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Bush Speaks at Hispanic Heritage Event

Aired October 9, 2002 - 13:46   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Live to the White House right now. President Bush actually holding a Hispanic heritage event, but talking about a possible war against Iraq now. Let's listen in.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... They hide in caves and send youngsters to their suicidal death.

And, see, so long as we embrace the diversity and freedom of our country, which we will always do, and so long as they're lurking out there, we're at war.

But make no mistake. [Speaking in Spanish.] There's no doubt about it.


We will win, because of what we love. We will win because we're determined and strong. We will win because we're a nation which holds values dear to our heart, and we refuse to be intimidated, by anybody, in any place, at any time. We will win because we want to uphold our duty and obligation to leave America intact and free so future generations of people, Hispanic or otherwise, can realize dreams, can succeed, can realize their God-given talents. That's what this is all about.

And so I want to thank you for coming to honor this month, but I want to assure you that this great nation will lead the world to be more free. And we've got some difficult tasks at hand. Not only that we must chase down the Al Qaida, one by one, which we continue to do to this very day, but we've also got to deal with threats that are real.

And I gave a speech to the nation the other day to discuss those threats, in sober terms, to talk about the realities of the world in which we live. Used to be in this great country we had two oceans protecting us, and if somebody had a problem across the sea we might help them or we might not. Today these oceans -- the fact that the oceans no longer protect us means that the battleground is here.

And so this great country will be deliberate. We will rally other nations. We'll give other people a chance to deal with Iraq, for example. The U.N., United Nations now has a chance.

Mr. Ambassador, as a member of the Security Council, I'm confident your nation will join us to send a clear message that this man must disarm before he hurts America or anybody else.

And he has a choice. We're a patient nation. He's got a choice to make. His choice is he must do what he said he was going to do. He said he wasn't going to have weapons of mass destruction, that's what we expect. We take a man for his word.

But if he doesn't disarm, and if the United Nations won't act, for the sake of our freedom we will lead other countries that love freedom as much as we do and disarm him. We owe it to our children.

We love peace in this country, and when we see threats to peace we will deal with them in a deliberate, calm, logical, and if need be, forceful way.

And as we work to make America a more secure place and a safer place, we got to make it a better place, too. And that means making sure everybody gets a good education in our country. Everybody.

We passed a really good education bill.

I want to share the spirit of the bill, because I believe it speaks to the month we're celebrating.

PHILLIPS: President Bush holding a Hispanic heritage event there at the White House, also taking the opportunity to tout his take on Saddam Hussein and promoting his war on terrorism. Now, a letter from CIA director George Tenet adds fuel to the fiery debate on the possible use of force against Iraq -- Kate Snow reports now from Capitol Hill. What does it all mean, Kate?

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, Tenet sent this letter to Capitol Hill on Monday. He has said since then that he wasn't trying to break with the president, he wasn't trying to be inconsistent with what the president views as the threat of Saddam Hussein, but this letter is certainly being read that way by some opponents of the resolution, opponents of using force against Iraq.

In the letter, Tenet cites a briefing that happened confidentially here on Capitol Hill in which an intelligence witness said that the probability of Saddam Hussein using, initiating an attack in the foreseeable future, using weapons in the foreseeable future, probability is low, said that intelligence official, but then he goes on, Tenet does, in the letter to say -- quote -- "should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions. Opponents of the resolution here on Capitol Hill say that's a good reason not to launch an attack on Saddam Hussein.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saddam might decide that the extreme step of assisting Islamic terrorism in conducting a war -- in conducting a weapon of mass destruction attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.


SNOW: Now, this letter is open to some interpretation, though, Kyra. In fact, some Democrats, one speaking out on the floor just recently who support the resolution, and support the president, say even if the threat isn't imminent, it's still a threat.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: History demonstrates Saddam Hussein's willingness to use such weapons against unarmed civilians, including his own people, and it demonstrates his unhesitating instincts to invade his neighbors, Iran and Kuwait, and to attack Israel. That he appears to quote director Tenet's recent letter, "to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks" does not persuade me that he won't.


SNOW: Now, we should point out that while this letter is fanning the flames off of the floor of the House and the Senate, it is not getting a whole lot of attention on the House and Senate floor. In fact, just a few comments being made. In the big picture, Kyra, I'm told by several Democrats in the House, this is probably isn't going to make that much difference in terms of swaying votes on Capitol hill. Representative Nancy Pelosi, for example, the number two Democrat in the House, telling us that she feels the comments are significant from George Tenet, but she acknowledges that it may not make that much difference when it comes to a final vote.

PHILLIPS: Kate snow from the Hill. Thanks, Kate.


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