Raddatz: Just let me go back because you brought this up. You said Saddam Hussein posed a threat in the post-9/11 world. They didn't find weapons of mass destruction.
Bush: That's true. Everybody thought they had them.
Raddatz: So what threat?
Bush: Saddam Hussein was the sworn enemy of the United States. He had been enriched by oil revenues. He was a sponsor of terror. I have never claimed like some said that he -- you know, oh, that he was directly involved with the attacks on 9/11, but he did support terrorists. And, uh, Saddam Hussein had the capability making weapons of mass destruction.
I did not have the luxury of knowing he did not have them, neither did the rest of the world until after we had come and removed him.
Raddatz: So would you have gone in anyway?
Bush: … Excuse me for a minute. And finally we gave Hussein a peaceful way out. It was his choice. And when he refused to allow for inspections, when he refused to disclose or disarm, then a large coalition of troops took him out. And ...
Now the question is are we going to stay and help this young democracy thrive. What happened was after Saddam leaves, al Qaeda says this is the second front in the war on terror. And I take the words of a terrorist leader seriously and ... so we have worked with the Iraqis to try to help their democracy grow and thrive [and] at the same time eliminate al Qaeda safe havens.
Raddatz: Did you imagine it would -- the war would go the way it went? And you'd be sitting here today with signing a SOFA, a ...
Bush: First of all, it has taken longer then we hoped and it is more expensive then we had hoped, so in one way I guess I was -- it didn't meet expectations.
However I am pleased that we are now in a position to have signed these agreements. Because it's a signal of success, but there were some pretty tough moments and you know better than anyone because you covered them during 2006.
I had a tough call to make and that was whether or not to pull back and hope the chaos didn't spread beyond certain parts of Iraq and beyond the borders of Iraq or send more troops in order to achieve victory and I chose the latter and the signing of these agreements, the strategic forces agreement and the SOFA, I mean the strategic framework agreement and the SOFA is a sign of success. I was asked does this mean, you know, are you taking a victory lap. No, it means that this is a stable platform to continue forward.
Raddatz: [You] said again and again -- that there would be no arbitrary timetable.
Raddatz: Three years now ... and they want U.S. forces out, why is that signal the enemy something with timetables?
Bush: What I talked about timetables, was a political timetable imposed upon Iraq by people who didn't think we should have been in there in the first place. This is an agreement between the sovereign government of Iraq and the U.S. government with the considered judgment of our military commanders at the core of, uh, of the agreement. It basically says that the situation is such that we can start bringing our troops home now and should be complete by 2011.
Raddatz: Obama's plan -- he still says 16 months -- think it is a possibility?