Transcript: Bush Interview

President Spoke to 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley At Camp David


PELLEY: Fair to say there are not enough American troops on the ground to provide security for Iraq?

BUSH: Let's let the historians work it out. But there's not enough troops on the ground right now to provide security for Iraq, and that's why I made the decision I made.

PELLEY: Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?

BUSH: That we didn't do a better job or they didn't do a better job?

PELLEY: Well, that the United States did not do a better job in providing security after the invasion.

BUSH: Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.

PELLEY: Americans wonder whether . . .

BUSH: Yeah, they wonder whether or not the Iraqis are willing to do hard work necessary to get this democratic experience to survive. That's what they want.

PELLEY: You are gambling a lot, Mr. President, on the [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Maliki. Why do you think that's a gamble worth making?

BUSH: Scott, I'm actually counting on the unity government of which Maliki is the head. Prime Minister Maliki and others who I talk to in the government understand that our patience is not unlimited.

PELLEY: Let's be blunt. You're a plain speaker. Let's be blunt. What have you told Maliki he has to do?

BUSH: I told him it's time to get going. He's got to provide the troops he said he would provide inside Baghdad and we'll help him, and that's why I've called for more troops. I said: when our guys get moving along with yours, you can't get on the phone for political reasons and stop the troops from going after killers. What they'd do is, we're going after this killer, and they say, well he's, for political reasons, don't. Killer is a killer. And we expect them to go after both Shia and Sunni murderers in order to provide the security for Baghdad. We expect them to have local elections. And I expect them to do the political work necessary to help reconcile this country. But the problem is, is that the sectarian violence in Baghdad started getting out of control so they fell behind the power curve, and we need to help them get their forces in place, embed with their forces, go alongside their forces and get control of the security situation in Baghdad. And that's why I have problems with these plans to say, well, get out of Baghdad. You know, we've got people in Congress, good people, saying need to withdraw. Now's not the time to withdraw. Now's the time to help them get a hold of the situation.

PELLEY: Is Muqtada al-Sadr an enemy of the United States?

BUSH: Anybody who murders innocent people or frustrating the ambitions of the Iraqi people and the United States.

PELLEY: I was on the battlefield in Najaf when al-Sadr's people killed your United States Marines.

BUSH: Right. And we killed them, as you recall.

PELLEY: Is Muqtada al-Sadr an enemy of the United States?

BUSH: If he is ordering his people to kill Americans, he is.

PELLEY: Without al-Sadr, there's no Maliki government.

BUSH: Well, Mr. Maliki has said publicly that militia, including Jaysh al-Mahdi, will either put down their arms or will be dealt with by Iraqi and US forces. And we're gonna hold them to it.

PELLEY: You don't fear that al-Sadr's actually running the show?

BUSH: He may wanna be but, no, I don't think he is.

PELLEY: Did you see the video of Saddam Hussein's . . .

BUSH: I saw some of it.

PELLEY: . . . execution?

BUSH: Yeah.

PELLEY: What did you think when you saw that?

BUSH: I thought it was discouraging. You know, obviously could have handled this thing a lot better. And I knew it'd be, you know, one of those incidents where it would call into doubt . . . it would create further skepticism. You know, it's important that-- that chapter of Iraqi history be closed. They could have handled it a lot better.