At a press photo op this morning President Bush made the following comments about rumors of troop withdrawal:
“First of all, I did meet with General Casey, and I met with him because it’s very important for me, as well as Secretary Rumsfeld, to meet with our commander on the ground. I’ve told the American people our commanders will be making the decisions as to how to achieve victory, and General Casey, of course, is the lead person. So we had a good visit with him…
“But in terms of our troop presence there, that decision will be made by General Casey, as well as the sovereign government of Iraq, based upon conditions on the ground. And one of the things that General Casey assured me of is that, whatever recommendation he makes, it will be aimed toward achieving victory. And that’s what we want. And victory means a free government that is able to sustain itself, defend itself; it’s a government that will be an ally in the war on terror. It’s a government that will be able to fight off al Qaeda and its desires to have a safe haven.
“And so I did visit with General Casey, and I came away once again with my trust in that man. I’ve told the people here around the table that the decisions that I will make will be based upon the recommendations of people like General George Casey.”
Bush also commented on the anti-terrorism finance program revealed by the NY Times (video here):
“Congress was briefed. And what we did was fully authorized under the law. And the disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We’re at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America. What we were doing was the right thing. Congress was aware of it, and we were within the law to do so.
“The American people expect this government to protect our constitutional liberties and, at the same time, make sure we understand what the terrorists are trying to do. The 9/11 Commission recommended that the government be robust in tracing money. If you want to figure out what the terrorists are doing, you try to follow their money. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. And the fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this War on Terror.”
UPDATE: Here is the AP story.