Bush, in a photo oppoortunity with Kofi Annen, said of Saddam Hussein: And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in.. The Washington Post picked up the story, noting that:
The president's assertion that the war began because Iraq did not admit inspectors appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring: Hussein had, in fact, admitted the inspectors and Bush had opposed extending their work because he did not believe them effective.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dana, one last question.
Q Mr. President, back on the question of Iraq, and that specific line that has been in question --
THE PRESIDENT: Can you cite the line? (Laughter.)
Q I could, if you gave me some time.
THE PRESIDENT: When I gave the speech, the line was relevant.
Q So even though there has been some question about the intelligence -- the intelligence community knowing beforehand that perhaps it wasn't, you still believe that when you gave it --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the speech that I gave was cleared by the CIA. And, look, the thing that's important to realize is that we're constantly gathering data. Subsequent to the speech, the CIA had some doubts. But when I gave the -- when they talked about the speech and when they looked at the speech, it was cleared. Otherwise, I wouldn't have put it in the speech. I'm not interested in talking about intelligence unless it's cleared by the CIA. And as Director Tenet said, it was cleared by the CIA.
The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region. I firmly believe the decisions we made will make America more secure and the world more peaceful.