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As he considers retaliation for last week's terrorist attacks, President Bush is receiving conflicting advice from his top aides, some of whom want to go beyond a military strike on suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden's bases in Afghanistan and topple other states that have long threatened the United States, particularly Iraq.

The split between civilian officials at the Pentagon and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, confirmed Monday by current and former U.S. officials, goes to the heart of Bush's proposed new war on international terrorism.

Powell, seeking to build and hold an international coalition against terrorism that includes many Muslim nations, is urging caution, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"I was raised a soldier," Powell said last week. "And you're trained (that) there is the enemy occupying a piece of ground. We can define it in time, space and other dimensions, and you can assemble forces and go after it.

"This is different," he continued. "The enemy is in many places. The enemy is not looking to be found. The enemy is hidden. The enemy is, very often, right here within our own country."

Bush has avoided any specific characterization of how the United States would respond. He vowed to "rout out and whip" terrorism one day, "rid the world of evil" another and, finally, "smoke them out of their holes."

The president also is systematically bracing Americans for the sacrifices they face. In his weekly radio address Saturday, Bush said the war "will not be short . . . will not be easy."

At a Pentagon war council Monday, he suggested that U.S. forces likely will suffer casualties, and he tried to explain why: "Freedom has a cost."

Aides say Bush or his aides will speak even more bluntly about casualties as the U.S. response nears.

Powell, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, wants to limit military strikes to bin Laden's Afghan redoubts and to use other means -- diplomacy, law enforcement and financial pressure -- to shut down terrorist networks elsewhere.

"You have to design a campaign plan that goes after that kind of enemy, and it isn't always blunt-force military, although that is certainly an option," Powell said. "It may well be that the diplomatic efforts, political efforts, legal, financial, other efforts, may be just as effective against that kind of an enemy as would military force."

That view is not shared by the Pentagon's civilian leadership. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and others have argued strenuously in interagency meetings for a far more sweeping U.S. response, including a strategic bombing campaign and aid for Iraqi opposition groups to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the officials said.

"These people try to hide. They won't be able to hide forever," Wolfowitz said at a news conference last week. "They think their harbors are safe, but they won't be safe forever. One has to say it's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism."

Wolfowitz's rhetoric -- which has not been repeated by other members of Bush's foreign policy team -- appeared to refer to Iraq.

He and other aides to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have been calling for an aggressive U.S. effort to oust Saddam since before they took office.

A classified CIA report circulated to top Bush administration officials said one of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta, in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center met earlier this year in Europe with an Iraqi intelligence official.

It is the first link connecting Iraq with the hijackers, but a U.S. official familiar with the report said there is no evidence indicating Iraqi knowledge or involvement in the attack.

But proponents of ousting Saddam cite his longtime support of terrorist movements and the hotly debated theory that Iraq played a role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

"This is just an added reason for making life as difficult as we can for Saddam," said Richard Perle, an adviser to the Pentagon and leading proponent of vastly increased aid to the opposition Iraqi National Congress.

"If all we do is go after bin Laden, it'll make a mockery of all the president had to say about waging a war on terrorism," Perle said.

But a response that goes beyond bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban leaders, who host the terrorist mastermind, poses potentially grave problems for Bush and his diplomacy.

During the Persian Gulf War, Bush's father held together a fractious international coalition that included many Arab states by sticking to the narrow goal of ousting Saddam's troops from Kuwait rather than occupying Iraq and removing its leader.

Bush and Powell have rallied many world leaders to their side over the last week. But there is virtually no support in this new international coalition, particularly among its Muslim members, for attacks on Iraq or other Middle Eastern nations that give succor to terrorists.

"We're trying to build a coalition, and people are lining up to join us, and (Pentagon officials) want to blow it all to hell by bombing Iraq tomorrow," said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon proposals are "exactly the kind of thing that would just alienate a lot of people," said Kenneth Pollack, a Persian Gulf specialist on the White House National Security Council until earlier this year.

Also in the back of officials' minds is then-President Bill Clinton's response to the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, also traced to bin Laden's network.

Many people worldwide did not begrudge the United States the right to retaliate for the bombings. But Washington was widely seen to lose the moral high ground when, in addition to sending cruise missiles to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, it targeted a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan whose links to bin Laden remain in dispute to this day.

If Bush's retaliation goes beyond bin Laden, "there's a real possibility that we're going to start losing support left and right," said Pollack, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

For now, the officials said, the arguments of Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage appear to be carrying the day as Bush searches for the proper response. Powell appears to have the backing of Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney, who said the United States has no evidence linking Iraq to the attacks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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