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Cheney Praises Michigan Guardsmen, Discusses Terror War

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2006 – Vice President Richard B. Cheney yesterday thanked Michigan National Guardsmen for their service to their state and nation, and talked about the war on terror and the central fronts of Afghanistan and Iraq.

In a time of war, the National Guard is absolutely vital to protecting the United States, Cheney said at a rally for Guardsmen and their families in Wyoming, Mich. He said Guardsmen serve to defend the country and to respond to natural and man-made disasters. “I want all of you to know that we appreciate the work you do, we respect the sacrifices you make, and we admire your skill and your devotion to duty,” the vice president said.

Since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 80 percent of the Michigan National Guard has been called to active duty, Cheney said. They have served in Bosnia, in ground support operations in Iraq and in training missions in Afghanistan. “The assignments have been varied, but the standard of performance has been high and unwavering,” he said. “You’ve put duty ahead of convenience and service above self-interest. It is impossible to overstate how much Americans in uniform have done to make this nation safer, and to bring freedom, stability and peace to a troubled world.”

Five years ago, Cheney said, Afghanistan was saddled with a merciless regime that harbored terrorists and plotted murder for export. “Today, Afghanistan is a rising nation with a democratically elected government, a market economy, and millions of children going to school for the first time.”

Guardsmen and their active-duty compatriots understand what is at stake in the war on terror, Cheney said, and so do the terrorists. “That is why they commit acts of random horror, calculated to shock and intimidate the civilized world,” he said. “The terrorists know that, as freedom takes hold, the ideologies of hatred and resentment will weaken and the advance of free institutions in the Middle East will produce a much safer world for our children and grandchildren. The war on terror is a battle for the future of civilization. It’s a battle worth fighting. It’s a battle we are going to win.”

The vice president reiterated that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. Having removed a dictator, the coalition is working with Iraq’s leaders toward a mutual goal: a democratic country that can defend itself, that will not be a safe haven for terrorists, and that will be a model of freedom in a troubled part of the world.

“Our strategy in Iraq is clear, and our tactics will remain flexible,” he said. “Progress has not come easily, and we can expect further attacks from those who are opposed to freedom. Yet there is no denying the hopeful signs, and we can look to the future with confidence. All of us live in a better world because (al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-) Zarqawi is dead, Saddam Hussein is on trial, and Iraq is free.”

Cheney defended the U.S. government’s terrorist surveillance program, saying the program is to monitor international communications that officials believe are related to al Qaeda or to a terrorist network. “It’s hard to think of any category of information that could be more important to the safety and security of the United States,” he said.

Cheney called a judge’s decision ordering the program to cease “just plain wrong” and said he is confident the decision will be reversed.

The vice president said the United States will keep its word to defeat terrorists. “We will carry on in the work that is ours to do,” he said. “But for all the effort that lies ahead, this period of testing for our country is also a time of promise. The United States of America is doing great good in the world by defending the innocent, confronting the violent, and bringing freedom to the oppressed.

“We’re a good country, a generous, compassionate, idealistic country. We are doing honorable work in a messy and a dangerous world,” Cheney said. “By defending ourselves, by standing with our friends abroad, we’re meeting our responsibilities as freedom’s home and defender, and we’re securing the peace that freedom brings.”

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