DAVENPORT, Iowa – Vice President Dick Cheney (search), who acknowledged last week that Iraq had produced no weapons of mass destruction after 1991, said Tuesday that under Saddam Hussein (search) the country likely could have served as a source of weapons for terrorists.
"The situation we faced was Saddam Hussein and Iraq presented the most likely place where there could be a nexus between the terrorists on the one hand and weapons of mass destruction," Cheney said.
The chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq said Oct. 6 that he had concluded that Saddam's Iraq had produced no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 and that Hussein's ability to develop such weapons had weakened over years of U.N. sanctions. However, Charles Duelfer (search), head of the Iraq Survey Group (search), said Saddam remained a threat and hoped to revive his weapons program if the United Nations lifted sanctions.
Although critics of the Bush administration said Duelfer's report undermined the main reason President Bush invaded Iraq, Cheney said the next day that the report justified the invasion because it showed Saddam was a threat and still wanted to develop weapons.
In Davenport on Tuesday to speak to supporters, Cheney said Bush made exactly the right decision "because of the potential that Iraq could have served as a conduit for such weapons." He added, "Looking back on it now, with everything we know today, the world is a whale of a lot better off with Saddam Hussein in jail."
A Kerry spokesman dismissed Cheney's explanations for the war. "Retroactive excuses don't make up for wrong choices, and the wrong choice of George Bush and Dick Cheney is why U.S. soldiers shoulder 90 percent of coalition casualties and U.S. taxpayers pay 90 percent of the coalition's cost," said Colin Van Ostern.