On Monday, President Bush admitted that the Iraq war is "straining the psyche of our country." But he vowed to stay the course. A reporter questioned him about why he opposed withdrawing US troops from Iraq. In his answer, Bush admitted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and had "nothing" to do with 9/11. [includes rush transcript]
- President Bush, White House press conference, August 21, 2006. [Click for full transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, Present Bush admitted the Iraq war is "straining the psyche of our country," but he vowed to stay the course. A reporter questioned him about why he opposed withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
REPORTER: A lot of the consequences you mentioned for pulling out seem like maybe they never would have been there if we hadn’t gone in. How do you square all of that?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I square it, because — imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who would — who had relations with Zarqawi. Imagine what the world would be like with him in power. The idea is to try to help change the Middle East.
Now, look, I didn’t — part of the reason we went into Iraq was — the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn’t, but he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction. But I also talked about the human suffering in Iraq, and I also talked the need to advance a freedom agenda. And so my question — my answer to your question is, is that — imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was there, stirring up even more trouble in a part of the world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that people came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.
You know, I’ve heard this theory about, you know, everything was just fine until we arrived, and then, you know, kind of that we’re going to stir up the hornet’s nest theory. It just — just doesn’t hold water, as far as I’m concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.
REPORTER: What did Iraq have to do with that?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with what?
REPORTER: The attack on the World Trade Center?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Nothing, except for it’s part of — and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a — Iraq — the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush at his news conference yesterday.