Bush and Congress Butt Heads

Sept. 16, 2006 — -- In the Rose Garden Friday, President Bush was loud and clear: If Congress doesn't agree with him, the hunt for terrorist plots will be crippled.

"The bottom line is simple," he said. "If Congress passes a law that does not clarify the rules, if they do not do that, the program is not going forward."

President Bush wants his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions' ban on inhumane treatment of enemy soldiers. But this week, key Republican lawmakers turned him down. They said it could expose captured American troops to torture.

"I respect the views of others who differ from us, but this is a very important piece of legislation," said Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Bush's opposition even got support from the man who served as the president's secretary of state, Colin Powell.

"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Powell wrote to lawmakers. Redefining the Geneva Conventions "would add to those doubts" and "put our own troops at risk."

The president dismissed that argument -- and some attempts from reporters to ask him about it.

"But sir, this is an important point," NBC's David Gregory said in one exchange.

"The point I just made is the most important point," Bush replied.

President Bush was feisty and confident. Experts say his attitude is sure to bolster the mood at the White House.

Ana Marie Cox, Time.com's Washington editor, commented on the White House's strategy.

"I think they're banking on the American public liking to see that strong president, liking to see someone be decisive," she said.