May I repeat what he said?
I believe it would be a catastrophic mistake to leave Iraq, as some are demanding, before the Iraqis are able to defend their elected government. As I told Mr. Rose, the terrorist threat to our country, which is real, would be made much worse if we were to make an ignominious withdrawal from Iraq.
I told Mr. Rose that as a nation we had waited too long before dealing with Osama bin Laden. We could have destroyed his operation in Afghanistan before 9/11.
I believed we should not repeat that mistake with Saddam Hussein, that we could not responsibly ignore the threat that he might make weapons of mass destruction available to terrorists who would use them to kill Americans. I favored removing his regime. And despite the current difficulties, I believed, and told Mr. Rose, that if we had left Saddam in place, and he had shared nerve gas with Al Qaeda, or some other terrorist organization, how would we compare what were experiencing now with that?
I believe the President is now doing what he can to help the Iraqis get to the point where we can honorably leave. We are on the right path.
I do not see him refuting the comments attributed to him with regard to Rumsfeld.