Bush Lashes Out at Iraq War Critics

President Bush and opposition Democrats continue to argue about the war in Iraq, as political tensions rise with congressional elections now just over a month away. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush is keeping up his attack on critics of the war in Iraq, with a speech Friday to the Reserve Officers Association. He defended his decision to topple Saddam Hussein, and again made reference to the leak of a U.S. intelligence report that says fighting in Iraq is creating a new generation of terrorist leaders.

The analysis by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies says the war is breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world, while cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.

Mr. Bush says portions of that report were leaked to the press for political purposes, and are being used by opposition Democrats to justify their calls to bring U.S. troops home.

"Some have selectively quoted from this document to make the case that, by fighting the terrorists, by fighting in Iraq, we are making our people less secure here at home. This argument buys into the enemy's propaganda that the terrorists attack us because we are provoking them," he said.

The intelligence estimate also says that, if terrorists are perceived to have failed in Iraq, fewer people will be inspired to carry on the fight.

Mr. Bush says that shows the greatest danger is not that America's presence in Iraq is drawing new recruits to the terrorist cause. He says the greatest danger is that an American withdrawal from Iraq would embolden the terrorists, and help them find new recruits to carry out more attacks.

Democrats say the war in Iraq is distracting resources from the hunt for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and from improvements in border security, including more thorough inspections of cargo entering the United States.

Following the president's speech to military officers, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said it is time for Mr. Bush to acknowledge that his approach to Iraq is failing, and devote more attention to protecting against attacks at home.

"To listen to the president this morning showed once again that he is in denial," she said. "He is out of touch with reality when it comes to what needs to be done to fight and complete the war on terror."

The national intelligence estimate outlines some vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement, including what it says is popular opposition in the Muslim world to an ultra-conservative interpretation of Sharia law.

But the analysis concludes that factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities, and are likely to do so for some time.

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