Bush: Terrorists Seek to Strike America Again
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2007 America’s memories of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks may recede with time, but citizens shouldn’t become complacent about the real threat of another terrorist attack on the homeland, President Bush said at the National Defense University here today.
“They intend to strike our country again,” Bush said of global terrorists’ plans.
And, if such an attack is made, it likely would “make 9/11 pale by comparison,” the president emphasized.
The commander in chief’s role in light of this situation “is to never forget the threat and to implement strategies that will protect the homeland,” Bush pointed out.
Meanwhile, overseas-deployed U.S. military forces have captured or killed thousands of terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush said.
U.S. and coalition forces liberated 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq “from unspeakable tyranny,” Bush said. Those forces now are helping those nations establish stable democracies for a better tomorrow, he added.
A key challenge for America and its allies during the global war on terror, Bush noted, is sustaining the belief that democracy can take root in places where dictators and terrorists had previously held sway.
“Will we ignore history, and not realize that liberty has got the capacity to yield the peace we want?” Bush asked his audience. “So, this administration, along with many in our military, will continue to spread the hope of liberty in order to defeat the ideology of darkness, the ideology of the terrorists, and work to secure a future of peace for generations to come.”
After being defeated on conventional battlefields overseas, the terrorists are attempting to infiltrate the United States to attack it from within, Bush said.
The terrorists “can’t beat our Army; they can’t defeat our military,” the president observed, “and so, they try to sneak folks in our country to kill the innocent to achieve their objectives.”
That’s why the Patriot Act was enacted, Bush said. During the past six years, he noted, that legislation has enabled law enforcement officials to break up terrorist cells in California, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and other states.
The Protect America Act is another piece of anti-terror legislation that’s helped law enforcement officials to disrupt plans and schemes made by overseas terrorists.
That legislation “closed a dangerous gap in our intelligence,” Bush pointed out, noting the Protect America Act is slated to expire Feb. 1. Bush urged Congress to strengthen and make permanent the Protect America Act “to ensure our intelligence officials have the tools they need to keep us safe.”
An interrogation program used by the CIA to question key captured terrorist leaders has provided critical information that has helped to derail several terrorist attacks, Bush said. These, he said, include an attack on the U.S. Marine camp in Djibouti, a plan to assault the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, a plan to hijack an airliner and fly it into a Los Angeles office building, and another scheme to hijack airliners at London’s Heathrow Airport to kill innocents.
CIA professionals employ lawful techniques as part of the interrogation program, Bush pointed out, noting that critics continue to assail the program.
“Those who oppose this vital tool in the war on terror need to answer a simple question: Which of the attacks I have just described would they prefer we had not stopped?” Bush asked. Without the program, he said, U.S. intelligence officials believe that al Qaeda would have succeeded in launching another attack on America.
“The CIA program has saved lives. It is vital to the security of the American people,” Bush emphasized.
The president also noted a U.S.-Russian partnership that helps ensure that nuclear weapons do not fall into the hands of terrorists, as well as initiatives to bolster security at U.S. air and sea ports.
“We’re not going to allow mass murderers to gain access to the tools of mass destruction,” the president vowed.
Bush also reviewed efforts to protect America and its allies from the threat of potential ballistic-missile attacks by rogue states through the installation of interceptors and radars in Eastern Europe.
“The ballistic-missile threat to America has been growing for decades,” Bush said, noting that in 1972 just nine countries had ballistic missiles. Today, 27 nations have such missiles, including hostile regimes with terrorist ties, the president pointed out.
North Korea and Iran both possess ballistic missile capability that’s of potential danger to the United States and its allies, Bush said.
“With continued foreign assistance, Iran could develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States and all of Europe before 2015,” Bush said. That is a scenario the United States and its allies, “have to take seriously, now,” the president said.
The Russians have so far balked at the U.S. missile-defense initiative, which calls for establishing missile interceptors in Poland and a radar-tracking site in the Czech Republic, both former satellite states of the now-defunct Soviet Union.
Bush said the anti-missile system will be limited in scope and doesn’t threaten Russia in any way.
“The Cold War is over. Russia is not our enemy,” Bush emphasized. In fact, the United States has invited Russia to participate in the program, he pointed out.
Rather than establishing missile-defense sites in the Czech Republic or Poland, Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed the use of radar facilities in Azerbaijan, and in southern Russia, Bush noted.
The president welcomed Putin’s offer, noting it could be incorporated as part of the envisioned missile-defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.
“We believe that these sites could be included as part of a wider threat monitoring system that could lead to an unprecedented level of strategic cooperation between our two countries,” Bush said.