Latest Score: Helen Thomas 384, McClellan 0
Thomas: You -- this is supposed to be a war on terrorism, and by his own admission, the President has said there's been -- there was no link between Iraq and terrorists. So why are we still in Iraq killing and being killed?Then another reporter tries to follow-up on Thomas’s attempt…
McClellan: Well, I think the President talked about it earlier today. The stakes are high in Iraq. And he talked about where we are focused --
Thomas: -- why were they high --
McClellan: Well, Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism. All you have to do is look at the letter that Zawahiri sent to Zarqawi. They recognize how high the stakes are. So do we. And we must continue to move forward on the plan we have for victory. That's why we're focused on --
Thomas: Why did you go into Iraq?
McClellan: Well, the President is --
Thomas: There were no terrorists.
McClellan: I'm not trying to relitigate what we've -- the decisions that were already made.
Thomas: I am.
McClellan: We've already spelled out the reasons why we went in there, and it was Saddam's --
Thomas: -- given has turned out to be wrong.
McClellan: It was Saddam Hussein's choice to make. He continued to defy the international community. And the President made the decision after September 11th that we were not going to wait for threats to fully materialize. We were going to confront them before it was too late. And as he said again today --
Thomas: It was Iraq, and they weren't there.
McClellan: Well, I think you ought to pay attention to what the President said in his remarks again today.
Thomas: I did.
McClellan: He talked about the importance of freedom overcoming terrorism and tyranny and the power of freedom to prevail. The Middle East is a dangerous region of the world. What we are trying to do --
Thomas: Why was Iraq attacked?
McClellan: What we are trying to do is help transform that troubled region of the world by providing a more hopeful future. That's what freedom does. Free societies are peaceful societies. And a free Iraq will help inspire the rest of the Middle East, as well.
Q: Can I go to something on Iraq? Just following up on something Helen said. The President and you often say that it was Saddam Hussein's decision to make. What could he have done, given the fact that you haven't found weapons of mass destruction, to stop the invasion?Aaahhhh, I see. "Relitigate" must be the empty buzz phrase of the week.
McClellan: Well, Martha, I don't think we need to go back and relitigate all this, but it was spelled out very clearly what he needed to do, and he continued to defy the international community -- 17-some resolutions. And it was a threat that we could not ignore. The world is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power. And we have clearly talked about that previously. Now --
Have a good weekend. Don't run over any weasels.