Bush Tells Military to 'Be Ready,' Defines Enemy
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2001 President Bush told the military to "be ready" during a speech before a joint session of Congress Sept. 20.
Bush said the terrorist threat facing America is unlike any conflict the country has fought. "I've called the armed forces to alert, and there is a reason," he said. "The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud."
Before Bush spoke, officials in New York released a revised casualty estimate for the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on, and collapse of, the World Trade Center's twin towers. More than 6,300 people are now missing, up from about 4,700.
Bush said the target for a concentrated effort by the U.S. government is the Al Qaeda network led by Osama bin Laden. "They are the same murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole," he said. The embassies were bombed Aug. 7, 1998; the destroyer Cole was attacked Oct. 12, 2000.
He said these terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. "The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children," he said.
The Al Qaeda network has thousands of adherents in more than 60 countries, Bush said. "They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror," he said. "They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction." Al Qaeda has links with terrorist groups in other countries.
Afghanistan has provided safe haven for bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network. The president made a number of demands on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban party.
"Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of Al Qaeda who hide in your land," Bush said. "Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities."
Bush also called on the Taliban to give the United States full access to terrorist training camps to ensure they are closed.
"These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion," Bush said. "The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate."
But the president made clear America's attention extends far beyond the Taliban. Every nation everywhere has a decision to make, he said.
"Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists," Bush said. "From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."
He said America will fight the war on terrorism by bringing all its resources to bear. The war will not be like Desert Storm 10 years ago or like air war over Yugoslavia two years ago "where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat," he warned.
"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen," Bush said. "It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success."
Bush also announced he will establish a cabinet-level position called the Office of Homeland Security under the leadership of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
"Our nation has been put on notice: We are not immune from attack," Bush said. "We will take defensive measures against terrorism to protect Americans. Today, dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local governments, have responsibilities affecting homeland security. These efforts must be coordinated at the highest level."
Bush spoke to the loss America suffered on Sept. 11, and the road that lies ahead. "In our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment," he said. "Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time - - now depends on us.
"Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail."