Transcript: Bush News Conference Q & A

I think the hearings will show that the Patriot Act is an important change in the law that will allow the FBI and the CIA to better share information together.

We were kind of stovepiped, I guess is a way to describe it. There was, you know, kind of departments that at times didn't communicate — because of law, in the FBI's case.

And the other thing I look back on and realize is that we weren't on a war footing. The country was not on a war footing, and yet the enemy was at war with us. And it didn't take me long to put us on a war footing.

And we've been on a war ever since.

The lessons of 9/11 — one lesson was we must deal with gathering threats, and that's part of the reason I dealt with Iraq the way I did.

The other lesson is, is that this country must go on the offense and stay on the offense. In order to secure the country, we must do everything in our power to find these killers and bring them to justice before they hurt us again. I'm afraid they want to hurt us again. They're still there.

They can be right one time; we got to be right 100 percent of the time in order to protect the country. It's a mighty task.

But our government has changed since the 9/11 attacks. We're better equipped to respond. We're better at sharing intelligence. But we've still got a lot of work to do.

Dave?

QUESTION: Mr. President, I'd like to follow up on a country of these questions that have been asked.

One of the biggest criticisms of you is that whether it's WMD in Iraq, postwar planning in Iraq, or even the question of whether this administration did enough to ward off 9/11, you never admit a mistake. Is that a fair criticism, and do you believe that there were any errors in judgment that you made related to any of those topics I brought up?

BUSH: Well, I think, as I mentioned, you know, the country wasn't on war footing, and yet we're at war.

And that's just a reality, Dave. I mean, that was the situation that existed prior to 9/11, because, the truth of the matter is most in the country never felt that we'd be vulnerable to an attack such as the one that Osama bin Laden unleashed on us.

We knew he had designs on us. We knew he hated us. But there was nobody in our government, at least, and I don't think the prior government that could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale.

The people know where I stand, I mean, in terms of Iraq. I was very clear about what I believed. And, of course, I want to know why we haven't found a weapon yet. But I still know Saddam Hussein was a threat. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.

I don't think anybody can — maybe people can argue that. I know the Iraqi people don't believe that, that they're better off with Saddam Hussein — would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power.

I also know that there's an historic opportunity here to change the world. And it's very important for the loved ones of our troops to understand that the mission is an important, vital mission for the security of America and for the ability to change the world for the better.

Let's see. Ed?

QUESTION: Mr. President, good evening. I'd like to ask you about the August 6th PDB.

BUSH: Sure.

QUESTION: You've mentioned it at Fort Hood on Sunday. You pointed out that it did not warn of a hijacking of airplanes to crash into buildings, but that it warned of hijacking to obviously take hostages and to secure the release of extremists that are being held by the U.S.

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