Bush: War was `right move’

first_imgFor More Info AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong,” Bush said. As president, Bush said he was “responsible for the decision to go into Iraq” and “responsible for fixing” the intelligence apparatus. “We (removed) Saddam Hussein from power because he was a threat to our security,” Bush told an invited audience of administration officials, scholars and supporters at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “Given Saddam’s history and the lessons of September the 11th, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision.” Bush devoted an address on the eve of Iraq’s parliamentary elections to defending the U.S.-led invasion, cautioning Americans that “days of uncertainty” lie ahead in Baghdad and contending that democracy there will protect Americans from attack at home. The 31-minute address was the president’s latest effort to regain public support for the invasion and 33-month occupation of Iraq that has claimed the lives of at least 2,151 U.S. soldiers. The latest Gallup Poll showed Bush making progress. The percentage of Gallup respondents who deemed the Iraq invasion “a mistake” has slipped from 54 percent in mid-November to 48 percent in mid-December. Bush delivered the first of his four speeches touting his strategy for victory in Iraq on Nov. 30. Bush urged “patience” by Americans in the weeks ahead as Iraqi authorities determine winners from the 7,600 candidates for the 275 seats in parliament. Once seated in parliament, new lawmakers will have 15 days to select a three-member presidential council that in turn appoints a new prime minister, who in turn has 30 days to name a Cabinet. “It’s going to take a while” and require “continued sacrifice” by the 160,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Bush said. Bush scoffed at some Democrats’ calls for a timetable for U.S. withdrawals or milestones for progress, portraying those proposals as “calling for a rapid and complete withdrawal” based on “an artificial deadline.” He complained about “irresponsible charges” by unnamed critics who he alleged had accused him of ordering the invasion of Iraq to gain access to Iraqi oil or protect Israel as well as “manipulating intelligence” to gain support for war. Democratic critics, led by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a retired Marine Corps colonel, challenged Bush’s latest address on Iraq and his rationale for going to war when Iraq did not harbor terrorist camps or weapons of mass destruction. “We go to war because of our national security interests – we don’t go to war to start democracy in another country,” said Murtha, who predicted that the cumulative Iraq war spending may top $425 billion early next year. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate Democratic leader, told the Bush administration in a letter signed by 40 Senate Democrats and independent Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont that today’s parliamentary elections must serve as “a turning point” in the relationship between America and Iraq. The White House should demand that Iraqi religious and ethnic factions “make the compromises necessary” to forge a national government that can defeat the insurgency and free American GIs to withdraw from Iraq. Bush vigorously defended his decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 based on suspicions that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. None of the suspected weapons or weapons programs was ever found. Bush has previously acknowledged the failures of U.S. intelligence agencies to accurately gauge Iraqi weapons programs before the invasion. Bush added Wednesday that Saddam “could have avoided war” at any time by complying with U.N. Security Council demands for unfettered weapons inspections. “The United States did not choose war; the choice was Saddam Hussein’s,” Bush said. • AP Video: Bush admits responsibility for going to war on faulty intelligence. • Interactive: Ethics of Bush administration questioned. WASHINGTON – President Bush said Wednesday he accepts responsibility for launching the invasion of Iraq based on faulty intelligence, but insisted that his decision was justified because Saddam Hussein wanted to restart his weapons programs.last_img