes the crime of aggression.