Friday, July 08, 2005

Think Progress : : Zarqawi: Symbol of a Mismanaged War

After yesterday's events, we're left contemplating the predictable consequences of the 'War on Terra'. This leads us to Abu Musab Zarqawi, whom the Administration has turned from a fringe Iraqi resistance leader into a huge threat to American lives., bin Laden has gained a powerful new ally in Zarqawi after first refusing to associate himself with someone who was not a major player. Al Qaeda has now made Iraq into the central front in the war on terror. And Bush says that’s what he was trying to prevent all along.


Blogger Management said...

Zarqawi: Symbol of a Mismanaged War

Here’s a transcript of a Q&A between ITV (UK) and Bush about Iraq:.

Q: You talk about terrorism in Iraq, but when we spoke before the war, there was no terrorism in Iraq. And you’re now making Iraq the front line of the war on terrorism. But the terrorists have only recently arrived there, arrived since the war on Iraq.

BUSH: No, I beg your pardon. Zarqawi, Mr. Zarqawi, who is leading the terrorist effort in Iraq now, was in Iraq prior to our discussion.

Q: No al Qaeda in Iraq before the war, Mr. President.

BUSH: No, Zarqawi, Mr. Zarqawi was, absolutely. He was.

Bush has hung onto this Zarqawi claim as all his other rationales for attacking Iraq have faded. In fact, this claim is as false as the WMD claim. The story of Zarqawi has been a microcosm for how ineptly the whole Iraq conflict has been managed. Here’s a quick CliffsNotes version:

Before the war, Zarqawi was with the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam — “operating in a region outside the control of Saddam” — and setting up sleeper cells to inflame the insurgency. The Bush administration scrapped three plans to kill him at that time.

Once the war was launched, Bush falsely claimed that the relationship between Zarqawi and Hussein was evidence that Saddam was working with al Qaeda, and thus a rationale for attacking Iraq.

And now, bin Laden has gained a powerful new ally in Zarqawi after first refusing to associate himself with someone who was not a major player. Al Qaeda has now made Iraq into the central front in the war on terror. And Bush says that’s what he was trying to prevent all along.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Al Qaeda Eyes U.S. Troops
WASHINGTON, March 9, 2003

Al Qaeda operatives are planning to strike at U.S. and allied forces taking part in a war in Iraq, according to information acquired by American intelligence agencies, counterterrorism officials said.

The operatives are subordinates of Abu Musab Zarqawi, whom CIA officials describe as a senior associate of Osama bin Laden. Some are in Baghdad; others are elsewhere in Iraq, the counterterrorism officials said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The intelligence does not suggest any kind of coordination between the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the al Qaeda operatives; instead officials believe the terrorists are looking to capitalize on the chaos created by any military conflict to strike at American and allied troops.

A CIA report, passed to senior government officials last week, warned of the potential strikes.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment.

The New York Times first reported the information Saturday on its Web site.
The counterterrorism officials said operatives may be planning to use explosives or toxins to conduct the attack.

The new information comes against a murky backdrop regarding whether Iraq supports al Qaeda, or to what extent there are ties.

However, intelligence officials have generally agreed they have nothing to document that Saddam Hussein had a hand in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks or that Saddam and Osama bin Laden are coordinating terrorist operations.

At the center of U.S. allegations that there are links between Iraq and the terrorist group is Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist operative, and some of his followers.

CIA Director George Tenet and others have described Zarqawi as a senior associate of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but officials acknowledge some difference of opinion within U.S. intelligence whether it is correct to describe him as a member of the organization.

Zarqawi has been linked to the failed millennium bombing of a tourist hotel in Jordan and the killing of an American diplomat in Amman in October.
According to U.S. officials, Zarqawi was in Baghdad last summer, presumably with the knowledge of Iraqi officials. Some of his people are still there. Zarqawi is also linked to an Islamic extremist group in northern Iraq, Ansar al-Islam, that operates in a region outside of Saddam's control.

An agent from Iraq's government is working for Ansar, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a Feb. 5 presentation to the U.N. Security Council. Powell said this agent had offered safe haven to some al Qaeda operatives in the region.

But Powell omitted an important point: U.S. officials later acknowledged they don't know what this Iraqi operative is doing with Ansar al-Islam, and they do not know whether Ansar is aware he works for the Iraqi government.

While the agent could be openly representing Saddam's government, he also could be spying on the group for Saddam's security services, officials said.

According to intelligence officials, Zarqawi believes he is operating independently of al Qaeda's chain of command. But they say while he manages his own network of followers, he relies on al Qaeda money and logistical support, making him - in effect if not in reality - a lieutenant of bin Laden.

What is known, according to Powell, Tenet and other officials: Zarqawi was around Herat in western Afghanistan in October 2001, when the U.S. attacked the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. He ran a camp in the region that experimented with poisons and chemical weapons.

Officials say he may have been wounded in the leg, probably by U.S. bombing. He crossed the border into Iran, where he reportedly received some medical treatment. U.S. intelligence learned of his presence there, prompting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in April 2002 to accuse Iran of sheltering al Qaeda terrorists.

The following month, Zarqawi went to Baghdad. The reasons for his departure from Iran are unclear, but he received more medical treatment in Baghdad, possibly being fitted with a prosthetic leg, and stayed there two months.

While he was in Baghdad, about two dozen of his followers moved to the city. Some are still there, including two senior members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist network that merged with al Qaeda during the last few years.

U.S. officials say Saddam's security apparatus is too effective for them not to know Zarqawi and his followers were in town. But no officials claimed evidence that Zarqawi and the Iraqis are actively working together to conduct terrorist attacks.

U.S. intelligence learned of Zarqawi's presence in Baghdad while he was there, and a friendly foreign government twice asked Baghdad about him and was rebuffed both times. Zarqawi left shortly after the inquiries.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Baghdad had no ties to Ansar al-Islam, nor to an alleged al Qaeda fugitive Abu Musab Zarqawi.

In July, shortly after the foreign government's inquiries, Zarqawi left Baghdad. U.S. defense officials said he was later reported in Syria.

Officials suspect he also went to northern Iraq where Saddam holds little authority.

In that region, his followers, working with Kurdish members of Ansar al-Islam, established a new camp to research poisons and make explosives. They trained others in the production of ricin, a poison that can be used as a biological weapon.

Their ties were widespread, spanning the countries of Georgia, France, Spain, Great Britain, Russia and possibly Italy.

European authorities have arrested 116 members of Zarqawi's extended network, including members of a British cell that was believed to be making ricin in a London apartment.

Zarqawi's whereabouts are unknown. His time in Baghdad is not the only link claimed by U.S. officials. Others include:
# An al Qaeda source said Saddam and bin Laden agreed not to oppose each other in the mid-1990s.
# Senior representatives of both organizations met at least eight times since the early 1990s. This includes a trip by Iraq's ambassador to Turkey to Afghanistan in 1998.
# An Iraqi intelligence operative turned defector said Saddam sent agents to Afghanistan to provide training to al Qaeda in document forgery.
# An al Qaeda training camp commander from Afghanistan, now in U.S. custody, said al Qaeda sought chemical and biological weapons training from Iraq between 1997 and 2000. One operative later characterized his efforts in Iraq as successful.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Zarqawi set up Iraq sleeper cells: U.K. report

Associated Press

Updated: Thu. Jul. 15 2004 11:56 PM ET

LONDON — Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi set up "sleeper cells" in Baghdad before the Iraq war to attack American forces occupying the country, according to a British intelligence report.

The report, dated March 2003 and released as part of an overall review of British intelligence, forecast the string of Zarqawi's attacks against American targets during the past year "using car bombs and other weapons." It said he was setting up groups of fighters to be activated at a later time, known in the intelligence field as "sleeper cells."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed vindication Wednesday after a committee led by Lord Butler released its report that concluded British intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was flawed, but said the government had not deliberately deceived anyone as it built a case for toppling Saddam Hussein.

While Butler's report faulted British intelligence for having few reliable sources and not properly analyzing information, it did credit the spies with foreseeing the al-Zarqawi strikes on coalition forces.

By the time of the U.S.-led invasion in March of last year, the report said, Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee indicated:

"Reporting since (February) suggests that senior al Qaeda associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has established sleeper cells in Baghdad, to be activated during a U.S. occupation of the city."

The reported added: "These cells apparently intend to attack U.S. targets using car bombs and other weapons. (It is also possible that they have received CB materials from terrorists in the KAZ)," referring to chemical and biological materials and the Kurdish Autonomous Zone. "Al Qaeda-associated terrorists continued to arrive in Baghdad in early March."

Ousted President Saddam Hussein didn't have any control over the Kurdish zone in northern Iraq. And British analysts believed there was no active cooperation between Saddam and al Qaeda, Butler's report said.

In October 2002, the a British intelligence report said: "Although Saddam's attitude to al Qaeda has not always been consistent, he has generally rejected suggestions of cooperation. Intelligence nonetheless indicates that ... meetings have taken place between senior Iraqi representatives and senior al Qaeda operatives.

The Butler report also said there was no evidence to back up suggestions Iraq may have trained some al Qaeda terrorists since 1998.

"al Qaeda has shown interest in gaining chemical and biological (CB) expertise from Iraq, but we do not know whether any such training was provided," the report said. "We have no intelligence of current cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda and do not believe that al Qaeda plans to conduct terrorist attacks under Iraqi direction."

Much of Butler's report concentrated on a dossier published by Blair's government in September 2002, which laid out a case that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, and plans to use them; and that Iraq was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

On Wednesday, Blair acknowledged Butler's conclusion that Iraq did not have significant — if any — stocks of chemical or biological weapons ready for deployment, or plans for using them.

But he said the report confirmed his government had acted in good faith.

"No one lied. No one made up the intelligence," Blair told the House of Commons.

"Everyone genuinely tried to do their best in good faith for the country in circumstances of acute difficulty. That issue of good faith should now be at an end."

However, Conservative Party leader Michael Howard accused Blair of taking patchy intelligence on Iraqi WMD and hardening it into fact.

"I hope we will not face in this country another war in the foreseeable future. But if we did and you identified the threat, would the country believe you?" Howard said.

Public faith in Blair and his governing Labour Party were being tested in two special elections Thursday prompted by the death of one Labour lawmaker and the resignation of another.

Both are normally considered "safe" seats for Labour, which won both by landslides in 2001 and holds 159 more seats than the combined opposition in the House of Commons. Labour and the Conservatives, who also backed the war, have campaigned on domestic issues such as crime, education and health care.

The Liberal Democrats, the only major party to oppose the Iraq invasion, have run on a strong anti-war platform in the Leicester South and Birmingham Hodge Hill districts, which both have large Muslim populations.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said Wednesday he doubted the House of Commons would have backed the war if it had "known then what it knows today about the state of Saddam Hussein's weapons."

Robin Cook, who resigned from Blair's Cabinet in protest against the war, said the Butler report should rule out another "pre-emptive" war.

"The pre-emptive strike against a threat that may exist in the future requires very good intelligence and what we now know is that you never get intelligence that reliable," Cook said in a British Broadcasting Corp. radio interview Thursday.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind
Abu Musab Zarqawi blamed for more than 700 killings in Iraq

By Jim Miklaszewski
NBC News
Updated: 7:14 p.m. ET March 2, 2004

With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.

But NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. “Here’s a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we’re suffering as a result inside Iraq,” Cressey added.

And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today.
© 2005 MSNBC Interactive

10:13 AM  
Blogger Management said...

President Bush Meets with President Karzai of Afghanistan
Remarks by President Bush and President Karzai of Afghanistan in a Press Availability
The Rose Garden

11:27 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BUSH: Good day. Laura and I are pleased to welcome President Karzai back to the White House -- really glad you're here.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thanks for the good visit, and I'm looking forward to having a good lunch with you and your delegation.

President George W. Bush and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan hold a joint press conference in the Rose Garden Tuesday, June 15, 2004. White House photo by Paul Morse PRESIDENT KARZAI: Well, I'm looking forward to that.

PRESIDENT BUSH: President Karzai recently visited Fort Drum and thanked American troops on behalf of the Afghan people --


PRESIDENT BUSH: -- for their service and sacrifice. And, Mr. President, that was a sign of a true friend. I want to thank you for doing that.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I also appreciate your honor and your courage and your skill in helping to build a new and democratic Afghanistan. You've been instrumental in lifting your country from the ashes of two decades of war and oppression. Under your leadership, Afghanistan's progress has been dramatic.

Three years ago, the Taliban had granted Osama bin Laden and his terrorist al Qaeda organization a safe refuge. Today, the Taliban has been deposed, al Qaeda is in hiding, and coalition forces continue to hunt down the remnants and holdouts. Coalition forces, including many brave Afghans, have brought America, Afghanistan and the free world its first victory in the war on terror. Afghanistan is no longer a terrorist factory sending thousands of killers into the world.

Three years ago, 70 percent of Afghans were malnourished, and one in four Afghan children never saw their 5th birthday.


PRESIDENT BUSH: Today, clean water is being provided throughout the country, hospitals and clinics have been rehabilitated, and millions of children have been vaccinated against measles and polio.

Three years ago, women were viciously oppressed and forbidden to work outside the home, and even denied what little medical treatment was available. Today, women are going to school, and their rights are protected in Afghanistan's constitution.


PRESIDENT BUSH: That document sets aside a certain number of seats for women in the National Assembly. And women will soon compete for those seats in open elections this September.

Three years ago, the smallest displays of joy were outlawed. Women were beaten for wearing brightly-colored shoes. Even the playing of music and the flying of kites were outlawed. Today, we witness the rebirth of a vibrant Afghan culture. Music fills the marketplaces, and people are free to come together to celebrate in open.

Afghanistan's journey to democracy and peace deserves the support and respect of every nation, because free nations do not breed the ideology of terror. Last week, at the G8 Summit, President Karzai talked with world leaders about the challenges of building a secure and stable country.

President George W. Bush and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan walk along the colonnade after holding a joint press conference in the Rose Garden Tuesday, June 15, 2004. White House photo by Paul Morse My government reaffirms its iron-clad commitment to help Afghanistan succeed and prosper. Security is essential for steady progress and growth. The forces of many nations are working hard with Afghans to find and defeat Taliban remnants and eliminate al Qaeda terrorists. We're helping to build the new Afghan national army, and to train new Afghan police and border patrol. Together, we will maintain the peace, secure Afghanistan's borders and deny terrorists any foothold in that country.

I'm proud to call President Karzai a strong ally in the war on terror.

The United States is also joining with Afghanistan to announce five new initiatives that will help the Afghan people achieve the peace, stability and prosperity they deserve. First, the United States pledges its full support as Afghans continue to build the institutions of democracy. America will launch an ambitious training program for newly-elected Afghan politicians and help newly-elected assembly members better serve those who elected them.

Second, Afghanistan and America are working together to print millions of new textbooks and to build modern schools in every Afghan province. Girls, as well as boys, are going to school, and they are studying under a new curriculum that promotes religious and ethnic tolerance. We pledge to continue this progress through a new $4-million women's teacher training institute in Kabul. Graduates of this innovative program will return to their provinces and rural districts to train other teachers in the crusade against illiteracy.

Education can be nurtured in other ways, as well. Cultural exchange programs help to foster understanding and respect, as well as accelerate progress. Last year close to 100 Afghans studied here in various training programs. More want to come to learn and to share their experiences, so our third initiative will expand these opportunities to include more than 250 qualified Afghans who will participate in Humphrey, Fulbright, Cochran and other exchange programs.

Fourth, to promote bilateral economic ties, the United States and Afghanistan announced our intent to pursue a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement. Years of war and tyranny have eroded Afghanistan's economy and infrastructure, yet a revival is underway. Afghans are busy starting their own businesses. Some 15,000 licenses have already been issued for foreign businesses and investors to explore economic opportunities in Afghanistan. Working with Japan, we have rebuilt the Khandahar-Kabul Highway, a vital commercial and transportation link between Afghanistan's two largest cities. A bilateral trade agreement will add new fuel to the economic revival.

And, finally, we pledge to continue our efforts to create opportunities for women. The United States is dedicating $5 million to fund training programs and grants for small businesses. Under the Taliban, women were oppressed, their potential was ignored. Under President Karzai's leadership, that has changed dramatically. A number of innovative programs designed in collaboration with the Afghan government are increasing the role of women in the private sector. The traditional funding we announce today -- the additional funding we announce today will provide Afghan women with small business grants and training in business management skills. As my wife, Laura, has said, no society can prosper when half of its population is not allowed to contribute to its progress.

The road ahead for Afghanistan is still long and difficult. Yet, the Afghan people can know that their country will never be abandoned to terrorists and killers. The world and the United States stands with them as partners in their quest for peace and prosperity and stability and democracy.

Welcome, President, glad you're here.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Thank you very much. Thank you. Mr. President, it's a tremendous privilege and honor for us to be invited again by you and the First Lady to the White House. It was a great honor for me today to be speaking to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. I will cherish that memory of talking to the representatives of the American people.

There, today, I thanked America for the help that it gave us liberate ourselves and rebuild ourselves and prosper. That help has been the source of all growth in the past two years. Our economy in the year 2002 grew by 30 percent, in the year 2003, by 25 percent or more. In the year 2004, the growth is estimated to be 20 percent. And we are hoping, as some of the banks have predicted, that the Afghan economy will grow to 2008 by 15 percent, and beyond that, for another five years, by 10 percent.

