Get out or else

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Saddam Hussein has until tonight to clear out of Iraq, the country he has ruled as a dictator for many years.

President George W. Bush was clear Monday night.

Diplomacy has come to an end, and military action against Iraq and its president is imminent.

Although Bush seems just one order away from authorizing military force, he did give Hussein one chance to end this standoff peacefully.

&uot;Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours,&uot; Bush said in his speech to the nation. &uot;Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing.&uot;

During his speech, Bush once again made a case of why military action was necessary and worked to establish Hussein’s connection to terrorism.

&uot;The regime (Iraq) has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends and it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of Al Qaeda,&uot; Bush said.

&uot;The danger is clear: Using chemical, biological or one day, nuclear weapons obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other.&uot;

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., moments after the speech, also stressed Hussein’s terrorist connections.

&uot;In this post-Sept. 11 world, we can no longer wait for our enemies to strike first,&uot; Shelby said. &uot;We must not hesitate in our efforts to protect the American people.&uot;

With military action against Iraq looming, the Bush administration raised the national terrorism threat alert level from &uot;yellow&uot; to &uot;orange&uot; Monday night.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said intelligence officials believe terrorists will attempt multiple attacks against U.S. and ally targets across the world.

Ridge’s comments were made available in a release following Bush’s speech.

Bush addressed those terrorist concerns during his address.

&uot;Among other measures, I have directed additional security at our airports and increased Coast Guard patrols of major seaports,&uot; Bush said.

&uot;The Department of Homeland Security is working closely with the nation’s governors to increase armed security at critical facilities across America.

&uot;Should enemies strike our country, they would be attempting to shift our attention with panic and weaken our morale with fear. In this, they would fail.&uot;

Hussein and potential terrorist cells were not the only targets of Bush’s speech Monday night.

He also took the opportunity to once again blast long-time allies, among them France and Russia, for their opposition to the use of force in Iraq.

&uot;These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it,&uot; Bush said, using the evidence of multiple United Nations’ resolutions against Iraq.

&uot;The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.&uot;

In a fitting statement, Bush solidified his position of America taking the lead in this effort to protect American interests.

&uot;The United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security,&uot; Bush said. &uot;That duty falls to me as commander of chief by the oath I have sworn, by the oath I will keep.&uot;