Today’s obsession is devoted to a single query from Les Kinsolving which raises the following question:
If the documents recently released by John Negroponte that allegedly reveal a link between al Qaeda and Saddam are such an all-fired big deal how come Scottie refuses to talk about them, and why does he cut Les off after the topic is raised?
Q Well, all right. In the last two months, two former Iraqi officials have said Saddam moved weapons of mass destruction to Syria before the U.S. invasion. And now one of the documents released by the Pentagon yesterday, a letter by a member of Saddam’s intelligence apparatus, ties him to al Qaeda and the Taliban before 9/11. All of this, and yet, the President does not talk about any of it with the American people. Question: With increasing information coming out of here on Iraq — WMDs and Saddam’s link to al Qaeda — what does the Bush administration want the American people to believe about these two crucial issues?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Les, first of all, the Director of National Intelligence has started putting out volumes of information and documents that were discovered in Iraq. And I think that that provides the public an opportunity to go and look, and they can make judgments for themselves in terms of some of the issues that you raise.
But the one thing the President has talked about, as we approach the three-year anniversary of Operation — the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom is that the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power was the right thing to do. This was a regime that was a destabilizing force in a troubled region of the world. This was a regime that had invaded its neighbors, that had a history of using weapons of mass destruction, that had a long history of defying the international community and failing to come into compliance with the demands of the international community.
And one thing that tyrants around the world know is that we mean what we say, and when we say there are going to be consequences for such behavior, it’s important that we follow through on that. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution giving Saddam Hussein one last chance to come into compliance; he continued to defy the international community. He made the choice, and the world is better off with him removed from power.
Q Just one more because —
MR. McCLELLAN: No, because you’re making statements —
Q Just one more, just one more.
MR. McCLELLAN: No more statements today.