White House denies that God told Bush to invade Iraq

Friday, October 7, 2005

During the October 6 press briefing, White House spokesman Scott McClellan denied comments attributed to President Bush in a forthcoming BBC television series. The three-part documentary, Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, includes an interview with a former Palestinian foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, where he recounts an incident at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in June 2003. The series starts on Monday and documents the recent history of attempts to bring peace to the Middle East.

Mr. Shaath says that President Bush told a Palestinian delegation: "God would tell me, George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did, and then God would tell me, George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq... and I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East. And by God I'm gonna do it."

At the briefing, a reporter asked if McClellan was aware of the comments ascribed to President Bush and McClellan replied, "No, that's absurd. He's never made such comments." Pushed further about the statements, McClellan responded, "No, I checked into that [BBC] report and I stand by what I just said."

Mr. Shaath provided further context to the statement saying, "It was really a figure of speech. We felt he was saying that he had a mission, a commitment, his faith in God would inspire him ... rather than a metaphysical whisper in his ear," he said.