Bush says U.S. will spend whatever is necessary to win war against terrorism

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Sunday that there are challenges ahead in the war on terrorism and that more U.S. money will be needed to sustain U.S. troops in Iraq and rebuild the shattered nation. Two congressional sources told The Associated Press he will ask Congress for $87 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

"We will do whatever is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom, and to make our nation more secure," Bush said.

Recent estimates have ranged between $60 to $80 billion or more, and two congressional sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the actual amount the president will request is $87 billion.

In remarks prepared for a speech Sunday evening designed to bolster his approval ratings and respond to political pressure to say more about Iraq, Bush urged other nations to help stabilize and rebuild Iraq.

"Our strategy in Iraq has three objectives -- destroying the terrorists ... enlisting the support of other nations for a free Iraq ... and helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and their own future."

Bush said members of the United Nations have an opportunity and a "responsibility" to assume a broader role to make sure Iraq becomes a free and democratic nation. He also urged the Iraqi people to step up to the task of governing themselves.

"They must rise to the responsibilities of a free people, and secure the blessings of their own liberty," he said.

Bush has been under criticism from Democrats about the unsuccessful effort so far to stabilize Iraq, especially since the postwar U.S. death toll has climbed past the number killed in major combat. Democrats and Republicans alike have urged the president to spell out his plan for getting Iraq under Iraqi control and withdrawing U.S. troops, who are dying at a rate of more than one a day.

Recent polls suggest just over half of the public approves of Bush's job performance after months when his job approval was in the 60- and 70-percent range. With the presidential election just over a year away, Bush would like to bolster his standing with voters.

He urged Americans to be patient during the coming months.

"Two years ago, I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different kind of war, fought on many fronts in many places," he said. "Iraq is now the central front. Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there -- and there they must be defeated. This will take time, and require sacrifice."

Bush also said the U.S.-led coalition's work in Iraq is critical to winning the war on terrorism.

"The Middle East will either become a place of progress and peace, or it will be an exporter of violence and terror that takes more lives in America and in other free nations," the president said. "The triumph of democracy and tolerance in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and beyond, would be a grave setback for international terrorism."

His words mirror the blurring of lines involving the routing of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, problems with the Middle East peace process and the terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001.

A poll released Saturday indicated that nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that Saddam was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, which were carried out by al-Qaida, even though terrorism experts and others describe only loose links between al-Qaida and Saddam.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said in advance of the president's remarks that the effort in Iraq will require more money.

"It's going to cost more, and there will be continued sacrifice on the part of our young men and women," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday. "Hopefully, in the very near future we'll get control of the security situation," he told CBS' "Face the Nation."

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the president believes the "cost of freedom and the cost of peace cannot be measured and that it is important that we put adequate resources to this task."

"The key here is we must remain resolute," she Rice told CNN's "Late Edition."

"There's a reason that foreign fighters are coming into Iraq. There is a reason that we're seeing evidence -- not really yet completely clear evidence -- of terrorists trying to operate in Iraq," Rice said. "They know that this is the central battle in the war on terrorism."

Powell said the Bush administration is concerned that members of al-Qaida or other terrorist groups may be heading toward Iraq. "I'm not sure how large these numbers are, how significant the threat is, but we will deal with it in Iraq," Powell said on NBC's 'Meet the Press."

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Congress will approve the money needed to support U.S. troops, but that lawmakers want the president to tell them what his "exit strategy" is from Iraq.

Defense Department officials have said U.S. operations are costing about $3.9 billion monthly. That figure excludes indirect expenses such as replacing damaged equipment and munitions expended in combat.

Levin said lawmakers are being told that it will cost $4.5 billion a month for the military -- plus reconstruction expenses.


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