View Full Version : Bush: Work in Iraq not finished

05-02-03, 06:28 AM
May 01, 2003

Bush: Work in Iraq not finished

By Scott Lindlaw
Associated Press

ABOARD THE CARRIER ABRAHAM LINCOLN — President Bush, on an aircraft carrier homebound from the war, tells the nation Thursday that “we have difficult work to do in Iraq” to rebuild the country and promote democracy — and to find Saddam Hussein and any weapons of mass destruction.
“Our coalition will stay until our work is done,” the president said.

Bush flew out to the carrier on a small jet and made a screeching stop as his plane was snagged by a cable stretched across the deck. The ship was about 30 miles from San Diego. Bush, a former pilot, apparently got a turn at the controls on the way. He emerged in a flight suit and shouted to reporters, “Yes I flew it! Of course I liked it!”

In a speech prepared to be delivered from the deck of the ship, Bush said, “We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated.”

Bush added, “We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself instead of hospitals and schools for the people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done.”

The president sought to give the nation a close to the fighting while avoiding a sweeping claim of victory. Thursday morning brought fresh reminders that the hostilities had not ceased: Seven U.S. soldiers were wounded in a grenade attack in Fallujah, Iraq.

Moreover, central questions remain unanswered. Saddam is unaccounted for, no weapons of mass destruction have been found and there is no new evidence that Saddam’s government had ties to al-Qaida.

The president cast the Iraq war as but one phase of the overall fight against terrorism. Indeed, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced during a visit Thursday to Afghanistan that major combat activity in that country had come to an end, long after U.S.-led forces drove the Taliban regime from power.

“From Pakistan to the Philippines to the Horn of Africa, we are hunting down al-Qaida killers,” Bush said. “The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida and cut off a source of terrorist funding.”

Bush spoke to Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia earlier Thursday about the road map the administration offered a day earlier for ending Israeli-Palestinian hostilities.

Bush arrived on the carrier aboard a Navy jet that landed on the deck at more than 125 miles an hour and was stopped in seconds by a stretched cable. He had crossed the country on Air Force One, exchanged his business suit and tie for a flight suit and got a refresher course on ejecting from a jet. He took his place up front in the S-3B, next to the pilot, for the flight to the carrier 150 miles off the coast of San Diego.

It was an apparent presidential first. Presidents traditionally use helicopters to visit aircraft carriers.

Bush toured the carrier’s operations center, watched jets take off and met with F-18 pilots and with Capt. Kendall L. Card. After his speech, he was having dinner with about 150 enlisted sailors.

The Lincoln, which was commissioned in 1989 by Dick Cheney, then defense secretary and now the vice president, was returning from a 10-month deployment, the longest by a nuclear-powered carrier in history.

Its aircraft dropped nearly 1.2 million pounds of ordnance on Iraq, about 40 percent of the firepower that U.S. carriers and their jets rained down.

The bombs and missiles destroyed Iraqi air defense units, tanks, government and military buildings, fuel and ammunition stores, and provided cover for U.S. and British troops, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

The president was spending the night in the quarters that the ship’s captain usually uses when the carrier is in port.

Overnight, the carrier was heading close enough to its San Diego destination that Bush could helicopter back to land on Friday morning.

In keeping with his practice in recent weeks, Bush was using a defense contractor as the setting for a speech Friday on both national security and the economy. He was visiting the Silicon Valley offices of United Defense Industries, developer of the Bradley fighting vehicle.

The valley is on the fringe of the strongly Democratic San Francisco bay area, one of the cradles of the anti-war movement.

Later Friday, Bush was to pick up Australian Prime Minister John Howard for a weekend summit at Bush’s Texas ranch. The president was swinging through Arkansas on his way back to Washington on Monday.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press