Bush need not apologize over Iraq-uranium statement,
Associated Press Jul. 10, 2003 01:40 PM
PRETORIA, South Africa -
Secretary of State Colin Powell defended the administration in
its handling of information about Iraqi weapons programs,
saying Thursday that President Bush shouldn't have to
apologize for a statement that later proved
Powell's remarks were the administration's
strongest defense yet of Bush's decision to include an
assertion in his State of the Union speech that Saddam Hussein
had sought uranium from Africa.
"There was no effort or
attempt on the part of the president or anyone else in the
administration to mislead or to deceive the American people,"
Powell said in Pretoria, South Africa, where he was traveling
with Bush. "The president was presenting what seemed to be a
reasonable statement at that time."
As weeks have
passed with the American search turning up no weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq, criticism, especially from Democrats, has
been building concerning assertions the administration made as
justification for the war.
One reason Bush gave for
taking military action was that Saddam possessed of weapons of
mass destruction. In his Jan. 28 State of the Union message,
Bush said: "The British government has learned that Saddam
Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from
Powell said the line in Bush's speech
reflected the best available intelligence at the time. Days
later, as Powell prepared his Feb. 5 speech on Iraq to the
United Nations, the secretary said he decided not to use the
"I didn't use it, and we haven't used it
since," Powell said. "But to think that somehow we went out of
our way to insert this single sentence into the State of the
Union Address for the purpose of deceiving and misleading the
American people is an overdrawn, overblown, overwrought
Democratic lawmakers are calling for
deeper investigations into how Bush handled the
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who is running
for president, said the issue was not a matter of politics,
but national security.
"When we go to other countries
and say we have evidence of X or Y or Z, it is important that
they believe us," Kerry said Thursday at the Capitol in
Washington. "And when we go to the American people and ask
them to support some effort in the future, it is more than
important that they believe us. So I believe we need a
thorough investigation in order to re-establish the
credibility of our own government."
intelligence gathering to a moving train.
out that the basis upon which that statement was made didn't
hold up and we said so," Powell said. "And we have
acknowledged it. And we moved on. ... We can chew on this
sentence in the State of the Union Address forever, but I
don't think it undercuts the president's
He reiterated the administration's
message - that Saddam's government had developed weapons of
mass destruction and had used them. When the 1991 Gulf War was
over, American forces found them and destroyed some, he said.
For years, the U.N. weapons inspectors searched for more, but
could not find them all, Powell said.
He also noted
that President Clinton ordered missile strikes against Saddam
"What did he bomb?" Powell asked,
rhetorically. "He bombed for four days, in Operation Desert
Fox, facilities that were believed to possess or were
developing or producing weapons of mass
"The entire international community has
felt over this entire period that Saddam Hussein had these
weapons and there was sufficient intelligence available to all
the major intelligence agencies of the world that they existed
and they do exist."