Q You -- this is supposed to be a war on terrorism, and by his own admission, the President has said there's been -- there was no link between Iraq and terrorists. So why are we still in Iraq killing and being killed?Okay: Q - "Why was Iraq attacked?" A - "Because that's what freedom does?" WTF, that is simply outrageous. I think the W, Rove and Co is in dire need of some serious relitigation, don't you?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the President talked about it earlier today. The stakes are high in Iraq. And he talked about where we are focused --
Q -- why were they high --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism. All you have to do is look at the letter that Zawahiri sent to Zarqawi. They recognize how high the stakes are. So do we. And we must continue to move forward on the plan we have for victory. That's why we're focused on --
Q Why did you go into Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President is --
Q There were no terrorists.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not trying to relitigate what we've -- the decisions that were already made.
Q I am.
MR. McCLELLAN: We've already spelled out the reasons why we went in there, and it was Saddam's --
Q -- given has turned out to be wrong.
MR. McCLELLAN: It was Saddam Hussein's choice to make. He continued to defy the international community. And the President made the decision after September 11th that we were not going to wait for threats to fully materialize. We were going to confront them before it was too late. And as he said again today --
Q It was Iraq, and they weren't there.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you ought to pay attention to what the President said in his remarks again today.
Q I did.
MR. McCLELLAN: He talked about the importance of freedom overcoming terrorism and tyranny and the power of freedom to prevail. The Middle East is a dangerous region of the world. What we are trying to do --
Q Why was Iraq attacked?
MR. McCLELLAN: What we are trying to do is help transform that troubled region of the world by providing a more hopeful future. That's what freedom does. Free societies are peaceful societies. And a free Iraq will help inspire the rest of the Middle East, as well.
Watch Scotty trip all over his own words as Martha picks up where Helen leaves off:
Q Can I go to something on Iraq? Just following up on something Helen said. The President and you often say that it was Saddam Hussein's decision to make. What could he have done, given the fact that you haven't found weapons of mass destruction, to stop the invasion?P.S. Why start with a "relitigation?" I would settle for an initial lititgation of the whole of the W, Rove and Co for this. How about you?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Martha, I don't think we need to go back and relitigate all this, but it was spelled out very clearly what he needed to do, and he continued to defy the international community -- 17-some resolutions. And it was a threat that we could not ignore. The world is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power. And we have clearly talked about that previously. Now --
Q Could he have stopped the invasion by --
MR. McCLELLAN: What's important -- what is important to do now -- well, he didn't cooperate with the international community. You can go back through all that -- through that whole time period. He did not comply with the resolutions that were passed. And if you're going to pass resolutions and say there are going to be consequences, then you ought to mean what you're going to say. This is a dangerous world that we still live in. There are real threats that we face. And September 11th taught us that we must confront those threats before it's too late. And that's what the President will continue doing. We will also continue working to transform that part of the world because we saw what happened over the years when we tried to accept dictatorships in that region in exchange for stability. We got neither stability, nor freedom in that region.
And that's why the President believes very strongly that we also must continue to advance freedom. As we advance freedom, the world is a safer place. We are safer today, but we are not yet safe, as the President said in his remarks earlier today. And that's why we've all got to continue working together.
And what the important focus now ought to be on is working together to make sure we win in Iraq. And I think that there is a bipartisan effort that is coming together, recognizing that we need to continue to support our troops and we need to succeed there because of how high the stakes are. The terrorists want to create a safe haven within the Middle East. We took away one in Afghanistan, and we're not going to let them have one in Iraq.