Records Show Bush Pledging Iraq Invasion With or Without U.N. Backing

Pre-war transcript shows Bush pledging Iraq invasion regardless of U.N. backing.

ByABC News
September 26, 2007, 1:25 PM

Sept. 26, 2007 — -- Weeks before the invasion of Iraq, President Bush told Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar that the attack would go forward with or without a U.N. resolution condemning the government of Saddam Hussein, according to a transcript of the private meeting obtained by a Spanish newspaper.

"This is like Chinese water torture," Bush is quoted as telling Aznar. "We have to put an end to it."

In the private conversation at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, Feb. 22, 2003, Bush does not contradict his public statements on Iraq, but he is much more direct and specific. Speaking to reporters at his ranch publicly later that same day, Bush left the impression that an invasion of Iraq was not inevitable.

"President Aznar and I agree that the future of peace depends on the disarmament of Iraq," Bush said in the news briefing. "We agree that Saddam Hussein continues to be in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. We agree that the terms of that resolution must be fully respected. By Resolution 1441, the Security Council has taken a clear stand and it now faces a clear choice. With all the world watching, the council will now show whether it means what it says."

The transcript of Bush's private conversation with Aznar, taken down by the U.S. ambassador's office, was translated into Spanish by El Pais and posted by the newspaper. The excerpts used in this article have been translated back into English and might vary slightly in wording from the original English version.

The White House declined to challenge the accuracy of the El Pais transcript.

Aznar's support for Bush and the war cost him dearly in Spanish popular opinion. In 2003 the Spanish leader said he would stick to a pledge to not seek a third term and designated Mariano Rajoy as his successor for the 2004 election. Rajoy's Popular Party lost the election due in part to the aftermath of the Madrid train bombings.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of the leftist Spanish Socialist Workers Party also won after running an anti-war campaign. Zapatero promised to withdraw troops from Iraq if elected and made good on the promise when he took office. Spain's support for the war was cited as a reason it was targeted in the deadly bombings.