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American Forces Press Service

Rice Defends Pre-emption as Security Policy

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2003 - The president's national security adviser defended the national security strategy of pre-emption and said that discoveries in Iraq show it was the right tack to take.

Condoleezza Rice told the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations today that against the backdrop of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the policy is the only real option.

In prepared remarks, Rice said that 9-11 made clear the enemies' goals, and provided painful experience of how far they are willing to go.

"From their own boasts, we know that they would not hesitate to use the world's most terrible weapons to bring devastation to our shores," she said. "This threat is potentially so catastrophic -- and can arrive with so little warning, by means that are untraceable -- that it cannot be contained."

Saddam Hussein's Iraq actively supported terrorism and Hussein was actively seeking a weapons of mass destruction program. Hussein had launched wars on neighbors - Iran and Kuwait - and used chemical agents against the Iranians and his own people.

"For 12 years, Saddam Hussein sat in the heart of the world's most volatile region, defying more than a dozen U.N. Security Council resolutions, terrorizing his people, threatening his neighbors and the world," she said.

Rice told the council the United States has no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9-11 attacks. "Yet the possibility remained that he might use his weapons of mass destruction or that terrorists might acquire such weapons from his regime, to mount a future attack far beyond the scale of 9-11," she said. "This terrible prospect could not be ignored or wished away."

And most nations of the world agreed. Rice said that the United Nations passed 17 Security Council resolutions that Hussein blithely ignored. "The Security Council was right to do so," she said. "And President Bush was right to lead a coalition of nations to enforce the Security Council's clear resolutions, to uphold the credibility of the United Nations and to defend the peace of the world."

Now Saddam Hussein's government is gone, his sons are dead, he is in hiding, and Iraqis are coming forward revealing the vast killing fields and weapons of mass destruction programs.

The coalition Iraqi Survey Group, led by CIA's David Kay, is examining suspected sites in Iraq. In Kay's report delivered to Congress last week, Rice noted he sited discoveries of "dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002."

"The ISG has confirmed many activities that we already knew about, including Iraq's massive deception campaign to conceal its weapons programs and its maintenance of prohibited delivery systems," Rice said. "The ISG has also uncovered some information that appears to corroborate reports that Iraq tested chemical and biological substances on human beings."

The group has also uncovered evidence that Iraq tried to obtain Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever, North Korean technology related to 1,300 km range ballistic missiles, and chemical weapons.

The United States had to act, Rice said. Had it not, Saddam would have remained in power with more mass graves, more children in prison and more daily depredations of the Iraqi people. "And Saddam would have remained -- indefinitely -- poised in the heart of the Middle East, sitting atop a potentially deadly arsenal of terrible weapons, threatening his neighbors and the world," she said.

She said that now the people of Iraq are free and are working toward self-government. "Step by step, normal life in Iraq is being reborn, as basic services are restored," she said.

"America's service men and women, working with Iraqis and coalition forces, are helping to usher in these improvements," Rice said. "Our troops in Baghdad and other cities are operating under difficult conditions. Baathist dead-enders, Fedayeen fighters and foreign terrorists continue to attack coalition forces, innocent Iraqis and symbols of progress.

"As President Bush has said, Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror. Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there, and there they must be defeated."

Rice said the American people must remain patient. "Our own history should remind us that the union of democratic principle and practice is always a work in progress," she said. "When the Founding Fathers said 'We the people,' they did not mean me. My ancestors were considered three-fifths of a person."

She said America must support those seeking freedom. "We have an opportunity - and an obligation -- to help them turn this desire into reality," she said. "And we must work with others to create a world where terror is shunned and hope is the provenance of every living human. That is the strategic challenge -- and moral mission -- of our time."

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