- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2003

President Bush yesterday convened a meeting of his war council at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the 5,810-acre Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland, but he later returned to his weekend tradition of rest which usually means running, hiking and exercising.
The national security team meeting included Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and CIA Director George Tenet.
During the 1-hour meeting, the council discussed the progress of the war in Iraq. Mr. Bush then spoke by telephone for 30 minutes with British Prime Minister Tony Blair "about the progress of the war and humanitarian assistance for the Iraqi people," the White House said, but it released no details.
"President Bush plans to exercise and spend the rest of the weekend with Mrs. Bush at Camp David," the White House said.
The president's decision to go to Camp David on the first weekend of a war just as his father did in 1991, after he ordered war to expel Iraqi soldiers from Kuwait prompted criticism from some political commentators. However, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said Friday that "the president is following his normal routine."
White House aides said Mr. Bush has been sleeping well and exercising nearly every day as he oversees the war effort. The spokesman said Mr. Bush has no intention to "micromanage" operations, but he is involved in every step.
Since he began the war Wednesday night with his "Let's go" order to his commanders in the field, Mr. Bush has been briefed on military operations several times a day and told of developments as they occur.
However, aides say he does not seek out details in the White House Situation Room and, not a fan of television, watches few TV news accounts. Moreover, Mr. Bush has been true to his word not to meddle.
"The president has given commanders the authority to execute their jobs because that's why they're there. He really isn't the type to second-guess a decision of any commander," said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In his weekly radio address yesterday, Mr. Bush offered tribute to the troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"They are conducting themselves in the highest tradition of the American military. They are doing their job with skill and bravery, and with the finest allies beside them," he said, contrasting them with their enemies, "who have no regard for the conventions of war or rules of morality."
Joyce Howard Price contributed to this report.

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