- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For
just the second time since the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush was heading
for the wide open spaces of his beloved Texas ranch on Wednesday to
his batteries for "a war year" in 2002.
- After a bucolic Christmas at the Camp David presidential
retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains with extended family, Bush and
his wife Laura will see in the New Year with friends at the secluded
spread near Crawford they have named "Prairie Chapel."
- "I'm looking forward to that," Mrs. Bush said
last week. "And that'll be a great rest for us. A lot of friends will
come from the Austin and the Dallas area. A lot of our friends will come
spend New Year's with us."
- Before the hijacked plane attacks that left almost 3,000
dead in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, Bush had spent almost two
months of his presidency at the ranch, leaving the White House at every
opportunity. A month-long "working vacation" in summer drew
that he might be loafing.
- Sept. 11 changed all that. Since then, Bush has spent
almost every weekend at Camp David, a short helicopter ride from
but has been to "Prairie Chapel" just once and even that was
a working trip last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin along for
- Clearing brush, fishing for bass or simply sitting on
the patio "shooting the breeze" with friends, Bush has said he
finds the ranch therapeutic, a place where he is in his element and where
"I recharge my batteries."
- "Sometimes it's important just to get away,"
Bush told a small group of reporters during a tour of Prairie Chapel in
August. "Coming out here makes you realize that Washington is a
place but it's certainly not the center of all wisdom and
- DAILY INTELLIGENCE BRIEFINGS
- Getting away doesn't mean the president is out of touch
or that he leaves the job behind, especially with the United States leading
an international war against terrorism that Bush says will be protracted
and extend well beyond Afghanistan.
- While he is at the ranch, Bush will have daily
military and FBI briefings, reviewing progress at home and abroad, keeping
up to date with the latest developments and planning the next steps. He
can pick up the telephone and be connected to any world leader. He has
a fleet of helicopters and a jumbo jet at his disposal.
- "Next year will be a war year as well because we're
going to continue to hunt down these al Qaeda people in this particular
theater, as well as other places," Bush told reporters last week as
he reflected on 2001 and looked ahead to 2002.
- The U.S.-led military campaign has succeeded in ousting
the Taliban government of Afghanistan that hosted the alleged culprits
in the Sept. 11 attacks -- Saudi-born Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda
- But the whereabouts of bin Laden, whom Bush has said
he wants dead or alive, as well as many al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, is
unknown. Washington has identified more than 60 countries with al Qaeda
- Bush has said he would be willing to send U.S. special
forces or logistical support to countries that ask for help.
- "Our war against terror extends way beyond
And at some point in time maybe some president will come and say you have
the expertise that we don't, would you mind maybe have some of your troops
with ours. And the answer is, 'you bet."'
- Using the ranch as a base, Bush was expected to make
a couple of trips outside Texas to promote domestic initiatives before
returning to Washington on Jan. 6.