August 11, 2002
WACO, Texas -- President Bush said Saturday he is consulting with Congress and U.S. allies about Iraq, and he branded Saddam Hussein "an enemy until proven otherwise."
Bush reaffirmed that he has no timetable for deciding on a military strike against Iraq or "for any of our policies in regard to Iraq." He said he spends much time discussing U.S. options with his principal policy advisers.
In Washington, Iraqi opposition leaders heard from Vice President Dick Cheney and met with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among the Bush administration's strongest voices for consideration of military action to replace the Iraqi president with a democratic government.
"We are very optimistic that they will do something to affect regime change," said Sharif Ali of the Iraqi National Congress, referring to U.S. officials. "We are working with them to facilitate that because ultimately the U.S. did agree with us that it was up to the Iraqi people."
U.S. officials said the Iraqis made no request for military aid or training. The president said Hussein has "a history of tyranny. I think most people understand he is a danger."
Bush made clear, as he has done in public speeches, that he has many tools to help the United States deal with Iraq.
"And I've also said I am a deliberate person," he added. "So we're in the process of consulting not only with Congress but our friends and allies."
Asked if he thinks Americans are ready for armed conflict to oust Hussein, Bush replied:
"I want people to fully understand our deep concern about this man, his regime. As I said, I have no timetable. But I do believe the American people understand that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of leaders such as Saddam Hussein are very dangerous for us and our allies.
"They understand the concept of blackmail and that when we speak of making the world more safe, we do so not only in the concept of terrorist groups but of nations that have proven themselves to be bad neighbors and bad actors."