Saying he would "not forget this wound to our country," President
Bush addresses a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday.
WIN MCNAMEE / Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- President Bush cautioned a shaken nation Thursday that there are "struggles ahead and dangers to face" as American combats global terrorism. He announced that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge will direct a new Cabinet-level office to fortify homeland defenses.
Addressing a joint session of Congress nine days after suicide hijackers are believed to have killed more than 6,000 Americans, Bush clasped the badge of a slain policeman in his fist.
"I will not forget this wound to our country, or those who inflicted it. I will not yield. I will not rest," he said.
The Sept. 11 attacks had put the United States on notice that the world's only superpower was not immune to attack, Bush said.
He blamed Osama bin Laden and demanded that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia surrender the suspected terrorist and give the United States full access to terrorist training camps.
Bush directed U.S. military forces to "be ready" for the gathering battle: "The hour is coming when America will act and you will make us proud."
Bush asked every nation to take part, by contributing police forces, intelligence services and banking information.
With British Prime Minister Tony Blair watching from a House gallery seat at first lady Laura Bush's right arm, Bush said:
"The civilized world is rallying to America's side. They understand that if terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror unanswered cannot only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments and we will not allow it."
Bush entered the House of Representatives chamber to rousing applause from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans alike.
Unprecedented security shrouded his address in the Capitol one week after it was evacuated for the second time because of suspected threats.
Vice President Dick Cheney stayed away, due to security concerns. Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., third in line for the presidency, was in the vice president's customary seat behind Bush on the speaker's rostrum. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., next in line as the Senate president pro tempore, sat beside Hastert.
Bush compared the terrorists to the 20th century world's evil forces: "By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism and Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends, in history's unmarked grave of discarded lives."
In a nationally televised address, his fourth prime-time speech since taking office, Bush tried to explain to a horrified nation the anti-American hatred of its enemies.
Bush blamed last week's attacks on suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and his followers -- the same forces suspected of bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and last year's bombing of the USS Cole.
"The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children," Bush said.
Bush condemned the Taliban religious militia that rules most of Afghanistan and gives bin Laden refuge.
He demanded that the Taliban turn over to the United States all the leaders of bin Laden's network "who hide in your land," and to release all foreign nationals, including American citizens who have been imprisoned in Afghanistan.
Further, Bush demanded that the Taliban "close immediately and permanently every terrorist camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities."
Moreover, Bush demanded full U.S. access to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan "so we can make sure they are no longer operating."
These demands are not open to discussion, Bush said. "They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate."
Even as he spoke of wiping out terrorism, Bush conceded that the violent extremists had already extracted a heavy toll.
"Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss and in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war," he said.
While cautioning that Americans need remain on alert, Bush said, "It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal."
He asked for patience. He warned of more casualties.
This war against elusive terrorists, he said, "will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat."
He said it would be a war unlike any in history. "It may include dramatic strikes, visible on television, and covert operations, secret even in success."
Still, he assured the nation, "We'll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass."
Before leaving the White House for Capitol Hill, Bush got international and spiritual support. He separately huddled with Blair and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, who delivered his country's support.
A Methodist himself, Bush welcomed two dozen religious leaders -- Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists -- to pray with him and give counsel and sing together "God Bless America."
Archbishop Demetrios C. Trakatellis, whose Greek Orthodox Church of New York was destroyed in last week's bombing, called the private meeting with Bush "a religious ceremony in front of God."