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Candidate Dean's Views on Iraq War Remain Unchanged - 2003-12-15

Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean has praised the U.S. military for capturing ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. However, the former Vermont governor is standing by his antiwar message.

Mr. Dean says the capture of Saddam is a positive development.

"It's good news for the Iraqi people and for the world," he said. "Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who can and who now will be brought swiftly to justice for his crimes."

The Democratic contender praised the U.S. military and intelligence personnel responsible for the capture.

But Mr. Dean, a vocal critic of the war, says his views about the conflict are unchanged.

"The capture of Saddam is a good thing, which I hope very much will keep our soldiers in Iraq and around the world safer," he said. "But the capture of Saddam has not made America safer."

Mr. Dean said the Bush administration launched the war "in the wrong way, at the wrong time," with too little planning and not enough help.

Mr. Dean spoke in Los Angeles Monday morning. He made similar remarks in San Francisco Sunday evening.

He says the interlocking threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction would be the highest priority of a Dean administration.

He says remaining difficulties include the need to stabilize Iraq.

"There is the need to repair our alliances to regain global strength and global support for American goals," Mr. Dean said. "Nor, as the president seemed to acknowledge yesterday, does Saddam's capture move us towards us defeating enemies who pose a much greater danger, al-Qaida and its terrorist allies."

Mr. Dean's rivals for the Democratic party's presidential nomination include retired general Wesley Clark, whose supporters see his military experience as a political asset. Three other contenders - Senators Joseph Lieberman and John Edwards, and Representative Richard Gephardt supported the congressional war resolution and have criticized Mr. Dean for his lack of foreign policy experience.