Congress recommends $40 billion in aid, declines war powers

by Shira Kantor

President George W. Bush answered the public cry for aid – and revenge – Thursday when he called for an initial $20 billion from Congress to clean debris and bolster rescue efforts and security in the face of terrorism. Congress is considering double that amount.

The president also pushed for permission to retaliate against terrorism with military force, but lawmakers declined because they argued the measure was too broad, as it proposed action against future attacks in addition to those that occurred Tuesday.

And as he makes these crucial calls in the aftermath of what’s being called the worst tragedy ever to befall the nation, public opinion of Bush is unpredictable.

According to a Gallup poll conducted Tuesday just after the attack, 71 percent of Americans polled want to see the government act against the terrorists with force, even if it takes several months to find the responsible parties. Twenty-one percent polled don’t want to wait that long – they want the United States simply to attack known terrorist groups. Seventy-eight percent said they were
confident in the president’s ability to handle the situation.

University political science professor Martin Sampson said he didn’t think a resolution was necessarily within easy reach.

“I don’t think military instruments and policy can conclusively eliminate terrorism,” Sampson said. “There’s always a risk of spawning new terrorism.”

Sampson also noted the terrorist operation was “low-tech and relatively inexpensive,” saying that because they didn’t require the support of a state, it was “inconclusive” of the U.S. government to attack a single group or area solely because it was commonly thought to harbor terrorists.

“Bush has to sort his way through an American public that’s demanding something and the very significant political complexities of the Middle East that preclude us from doing certain things,” Sampson said.

He added, “Bush also has to push his advisers for a very shrewd analysis on how to deal with terrorism as an ongoing problem.”

Jerad Davis, a University senior, said he thought Bush’s multi-billion-dollar request was reasonable.

“Federal relief aid for all victims – you kind of need that to get everybody going again,” he said. “Otherwise it’s just not going to happen.”

Davis said that although he didn’t support the president before the attacks, he’s glad Bush is in office now.

“It’s kind of funny – one of my friends said he voted for Bush because he said if something like this happens in the next five years he’ll do something about it, and he did,” Davis said.

University law professor David Weissbrodt said he is “not sure we’ve done yet quite enough in making sure there are no anti-ethnic reactions.”

He said he has heard several accounts of anti-Arab sentiment.

In a New York Times online discussion Thursday, one message stated, “The U.S. whored around with these murderers, and now our friends and families are being attacked by Muslim fundamentalist monsters we helped create.”

University sophomore Valerie Stewart said she thought that given what the federal government knows at this point, Bush is doing a good job.

“Whatever they need to help those people out, clean things up and try to get things back to normal as much as they can, I think whatever money they can fund, they should use,” Stewart said.

University political science professor Bill Flanigan said Bush’s response to the tragedy did not surprise him.

“I think it’s an understandable response; I’m really not sure if it’s the right thing or an effective thing, but I think it’s understandable,” Flanigan said. “To some extent I really don’t know what to do.”

Overall, Flanigan said he thinks Bush has “done OK.”

“Not much has happened,” he said. “What really matters is what happens in the next weeks, not right now.”


– The Associated Press
contributed to this report


Shira Kantor welcomes comments at [email protected]