President Bush is strongly defending his policies in Iraq, as the fallout continues from a U.S. intelligence report that says, in part, the U.S.-led war is creating a new generation of terrorists. The president is countering intensified criticism from Democrats just five weeks before congressional elections, in which Republican Party control of Congress could be at risk.
President Bush is keeping up his attack on critics of the war in Iraq. He used his weekly radio address Saturday to counter Democrats, who accuse him of not having a clear strategy for stabilizing the war-torn country and bringing U.S. troops home.
The president said he declassified parts of the intelligence report, so that Americans could read it for themselves, and draw their own conclusions. He said the report confirms that the United States is up against a determined and capable enemy, which the U.S. must continue to fight.
"The terrorists are at war against us, because they hate everything America stands for, and because they know we stand in the way of their ambitions to take over the Middle East," he said. "We are fighting to stop them from taking over Iraq, and turning that country into a safe haven that would be even more valuable than the one they lost in Afghanistan."
The president reaffirmed his commitment to keep U.S. troops in Iraq, arguing an early withdrawal would only embolden the terrorists.
"It would help them find new recruits to carry out even more destructive attacks on our nation, and it would give the terrorists a new sanctuary in the heart of the Middle East, with huge oil riches to fund their ambitions. America must not allow this to happen," he added.
But opposition Democrats countered that the president has no real strategy for securing Iraq, and criticized his description earlier in the week of the Democrats as the "party of cut and run."
Former Army Captain Tammy Duckworth, who lost both her legs in a helicopter crash in Iraq, criticized Bush for the remark.
"Well, I did not cut and run, Mr. president. Like so many others, I proudly fought and sacrificed," she said.
Duckworth, who is running for a Congressional seat in the state of Illinois, also criticized the Republican-led Congress for not holding the Bush administration accountable for its Iraq policy.
"We need a Congress that will ask the tough questions, and work together for solutions, rather than attacking the patriotism of those who disagree," she added.
She said it is time for Iraqi leaders to take control of their own country, and make the tough choices that will stop the violence and stabilize the country.