"Bush On Al Qaeda Not Existing In Iraq Before Invasion: ‘So What?’"
Yesterday, after an Iraqi journalist used “[t]wo of the worst insults in Islam” against him, an unfazed President Bush sat down with ABC’s Martha Raddatz for an exit interview in Iraq. When Raddatz asked Bush about his legacy, Bush first boasted about “52 months of uninterrupted job growth.” (There have been 1.9 million jobs lost in 2008 alone.)
BUSH: One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take–
RADDATZ: But not until after the U.S. invaded.
BUSH: Yeah, that’s right. So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they’re going to take a stand. Well, first of all in the post-9/11 environment Saddam Hussein posed a threat. And then upon removal, al Qaeda decides to take a stand.
Continuing his refusal to take any responsibility for the consequences of his decisions, Bush suggests that al Qaeda came to Iraq by chance, that it simply “turn[ed] out to have been” the place where they “were going to take their stand.” But al Qaeda’s existence in Iraq is 100 percent attributable to Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq: al Qaeda never existed there before, and in fact, Saddam Hussein viewed Osama bin Laden as a threat and refused to support him.
Throughout the run-up to war, Bush repeatedly cited supposed links between al Qaeda and Iraq to drum up support for the U.S. invasion. When those links proved to be utterly false — and perhaps even willingly fabricated — Bush began insisting that al Qaeda had chosen Iraq as the “central front in the war on terror,” and so the United States was forced to stay there and respond. In the meantime, more than 4,000 Americans have been killed, 30,000 maimed, and nearly 100,000 Iraqis killed.
In an interview earlier this month, Bush cited the intelligence failures in the lead-up to war and said simply, “I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.” Bush’s indifference to the consequences of his decisions mirrors the scorn his Vice President displayed when dismissing American opposition to the Iraq war with a one-word answer: “So?”