Wednesday, March 22, 2006
TPM: Thomas confronts Bush about false justification for Iraq invasion
THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --
HELEN THOMAS: Everything --
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.
HELEN THOMAS: -- everything I've heard --
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.
Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --
HELEN THOMAS: They didn't do anything to you, or to our country.
THE PRESIDENT: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where al Qaeda trained --
HELEN THOMAS: I'm talking about Iraq --
THE PRESIDENT: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.
I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences --
HELEN THOMAS: -- go to war --
THE PRESIDENT: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.
Source: Talking Points Memo.
Josh Marshall's comments, from the same source linked above, on this exchange are:
The president just won't stop lying about the immediate exigencies of his decision to go to war.
Of course, [his explanation is] not what happened. We were there. We remember. It wasn't a century ago. We got the resolution passed. Saddam called our bluff and allowed the inspectors in. President Bush pressed ahead with the invasion.
His lies are so blatant that I must constantly check myself so as not to assume that he is simply delusional or has blocked out whole chains of events from the past.
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