President Bush expects more violence before next month's constitutional referendum in Iraq. Mr. Bush says that violence is meant to frighten voters and break the will of America, but the president says he has a plan to win.
President Bush met in the Oval Office with his top generals, defense secretary, and vice president for a review of the fight against terrorism and strategies for ending the insurgency in Iraq.
Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden, President Bush praised the capture and killing of one of the most wanted al-Qaida terrorists in Iraq, Abu Azzam.
"He is one of the terrorists responsible for the recent upsurge in attacks in the Iraqi capital, which is part of their campaign to stop a referendum on the Iraqi constitution and is part of their efforts to break the will of the American people and the will of our coalition," said Mr. Bush.
President Bush says terrorists in Iraq have a history of escalating attacks before major political milestones and he expects more violence leading up to next month's constitutional referendum.
Mr. Bush says U.S. troops are constantly adapting their approach as terrorists change their tactics. He says Washington has a strategy to win in Iraq and defeat what he calls a ruthless and brutal enemy determined to stop the spread of democracy. The terrorists will fail, he says, because the Iraqi people want freedom.
President Bush says U.S. and coalition troops are continuing to train more Iraqi security forces to control their own country, and those efforts are beginning to pay off with Iraqi forces holding ground cleared near the Syrian border to stop the flow of foreign terrorists.
The president is trying to refocus attention on the fight against terrorism, after his schedule and legislative agenda have been disrupted by weeks of responding to two big hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.
Public opinion polls show Americans blame politicians at all levels of government for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,000 people.
Mr. Bush's overall approval ratings have fallen since that hurricane, but throughout his presidency, he has retained strong support for his handling of the fight against terrorism and the war in Iraq.
Some of that support appears to be slipping, with an Associated Press poll showing only 37 percent of Americans now approving or leaning toward approving his handling of the situation in Iraq.
Following his military briefing, President Bush sent his top generals to Capitol Hill to give legislators an update on the fight against terrorism. He urged members of Congress to attend those briefings and ask questions about the fight in Iraq.
He says Americans need to know about the gains U.S. troops have made in recent weeks and months and how they are changing strategy to meet the needs on the ground.