On Monday, veteran Washington correspondent Helen Thomas turned the daily press briefing into a confrontation with White House press secretary Scott McClellan. Here is their exchange, according to the official transcript:
Thomas: Prime Minister Blair took full personal responsibility for taking his nation into war under falsehoods — under reasons that have been determined now to be false. Is President Bush also willing to take full, personal responsibility —
McClellan: I think Prime Minister Blair said that it was the right thing to do; that Saddam Hussein’s regime was a threat.
Thomas: Those were not the reasons he took his country into war. It turned out to be untrue, and the same is true for us. Does the President take full, personal responsibility for this war?
McClellan: The issue here is what do you to with a threat in a post-September 11th world? Either you live with a threat, or you confront the threat.
Thomas: There was no threat.
McClellan: The President made the decision to confront the threat.
Thomas: Saddam Hussein did not threaten this country.
McClellan: The world, the Congress and the administration all disagree. They all recognized that there was a threat posed by Saddam Hussein. When it came to September 11th , that changed the equation. It taught us, as I said —
Thomas: The Intelligence Committee said there was no threat.
McClellan: As I said, it taught us that we must confront threats before it’s too late.
Thomas: So the President doesn’t take full responsibility?
McClellan: The President already talked about the responsibility for the decisions he’s made. He talked about that with Prime Minister Blair.
Thomas: Personal responsibility?
McClellan: Terry, go ahead.
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