Skip to comments.Bush Defends Decisions on Iraq War
Posted on 03/21/2006 8:30:32 AM PST by robowombat
Mar 21, 11:09 AM EST
Bush Defends Decisions on Iraq War
By TERENCE HUNT AP White House Correspondent
AP Photo/RON EDMONDS
Other U.S. Video
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Tuesday the decision about when to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq will fall to future presidents and Iraqi leaders, suggesting that U.S. involvement will continue at least through 2008.
Acknowledging the public's growing unease with the war - and election-year skittishness among fellow Republicans - the president nonetheless vowed to keep U.S. soliders in the fight.
"If I didn't believe we could suceeed, I wouldn't be there. I wouldn't put those kids there," Bush declared.
He also stood by embattled Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.
"I don't believe he should resign. He's done a fine job. Every war plan looks good on paper until you meet the enemy," he said.
In his second-full blown news conference of the year, Bush confronted his political problems by addressing them directly.
"Nobody likes war. It creates a sense of uncertainty in the country," he said. "War creates trauma."
The public's support for the war and the president himself has declined dramatically in recent months, jeopardizing his second-term agenda. "I'd say I'm spending that capital on the war," Bush said when asked about the political capital he carried out of the 2004 re-electon campaign.
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When asked about his failed Social Security plan, Bush simply said: "I didn't get done." But he defiantly defended his warrantless eavesdropping program, and baited Democrats who suggest that he broke the law.
Calling a censure resolution "needless partisanship," Bush challenged Democrats to go into the November midterm elections in oppostion to eavesdropping on suspected terrorists. "They ought to stand up and say, `The tools we're using to protect the American peopel should not be used,'" Bush said.
The news conference marked a new push by Bush to confront doubts about his strategy in Iraq. A day earlier, he acknowledged to a sometimes skeptical audience that there was dwindling support for his Iraq policy and that he understood why people were disheartened.
"The terrorists haven't given up. They're tough-minded. They like to kill," he said Tuesday. "There will be more tough fighting ahead."
The president said he did not agree with former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who told the British Broadcasting Corporation Sunday, "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."
Bush said others inside and outside Iraq think the nation has stopped short of civil war. "There are other voices coming out of Iraq, by the way, other than Mr. Allawi, who I know by the way - like. A good fellow."
"We all recogized that there is violence, that there is sectarian violance. But the way I look at the situation is the Iraqis looked and decided not to go into civil war."
Nearly four out of five Americans, including 70 percent of Republicans, believe civil war will break out in Iraq, according to a recent AP-Ipsos poll.
Bush said he's confident of victory in Iraq. "I'm optimistic we'll suceed. If not, I'd pull our troops out," he said.
Bush said he agreed to U.S. talks with Iran to underscore his point that Tehran's attempts to spread sectarian violence or provide support to Iraqi insurgents was unacceptable to the United States.
His opening remarks were designed to steel Americans for more fighting in Iraq and put an optimistic spin on the state of the U.S. economy.
"Productivity is strong. Inflation is contained. Household net worth is at an all-time high," Bush said, crediting his administration's policies.
On Iraq, Bush bristled at a suggested that he wanted to wage war against that country since early in his presidency.
"I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong ... with all due respect," he told a reporter. "No president wants war." To those who say otherwise, "it's simply not true," Bush said.
More than 2,300 Americans have died in three years of war in Iraq. Polls show the public's support of the war and Bush himself have dramatically declined in recent months.
Bush acknowleded that Republicans are worried about their political standing in November. "There's a certain unease as you head into an election year," he said.
Asked about former supporters who now oppose him and the war, Bush said he's trying to win them over by "talking realistically to people" about the war and its importance to the nation.
"I can understand how Americans are worried about whether or not we can win," Bush said, adding that most Americans want victory "but they're concerned about whether or not we can win."
Helen, after that brilliant performance at the Gridiron, I am ...
QUESTION: You're going to be sorry.
BUSH: Well, then, let me take it back.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President - your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime.
Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, your Cabinet officers, former Cabinet officers, intelligence people and so forth - but what's your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil, the quest for oil. It hasn't been Israel or anything else. What was it?
