- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002


President Bush yesterday signed into law a bill he touted as giving the military "every advantage required" to carry out an expensive, no-end-in-sight global fight against terrorism and potentially Saddam Hussein.

"Since September 11, Americans have been reminded that the safety of many depends on the courage and skill of a few," Mr. Bush said before signing legislation providing a hefty increase in defense spending and financing for military construction projects in 2003.

"The bill today says America is determined and resolute to not only defend our freedom but to defend freedom around the world, that we're determined and resolute to answer the call to history and that we will defeat terror," Mr. Bush told a Rose Garden audience of mostly uniformed military personnel, along with a gathering of lawmakers.

The measures were the first federal spending bills to become law three weeks after the start of the 2003 budget year.

Lawmakers who were deadlocked over spending decisions and anxious about midterm elections left Capitol Hill last week to campaign. They plan to finish the other 11 required spending bills in a lame-duck session after the Nov. 5 election.

The $355.4 billion defense bill, approved with overwhelming support to provide most of what Mr. Bush requested, increases spending by more than $34 billion over the previous fiscal year. Mr. Bush sought $367 billion, but ran into bipartisan resistance to his proposal for a $10 billion fund he could tap without congressional input for combating terrorists overseas.

Mr. Bush noted the many tasks being placed on the military's shoulders: "Bring justice to agents of terror liberate a captive people on the other side of the Earth prepare for conflict in Iraq if necessary serve in many places far from home and at great risk."

"We owe them every resource, every weapon and every tool they need to fulfill their missions," the president said. "The best military in the world must have every advantage required to defend the peace of the world."

With a day of work in Washington sandwiched between campaign swings and other travel, Mr. Bush later yesterday urged the Senate to follow the House's lead and approve legislation to bypass a Supreme Court decision that struck down a ban of computer simulations of child pornography.

Mr. Bush hosted a private forum with local, state and federal law enforcement working to prevent the sexual solicitation and exploitation of children over the Internet.

The events were a follow-up to the Oct. 2 White House Conference on Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children.

Mr. Bush focused most of his attention and remarks at the time on kidnapped children but noted that a University of New Hampshire study said that, in the past year, one in five children between the ages of 10 and 17 were sexually propositioned online.

In April, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional and too broad part of a 1996 law intended primarily to stop pornography produced by computer wizardry not available when the court placed child pornography outside First Amendment protection in 1982.

Free-speech advocates and pornographers challenged the ban on material that appears to be a child in a sexually explicit situation or that is advertised to convey the impression that someone under age 18 is involved.

The bill Mr. Bush was promoting would prohibit the production, distribution and possession of any visual depiction, real or electronic, of prepubescent children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

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