- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) — President Bush monitored the war against Iraq from the Camp David presidential retreat Saturday, meeting with his war council, speaking with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and telling the nation that it cannot "live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."

On the third full day since U.S. and British forces began their march toward Baghdad, the president began the day with an intelligence briefing and then convened his war council, which included Vice President Richard Cheney, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, and CIA Director George Tenet.

Bush spoke to Blair about the progress of the war and humanitarian assistance for the Iraqi people. The White House said the call lasted 30 minutes.

In his weekly radio address Saturday morning, Bush said helping the Iraqi people achieve a free and stable country would require a sustained commitment from the United States as coalition forces continued an air and ground campaign to oust the regime leadership.

"Our nation entered this conflict reluctantly, yet with a clear and firm purpose. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder," Bush said.

"We will accept no outcome but victory."

The showdown with Iraq was the culmination of 12 years of U.N. resolutions, capped in recent months by a newfound determination on the part of the United States to force Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to reveal and destroy the chemical and biological weapons it claims he has.

It was Wednesday night when the deadline expired Saddam to leave the country, an ultimatum issued by Bush two days earlier.

Ninety minutes after the deadline passed unheeded, the first bombs fell on Baghdad. The United States targeted a residence in Baghdad after "senior Iraqi leadership" arrived there Wednesday, a U.S. government official told United Press International. Officials said Saturday they do not know the condition of whereabouts of Saddam but see signs that Iraq's command and control structure has been hobbled.

Midday on Friday, the Pentagon began its so-called "shock and awe" campaign with a massive air campaign that destroyed presidential palaces and reduced

Bush said Saturday that American and coalition forces would face enemies "who have no regard for the conventions of war or rules of morality."

"Iraqi officials have placed troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women and children as shields for the dictator's army. I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm," Bush said Saturday.

"The future of peace and the hopes of the Iraqi people now depend on our fighting forces in the Middle East," Bush said. "They are conducting themselves in the highest traditions of the American military. They are doing their job with skill and bravery, and with the finest of allies beside them. At every stage of this conflict the world will see both the power of our military, and the honorable and decent spirit of the men and women who serve," Bush said.

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