Bush Issues Progress Report in Terror War
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2006 Five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the United States is safer because it’s made sweeping changes to close security gaps revealed that day and has taken the terrorist fight to the enemy, President Bush said today in Marietta, Ga.
Bush, addressing the Georgia Public Policy Foundation during his fourth major speech in the past week about the terror war, provided a progress report on steps taken since Sept. 11 to protect the American people and win the war against extremism.
The past five years have seen “an unprecedented campaign” that has succeeded in protecting the homeland from another terrorist attack, he said.
Bush outlined gaps in U.S. security exposed through the Sept. 11 attacks -- gaps he said allowed terrorists to plan the attacks, train to carry them out, board U.S. jetliners and kill almost 3,000 people -- and ways the nation has helped close these gaps.
Myriad initiatives within the U.S. government since Sept. 11 have helped make it far more difficult for terrorists to carry out an attack like the one that claimed 3,000 lives that day, he said.
But Bush emphasized that other attacks elsewhere in the world demonstrate that extremists haven’t given up their dreams of striking out against the United States. “Five years later, America still faces determined enemies, and we won’t be safe until those enemies are defeated,” he said.
The events of Sept. 11 revealed exactly how serious that enemy is and how committed it is to its cause, the president said. “9/11 lifted the veil on a threat that is far broader and more dangerous than we saw that morning: an enemy that was not sated by the destruction inflicted that day and is determined to strike again,” the president said.
“To answer this threat and to protect our people, we need more than retaliation, we more than a reaction to the last attack,” he said. “We need to do everything in our power to stop the next attack, and so America has gone on the offense across the world.”
Bush cited some of the results of that offensive:
-- Capturing or killing many of the most significant al Qaeda members and associates;
-- Killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq and one of the organization’s most visible and aggressive leaders to emerge after 9/11;
-- Helping change governments targeted for overthrow by terrorist groups, such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, to become valuable allies in the war on terror;
-- Helping establish democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, former sponsors of terrorism;
-- Forming a 90-nation coalition, the largest in the history of warfare, to find terrorists, dry up their funds, stop their plots and bring them to justice;
-- Launching the Proliferation Security Initiative, in which more than 70 nations are cooperating to stop shipments related to weapons of mass destruction;
-- Working with Russia on a new global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism;
-- Cooperating with Great Britain to persuade Libya to give up its nuclear weapons program;
-- Uncovering the A.Q. Khan black market nuclear network, “now out of business,” that was shipping equipment to Iran and North Korea; and
-- Helping the world unite in urging Iran to end its support of terror and give up its nuclear weapons ambitions.
The president emphasized that despite progress made, challenges remain ahead in defeating terrorism: Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, remain in hiding. Al Qaeda continues its terror campaign with deadly attacks. Terrorists and insurgents in Iraq have killed American troops and thousands of Iraqis. Syria and Iran continue their support for terror and extremism. Hezbollah has taken innocent lives in Israel and succeeded briefly in undermining Lebanon's democratic government. Hamas stands in the way of peace with Israel. All the while, extremists are leading an aggressive propaganda campaign to spread lies about the United States and incite Muslim radicalism.
“The enemies of freedom are skilled, and they are sophisticated, and they are waging a long and determined war,” the president said. “The free world must understand the stakes of this struggle. The free world must support young democracies. The free world must confront the evil of these extremists. The free world must draw the full measure of our strength and resources to prevail.”
Bush reminded the audience that, from the first days after Sept. 11, he had warned them they were in for a long, difficult struggle. “I told the American people that this would be a long war, a war that would look different from others we have fought, with difficulties and setbacks along the way,” he said. “The past five years have proven that to be true. The past five years have also shown what we can achieve when our nation acts with confidence and resolve and clear purpose.”
As the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks nears, Bush expressed confidence that the United States is on the right track. “Five years after Sept. 11, 2001, America is safer and America is winning the war on terror,” he said. “With vigilance, determination (and) courage, we will defeat the enemies of freedom, and we will leave behind a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren.”