Rice: Iraq War ‘Seemed the Course’

By Jennifer Parker

Dec 7, 2008 9:03am

In our interview on "This Week" Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused to say whether she agreed with Karl Rove’s statement this week that "absent weapons of mass destruction, no, I don’t think there would have been an invasion [of Iraq]."   

"Well I think there were a lot of reasons to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Yes weapons of mass destruction but this man was a real danger," Rice said.

"This seemed the course for somebody who combined weapons of mass destruction, which we believe he had, and his murderous history," she said.

When I pressed on whether she thinks the country would have gone to war anyway, without the intelligence failures, Rice said, "George, one you don’t have that luxury. You don’t. It’s fine to sit and try to play mind games and to try to recreate what we might have done here or there, but  that’s not the world we were living in in 2003. We were living in a post-9/11 world in which it was very clear that you shouldn’t let threats multiple and collect without acting against them."

Rice reflected on her eight years in the Bush administration, and argued the greatest threat to the nation remains terrorism.

"I still am concerned that everyday, the terrorists plot against us," Rice told me, "We have to be right 100 percent of the time, they have to be right once. I think it’s hard to understand that if you’re in a position of authority on Sept. 11 then every day since has been Sept. 12th. And that undoubtedly defending the homeland continues to be the greatest threat."

Asked how much it matters that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hasn’t been captured, Rice said, "Everyone wants to see the day that Osama bin Laden is brought to justice. But this is not a one-man organization. And I think we are more capable at dealing with al Qaeda, tracking and tracing them, cutting down their financial networks, and most importantly we’ve captured or killed an awful lot of their leadership. That very coherent institution, organization, that perpetrated 9/11 is really not intact any longer, although they remain dangerous."

President Bush said this week that his greatest regret was the intelligence failure  in Iraq.

Today, Rice said, "It’s high on my list because we and the intelligence agencies around the world thought we were dealing with something that turns out to have been a different kind of threat."

But Rice said she is appalled at the inability of the international community to stop tyrants, mentioning Burma and Zimbabwe.

The Secretary of State said the idea that there was "group-think" in the White House leading up to the war in Iraq is "not true."

"The intelligence frankly didn’t permit much in the way of alternatives for the weapons of mass destruction," Rice said.

–George Stephanopoulos

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