BUSH: I think your premise, in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist - that I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect.
QUESTION: And ...
BUSH: Hold on for a second, please. Excuse me. Excuse me.
No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true.
My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. When we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people.
Our foreign policy changed on that day. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life.
And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people, that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.
Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy, and that's why I went into Iraq.
BUSH: Hold on for a second. Excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaida.
BUSH: Helen, excuse me.
That's where - Afghanistan provided safe haven for al-Qaida. That's where they trained, that's where they plotted, that's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.
I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council. That's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed.
And the world said, Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences. And therefore, we worked with the world. We worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world.
And when he chose to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Secretary Rumsfeld ...
BUSH: You're welcome.
I didn't really regret it. I kind of semi-regretted it.
BUSH: That's right.
Anyway, your performance at the Gridiron was just brilliant, unlike Holland's (ph) which was a little weak.
Can't even start her question without a lie and an accusation
I would say that Helen Thomas is a disgrace to her profession, but since journalism has reached such a low ebb, she's probably considered a model by most of them.
President Bush said Tuesday the decision about when to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq will fall to future presidents and Iraqi leaders, suggesting that U.S. involvement will continue at least through 2008.
A misrepresentation of what the President said right off the bat. The question was, did the president believe he would be able to withdraw troops during the remainder of his term and he said to make a commitment to doing so would be putting a timetable on withdrawing.
If anyone caught this on tv can you verify the report that she had to read this question off an idiot card?
The fact is that Helen Thomas is a lonely and unattractive person, and that "reporting" is her whole life. That is a recipe for a lot of anger. She has been a PITA to every president she has ever covered. Quite frankly, Helen is someone to be pitied, not excoriated.
Yeah, I know, she does ask dumb and stupid questions. But the press thinks that if it rankles presidents, it's doing it's job. I know - I used to hang out in that White House Briefing Room a lot. It's not a pretty place nor atmosphere. Thank God I don't do that anymore.
Frankly, I think my former colleagues are astonished that President Bush is continuing to do what he thinks is the right thing in Iraq, even though support for the war in America seems to be slipping. I enjoy the dismay of the press corps. It richly deserves that unsettled feeling.
I think that was the same "old bat" as the one Bush was so loving, but firm, with today. Helen Thomas. She's just older more batty now.
Sarah McClendon. Who was an old pal of Helen Thomas. I used to tease Sarah. She didn't like it...neither did Helen.
The biggest horse's ass in the WH press corps in those days? Easy answer: Sam Donaldson.
Yep. Sarah was a pip! She ran her own news service. She was the whole staff!
Here is an adulatory obituary which does catch some of the rancid oder of senile Sarah's 'political insights':
Sarah McClendon: 1910-2003; Reporter had a need to know - Clinton in cross hairs
The Dallas Morning News ^ | January 9, 2003 | The Dallas Morning News Staff
Posted on 01/09/2003 1:59:45 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
Sarah McClendon: 1910-2003
Reporter had a need to know
Tenacious Texan grilled and amused presidents, cut path for newswomen
By CARL P. LEUBSDORF / The Dallas Morning News
WASHINGTON - Sarah McClendon, the colorful and aggressive Texas reporter whose pointed questioning bedeviled and amused presidents and other officials for nearly six decades, died Wednesday at age 92.
She died at the VA Medical Center here where she had been hospitalized for several weeks, a hospital spokeswoman said. Her daughter, Sally MacDonald, said the cause of death was pneumonia.
"She died with her nail polish on," Ms. MacDonald said. "She had a wonderful life."
She said that a memorial service would be held for Ms. McClendon at the National Press Club but that no date has been set.
Though she did her primary reporting for small and medium-size Texas newspapers, Ms. McClendon became nationally known for her aggressive questioning of presidents at televised White House news conferences.
Brash, outspoken and uninhibited, she was a Washington original, a reporter and a single mother at a time when most of her colleagues were men. Her career continued into her late 80s. McClendon and the presidents
What she said to the presidents
Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Leave off some of your golf and go out and visit some of the small cities."
