"There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the
conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer
is: bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with
the security situation." - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003,
referring to attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq.
President George W. Bush Speaks at VFW Convention, August
Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn
enemy of America. He was defying the world. He was firing
weapons at American pilots who were enforcing the world's
sanctions. He had pursued and he had used weapons of mass
destruction. He had harbored terrorists. He invaded his
neighbors. He subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He
murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens. He was a source
of instability in the world's most volatile region. He was a
One of the lessons of September the 11th, a lesson this nation
must never forget, is that we must deal with threats before they
fully materialize. I remembered what Saddam Hussein was
like; I looked at the intelligence. I called upon Congress to
remember his history and look at the intelligence. I thought it
was important to bring Congress, get their opinion on the
subject of Saddam Hussein. So members of both political parties,
including my opponent, looked at the same intelligence and came
to the same conclusion that I came to: Saddam Hussein was a
threat. I went to the United Nations; the U.N. Security Council
looked at the intelligence and came to the same conclusion,
Saddam Hussein was a threat. As a matter of fact, they passed a
resolution, 15 to nothing, which said to Saddam: disclose,
disarm, or face serious consequences. As he had for the past 12
years, he refused to comply. He ignored the demands of the free
world. He systematically deceived the weapons inspectors.
So I had a choice to make: either forget the lessons of
September the 11th and trust a madman, or take action to defend
America. Given that choice, I will defend our country every
Even though we did not find the stockpiles that we thought we
would find, Saddam Hussein had the capability to make weapons of
mass destruction, and he could have passed that capability on to
our enemy, to the terrorists. It is not a risk, after September
the 11th, that we could afford to take. Knowing what I know
today, I would have taken the same action. America and the world
are safer because Saddam Hussein sits in a prison cell.
George W. Bush - President Discusses Global War on Terror
Following Briefing at CENTCOM, February 17, 2006
We saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. Obviously, this issue is one
that has caused a lot of people to wonder about certain aspects,
caused me to wonder about the capacity of our intelligence
services to provide good intelligence. And that's why we're
constantly working to reform the intelligence services, to make
sure we get the best intelligence, because I thought there would
be weapons of mass destruction -- and so did everybody else in
the world; and so did people in the United States Congress from
both political parties -- thought that there would be weapons of
The United Nations and the United Nations Security Council
thought there would be weapons of mass destruction. After all,
they passed a unanimous resolution that said, disclose, disarm,
or face serious consequences. In other words, we worked the
And so when Saddam Hussein chose war -- and believe me, he made
the choice -- the hardest thing for the President of the United
States to do is commit troops into combat. It's the last option,
the very last option. Except September the 11th taught me, and
September the 11th taught me, that we got to take threats
seriously. And the world saw a threat. This man was harboring
terrorists. He was on a state sponsor of terrorists list. I
didn't put him on there, he was put on there by previous
Presidents. He was firing at our pilots. He had invaded
countries. He was a threat. And the world spoke with one voice,
and said, disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. And
when the United States says something, it must mean it. And we
said, disclose or face serious consequences. And when he
wouldn't, he faced serious consequences. Removing Saddam Hussein
has made America safer and the world a better place.
George W. Bush - President Discusses War on Terror, Progress in
Iraq, March 22, 2006
And I saw a threat in Iraq. I'll tell you why I saw a threat.
And by the way, it just wasn't me. Members of the United States
Congress in both political parties saw a threat. My predecessor
saw a threat. I mean, my predecessor saw a threat and got the
Congress actually to vote a resolution that said, we're for
regime change. That's prior to my arrival. The world saw a
threat. You might remember I went to the United Nations Security
Council; on the 15-to-nothing vote, we passed Resolution 1441
that said to Saddam Hussein, disclose, disarm or face serious
consequences. We saw a threat.
I'll tell you why I saw a threat. I saw a threat because, one,
he'd been on the state -- he was a state sponsor of terror. In
other words, our government -- not when I was President, prior
to my presidency -- declared Saddam Hussein to be a state
sponsor of terror. Secondly, I know for a fact he had used
weapons of mass destruction. Now, I thought he had weapons of
mass destruction; members of Congress thought he had weapons of
mass destruction; the world thought he had weapons of mass
destruction. That's why those nations voted in the Security
Council. I'm finding out what went wrong. In other words, one of
the things you better make sure of when you're the President,
you're getting good intelligence, and, obviously, the
intelligence broke down. But he had that capacity to make
weapons of mass destruction, as well. He had not only murdered
his own people, but he had used weapons of mass destruction on
his own people.
