WASHINGTON -- Bush administration officials said yesterday they do not regret that America went to war against Iraq even though banned weapons have not been found one year after the US-led invasion.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he believes weapons of mass destruction could still turn up. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said even if they do not, that does not mean prewar intelligence was distorted to make the case for ousting Saddam Hussein, as some Democrats charge.
"We may not find the stockpiles. They may not exist any longer. But let's not suggest that somehow we knew this" before the war, Powell said on ABC's "This Week." "We went to the United Nations, we went to the world with the best information we had. Nothing that was cooked."
Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the war.
Powell, Rumsfeld, and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice appeared on the morning talk shows yesterday to defend the decision to topple Hussein and to highlight progress in rebuilding Iraq.
They cited work on schools and hospitals, the improving economy, and creation and development of Iraqi security forces. They said that after decades of Hussein's rule, Iraq now has an interim constitution that protects human rights and is building a democracy.
Asked on CNN's "Late Edition" if the war was worth the lives of the 564 US soldiers killed, Rumsfeld said, "Oh, my goodness, yes. There's just no question . . . 25 million people in Iraq are free."
Powell said the United States will still have 100,000 troops in Iraq even after Iraqis regain sovereignty. "We're not walking out on Iraq on the first of July," he said.