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Bush defends planning on Iraq

Some Republicans question Bush strategy

Saddam Hussein, says President Bush, is
Saddam Hussein, says President Bush, is "trouble in his neighborhood."  

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- With some top Republicans expressing doubts about the administration's planning for Iraq, President Bush said Friday he will use the latest intelligence to make up his mind about how to deal with Saddam Hussein.

"I am aware there are some very intelligent people expressing their opinions about Saddam Hussein and Iraq," Bush told reporters. "I listen carefully to what they have to say. There should be no doubt in any one's mind that that man is thumbing his nose at the world, that he has gassed his own people, that he is trouble in his neighborhood, that he desires weapons of mass destruction."

Bush spoke in the wake of published comments by some leading Republicans, including Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, who warned of risks in launching a war against Iraq and urged more diplomatic efforts.

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In an opinion piece published Friday in The Wall Street Journal Scowcroft, Bush's father's national security adviser, said attacking Iraq now would be a mistake.

Scowcroft warned "an attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counter-terrorist campaign we have undertaken." He said if the Iraqis are backed into a corner, they may attempt to use biological or chemical weapons in the hope of starting a war between Israel and the Arab states.

In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Kissinger, a former secretary of state, said "military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed."

But Bush said that while he will take note of all opinions on the issue, his decision will be made based on other criteria.

"I will use all the latest intelligence to make informed decisions about how best to keep the world at peace, how best to defend freedom for the long run," he said. "Listen, it's a healthy debate for people to express their opinion. People should be allowed to express their opinion, but Americans need to know I'll be making up my mind based on the latest intelligence and how best to protect our own country and our friends and allies."




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