Thank you very much. This could of not been possible without your help, without America's assistance.

We are sending today five million children to school. Almost half of those children are girls. Our universities are open. Our universities are coming up in all -- all over the country, in other provinces of the country. We are building a national army, a vital institution for the defense of our country. You want us to stand on our own feet; you want us to defend our own sovereignty and provide security to our people, and you're helping us do that.

The National Army of Afghanistan is popular with the Afghan people. Wherever they go, people receive them with welcome. In Farah Province, where they went some months ago, school girls and boys give them flowers. Thank you very much for that.

We are also building our police forces. We have a constitution that we have today which is the most enlightened in that part of the world. And that constitution has been made possible because of the liberation that you helped us gain, and because of the stability that the United States helped us have in Afghanistan. As a result of that, we have a constitution that sets us as an example of an Islamic democratic state. Thank you very much, Mr. President, for that.

We are looking forward in this relationship to a stronger relationship. And I'm sure the United States will remain committed to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is, in the month of September, looking forward to elections, presidential elections, and elections of parliament and elections of the provincial assemblies and district assemblies.

So far we have registered 3.8 million voters. And out of the 3.8 million voters, Mr. President, 35.4 percent are, so far, women. And as the trend continues, as we move forward to the registration of more voters, the number of women registering will exceed, definitely, 40 percent. In certain parts of the country, in the central highlands, today I learned that the registration of women has exceeded that of men; they are more than 50 percent. This could have not been achieved in Afghanistan without your help and that of the international community.

Afghanistan has problems, too. Among the problems is the question of drugs. The Afghan government is adamant, the Afghan people are adamant to fight this menace, to end it in Afghanistan and receive your help in that.

Thank you very much, Mr. President. It's been nice visiting the United States again. One likes to stay here and not go, it's such a good country. (Laughter.) Thanks very much.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Get home and get to work, will you?

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Thank you, yes. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: We'll answer some questions, in the tradition of democratic societies. Are you ready? We'll start with Hunt.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: I'm ready. I now know, Mr. President, what the free press means. We have it in Afghanistan.

PRESIDENT BUSH: That's good.


Q Mr. President, Iraq's Prime Minister says the new government expects to take custody of Saddam Hussein and all other detainees when sovereignty is transferred in about two weeks. And your spokesman says that that's under consideration. Will you turn him over by that date, and what factors are you weighing in that decision?

And, President Karzai, who will try Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar when they're caught?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We're working with the Iraqi government on a couple of issues. One is the appropriate time for the transfer of Saddam Hussein. And secondly, we're working to make sure there's appropriate security. I mean, one thing, obviously, is that we don't want and I know the Iraqi interim government doesn't want is there to be lax security and for Saddam Hussein to somehow not stand trial for the horrendous murders and torture that he inflicted upon the Iraqi people. So we're working with them.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Osama and Mullah Omar have committed crimes against the Afghan people, against the people in the United States, and against the international community. They are international criminals. They are wanted by the international community. They are wanted by the world conscience. They have to be arrested and tried. And when they are arrested, we will consult the international community and find appropriate mechanism for their trial.


Q Mr. President, you've referred to Muqtada al-Sadr as a thug, and your administration has promised to bring him to justice. Is it appropriate for the new interim Iraqi government to now welcome him into the political fold?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The interim Iraqi government will deal with al-Sadr in the way they see fit. That's -- they're sovereign. When we say we transfer full sovereignty, we mean we transfer full sovereignty. And they will deal with him appropriately.

Let's see here. Do you want to run the table, or do you want to go eat lunch?


PRESIDENT BUSH: Run the table, okay.


Q Mr. President --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Hold on a second, I'll get you in a minute, please. A little patience in front of the President here.


Q Mr. President, there are signs that inflation may be on the horizon in the U.S. economy. How concerned are you about this? What are you -- I mean, do you think this might slow down the recovery that you've been so happy about? Also, if I can ask you a follow-up on the security about Saddam Hussein. What guarantee --

PRESIDENT BUSH: How many questions? One question apiece. If we're going to stand out here in 100-degree temperature, let's just have one question.

Q Okay.

PRESIDENT BUSH: You can pass your question on to some other person, and I might call on them. I'm not so sure I'm going to be so international this press conference. (Laughter.)

The first question was about am I concerned about economic vitality? I'm pleased with -- what?

Q -- inflation --

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I thought you said am I worried that inflation is going to -- what I'm pleased about is the fact that our economy is strong and is getting stronger. All indications are -- is that the economic stimulus plan we put in place is working. There's strong growth. There is -- there is -- there are new jobs being added. Consumer spending is up. Disposable -- after-tax disposable income is high. In other words, the ingredients for continued economic growth are present. And I'm very pleased. I'm particularly pleased because it means that workers are able to do their duties to their families.

And I am an optimistic person. I guess if you want to try to find something to be pessimistic about, you can find it, no matter how hard you look, you know? I'm optimistic. I have seen what we have come through. We've been through a recession, a national emergency, corporate scandals, a war, and yet, our economy is incredibly strong -- which speaks to the great vitality of the American entrepreneurial spirit and the vibrancy of the small business sector. And the plans we put in place are working.

There's more to do. We need an energy plan out of the United States Congress if we expect our economy to grow in the long-term. We need tort reform. We need to make sure that the -- we deal with the cost of health care in a rational way, by not empowering the federal government, I might add, but by empowering consumers. And I'd laid out such a plan to do so.

I mean, there's other things we need to do. We need to make sure that we don't become economic isolationists. And -- no, I'm optimistic about the future.

Roberts, I take it you had a question to ask.