Richard Nixon: "Maybe the people you appointed to office aren't giving you the right information."
George Bush (the elder): "Sir, we have majority rule in this country, and you seem to be afraid of it."
What the presidents said to her
Eisenhower: "Do you get fired every week and go to work for a different paper?" (a reference to the fact that she rotated references to the papers she worked for)
Bush: "I'm not going to take questions from you if you act like that. I just want to remind you it's not always the squeaky wheel that gets the grease."
Lyndon B. Johnson: "I can run the country or take questions from Sarah McClendon, but not both."
Even when forced by declining health to use a wheelchair, she continued to attend White House briefings and news conferences and to demand answers to the kind of offbeat questions that were her trademark.
Clinton in cross hairs
At a March 1997 White House news conference, she asked President Bill Clinton to counteract rumors that the United Nations was "taking over whole blocs of counties in Kentucky and Tennessee ... and you're going to give our Army to Russia." Mr. Clinton sidestepped the question.
"Time never diminished Sarah's feisty spirit or her quest for the facts," the former president said Wednesday in a prepared statement. "She didn't just ask questions. She demanded answers."
Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas called her colleague of more than four decades "a real pioneer. She worked for women's rights. She certainly strived to get newswomen equal access to the leaders in this town."
"No one can say she hasn't gotten the attention of the powers that be in the White House," Ms. Thomas noted during a 1995 roast of Ms. McClendon.
Ms. McClendon once angered Lyndon Johnson so much that, when he became president, he had her fired as Washington correspondent for some of her papers. But she still considered him a friend.
"Though Texans, in our ornery way, sometimes play by cut-throat rules, we do stick together," she wrote in her 1996 autobiography, Mr. President, Mr. President!
Perhaps her most famous question came in 1959 when she asked President Dwight D. Eisenhower what policy decisions Vice President Richard Nixon had participated in.
"I can't think of any," he replied. When another questioner returned to the subject, Eisenhower gave his much-quoted response, "Give me a week and I'll think of something."
Her favorite president, she wrote, was John F. Kennedy. Despite "a mixed record, [he had] a profound effect on Americans of many ages ... many in my generation adored him. I was among them."
A native of Tyler, Ms. McClendon was the youngest of nine children. Her father was the local Democratic Party chairman and later the local postmaster, while her mother founded literary clubs and attended suffragette meetings.
FILE 1969 / AP
Sarah McClendon said she tried to "cut through all those bureaucratic words and phrases" at White House news conferences.
A graduate of Tyler Junior College and the University of Missouri, Ms. McClendon worked for the Tyler Courier-Times, the Tyler Morning Telegraph and the Beaumont Enterprise before joining the Army in World War II.
She became a Washington correspondent in 1944 after being discharged from the Women's Army Corps because she was pregnant.
Her husband, John Thomas O'Brien, was a paper salesman and an alcoholic who, she wrote, "had little to recommend him but my own loneliness." He abandoned her before the birth of her only child, Ms. MacDonald, and she never remarried.
Hired by longtime Washington correspondent Bascom Timmons to represent the Philadelphia Daily News, she established her own bureau in 1946. At one time, it represented a dozen papers from El Paso to Longview and as far away as New England.
Shot at the big time
At first, she primarily reported from Capitol Hill. But when Eisenhower was elected in 1952 and began holding live news conferences, "I felt it was high time to push my career to a new level of prominence," she acknowledged in her autobiography.
Upset at limits placed on questioning, she shouted at the president from the balcony of the Old Executive Office building's Indian Treaty Room, demanding to know if such restrictions would remain in effect.
"Let's don't take this one as a necessary pattern," the startled president replied. "I am certainly open to suggestions."
From then on, Ms. McClendon wrote, she always arrived early, got a seat in front and tried to ask a question at every news conference, "fighting for my readers, fighting for information, trying to cut through all those bureaucratic words and phrases."
During the Nixon administration, she once forced a shake-up of the Veterans Administration with persistent questioning about delays in checks for veterans attending college under the GI Bill of Rights.
In 1982, she scolded President Ronald Reagan for allegedly suppressing details of a government report on discrimination against women. She once said Mr. Reagan "didn't know much about government."
