President Having Low-Profile but Busy Day

President Bush was on the job early Thursday following his late-night announcement that the attack on Iraq was under way.

Bush began his day Thursday at 6 a.m. EST, one hour earlier than usual, with a phone call to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The two reviewed "overnight developments," according to an administration official who would not specify further.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday that nations other than the 30 or so already named were calling to show support for U.S.-led "coalition of the willing."

Bush had no public events scheduled until his dinner with the president of Cameroon Thursday night. Fleischer said no one should expect the president to give updates on the war effort.

The president began Wednesday with a briefing from his intelligence chiefs to discuss the daily data on terror threats and movements. He also made a call to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in what has become a daily routine.

The early morning pow-wows continued with the first of three meetings with his top advisers: Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Rice.

Breaking from the constant war updates, Bush then met Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on funding for homeland security efforts around New York.

By that time, he had sent formal notice to Congress that he had determined, in accordance with the Iraq resolution passed by Congress last fall, that diplomatic and peaceful efforts to disarm Saddam had failed — and that for the sake of national security, war was necessary.

In compliance with the congressional resolution, Bush also attested in a seven-page report that ousting Saddam would not impede efforts to fight the war on terrorism. He argued that Iraq supported terrorist networks, including Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization.

None of the gestures indicated a Wednesday start to hostilities, according to White House and Pentagon officials, who had told reporters they would have a chance to get some sleep before fighting broke out.

The change of plans was prompted by intelligence, received during a nearly four-hour afternoon meeting between Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice and CIA Director George Tenet, that Saddam Hussein had made no attempt to flee Iraq and that his location was known.

Administration officials said it became clear at that point that it would be "worth a shot" to launch a surgical strike — but not necessarily to begin the full planned military campaign.

Bush then held a 20-minute phone conversation with Blair to discuss the coalition's options.

After reviewing the speech he had planned for days to give upon commencement of hostilities, the president had dinner in the White House with first lady Laura Bush.

The two were in the living room when White House chief of staff Andrew Card called to inform Bush that intelligence had no indication that Saddam had left Iraq before the 8 p.m. EST deadline.

At 9:30 p.m. EST, the president practiced his speech as White House spokesman Ari Fleischer alerted reporters that he was going to speak in 45 minutes. By then, 40 precision-guided and cruise missiles had already been launched.

Some White House aides said even they were taken by surprise that the president decided to give his remarks so soon.

Administration officials said the president was comfortable with his decision and focused on the mission and the state of the country.

Bush was not expected to make any further statements and was said to be leaving it to his military advisers to lead the war.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.