Q If I could just pick up on that, sir, about pessimism. Your presumed Democratic challenger is spending this week and next partially critical of your economic policies. And while things have looked good in the last few months, could the case not be made that over the longer-term of your administration, that you're still operating at an economic deficit?

And what do you plan to do to avoid the fate of Bush 41 who didn't get credit for an improving economy in an election year?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think one thing the American people have seen is that I know how to lead. When I first came to office, the economy was headed into a recession. And we acted. We acted in a way that called upon the true strength of the American people, and that is we encouraged the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish by letting people keep more of their own money.

In other words, some might have said, well, let's strengthen the federal government. I made the decision to strengthen the pocketbooks of the people. And they had more money to spend, and our policy is working. And not only that, we stimulated growth in the small business sector. See, I recognized most new jobs are created by small business owners. And a significant part of the economic stimulus plan was aimed at small businesses so that they would have confidence to expand and grow, and they have.

And we also have overcome corporate scandal, which we acted in a bipartisan fashion on -- to make it clear that we're not going to tolerate dishonesty in the boardrooms of America. In other words, we acted. And the economy is getting better.

We've overcome a lot. We've overcome a lot through good policy, but we've overcome a lot because I have great faith in the American people, in the small business owners and the entrepreneurs and the workers of the country. And we're getting -- not only are we strong today, we're getting stronger. Our economy is the strongest of any major industrialized nation in the world. And there's more work to do. See?

Go ahead, Terry. No, you've asked your question. Terry. Hold on for a second. Terry. Thank you, though.

Q Mr. President, back on the Iraqis being detained by U.S. forces. If the Iraqi government is truly going to be sovereign after June 30th, and if they are expressing the desire to take control over their citizens --


Q -- and the coalition disappears, by what authority --

PRESIDENT BUSH: And what coalition disappears?

Q If the Coalition Provisional Authority, I'm sorry --


Q -- the entity disappears --


Q -- by what authority does the United States continue to hold the citizens of a sovereign country --

PRESIDENT BUSH: I fully agree that it's a sovereign country. That's why we're working with them to make sure that there is good security. Look, nobody wants Saddam Hussein to leave, and when there's a transfer of responsibility, we want to make sure that he is secure. He's a killer. He is a thug. He needs to be brought to trial. We want to make sure that the transfer to a sovereign government is done in a timely way and in a secure way. That's what we're discussing with the government.

Yes, Stretch. And then you next.

Q Mr. President, thank you. Just to follow up on John's question. In Afghanistan, things are improving, as you've mentioned. In Iraq, we're about to transfer sovereignty. And even domestically, the economy is booming. Why is it that you're having trouble pulling ahead of your opponent, John Kerry?

I know you don't pay attention to the polls, but we are four-and-a-half months from election day.


Q What can you do to improve your political standing as the campaign moves forward?

PRESIDENT BUSH: You see, I think you answered your own question.

We are four-and-a-half months from election day. In other words, there's a long time before the election. I'm just going to do my job, Stretch. My job is to continue to lead. My job is to say to the American people, follow me, the world is going to be better. The world will be more free, the world will be more peaceful, the world will be -- America will be a stronger country because our economy will improve; America will be a better country because we're calling upon the compassion of our fellow citizens to help a neighbor in need.

Q Mr. President, I want to follow up on this issue of Iraqi security because I'm detecting some reservation that you may have about the Iraqis' ability to really head up their own security after June the 30th, because you seem to signal that there are concerns about their ability to even continue to detain Saddam Hussein. So what will happen between now and June 30th that would help you overcome that concern? And just related to that, there was a report from Baghdad yesterday indicating that after the deadly bombing, car bombing, that Iraqi police, as crowds gathered against the United States, just stood around and didn't do anything. Why is that happening?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Which question do you want me to answer?

Q Well, I think they're related; both --

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, they're not -- (laughter.)

Q Please, I'll say, please.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Look, it's very hot out here, we've got a President from a -- a respectful President here. Why don't you just ask one question, i f you don't mind? I don't mean to be telling you how to do your business. All right, I'll answer both. (Laughter.)

First, I just want to make sure that when sovereignty is transferred, Saddam Hussein is -- stays in jail. That's just a matter of discussion and understanding the procedures. That's all we're saying. I'm confident that when it's all said and done, he will stay in jail. I just want to be assured.

Listen, we've got -- we're over there for a reason. We're over th= ere to make our country more secure, and one way to do so was to make sure Sad= dam Hussein was not in power. Secondly, we're there to help the Afghan -- = I mean, the Iraqi people. We want to make sure that he doesn't come back to po= wer. And so, therefore, it's a legitimate question to ask of the interim governm= ent -- how are you going to make sure he stays in jail? And that's the questi= on I'm asking. And when we get the right answer -- which I'm confident we wil= l, we will work with them to do so -- then we'll all be satisfied.


Q Mr. President --

Q How about the second part?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The second part was what? I forgot. It was so l= ong ago that you asked it --

Q I know, I apologize, I was long-winded.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Oh, why did they stand back -- look, the Iraqi pe= ople are going to have to figure out how to make sure their country is secure en= ough for a free government to emerge. And what you're watching is a government = learning how to protect itself. The transfer of sovereignty to Iraq means not o= nly will they have the freedom to make decisions on behalf of their people, but = they will have to secure their own country. And you're watching this happen. Yo= u also heard the comments of Prime Minister Allawi, who made it very clear tha= t these types of acts are terrorist acts against the Iraqi people.


Q Mr. President, how do you explain why the success we've had i= n Afghanistan appears to be alluding us in Iraq? Is it possible that the=

Afghan people objected to the Taliban more strongly than the Iraqi people obje= cted to the reign of Saddam Hussein?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, that's not possible. The Iraqi people object= ed to the reign of Saddam Hussein, and you would, too, if you lived there -- wher= e you couldn't express yourself, where you got tortured, where there was mass=



This is hard work. And it wasn't easy work in Afghanistan, by the wa= y. I mean, it seems easy now that we're standing here, Wendell, after severa= l years of working together with this great leader, but it was hard work. And = out of kind of the desperate straits that the Afghan people found themselves i= s now a welcoming society beginning to grow. And the same thing is going to ha= ppen in Iraq.

