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Media Questions on Duration of Iraq War Frustrate Bush - 2003-03-28

A senior Bush administration official says the president is frustrated by media coverage questioning how long the war in Iraq will last. The White House is trying to downplay expectations of a quick finish to the fighting.

A senior administration official says President Bush has "some level of frustration with the press corps" over questions about the duration of the war, calling those questions "silly and not borne out by the facts."

Just over a week old, the invasion to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is taking longer than many in Washington expected. That is due in part to tougher resistance in the south as well as Turkey's refusal to allow U.S. troops to use the country to open a northern offensive.

From the White House to the Pentagon to coalition headquarters in Doha, reporters have been asking whether the pace of the campaign is a disappointment, especially following speculation that Saddam Hussein might have been killed in the initial bombing.

A senior administration official says the president sees those questions as "Afghanistan coverage all over again. This time the press did it faster." When the fight in Afghanistan two years ago slowed, there was some talk of a "quagmire," though U.S. forces ultimately installed a new government there within three months.

President Bush has been cautioning against expectations of a quick finish to the war in Iraq, saying it will go on "however long it takes" to get rid of Saddam Hussein.