SPIEGEL: What was it like in the days following the [al Qaeda] attacks?
Steiner: Condoleezza Rice was George W. Bush’s security advisor at the time. I actually had quite a good relationship with her. But after Sept. 11, the entire administration positively dug in. We no longer had access to Rice, much less to the president. It wasn’t just our experience, but also that of the French and British as well. Of course that made us enormously worried.
Steiner: Because we thought that the Americans would overreact in response to the initial shock. For the US, it was a shocking experience to be attacked on their own soil.
SPIEGEL: What do you mean, overreact? Were you afraid that Bush would attack Afghanistan with nuclear weapons?
Steiner: The Americans said at the time that all options were on the table. When I visited Condoleezza Rice in the White House a few days later, I realized that it was more than just a figure of speech.
SPIEGEL: The Americans had developed concrete plans for the use of nuclear weapons in Afghanistan?
Steiner: They really had thought through all scenarios. The papers had been written. [Continue reading…]