President Bush's Endorsement of the Creation of a National Intelligence Czar
I think we've over 9 million now?
POWELL: Yes, sir, just about 9 million.
BUSH: Nine million people have said to the world, "We love freedom, and we're going to vote."
The Taliban still roams in parts of the country, and we're working with the Afghan government to bring them to justice. These are similar to the killers in Iraq. They'll lurk in shadows and come out and kill indiscriminately.
Do you remember they pulled the women off the bus? They got the bus, they stopped and said, everybody -- "The women with voter registration cards, step off," and they killed them?
Nevertheless, the Afghan people refused to be intimidated. They're showing up in droves to vote. A free society is emerging in that part of the world.
In Iran, we are paying very close attention to Iran. We have ever since I've been in office here. We are working with our friends to keep the pressure on the mullahs to listen to the demands of the free world. And...
BUSH: Hold on a second, please. Excuse me.
We're working with the IAEA to keep the pressure on Iran.
BUSH: And the secretary is working very closely with the foreign ministers of France, Great Britain and Germany, who are taking it upon themselves to make it clear that the demands of Europe are also equal to -- same as the demands of the United States: that we expect for there to be full disclosure, full transparency of their nuclear weapons programs.
QUESTION: Mr. President, your opponent, John Kerry, has called for a complete endorsement of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. How do your actions today differ from his own in ensuring national security?
And what can the American people see in the days to come, either feel or see, to know that they are better protected?
BUSH: Well, when we put out a threat alert like we did yesterday and then work with folks at the local jurisdictions to respond, the American people need to know that, one, our intelligence-gathering is doing its job -- the intelligence gatherers are doing their job.
And secondly, the response mechanism is fast. And they need to know their government, there are thousands of people working overtime to not only find data but analyze data, and then take the steps necessary to protect as best as we possibly can.
This is a big country. We're a free country. And as I said many times, we got to be 100 percent correct; they got to be correct once.
But the people need to know that we're taking action on actionable intelligence.
First part of the -- the 9/11. Listen, my job is to take a look at what I think is right and to build on that which we've already done. We've already done a lot. Take a good look at what has taken place since 9/11, and I think you'll be -- as a citizen concerned about your own safety, I think you'll be pleased.
And the question is, how do we do more? And we're more than happy to do more.
QUESTION: Mr. President, can you say what you would regard as the model for this national intelligence director? Is it the Fed? Would it be the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
And in what way would this new structure prevent the kind of intelligence failings that preceded the war in Iraq, with respect to weapons, difficulty the opposition faced and those sorts of things?
BUSH: Not like the Fed. More like the Joint Chiefs. Because the Joint Chiefs have got a -- even though not a part of the chain of command, they are affected by the chain of command.
And the second part of the question -- oh, why would this -- listen, let me talk about the intelligence in Iraq.
First of all, we all thought we'd find stockpiles of weapons. We may still find weapons. We haven't found them yet. Every person standing up here would say, "Gosh, we thought it was going to be different," as did the Congress, by the way, members of both parties, and the United Nations.
But what we do know is that Saddam Hussein had the capability of making weapons.
And let me just say this to you. Knowing what I know today, we still would have gone on into Iraq. We still would have gone to make our country more secure. He had the capability of making weapons. He had terrorist ties.
The decision I made was the right decision. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.
And I find it interesting in the political process that someone says, "Well, I voted for the intelligence." And now they won't say whether or not it was the right decision to take Saddam Hussein out.
It's the right decision. And world is better off for it.
Listen, thank you all.
© 2004 FDCH E-Media