A tough time kicking the 9/11 habit?
We join this morning's gaggle already in <$NoAd$>session ...
QUESTION: Director Tenet also said that part of the problem he was having was they had gaps in the intelligence, they had gaps in what they knew about Iraq, and for that reason he feared surprises. MR. McCLELLAN: That he feared what?
QUESTION: He feared surprises from Iraq. In other words, the unpredictability of the intel, itself, created that threat. Did the President share that view, as well? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I think that Dr. Kay and Director Tenet and others have pointed out the need for the Iraqi Survey Group to complete its work, that there is a lot of work still to do. We are learning more, but it's important that they do as thorough a job as possible, and gather as many facts as possible so that they can draw as complete a picture as possible. Then we can -- and the President has made it very clear -- then we can have as complete a picture as possible so that we can compare what we are learning on the ground with what we knew before the war. But we already know that what we have learned on the ground since the war only reconfirms what we knew before the war, that Iraq was a gathering threat and that the decision that the President of the United States made was the right decision.
QUESTION: -- prove that? What do you mean?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think Dr. Kay has pointed out in his testimony, Helen, that it was possibly more dangerous than we thought. QUESTION: All these countries that do have nuclear weapons, they're not a threat at all? But the intent, and you're a mind-reader as to what was going to happen? It wouldn't hold up in court. MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I know that you do not feel that we are safer because we removed Saddam Hussein from power. I think most people believe the world is safer and better because we removed Saddam Hussein from power. QUESTION: A lot of people are dead, thousands. MR. McCLELLAN: And the President remembers those who lost their lives on September 11th. That taught us that we are living in a different -- QUESTION: They had nothing to do with September 11th, the Iraqis. MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I beg to differ. September 11th taught us that we are living in a dangerous new world. September 11th -- QUESTION: So you attack somebody who is innocent? MR. McCLELLAN: September 11th taught us that we must confront gathering threats before it's too late. September 11th changed the equation. And this President -- and this President's highest responsibility is protecting the American people. And he will not wait and rely on the good intentions of Saddam Hussein, given his history, to confront that threat. Saddam Hussein had the choice, and Saddam Hussein continued to defy the international community.
[The following comes later in the Q&A]
QUESTION: I guess what I'm asking here is how long has the United States known of the nuclear weapons fire sale being run out of Pakistan and -- MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, like I said, there's a lot of -- there are a number of success stories in the intelligence community that often go unseen or unreported or are not reported until quite some time after the fact. You heard from Director Tenet -- QUESTION: Well, tell us. MR. McCLELLAN: -- you heard from Director Tenet, in terms of what he said on Pakistan. And you've seen, by the actions of the government of Pakistan, that they are committed to stopping proliferation.
QUESTION: It just raises a question. The United States went to war against a leader that we said had these weapons, turned out not to. We're confronting North Korea over what we think are their weapons. Libya is an issue. And, yet, on Pakistan, it sounds as if we've known for a while that they were running this black market on nuclear weapons and haven't done anything. MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I don't think it raises the question you are asking. I think it shows that we're confronting threats around the world in a number of different ways. And weapons of mass destruction and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a high priority for this administration. That's one reason why the President is going to be announcing this commission, to do a broad assessment of our intelligence capabilities related to weapons of mass destruction. But Iraq, remember -- we pointed out -- was unique, given Saddam Hussein's history and given the events of September 11th.
The tragedy of addiction ...