Bush: Iraq Intelligence Failure 'Biggest Regret'
By VOA News
01 December 2008
U.S. President George Bush said in a new interview that he came to office unprepared for war, and that his biggest regret is the flawed intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Bush made his comments to the ABC television network in the interview to be broadcast Monday night. The president said he wishes the intelligence on Iraq had been different, because many people staked their reputations on that flawed information.
But Mr. Bush declined to speculate on whether he would have gone to war in Iraq in March 2003 had he known that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. He also said pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq before the appropriate time would have compromised his principles. The United States has about 146,000 troops in Iraq. More than 4,200 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the war began.
Separately, the president said he did not anticipate war and that one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen. The U.S. also is fighting a war in Afghanistan, where an estimated 34,000 U.S. troops have been deployed.
On other issues, Mr. Bush expressed regret that the global financial crisis has cost jobs and shrinking retirement accounts. He said he will support more government intervention, if needed, to ease the recession.
The president also said another disappointment was the failure to get a comprehensive immigration reform bill passed. He told ABC the debate on the issue did not show the true nature of the U.S. as a welcoming society.
Mr. Bush voiced regret at not being able to change the partisan tone in Washington. But the president said he wants to be remembered as someone who made difficult decisions in a principled way and did not "sell his soul for politics."
Mr. Bush leaves office January 20 after serving two terms as president.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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