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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


15 May 2004

Bush Reiterates Commitment to Freedom, Democracy in Iraq

President vows abuse of Iraqi prisoners will never happen again

The United States will keep its commitment to build a democratic and independent Iraq and continue to fight the war on terrorism despite the recent murder of American civilian Nicholas Berg, President Bush said in his weekly radio address to the nation on May 15.

"There's only one way to deal with terror," Bush said. "We must confront the enemy and stay on the offensive until these killers are defeated."

The president said that U.S. armed forces in Iraq are making progress in defeating both "Saddam loyalists, foreign fighters and other militants" in Fallujah and the illegal militia in Najaf and Karbala with the support of the Iraqi people.

"The Iraqi people oppose the actions of this illegal militia, and Shia religious leaders have called on it to withdraw," Bush said. "Recent days have seen demonstrations in which ordinary Iraqis have taken to the streets, calling on the militia to withdraw from their cities and towns."

The president noted that U.N. Special Envoy Brahimi continues to consult "with diverse groups of Iraqis," and confirmed that "Iraq's new interim government will assume a sovereign authority" on June 30.

Bush said that U.S. military authorities would provide security and training to Iraqis beyond July 1, and expressed his determination "to expose and punish the abuse of Iraqi detainees." He pointed out that the actions of a few "do not reflect the true character of the United States Armed Forces," and asserted that "freedom is the answer to hopelessness and terror" in Iraq.

Following is the transcript of President Bush's May 15 radio address:

(begin transcript)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Mequon, Wisconsin)
May 15, 2004

RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION

Good morning. This week, our nation was sickened by the murder of an American civilian, Nicholas Berg. The savage execution of this innocent man reminds us of the true nature of our terrorist enemy, and of the stakes in this struggle. The terrorists rejoice in the killing of the innocent, and have promised similar violence against Americans, against all free peoples, and against any Muslims who reject their ideology of murder. Their barbarism cannot be appeased, and their hatred cannot be satisfied. There's only one way to deal with terror: We must confront the enemy and stay on the offensive until these killers are defeated.

And this is precisely what our armed forces, and the forces of our coalition, are doing. In and around Fallujah, U.S. Marines are conducting joint patrols with local Iraqis to take back the city from Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters and other militants. In nearby towns, Marines are conducting raids to disrupt enemy attacks on supply routes and to root out anti-coalition fighters.

To the south, in and around the cities of Najaf and Karbala, U.S. Army soldiers and Iraqi security forces are systematically dismantling the illegal militia led by the radical cleric al Sadr that has incited violence and attempted to seize control. Iraqi security forces ejected elements of this militia from a mosque in Karbala that was being used to store ammunition. The Iraqi people oppose the actions of this illegal militia, and Shia religious leaders have called on it to withdraw. Recent days have seen demonstrations in which ordinary Iraqis have taken to the streets, calling on the militia to withdraw from their cities and towns.

As we attack and defeat the enemies of freedom in Iraq, we will continue to work with Iraqi leaders to build a free, democratic and independent government. The United Nations Special Envoy, Mr. Brahimi, is now back in Iraq, consulting with diverse groups of Iraqis. In the next few weeks, important decisions will be made on the make-up of an interim government. And on June 30th, the flag of a free Iraq will be raised, and Iraq's new interim government will assume a sovereign authority. America will keep its commitment to the independence and national dignity of the Iraqi people. Yet the vital mission of our military in helping to provide security will continue on July 1st and beyond.

Coalition forces are training thousands of Iraqis to protect a free Iraq from external aggression and internal subversion. Our forces will remain in Iraq to assist the Iraqi people until Iraqis can secure their own country. Our country has great respect for the Iraqi people, and we are determined to expose and punish the abuse of Iraqi detainees. Charges have been filed against seven soldiers, and the first trial is set to begin next week. My administration and our military are determined that such abuses never happen again.

All Americans know that the actions of a few do not reflect the true character of the United States Armed Forces. No military in the history of the world has fought so hard and so often for the freedom of others. Today, our forces are keeping terrorists across the world on the run. They're helping the people of Afghanistan and Iraq to build democratic societies, making America more secure. By their example, the people of those countries and of the countries around the world are coming to know that freedom is the answer to hopelessness and terror. Our servicemen and women are defending America with unselfish courage, and their achievements have brought pride and credit to this nation.

Thank you for listening.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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