Skip to comments.Bush, Cheney Concede Saddam Had No WMDs
Posted on 10/07/2004 4:11:59 PM PDT by areafiftyone
WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq (news - web sites) war debate to a new issue whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.
Ridiculing the Bush administration's evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) shot back: "You don't make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact."
Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) brushed aside the central findings of chief U.S. weapons hunter Charles ' that Saddam not only had no weapons of mass destruction and had not made any since 1991, but that he had no capability of making any either while Bush unapologetically defended his decision to invade Iraq.
"The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions," Bush said as he prepared to fly to campaign events in Wisconsin. "He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away."
Duelfer found no formal plan by Saddam to resume WMD production, but the inspector surmised that Saddam intended to do so if U.N. sanctions were lifted. Bush seized upon that inference, using the word "intent" three times in reference to Saddam's plans to resume making weapons.
This week marks the first time that the Bush administration has listed abuses in the oil-for-fuel program as an Iraq war rationale. But the strategy holds risks because some of the countries that could be implicated include U.S. allies, such as Poland, Jordan and Egypt. In addition, the United States itself played a significant role in both the creation of the program and how it was operated and overseen.
For his part, Cheney dismissed the significance of Duelfer's central findings, telling supporters in Miami, "The headlines all say `no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Baghdad.' We already knew that."
The vice president said he found other parts of the report "more intriguing," including the finding that Saddam's main goal was the removal of international sanctions.
"As soon as the sanctions were lifted, he had every intention of going back" to his weapons program, Cheney said.
The report underscored that "delay, defer, wait, wasn't an option," Cheney said. And he told a later forum in Fort Myers, Fla., speaking of the oil-for-food program: "The sanctions regime was coming apart at the seams. Saddam perverted that whole thing and generated billions of dollars."
Yet Bush and Cheney acknowledged more definitively than before that Saddam did not have the banned weapons that both men had asserted he did and had cited as the major justification before attacking Iraq in March 2003.
Bush has recently left the question open. For example, when asked in June whether he thought such weapons had existed in Iraq, Bush said he would "wait until Charlie (Duelfer) gets back with the final report."
In July, Bush said, "We have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction," a sentence construction that kept alive the possibility the weapons might yet be discovered.
On Thursday, the president used the clearest language to date nailing the question shut:
"Iraq did not have the weapons that our intelligence believed were there," Bush said. His words placed the blame on U.S. intelligence agencies.
In recent weeks, Cheney has glossed over the primary justification for the war, most often by simply not mentioning it. But in late January 2004, Cheney told reporters in Rome: "There's still work to be done to ascertain exactly what's there."
"The jury is still out," he told National Public Radio the same week, when asked whether Iraq had possessed banned weapons.
Duelfer's report was presented Wednesday to senators and the public with less than four weeks left in a fierce presidential campaign dominated by questions about Iraq and the war on terror.
In Bayonne, N.J., Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards (news - web sites) on Thursday called "amazing" Cheney's assertions that the Duelfer report justified rather than undermined Bush's decision to go to war, and he accused the Republican of using "convoluted logic."
Kerry, in a campaign appearance in Colorado, said: "The president of the United States and the vice president of the United States may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth about Iraq."
A short time later, while campaigning in Wisconsin, Bush angrily responded to Kerry's charge he sought to "make up" a reason for war.
"He's claiming I misled America about weapons when he, himself, cited the very same intelligence about Saddam weapons programs as the reason he voted to go to war," Bush said. Citing a lengthy Kerry quote from two years ago on the menace Saddam could pose, Bush said: "Just who's the one trying to mislead the American people?"
I'll believe he didn't have WMD on 11/03/04 and Kerry is the incumbent!
Because Saddam buried, sold off, or otherwise smuggled weapons out of Iraq doesn't necessarily mean he had no WMDs. I prefer Rudy's convention speech: "Saddam (and sons) was a WALKING, TALKING WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION".
I will repeat (for about the 50th time today on FR) that David Kay reported a year ago that Saddam had the infrastructure, the scientific and technical expertise, the growth media and precursor chemicals, and the will to reconstitute his WMD program. Duelfer's report leads to the conclusion that had Saddam not been toppled by the US-led coalition last year, the UN sanctions on Saddam's Iraq would likely have been lifted by now, Saddam would still be in power, and he'd currently be aggressively pursuing WMDs. The media ignores all of this.
The AP should try selling that line to whatever remaining relatives of those in mass graves.
Did John Kerry really say you don't make up things to go to war about after the fact? Has he fully conceded that we would be better off with Sadaam in power did he not read the entire report? John Kerry is nuts...I voted for the war because I believed there were WMD's... now that there are no WMD's I have no excuse for my vote and I will not take comfort in the fact that it was the right thing to do knowing everything that is in this report....
John Kerry needs to console with the sell out Jaques Chirac... I say we need to go to war with France...
Saddam gassed the Kurds. We know he had WMD.
Man alive, talk about BIASED AS HELL. The AP doesn't even begin to come close to objective - so why should we?
Blog on, might army of the pajamajadeen...
Kerry: "But it's OK to make up a firefight report in order to get a purple heart for a self inflicted wound- Did I tell you I was in Viet Nam?"
You just have to LOVE the headline writes over at AllPoop who focus on a laser on one item while completely ignoring everything else.
Earlier today I heard some report on FOX News that said Saddam didn't have scud missiles and I thought "what the hell was that that slammed into that shopping mall in Kuwait City then?"
I will never believe he didn't have them. I do think he stashed them in Syria or somewhere in the leadup to the invasion however. This is all to get Kerry elected.
Well written. Betcha a dollar to a plugged nickel that the info you wrote above will NOT be on the alphabet TV news programs.
And, he never proved that he had gotten rid of them. (Is that grammatically correct?)
What a horror show.
From this they conclude that President Bush is saying the OFF program is the reason we attacked Iraq? What a gigantic leap that is.
He is saying that Saddam fooled the world into believing he had WMD, and then bribed many into helping to delay the gathering storm against him.
It was a Chinese Silkworm (low flying cruise type missle) I believe. Not sure if those were banned weapons or not.
Darn. We should have waited 'til the coerced and bribed UNSC abandoned sanctions, Saddam reconstituted his WMD, gave them to Al Qaeda who then kills another 3000 Americans somewhere, and then we'll attack Iraq. But first, we'd still have to pass the Global Test.
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