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Tuesday, April 13, 2004
The News Conference

Is W. growing his hair to compete with Kerry?

The violence in Iraq "is not a popular uprising."

He thinks there's still a cease-fire in Fallujah. That was so, like, 6 hours ago.

"Secretary of State Rumsfeld?"

"I fully understand the consequences of what we're doing."

"If he wants to keep troops [who have been there a year] there, I'm more than willing [to help]."

Q: When will we get the troops out of Iraq? A: "Eventually"

"Saddam Hussein was a threat."

"I went to the U.N. and said 'if you won't, we will.'" Great, you told them what to do, and they didn't do it. You're a master diplomat, pal.

Q: 2 1/2 years later, do you feel any personal responsibility for the attacks?
A: I was angry and sad. I feel grieved when I meet family members. There're some things I wish we'd done, but we didn't. Homeland security department. The Patriot act is an important change in law that will allow the Stovepiped. Because of law. We're on a war footing. We must deal with gathering threats. The other lesson is that this country must go on the offense and stay on the offense. We must bring the killers to justice before they kill us again. We've got to be right 100% of the time. Our government has changed since 9/11. We've still got a lot of work to do.

Q: You never admit a mistake. Fair criticism. Any thing you [regret]
A: The country was on a war footing. That was the situation before 9/11. We didn't think we'd be vulnerable to an attack like 9/11 from Osama. No one could think of airplanes into buildings. I want to know why no WMD's. Iraqis think they're better off without Saddam in power. It's very important for the loved ones of our troops to understand that our mission is important and vital to change the world for the better.

Q: PDB: Any specific actions on your part
A: I asked for the briefing because there was stuff from overseas. I was going to be in Europe, so I wanted to know. About Overseas. Genoa. Reports concern me. I was dealing with terrorism "a lot" from Tenet. In the PDB there was a warning. I didn't think that was anything new. The FBI was conducting field investigations. Had there been an actionable threat, I'd have done something. Reduced to a where. [ed: Airports, maybe?]

Q: PDB: 70 field investigations, but Freeh says that # was wrong. Too high. Do you believe you were falsely comforted?
A: I expect to get valid information. The 9/11 commission will handle it. The 9/11 commission is great.


Q: Apology?
A: I think about what I could have done differently. If we had known, we'd have done everything to stop it. Person responsible is Bin Laden. That's why we'll stay on the offense.

Q: NATO - Not much support. You have lots of mercenaries. Are we going to get help?
A: Don't demean participation. I'm proud of our coalition. They're getting their guys killed "for the good of the world." There's more involvement by the United Nations. I want them to help us get others to participate. There's a "heartening resolve" among our allies. A free Iraq is going to be a major blow to terrorism. I was having dinner with Koizumi, talking about North Korea. He's a threat. What do we do? It dawned on me that World War II had something to do with it. Our legacy is based on our belief that people want to be free. If you're muslim or brown you can be free. I believe that. I'm really progressive.

Q: Why Bush/Cheney together for 9/11 commission?
A: Because they want to ask us questions. Uh, because it's a good chance for us to answer questions. I'm not going to answer that.

We took preemptive action on Afghanistan. After 9/11.

We couldn't base in the Caucus region. It would have been difficult. 9/11 changed things. Oceans will not protect us for the 15th time. We're a hard country to defend. Never mind. uh...um...decision...president..."I fully understand the consequences of the decision [to use military power]."

The AQ Khan bust that we uncovered was a victory in the war against terror. Not putting him in jail or doing anything to him made the world safer.

Iraq is a part of the war on terror, even if it didn't have any terrorists.

Q: Will it have been worth it if you lose your job?
A: (immediately) I won't lose my job. I will not even entertain the possibility. I console people. It's...uh...uh...a chance to hug and weep and console. They need to know their sacrifice was for the safety of America. We should never allow our youngsters to die in vain. Historic significance. Men and women in uniform. Soldiers.

Q: About biggest mistake in your life. After 9/11, what is it.
A: I wish I could have had someone else answer this question for me. I'm sure historians will say you could have done it better. There's a lot of pressure. Nothing's come into my head. I would have gone into Afghanistan the same way. I would have done Iraq the same way. We'll find weapons. They could be hidden like the 50 lbs. of mustard gas on a turkey farm. The Iraqis won't talk because they're scared of being killed. Saddam could make weapons. That bothers me. He's a dangerous man. I'm confident I've made mistakes. I'm not quick enough to come up with a mistake.

Q: FBI begged you not to split up law enforcement and counterterrorism. But you want to reform. How?
A: The MI5 (?) I look forward to listening to other people talk about this. I am not a leader. I only encourage and foster discussions because I want to leave behind a legacy that will help other presidents. This is a war on bad people. They kill to affect people's behaviors. That's the definition of terrorists. Later presidents should do everything the same as we do. Of course we can win the war on terror. It's against Muslims. Free societies are great. I'm pressuring the Middle East Reform Initiative, because freedom is not our country's gift of the world, but of the almighty's. But our country has an obligation to provide freedom. We're feeding the hungry and curing AIDS. My job is to lead this nation. My message today to those in Iraq is that we'll stay the course and complete the job. Also to the troops and their loved ones.

Last Q: Those who yell will not be...Don, I've never heard of you.
Q: With support falling for Iraq, do you feel in any way that you've failed as a communicator. Lots of speeches, that vary little. They're upbeat. Have you failed in any way. You don't have many press conferences. Have you failed to make the case?
A: The voters will decide. If I follow polls, I'd be ineffective. I'd be disappointed in myself. I have conviction. I look forward to debate. (!) Should we lead or look like pussies? I look forward to talking about that.

If there was any doubt remaining about W.'s inability to admit mistakes, I think that about killed it.