George W. Bush held a rare press conference today to talk about what’s going on in Iraq. The press corps were finally asking some tough questions. As always, Helen Thomas was there to ask the most pointed ones, including a question about why Bush really wanted to go to war, now that we have heard several different reasons from this administration about why they went there. Here is Bush’s response, and note that he again claims that Iraq was hiding members of Al Qaeda:
No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it’s just simply not true.
My attitude about the defense of this country changed in September the 11th. When we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people.
Our foreign policy changed on that day. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life.
And I’m never going to forget it. And I’m never going to forget the vow I made to the American people, that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.
Part of that meant to make sure that we didn’t allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy, and that’s why I went into Iraq.
At that moment, there was muffled conversation in the room, apparently revolving around the truth or untruth of that statement, and Bush responded, “Hold on for a second. Excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for Al Qaida. That’s where Al Qaida trained and that’s where…” Then Ms. Thomas asked something not registered on the transcript, and Bush kept going: “Helen, excuse me…. That’s where — Afghanistan provided safe haven for Al Qaida. That’s where they trained, that’s where they plotted, that’s where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.”
So which is it, Mr. Bush? Can you please get your story straight?
Talking about getting the story straight, yesterday’s guest on the Sean Hannity Show was General Tommy Franks. Just after the two of them kept congratulating each other on what great patriots they were, General Franks started talking about a woman who came up to him and asked why he thought people are complaining about how many soldiers are being killed when we had 3000 killed right here on American soil? He responded by saying that with all due respect, it was a valid question. Then he said something that stunned me. He mentioned that out of the “approximately 2300” soldiers that have been killed over there, only 1800 have died in “combat-related activities, and the rest died of accidents or otherwise.” For the rest of the interview, whenever mentioning the number of soldiers dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, he mentioned the number 1800. It’s as if the remaining FIVE HUNDRED DEAD BOYS AND GIRLS do not count as brave soldiers who died for their country because they were killed by accidents. I was astonished that a United States General could be so intellecutally dishonest and at the same time be so inconsiderate for the famlies of those who had lost children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers,… Just because they died as the result of an accident over in Iraq rather than from an IED over in Iraq. The point is, but for the wishes and desires of this administration, those US soldiers would not have been over there, and they would be at home. Does it matter how they died? They died in a war zone.
If being “in a firefight” is enough to allow Bill O’Reilly to claim he has “seen combat,” shouldn’t we respect our soldiers enough to honor them when they’ve given their lives in service to their country — no matter how they died?