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Bush Signs $401 Billion Defense Bill

November 24, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush signed a $401.3 billion defense authorization bill Monday, saying members of the U.S. armed forces are facing ``a great and historic task″ in confronting and defeating the forces of terrorism.

``The stakes for our country could not be higher,″ the president said at a Pentagon ceremony. ``We face enemies that measure their progress by the chaos they inflict, the fear they spread and the innocent lives they destroy.″

``America’s military is standing between our country and grave danger,″ he proclaimed.

Bush spoke before leaving town for a holiday week at his ranch. On the way to Texas, Bush was stopping in Colorado at Fort Carson, home to four of the 16 soldiers killed Nov. 2 when a helicopter was shot down in the dangerous Sunni Triangle near Fallujah, Iraq. Fort Carson has sent 12,000 troops to Iraq, its largest deployment since World War II.

``We’re standing for order and hope and democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq,″ the president said. ``We’re standing up for the for security of all free nations and for the advance of freedom. The American people and your commander in chief are grateful,″ he said, ``and we will support you in all your central missions.″

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