Mr Bush: "Popularity is fleeting... principles are forever"
President George W Bush has said he was disappointed in "flawed intelligence" in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Mr Bush said analysis of the material by many intelligence agencies had led to the "wrong conclusion" on weapons of mass destruction.
In an interview with internet portal Yahoo and newspaper Politico, he also explained why he had given up golf.
"I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal," he said.
Mr Bush said he did not feel he had been misled on the intelligence on Iraq.
"'Mislead' is a strong word... Do I think somebody lied to me? No, I don't. I think it was just, you know, they analysed the situation and came up with the wrong conclusion."
Mr Bush said the 2003 UN Baghdad killings ended his golf
He said intelligence communities across the world had shared the same assessment.
"And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was," he said.
Mr Bush also said a US pullout of Iraq or not maintaining "a forward presence" in the Middle East would send "all kinds of signals".
"It would shake everybody's nerves, and it would embolden the very same people that we're trying to defeat."
Mr Bush was also asked why he had not been seen on the golf course for almost five years and recalled the explosion at the UN headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003 that killed top UN envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 others.
"I remember when de Mello... got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. And I was playing golf... and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it anymore."
He said: "I didn't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf."
Mr Bush, who has just begun a trip to the Middle East, said he thought "we're on the right track to defining a Palestinian state".
The president also criticised former President Jimmy Carter, who said recently the next US leader should commit to avoiding torturing prisoners or invading nations unless its own security was threatened.
Mr Bush said the US did not torture and suggested Mr Carter was advocating a policy of courting popularity.
"Popularity is fleeting... principles are forever," Mr Bush said.
The president also touched on other key issues:
- Global warming: "I could have supported a lousy treaty and everybody would have went, 'Oh, man, what a wonderful sounding fellow he is'. But it just wouldn't have worked."
- Democrat-led Congress: "I would call them, so far, good at verbiage and not so good at results."
- Burma: "It's taken these people too long to move. It's almost as if they're in a state of denial."
- His legacy: "I think history, when they look back, will say this is a fellow who knew how to make decisions, and made some tough ones, stood by them, wasn't driven by the latest opinion poll, but was driven by some core principles from which he would not deviate."