Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

President admits faulty intelligence

Public opinion up, but many remain skeptical about war in Iraq

December 15, 2005


— On the eve of the first parliamentary elections in Iraq, President Bush on Wednesday accepted full responsibility for invading the country on faulty intelligence.

But, in the last of four speeches designed to underscore the stakes in Iraq nearly three years after the invasion, Bush looked back only long enough to reiterate his long-standing assertion that toppling Saddam Hussein was the "right decision."

The special commission that Bush appointed to investigate the prewar intelligence lapses concluded last March that the administration had been "dead wrong" about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - the president's primary justification for the invasion. And the president has embraced its recommendations, vowing to fix the problems.

Still, his acceptance of responsibility Wednesday was a signal point in his new campaign to answer a growing chorus of war critics and offer a skeptical public what he calls a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

"The assertion of administration infallibility just wasn't cutting it," said Thomas Donnelly, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "This puts a different framework and a different perspective on how he wants people to think about the war, which was long overdue."

Bush launched his new campaign in a stinging Veterans Day rebuke to his critics a month ago, carried it through a weeklong tour of Asia, then delivered four keynote speeches, ending on the eve of Wednesday's Iraqi elections.

President Bush makes his entrance Wednesday before speaking in defense of his war policy at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. The president is banking on a successful election in Iraq - which would establish Iraq's first permanent, democratically elected government - to signal that his war plan is working.

President Bush makes his entrance Wednesday before speaking in defense of his war policy at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. The president is banking on a successful election in Iraq - which would establish Iraq's first permanent, democratically elected government - to signal that his war plan is working.

Other members of his administration - including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - have struck back as well since Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine and congressional authority on defense, called for a quick U.S. withdrawal last month.

Public opinion up

And Bush, who was at his low point in the public opinion polls a month ago, has risen about 5 percentage points to the low 40s. Still, the polls show a majority of Americans have serious questions about the war and Bush's ability to deliver on his own victory plan.

With that backdrop, Donnelly said it's clear that "if the president walks away from making the effort that a leader in wartime has to make, he'll find himself behind the eight-ball again."

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, kept up the Democratic criticism, charging just before the president's speech that Bush hadn't yet "leveled with the American people."

"In order to support the mission," Reid said, "the American people need to know the remaining political, economic and military benchmarks, maybe a reachable schedule for achieving them."

Bush, however, has dismissed all talk of timetables, saying that U.S. forces will be withdrawn only when enough Iraqi troops and police are properly trained to protect their country.

Vietnam cited

The Iraq insurgency is "trying to break our will in the hopes of getting America to leave the battlefield early," Bush said, adding an unusual note for him: "And they cite Vietnam as a reason they can prevail." But the president declared, repeating his earlier assertions: "We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory."

Bush delivered his speech before several hundred scholars and diplomats assembled by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a nonpartisan Washington research institution. And the White House said Wednesday that the president intends to keep talking about Iraq and the rebounding U.S. economy, the administration's top two priorities.

James Lindsay, vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that Bush's words alone will not turn the tide of public opinion that is rising against the war.

"No number of presidential speeches, no matter how eloquently given, are going to change public opinion if the facts on the ground don't look good," Lindsay said.

"What the public is going to want to see is that the Iraqi army is beginning to stand up, that the Iraqi political system looks like it's working, that attacks on American troops are going down."

'Watershed moment'

In his half-hour address, the shortest of his four Iraq speeches in the past two weeks, Bush pointed to Wednesday's parliamentary elections as a "watershed moment in the story of freedom," the next stop to what he noted would be the only "constitutional democracy in the Arab world."

Nonetheless, he forecast many challenges ahead, as well as "continued sacrifice."

"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong," Bush said, defending his decision for war. "As president, I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. And I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities, and we're doing just that."

The former, bipartisan 9-11 commission, however, has chastised the administration for moving too slowly to address the intelligence problems the president has pledged to fix.

"We're safer," its chairman Tom Kean told reporters last week, but "not as safe as we need to be."

Still, noting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and Saddam's history, Bush said he had no regrets in invading Iraq.

"Saddam was a threat," the president said, "and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power."


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

Bush has now admitted he was wrong, Kevin. Can you?

zbarf 12 years ago


Correction...Bush Admitted that the intelligence was wrong. He said he would still have removed Saddam regardless, even knowing what he knows now.

My question to you...Can you admit that you were wrong after the election turn out in Iraq today? Seem like a victory to me and fly's in the face of the Kerry/Dean defeatists comments that we are loosing the war!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

So Bush basically admitted that he was going to war no matter what, and the reasons stated before the war don't matter. That makes it all better.

The elections will have no effect on anything. The insurgency will continue, the country will continue to spiral towards all-out civil war, and the US military will be still be stuck in a quagmire, pulling further and further into well-protected bases and resorting to even more relatively indisriminate aerial bombings in a futile effort to win the unwinnable.

Now that's leadership.

zbarf 12 years ago

Are you saying that you would like to see that happen or that is what you think is going to happen?

Sometimes it is hard for me to know the difference when debating a liberal.

I always ask this...Did Bush win the election? If you say no, then it is pointless to debate you. Bush could say the sky is blue and you would say he is a liar!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

"Are you saying that you would like to see that happen or that is what you think is going to happen?"

When I tell you not to drive off the cliff, and after you ingore me, when I then note the rapidly approaching canyon floor, does that imply that I'm happy with the likely outcome we are about to experience?

memoirs_of_a_sleepwalker 12 years ago

zbarf . . . you, along with Marion, earn today's award for "idiot." Congrats, Americano.

zbarf 12 years ago

Did Bush legitimately win the election or not?

memoirs_of_a_sleepwalker 12 years ago

Quite plainly, NO. That's the truth. You're a fool if you believe it. So, do you debate only when the topic is based upon lies and dishonesty? That makes sense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

Depends on what you mean by legitimate-- but the short answer is "no." There's is no way that clown could ever be elected to anything legitimately.

MadAnthony 12 years ago

I am just thankful that the neo-con traitors who led us into Iraq finally have a plan to get us out. Now if they can just decided whether that is via Syria or via Iran. But then, why choose? Since they care so little about conserving what the Founders gave us, they can lead us into both Syria and Iran. Take the baton Bill Crystal.

MadAnthony 11 years, 12 months ago

Sure was relieved that tonight's speech did not include anything about taking down Syria or Iran, as some foriegn leaders are currently urging our President to do. Good for him.

Godot 11 years, 12 months ago

Bush is on the defensive on several fronts: media, democrats, marxists, socialists and the CIA. Tough spot.

Good talk tonight.

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