Saturday, September 09, 2006
Bush: Americans Should Honor Memory of 9/11 Victims
By Steven Donald Smith
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2006 – As the United States gets ready to mark the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept, 11, 2001, it is important to remember and honor the memory of every person lost on that day, President Bush said today. "We also remember the brutality of the enemy who struck our country and renew our resolve to defeat this enemy and secure a future of peace and freedom," Bush said in his weekly radio address to the nation.
The president gave a series of speeches earlier this week regarding the nature of the terrorist enemy, the stakes of the struggle against them, and the progress made during the past five years. During one of those speeches, Bush described in the terrorists' own words what they believe, what they hope to accomplish, and how they intend to accomplish it.
"We know what the terrorists intend, because they have told us," Bush said. "They hope to establish a totalitarian Islamic empire across the Middle East, which they call a 'caliphate,' where all would be ruled according to their hateful ideology."
The president said Osama bin Laden called the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 "a great step towards the unity of Muslims and establishing the righteous (caliphate)."
Al Qaeda and its associates reject any possibility of coexistence with those they call "infidels," Bush said. "We must take the words of these extremists seriously, and we must act decisively to stop them from achieving their evil aims," he said.
The president also talked about the CIA program established after the Sept. 11 attacks to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives. "This program has been invaluable to the security of America and its allies and helped us identify and capture men who our intelligence community believes were key architects of the September the 11th attacks," Bush said.
Information gleaned from terrorists held by the CIA helped the U.S. and its allies uncover an al Qaeda cell's efforts to obtain biological weapons, identify people intent on attacking the United States, stop a planned strike on a U.S. Marine base in Djibouti, prevent an attack on the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, and helped break up an airplane hijacking plot in London, he said
Information obtained from the terrorists in CIA custody also played a role in the capture or questioning of nearly every senior al Qaeda member or associate detained by the U.S. and its allies since this program began, Bush added.
"Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland," Bush said. "We have largely completed our questioning of these men, and now it is time that they are tried for their crimes."
Bush announced this week that the U.S. government transferred the suspected planners of the Sept. 11 attacks to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The president called on Congress to pass legislation creating military commissions to try suspected terrorists for war crimes. "As soon as Congress acts to authorize these military commissions, we will prosecute these men and send a clear message to those who kill Americans: No matter how long it takes, we will find you and bring you to justice," he said.
Bush said the American people are safer today because his administration acted to address gaps in security, intelligence and information sharing that terrorists exploited on Sept 11, 2001. Because of improved measures, it is now harder for terrorists to plan and finance their operations, slip into the U.S. undetected, and board airplanes, he said.
The U.S. still faces determined enemies, and in the long run defeating these enemies requires more than improved security at home and military action abroad, the president said. "We must also offer a hopeful alternative to the terrorists' hateful ideology," he said.
The United States is advancing freedom and democracy as an alternative to repression and radicalism, he said. "And by supporting young democracies like Iraq, we are helping to bring a brighter future to this region, and that will make America and the world more secure," 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."
The president and first lady Laura Bush will travel to New York City, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon in coming days to take part in Sept. 11 memorial ceremonies.