These aren't easy tasks. I mean, somehow there's expectation, wel= l, all this is supposed to have happened yesterday. That's just not the way i= t works when you go from a society that has -- that was subjugated to a tyrant,=

by a tyrant, to a free society. And the President will tell you, it's hard = work. It may look easy, in retrospect, but it's not easy. And that's why it's v= ery important for us to speak clearly to the people of Afghanistan and in I= raq that the United States will help them, will stay and help them fulfill the m= ission, which is a free and peaceful Afghanistan, a free and peaceful Iraq, whi= ch are in our nation's interests.

First, it's in our interests that we defeat terrorists there than = fight them here. That's our short-term security interest.

Secondly, it's in our long-term interests that we work for free societies in parts of the world that are desperate for freedom. And the reason I keep saying that, Wendell, is because I know that a free society is a peaceful society. And America is interested in working with friends to promote = the peace. And that's what we're doing. The short-term solution for our security problem is to find the terrorists and bring them to justice before they hurt Americans again; is to deny them training bases; is to deny them affiliates and allies in the war on terror. That's what we have done in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The long-term solution is to promote free societies that are able to defeat the forces of pessimism, darkness, intolerance and hatred.

Okay, a couple more questions. Yes. Let me work my way through the TV readers.

Q On another issue, have you been --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Which one, you or Sanger?

Q Me. (Laughter.)


Q On another issue, have you been called to answer questions regarding the CIA leak? And have you retained the attorney --

PRESIDENT BUSH: You need to call -- you need to call -- you need to talk to the counsel over there.

Yes, Elisabeth.

Q -- Ron Reagan's remarks at the former President's funeral --

PRESIDENT BUSH: I didn't hear them.

Q He said that politicians should not wear religious faith on their sleeve. And a lot of Republicans interpreted those remarks as being critical of you and your position on stem cell. I'd like to ask you about that.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Whether or not a politician should wear their -- I've always said I think it's very important for someone not to try to take the speck out of somebody else's eye when they may have a log in their own. In other words, I'm very mindful about saying, you know, oh, vote for me, I'm more religious than my neighbor. And I think it's -- I think it's perfectly -- I think it's important for people of religion to serve. I think it is very important for people who are serving to make sure there is a separation of church and state.

Q Mr. President, questions are being raised about the legal status of U.S. military contractors in Iraq. Your administration is asking for them to be granted immunity by the incoming Iraqi government. If they aren't going to operate under Iraqi law, will they operate under U.S. civilian law, or under what legal jurisdiction?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I need to make sure I stay in touch with the lawy= ers on this subject. They are the ones who are raising the issue. We'll cont= inue to work the issue.

Q So you haven't decided yet?



Q Mr. President --

PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm getting distracted over here, there seems to = be some noise.

Q The Vice President, who I see standing over there, said yesterday that Saddam Hussein has long-established ties to al Qaeda. As you know, this is disputed within the U.S. intelligence community. Mr. President, would you add any qualifiers to that flat statement? And what do you think is the best evidence of it?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Zarqawi. Zarqawi is the best evidence of connection to al Qaeda affiliates and al Qaeda. He's the person who's still killing. He's the person -- and remember the email exchange between al Qaeda leadership and he, himself, about how to disrupt the progress toward freedom?

Saddam Hussein also had ties to terrorist organizations, as well.

In other words, he was affiliated with terrorism -- Abu Nidal, the paying of fam= ilies of suiciders to go kill innocent people. I mean, he was no doubt a destabilizing force. And we did the absolute right thing in removing him from power. And the world is better off with him not in power.

I look forward to the debate, for people saying, oh, gosh, the world would be better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power. I think we'd have trouble finding takers, particularly those in Iraq, as well. They're now living in a free society. And I repeat, it's hard work to go from Saddam Hussein to a free society. But we'll get there. And we'll get there because people want to be free, that's why we'll get there. People long to live in freedom. And the United States -- and I will continue to make it clear that we will not abandon those who are building free societies -- whether it be in Afghanistan or whether it be in Iraq.


Q Mr. President, there have been some reports that the Afghan g= overnment has been cooperating with warlords, former warlords in Afghanistan, and I wondered if you talked about that with President Karzai today --


Q -- and how you feel about it?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I did, and he can answer the question, what he told me.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Yes. See, Afghanistan is emerging from years of oppression to a free, democratic society. And in democracy, you are supposed to be talking to each other. You are supposed to be preparing the country for a better future by negotiating and by understanding each other. And as the Afghan President, it's my job to take that nation, the Afghan people, into a better future, through stability and peace, to a higher degree of democracy, to the elections. It's my job to do that peacefully. It's my job to keep stability and peace in Afghanistan. And I will talk to anybody that comes to talk to me about stability and peace, and about movement towards democracy.

No deals have been made; no coalitions have been made, and no coalition will be made. And they did not ask for it. First of all, we don't call them warlords. Some of those people are respected leaders of the Afghan resistance. Some of them are former presidents. And we respect them in Afghanistan. Yes, there are bad people in the country, as well, with whom we're not making a deal, with whom we are not talking. This country is moving forward. It's a society now emerging with a strong civil society sense in institutions. And that's what we are doing there.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, thank you very much.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Thanks very much.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Lunch awaits us.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Lunch awaits us, indeed. Thank you.

END 12:00 P.M. EDT

10:14 AM  
Blogger Management said...