That's what we knew prior to the decision I made. He also was
firing on our aircraft. They were enforcing a no-fly zone,
United Nations no-fly zone, the world had spoken, and he had
taken shots at British and U.S. pilots. He'd invaded his
neighborhood. This guy was a threat. And so the world spoke. And
the way I viewed it was that it was Saddam Hussein's choice to
disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. And he made the
choice, and then I was confronted with a choice. And I made my
choice. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in
The biggest threat America faces is that moment when terror and
weapons of mass destruction come together. And if we ever
suspect that's happening, we got to deal with that threat
seriously. Committing our troops into harm's way is the most
difficult decision a President can make. I'm going to meet with
some -- two families of those who lost a loved one. It's my duty
to do so. I'm looking forward to being able to hug them, weep
with them. And so for anybody out there in West Virginia who
thinks it's easy to commit troops -- it's hard. It's the last
option of the President, not the first option. The first option
is to deal with things diplomatically; is to rally the world, to
send a clear message that the behavior, in this case, of Saddam
Hussein was intolerable. And we did that.
George W. Bush, President Bush Discusses Global War on Terror,
April 6, 2006
I saw a threat in Iraq. Not only did I see a threat in Iraq, the
previous administration saw a threat in Iraq. Not only did the
previous -- which, by the way, passed a resolution in the United
States Congress that said we ought to have a regime change in
Iraq. Not only did the previous administration see a threat in
Iraq, members of both political parties in both chambers during
my time as President saw a threat in Iraq. And the reason we saw
threats is because the intelligence said that Saddam Hussein
possesses weapons of mass destruction.
But it wasn't just U.S. intelligence that said that, there was
-- the worldwide intelligence network felt like he had weapons
of mass destruction. After all, when I took the case to the
United Nations Security Council, the Security Council voted 15
to nothing to say loud and clear: disclose, disarm, or face
serious consequences. That's not what the United States said
alone. This is what France and Great Britain, China, Russia, and
members of the Security Council said, because the world felt
like Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and after
9/11 it was abundantly clear that a state sponsor of terror,
which is what he had been declared by previous administrations,
and the idea of weapons of mass destruction, and the fact that
he was at least, at the very minimum, a stated enemy of the
United States of America posed a serious threat for our country.
I felt all along the decision was his to make. He said -- the
world said, disclose, disarm. In the meantime, I want you to
remember, he was deceiving inspectors. It's a logical question
to ask: Why would somebody want to deceive inspectors? I also
told you earlier that when America speaks, we got to mean what
we said. I meant what we said when we embraced that resolution
that said disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. Words
mean something in this world if you're trying to protect the
I fully understand that the intelligence was wrong, and I'm just
as disappointed as everybody else is. But what wasn't wrong was
Saddam Hussein had invaded a country. He had used weapons of
mass destruction. He had the capability of making weapons of
mass destruction. He was firing at our pilots. He was a state
sponsor of terror. Removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing
for world peace and the security of our country.
George W. Bush, Interview with Larry King on CNN, July 6, 2006
KING: So there is no doubt, if you had it to do over again,
knowing the WMDs weren't there, you'd still go in?
G. BUSH: Yes. This is -- we removed a tyrant, who was a weapon
-- he was an enemy of the United States who harbored terrorists
and who had the capacity, at the very minimum, to make weapons
of mass destruction. And he was a true threat. And yes, I would
have done the same thing.
THE PRESIDENT: I have always said that it's important for an
American President to exhaust all diplomatic avenues before the
use of force. Committing our troops into harm's way is a
difficult decision. It's the toughest decision a President will
ever make. And I fully understand the consequences of doing so.
All diplomatic options were exhausted, as far as I was
concerned, with Saddam Hussein. Remember that the U.N. Security
Council resolution that we passed when I was the President was
one of 16, I think -- 16, 17? Give me a hand here. More than 15.
