Was the war in Iraq justified? As the casualties and costs mount, the debate over Iraq intensifies. Donald Rumsfeld and Patrick Leahy discuss President Bush’s decision to go to war

Was the war in Iraq justified? As the casualties and costs mount, the debate over Iraq intensifies. Donald Rumsfeld and Patrick Leahy discuss President Bush’s decision to go to war

Donald H. Rumsfeld

YES

Imagine a world where you lived in terror of a brutal dictator, where one complaint from a classmate or neighbor could land you in jail. Your family would have no idea where you are–or if you will ever come home. Imagine that dictator has used chemical weapons on a city near yours–killing thousands of innocent men, women and children.

For Iraqi citizens, that was the harsh reality of life under Saddam Hussein–a violent dictator who supported terrorism, used weapons of mass murder on his own people and his neighbors, and defied the demands of the United Nations that he disarm. Today, thanks to American and allied troops, his regime has been removed–and Iraqis are free.

Why did the President act to remove the brutal regime in Iraq? Because on September 11 we saw the destruction caused by a terrorist attack on our own soil–3,056 innocent people were killed. And we vowed to do whatever it takes to stop another attack before it happens.

War is always a last choice, for with war comes the cost of human life and financial sacrifice for our country. But terror must be stopped before it arrives on our shores, before terrorists acquire weapons of mass murder that would allow them to kill many more people than they did on 9/11.

We are living in a dangerous world. We can live in that world as free people. Young people in Iraq finally have what you have–the opportunity to pursue their dreams in freedom. Much work remains, but the future is bright.

Donald H. Rumsfetd Secretary of Defense

NO

Six months after President Bush declared major combat operations in Iraq over, American soldiers are being attacked daily, and millions of Iraqi civilians still lack basic services like water and electricity. We are witnessing the consequences of a premature decision to go to war.

There is no question that Saddam Hussein was a brutal, corrupt dictator. But President Bush argued in favor of preemptive action–going to war to prevent war–an approach America has never taken before in its history. Furthermore, he made the decision to go to war with little support from our friends across the globe.

The belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a driving force behind the invasion. But no such weapons have yet been found. Either the White House had bad information or it exaggerated what it knew. In either case, we now know there was insufficient reason to go to war.

I am very concerned that some Bush administration officials are now saying that it does not matter that no weapons of mass destruction have been found. It does matter, If the weapons do exist, we must find them immediately so that terrorists and hostile nations do not find them first. If they do not exist, someone needs to explain why we sacrificed the lives of American soldiers and destroyed America’s credibility around the world.

The American people need to be assured that, in the future, a decision to go to war will be based on reliable information of a credible, imminent threat. No one has proven this to date.

Senator Patrick a. Leahy Democrat of Vermont

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