President George W. Bush, speaking amid protests and growing public unease over Iraq, said on Monday America owed it to the more than 1,800 U.S. soldiers killed there to complete the mission, which he linked with the campaign against terrorism.
In a speech to a convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bush again linked the Iraq war with efforts to protect the United States from another September 11-style attack -- a link critics say is an attempt to shift the justification for war...
Bush has spent August at his ranch in Crawford, Texas...with anti-war protests outside the ranch begun by Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq.
Sheehan's protest has become a magnet for anti-war feeling that is reflected in opinion polls showing a majority of Americans worried about the way the war is going, and that has gained some traction among mainstream politicians.
Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican and a veteran of the Vietnam War, on Sunday likened the Iraq war to Vietnam.
In anticipation of his Salt Lake City speech, smaller groups of protesters than those near the ranch had congregated near the veterans' event. Among them was Celeste Zappala, 58, the mother of a National Guardsman killed in Iraq in 2004 while assisting with the hunt for weapons of mass destruction.
"We all know that noble cause for war that Bush talks about has changed several times," said Zappala, who is part of Sheehan's group, Gold Star Families for Peace.
Bush went to war in Iraq in 2003 warning of a threat from stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. None were found.
Critics accuse Bush of shifting his argument for war when he invokes the issue of terrorism to argue for staying the course in Iraq. They point out that a commission investigating the hijacked plane attacks of September 11, 2001, found no operational ties between those attacks and deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government.
The White House says the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda-linked insurgents shows the link with terrorism, although the U.S. administration concedes many of those militants have come into Iraq from other countries since the U.S. invasion.