(Laughter.) Resolution after resolution after resolution saying
the same thing, and he ignored them. And we tried diplomacy. We
went to the U.N. Security Council -- 15-to-nothing vote that
said, disarm, disclose or face serious consequences.
I happen to believe that when you say something you better mean
it. And so when we signed on to that resolution that said,
disclose, disarm or face serious consequences, I meant what we
said. That's one way you keep the peace: You speak clearly and
you mean what you say.
And so the choice was Saddam Hussein's choice. He could have not
fooled the inspectors. He could have welcomed the world in. He
could have told us what was going on. But he didn't. And so we
Q Quick follow-up. 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?
THE PRESIDENT: 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, 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 everything was just fine
until we arrived, and kind of "we're going to stir up the
hornet's nest" theory. It 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
Q What did Iraq have to do with that?
THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?
Q The attack on the World Trade Center?
THE PRESIDENT: Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody
has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein
ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- 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. I have suggested, however, that resentment and
the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who
are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I
have made that case.
And one way to defeat that -- defeat resentment is with hope.
And the best way to do hope is through a form of government.
Now, I said going into Iraq that we've got to take these threats
seriously before they fully materialize. I saw a threat. I fully
believe it was the right decision to remove Saddam Hussein, and
I fully believe the world is better off without him. Now, the
question is how do we succeed in Iraq? And you don't succeed by
leaving before the mission is complete, like some in this
political process are suggesting.
George W. Bush, Addresses American Legion National Convention,
August 31, 2006
In Iraq, we saw a dictator who harbored terrorists, fired at
military planes, paid the families of Palestinian suicide
bombers, invaded a neighbor, and pursued and used weapons of
mass destruction. The United Nations passed more than a dozen
resolutions demanding that Saddam Hussein fully and openly
abandon his weapons of mass destruction. We gave him a last
chance to comply -- and when he refused, we enforced the just
demands of the world. And now Saddam Hussein is in prison and on
trial. Soon he will have the justice he denied to so many for so
long. And with this tyrant gone from power, the United
States, Iraq, the Middle East, and the world are better off.
George W. Bush, President's Address to the Nation, September 11,
On September the 11th, we learned that America must confront
threats before they reach our shores, whether those threats come
from terrorist networks or terrorist states. I'm often asked why
we're in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the
9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein
was a clear threat. My administration, the Congress, and the
United Nations saw the threat -- and after 9/11, Saddam's regime
posed a risk that the world could not afford to take. The world
is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.
George W. Bush, Press Conference, September 15, 2006
The broader point I was saying -- I was reminding people was why
we removed Saddam Hussein from power. He was dangerous. I would
hope people aren't trying to rewrite the history of Saddam
Hussein -- all of a sudden, he becomes kind of a benevolent
fellow. He's a dangerous man. And one of the reasons he was
declared a state sponsor of terror was because that's what he
was. He harbored terrorists; he paid for families of suicide
bombers. Never have I said that Saddam Hussein gave orders to
attack 9/11. What I did say was, after 9/11, when you see a
threat, you've got to take it seriously. And I saw a threat in
Saddam Hussein -- as did Congress, as did the United Nations. I
firmly believe the world is better off without Saddam in
George W. Bush, CNN Interview with Wolf Blitzer, September 20,
And we took out Saddam Hussein because he was viewed as a
threat. He was a state sponsor of terror. He had used weapons of
mass destruction. He had invaded his neighbors. The decision was
the right decision, and now the question is, will this country
and our coalition partners have the will to support this new
government, a democracy in the heart of the Middle East.
George W. Bush, Press Conference, October 25, 2006
Over the past three years I have often addressed the American
people to explain developments in Iraq. Some of these
developments were encouraging, such as the capture of Saddam
Hussein, the elections in which 12 million Iraqis defied the
terrorists and voted for a free future, and the demise of the
brutal terrorist Zarqawi. Other developments were not
encouraging, such as the bombing of the U.N. Headquarters in
Baghdad, the fact that we did not find stockpiles of weapons of
mass destruction, and the continued loss of some of America's
finest sons and daughters.
George W. Bush, Interview with CBS 60 Minutes, January 14, 2007
"You know better than I do that many Americans feel that your
administration has not been straight with the country, has not
been honest. To those people you say what?" Pelley asks.
"On what issue?" the president replies. "Like the weapons of
"No weapons of mass destruction," Pelley says.
