Bush Pledges to Follow Up 9/11 Report Recommendations
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 24, 2004 President Bush today hailed the 9/11 commission's final report released July 22, pointing to its "serious and comprehensive" findings.
During his weekly national radio address, the president said he appreciated the commission's "hard work over the past 20 months" and welcomed its recommendations.
"Indeed, we have already put into action many of the steps now recommended by the commission," Bush pointed out, noting the government "will carefully examine all of the commission's ideas on how we can improve our ongoing efforts to protect America and prevent another attack."
The commission, chaired by Thomas H. Kean, presented its bipartisan, 567-page report to the president July 22. A series of intelligence and security failures, the report concluded, enabled al Qaeda terrorists to attack New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon using three hijacked airliners.
A fourth hijacked jet crashed in a Pennsylvania field during another, aborted assault. Like the other attacks, all aboard that airliner were killed. A total of 3,000 people perished during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The 9/11 attacks, Bush stated in his radio address, "dramatically demonstrated the threats of a new era." The United States, the president noted, has "waged a steady, relentless, determined war on terrorists" since the attacks.
The American military is now fighting terrorists in overseas locales such as Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush pointed out, "so we do not have to face them here in America." Thousands of terrorists, he noted, have been captured or killed by U.S. and allied forces.
Since 9/11, terrorist regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq have been removed, Bush pointed out, and Libya agreed to jettison its weapons of mass destruction programs. And a dangerous black-market nuclear technology network, Bush noted, has been put out of business.
"We're chasing down terrorist enemies abroad, and, within our own borders," he said. The U.S. government, Bush continued, is "taking unprecedented steps to defend the homeland," pointing to the establishment of U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11.
Numerous terrorist cells in America have been broken up, he said, noting terrorist supporters have been prosecuted "from California, to Florida, to Massachusetts."
America is safer today from terrorism than it was pre-9/11, Bush pointed out. But, he acknowledged the threat remains.
"In a vast, free society such as ours, there is no such thing as perfect security," the president said, adding, "no matter how good our defenses are, a determined enemy can still strike us."
Yet, Bush said Americans should know their government "is using every resource and technological advantage we have to prevent future attacks," citing improved communication and intelligence sharing between government agencies and local officials.
The FBI is being reshaped to focus on stopping terrorist threats, Bush noted. Homeland Security Department agents have been assigned to overseas ports, he observed, while U.S. airport and seaport security has been increased and Visa screening bolstered.
Sophisticated equipment has been placed in major American cities to detect biological agents, Bush noted, while enough smallpox vaccine has been stockpiled to treat every American in case of emergency.
And, he added, the Project BioShield legislation he signed into law July 21 "will speed the development of new vaccines and treatments against biological agents that could be used in a terrorist attack" on the United States.
Bush pledged continued government support for state and local first responders such as police, fire and other emergency workers.
"America will give them the tools they need to do their jobs," he vowed, noting more than $13 billion in federal money has been provided to equip and train more than 500,000 first responders nationwide since 9/11.
Yet, "there's still more to do," Bush acknowledged. As commander in chief, Bush said he needs timely, accurate intelligence "to defend the American people."
The 9/11 commission's recommendations, he noted, "will help guide our efforts as we work to protect the homeland."
Although dangerous terrorist threats remain, Bush asserted that, "America has the resources, the strength, and the resolve to overcome them."