Bush: 'I'm credible because I read the intelligence'
In a Thursday morning press conference, President George W. bush insisted that his message on the threat to America from Al Qaida in Iraq was credible because he was relying on US intelligence that provided a reasonable warning.
"I'm credible because I read the intelligence," Bush said when a reporter asked if his warning in a Wednesday speech at the US Coast Guard Academy, based on two-year old intelligence, could be trusted.
He went on, "If I was trying to politicize it, I would have dropped it before the 2006 Elections...It's my job as President to tell people the threats we face and what we're doing about it."
While answering the question, the President appeared to have a message for the 2008 candidates for President, as well.
"They are a threat to your children, David, and whoever is in the Oval Office better understand that and take measures to protect the American people," he said.
The President also acknowledged that his troop escalation strategy, and the announcement of the September deadline for a report from General David Petraeus on its progress, would result in a likely increase in violence and bloodshed in Iraq.
"It could make August a tough month, because what they're going to try to do is kill as many people as they can to try and influence the debate here at home. Don't you find that interesting? I do, that they recognize that the death of innocent people could shake our will," the President explained.
But he said whatever violence level results in Iraq, it was up to General Petraeus to assess the progress of the 'troop escalation.'
"You want politicians making those decisions, or do you want commanders on the ground making those decisions?" he asked.
On defining victory, the President said it would not come in the short term.
"The American people want to know when, when are you going to win?" he said. "Victory will come when that country is stable enough to be an ally in the war on terror and govern itself and defend itself. And one of the things that appealed to me about Baker-Hamilton is that it will provide a long-term basis for that likely to happen, assuming the Iraqi government invites us to stay there."
On Iran and its nuclear program, the President said that he would seek to expand the United Nations sanctions regime against the country.
"We need to strengthen our sanctions regime, I just spoke to Condoleezza Rice, we will work with our European partners to develop further sanctions," he said, adding that the matter will be discussed with Russia and China's Presidents.
The President was dismissive of the continuing controversy over the firing of the US Attorneys.
"It's interesting how you started your question, 'over the last months,'" he noted. "This investigation is taking a long time, it's being drug out, and I suspect for political reasons, I called it grand political theater."
He also reiterated that he would not seek the Attorney General's resignation.
"I've got confidence in Al Gonzales doing the job," he said.
When asked if he was worried whether his proposal on immigration would get locked up in electoral politics, Bush offered a detailed defense of the bill he is backing.
"The bill essentially says that before any other reforms take place, certain benchmarks will be met when it comes to securing the border. Last year, during the debate, people said well let's have security first. That's exactly what the bill does," he said of how the bill would crack down on illegal immigration.
He further suggested that his critics not get caught up in the immigration reform proposal's details.
"It's easy to find something to be against in this bill. All it takes is to take one little aspect of it and ignore the comprehensive nature and how good it is," Bush argued.
He concluded by urging Congress to rise above politics in order to pass this reform.
"The question is: Will members of Congress rise above politics? I will," he asked and answered. "I'm going to continue to reach out to members of Congress from both parties and call upon them to take the lead and show the political courage necessary to get the bill to my desk as quickly as possible."