"Yeah," Bush says.
"No credible connection between 9/11 and Iraq," Pelley says.
“Yeah,” the president replies.
“The Office of Management and Budget said this war would cost
somewhere between $50 billion and $60 billion and now we're over
400,” Pelley says.
“I gotcha. I gotcha. I gotcha,” Bush replies.
“The perception, Sir, more than any one of those points, is that
the administration has not been straight with…,” Pelley says.
“Well, I strongly disagree with that, of course,” Bush says. “So
I strongly reject that this administration hasn’t been straight
with the American people. The minute we found out they didn’t
have weapons of mass destruction, I was the first to say so.”
“You seem to be saying that you may have been wrong but you
weren't dishonest,” Pelley remarks.
“Oh, absolutely. Everybody was wrong on weapons of mass
destruction and there was an intelligence failure that we’re
trying to address. But I was as surprised as anybody he didn't
have them,” Bush tells Pelley.
President Bush interview with Politico and Yahoo News,
May 13, 2008
Q Mr. President, I'm going to surprise you -- there's a
question from a user, Bruce Becker, and he asks: Do you feel
that you were misled on Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: I feel like -- I felt like there were weapons of
mass destruction. You know, "mislead" is a strong word, it
almost connotes some kind of intentional -- I don't think so, I
think there was a -- not only our intelligence community, but
intelligence communities all across the world shared the same
assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our
Q And so you feel that you didn't have all the information you
should have or the right spin on that information?
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, I was told by people that they had
weapons of mass destruction -- as were members of Congress, who
voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein. And of
course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try
to hide from their votes. But intelligence communities all
across the world felt the same thing. This was kind of a common
So "mislead" means, do I think somebody lied to me? No, I don't.
I think it was just, you know, they analyzed the situation and
came up with the wrong conclusion.
- President Bush In a White House interview with Politico and
Yahoo News, May 13, 2008
Charlie Gibson Interviews President Bush
December 1, 2008
GIBSON: You've always said there's no do-overs as President.
If you had one?
BUSH: I don't know -- the biggest regret of all the presidency
has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of
people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of
mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't
just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress,
prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on
Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all
looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that's not a
do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I
GIBSON: If the intelligence had been right, would there have
been an Iraq war?
BUSH: Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the
inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N.
resolutions were being upheld. In other words, if he had had
weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war?
GIBSON: No, if you had known he didn't.
BUSH: Oh, I see what you're saying. You know, that's an
interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do. It's
hard for me to speculate.
President Bush Attends Saban Forum 2008, December 5, 2008
It is true, as I've said many times, that Saddam Hussein was
not connected to the 9/11 attacks. But the decision to remove
Saddam from power cannot be viewed in isolation from 9/11. In a
world where terrorists armed with box cutters had just killed
nearly 3,000 of our people, America had to decide whether we
could tolerate a sworn enemy that acted belligerently, that
supported terror, and that intelligence agencies around the
world believed had weapons of mass destruction.
It was clear to me, it was clear to members of both political
parties, and to many leaders around the world that after 9/11,
that was a risk we could not afford to take. So we went back to
the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed
Resolution 1441 calling on Saddam Hussein to disclose, disarm,
or face serious consequences. With this resolution, we offered
Saddam Hussein a final chance to comply with the demands of the
world. And when he refused to resolve the issue peacefully, we
acted with a coalition of nations to protect our people and
liberated 25 million Iraqis.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on ABC's This Week
with George Stephanopoulos, December 7, 2008
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it fair -- is that a
fair criticism of the Bush White House,
particularly in the run-up to the war on
Iraq? And could you have done a better
job in airing dissenting views on the
RICE: Oh, we talked a lot about dissenting views. The idea
that, somehow, within the Bush White House, there weren't
dissenting views during this period of time is simply not true.
But the intelligence didn't permit, frankly, much in the way of
alternatives for the weapons of mass destruction. Now, the...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Although the dissent inside the National
Intelligence Report from the State Department and others did
RICE: But, you know, if you read...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... that there were real questions about the
RICE: George, if you read those -- go back sometimes and read
that it was not a dissent on whether or not he had chemical
weapons. It was not a dissent on whether or not he had
reconstituted his biological weapons capabilities.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Certain dissents on nuclear program.
