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Bush quotes bin Laden in defending war

Says withdrawal from Iraq would boost terror leader

WASHINGTON -- Quoting repeatedly from Osama bin Laden, President Bush said yesterday that pulling US troops out of Iraq would fulfill the terrorist leader's wishes and propel him into a more powerful global threat in the mold of Adolf Hitler.

With two months until an Election Day that hinges largely on national security, Bush laid out bin Laden's vision in detail, including new revelations from previously unreported documents.

Voters were never more united behind the president than in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and his speech was designed to convince Americans that the threat has not faded five years later.

To make the administration's strategy clear, the White House published a 23-page booklet yesterday called ``National Strategy for Combating Terrorism," which Bush described as an unclassified version of the strategy he's been pursuing since Sept. 11, 2001. The booklet's conclusion: ``Since the Sept. 11 attacks, America is safer, but we are not yet safe."

Democrats dismissed Bush's actions as a public relations strategy that avoided real solutions.

``A new glossy strategy paper doesn't take the place of real change that will make our country safer," said Senator Russell Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin.

``If President Bush had unleashed the American military to do the job at Tora Bora four years ago and killed Osama bin Laden, he wouldn't have to quote this barbarian's words today," said Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts. ``Because President Bush lost focus on the killers who attacked us and instead launched a disastrous war in Iraq, today Osama bin Laden and his henchmen still find sanctuary in the no man's land between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they still plot attacks against America."

Bush's speech was the second in a series linked to next week's anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

It was delivered to the Military Officers Association of America in a hotel ballroom filled with US troops, including several injured in the war, and with diplomatic representatives of foreign countries that have suffered terrorist attacks.

Bush planned a third speech today from the White House, laying out his plan to change the law so that detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can be tried for crimes before military commissions.

Bush said that history will look favorably on his currently unpopular war strategy.

``History teaches that underestimating the words of evil and ambitious men is a terrible mistake," the president said. ``Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?"

To make his case, the White House cited previously unreleased documents including a copy of the Al Qaeda charter found by coalition forces in Afghanistan that says hostilities will continue until everyone believes in Allah.

One document Bush cited was what he called ``a grisly Al Qaeda manual" found in 2000 by British police during an antiterrorist raid in London, which included a chapter called ``Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages."

He also cited what he said was a captured Al Qaeda document found during a recent raid in Iraq. He said it described plans to take over Iraq's western Anbar Province and set up a governing structure including an education department, a social services department, a justice department, and an execution unit.

The White House also unveiled a letter from bin Laden to Taliban leader Mullah Omar in which he wrote about plans for a ``media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government" so that the people will pressure leaders to retreat in the fight.

Bush also quoted bin Laden saying:

``Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."

Al Qaeda can cause the US economy to collapse by implementing a ``bleed-until-bankruptcy plan."

The defeat of American forces in Beirut in 1983 is proof that America does not have the stomach to stay in a fight. ``In Somalia, the United States pulled out, trailing disappointment, defeat, and failure behind it," Bush said bin Laden wrote.

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