The Washington Times
Bin Laden urges Zarqawi to attack inside America
By Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough
Published March 1, 2005
U.S. intelligence and security officials yesterday said new information indicates that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has asked Iraq-based terrorists to focus future attacks on targets inside the United States.
Recent intelligence reports showed that bin Laden contacted Abu Musab Zarqawi, al Qaeda's senior operative in Iraq, and urged Islamists there to shift from attacking U.S. targets in that country to targets in the United States, said officials familiar with the reports.
A U.S. official said there was no specific time or place mentioned in bin Laden's message to Zarqawi. There are no plans to raise the color-coded threat level from "elevated," or yellow, to "high," or orange, officials said.
"This credible but nonspecific information restates al Qaeda's desire to potentially target the homeland," said Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.
The department last weekend sent out a classified bulletin to state and local security officials regarding recent information on the threat. The bulletin was based on a communique between al Qaeda leaders about expanding "operations outside of Iraq with an inference that the United States would be the primary target."
The disclosure about the shift in targets, first reported by Fox News Channel, reveals that the U.S. government has been able to track al Qaeda communications. The group is thought to communicate through couriers and the Internet.
It also shows that a major attack on the United States aimed at rivaling the September 11 strikes is still a danger.
CIA Director Porter J. Goss told a Senate hearing last month that al Qaeda is planning to target U.S. territory and that Islamic extremists are using the Iraq war to recruit anti-U.S. "jihadists," or holy warriors.
"These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism," Mr. Goss said. "They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries."
Mr. Goss said Zarqawi is intent on bringing "the final victory of Islam over the West, and he hopes to establish a safe haven in Iraq from which his group could operate against 'infidel' Western nations and 'apostate' Muslim governments."
Meanwhile, the U.S.-backed coalition has nabbed more than a dozen senior leaders of Iraq's deadly insurgency in recent weeks, but the enemy has a deep bench of planners and jihadists who seem able to keep up a pace of 40 or more attacks daily, according to U.S. officials and outside analysts.
The string of arrests was highlighted Sunday. The Iraqi interim government announced the capture of its biggest target since the U.S. Army apprehended former dictator Saddam Hussein in December 2003. Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, Saddam's half brother, was among scores of Ba'ath Party loyalists jailed in Iraq after being arrested in Syria, where they had been directing and financing terror attacks.
But U.S. officials said the number of Saddam loyalists willing to kill Iraqis and coalition troops is still sufficient to carry out attacks for months, if not years. When Baghdad fell to the U.S. invasion in April 2003, intelligence agencies estimated that there were 20,000 senior Ba'ath Party members. That number, coupled with 40,000 criminals freed by Saddam and thousands of ex-Iraq army troops still loyal to Saddam, creates a huge pool from which to draw insurgents and terrorists.
"They don't know. One surprise after another," said a defense source in Washington about intelligence estimates of the insurgency and terrorists.
The source said there are scores of other Iraqi Ba'athists operating in Syria.
The terrorists' ability to operate in most areas of Iraq was demonstrated yesterday in the Shi'ite town of Hillah. A suicide car bomb killed more than 115 Iraqis applying for government jobs, in the worst attack since Saddam was ousted.
"The insurgency in Iraq, as insurgencies are classically defined and assessed for accomplishing their goals, has been far more successful than most imagined it would, or could be," said Dan Gallington, a former aide to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and now an analyst at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.
"What the insurgents fear is a series of Fallujah-type operations," he said. "Why we are not obliging them is not clear. But I would suspect that our joint-combined Iraqi-U.S. strike units are riddled with spies and informants and that such operations are impossible to conduct with even the slightest degree of operational security."
The militants in Iraq essentially come in two groups: Sunni Muslim Ba'athist insurgents such as al-Hassan and their paid attackers, and foreign jihadists and suicide bombers led by Zarqawi. A Zarqawi car bomber likely pulled off the Hillah attack yesterday.
Before the historic Jan. 30 elections, the Iraqi government announced the capture of a handful of Zarqawi's top people, including Salah Suleiman al-Loheibi, who ran the terror group's Baghdad cell.
"I think the arrests have had an effect on them," said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and military analyst. "You're taking experience off the streets, and that's going to hurt them."
Such arrests also result in a flood of new intelligence information on Zarqawi's group, al Qaeda in Iraq. Iraqi authorities say they have come within hours of catching Zarqawi as he moves from town to town.
"I am encouraged by recent arrests of insurgents, especially if the arrests are based on information brought forward by real citizens and not competing insurgents who want us to help them eliminate rivals," Mr. Gallington said.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Wanted Rebel Vows Loyalty to bin Laden, Web Sites Say
By Dexter Filkins
The New York Times

Monday 18 October 2004

Baghdad - Iraq's most wanted militant has pledged his loyalty to Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, according to a message posted Sunday on Islamist Web sites.

The militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian believed responsible for a number of bombings and beheadings here, wrote in the message that he agreed with Al Qaeda's strategy and the need for unity against "the enemies of Islam."

The message said Mr. Zarqawi, leader of the group One God and Jihad, believed Mr. bin Laden to be "the best leader for Islam's armies against all infidels and apostates."

"We announce that the One God and Jihad group, its prince and its soldiers, has pledged allegiance to the sheik of the holy warriors, Osama bin Laden," the statement said.

The statement said Mr. Zarqawi had in been contact with Al Qaeda for eight months, "exchanging points of view," before reaching an understanding.

There was no way to verify the authenticity of the message. One of the Web sites carrying the message also carried a videotape showing the beheading of an American, Nicholas Berg, in May, which American officials believe was performed by Mr. Zarqawi.

Mr. Zarqawi, 38, is regarded by American commanders as one of the most prolific and brazen killers in Iraq. They have offered a $25 million bounty for him - the same amount as the bounty on Mr. bin Laden.

Mr. Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for several of the most deadly car bombings here and is believed responsible for the videotaped beheading of three Americans, one Briton and possibly others.

He is also a suspect in the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.

