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Cheney: Enemies Must Face 'Swift, Certain, Devastating Response'

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2002 – The United States and the civilized world have only one option against terrorists, Vice President Dick Cheney said today.

"Wherever terrorists operate we must find them where they dwell, stop them in their planning, and one by one bring them to justice," Cheney declared at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Nashville, Tenn. "Any enemy conspiring to harm America or our friends must face a swift, a certain and a devastating response."

The United States has entered a new kind of war against a new kind of enemy, he said. "The terrorists who struck America are ruthless. They are resourceful and they hide in many countries. They came into our country to murder thousands of innocent men, women and children. There is no doubt they wish to strike again and that they are working to acquire the deadliest of all weapons."

In Afghanistan, he noted, the Taliban regime and al Qaeda terrorists "saw up close and personal the new methods and capabilities of America's armed services." These included precision power from the air, real-time intelligence, Special Forces, the long reach of naval task forces and close coordination with local forces.

The war in Afghanistan is only the beginning of a lengthy campaign, Cheney noted. "Were we to stop now, any sense of security we might have would be false and temporary," he said. "There is a terrorist underworld out there spread among more than 60 countries."

Combating terrorism, he said, will require every means available including diplomacy, finance, intelligence, law enforcement, and military power. The challenge America faces involves more than just tracking down a single person or one small group.

"9-11 and its aftermath awakened this nation to danger, to the true ambitions of the global terror network and to the reality that weapons of mass destruction are being sought by determined enemies who would not hesitate to use them against us," Cheney said. The al Qaeda network is pursuing such weapons and has succeeded in acquiring at least a crude capability to use them.

"We found evidence of their efforts in the ruins of the al Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan," he said. "We've all seen in recent days additional confirmation in videos recently shown on CNN, pictures of al Qaeda members training to commit acts of terror, testing chemical weapons on dogs. Those terrorists who remain at large are determined to use these capabilities against the United States and our friends and allies around the world."

The Cold War strategies of deterrence and containment no longer apply, Cheney said. It's tough to deter enemies who have no country to defend and containment is not possible when dictators obtain weapons of mass destruction and are prepared to share them with terrorists.

"The president and I never for a moment forget our No. 1 responsibility to protect the American people against further attack and to win the war that began last Sept. 11," Cheney said. This requires action on many fronts, including reorganizing the federal government.

"The new Department of Homeland Security will gather under one roof the capability to identify threats, to check them against our vulnerabilities and to move swiftly to protect the nation. At the same time, we realize that wars are never won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy. We will take every step necessary to make sure our country is secure and we will prevail."

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Remarks by the Vice President to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention, Aug. 26, 2002

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