Remarks by President Bush and President Karzai of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
White House Transcript:
...PRESIDENT BUSH: In recent months, the Taliban and other extremists have tried to regain control, mostly in the south of Afghanistan. And so we've adjusted tactics and we're on the offense to meet the threat and to defeat the threat. Forces from dozens of nations, including every member of NATO, are supporting the democratic government of Afghanistan. The American people are providing money to help send our troops to your country, Mr. President, and so are a lot of other nations around the world. This is a multinational effort to help you succeed.
Your people have rejected extremism. Afghan forces are fighting bravely for the future of Afghanistan, and many of your forces have given their lives, and we send our deepest condolences to their families and their friends and their neighbors.
The fighting in Afghanistan is part of a global struggle. Recently, British forces killed a long-time terrorist affiliated with al Qaeda named Omar Farouq. Farouq was active in Bosnia and Southeast Asia. He was captured in Indonesia, he escaped from prison in Afghanistan, he was killed hiding in Iraq. Every victory in the war on terror enhances the security of free peoples everywhere.
Mr. President, as I told you in the Oval Office, our country will stand with the free people of Afghanistan. I know there's some in your country who wonder or not -- whether or not America has got the will to do the hard work necessary to help you succeed. We have got that will, and we're proud of you as a partner.
Tomorrow, President Karzai and President Musharraf and I will have dinner. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be an interesting discussion amongst three allies, three people who are concerned about the future of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It will be a chance for us to work on how to secure the border, how we can continue to work together and share information so we can defeat extremists; how we can work together to build a future of peace and democracy in your region, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT KARZAI:I'm very grateful, Mr. President, to you and the American people for all that you have done for Afghanistan for the last four-and-a-half years, from roads to education, to democracy, to parliament, to good governance effort, to health, and to all other good things that are happening in Afghanistan.
Mr. President, I was, the day before yesterday, in the Walter Reed Hospital. There I met wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there also I met a woman soldier with six boys, from 7 to 21, that she had left behind in America in order to build us a road in a mountainous part of the country in Afghanistan. There's nothing more that any nation can do for another country, to send a woman with children to Afghanistan to help. We are very grateful. I'm glad I came to know that story and I'll be repeating it to the Afghan people once I go back to Afghanistan.
Mr. President, we, the Afghan people, are grateful to you and the American people for all that you have done. ...
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you. We'll have two questions a side. We'll start with Jennifer Loven.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Even after hearing that one of the major conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate in April was that the Iraq war has fueled terror growth around the world, why have you continued to say that the Iraq war has made this country safer?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I, of course, read the key judgments on the NIE. I agree with their conclusion that because of our successes against the leadership of al Qaeda, the enemy is becoming more diffuse and independent. I'm not surprised the enemy is exploiting the situation in Iraq and using it as a propaganda tool to try to recruit more people to their -- to their murderous ways.
Some people have guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive. I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe. The terrorists fight us in Iraq for a reason: They want to try to stop a young democracy from developing, just like they're trying to fight another young democracy in Afghanistan. And they use it as a recruitment tool, because they understand the stakes. They understand what will happen to them when we defeat them in Iraq.
You know, to suggest that if we weren't in Iraq, we would see a rosier scenario with fewer extremists joining the radical movement requires us to ignore 20 years of experience. We weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th. We weren't in Iraq, and thousands of fighters were trained in terror camps inside your country, Mr. President. We weren't in Iraq when they first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We weren't in Iraq when they bombed the Cole. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. My judgment is, if we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse, because they have ambitions. They kill in order to achieve their objectives.
Someone remind me who was President when all this was going on?
Now, we continue:
You know, in the past, Osama bin Laden used Somalia as an excuse for people to join his jihadist movement. In the past, they used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was a convenient way to try to recruit people to their jihadist movement. They've used all kinds of excuses.
This government is going to do whatever it takes to protect this homeland. We're not going to let their excuses stop us from staying on the offense. The best way to protect America is defeat these killers overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. We're not going to let lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war.
Now, you know what's interesting about the NIE -- it was a intelligence report done last April. As I understand, the conclusions -- the evidence on the conclusions reached was stopped being gathered on February -- at the end of February. And here we are, coming down the stretch in an election campaign, and it's on the front page of your newspapers. Isn't that interesting? Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes.
And of course we know who published the leak and why. Interesting that the same folks who thought that disclosure of senstitive information in the phony Wilson/Plame CIA leak was such a grave matter that it required a special prosecutor and years of erroneous scandalmongering are pushing this leak.
I talked to John Negroponte today, the DNI. You know, I think it's a bad habit for our government to declassify every time there's a leak, because it means that it's going to be hard to get good product out of our analysts. Those of you who have been around here long enough know what I'm talking about. But once again, there's a leak out of our government, coming right down the stretch in this campaign, -- to create confusion in the minds of the American people, in my judgment, is why they leaked it.
And so we're going to -- I told the DNI to declassify this document. You can read it for yourself. We'll stop all the speculation, all the politics about somebody saying something about Iraq, somebody trying to confuse the American people about the nature of this enemy. And so John Negroponte, the DNI, is going to declassify the document as quickly as possible. He'll declassify the key judgments for you to read yourself. And he'll do so in such a way that we'll be able to protect sources and methods that our intelligence community uses. And then everybody can draw their own conclusions about what the report says.