A senior American military official said that based on the bombings and attacks for which Mr. Zarqawi has claimed responsibility, he is responsible for the deaths of 675 Iraqis and 40 American, British and other foreign soldiers here, and for the wounding of more than 2,000 people.

Mr. Zarqawi and his group are believed to be operating out of Fallujah, a city under the control of insurgents.

In the past two months, American forces have carried out nearly nightly air-strikes against targets in Fallujah believed to comprise what American military officials refer to as "the Zarqawi network."

Even so, Mr. Zarqawi's whereabouts are unclear, as his precise role in the attacks for which he has taken credit. The Americans say they have killed six of his group's senior leaders.

The vow of allegiance to Al Qaeda would be something of a break for Mr. Zarqawi, who, according to some evidence, regards himself as a rival of Mr. bin Laden. But it would not be their first contact.

In February, the American military released a letter it said had been written by Mr. Zarqawi to senior leaders in Al Qaeda, who are thought to be hiding in the mountainous area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In the letter, the author beseeched Mr. bin Laden for help in Iraq and made clear his subservience to him.

According to American intelligence, Mr. Zarqawi's request was rebuffed.

Mr. Zarqawi was brought to the world's attention in February 2003, on the eve of the American invasion of Iraq, by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Mr. Powell told the United Nations that Mr. Zarqawi, who he said was linked to Al Qaeda, was also linked to the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.

American intelligence officials are now skeptical that there was any link between Mr. Zarqawi and Mr. Hussein.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Management said...
Bush invokes 9/11 in Iraq war
By Joseph Curl
Published June 29, 2005

President Bush last night warned Americans not to forget the lessons of September 11, declaring that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror and asserting that finishing the military mission there "is vital to the future security of our country."

"The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like [Abu Musab] Zarqawi and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like [Osama] bin Laden. For the sake of our nation's security, this will not happen on my watch," he told an audience of 750 troops at Fort Bragg.

The president -- delivering a prime-time, televised speech at the home of the 82nd Airborne and Special Operations Forces -- acknowledged the "horrifying" TV pictures of death and violence that Americans see each day.

But in his 28-minute speech, he asked and answered a rhetorical question -- one that polls show is on the minds of many Americans.

"Amid all the violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is it worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the security of our country," he said.

Mr. Bush said he thinks that despite polls showing Americans are losing confidence in the war, "the American people do not falter under threat, and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins."

"We have more work to do, and there will be tough moments that test America's resolve," he said. "They are trying to shake our will in Iraq -- just as they tried to shake our will on September the 11th, 2001. They will fail."

Mr. Bush again refused to set a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops, but vowed that U.S. forces would "stay in Iraq as long as we are needed -- and not a day longer."

"I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I," he said.

"Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis -- who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops -- who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy -- who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out."

Before his speech, Mr. Bush met privately with families of 33 Fort Bragg personnel killed in Iraq. One widow gave the president a bracelet engraved with the names of her husband and another soldier killed with him. Mr. Bush wore the bracelet during his speech.

The Army installation, along with the adjacent Pope Air Force Base, has 14,700 troops deployed overseas. According to base officials, 89 persons from the bases have been killed fighting terrorism.

During his speech to troops, the president also rejected calls that he increase U.S. troops in Iraq.

"Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight," he said. "And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever."

The audience of troops in dress uniform -- who have welcomed the president on previous visits with the official chant of "hoo-ah" -- listened respectfully, as they had been asked because of the somber nature of the speech. They applauded only once, when Mr. Bush vowed that the United States "will stay in the fight until the fight is won."

The president laid out a two-track strategy -- political and military -- that will take the fledgling democracy through the next six months, when the interim government must complete a constitution and Iraqis must ratify the document and elect a new government.

He announced new steps that the military is taking to prepare Iraqi security forces to take over the anti-insurgency battle -- conducting operations with Iraqi units, embedding U.S. transition teams inside Iraqi units and intensive management training inside the Iraqi Defense and Interior ministries.

"As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down," he said.

But he returned often to the terrorist attacks of September 11 -- five times in all -- each time connecting the ongoing war in Iraq with the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

At one point he said, "This war reached our shores on September 11, 2001. The terrorists who attacked us -- and the terrorists we face -- murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom.

"Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania," he said.

Mr. Bush also cast the war in Iraq as the sole method to keep Americans safe.

"There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home," he said.

The battle is worldwide, Mr. Bush said, noting that terrorists captured in Iraq have come from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and other nations.

But as he did throughout his speech, he sought to convince Americans that the United States must stay the course, despite more than 1,700 troops killed since the war began 23 months ago.

"Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate," he said. "Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: 'This Third World War ... is raging' in Iraq. 'The whole world is watching this war.' "

Despite the rising death toll in Iraq, Mr. Bush said the insurgents have failed to meet even one goal. The insurgency, he said, failed to stop the transfer of sovereignty, failed to force withdrawal by U.S. allies, failed to incite civil war, failed to prevent free elections and failed to stop the formation of a democratic Iraqi government.

"The lesson of this experience is clear: The terrorists can kill the innocent; but they cannot stop the advance of freedom," he said.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll this week found that a clear majority is willing to keep U.S. forces in Iraq for an extended time to stabilize the country, with just one in eight favoring an immediate pullout of U.S. forces.

The majority of those polled said the United States should remain in Iraq until civil order is restored, even as most acknowledged that the goal could be several years away.

In addition, a majority -- 52 percent -- thinks that the war in Iraq is contributing to the long-term security of the United States. But just one in five -- 22 percent -- agree with Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion this month that the insurgency is in its "last throes."

Mr. Bush closed his speech assuring the troops that "the American people are behind you." And he asked Americans across the country to use July Fourth "to make sure that support is felt by every soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine at every outpost across the world."

He also urged Americans to visit a Department of Defense Web site -- -- to see what they can do to support U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

10:15 AM  

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