Finally, the President is asked directly about the rhetorical confusion he has caused amongst the American populace. Martha has to be Helen Thomas' understudy. She has her own cast iron skillet to wield, and she does it quite plainly.
Have a look at Martha's query and as you read the President's reply, ask yourself these questions:
- Were we misled by the president to get us to buy into the Iraq attack?
- Is there a reason the President is now qualifying his statements with the word "opperational?" What is it and why?
Q Mr. President, you have said throughout the war in Iraq and building up to the war in Iraq that there was a relationship between Saddam Hussein and Zarqawi and al Qaeda. A Senate Intelligence Committee report a few weeks ago said there was no link, no relationship, and that the CIA knew this and issued a report last fall. And, yet, a month ago you were still saying there was a relationship. Why did you keep saying that? Why do you continue to say that? And do you still believe that?
THE PRESIDENT: The point I was making to Ken Herman's question was that Saddam Hussein was a state sponsor of terror, and that Mr. Zarqawi was in Iraq. He had been wounded in Afghanistan, had come to Iraq for treatment. He had ordered the killing of a U.S. citizen in Jordan. I never said there was an operational relationship. I was making the point that Saddam Hussein had been declared a state sponsor of terror for a reason, and, therefore, he was dangerous.
The broader point I was saying -- I was reminding people was why we removed Saddam Hussein from power. He was dangerous. I would hope people aren't trying to rewrite the history of Saddam Hussein -- all of a sudden, he becomes kind of a benevolent fellow. He's a dangerous man. And one of the reasons he was declared a state sponsor of terror was because that's what he was. He harbored terrorists; he paid for families of suicide bombers. Never have I said that Saddam Hussein gave orders to attack 9/11. What I did say was, after 9/11, when you see a threat, you've got to take it seriously. And I saw a threat in Saddam Hussein -- as did Congress, as did the United Nations. I firmly believe the world is better off without Saddam in power, Martha.