The Bastille Day Briefing:

"THE PRESIDENT: Well, the speech that I gave was cleared by the CIA. And, look, the thing that's important to realize is that we're constantly gathering data. Subsequent to the speech, the CIA had some doubts. But when I gave the -- when they talked about the speech and when they looked at the speech, it was cleared. Otherwise, I wouldn't have put it in the speech. I'm not interested in talking about intelligence unless it's cleared by the CIA. And as Director Tenet said, it was cleared by the CIA.

The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region. I firmly believe the decisions we made will make America more secure and the world more peaceful."

DYSTOPIA BOX: Um. The CIA had doubts from the beginning. Their mistake was to succomb to pressure from your administration to approve the use of known-to-be-very doubtful information. Choosing to ignore the overwhelming mass of information was a political decision, not an intelligence analysis. Also, the weapons inspectors were, indeed, in Iraq. All over Iraq. In caravans of suburbans paying surprise visits to suspected sites and finding a great deal of cooperation and a conspicuous absence of weapons programs. If by "America" you mean "Bechtel", and by "Peaceful" you mean "violent," then we can agree on your summation.

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