Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bush talks about the Downing Street Memo

Tony Blair and George Bush held a joint a press conference today, and during that conference they were asked to respond to the Downing Street Memo (or Downing Street Minutes, as some are starting to call it). Here's President Bush's response:
"PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I -- you know, I read kind of the characterizations of the memo, particularly when they dropped it out in the middle of his race. I'm not sure who "they dropped it out" is, but -- I'm not suggesting that you all dropped it out there. (Laughter.) And somebody said, well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth.

"My conversation with the Prime Minister was, how could we do this peacefully, what could we do. And this meeting, evidently, that took place in London happened before we even went to the United Nations -- or I went to the United Nations. And so it's -- look, both us of didn't want to use our military. Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It's the last option. The consequences of committing the military are -- are very difficult. The hardest things I do as the President is to try to comfort families who've lost a loved one in combat. It's the last option that the President must have -- and it's the last option I know my friend had, as well.

"And so we worked hard to see if we could figure out how to do this peacefully, take a -- put a united front up to Saddam Hussein, and say, the world speaks, and he ignored the world. Remember, 1441 passed the Security Council unanimously. He made the decision. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.
While this is being billed as a response to the Downing Street Memo, CNN's article points out that Bush has still not responded to Rep. Conyers's questions regarding the memo.

It is also interesting to contrast Bush's answer with Tony Blair's, significantly more eloquent, response:
"PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, I can respond to that very easily. No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all. And let me remind you that that memorandum was written before we then went to the United Nations. Now, no one knows more intimately the discussions that we were conducting as two countries at the time than me. And the fact is we decided to go to the United Nations and went through that process, which resulted in the November 2002 United Nations resolution, to give a final chance to Saddam Hussein to comply with international law. He didn't do so. And that was the reason why we had to take military action.

"But all the way through that period of time, we were trying to look for a way of managing to resolve this without conflict. As it happened, we weren't able to do that because -- as I think was very clear -- there was no way that Saddam Hussein was ever going to change the way that he worked, or the way that he acted.

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