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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Remarks by John Kerry on CIA report on Saddam Hussein's WMD

John Kerry for President
October 7, 2004

John Kerry: This week has provided definitive evidence as to why George Bush should not be re-elected President of the United States. Whether it's the situation in Iraq or whether it's the situation here in America, he is not being straight with Americans. Earlier this week, Paul Bremer, the President's hand-picked person to run Iraq in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein told America that the President had not sent enough troops in to get the job done in Iraq. President Bush’s decision resulted in chaos on the ground. And it emboldens a growing insurgency with terrorists flocking across the borders in the tens of thousands. Ambassador Bremer finally said what john Edwards and I have been saying for months.

President Bush's decision to send in too few troops, without thinking about what would happen after the initial fighting was over, has left our troops more vulnerable, left the situation on the ground in chaos, and made the mission in Iraq much more difficult to accomplish. That is the truth. The result is that President Bush's serious errors in judgment have left us more vulnerable and less safe as the terrorists continue to murder school children and target our brave soldiers.

So how does President Bush respond? Does he take responsibility for his mistakes? Does he recognize publicly how bad the situation is and lead the way a leader should lead? Of course not. The President responded with a brand-new stump speech, featuring more dishonest attacks on me. The President's national security adviser went even further. She said that if we didn't have enough troops, that was the fault of our military. Imagine, the national security adviser in the white house, the place that used to have a sign that said the buck stops here, blaming our military for the decisions of the commander in chief. For President Bush, it's always someone else's fault, denial, and blaming someone else. We've heard this before. It is wrong for this administration to blame our military leaders, particularly when our military leaders gave him the advice that he didn't follow. The truth is, the responsibility lies with the commander in chief.

Yesterday, the CIA released a wide-ranging report on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The report concluded that Iraq had essentially dismantled its weapons of mass destruction and stopped any further military WMD production after the end of the first gulf war. In other words, the report concluded that the inspections and the sanctions worked. The report further concluded that the sanctions leveled against Iraq during the 1990s prevented Saddam Hussein from resuming his weapons of mass destruction program.

Now, my fellow Americans, remember. Remember the facts. Remember the truth. The facts and the truth are that the primary justification for going to war, the reason the congress gave President authority to use force after he had exhausted all the other remedies was to disarm Saddam Hussein of the weapons of mass destruction. We remember the pieces of evidence like aluminum tubes and Niger yellow cake uranium that were laid out before us. All overblown then. We said they were, and now completely known to be wrong. All designed, all purposefully used to shift the focus from al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. All with the result that the President shifted the focus from the real enemy, al Qaeda and Osama bin laden to an enemy that they aggrandized and fictionalized. All put forward with an urgency requiring immediate action before another attack on the US.

The President this morning was in absolute full spin mode about the CIA report. He cited several new reasons for taking America to war and reiterated the belief that he would do everything exactly as he did it even knowing what he knows now. My fellow Americans, you don't make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact. That's not how it works in the United States of America, that's not how it should work.

This morning, the vice President actually said that the CIA report did not undermine the rationale for going to war. He said the CIA report justified the decisions.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States and the vice President of the United States may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth about Iraq. Mr. President, the American people deserve more than spin about this war. They deserve facts that represent reality, not carefully polished arguments and points that are simply calculated to align with a preconceived perception.

Sending men and women into combat is the gravest responsibility of all, and asking the American people for their truth with respect to that requires that you tell them the truth.

The pattern of deception goes beyond Iraq.

Just yesterday, the President said, because of his education reform, reading scores are increasing in our public schools. Well, ladies and gentlemen, a new study released today says that is just plain not true. The facts are that 11 out of our largest 15 states, reading scores are flat or have gone down. George W. Bush thought the job was done when he just signed that bill into law, the no child left behind act. He believed the mission was accomplished. And from that point forward, he has consistently broken his promise to the parents and to the children of America. He's left millions of children behind.

