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Bush Denounces 'Thugs' Attacking US Troops in Iraq - 2003-11-24

President Bush traveled to Colorado Monday to meet with some families of the more than 20 American soldiers from Fort Carson who have been killed in Iraq. There, he also delivered a strongly worded speech denouncing the "thugs" as he called them, who continue to stage attacks against American troops.

The president thanked the families of soldiers based at Fort Carson who have been sent off to duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, two places where he says the United States has chosen to take the war on terrorism to the terrorists, rather than having it fought in America's cities, as it was when the war began on the morning of September 11 two years ago.

"That day we saw the harm that our enemies intend for us. And last week, we saw their cruelty again in the murders in Istanbul," he said. "Today, America, Britain and Turkey and all responsible nations are united in a great cause. We will not rest until we bring these committed killers to justice."

On a stop where he shared a pre-Thanksgiving meal with the troops, the president was mindful of the increasing number of attacks on American soldiers in Iraq in areas of the country that had been relatively calm. But in a speech repeatedly interrupted by whooping cheers and applause from the troops, he again vowed such attacks are not going to divert the United States from what is becoming an increasingly deadly mission.

"Our will is firm and our word is good. Democracy will succeed because every month, more and more Iraqis are fighting for their own country," the president said. "People we have liberated will not surrender their freedom. Democracy will succeed because the United States of America will not be intimidated by a bunch of thugs."

But with the Iraq war now into its ninth month and the U.S. presidential election less than a year away, two of Mr. Bush's Democratic presidential challengers are launching new television ads criticizing him for declaring in May that major combat had ended - and accusing him of misleading the nation about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

None of those weapons have yet been found. President Bush seldom mentions those weapons in speeches like these and instead calls the U.S. mission in Iraq justified for making the world safer from terrorism and liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein.