Invading Iraq made America safer, US President George W. Bush said, defending his war decision in the face of a Senate report debunking White House justifications for attacking former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's government.
Bush presented his case in a speech at Oak Ridge National Laboratory Monday in his first public reaction to criticism by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which said last week that the administration's belief that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and was working to make nuclear weapons was wrong, based on false or overstated CIA analyses.
"Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq," Bush told lab employees. "We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after Sept. 11, that was a risk we could not afford to take."
Bush noted problems cited in the Senate report, including a shortage of human-gathered intelligence and poor coordination among intelligence services. But he did not comment on ideas proposed for reforming America's intelligence network, nor did he say when he planned to name a new CIA director to replace George Tenet, who stepped down Sunday for personal reasons.
Instead, Bush sought to compare situations in nations like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to how they were three years ago when the Taliban ruled in Kabul, Saddam was in power in Baghdad and Libya was backing terrorism and spending money to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Under an agreement with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to dismantle his country's nuclear weapons program, Libya's weapons hardware was shipped to Oak Ridge earlier this year.
Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry quickly dismissed Bush's claim that Americans are safer and said that if elected, his No. 1 security goal would be to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
"Have we taken every step we should to stop North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs?" Kerry asked. "Have we restructured our intelligence agencies and given them the resources they need to keep our country safe? The honest answer, in each of these areas, is that we have done too little, often too late, and even cut back our efforts. It's not enough to give speeches."
"The facts speak for themselves. There was [sic] less nuclear weapons materials secured in the two years after Sept. 11 than in the two years before," he said. "North Korea has reportedly quadrupled its nuclear weapons capability in the past year. Iran is developing a nuclear weapons capability. Afghanistan has become a forgotten front in the war on terror."
The White House has long portrayed Libya's pledge to abandon weapons of mass destruction programs as affirmation of Bush's hard-line strategy on arms proliferation and suggested the US-led war in Iraq helped convince Gadhafi that he should act.
"This progress came about through quiet diplomacy between America, Britain and the Libyan government," Bush said. "This progress was set in motion, however, by policies declared in public to all the world ... Every potential adversary now knows that terrorism and proliferation carry serious consequences, and that the wise course is to abandon those pursuits."
In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Vice President Dick Cheney accused his Democratic opponents of "trying to rewrite history for their own political purposes" when they criticize the Bush administration for going to war based on flawed prewar intelligence.
Kerry and his running mate John Edwards both reviewed the same reports on Iraq that were given to Bush and supported the decision to go to war, Cheney said.
"Now it seems they've both developed a convenient case of campaign amnesia," Cheney said. "If the president was right, and he was, then they are simply trying to rewrite history for their own political purposes."
Following the Senate panel's report, Kerry and Edwards called the CIA's work slipshod but declined to answer a hypothetical question of whether they would have voted against the congressional resolution authorizing force based on what they know now. They made the comment in an interview with The New York Times.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of