Optimism is giving way to unease on Capitol Hill over the pace and cost of the war with Iraq. President Bush on Wednesday condemned the continuing attacks on Israel as terrorism and thanked Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir for his "continued restraint."
In a midnight telephone call to Shamir, Bush "expressed his outrage at this unprovoked aggression and extended his sympathy to the prime minister over the numerous casualties the attack caused," spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.Bush met with Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Vice President Dan Quayle and others in his war council Tuesday after Saddam Hussein's latest attack on Israel.
In a speech to military families at Mayport Naval Station in Florida, Quayle demanded that the Iraqi leader abide by international accords governing the treatment of prisoners of war and added that "since he has not, we will hold Saddam and his henchmen personally accountable."
Quayle held an "emotional," private meeting with family members of those missing, killed and captured, according to his chief of staff, Bill Kristol.
On Capitol Hill, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee urged patience with the progress of the air campaign.
"We should understand that there is a tension between ending the war quickly and keeping casualties down," Rep. Les Aspin, D-Wis., said in a speech to the Reserve Officers Association Annual Meeting.
"We very likely won't be able to do both," he said. "We should spend the time to reduce our casualties."
Sen. John Warner of Virginia, the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned whether the administration is paying enough attention to the possibility that Saddam was holding back his forces for future battles.
Warner said that in the sessions with U.S. officials he could not "recall a scenario in which we put a lot of emphasis that this guy would hunker down and not use, for example, his air assets."
Tuesday's attack on a residential neighborhood in Tel Aviv resulted in 96 injuries. Three people were reported to have died from heart attacks.
"The president said that the world recognizes these attacks as nothing short of brutal terrorism against innocent civilians," Fitzwater said.
He said Bush also told Shamir the U.S.-led fight against Iraq "was proceeding well and expressed his appreciation for Israel's continued restraint, particularly in view of the continued Iraqi attacks."
In an interview on "CBS Good Morning," Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner said the United States was taking seriously Saddam Hussein's threats of terrorism against U.S. interests.
Asked whether travel was more dangerous now than before the war, he said, "I'd say the threat has been raised and the level of security has been raised."
Meanwhile, House leaders said that while there is no current discussion on Capitol Hill about a war tax, that could change if the conflict goes on for months.
House Speaker Thomas Foley, D-Wash., said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that "it's probably not wise in my judgment that we just totally increase the deficit as a way of paying for the war."