Bush's finest hour

Posted: Jan 28, 2003 12:00 AM
President Bush has been getting a lot of free advice lately about what he should say in his State of the Union address tomorrow night. Here is the Center for Security Policy's contribution: My fellow Americans: Tonight, it is my solemn responsibility to describe for you an unacceptably grave risk to our national security -- and what we are going to do about it. For seventeen months, we have been waging a war on terror, a defensive response to a scurrilous attack that caused the premeditated death of thousands of our countrymen. We have struck at the al Qaeda network that was most immediately involved in carrying out the September 11th hijackings. All over the world, operatives of this Islamist terror organization are today being sought, apprehended or killed in the hope of preventing further, and possibly far more destructive, attacks upon us, our allies or our vital interests. Indispensable to that effort has been our campaign to deny al Qaeda the logistical support, training facilities and safe haven they once enjoyed in Afghanistan. In the process, thanks to the skill, courage and sacrifice of our armed forces and intelligence services, we have helped to liberate the Afghan people and to offer them an opportunity rarely known to their long-suffering nation for representative self-governance, political freedom and economic opportunity. We have reason to believe, however, that another government played an indispensable role in planning, facilitating and executing the September 11th attacks: Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Unfortunately, at the moment the evidence of this involvement is circumstantial and less than clear-cut. The case for implicating Saddam and his operatives in the latest and most deadly attack upon us is even more compelling, though, when added to evidence that points to his complicity in earlier terrorist acts -- the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 1996 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Tonight, sitting with the First Lady, are two intrepid women who have done pioneering work ferreting out and calling attention to this evidence: an internationally recognized specialist on Iraq and best-selling author, Dr. Laurie Mylroie, and television-reporter-turned-independent investigator, Jayna Davis of Oklahoma City. I would ask you to join me in saluting them for pursuing leads that neither the federal government, prosecutors or the media have done enough to date to investigate. My administration is working to correct this shortfall and to learn all we can -- to connect the dots -- between Saddam's sponsorship of terror, his oft-stated desire for revenge and the actions of others, be they followers of a blind sheik, disaffected American "militiamen" or al Qaeda operatives. We will probably not know the full truth about the Iraqi connection, however, until Iraq is liberated as Afghanistan has been, and the secrets of the former's brutal regime are brought to light. What we do know already is that it would be irresponsible to afford Saddam Hussein an opportunity to attack again, either directly or through cut-outs. This is particularly true since the next attack may well involve the use of weapons of mass destruction on our soil or overseas. This danger exists because Saddam has assiduously pursued the production and stockpiling of such weapons and continues to violate international commitments and UN Security Council resolutions requiring him to disarm. We also know that the only effective way to ensure such disarmament -- and the only hope that it will not be followed by a covert Iraqi rearmament -- is to liberate Iraq from Saddam's brutal misrule. Affording more time for inspections that are not disarming Iraq and that, even if they were, would not in and of themselves preclude Saddam from subsequently rearming, would do nothing to prevent him from engaging in further acts of terror against us. To the contrary, additional weeks or months may well provide just the opportunity he needs to exercise a monstrously lethal strike. In the hope of preventing such a possibility, with the intention of advancing regional and world peace and with a determination to liberate the Iraqi people, I have ordered the United States military at this hour to launch operations aimed at removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. As they do so, they will be accompanied and facilitated in their campaign by a number of other nations' combat units joining ours in operating from foreign bases and, with permission, through foreign airspace. The speed and cost of this operation will ultimately be decided by the help we receive from those who have at least as much interest as we in ending Saddam's malevolence -- his own people -- as by the skillful employment of our weaponry. We will work with the opposition to build a new, free and prosperous Iraq, a model for the region and the world. My report to you tonight is that we have acted, as we must, to defend our vital interests. We are doing so in a way that will minimize the threats now confronting us, that holds out hope for a more peaceful and secure world and that will enhance the state of our Union. God bless America.