Bush: Iraq Invasion Worth It Despite Lack of WMD

ABC News
Bush: Iraq Invasion Worth It Despite Lack of WMD
Fri Jan 21, 2005 16:30


Bush: Iraq Invasion Worth It Despite Lack of WMD

ABC News | January 12, 2005

Jan. 12, 2005 — The invasion of Iraq, which ousted Saddam Hussein and has cost the lives of some 1,300 U.S. military personnel and billions of dollars, was "absolutely" worth it, despite the absence of any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, President Bush told ABC News' Barbara Walters in an exclusive interview that will air this Friday.

The White House acknowledged today that there is no longer an active search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The final report from chief U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, due out next month, has concluded that "the former regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD."

The Bush administration does not hold out hopes that any weapons will ever be found.

Duelfer's predecessor, David Kay, reached the same conclusion a year ago. "It's taken them another year, and in fact we were right a year ago. There were no weapons there," Kay said in response to Duelfer's announcement.

Bush told Walters, "I felt like we'd find weapons of mass destruction — like many here in the United States, many around the world. The United Nations thought he had weapons of mass destruction. So, therefore: one, we need to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering. … Saddam was dangerous and the world is safer without him in power."

When asked if the war was worth it even if there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush responded, "Oh, absolutely."

Saddam insisted he had no weapons of mass destruction, and U.N. inspectors failed to uncover them. But the Bush administration was adamant that Saddam was deceiving the international community. The administration justified its decision to wage war on Iraq largely on its contention that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Kay estimates that more than $1 billion and countless man hours were spent looking for weapons.

Today House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, "Now that the search is finished, President Bush needs to explain to the American people why he was so wrong."

The 1,700-member Iraq Survey Group, a U.S. team responsible for the weapons search, is now tasked with what commanders had long wanted them to do — gather intelligence about the real threat now in Iraq: the insurgents.

Vice President Cheney on inauguration day
MSNBC - 18 hours ago
DON IMUS, HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the “Imus in the Morning” program the vice president of United States, Dick Cheney, and Mrs. Cheney ...


• Vice president Cheney
Jan. 20: Vice President Cheney talks to Don Imus about Iraq, his job as vice president, and whether or not he ever wanted to be president

Vice President Cheney on inauguration day
Don Imus interviews the candidate he once poked fun at— and gets porkchops as a parting gift from the VP
Updated: 5:15 p.m. ET Jan. 20, 2005

DON IMUS, HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the “Imus in the Morning” program the vice president of United States, Dick Cheney, and Mrs. Cheney.

Good morning. How are you guys?


So when they asked us to come down, we thought—we didn’t want to come because we don’t get invited to any parties or anything.

And so we thought, “Well, let’s create a situation where we’ll make a guest request that we can’t possibly get, and then we won’t have to go.” And so we requested you and you, and so here we are.


RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It’s, kind of, an awkward moment, isn’t it, Don?


IMUS: Well, no, I’ve embarrassed myself before, which you may have heard about.


R. CHENEY: Right. Well, we thought long and hard about it. I mean, we didn’t jump at the chance.


But, no, I figured if I was ever going to do the show that there would never be a better morning than this to come spend a little time with a man who lost $20,000 voting on our opponent on the day we get sworn in.


IMUS: I was telling Senator McCain that the opponent no longer speaks to me for some reason. But I guess I wasn’t as enthusiastic enough supporter.

R. CHENEY: Maybe not.

IMUS: Well, I voted for him because I liked him, not because I didn’t like President Bush, which is a huge difference, I think, for a lot of people.

Well, we know what the president is doing today, but what do you do—do you get sworn in or do we just take your word for it or what?


R. CHENEY: No, it’s a very elaborate ceremony and procedure that we’ve done for some 200 years.

I actually get sworn in first by the speaker of the House, Denny Hastert, which is a new wrinkle. It’s been done before. Sam Rayburn sworn in Lyndon Johnson many years ago. But Denny Hastert’s a close friend. I’m a man of the House. That’s where I started my career. And so he’ll swear me in.

Then the chief justice will swear in the president and the president will give his acceptance speech.


R. CHENEY: And then we do all the things the president does. We go to church this morning after we get through here. We’ll have a coffee over at the White House, lunch in the Capitol Rotunda and do the parade and so forth.

IMUS: What do you do most days? I mean, do you have a schedule—I mean, it sounds like a goofy question, but do you have a schedule or...

R. CHENEY: Sure. No, it’s a good question. There are a lot of vice presidents over the years that haven’t done much.


The process we follow—I start out at home in the morning about 7 a.m. with a CIA briefer. They come and brief me every morning six days a week. And I go through what’s called the president’s daily brief.

