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5/4/03 - THE U.S. MISSION IN IRAQ - 2003-05-05

Just over a month ago, Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq. Torture and fear marked his dictatorial rule. The Iraqi regime was allied with terrorists, and armed with weapons of mass destruction. “Today,” as President George W. Bush said, “that regime is no more”:

“We have applied our might in the name of peace, and in the name of freedom. We gave our word that the threat from Iraq would be ended. And with the support of allies, and because of the bravery of our armed forces, we have kept our word.”

But the mission is not complete. President Bush said that the U.S.-led coalition is now working to locate and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction:

“Iraqis with firsthand knowledge of these programs, including several top officials who have come forward recently – some voluntarily – others not – are beginning to let us know what the facts were on the ground. And that’s important because the regime of Saddam Hussein spent years hiding and disguising his weapons. But we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them, or hid them, we’re going to find out the truth.”

Today, Iraq is recovering not just from weeks of war, but from decades of totalitarian rule. Saddam Hussein built palaces in a country that needed hospitals. As President Bush said, the Iraqi dictator spent money on illegal weapons, not on education for Iraqi children, or food for the Iraqi people:

“Statues of the man have been pulled down. But the fear and suspicion he instilled in the people will take longer to pass away.”

The Iraqi people have the resources, the talent, and the desire to live in peace and freedom. The U.S. mission in Iraq, said President Bush “has been to bring humanitarian aid and restore basic services, and put. . . .Iraq on the road to self-government. And we’ll stay as long as it takes to complete our mission.”