In his final press conference, President George W. Bush called failing to find WMD in Iraq a "disappointment."
For many historians -- not allowing a little history to pass before rendering judgment -- this makes him a "failed president." In a 2006 survey of 744 history professors, 82 percent rated President Bush either below average or a failure. Last April, in an informal poll of 109 historians by George Mason University, 98 percent considered him a failed president, and 61 percent judged him one of the worst in American history.
His "crime"? For most of these historians, Bush led the country into an "unnecessary war."
Return to the bad old days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, when terror attacks killed 3,000 on American soil. Eighty to 90 percent of Americans expected another attack -- on American soil -- within six months to a year. Critics called Bush asleep at the wheel, that he failed to "connect the dots." Never mind that the 9/11 Commission said that former President Bill Clinton blew several opportunities to kill or capture Osama bin Laden.
Let us recall Saddam Hussein, the "Butcher of Baghdad."
Under President Clinton, Congress voted for -- and he signed -- the Iraq Liberation Act, calling for "regime change." Saddam Hussein stood in defiance of several United Nations resolutions calling for him to fully account for his weapons of mass destruction. He certainly possessed WMD, having used them against his enemies and his own people. He continually fired at the American and British planes patrolling the southern and northern "no-fly zones" set up to prevent genocide against fellow Iraqis. In addition to stealing billions from the "oil-for-food" program (to what end?), he sent $25,000 apiece to families of homicide bombers who attacked Israelis. Following Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the U.S.-led coalition's subsequent expulsion of him, we found Saddam much closer to developing a nuclear weapon than our intelligence community assumed. He later attempted to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush. Estimates vary, but Saddam killed, during his 25-year reign, between 300,000 and 1 million Iraqis.
In the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, all 16 U.S. intelligence departments concluded -- with the highest possible level of certainty -- that Saddam still possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological WMD. British intel reached the same conclusion. According to former CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks, officials in Egypt and Jordan told him that they believed the dictator still possessed WMD.