Then I go into the Oval Office and have a session with him at 8 o’clock where we go over the same brief. I go over it twice, partly because I don’t like to interfere with his time with my questions. So I ask separate questions of my briefer.

Then we have the director of the FBI in, as well, and look at the domestic threats. And, again, we do that five or six days a week.

And then after that, it’s whatever hot. We’ll have a National Security Council meeting. We’ve got a lot of policy meetings that we do. I spend a fair amount of time on the Hill.

I’m actually, most people don’t realize, a creature of the Senate. I’m actually paid by the United States Senate. Vice presidents didn’t even have an office in the executive branch until the Eisenhower administration. They really are a legislative animal, if you will. And that’s changed over the years. But I do spend a lot of time up on the Hill.

And work the national security policy. Those are issues the president asked me to get involved in when I first came on board because of my background at defense and so forth.

But I also spend a fair amount of time on domestic issues, and try to wrap up the day by 6 or 7 o’clock at night and then start fresh the next day.

IMUS: Do you watch the news at night?

R. CHENEY: I oftentimes watch another network.


But, no, I’m a fan of the Brit Hume show. I think Brit does a good job. And occasionally hit some of the other news shows. We’re junkies. We watch the cable shows and so forth.

IMUS: We actually like Brit Hume. I mean, he was great when he was on ABC.

R. CHENEY: Yes, he’s good.

IMUS: We still have him on occasionally.

IMUS: Mrs. Cheney, I was talking with Evan Thomas yesterday, and he described your husband as “gloomy,” implying that he walks around the house muttering to himself and sitting in these darkened rooms contemplating the end of the world. What is he like around the house?

LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, I’m just thinking that, you know, coming from Evan Thomas, this is a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black.


I mean, Evan’s not exactly your most cheerful observer of the world.

IMUS: Well, I don’t know if he meant it—I didn’t get the feeling he meant it in a disparaging sense. I just meant that he meant that the vice president was... but, I mean, he’s not going around with a lamp shade on his head, is he?

L. CHENEY: No. You know, in fact, Dick tries to get home at a reasonable time. We often exercise while we’re watching Brit Hume and sometimes one of the other networks. And have our grandchildren over on the weekends frequently.

He’s a terrible, doting grandfather, you know. If the children want something to eat after 8 o’clock at night, they know they can always go around me and get to grandpa and he’ll peel them an apple or pop popcorn.

So, no, you know. But we’ve lived through some pretty serious times. I don’t think anybody would have guessed four years ago what these last four years have been like.

But serious times call for serious assessments, and maybe that’s what Evan meant.

IMUS: Mr. Vice President, when you were defense secretary for President Bush 41, I guess the perception—well, the perception was that you were a fairly—what’s the right word?—reasonable guy.

For example, you were against invading Iraq, thinking that taking down Saddam Hussein—suggesting that we get bogged down there and we’d be there forever.

And then the perception, whether it’s accurate or not, is that now, in some people’s minds, you’re Slim Pickings on that missile in “Dr. Strangelove.”


And if even a part of that is accurate...


... is that a transformation that took place or—I mean, exactly where are you?

R. CHENEY: Well, the situation back in 1990-1991, of course, was we’d liberated Kuwait, we’d devastated the Iraqi armed forces. We had a specific mandate from the Congress, from the United Nations and that we’d signed up to with our allies that we’d go liberate Kuwait. But it said nothing about taking Iraq.

Plus we then put in place at the end of that war some very tough conditions that Saddam Hussein signed up and agreed to meet. We didn’t know at the time that, over the next 12 years, he’d violate every single one of them.

Of course, the other thing that happened that was, I think, important in changing my view was 9/11, in that we were suddenly faced with the prospects that a handful of people, relatively unsophisticated approach, could come into the United States and do devastating work. Because they killed 3,000 of our people that morning; more than we lost at Pearl Harbor.

And you had to add to that the evidence we found increasingly that the Al Qaeda types wanted to get their hands on deadlier weapons, chemical or biological agents or even nuclear weapons, to use against us. And that kind of an attack against the United States could destroy a city and hundreds of thousands of people.

So the situation changed fairly dramatically. And as I say, that coupled with the fact that Saddam Hussein had spent 12 years violating all of the conditions that he signed up to when we agreed to end the conflict back in 1991 changed my thinking about how long we could tolerate a man who’d started two wars, who’d produced and used weapons of mass destruction in the past, and who gave every evidence that once those sanctions were lifted he’d be right back in business again.

IMUS: Mrs. Cheney, when the vice president was on “Meet the Press” telling Tim Russert about the reconstituted nuclear program in Iraq and suggesting that we’d be greeted as liberators there, did you think, “Oh, God, he’s got into the Kool-Aid again,” or...



This White House Scandal Finally Tips the Scale!

Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 U.S.C. 421 et seq.)
(governing disclosures that could expose confidential Government agents)


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