This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.
And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war.
When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq, and that is their right, and I respect it. As president and commander in chief, I (accept ?) the responsibilities and the criticisms and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision. While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.
Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.
Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hand is a threat and a grave threat to our security."
That's why more then a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.
The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send to them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that when -- whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less then victory.
Friday, November 11, 2005
The President on Iraq: