Wednesday, June 30, 2004

More from the mixed-up files of Scottie Mac. Remember how, after the 9/11 commission report came out, the administration rushed to say that it wasn't in disagreement with the party line, that they'd never actually said that Iraq and al Qaeda were one and the same?

Now that the report is off the front page, they're back at it.

Q The President has been asserting quite a lot recently that after the war in Iraq, that America is safer. And yet, there seems to be some consistency in American polls that show that Americans don't seem to agree, that they fear that the aftermath of the war in Iraq is that America is, in fact, more vulnerable to terrorism both here and abroad. How do you explain that --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I don't know that all polls show the same thing on that very subject that you bring up. I think the American people recognize that we are engaged in a broad war on terrorism. The American people recognize that September 11th changed the equation. These threats have been emerging for quite some time, the threats of terrorism. But this President made a decision that we were going to defeat the terrorist threat that we face. And the best way to do that is to take the fight to the enemy. That's exactly what we are doing. We are a nation at war. But because of the action that this President is taking, we are making the world a safer and better place and making America more secure. Saddam Hussein's regime has been removed from power, and the world is better off for that.

Q I understand. And as you should do, you have said that, the President has said that now about 4,000 times. And apparently, the American public doesn't quite agree with that argument. And I'm wondering if you can address what appears to be some disconnect.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the American people recognize that the actions we are taking are making the world a safer and better place. So I tend to disagree with the premise of your question.

Q Well, if you saw something that indicated that a majority of Americans disagree --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, keep in mind a couple of things here. One, on September 11th, 2001, the terrorists -- well, the terrorists had declared war on us even prior to that date when they carried out their attacks across the world. The terrorists want to wreak chaos and havoc on the civilized world. And the only way to defeat them is to take the fight to them. But we also, as we take the fight to them, need to address the root causes of terrorism. And that means advancing freedom and democracy.

And that's why this President has made an unprecedented commitment to supporting freedom and democracy in the broader Middle East, and put forward an initiative that the international community has gotten behind to advance those efforts to partner with the people in those -- in that region to help them realize their aspirations.

So I think you have to look at what we are engaged in right now. We are engaged in a global war on terrorism. The terrorists know, as I said, that the only way they won't be defeated is if they can shake our will and determination and break our confidence. But that won't happen. We are going to defeat the terrorists. And we are going to make sure that we are doing everything we can to win this war on terrorism and prevent something like September 11th from ever happening again.

Just to be clear: al Qaeda is our enemy. And invading Iraq was our way of taking the fight to the enemy.

No, that doesn't disagree with the 9/11 commission report at all...

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