John Edwards and I have a specific plan for success in Iraq, and we have a specific plan for success here at home, and it is not more of the same. At home, we're going to turn our economy around by creating good jobs, and not just talking about it, and we're going to make sure that the standards are raised in our schools, and that children truly aren't left behind, and we're going to make sure of it because we're going to make sure the resources are there to accomplish it.

There is a clear difference between President Bush and me. You'll always get the truth from me, in good times and in bad times, and I will never mislead the American people. The President has not met that standard, and America is ready for change.

And I’m ready for your questions. Take a few questions here. You know I want to ask Jim Tankersley to be able to ask the first question, because we haven't been able to get around the state very much, if that's all right everybody. Jim?

Reporter: Senator we have a proposal on Colorado’s ballot in November that would split Colorado’s electoral votes effectively but in proportion, For example if you won 51% and the President 49% you would take it 5-4. Do you support the proposal?

John Kerry: Well obviously, I’d like to win all of Colorado’s electoral votes, but I’ve always believed that those electoral votes belong to each state and it's up to each state to decide what they're going to do with them. I said that last time I was here in Colorado and I say it again. It's up to Coloradans to decide what they're want to do with them. I do hope to win them, though.

Reporter: [Inaudible] … Saddam had the means and materials to build weapons of mass destruction. Do you agree with that?

John Kerry: No, the President's not telling the truth, and the Duelfer report says otherwise. That the sanctions had prevented him from being able to reconstitute his program. The sanctions had prevented him and the inspections from being able to rebuild, and in fact, he was not pursuing it at that point in time. And according to the Duelfer report, if the sanctions had been lifted in the future, he might have wanted to start it up, but ladies and gentlemen, if you're doing good diplomacy, you wouldn't lift the sanctions. This underscores the failure of this administration's diplomacy. They only have one attitude, and their attitude's the wrong one for making America safer.

Reporter: If you are elected, given Paul Bremer’s remarks and deteriorating conditions as you’ve judged them, would you be prepared to commit more troops?

John Kerry: I will do what the Generals believe we need to do without having any chilling effect as the President put in place by firing General Shinseki. And I’ll have to wait until January 20th, I don't know what I’m going to find on January 20th the way the President is going. If the President just does more of the same every day and it continues to deteriorate, I may be handed Lebanon, figuratively speak. Now I just don't know, I can’t tell you, what I’ll tell you is I have a plan. I've laid out my plan to America and I know that my plan has better chance of working. And in the next days I’m going to say more about exactly how we're going to do what has been available to this administration that it has chosen not to do. But I will make certain that our troops are protected. I will hunt down and kill the terrorists and I will make sure we are successful, and I know exactly what I’m going to do and how to do it.

Reporter:  The Duelfer report also said that Saddam fully intended to resume his weapons of mass destruction program because he felt that the sanctions were going just to fritter away.

John Kerry: We wouldn't let them fritter away. That's the point. Folks if you got a guy is dangerous and you got a guy you suspect is going to do something, you don't lift the sanctions, that's the fruits of good diplomacy. This administration -- I beg your pardon?

Reporter: You just said he fictionalized him as an enemy, now you just said he's dangerous.

John Kerry: No, what I said, I said it all the time, consistently I’ve said Saddam Hussein presented a threat. I voted for the authorization because he presented a threat. There are all kinds of threats in the world, ladies and gentlemen. Al Qaeda is in 60 countries, are we invading all 60 countries? 35 To 40 countries had the same war capability of creating weapons, nuclear weapons, at the time the President invaded Iraq that Iraq did. Are we invading all 35 to 40 of them? Did we invade Russia? Did we invade China? The point is, there are all kinds of options available to a President to deal with threats, and I consistently laid out to the President how to deal with Saddam Hussein, who was a threat. If I had been President, I would have wanted the same threat of force. But as I’ve said 100 times if not a thousand in this campaign, there was a right way to use that authority, and a wrong way. The President did it the wrong way. He rushed to war without a plan to win the peace against my warnings and other people's warnings, and now we have the mess we have today. It is completely consistent that you can see him as a threat and deal with him realistically just as we saw the Soviet Union and China and others as threats and have dealt with them in other ways.

Thank you very very much.

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