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Bush: Saddam using Iraqi civilians as 'human shields'

Says NATO hurt by France's move

President Bush:
President Bush: "Saddam Hussein has broken every promise to disarm."

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein is stationing his military forces amid civilian populations, President Bush said Monday, accusing the Iraqi leader of using his own citizens as "human shields."

Bush, in a speech before a convention of the National Religious Broadcasters, vowed once again to disarm Saddam by force if necessary, expressing doubt that the leader would comply with U.N. resolutions to give up weapons of mass destruction.

"Saddam Hussein regards the Iraqi people as human shields, entirely expendable when their suffering serves his purposes," Bush said. "America views the Iraqi people as human beings who have suffered long enough under this tyrant."

Speaking to reporters later during a White House meeting with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, the president expressed his disappointment with France's role in blocking NATO protection for Turkey against possible action by Iraq.

"I don't understand that decision," Bush said. "It affects the alliance in a negative way."

In his speech in Tennessee, the president vowed to bring food, medicine, supplies "and most importantly freedom" to the Iraqi people if armed conflict breaks out. Bush spoke as if war was all but inevitable, saying that economic sanctions, limited military strikes and U.N. inspections have not convinced Saddam to disarm.

"Saddam Hussein has broken every promise to disarm," Bush said. "He has shown complete contempt for the international community."

As he and members of his administration have done in recent weeks, Bush drew a parallel between the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and Saddam, saying the Iraqi leader has helped terrorists in the past and would do so again.

"Saddam Hussein is a threat. He's a threat to the United States of America. He's a threat to some of our closest friends and allies. We don't accept this threat," Bush said, leaning into the podium for emphasis.

Most of the president's speech was devoted to outlining his faith-based agenda, details of which have previously been unveiled. His remarks, in which he talked about the power of faith, were greeted with rousing applause and cheers from the audience.

Bush said religious groups should be able to compete for federal dollars to provide social services and called on Congress to pass legislation that would encourage more charitable donations.

"I welcome faith to help solve the nation's deepest problems," Bush said.

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