Bush, Blair defend intelligence, war
- Bush, Blair defend intelligence, war
Iraq was trying to rebuild nuclear weapons program
By Corbett B. Daly, CBS Marketwatch
Last Update: 7:30 PM ET July 17, 2003
WASHINGTON (CBS.MW) -- President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair defended questionable intelligence about Iraq's alleged possession of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and said the war to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq was justified.
"We based our decisions on good, sound intelligence ... our people are going to find out the truth. And the truth will say that this intelligence was good intelligence. There's no doubt in my mind," Bush told reporters at the White House with Blair at his side.
Blair defended the British dossier cited in Bush's January State of the Union address to Congress in which Bush said Iraq was trying to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program.
"The British intelligence that we have we believe is genuine. We stand by that intelligence," Blair said in the question and answer session with reporters after the prime minister told Congress not give up on Europe.
In his January 28 speech, Bush told Congress "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Read the State of the Union.
The White House has since said that claim should not have risen to the "presidential level" because the authenticity of the documents it was based on could not be confirmed. It was apparently based in part on falsified documents.
Bush and his national security advisor Condoleezza Rice have publicly blamed CIA director George Tenet for allowing the line to be included in the State of the Union and the intelligence chief last week accepted responsibility for the blunder.
Asked if he took responsibility for the speech, Bush said he was responsible for the decision to go to war.
"I take responsibility for putting our troops into action. And I made that decision because Saddam Hussein was a threat to our security and a threat to the security of other nations. I take responsibility for making the decision, the tough decision to put together a coalition to remove Saddam Hussein, because the intelligence -- not only our intelligence, but the intelligence of this great country -- made a clear and compelling case that Saddam Hussein was a threat to security and peace," Bush said.
Bush said Saddam Hussein was such a threat to the United States that he we would have been abandoning his duties as president if he had not ousted the Iraqi dictator.
"The regime of Saddam Hussein was a grave and growing threat. Given Saddam's history of violence and aggression, it would have been reckless to place our trust in his sanity or his restraint," Bush said.
"I say that because he possessed chemical weapons and biological weapons. I strongly believe he was trying to reconstitute his nuclear weapons program," the president added.
Corbett B. Daly covers the White House and the Treasury Department for CBS MarketWatch in Washington.
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