New York, Dec.7 (ANI): U.S. President George W Bush would not have ordered the invasion of Iraq had intelligence shown that Dictator Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, claims Karl Rove, his former chief adviser and close confidant.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, Rove made the claim as the president's inner circle launched an unofficial "Bush legacy project".
His comments were made during a wide-ranging and vigorous defence of Bush's domestic and foreign policy record in a lively, Oxford Union-style debate sponsored by Intelligence Squared US in front of a packed audience in New York.
The paper quoted the Republican strategist as saying that part of the strategy of the legacy project is to "set the record straight".
Rove is the most senior White House insider to state so firmly that the president would not have gone to war had the intelligence been different.
Bush's critics have dismissed his claim, arguing that his administration was intent on toppling Saddam and deliberately manipulated intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs simply as a pretext for the invasion.
Opposing the motion that Bush was the worst president of the United States in the last 50 years, Rove said that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration became increasingly concerned about Saddam's human rights abuses and his breach of United Nations Resolutions.
But the greatest worry was that he possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Bush's friends and advisors have started a loosely coordinated campaign to defend his record and promote what they see as his achievements in interviews, speeches and private comments to influential audiences.
Rove decried what he called "a peculiar form of Bush hatred that caused people to lose their rational senses about the man".
He argued that there was a visceral, anti-Bush sentiment among those who believed the bitterly-disputed 2000 election victory over Al Gore "was illegitimate".
Rove also praised the president for keeping America safe from another terrorist attack after 9/11. (ANI)