Urging War Support, Bush Repeats 9/11 Link to Iraq
The House vote came hours after President Bush released an interim progress report that says the Iraqi government has failed to meet most key benchmarks set by Congress. These include the passage of a U.S.-backed oil law heavily criticized by Iraqi unions. Speaking at the White House, Bush dismissed recent polls showing seventy-percent of Americans back a withdrawal and called on Congress to continue funding the war. The president also repeated his erroneous linkage of the Iraq war to 9/11. President Bush: “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that's why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home.”
Bush on Libby Decision: “Fair and Balanced”, “Moving On”
Bush also addressed his commuting of the sentence of former Vice President Dick Cheney chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby. For the first time, the president publicly acknowledged someone in his administration likely leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame. But Bush called his decision “fair and balanced” and said he is moving on.
- President Bush: “I’m aware of the fact that perhaps somebody in the administration did disclose the name of that person, and I’ve often thought about what would have happened had that person come forth and said, I did it. Would we have had this, you know, endless hours of investigation and a lot of money being spent on this matter? But it’s been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House, and it’s run its course and now we’re going to move on.”
Clinton, Edwards Plot Excluding Candidates From Debates
In campaign news, Senator Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards have been caught discussing an apparent plan to exclude other Democratic candidates from future debates. On Thursday, Edwards and Clinton were speaking privately after an NAACP Presidential Forum in Detroit. Unaware their microphones were still on, Edwards is overheard saying: “We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group.” Clinton agreed, responding: “We’ve got to cut the number...They’re not serious.” Clinton also indicated the two had discussed the plan before, telling Edwards “we’ve got to get back to it.” In response, Ohio congressmember and Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich said: “No matter how important or influential they perceive themselves to be, [candidates] do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not. Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our Democracy as an imperial President.”
House Panel Moves to Hold Miers in Contempt
Back in the United States, the House Judiciary subcommittee has moved towards beginning contempt proceedings against former White House counsel Harriet Miers. Miers refused to appear before a Congressional hearing on the firing of U.S. attorneys after President Bush invoked executive privilege to prevent her testimony.
Helen Thomas Questions Bush on War
And finally, back at the White House, President Bush reverted to a presidential press conference tradition he has long ignored -- giving the first question to veteran correspondent Helen Thomas.
- Helen Thomas: Q Mr. President, you started this war, a war of your choosing, and you can end it alone, today, at this point -- bring in peacekeepers, U.N. peacekeepers. Two million Iraqis have fled their country as refugees. Two million more are displaced. Thousands and thousands are dead. Don't you understand, you brought the al Qaeda into Iraq.
- President Bush: Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That's why I went to the United Nations and worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course.
- Thomas: Didn't we go into Iraq --
- Bush: It was his decision to make.