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The president was in Louisville yesterday stumping for his war on terror. Protesters were outside calling for an end to the war in Iraq. As per the course, Bush didn't let anyone into his speaking engagement that would speak out against him. This isn't unusual though as the administration has always had problems standing up to scrutiny of any kind from anyone. Here's t he full story from the Courier Journal
Bush urges caution on wiretap debate He expresses concern hearings could aid enemy
By Michael A. Lindenberger firstname.lastname@example.org The Courier-Journal
President Bush said yesterday he is concerned that congressional hearings on his domestic wiretapping program could tell the enemy too much about counterterrorism efforts.
"There will be a lot of hearings and talk about that, but that's good for democracy — just so long as the hearings, as they explore whether or not I have the prerogative to make the decision I made, doesn't tell the enemy what we're doing," Bush told a Louisville audience of about 400. "See, that's the danger."
During his second visit to Louisville since his re-election, Bush laid out his strategy for the war in Iraq and spoke on topics including education, health care and his stalled plan for Social Security reform.
One of the first questions from the audience at the Kentucky International Convention Center dealt with his decision to authorize wiretapping of some domestic calls to or from suspected terrorists.
Democrats and some Republicans have criticized Bush, saying a warrant was needed to monitor phone calls inside the United States.
But yesterday Bush said the decision was legal and kept to his pledge after Sept. 11, 2001.
"I vowed that day, starting when I was in Florida and got on the airplane to head across the country, that I would use everything in my power — obviously, within the Constitution — but everything in my power to protect the American people," he said.
"I have the right as the commander-in-chief in a time of war to take action necessary to protect the American people," Bush said. "And secondly, the Congress, in the authorization, basically said the president ought to — in authorization of the use of troops — ought to protect us."
Questions from the crowd
About 400 people were invited to the event, with most of the free tickets distributed by Greater Louisville Inc., the metro chamber of commerce that served as host of the event. The others were distributed by local members of Congress.
Bush spoke and answered 10 questions for about 40 minutes. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said later that no question was prescreened.
They included one from a 7-year-old boy.
"How can people help on the war on terror?" he asked.
Bush said Americans can insist that criticism of the war be civil.
"I expect there to be an honest debate about Iraq, and welcome it," he said. "People can help, however, by making sure the tone of this debate is respectful and is mindful about what messages out of the country can do to the morale of our troops."
Depending on its tone, war-related rhetoric can either demoralize or cheer U.S. troops, and could either weaken or embolden the enemy, he said.
Among those attending was Bill Brammell, 21, who said he voted against Bush but appreciated his admission that intelligence reports that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction were wrong.
"I guess I didn't expect any total surprises, or any brand-new or exciting information," Brammell, a Democrat and president of the Student Government Association at the University of Louisville, said after the event.
Bush acknowledged the faulty intelligence but said the decision to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has been justified.
"I understand that the intelligence didn't turn out the way a lot of the world thought it would be," he said. "And that was disappointing, and we've done something about it. We've reformed our intelligence services. ... But Saddam Hussein was a sworn enemy of the United States. ... He was shooting at our airplanes. He had attacked his own people with chemical weapons. I mean, the guy was a threat."
The chance to ask the president a question was a thrill, said Jozi Legner, 41, who said she nearly choked up when thanking Bush and soldiers for their work in the war on terror.
"I am a business owner, and I am living the American dream, and I would like to personally thank you for having a will that will not be broken," said Legner, a Republican whose Louisville company sells engineering support services.
She also thanked "the men and women of the armed forces that protect the freedoms that we have had and that we oftentimes take for granted and give us this way of life."
Told to be tough
Joe Reagan, Greater Louisville Inc. president and CEO, said he was invited by the White House staff to ask Bush the first question, and said he was told to ask a tough one.
"In your State of the Union after September 11, you defined this war as a war on terror. In history, our parents' generation had V.E. Day and V.J. Day. And in our time, we've seen the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. If you define this as a war on terror, will there ever be a V.T. Day? And, if not, what do you need to do to prepare us to be able to go the duration?"
Bush said there will not likely be any single date that will mark victory in the global war on terror.
"You're right, I did say it's a war, the first war of the 21st century, but I've been emphasizing it's a different kind of war," the president said. "So I don't envision a signing ceremony on the USS Missouri. As a matter of fact, this is a war in which the enemy is going to have to be defeated by a competing system in the long run."
He said in the short term, the United States and its allies will "hunt down" the terrorists, but he said ultimate victory will come in a battle of ideologies.
"The long-term victory will come by defeating the hopelessness and despair that these killers exploit with a system that is open and hopeful, and the only such system is a free system."
Bush initially had been scheduled to speak this week in New Albany, Ind., but Reagan said that when that event was canceled last week, he was told that if GLI invited the president to speak, he might agree.
GLI relied on corporate donors to pay for the event, Reagan said.
Louisville-based Yum! Brands Inc. was "honored to be one of the sponsors" of the event, said Jonathan Blum, chief public affairs officer, because "it provided Louisvillians a chance to listen to the president and share their views directly with him."
Rep. Anne Northup, R-3rd District, who attended the event, said the president was persuasive.
"Person after person poured out of there and said to me, `He ought to go to every city and say this. I get it,'" Northup said in an interview.
Northup said she and the GOP "look forward to reassuring the public that, first of all, we don't think everything has gone right. If we had it to do over again, if we knew then what we know now, we would have secured peace faster. ... But you cannot foresee everything in a war. There hasn't been a war where mistakes haven't been made. It doesn't mean it's the wrong war."
Andrew Horne, a Louisville lawyer and Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq and is running for the Democratic nomination in Northup's district, disagreed with Bush's characterization of the Iraqi army as improving.
"We need honest leadership. We need full debate about what's going on there," he said.
Jerry Lundergan, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said Bush avoided the central issue about Iraq.
"He's got to tell the American people the truth," he said. "When and how are our troops coming home?"
Staff writers Deborah Yetter in Louisville and James R. Carroll in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
I think the problem and what many fail to realize is our troops will be there for decades. We're looking at something akin to Germany or Korea so everyone might as well get used to it. While we won't keep the current numbers there, I could see several thousand troops and a major military base located inside the country for the next 30 to 40 years at least. Heck, we're still in Germany and WWII's been over for 60 years.
The wiretapping stuff and the war on terror is bull. They're going to have to do better than what they're doing regarding the war on terror. We're not hammering places that support the terrorists. We don't even know what a terrorist is. We know they're building nukes in Iran, we don't we invade them? We can't.
At some point the administration must define terrorist. It cannot remain the open-ended definition it is now. Of course, as long as it's open ended we can go after anyone and never lay direct blame on a nation in power. That's a pretty keen global conspiracy I think but then again, I may be stretching this thing a bit.