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Old 01-22-04   #1
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Bush - Claiming and hanging with the locals

Bush Claims Progress Against Terrorism
By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer

ROSWELL, N.M. - President Bush (news - web sites) claimed broad progress Thursday in the war against terrorism but warned against complacency toward "the ultimate danger." He proposed spending more than $30 billion on combating terrorism at home next year.

The spending figure would be an increase of more than $2 billion over the current budget year.

Bush, visiting a state he barely lost in the 2000 election, ticked off military successes in Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Iraq (news - web sites) but made no mention of Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s disappearance nor the failure of American inspectors to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The president offered a forceful defense of the Iraq war, his voice rising to a shout as he addressed a supportive crowd of about 1,600 military servicemembers and young cadets.

"I made the tough decision of war," Bush said. "It's not easy, but we acted because the lessons of Sept. 11. We acted based upon the facts."

Bush made only passing reference to the American death toll in Iraq, which this month surpassed 500.

Violence has continued in Iraq.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed and another wounded during a rocket and mortar barrage late Wednesday northeast of Baghdad. Attackers killed nine people in Baghdad Thursday, including four Christian women headed to jobs at a U.S. military base. South of the capital, the security chief of Spanish troops was shot in the head.

"I appreciate the moms and dads, husbands and wives, who are staying at home as their loved one goes off to defend America and to spread freedom," Bush said. "Their loved ones sacrifice and so do the families."

Bush offered favorable progress reports on the captures of al-Qaida and Iraqi leaders.

Al-Qaida "cannot escape the justice of America. We got thousands of troops, thousands of brave soldiers who are chasing them one by one," Bush said. "There is no hole deep enough to hide from America."

Of 55 Iraqi leaders sought by the United States, 45 have been captured or killed, Bush said, adding, "The other 10 have got to be nervous."

"The United States and our allies refuse to live under the shadow of this ultimate danger," Bush said.

Bush said spending on homeland security-related activities will rise from about $28 billion to more than $30 billion in his next proposed budget. The White House said counterterrorism efforts at the Department of Justice (news - web sites) would receive about a fifth more money than they currently get, rising to $2.6 billion.

It wasn't clear where else the new money would go, or whether other government programs would have to be cut to make way for this spending at a time when Bush has promised to cut the record $500 billion budget deficit in half.

The streets along Bush's motorcade route were lined with hundreds of supporters, and the convention hall was packed on his sixth visit to the state as president. The White House lined up cadets from the New Mexico Military Institute behind him for his speech.

Afterward, Bush made a rare motorcade-route stop to linger with locals on the way out of town. Bounding into the Nuthin' Fancy Cafe, the president hugged a few delighted restaurant patrons, saying he wanted to help "this lady put some money in her pockets."

"I need some ribs," Bush said from behind the counter, his arm around a diner employee. "I'm hungry."

He made passing reference to the years of talk about a 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, a small city surrounded by rugged land.

"I understand you had reports this morning of an unfamiliar aircraft," Bush said. "Don't worry, it was just me."
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