- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2002

President Bush yesterday praised British Prime Minister Tony Blair's dossier of evidence against Saddam Hussein, as the White House accused German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of "anti-Americanism."

"Prime Minister Blair, first of all, is a very strong leader, and I admire his willingness to tell the truth," the president said after Mr. Blair disclosed his evidence against Saddam. "We don't trust this man, and that's what the Blair report showed today."

But even as the White House was heaping praise on one key U.S. ally, it was heaping scorn on another. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer warned there would be a price to pay for Mr. Schroeder's jabs at the president during his re-election campaign in Germany.

"Things were said that, I think, in the president's judgment, were excessive during the campaign and raise a sense of anti-Americanism," Mr. Fleischer told reporters. "These criticisms were not muted."

"But nobody should be under illusions or mistakes that now that the election is over that everything goes back to the way it was," he said. "For every action there is a reaction."

He added that he was "not going to sugarcoat or pretend that problems were not created by the conduct of this campaign, when they were."

The strikingly different messages to Germany and Britain reflect the president's legendary premium on loyalty. Although Mr. Blair and Mr. Schroeder were once viewed as representing former President Clinton's left-of-center "third way," the British prime minister has emerged as a steadfast ally of Mr. Clinton's conservative successor at a time when other allies in the effort against Iraq have been hard to find.

Yesterday, Mr. Bush defended Mr. Blair against complaints that there was no new evidence against Saddam in a 55-page dossier that the prime minister disclosed to Parliament.

"It wasn't specific," Mr. Bush acknowledged. "I understand why: He's not going to reveal sources and methods of collection of sensitive information."

But the president hinted that more detailed information would be forthcoming.

"Those sources and methods may be will be used later on, I'm confident, as we gather more information about how this man has deceived the world," he said.

Mr. Fleischer pointed out that not everything in the Blair report was a rehash.

"There was new information in there, particularly about the 45-minute threshold by which Saddam Hussein has got his biological and chemical weapons triggered to be launched," he said. "There was new information in there about Saddam Hussein's efforts to obtain uranium from African nations."

But the White House emphasized that even without such new information, there is plenty of old information to indict Saddam.

"This is not about whether or not there is something new," Mr. Fleischer said. "No one has said that without anything so-called new, the case against Saddam Hussein should go away. It doesn't."

He added: "I don't think this rests on piling one more foot onto Mount Everest. The mountain of evidence against Saddam Hussein is plenty high already."

The White House hopes that mountain will form the foundation of a new United Nations resolution against Iraq. Efforts to craft such a resolution were not derailed by yesterday's offer from an Iraqi official for a resumption of unfettered U.N. inspections for weapons of mass destruction.

"Iraq's words have really lost any value," Mr. Fleischer said. "It's the latest example of Saddam Hussein trying to wiggle out of things and trying to buy time in the effort to fool the world once again.

"Just yesterday, Iraq and the state-run press said that passage of another U.N. resolution would be wicked and would lead to no inspectors returning," he added. "Their story just constantly changes. The one thing that doesn't change is their threat."

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