Veteran's Day 2005 was as good a day as any for President Bush to state simply what keen-eyed and honest observers have been able to figure out without too much effort: that the assertion that his administration “lied” about WMD in Iraq is itself, a lie.
In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in front of troops and local politicians including US Senator Arlen Specter, the president had pointed words for the Democrats about the amnesia which they seem to have developed regarding WMD intelligence and their assertions on same prior to March of 2003.
President Bush on Friday shot back at critics claiming his administration misconstrued or lied about pre-war intelligence showing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, saying "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."You know and I know that this won’t be the end of matter. Those who attempt to shape history don’t just back down when actual facts are presented. It will get better, but as with most other conflicts, it will worsen first. Still, it is heartening to see the president fight for what he believes in; to slough off that gentlemanly response to criticism, especially when the criticism is dishonest.
"The stakes in the global War on Terror are too high and the national interest is too important for the politicians to throw out false charges," Bush said. "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will."
This "debate" isn't over by a long shot.
UPDATE: Here's the transcript.
While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war 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. And 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 hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. [SNIP]
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 them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.