26 January 2004
White House Defends Iraq War, Responds to Kay Statements on WMD
White House Report, Jan 26: David Kay and WMD in Iraq
The White House January 26 said the removal from power of Iraq's Saddam Hussein justified the Iraq war regardless of whether Hussein's regime possessed banned weapons.
"[T]he President made the right decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The world is a safer and better place, and America is more secure because of the actions that we took," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters.
He said the Iraq Survey Group, a U.S.-led group of intelligence and military experts looking for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, should continue the search despite comments from its former leader, David Kay, that no stockpiles probably exist.
Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet announced Kay's resignation on January 23 and announced the appointment of Charles A. Duelfer as Kay's replacement.
Since his resignation, Kay has given numerous interviews and outlined a variety of possible explanations for the failure to find WMD in Iraq, including the possibility that they Iraqis may have delivered some WMD to Syria; that they destroyed stockpiles following the first Iraq war; and that they may not have possessed WMD but had a program to develop them.
"It is important to compare the intelligence before the war with what we learn on the ground through the Iraq Survey Group", McClellan said January 26, when questioned about Kay's comments.
"The first step is to let the Iraqi Survey Group finish their work so the intelligence community can have as complete a picture as possible", McClellan said.
"Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction, they used weapons of mass destruction on its neighbors and on his own people, and they failed to account for the weapons and weapons programs, and refused to comply [with the United Nations] for 12 years and some 17 Security Council resolutions," McClellan said.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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