The president’s Oak Ridge speech from yesterday. An excerpt:
Three years ago, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America, who provided safe haven for terrorists, used weapons of mass destruction, and turned his nation into a prison. Saddam Hussein was not just a dictator; he was a proven mass murderer who refused to account for weapons of mass murder. Every responsible nation recognized this threat, and knew it could not go on forever.
America must remember the lessons of September the 11th. We must confront serious dangers before they fully materialize. And so my administration looked at the intelligence on Iraq, and we saw a threat. Members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence, and they saw a threat. The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence, and it saw a threat. The previous administration and the Congress looked at the intelligence and made regime change in Iraq the policy of our country.
In 2002, the United Nations Security Council yet again demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs. As he had for over a decade, Saddam Hussein refused to comply. In fact, according to former weapons inspector David Kay, Iraq’s weapons programs were elaborately shielded by security and deception operations that continued even beyond the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom. So I had a choice to make: Either take the word of a madman, or defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)
Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. We removed a declared enemy of America, who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder, and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take.
Today, the dictator who caused decades of death and turmoil, who twice invaded his neighbors, who harbored terrorist leaders, who used chemical weapons on innocent men, women, and children, is finally before the bar of justice. (Applause.) Iraq, which once had the worst government in the Middle East, is now becoming an example of reform to the region. And Iraqi security forces are fighting beside coalition troops to defeat the terrorists and foreign fighters who threaten their nation and the world. Today, because America and our coalition helped to end the violent regime of Saddam Hussein, and because we’re helping to raise a peaceful democracy in its place, the American people are safer. (Applause.)
Three years ago, the nation of Libya, a longtime supporter of terror, was spending millions to acquire chemical and nuclear weapons. Today, thousands of Libya’s chemical munitions have been destroyed. And nuclear processing equipment that could ultimately have threatened the lives of hundreds of thousands is stored away right here in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Today, because the Libyan government saw the seriousness of the civilized world, and correctly judged its own interests, the American people are safer. (Applause.)
Three years ago, a private weapons proliferation network was doing business around the world. This network, operated by the Pakistani nuclear scientist, A. Q. Khan, was selling nuclear plans and equipment to the highest bidder, and found willing buyers in places like Libya, Iran, and North Korea. Today, the A. Q. Khan network is out of business. We have ended one of the most dangerous sources of proliferation in the world, and the American people are safer. (Applause.)
Breaking this proliferation network was possible because of the outstanding work done by the CIA. Dedicated intelligence officers were tireless in obtaining vital information, sometimes at great personal risk. Our intelligence services do an essential job for America. I thank them for their dedication and hard work. (Applause.) The Senate Intelligence Committee has identified some shortcomings in our intelligence capabilities; the Committee’s report will help us in the work of reform. Our nation needs more intelligence agents — what is called human intelligence — to cover the globe. We must have the best, cutting-edge technology to listen and look for dangers. We must have better coordination among intelligence services. I need, and the Congress needs, the best possible intelligence in order to protect the American people. We’re determined to make sure we get it.
Three years ago, the world was very different. Terrorists planned attacks, with little fear of discovery or reckoning. Outlaw regimes supported terrorists and defied the civilized world, without shame and with few consequences. Weapons proliferators sent their deadly shipments and grew wealthy, encountering few obstacles to their trade.
The world changed on September the 11th, and since that day, we have changed the world. (Applause.) We are leading a steady, confident, systematic campaign against the dangers of our time. There are still terrorists who plot against us, but the ranks of their leaders are thinning, and they know what fate awaits them. There are still regimes actively supporting the terrorists, but fewer than there used to be. There are still outlaw regimes pursuing weapons of mass destruction, but the world no longer looks the other way. Today, because America has acted, and because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer. (Applause.)
All this progress has been achieved with the help of other responsible nations. The case of Libya’s nuclear disarmament is a good example. In the fall of 2003, American and British intelligence were tracking a large shipment of nuclear equipment bound for Tripoli aboard a German-registered cargo ship. We alerted German and Italian authorities, who diverted the ship to an Italian port where the cargo was confiscated. We worked together. These events helped encourage Libya to reconsider its nuclear ambitions. That was a dramatic breakthrough, achieved by allies working together. And the cooperation of America’s allies in the war on terror is very, very strong.
We’re grateful to the more than 60 nations that are supporting the Proliferation Security Initiative to intercept illegal weapons and equipment by sea, land, and air. We’re grateful to the more than 30 nations with forces serving in Iraq, and the nearly 40 nations with forces in Afghanistan. In the fight against terror, we’ve asked our allies to do hard things. They’ve risen to their responsibilities. We’re proud to call them friends. (Applause.)
We have duties and there will be difficulties ahead. We’re working with responsible governments and international institutions to convince the leaders of North Korea and Iran that their nuclear weapons ambitions are deeply contrary to their own interests. We’re helping governments fight poverty and disease, so they do not become failed states and future havens for terror. We’ve launched our Broader Middle East Initiative, to encourage reform and democracy throughout the region, a project that will shape the history of our times for the better. We’re working to build a free and democratic Palestinian state, which lives in peace with Israel and adds to the peace of the region. We’re keeping our commitments to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, who are building the world’s newest democracies. They’re counting on us to help. We will not abandon them. (Applause.) Delivering these nations from tyranny has required sacrifice and loss. We will honor that sacrifice by finishing the great work we have begun. (Applause.)
In this challenging period of our history, Americans fully understand the dangers to our country. We remain a nation at risk, directly threatened by an enemy that plots in secret to cause terrible harm and grief. We remain a nation at war, fighting for our security, our freedom, and our way of life. We also see our advantages clearly. Americans have a history of rising to every test; our generation is no exception. We’ve not forgotten September the 11th, 2001. We will not allow our enemies to forget it, either. (Applause.)
We have strong allies, including millions of people in the Middle East who want to live in freedom. And the ideals we stand for have a power of their own. The appeal of justice and liberty, in the end, is greater than the appeal of hatred and tyranny in any form. The war on terror will not end in a draw, it will end in a victory, and you and I will see that victory of human freedom. (Applause.)
Read the whole thing here.