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President Seeks $87 Billion in Anti-Terror Funds

President Seeks $87 Billion in Anti-Terror Funds

Posted - Sep. 8, 2003 at 7:14 a.m.



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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush, facing doubts about his handling of Iraq amid rising casualties, is asking Congress for $87 billion to fight terrorism and cautioning Americans that the struggle "will take time and require sacrifice."

Bush's money request -- surpassing earlier unofficial estimates -- would come on top of the $79 billion that Congress approved in April for the initial costs of the war and its aftermath and for worldwide efforts against terrorism.

Despite calls from Republicans and Democrats alike for more troops, Bush said the 130,000 U.S. forces in Iraq were sufficient. But he urged other nations, even those that had opposed the war, to contribute troops and money.

On Monday, Britain's Ministry of Defense said that country will send two additional battalions to Iraq, adding 1,200 troops to its forces already there. Britain has 11,000 troops in the country.

The president addressed the nation Sunday night, his first speech on Iraq since May 1 when he stood on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and declared an end to major combat.

In the four months since, U.S. casualties have risen steadily, to the point where more have died in the aftermath of the war than during the combat phase.

The attacks on American forces continued Monday when an explosion struck a U.S. patrol convoy near the center of Baghdad. Two soldiers were wounded, a military spokesman said.

Bush described Iraq in his 18-minute speech as the central battleground of the terrorism war and blamed the violence on Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign terrorists.

"We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today, so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities," Bush said, four days before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bush said that roughly $66 billion of the $87 billion he will seek from Congress for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 is for military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Earlier cost estimates of the terrorism war had ranged between $60 billion and $80 billion.

Of the nearly $66 billion, $51 billion would be for Iraq, $11 billion for Afghanistan and about $200 million for the Horn of Africa, a congressional official knowledgeable about the request said Monday.

This source also said that $1.5 billion would be used for U.S. support of foreign troops participating in stabilizing Iraq; $5 billion for security there and $15 billion for work on restoring and upgrading the nation's infrastructure. Another $2.2 billion would be set aside for reserve mobilization, if necessary, said this official, speaking on grounds of anonymity.

Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said Monday the additional money the administration is badly needed.

If Iraq can be stabilized, "those costs will be won back over and over again," she said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"We don't know the numbers in which they are going to Iraq, but that's why they're going," she said on CBS's "The Early Show."

While the confrontation with Saddam made the president's popularity skyrocket, public confidence in his handling of Iraq has dropped since the war, leveling off in the mid-50 percent area.

Heading into a campaign year hoping to unseat Bush, Democrats have been emboldened to criticize him on Iraq. Even some Republican allies have urged him to change course.

A fresh burst of Democratic criticism followed the speech.

Bush has "been going down the wrong path," said Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., a White House hopeful.

Howard Dean, another Democratic candidate, on Monday accused Bush of going into Iraq "recklessly" and said on NBC that "failure is not an option."

Questions have been raised by the administration's failure to find any of Saddam's illegal weapons or the ousted Iraqi leader himself. Rice said Monday she remained confident that Saddam would be found.

Describing Iraq as the central front in the war against terror, Bush said the "enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there, and there they must be defeated."

"This will take time and require sacrifice," he said.

While saying the United States has enough troops in Iraq, Bush said American commanders have requested a multinational division to serve alongside similar units led by Britain and Poland.

Some countries have sought an explicit U.N. peacekeeping authorization, and Bush said Secretary of State Colin Powell would seek a Security Council resolution to authorize deployment of new forces. Bush will address the U.N. General Assembly in two weeks.

Appealing to Americans' patriotism, Bush said the United States has "done this kind of work before. Following World War II, we lifted up the defeated nations of Japan and Germany and stood with them as they built representative governments. We committed years and resources to this cause."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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