Bush Heads To Texas Ranch
To See In 'War Year'
By Patricia Wilson

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 recharge 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 1,600-acre 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 suggestions 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 Washington, but has been to "Prairie Chapel" just once and even that was a working trip last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin along for the ride.
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 wonderful place but it's certainly not the center of all wisdom and knowledge."
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 intelligence, 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 network.
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 cells.
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 Afghanistan. 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.
This Site Served by TheHostPros