Mr. Bush, at a rare prime-time news conference, portrayed himself as the protector of the country and repeatedly invoked the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, saying Mr. Hussein posed a comparable danger.
He tried anew to link Iraq to terrorists, warning that the country could not afford to wait for Mr. Hussein to unleash his weapons against the United States.
''I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons,'' Mr. Bush said, in the first formal East Room news conference in nearly a year and a half. He said Sept. 11 ''should say to the American people that we're now a battlefield.''
''He's a murderer,'' he said. ''He has trained and financed Al Qaeda type organizations. I take the threat seriously.''
As some in the Bush administration press the case for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, weapons experts say there is mounting evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has amassed large stocks of chemical and biological weapons he is hiding from a possible U.S. military attack.Washington's concern is that Iraq could supply those weapons to terrorist groups, although U.S. officials say that there is no evidence that has happened so far."If we wait for the danger to become clear, it could be too late," said Sen. Joseph Biden
PHNOM PENH — The US said Friday that Syrian officials would be "held accountable" if they failed to safeguard the country's chemical weapons after a report suggested some were being moved out of storage.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — New details emerging Saturday about what local Syrian activists called a massacre of civilians near the central city of Hama indicated that it was more likely an uneven clash between the heavily armed Syrian military and local fighters bearing light weapons.
Col. Riad al-Assad, based in Turkey as the ostensible leader of the loose coalition of fighters called the Free Syrian Army, told the Arabic television network Al Jazeera on Thursday that there had been no opposition fighters in the town.
Although what actually happened in Tremseh remains murky, the evidence available suggested that events on Thursday more closely followed the Syrian government account.