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Bush: Harsh Treatment for Attackers, U.S. Not Leaving Till Iraq Is Free

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2003 – Anyone who attacks U.S. troops "will be found and brought to justice," President Bush said at the White House July 2.

"Bring 'em on," the president urged. The U.S.-led coalition force in Iraq is "plenty tough" enough to ensure the situation is secure.

There are some who feel that attacking American forces may cause U.S. officials to "decide to leave prematurely," Bush said. "They don't understand what they're talking about if that's the case," he stressed.

About 230,000 Americans are serving inside or near Iraq, according to defense officials. About 12,000 coalition forces from Great Britain, Poland and the Ukraine are serving in Iraq, Bush noted, and U.S. officials would always welcome help from other countries.

The president promised harsh treatment for anyone who brings harm to coalition forces or the Iraqi people.

"Those who blow up the electricity lines really aren't hurting America," he said. "They're hurting the Iraq(i) citizens."

Bush noted that military operations only began in Iraq a short time ago, and it's only a matter of time before Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction are found.

"Saddam had a weapons program," Bush said. "Remember, he used them. He used chemical weapons on his own people."

Coalition officials are learning more and more about the threat Saddam posed to the world and his own people, he said. "We have uncovered some unbelievable scenes," the president said. Although he has not seen them himself, he said, people have described what it's like to see mass graves opened.

"(Saddam) was a threat to America," Bush said. "He was a threat to freedom-loving countries. He was a threat to the Middle East. But what we're finding out is the nature of this man when it came to how he (treated) the Iraqi people, as well. And it's unbelievable what he did."

The United States will stay the course in Iraq, Bush said, despite those that would like to "run us out of there" and "create the conditions where we get nervous and decide to leave."

"We're not going to get nervous," the president affirmed. "We're not leaving until we accomplish the task" of establishing a free country run by the Iraqi people. "That in turn will help peace in the Middle East," he said. "That will in turn bring stability in a part of the world that needs stability."

The people of Iraqi want to be free, Bush concluded, adding that he considers it a great honor to "lead our nation to free people from the clutches of what history will show is an incredibly barbaric regime."

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