Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Under the Spot 

Your question, do I feel?

Dirty lie-words from mean, ugly man-baby:
A country that hides something is a country that is afraid of getting caught. And that was part of our calculation. Charlie confirmed that. He also confirmed that Saddam had a — the ability to produce biological and chemical weapons. In other words, he was a danger.

I mean one year after the liberation of Iraq, the revenues of the oil stream is pretty darn significant.

This is a guy who's a torturer, a killer, a maimer. There's mass graves. I mean he was a horrible individual that really shocked the country in many ways, shocked it into kind of a fear of making decisions toward liberty. That's what we've seen recently. Some citizens are fearful of stepping up. And they were happy — they're not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either.

Let me put that quote to Woodward in context. He had asked me if I was, something about killing bin Laden. That's what the question was. And I said compared to how I felt at the time after the attack I didn't have that — and I also went on to say my blood wasn't boiling, I think is what the quote said.

Your question, do I feel?

I mean, hindsight is easy. It's easy for a president to stand up and say now that I know what happened would have been nice if there were certain things in place.

We were kind of stovepiped, I guess is a way to describe it.

And the other thing I look back on and realize is that we weren't on a war footing. The country was not on a war footing, and yet the enemy was at war with us. And it didn't take me long to put us on a war footing. And we've been on a war ever since.

I'm afraid they want to hurt us again. They're still there.

Well, I think, as I mentioned, you know, it's the country wasn't on war footing. And yet we're at war. And that's just a reality. I mean that was the situation that existed prior to 9/11.

But there was nobody in our government at least — and I don't think the prior government — could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale.

The people know where I stand.

And, of course, I want to know why we haven't found a weapon yet.

And it's very important for the loved ones of our troops to understand that the mission is: an important vital mission for the security of America and for the ability to change the world for the better.

I asked for the briefing. And the reason I did is because there had been a lot of threat intelligence from overseas. And part of it had to do with the Genoa G8 conference that I was going to attend. And I asked at that point in time, let's make sure we are paying attention here at home as well. And that's what triggered the report.

The report itself, I've characterized it as mainly history. And I think when you look at it you'll see that it was talking about a '97 and '98 and '99. It was also an indication as you mentioned that that bin Laden might want to hijack an airplane, but as you said, not to fly into a building but perhaps to release a person in jail. In other words, serving as a blackmail. And of course that concerns me. All those reports concern me.

As a matter of fact, I was dealing with terrorism a lot as the president when George Tenet came in to brief me.

Now in the, what's called the P.D.B. there was a warning about bin Laden's desires on America. Frankly, I didn't think that was anything new. I mean major newspapers had talked about bin Laden's desires on hurting America. What was interesting in there was that there was a report that the F.B.I. was conducting field investigations. And that was good news that they were doing their job.

Had there been a threat that required action by anybody in the government, I would have dealt with it. In other words, had they come up and said this is where we see something happening, you can rest assured that the people of this government would have responded and responded in a forceful way.

I mean one of the things about Elizabeth's question was I stepped back and I've asked myself a lot, Is there anything we could have done to stop the attacks?

As the ultimate decision maker for this country I expect information that comes to my desk to be real and valid.

And as I mentioned, I met with a lot of family members and I do the best to console them about the loss of their loved one.

Here's what I feel about that: the person responsible for the attacks was Osama bin Laden.

This is — these are people that have — the leaders have made the decision to put peoples in harm way — people in harm's way for the good of the world.

And a free Iraq is going to be a major blow for terrorism. It'll change the world.

Maybe I can best put it this way, why I feel so strongly about this historic moment. I was having dinner with Prime Minister Koizumi, and we were talking about North Korea, about how we can work together to deal with the threat. The North Korea leader is a threat. And here are two friends now discussing how — what strategy to employ to prevent him from further developing and deploying a nuclear weapon. And it dawned on me that had we blown the peace in World War II, that perhaps this conversation would not have been taking place.

Some of the debate really centers around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free, that if you're Muslim or perhaps brown skinned, you can't be self-governing and free. I strongly disagree with that. I reject that because I believe freedom is the deepest need of every human soul.

After 9/11, the world changed for me, and I think changed for the country. It changed for me because, like many, we assumed oceans would protect us from harm, and that's not the case, that's not the reality of the 21st century. Oceans don't protect us. They don't protect us from killers.

We've had some success as a result of the decision I took. Take Libya, for example. Libya was a nation that had — we viewed as a terrorist — a nation that sponsored terror, a nation that was dangerous because of weapons. And Colonel Qadaffi made the decision, and rightly so, to disclose and disarm for the good of the world. By the way, they found, I think, 50 tons of mustard gas, I believe it was, in a turkey farm only because he was willing to disclose where the mustard gas was. But that made the world safer.

You've often heard me talk about my worry about weapons of mass destruction ending up in the hands of the wrong people. Well, you can understand why I feel that way having seen the works of A. Q. Khan. It's a dangerous — it was a dangerous network that we unraveled. And the world is better for it.

We're at war. Iraq is a part of the war on terror. It is not the war on terror. It is a theater in the war on terror. And it's essential we win this battle in the war on terror. By winning this battle, it will make other victories more certain in the war against the terrorists.

One of my hardest parts of my job is to console the family members who've lost their lives. It's a chance to hug and weep and to console and to remind the loved ones that the sacrifice of their loved one is — was done in the name of security for America and freedom for the world.

As I mentioned, I pinned the Purple Heart on the — on some of the troops at the hospital there at Fort Hood, Texas. A guy looks at me and says, I can't wait to get back to my unit and fulfill the mission, Mr. President.

You know, I just — I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.

I would have gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan.

See, I happen to believe we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth as — exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like, the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.

You know, I hope I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't — you just put me under the spot here and maybe I'm not quick, as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.

Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world.

One thing is for certain, though, about me, and the world has learned this, when I say something I mean it. And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important for keeping world peace and freedom.

Thank you all very much.


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