But when she had a hip replacement operation, Mr. Reagan called her in the hospital and, at his next news conference, gave her the first question. Her question: "Why don't we have better health care for the elderly?"
In recent years, items from her newsletter gained a following on the Internet, especially those alleging governmental conspiracies and cover-ups.
"I'm quite positive [former White House associate counsel Vince] Foster was murdered," she announced during a 1995 appearance on Diane Rehm's syndicated radio interview show.
In a 1997 newsletter, she reported that "a rift" had developed between Mr. Clinton and his wife and Vice President Al Gore and that the Clintons had talked with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., about his being named vice president.
Ms. McClendon received a number of honors for her journalistic trailblazing and her efforts on behalf of American veterans.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development named a shelter for homeless veterans in Washington the Sarah McClendon House.
Ms. McClendon planned to leave her papers to the University of Texas at Tyler.
A clssic from Ms. Mclendon. And this was the person treated as some sort of wise woman by the media whores (as they snickeered up thier sleeves)
By SARAH MCCLENDON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT
March 30th, 1998
Washington, D.C. -- Unidentified Flying Objects, a term given for many years to unexplained sightings of craft in the skies over every state in the Union, are actual visitors from other worlds, believe a community of scientists and technicians employed by government.
The real danger to the U.S. and perhaps this whole planet is the government has placed such a heavy blanket of secrecy upon this issue. So much secrecy, those in government who have knowledge showing UFOs are identifiable feel the subject cannot be discussed by those in the know without serious repercussions. Others are afraid their friends and co-workers will think they are crazy if they even so much as insinuate that UFOs are identifiable as manned craft from outside the earth. This particularly applies to newspaper editors and publishers, reporters and analysts. Thus the U.S. is denying itself the chance to learn more about UFOs or to encourage research despite the fact the U. S. stands to gain from such discussions.
Not publicized but true is that the Clinton administration, soon after coming to office, had many briefings on the subject. Laurance Rockefeller provided the information for the President and Mrs. Clinton. Others provided documents and verbal briefings to presidential advisors Jack Gibbons (science), Bruce Lindsay (personal), Anthony Lake (national security) and Vice President Albert Gore. About the same time a three hour briefing was given by Dr. Steven Greer to the sitting Director of the CIA, Admiral Woolsey.
Subsequently, Clinton instructed Webster Hubbell, when naming him to the position of Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department, that he wanted him to investigate and report back to him on two things, circumstances surrounding the death of President John F. Kennedy, and the existence of UFOs. Hubbell, despite his position and the presidential imprimatur, was boxed in at Justice Department and never was able to find out. All of this was disclosed in Hubbell's memoir Friends in High Places.
Now the lid on UFOs is gradually coming off. There is a national drive underway to get one million signatures on a petition calling for an open Congressional hearing for government employee witnesses. Dr. Steven Greer, Director of the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI), devotes most of his time seeking disclosure of government evidence proving the existence of craft manned by non-humans. Another who feels that positive proof exists within government, is Lt. Col. Philip J. Corso (retired), who reveals in a recent book, The Day After Roswell, that he was in charge of the Roswell files during his tenure as head of the Army's Foreign Technology Division. He states unequivocally that these files confirm the crash which occurred at Roswell, New Mexico was an alien space craft. This completely refutes the Air Force denials and subsequent explanations. Corso says that the crashed vehicle was studied and proved to be manufactured of materials unknown as to source and usage in this country. In time, he says, this and other UFOs provided technologies which were "worked into the commercial world via front companies." Incidentally he vouches for the fact that this has proven to be a valuable contribution to U.S. aircraft design and other commercial products.
After the Roswell incident, the Air Force replied to reporters' inquiries that this was all part of research using weather balloons and other equipment. Corso and hundreds of others who work or have worked in secret defense and scientific agencies, are willing to swear under oath that alien craft are repeatedly penetrating our airspace.
Whenever the military agencies are asked to look into this matter further, the answer is always the same - "We do not investigate UFOs." Contact: McClendon News Service 202-483-3791 202-328-1818 fax
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