By Steven Donald Smith
WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2006 – The federal government's duty is to protect the American people, and the work being done at the National Counterterrorism Center is doing just that, President Bush said today. "I want to thank all the people in this building and around our government who spend an incredible amount of time and energy and effort to do a very difficult job, and that's to protect the American people," Bush told the nation's counter terrorism team at the center's headquarters in McLean, Va.
Bush said the U.S. is safer now than in the past, but he was quick to point out that the country is still not completely safe because U.S. enemies have the luxury of having to be effective only once to achieve their goal. "We've got to be right 100 percent of the time to protect the American people," he said.
The president said the center's work bore fruit when a plot to bomb commercial airplanes was thwarted last week. "Because of the good work in Great Britain and because of the help of the people here at NCTC, we disrupted a terror plot, a plot where people were willing to kill innocent life to achieve political objectives," Bush said.
That plot is indicative of the challenges the United States faces in the war against terrorism, he said. The best asset the U.S. has in combating the terrorist threat is its people -- "people represented right here in this building," he added. The president established the multi-agency National Counterterrorism Center in 2004 to serve as the primary U.S. organization for integrating and analyzing intelligence pertaining to terrorism and counterterrorism.