CRAWFORD, Texas – President Bush is calling all hands to a major meeting of military minds at his ranch on Wednesday.
The president will take a break from all the brush clearing, path building and other ranch activities he finds so relaxing for the mini summit.
The official topic for this meeting is "military transformation" -- a missile defense system is one of the subjects to be addressed -- but it is likely that Iraq will also come up.
The all-star lineup of top administration officials will include Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has already been spotted in Crawford. Rice recently gave a major interview to BBC Radio in which she made a strong case to the British public for an attack against Iraq. Great Britain so far has shown little support for such a move.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said that if Iraq were the main topic of conversation, Centcom Commander Gen. Tommy Franks would be in attendance, but he has not been formally invited.
"The topic of the meeting on Wednesday is going to be the transformation of the Department of Defense. The president thinks even with the war on terrorism, it remains an American priority for the Department of Defense to think ahead, see over the horizon, the big picture about how America's defenses need to be structured, future wars and how to build the Pentagon to do so," Fleischer said.
However, in support of action against Iraq, U.S. officials point to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's rebuilding chemical plants that were put out of commission during the Gulf War.
Recent satellite photos show that the weapons plants northwest of Baghdad have resumed production.
While some maintain such evidence justifies military action, others say Bush must first provide a strong argument in support of a forceful regime change. Critics also cite the lack of support U.S. allies have shown for an attack on Iraq.
According to the president's top communications man at the White House, the president will make the case to the American people when and if the time comes.
"If you look back on how President Bush handled the situation in Afghanistan he clearly articulated, not only to the American people, but to the world, why we must take these actions -- whether it be Al Qaeda or the Taliban in Afghanistan -- in a very specific bill of particulars and why it was important that we move," said presidential assistant Dan Bartlett in a televised interview Sunday.
"President Bush also understands if we go forward, if he decides that we need to take action to minimize the threat that he now poses, that he will do so in a way that will clearly be articulated to the American people," Bartlett said.
The meeting plans come at a time when there has been a major split in the GOP about whether the United States should move against Saddam. Among the prominent voices advising against a U.S. attack are House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, former presidential candidate Jack Kemp and former President George H. W. Bush's National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.
Rumsfeld responded to charges that the United States does not have enough evidence to support an attack.
"The people who argued have to ask themselves how they are going to feel at that point where another event occurs and it's not a conventional event but an unconventional event, and ask themselves the question: Was it right to have wanted additional evidence or additional time, or another U.N. resolution?" Rumsfeld said.
One indication of the course the White House is taking appears in satellite photos of a U.S. airbase in Qatar. The pictures show the continuing expansion of the installation's capability. Senior Pentagon officials say this doesn't mean a military campaign is under way against Iraq, merely that the U.S. military is building its arsenal in the Persian Gulf region.
Officials also say some of the movement that is under way was ordered months ago as part of a strategy to get weapons and supplies in place to show Iraq that the United States means business.
Fox News' Brian Wilson and Collins Spencer contributed to this report.