Wolfowitz: Celebrate the Fourth, Show Terrorists They Can't Win
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 4, 2002 Security is at unprecedented levels for Fourth of July celebrations all around the country, and nowhere is it so apparent as the national celebration in Washington, D.C. Still, people should try to enjoy the holiday, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said.
Speaking from the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial on NBC's "Today" show, Wolfowitz said the best way to show the terrorists they haven't changed our way of life is to celebrate our nation's freedom.
"We know they're out there plotting. We know they're trying to kill Americans, and this isn't the only day they'll try," Wolfowitz said. "What we can't do is let them drive us away from our way of life."
It's a day to be alert, he said, "but it's also a day to celebrate." Celebrating the Fourth will send a message to the terrorists: "We're winning; they can't win."
While people are celebrating, they should also remember the men and women in uniform in the armed services, police forces and other emergency responders "who are on the front lines of the fight against terrorism," he said. "This is more than just a big party. This is a day ... to mark what this country stands for."
Wolfowitz said he believes "the incredible feats of our men and women in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world" surprised the world and surprised the terrorists. However, he added, driving the terrorists out of Afghanistan didn't end the worldwide threat of terror.
Some Sept. 11 terrorists were in this country for at least two years, he noted. Officials, he added, can't be sure there aren't more out there waiting for their chance to attack.
Terrorist cells have been found in such disparate places as Hamburg, Germany, and Jacksonville, Fla., Wolfowitz said, and they're still "burrowed in" in some 60 countries.
"It's going to take a long time to root them out," he said. "But as every American sports fan know, the best defense is a great offense, and we're going after them where they live."
Defense and national leaders have repeatedly said finding terrorist Osama bin Laden isn't the main goal of Operation Enduring Freedom, and Wolfowitz reiterated that once again. He cautioned Americans not to "obsess or focus" on a single person.
"This evil organization is not like some poisonous snake (that) if you chop the head off it's no longer dangerous," Wolfowitz said. Instead, he said, it's like a disease that infects a healthy body. "You've got to go after all the different points of infection."
He said Iraq represents a much bigger threat, the "very dangerous combination" of countries that have weapons of mass destruction, that support terrorists and are hostile to the United States.
His comments came the morning after 26-year-old Mohammed Saffi, a stepson of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, was arrested in Miami on immigration violations.
Officials from the Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Saffi after he arrived from New Zealand. Authorities said they have no evidence he's involved in terrorism, but that he was planning to attend the same South Florida flight school one of the Sept. 11 terrorists attended.
The Immigration and Nationalization Service in Miami is holding Saffi because he didn't obtain a student visa.