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Bush Lashes Out at Political Opponents Over Iraq Accusations


President Bush has again characterized Democratic Party lawmakers as "irresponsible" for accusing him of misleading the nation into the Iraq war.

Speaking at a news conference with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, President Bush defended the decision process that led him to invade Iraq. He rebutted recent accusations by Democratic senators that he distorted intelligence about the potential threat posed by Iraq's former leader, Saddam Hussein.

"When Democrats say I deliberately misled the Congress and the people, that's irresponsible," he said. "They looked at the same intelligence I did, and they voted - many of them voted - to support the decision I made."

In 2002, 29 Democratic senators joined 48 senators from Mr. Bush's Republican party in authorizing him to take military action against Iraq.

The president made his case for the war in Iraq by saying Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction, which could be used against the United States or its allies. However, no weapons have been found.

President Bush's job approval rating recently dipped to an all-time low. Increasingly American voters and many politicians are beginning to say it is time to plan a way to end the U.S. military presence in Iraq. Tens of thousands of Iraqis and more than 2,000 U.S. troops have died since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

President Bush has vowed not to leave Iraq until insurgents are defeated and the country's security outlook is more stable.

Mr. Bush took the opportunity Thursday to thank South Korea's President Roh for contributing more than three thousand Korean forces to the coalition in Iraq.

"To me it's not only a gesture of friendship, it's a gesture of understanding that a democracy at the heart of the Middle East will help bring peace to others," he said.

South Korean forces are based in predominantly Kurdish northern Iraq. They are serving in a non-combat capacity, rebuilding civil infrastructure.

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