Bush Says U.S. Facing Down Remnants of Iraqi Regime
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 22, 2003 U.S. military personnel are facing down the remnants of the Hussein regime even as coalition personnel continue to search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, President Bush said in his weekly radio address June 21.
Bush said American military personnel are making life more secure for Iraqis, and other personnel are working with Iraqi citizens to jump- start the economy for long-term security.
The president noted that remnants of the old regime and its terrorist allies are behind the series of attacks on U.S. military personnel. He said these remnants are trying to destabilize the region and are sabotaging coalition efforts to bring a better life to all Iraqis.
"Our military is acting decisively against these threats," he said. "In Operation Peninsula Strike and Operation Desert Scorpion, our forces have targeted Baath Party loyalists and terrorist organizations. In Baghdad, more than 28,000 American combat forces and military police are enforcing the law and arresting criminals. We are also training Iraqis to begin policing their own cities."
But even as forces bring security to the region, other forces continue the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. "Military and intelligence officials are interviewing scientists with knowledge of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs and are poring over hundreds of thousands of documents," Bush said.
"For more than a decade, Saddam Hussein went to great lengths to hide his weapons from the world," he continued. "And in the regime's final days, documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned. Yet all who know the dictator's history agree that he possessed chemical and biological weapons and that he used chemical weapons in the past."
Bush pointed out it was far more than just the United States who believed Saddam Hussein possessed these weapons. Intelligence services of many nations concluded that he had illegal weapons. United Nations inspectors documented evidence of these weapons and the Iraqi regime never convincingly explained what happened to them. "We are determined to discover the true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how long it takes," he said.
The United States also continues to provide aid to the people of Iraq. He said the United States has spent $700 million for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. "This month the World Food Program is distributing food rations to about 25 million Iraqis," he said.
"America and our partners are also repairing water treatment plants to provide more clean water. Each week, through our efforts, more electricity is made available to more people throughout the country. And after years of neglect, Iraq's 4.2 million children under the age of 5 are receiving vaccinations against diseases such as polio, measles and tuberculosis."
The president stressed an issue that has come up repeatedly in the last few weeks: that Iraq's long-term success also depends on economic development. "Our administrator in Iraq has announced a $100 million fund to pay Iraqis to repair buildings and utilities," he said. Billions hoarded by the former regime have been found and that money will also be used to rebuild the infrastructure that suffers from 30 years of neglect, Bush stated.
The country has also started selling oil and that money will not simply build palaces for Saddam but be spent to make life better for all, the president said. Iraqi is opening to the world, the president observed, and how it recovers from the nightmare of Saddam Hussein will send a message throughout the Middle East. "Over time, a free government in Iraq will demonstrate that liberty can flourish in that region," he said.
The president thanked American service members for their service in Iraq and assured them that the Iraqi people also appreciate their willingness to aid the country. "For the people of free Iraq, the road ahead holds great challenges," he said. "Yet at every turn, they will have friendship and support from the United States of America."