RICE: On the nuclear side, one had to look to the intelligence
community to resolve and present to the president a unified view
that was their best estimate of what was there. But we
have -- what the president has done as a result of that
intelligence failure, as well as the intelligence problems of
September 11th -- is to restructure dramatically the
intelligence agencies with the director of national intelligence
now, that really does bring those views. I've read these
reports now. They very much more clearly put forward alternative
views. They very much more clearly take the information and say,
what else could this say? The fact is that, before 2003 and the
decision to take Saddam Hussein down, there had been a worldwide
assessment and assumption that he had these weapons of mass
STEPHANOPOULOS: At least biological and chemical.
RICE: Well, and actually -- you know, this is somebody who had
STEPHANOPOULOS: Karl Rove said this week that had the
intelligence been accurate, the United States would not have
invaded Iraq. Do you agree with that?
RICE: Well, I think that there were a lot of reasons to get rid
of Saddam Hussein. Yes, weapons of mass destruction in the hands
of this man was a real danger. But he had also invaded his
neighbors twice, had tried to destroy Kuwait. He'd drawn us into
war three times. He was a murderous tyrant to his own people.
And, he sat in the center of the Middle East, this troubled
STEPHANOPOULOS: But given all that, Karl said, absent the
weapons of mass destruction, it would have been much more likely
that he would have pursued creative ways to contain it.
RICE: Well, we did pursue creative ways to contain it. One has
to remember that we tried everything from enhanced sanctions, an
effort that Colin Powell led when he first became secretary of
state. We tried to get him out by other means on the eve of the
war. But in fact, this seemed the course for somebody who
combined weapons of mass destruction, which we believed he had,
and his murderous tendencies...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you think we would have gone anyway.
RICE: George, one, you don't have that luxury. You don't. You
know, it's fine to sit and try and play mind games, and to try
to recreate -- and what might we have done here or there. But
that's not the world that we were living in, in 2003. We were
living in a post-9/11 environment, in which it was very clear
that you shouldn't let threats multiply and collect without
acting against them. We were living in an environment in which
Saddam Hussein had been required time and time and time again to
come clean about what he was doing. I remember Hans Blix saying,
you know, this is -- mustard gas is not marmalade. You ought to
be able to say what you did with it. And so, it's fine to go
back and say to yourself, would we have done this differently.
You don't have that luxury.
President Bush Visits Troops in Iraq
Al Faw Palace - Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq December 14, 2008
THE PRESIDENT: I want to take you back to what life was like
eight years ago here in Iraq. Iraq had a record of supporting
terror, a record of developing and using weapons of mass
destruction, was routinely firing at American military
personnel, systematically violating United Nations resolution.
Life for the Iraqi people was a nightmare, with Saddam Hussein
torturing and murdering anyone who did not support his
repressive rule. Iraq was a sworn enemy of the United States at
the heart of the Middle East; the region was a serious threat to
After the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, America concluded
we could not tolerate a regime like this in a pivotal region of
the world. I gave Saddam Hussein a chance to peacefully resolve
the question as to whether or not he had weapons of mass
destruction. You might remember, I went to the United Nations,
where a body said: disarm, disclose, or face serious
consequence. It was his choice to make. And he made the wrong
choice. And so the United States military, with a vast coalition
removed this man from power and the world is better off for it.
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney - ABC News interview
with Jonathan Karl
December 15, 2008
KARL: Now, President Bush recently said that his greatest
regret was that the intelligence was wrong on weapons of mass
destruction. Is that your biggest regret?
CHENEY: No, I wouldn't I understand why he says that. I
certainly share the frustration that the intelligence report on
Iraq WMD generated but in terms of the intelligence itself, I
tend to look at the entire community and what they've done over
the course of the last several years. Intelligence it's not a
science, it's an art form in many respects and you don't always
get it right.
I think while I would mention that as a major failure of the
intelligence community, it clearly was. On the other hand, we've
had other successes and failures. I think the run-up to 9/11
where we missed that attack was a failure. On the other hand
we've had great success since 9/11 in terms of what the
intelligence community has contributed overall to the defense of
the nation, to defeating al Qaeda, to making it possible for us
to do very serious damage to our enemies.
