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Bush Allows Actual Questions (Surprise, Surprise), But Responds With Same Old Spin

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After a speech yesterday before the World Affairs Council in Philadelphia, President Bush departed from his normally scripted affairs and took questions from an audience that included potential critics of his administration’s Iraq policy, and even (gasp!) Democrats.

Too often, the president has insulated himself, speaking before partisan crowds who had to take loyalty oaths, with questioners hand-picked to lob softball questions. At one point, the White House filled a room with interns posing as reporters.

But just because someone asks a legitimate question of Bush doesn’t mean Bush has to provide a legitimate answer.

Faeze Woodville, 44, a naturalized US citizen born in Iran and now living in Stratford, PA, asked why Bush keeps linking the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to the Iraq war despite no evidence of a direct connection.

Woodville asked a great question. Bush, no doubt providing a scripted answer he’s offered many times before, answered by linking the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to the Iraq War!

It was a tour de force for anyone studying empty Bush Administration spin.

Here’s a transcript of that exchange:

Q: Mr. President, I would like to know why it is that you and others in your administration keep linking 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq when no respected journalist or Middle Eastern expert confirmed that such a link existed.

THE PRESIDENT: What did she — I missed the question. Sorry. I didn’t — I beg your pardon, I didn’t hear you. Seriously.

Q: I would like to know why you and others in your administration invoke 9/11 as justification for the invasion of Iraq —

THE PRESIDENT: Yes —


Q: — when no respected journalists or other Middle Eastern experts confirm that such a link existed.

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that. 9/11 changed my look on foreign policy. I mean, it said that oceans no longer protect us, that we can’t take threats for granted; that if we see a threat, we’ve got to deal with it. It doesn’t have to be militarily, necessarily, but we got to deal with it. We can’t — can’t just hope for the best anymore.

And so the first decision I made, as you know, was to — was to deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan because they were harboring terrorists. This is where the terrorists planned and plotted. And the second decision, — which was a very difficult decision for me, by the way, and it’s one that I — I didn’t take lightly — was that Saddam Hussein was a threat. He is a declared enemy of the United States; he had used weapons of mass destruction; the entire world thought he had weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations had declared in more than 10 — I can’t remember the exact number of resolutions — that disclose, or disarm, or face serious consequences. I mean, there was a serious international effort to say to Saddam Hussein, you’re a threat. And the 9/11 attacks extenuated that threat, as far as I — concerned.

And so we gave Saddam Hussein the chance to disclose or disarm, and he refused. And I made a tough decision. And knowing what I know today, I’d make the decision again. Removing Saddam Hussein makes this world a better place and America a safer country.

***

Woodville later told the Washington Post that she believed Bush ducked her question.

“There is no link, and he knows it as well as I. And I and others in the audience are insulted,” she said.

Woodville may have been insulted, but she shouldn’t have been surprised.

***

This item first appeared at Journalists Against Bush’s B.S.

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About David R. Mark

  • http://www.outragedmoderates.org Thad Anderson

    Yeah, “9/11 changed my look on foreign policy” has to be the administration’s weakest defense of the Iraq-Al Qaeda link yet.

    Even after the 9/11 Commission report refuted its claims of a link, the Bush administration continued to cite a link.

    Cheney again insists Saddam had ties to al-Qaida, Seattle Times, June 18, 2004:

    “the evidence [of a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida] is overwhelming.”

    A Statement From Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, DoD News, Oct. 4, 2004:

    “We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade, and of possible chemical and biological agent training.”

    The recent declassification of a DIA letter from February 2002, DITSUM No. 044-02, shows that the Defense Intelligence Agency did not consider the Bush administration’s source for the allegations of a link to be reliable.

    “This is the first report from Ibn al-Shaykh in which he claims Iraq assisted al-Qaida’s CBRN [Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear] efforts. However, he lacks specific details on the Iraqis involved, the CBRN materials associated with the assistance, and the location where training occurred. It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers (emphasis added). Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.”

    Moreover, the document shows that the DIA did not consider collaboration between Saddam and Al Qaeda very likely:

    “Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.”

    PDF of DITSUM No. 044-02; Press release from the Office of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who worked to get DITSUM No. 044-02 declassified, explaining the document.

  • david r. mark

    But no one can hold them accountable. The GOP controls the Congress, and when the media points out the obvious, conservatives make the false charge of “liberal media bias.”

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Offtopic: The media is liberal. Biased is another story, and liberally biased is yet another story.

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