Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Yet more information warfare

Today the President gave a press conference. The brief NPR report I heard driving home from a two-day trip did not do it justice. I have been listening to it, while waiting for my own appearance on C-SPAN, and reading the transcript. The President, who seemed extraordinarily upbeat and energetic, filibustered, and had the following interesting exchange with Helen Thomas.

Q I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

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 --

Q Everything --

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.

Q -- 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 --

Q 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 --

Q 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 --

Q -- 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.

I am deeply disturbed that, once again, no other reporter asked him to justify that last answer, since we now know that Saddam Hussein had, in fact, nothing to disclose.


Patricia Mathews said...

Of COURSE it's about oil!

And if you got anything out of Dubya's spate of wordwooze, you're either smarter or more patient than I am.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure there is a definitive answer as to why the adminsitration went to war in Iraq, but clearly there were the groundworkings of such a plot even before 9-11. But could it have been about oil? If so then why has the US only seen an increase in the price per barel, a political liability for Bush in 2004? Where are all the profits from the invasion?

Also, just because Hussein had no WMD does not mean that the world/US isn't any safer after his removal. The question is whether the gain in his removal was worth the cost.