Fact Check

President Bush 'Camel' Quote

Did President Bush say he would not 'fire a $2-million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt'?

Published Sep 20, 2001


Claim:   President George W. Bush said, "I'm not gonna fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt."

Status:   True.

Origins:   This


phrase was documented by Howard Fineman, Newsweek's chief political correspondent, who reported in the September 24 issue of that magazine that President Bush uttered this phrase in a September 13 Oval Office meeting with senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer of New York and senators John Warner and George Allen of Virginia, about getting aid for the devastation caused to their states by the September 11 terrorist attacks. According to Fineman:

They all got more than they bargained for. The meeting didn’t last minutes, but half an hour. The president, relaxed and in control, drew Sen. Hillary Clinton into a warm, familial exchange. He treated Sen. Charles Schumer like a long-lost fraternity brother. As for their aid request, "I’m with ya," the president said eagerly — and it was approved by Congress the next day. The Virginians got promises of aid, too, and the warlike words all four senators yearned for. "When I take action," he said, "I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive."

Last updated:   8 March 2008

  Sources Sources:

    Dowd, Maureen.   "Liberties; Old Ruses, New Barbarians."

    The New York Times.   19 September 2001   (p. A27).

    Fineman, Howard.   "A President Finds His True Voice."

    Newsweek.   24 September 2001.

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