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?"
Scott is still working for the AP? Wow! After that story, I thought his career would be over. I guess he's on the Dan RaTHer track.
If Saddam truly did not have WMD, he could have proven it by giving the UN inspectors complete access and complying with the UN resolutions. Perhaps Saddam didn't want to reveal his lack of WMD's for being perceived as weak to his neighbors. Perhaps he also thought the US would never invade Iraq and depose him.
At any rate, given the climate after 9/11, and the intelligence provided to Bush, it would have been irresponsible for the President not to act against Saddam. If the US had been hit with a nuclear 9/11, and it later came out Bush had this intelligence and did not act, I think it would have been an impeachable offense.
Without a doubt Kerry will be pounding on this in tomorrow's debate. I hope Bush does a better job of responding to these charges, or he will continue to slip in the polls.
The worst part of all is that if this lowlife Kerry actually pulls out a win because of this, we're going to go back a policy that guarantees our drift towards another tragedy, and probably one even worse than 9/11.
Everybody should read the Duelfer Summary. What Saddam was up to is quite damning.
Key Findings (Duelfer Report): Sanctions Had Collapsed by end of 1999
Key Findings (Duelfer Report): Iraqi Intelligence Had WMD, Tested on Humans
ISG uncovered information that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) maintained throughout 1991 to 2003 a set of undeclared covert laboratories to research and test various chemicals and poisons, primarily for intelligence operations.
The existence, function, and purpose of the laboratories were never declared to the UN.
The IIS program included the use of human subjects for testing purposes.
Indy, you are right on, but I fear that Bush will begin a slow oozing down in the polls no matter what he says tomorrow night. He has given the Johns exactly what they wanted: a blanket statement that no WMDs existed.
I think that we will be able to trace this year's race to two events: the first W/Lurch debate (and how Rove screwed it up) and the admission that there were no WMDs (which has Rove's fingerprints all over it).
If I am wrong, and W wins by more than a whisker, than I owe Karl Rove a well-deserved apology.
Lemme get this straight. The Bush Administration is going to say we went to war to save a UN program that was being abused?? Talk about grasping at straws! Sheesh for Bush's re-eleciton hopes that better NOT be the talking point.
He had some old artillery shells filled with mustard gas and nerve gas. They were depleted and/or destroyed by 1991.
The Kurds were killed by drift from a nearby Iran-Iraq battle. Based on the autopsies, the gas appears to have been from the Iranian side.
NBC weapons are expensive, ultimately not very effective in light of their equal risk of harm to the deploying army, and require arcane technical skills to manufacture, store, and transport. The comically inept Iraqi military did not have those resources.
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