KARL: You probably saw Karl Rove last week said that if the
intelligence had been correct we probably would not have gone to
CHENEY: I disagree with that. I think as I look at the
intelligence with respect to Iraq, what they got wrong was that
there weren't any stockpiles. What we found in the after action
reports, after the intelligence report was done and then various
special groups went and looked at the intelligence and what its
validity was. What they found was that Saddam Hussein still had
the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction. He had
the technology, he had the people, he had the basic feed stocks.
They also found that he had every intention of resuming
production once the international sanctions were lifted. He had
a long reputation and record of having started two wars. Of
having brutalized and killed hundreds of thousands of people,
some of them with weapons of mass destruction in his own
country. He had violated 16 National Security Council
resolutions. He had established a relationship as a terror
sponsoring state according to the State Department. He was
making $25,000 payments to the families of suicide bombers.
This was a bad actor and the country's better off, the world's
better off with Saddam gone and I think we made the right
decision in spite of the fact that the original NIE was off in
some of its major judgments.
Vice President Dick Cheney, Appearing on CBS' Face The
Nation, with Bob Schieffer
January 4, 2009
SCHIEFFER: But how do you think we got it so wrong? I mean,
we thought he had weapons of mass destruction and he didn't. We
thought we'd be greeted with open arms and we weren't. What
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Well, I don't look at it as we got it so
wrong, Bob. I think we have in fact...
SCHIEFFER: We got a big part of it wrong.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Well, certain parts of it...
SCHIEFFER: There weren't any weapons of mass destruction.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Correct. The original intelligence was
wrong, no question about it. But there were parts of it that
were right. It wasn't 100 percent wrong. It was correct in
saying he had the technology, it was correct in saying he still
had the people who knew how to build weapons of mass
destruction. I think it was also correct in the assessment that
once sanctions came off, he'd go back to doing what he'd been
doing before. Where it was wrong was it said he had stockpiles
and he clearly didn't. So the intelligence was flawed. But you
never have perfect intelligence in this business. You got to
deal with the best you can in terms of making your decisions.
The question of how we moved forward, you can debate about
whether or not we had the right structure in place, for example.
Was--would we have been better off with setting up a government
in exile with exiled Iraqis and getting that organized and in
place before we went in, and then turning it over to them? We
made the judgment that if we were going to take down the
government, we had an obligation to try to ... restore the best
kind of system we could, and that was to give them a shot at
SCHIEFFER: Do you think that perhaps you'd looked at the
intelligence and saw what you wanted to see rather than make a
real logical analysis of what you saw?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: No, I don't, Bob. I think if you go back
and you look at what we were receiving as intelligence from the
intelligence community going back to the very we were sworn
in--I've seen a report, for example, it was one of the very
first we received, that warned about Iraqis' weapons of mass
destruction program. As a matter of fact, it was written by a
guy who's been one of the public critics of what we did. He was
responsible for the first report. We had reporting like that all
the time we were there, right up until we went into Iraq. ...
You know, it wasn't a matter just of us looking and seeing what
we wanted to see. Everybody believed that intelligence. Saddam
Hussein had peddled a notion to his senior officers ... and
officials, they all believed he had weapons of mass destruction;
the intelligence services of other countries. The Clinton
administration that had been there for eight years before we had
had exactly the same conclusion that we had, and we had numerous
reports afterwards with all the studies that were done, the
Robb-Silberman Commission ... the Senate Intelligence Committee,
that said that there was no manipulation of the data, no
pressure brought to bear on the analysts, this is what they saw.
And they got part of it wrong.
Interview with President and Mrs. George W. Bush On CNN
Larry King Live
January 13, 2009
KING: But do you ever get the feeling -- and everyone has
some doubts about some things -- that, you know, if I was wrong,
if Iraq was wrong and -- then they died in vain and I sent them?
G. BUSH: Yes, I don't think Iraq was wrong.
KING: No, but do you ever have a moment of feeling where it was
G. BUSH: No. I was -- what I was worried Iraq was going to fail,
not Iraq was wrong -- that Iraq is going to fail. And that's why
I put 30,000 troops in when a lot of people were saying get out.
And the surges worked. And a young democracy in the heart of the
Middle East has taken hold. And, obviously, there's more work to
But Al Qaeda has been denied the -- you know, the base from
which they wanted to operate.
