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Inside Politics

Bush lauds troops' work in Iraq

President Bush spoke Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.
President Bush spoke Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

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Sound equipment apparently caused a disturbing burst of noise, as President Bush spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. (February 5)
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President Bush has agreed to give the commission investigating the September 11 attacks more time to finish the job.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Speaking Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Bush praised U.S. troops for exhibiting compassion and religious tolerance as they help rebuild Iraq.

Bush lauded the work of the American military, saying the war and its aftermath have shown the world "the kind of people America sends forth from our towns and neighborhoods to serve in freedom's cause."

"They are the sort of people who, when the fighting is done, are kind and compassionate toward innocent citizens, and their compassion as much as their courage has made this country proud."

The president highlighted the military's role in rebuilding schools, medical clinics and soccer fields in Iraq.

U.S. troops have demonstrated religious tolerance by helping repair mosques, treating Muslim clerics with deference and recognizing the importance of Islam's holy days, he said.

"Our work in a troubled part of the world goes on, and what we have begun we will finish," he said.

The president also acknowledged those who pray for him and other U.S. leaders.

During the speech at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Bush paused briefly when a noise occurred that sounded like automatic weapon fire. The president did not mention the sound, and officials later said a glitch in the audio system was responsible. (Full story)

"It was just simply a wacky interaction between wireless mics and the sound system and nothing more," said White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy following the speech. "It was not a 21-gun salute."

Duffy says the wireless microphones were being worn by the Watoto chorus from Uganda that had just performed, and that performers were in the process of shutting them off.

Joe Gibbs, who will coach the Washington Redskins again after a 12-year absence, shared the podium with Bush.

Bush joked that the return of the Hall of Fame coach made fans of the struggling team believe in the power of prayer.

"Joe, we're glad to see you back on the job," Bush said. "I'm all in favor of second terms."


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