In Miami, Vice President Dick Cheney said a finding by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq that Saddam Hussein's government produced no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 justifies rather than undermines President Bush's decision to go to war.
While Democrats pointed to the new report by Charles Duelfer to bolster their case that invading Iraq was a mistake, Cheney focused on portions that were more favorable to the administration's case.
Cheney told a town hall-style meeting the report shows that "delay, defer, wait wasn't an option."
Although the report says Saddam's weapons program had deteriorated since the 1991 Gulf War and did not pose a threat to the world in 2003, it also says Saddam's main goal was the removal of international sanctions.
"As soon as the sanctions were lifted he had every intention of going back" to his weapons program, Cheney said.
The vice president said the report concluded that the United Nations' "Fuel for Food" program was, "corrupted by Saddam Hussein. There were suggestions employees of the United Nations were part of the scheme as well."
Cheney's comments reflect a GOP strategy to use portions of the report, including abuses of Iraq's "fuel for food" program, to try to move discussion away from the central conclusions on the absence of weapons of mass destruction.