How many times do we have to go through this, folks?
Our venerable L.A. Times editorializes this morning:
If the Iraqi people’s freedom was once seen as merely a bonus from an unavoidable war, that freedom has moved to center stage as the war’s primary justification. That’s because contrary to what Bush said in a previous State of the Union speech, we now know the threat posed by Hussein was not imminent.
Once more, with feeling:
President Bush did not say in any State of the Union address that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was “imminent.” In fact, he said the exact opposite:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
So where did the editorialist get the idea that Bush had said in a State of the Union speech that Iraq posed an “imminent threat”? Perhaps from reading his own fact-challenged paper. The day after Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech, Times reporter Maura Reynolds penned a story titled — you guessed it — Bush Calls Iraq Imminent Threat:
A somber and steely President Bush, speaking to a skeptical world Tuesday in his State of the Union address, provided a forceful and detailed denunciation of Iraq, promising new evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime poses an imminent danger to the world and demanding the United Nations convene in just one week to consider the threat.
I guess it’s a little late to seek a correction of that 2003 story. But I have written the L.A. Times Readers’ Representative seeking a retraction of the statement in this morning’s editorial.
P.S. Please understand: I do not deny that officials in the Bush Administration have made statements along these lines. As the Spinsanity folks note, Ari Fleischer agreed with reporters’ characterizations of the threat as “imminent,” and Rumsfeld characterized the threat as “immediate.”
But Bush himself, by contrast, “argued that Iraq was an enemy for which the concept of ‘imminent threat’ was insufficient.” And one of the places where he did so was in his 2003 State of the Union address.
P.P.S. Thanks to alert reader Ken K.