KING: But when a boy dies, what is your feeling then?
G. BUSH: I'm sad as heck. Of course, I'm sad. I met with a lot
of families of the fallen. And I know every night when a boy or
a man or a woman has died. I know that. And I know the emptiness
their family feels. I've talked to hundreds of families of the
fallen. I also know that the families of the fallen don't want
their politicians who are, you know, running this war to be
doing -- you know, making those decisions based upon some, you
know, Gallup Poll.
KING: How do you feel?
L. BUSH: About -- you know, when I hear or meet families of
L. BUSH: ...or meet families of the fallen?
Sad, of course. Very sad.
KING: But you don't ever say, maybe -- maybe George was wrong?
L. BUSH: No, I don't. I really don't. I mean, do we really think
we wish we had just kept doing U.N. Resolutions against Saddam
Hussein and that he was still there? I mean I just don't think
people really think that. And I think the people of Iraq are out
from underneath a regime -- a tyrannical regime and have the
chance to build a country and build a democracy. And I hope that
the people of the United States will stand with them while they
G. BUSH: The other thing about this job, you don't get to do do-
overs. Maybe you do if you're one of these guys asking
questions. But the president doesn't get to do do-overs.
You make decisions based upon the information you have at the
hand -- during the time.
KING: But when there were no weapons of mass destruction...
G. BUSH: I was discouraged.
KING: Were you angry at the people who told you there were? I
mean, you didn't go inspect. You didn't...
G. BUSH: I didn't -- I was unhappy. And they're -- but rather
than sitting around being unhappy, I decided to do something
about it and to -- had a full investigation of why things went
wrong. And then we reformed our intelligence services. But
guess who else was unhappy? Every single intelligence officer
who thought there was going to be weapons of mass destruction.
And it just wasn't the United States. You know, we -- see,
what's interesting about history, people have short memories.
And I'm not suggesting you do, but nevertheless, people do.
At the time, we passed a resolution in the United Nations
Security Council 15-0 that said disclose, disarm or face serious
consequences. That was that was what France and Great Britain
and the U.N. Security Council said, including China and Russia
-- to Saddam Hussein. And the reason why they said that is
because we all thought he had weapons of mass destruction.
KING: So but some -- it had to begin somewhere with someone
telling you there are weapons of mass destruction there?
G. BUSH: Yes, the CIA told me. KING: The CIA -- are you angry at
G. BUSH: No. I'm disappointed, you know?
First of all, the CIA is vital in the war against these
terrorists. There are still people out there, Larry, that would
look to come and kill Americans. And in order to have an
effective response, you've got to have an intelligence service
that is motivated, that is funded, that uses their skills to
help you determine the desires and plans of the enemy. The most
important job I have had and the most important job the next
president will have is to protect the American people from
Interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News
November 9, 2010
No decision was more controversial than the one in 2003 to
launch a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.
HANNITY: You bring everybody inside that decision-making. You talk about
Tommy Franks. You talk about you guys have everything you need
to win. And you get a yes, sir, they're ready to go. And you got
to make that decision. You -- very interesting moment, you'll --
you write about leaving the Situation Room.
HANNITY: You knew you were putting kids in harm's way.
HANNITY: And you said you walked upstairs through the Oval
Office, slow step -- or a lap around the South Lawn. You said
you said a prayer for our troops, safety of our country.
HANNITY: The strength and -- to have strength in the days
ahead. And there was one man that understood that -- what you
were feeling. And you sat down at your desk, and you scrawled
out a letter to --
BUSH: I did. Yes, to my dad. Yes.
HANNITY: You have the letter here. You told him something --
BUSH: No, I can't read it.
HANNITY: No. I'm not going to ask you to read it. You told me
BUSH: I wouldn't make it through. It -- his letter to me. I
can read mine to him. But his letter to me was such a touching
response. And I -- I hope that the reader of the book will have
a better sense of my dad, his compassion and his -- what it's
like to be the father of the president.
HANNITY: But also that was the toughest decision you made in
BUSH: Yes. It was, yes.
HANNITY: To make that decision.
BUSH: It is.
