Delores L. Walker, Reporter

In a televised speech that was watched by an international audience Monday night, March 17, President George W. Bush gave Saddam Hussein and sons 48 hours to leave Iraq. "Refusal to do so will result in military conflict," the president said.

The ultimatum came within hours after the United States, Britain and Spain announced they would not put their draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraqi disarmament to a vote in the council. Those on the council who opposed the resolution "share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it," Bush said. "Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act against this threat to peace, and a broad coalition is now gathering to enforce the just demands of the world."

He added: "The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours."

The president also outlined heightened security measures being implemented to protect Americans against terrorists plots. We are at level orange, the second highest terror alert level.

Earlier on Monday the 17th, a planeload of U.N. weapons inspectors left Baghdad aboard a flight to Cyprus, joining the exodus of diplomats, aid workers and other foreigners. U.N. officials said about 150 inspectors, support staff, humanitarian workers and observers would be evacuated.

Even as those are leaving Iraq, news sources reported that the buildup of nearly 300,000 combined military have already begun to cross the borders into Iraq.

Lafayette County has soldiers that are part of that number. They are in all the branches of service as well as the 269th Florida National Guard Engineering Unit.

The news polls on the morning after the president spoke had risen to 65 percent of Americans saying that the conflict needs to be resolved now and they would stand behind the president. Polls had shown an almost evenly divided nation prior to the Monday night speech by the president.

As for the residents of this county....the overall consensus is that the time to act is now. "Our troops are in place, I just want them to do their job quickly and come home," said one resident.

Action against Iraq is planned now, President Bush said, "because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over."

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