President Addresses Nation

Article excerpt

President George W. Bush addressed the nation from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks on May 24. He outlined his policy in Iraq and declared that the Abu Ghraib prison, the scene of torture of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of their U.S. guards, will be destroyed. "We will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison," Bush told his immediate audience of servicemen, "as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning."

The President outlined the five following steps to help achieve democracy and freedom in Iraq:

* Handing over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government.

* Establishing security.

* Continuing to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.

* Encouraging more international support.

* Moving toward a national election "that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people."

The President acknowledged that the increase in troops on the ground in Iraq, up from a previous level of 115,000, resulted in 20,000 soldiers being extended in Iraq.

Congressional Control for Reserve Fund. The question at this writing is not whether Congress will authorize $25 billion in supplemental funds for Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. It will. The question is not whether the Bush administration will be given free rein over spending those funds. It will not. The question is what level of spending controls will be in the fine print of the supplemental contingency emergency reserve fund amendment. The administration sought flexibility to shift any part of the $25 billion among various Pentagon accounts, but both Republican-controlled bodies balked at that.

The Senate version of the bill specifies the accounts for $22.5 billion and gives the administration leeway to move $2.5 billion. The House version imposed more stringent controls, restricting unfettered flexibility to $1 billion and allowing another $2 billion to be shifted with additional congressional consent.

The two versions also are marked by substantial differences in how funds are allocated. The Senate version earmarks money in general, broad categories, allocating $20.5 billion of the total for operations and maintenance, for example. The House version delves into finer detail by assigning funds to specific projects, allocating, for example, $538 million of its $14.5 billion operations and maintenance funding for body armor procurement and $873 million to uparmor tactical wheeled vehicles. …