PRESIDENT RENEWS VOW TO BRING AL-QAIDA TO JUSTICE
by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2001 -- In his first live news conference from the = White House since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington= , President George W. Bush spoke to the nation on the first-month anniversa= ry of the attacks and vowed anew to bring suspected terrorist ringleader Os= ama bin Laden to justice and to root out his al-Qaida terorism network arou= nd the globe.
""The Sept. 11 assault against American cities "was an attack on the= heart and soul of the civilized world," the President said, vowing "a war = against all who seek to export terror" and governments that harbor them. D= ozens of nations have offered aid and assistance, Bush said, and 56 Islamic= nations yesterday condemned terror attacks, he noted.
The President's ad= dress began at 8:02 p.m. Eastern time and lasted about 50 minutes. The suc= cess of attacks by U.S. forces and allies in Afghanistan were the focus of = much of the president's remarks.
The U.S.-led coalition's attacks on Afghanistan have "destroyed most of = their air defenses," Bush said, and are beginning to rout terrorists "out o= f their hidden caves."
"Thousands of FBI agents are on the trail of oth= er suspects around the globe," Bush said, and more than $24 million in U.S.= and foreign banks has been traced to al-Qaida and frozen.
"We are taking= every possible step to protect our country from danger," he added, and cal= led for renewed stimulation of the economy and "funding for our military."=
Addressing the FBI warning issued today (see story), Bush said th= e "blanket alert" was "in recognition of a general threat that authorities = received. "It was the most recent threat we have received, and I hope it is= the last. But it may not be," he said. Asked by one journalist if the gi= overnment would warn Americans about specific threats, the President indica= ted that such warnings would indeed be forthcoming.
"When we receive a sp= ecific threat that target a specific building or city" that threat would be= addressed directly, the Presiident sdaid. He gave as an example a threat = that crop duster aircraft would be used in a threat, and described how the = government took extensive steps to thwart any such plan, including making c= ontact with manufacturers, machine shops and other businesses related to th= e industry as well grounding such planes.
Calling on Americans to keep their eyes open for possible threats, he s= aid "If they see something that is suspicious, that is out of the norm, the= y ought to notify government authorities."
"We follow every lead," Bush said.
When the questioning turned to the motives for U.S. efforts in the wa= r, the President was also forceful in responding.
"We must defeat the evildoers where they hide, we must round them up and= we must bring them to justice. That is exactly what we are doing in Afgha= nistan," he told reporters.
"We are engaged in a different type of war" than was the case in Vietnam= , he reminded Americans, "one that we must fight on all fronts." The Presi= dent returned to that theme several times in responses to questions from th= e press gathered in the White House Press Room.
"Slowly, we are smoking them out of their caves," he said. "It may take= a year or two, but we will prevail," the President said. "I have determin= ed to stay the course."
"It is now our time to act, and I am proud to be the country that unders= tands that," Bush said.
"Success or failure doesn't depend on bin Laden,"= the President said. "He's just one person." The president later added, "I= don't know if he's alive or dead. I want him brought to justice."
Aske= d by Helen Thomas, the senior White House reporter, if he would heed adviso= rs she said were urging him to take the war against terrorism to Iraq, he r= esponded, "Our focus is on Afghanistan, and terrorists hiding in Afghanista= n."
The rest of his answer, however, touched on various ways in which glob= al terrorism is addressed, saying that the first step would be to ask count= ries where terrorists are believed to be staying to assist in apprehending = them.
Of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Bush said, "There's no doubt he's a= n evil man. ... We're watching him very carefully." As he has since the at= tacks, the President relied on the word "evil" to describe terrorist attack= s, leaders and Saddam Hussein.
"We learned a good lesson on Sept. 11: That there is evil in this world,= " the President said.
Bush also indic ated that he has not yet given up on the so-called Strat= egic Defense Initiative or "Star Wars" space-based missile shield that has = been widely criticized because it does not address what is seen as the more= likely threat of terrorist attacks committed without conventional missile = launches. The international ramifications of that policy also came up for = discussion.
"The Cold War is over and done with, and there are new threats that we f= ace," Bush said of his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Put= yin in Shanghai next month. "I hope he will join us in a new strategiicrela= tionship," he said, that would acknowledge what Bush called the obsolescenc= e of the U.S.-Russian treaty on anti-ballistic missiles, or ABMs.
Bush cl= osed the press conference with an appeal to America's children to help star= ving and orphaned children of Afghanistan by sending $1 to aspecial fund cr= eated by the White House.