HANNITY: And your father wrote you back. He said, "Your
handwritten note just received touched my heart. You're doing
the right thing." And he said to you, "Your decision just made
is the toughest decision you've had to make up until now, but
you made it with strength and compassion. It's right to worry
about the loss of innocent life, be it Iraqi or American. But
you have done that which you had to do. Maybe it helps a tiny
bit as you face the toughest bunch of problems any president
since Lincoln has -- has faced." And your dad said, "You carry
the burden with strength and grace." And he said, "Remember
Robin's words, 'I love you more than tongue can tell.'"
HANNITY: This is your -- devotedly, Dad.
BUSH: I barely made it through when you read the letter.
BUSH: Yes -- no. It's a powerful letter, because he's -- you
know, it's just one of those moments that it's -- it's historic,
because it's written by a former president. And it's -- it was
-- it was a powerful moment for me. And -- and just hearing it
read again is a powerful moment. It -- really expresses the love
of a father to a son.
HANNITY: Because the book is decisions.
HANNITY: You had to make a decision. You also concluded, "I
strongly believe the mission is worth the cost."
HANNITY: And you talk about the cost. You met with a lot of
the families -- the lost life.
BUSH: Yes -- no. Look, I mean, first of all -- the reader
should get a sense that I tried to solve the problem
diplomatically. Not just me, but Tony Blair and our allies --
that military -- the use of military was the last option that --
and I -- I believe -- and I said this in the book. I firmly
believe it was -- that the -- the choice was Saddam Hussein's to
make as to whether or not we used force.
I go on to describe that he made the decision to resist
inspectors and to not be forthright, because he never felt we'd
use force. And I say what more could I have done? He -- he --
HANNITY: Psychological profile of him told you that that
BUSH: Yes. Right.
HANNITY: -- that he -- that -- he --
BUSH: That's what he told the papers.
HANNITY: -- power. Yes.
BUSH: Well, no. The psychological profile was that -- right.
That he wanted to --
HANNITY: Maintain power.
BUSH: -- maintain power. And therefore --
BUSH: But it turns out he didn't think we'd use force.
BUSH: And I'm not sure what more I could have done to make it
HANNITY: You -- you -- you talk a little bit about WMD. "When
Saddam didn't use WMD on our troops I was relieved." Then you
talked about, you know, the absence of WMD stockpiles.
HANNITY: Frustrating for you?
BUSH: Unbelievably frustrating. Of course it was frustrating. It
-- everybody thought he had WMD. Everybody being every
intelligence service, everybody in the administration --
HANNITY: A lot of Democrats said it.
BUSH: Yes. A lot of members of Congress.
BUSH: You might remember, and -- I think -- I think for the sake
of history it's important to put in the book that prior to my
arrival, Congress had overwhelmingly passed a resolution that --
for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. It was embraced by
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NBC News Special, 'Decision Points', Matt Lauer interview
with former president George W. Bush
November 8, 2010
LAUER (in studio): Continuing our conversation with former
president George W. Bush, we come to the Iraq War. No set of
decisions he made was more controversial, or more
consequential. Now, he explains it all in his own words.
LAUER: In a conversation I think over lunch you had with Dick
Cheney in the-- in the period of build up to the war in Iraq, he
said to you, "Are you gonna take care of this guy or not?"
(laughter) First of all, I was surprised by the tone that Vice
President would use with you. Was it surprising to you?
BUSH: No. I mean that's-- it's—we have a very frank
relationship. And he would give me his unvarnished advice.
LAUER: Right. But his comment leads to the question was Dick
Cheney pushing you to go to war with Iraq, because--
BUSH: It didn't matter whether he was or not. I am the guy who
makes the decisions as to when we move. I was trying to give
diplomacy a chance to work. And he might have been sayin',
"Let's go." But I said no. He says he eventually decided to go
to war based on Saddam Hussein's defiance… and what seemed to be
LAUER: On the subject of-- of-- of WMD, George Tenet famously
said, "It's a slam dunk."
BUSH: Yes. The intelligence.
LAUER: The intelligence is. So by the time you gave the order
to start military operations in Iraq, did you personally have
any doubt, any shred of doubt, about that intelligence?
BUSH: No, I didn't. I really didn't.
LAUER: Not everybody thought you should go to war, though.
There were dissenters.
BUSH: Of course there were.
LAUER: Did you filter them out?
BUSH: I was-- I was a dissenting voice. I didn't wanna use