Despite Report, US Was 'Right to Take Action' Against Saddam

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - President George W. Bush said the findings of a report unveiled Wednesday by chief U.S. weapons hunter Charles Duelfer, which shows that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction prior to the U.S. invasion, does not change his belief that the U.S. was "right to take action" against the Iraqi dictator.

Despite the report's findings, which contradict what the U.S. intelligence community and the Bush administration believed about the existence of WMD, Bush said America is still safer with Saddam in prison.

"He retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction, and he could have passed that knowledge onto our terrorist enemies," the president added.

"The Duelfer report," Bush said, "raises important new information about Saddam Hussein's defiance of the world and his intent and capability to develop weapons."

The president said the report also revealed that the Iraqi dictator "was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions."

"He was doing so with the intent of starting his weapons program once the world looked away," Bush said, adding that Saddam was "a unique threat, a sworn enemy of our country, a state sponsor of terror operating in the world's most volatile region." And, Bush said, Saddam was "a threat we had to confront" in the post-Sept. 11th world.

But the president acknowledged that the Duelfer report "makes clear that much of the accumulated body of 12 years of our intelligence and that of our allies was wrong." He said the U.S. must "find out why and correct the flaws."

An intelligence reform commission is currently working to find out why the U.S. intelligence does not jibe with the findings of the Duelfer report. "At the time of many threats in the world, the intelligence on which the president and members of Congress base their decisions must be better, and it will be," Bush promised.

"I look forward to the intelligence reform commission's recommendations and we will act on them to improve our intelligence, especially our intelligence about weapons of mass destruction," he concluded.

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