Bush to al Qaeda: 'We will never tire'
FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky (CNN) -- President Bush traveled to the home of the nation's elite air assault division Wednesday and pledged to destroy Osama bin Laden's terrorist network "piece by piece."
Bush told the men and women of the Army's 101st Airborne that the "most difficult steps" in the war against terrorism lie ahead, but the United States will defend its freedom until victory is achieved.
"The enemy hopes they can hide until we tire. But we're going to prove them wrong. We will never tire, and we will hunt them down," the president said. "We will fight these evil ones, and we will win."
Bush was greeted by a rousing standing ovation and chants of "USA! USA! USA!" when he walked onto the stage. The uniformed men and women in camouflage fatigues and black berets waved their hands in the air, and many raised their index fingers -- the symbolic gesture indicating "we are No. 1."
As Bush began to speak, his voice could hardly be heard over the chants of "USA." The president saluted the men and women, and said, "At ease."
The crowd immediately silenced and sat down.
Throughout the speech, the crowd remained in a festive mood, punctuating the president's points with shouts of "Whoa!"
Bush told the 101st Airborne -- known as the Screaming Eagles -- he was grateful for their sacrifice. The president said he would remember this day as the "one when I ate turkey with the Screaming Eagles."
"This Thanksgiving Americans are especially thankful for our freedom and we are especially thankful to you, the people who keep us free," Bush said.
Borrowing a phrase from the 101st Airborne's motto, the president added: "Once again, you have a rendezvous with destiny." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said members of the 101st Airborne have been deployed to Pakistan.
Bush described members of bin Laden's al Qaeda network as ruthless terrorists who have "killed thousands of our citizens and seek to kill many more."
"They seek weapons of mass destruction, but we're seeking them. We're fighting them -- and one by one, we're bringing them to justice," Bush said.
"This great nation fights now to save ourselves and our children from living in a world of fear. We fight now because we will not permit the terrorists -- these vicious and evil men -- to hijack a peaceful religion and to impose their will on America and the world."
He praised the U.S. military for its rapid success in Afghanistan, saying 27 of 30 provinces are no longer under Taliban control. But he stressed the fight is far from over.
"There are still terrorists on the loose in Afghanistan, and we will find and destroy their network piece by piece," Bush said.
The president said bin Laden and his terrorists are hiding in "sophisticated caves" in rugged, mountainous terrain that is "defended by fanatics who will fight to the death."
"I believe in the strong resolve of the American people. I believe good triumphs over evil. And I believe in the fearless hearts of the U.S. military," he said. "We will keep on fighting until our victory is complete."
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