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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Bush: 'Killers Are Plotting to Attack Us'

June 07, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — This is the text of President Bush's speech, as transcribed by eMediaMillWorks Inc.:

Good evening.

During the next few minutes, I want to update you on the progress we are making in our war against terror and to propose sweeping changes that will strengthen our homeland against the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks.

Nearly nine months have passed since the day that forever changed our country. Debris from what was once the World Trade Center has been cleared away in 100,000 truckloads. The west side of the Pentagon looks almost as it did on Sept. 10. And as children finish school and families prepare for summer vacations, for many, life seems almost normal.

Yet we are a different nation today--sadder and stronger, less innocent and more courageous, more appreciative of life and, for many who serve our country, more willing to risk life in a great cause.

For those who have lost family and friends, the pain will never go away, and neither will the responsibilities that day thrust upon all of us. America is leading the civilized world in a titanic struggle against terror. Freedom and fear are at war. And freedom is winning.

Tonight, over 60,000 American troops are deployed around the world in the war against terror--more than 7,000 in Afghanistan, others in the Philippines, Yemen and the Republic of Georgia to train local forces.

Next week, Afghanistan will begin selecting a representative government, even as American troops, along with our allies, still continuously raid remote Al Qaeda hiding places.

Among those we have captured is a man named Abu Subaydah, Al Qaeda's chief of operations. From him and from hundreds of others, we are learning more about how the terrorists plan and operate, information crucial in anticipating and preventing future attacks.

When credible intelligence warrants, appropriate law enforcement and local officials are alerted. These warnings are, unfortunately, a new reality in American life and we have recently seen an increase in the volume of general threats.

Americans should continue to do what you're doing. Go about your lives, but pay attention to your surroundings. Add your eyes and ears to the protection of our homeland.

In protecting our country, we depend on the skill of our people: the troops we send to battle, intelligence operatives who risk their lives for bits of information, law enforcement officers who sift for clues and search for suspects. We are now learning that before Sept. 11, the suspicions and insights of some of our front-line agents did not get enough attention.

My administration supports the important work of the intelligence committees in Congress, to review the activities of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. We need to know when warnings were missed or signs unheeded, not to point the finger of blame, but to make sure we correct any problems and prevent them from happening again.

Based on everything I've seen, I do not believe anyone could have prevented the horror of Sept. 11. Yet we now know that thousands of trained killers are plotting to attack us, and this terrible knowledge requires us to act differently.

If you're a front-line worker for the FBI, the CIA, some other law enforcement or intelligence agency and you see something that raises suspicions, I want you to report it immediately. I expect your supervisors to treat it with the seriousness it deserves. Information must be fully shared so we can follow every lead to find the one that may prevent tragedy.

I applaud the leaders and employees at the FBI and CIA for beginning essential reforms. They must continue to think and act differently to defeat the enemy.

The first and best way to secure America's homeland is to attack the enemy where he hides and plans, and we're doing just that.

We're also taking significant steps to strengthen our homeland protections: securing cockpits, tightening our borders, stockpiling vaccines, increasing security at water treatment and nuclear power plants.

After Sept. 11, we needed to move quickly, and so I appointed Tom Ridge as my homeland security advisor. As Gov. Ridge has worked with all levels of government to prepare a national strategy, and as we have learned more about the plans and capabilities of the terrorist network, we have concluded that our government must be reorganized to deal more effectively with the new threats of the 21st century.

So tonight, I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single, permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America and protecting the American people.

Right now, as many as 100 different government agencies have some responsibilities for homeland security, and no one has final accountability.

For example, the Coast Guard has several missions, from search and rescue to maritime treaty enforcement. It reports to the Transportation Department, whose primary responsibilities are roads, rails, bridges and the airways.

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