Archive for Thursday, October 11, 2001

President salutes victims, those fighting terrorists

October 11, 2001

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— The men who struck America one month ago "died in vain," President Bush said Thursday, and pledged the military will have "every resource, every weapon, every means" necessary to triumph in a worldwide war on terrorism.

"They will be isolated, surrounded, cornered until there is no place to run or hide or rest," he said of the Al-Qaida network and terrorists around the globe.

Bush received an update from his Cabinet on a broad range of government anti-terrorism activities, including the freezing of $24 million in assets of Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaida network. "I want the terrorists to know we're after them in all kinds of ways," Bush said.

He urged the Senate to pass his energy plan to make the nation less reliant on foreign oil. The House passed his package, but the legislation has stalled since the Sept. 11 strikes.

Vice President Dick Cheney did not attend the Cabinet meeting. He has been staying at a secure location outside the White House to protect the continuity of government in case of another strike.

The commander in chief spoke at a somber ceremony at the Pentagon on a day of sunshine as bright as Sept. 11, the date of the deadliest terrorist attacks ever on American soil. The ceremony took place on the opposite side of the Pentagon from where terrorists struck one month ago, dooming 189 to their deaths.

Machine gun-toting troops stood guard in camouflage, providing security for a service that drew not only the president and first lady, Laura Bush, but also former President Bill Clinton, dozens of members of Congress, relatives of the attacks victims and a throng of thousands of guests.

Bush led the observance as American warplanes carried out a fifth day of bombing against terrorist targets in Afghanistan. The somber observance was the second of the day for a nation struggling still to recover from the attacks of Sept. 11.

Similar ceremonies were held in New York, where the mighty twin towers of the World Trade Center crumpled after being hit by a pair of hijacked jetliners. There, the death toll exceeded 5,000. There were more deaths that day when a fourth hijacked plane crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside following an on-board struggle between passengers and the terrorists.

The hijackers "were instruments of evil who died in vain," said the president. "The terrorists have no true home in any country or culture or faith. They dwell in dark corners of earth and there we will find them," he vowed.

The Pentagon ceremony was a blend of prayer, hymn-singing and speech-making and included a mournful honor roll of the dead, names scrolled on video screens for the crowd to see.

"We remember them as heroes," said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "And we are right to do so."

Bush's own remarks blended words of praise for the dead, comfort for their survivors, and resolve for the fight ahead.

"This week I have called the armed forces into action. One by one we are eliminating power centers of a regime that harbors the Al-Qaida terrorists. We gave that regime a choice turn over the terrorist or face your ruin. They chose unwisely."

To the members of the armed forces in attendance, he pledged, "You will have everything you need. Every resource, every weapon, every means to assure full victory for the United States in the cause of freedom."

Bush also summoned members of his Cabinet to a White House meeting during the day, and called a prime time news conference for 8 p.m. EDT, the first of his nine-month presidency.

Mrs. Bush began the day at a Georgetown bookstore, encouraging children to read all they can about different cultures lest fear during the U.S. war on terrorists turn to prejudice and hate.

"If you can be educated about everything for instance, about every religion you can be tolerant," the first lady said.

The president pledged not to relent in his effort to eradicate terrorism.

"They try to hide, but we're going to shine the light of justice on them," Bush said Wednesday.

Bush was re-emphasizing that his campaign has multiple fronts, releasing what the administration described as substantial progress in blocking funds of terrorists and their associates.

"We're halting their money," Bush said. "We've got allies around the world helping us close the net."

Last month, Bush moved to freeze assets of alleged terrorist mastermind bin Laden, an exiled Saudi multimillionaire, and 26 other people and organizations with suspected links to terrorism. The administration said recently that $6 million has been blocked and 50 bank accounts frozen, 30 in this country and 20 overseas.

Near the top of the agenda was how to revive the suffering American economy.

Under one plan floated by the White House, taxpayers who did not qualify for rebates earlier in the year would receive checks for $300 or $600, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Many of those would be low-income earners. Those who already received a rebate could benefit from accelerated rate cuts, though it was unclear whether they would see a check reflecting that, one official said.

Bush's trip to the Pentagon was his first since the U.S.-led bombing campaign on Afghanistan began Sunday. He toured the Pentagon damage the day after hijackers slammed the jet into the building and two more in New York City's World Trade Center.

Though one side of the Pentagon was badly damaged, and military personnel deeply shaken, the building has taken center stage since the strikes began Sunday.

A fourth day of aerial raids Wednesday, including attacks on the outskirts of Kabul, the Afghan capital, moved the U.S.-led campaign closer to the expected start of ground operations against the bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network and the Taliban government.

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