Secretary of State Colin Powell tried on Thursday to explain away remarks on Iraq dating back to the beginning of the Bush administration, before the United States decided to invade Iraq.
Speaking in Cairo in February 2001, on his first Middle East trip, Powell said that Iraq had not developed "any significant capacity" in weapons of mass destruction and was not able to attack his neighbors with conventional weapons.
A Democratic congressional aide dug out his remarks this week and has circulated them to the media.
Asked why he changed his assessment, Powell said: "I didn't change my assessment... I did not say he (Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) didn't have weapons of mass destruction."
"He was a threat then. The extent of his holdings were yet to be determined. It was early in the administration and the fact of the matter is it was long before 9/11 (the date of the 2001 attacks on the United States)," he added.
There's glory for you!'
`I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
`But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all.'
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'