Bush: 'We're Going Forward'

By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 15, 2007

Faced with substantial opposition both in Congress and among the American public to their Iraq plans, President Bush and Vice President Cheney vowed yesterday to forge ahead with the deployment of more than 21,000 additional troops.

In an interview broadcast last night on CBS's "60 Minutes," Bush said he has the authority as commander in chief to move ahead with the deployment, regardless of what the Democratic-controlled Congress does in opposition.

"In this situation, I do, yeah," Bush said. "I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it. But I've made my decision. And we're going forward."

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said yesterday that the money is already in place to begin moving additional troops to Iraq.

"We have authority in the -- we have money in the '07 budget, which has been appropriated by the Congress, to move these troops to Iraq, and the president will be doing that," he said on ABC's "This Week."

The addition of troops in Iraq, announced by Bush last week in a nationally televised speech, is part of an administration strategy aimed at quelling the sectarian violence there and at salvaging an unpopular war effort that the president himself has said is not succeeding.

Bush said on "60 Minutes" that the only option besides boosting troop levels would be to withdraw -- a move supported by some Democrats but one he called tantamount to defeat.

"I began to think, well, if failure is not an option and we've got to succeed, how best to do so? And that's how I came up with the plan I did," Bush said.

That plan has run into fierce opposition among Democrats and a growing number of Republicans, and a clear majority of the public now advocates a withdrawal of U.S. troops. Some congressional critics are advocating the idea of a nonbinding resolution to reflect their conviction that more troops will not provide the answer in Iraq.

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said yesterday on CNN's "Late Edition" that such a resolution, drawing bipartisan support, "would be a strong message to the president to put pressure on the Iraqis to reach a political solution."

Earlier yesterday, Cheney said on "Fox News Sunday" that a resolution would not influence how the administration executes its policy.

"Congress, obviously, has to support the effort through the power of the purse, so they have got a role to play and we certainly recognize that," Cheney said. "But also, you cannot run a war by committee."

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company