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Vice President Dick Cheney Addresses U.S. Marines

Aired February 18, 2002 - 14:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: For our viewers, back out to California now, southern California with the vice president. Dick Cheney has just taken the podium there at the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California. Here's Dick Cheney.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we return to the White House next week, I will tell him about visiting the Marines at Miramar, and I'll reconfirm the famous assessment of General Douglas MacArthur: "There is no finer fighting organization in the world."

(APPLAUSE)

And I thank you all for serving America, especially in this time of testing for our country and for the military.

Let me also thank the people who helped make your service possible, sharing your challenges, giving their support every day: the strong and loyal families of Miramar.

And I'm grateful to General Haegy (ph) and to all of the base (ph) of officials joining us here today, as well as Duke Cunningham and his fellow members of Congress are here, Duncan Hunter and Susan Davis.

These members of Congress, along with members from both parties and every state, are today united behind the president and our armed forces. We are in a struggle for freedom and for security for the American people, and let there be no doubt: The forces of freedom will defeat the forces of terror.

We did not seek this war, but it found us prepared. The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is part of a fighting force that moved quickly and decisively across oceans and continents. Five months after the president called the military to its first great mission of the 21st century, we have seen important victories. The terror camps in Afghanistan are in ruins, never to reappear. The Taliban is gone, never to return. And for the first time, terrorists everywhere have good reason to fear for their own safety.

This war began with a deliberate attack on innocent Americans. This war will end when justice is delivered in full measure and no terrorist group or government can threaten the peace of the world.

Our first objective is to shut down terrorist camps wherever they are and to disrupt terrorist plans and bring terrorists to justice. We are dealing here with an entirely new kind of threat to our security; a threat global in scale and often hidden from view. Afghanistan is only the beginning of along and unrelenting effort. At this moment American troops are on the tail of terrorist groups from the Philippines to the Horn of Africa. Wherever threats are forming against our country we will respond, and we will respond decisively.

Our next objective is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The attacks of September 11 were devastating, but the destruction would have been far worse if the terrorists had used weapons of mass destruction.

And we know for a fact that Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network have been doing everything they can to acquire nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. The training camps and caves in Afghanistan contained ample evidence of their search.

That is why the president spoke so directly about the axis of evil in his State of the Union speech and mentioned specifically three nations that have histories of seeking weapons of mass destruction and providing sanctuary to terrorist organizations or selling dangerous capabilities to others: Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

And, of course, Iraq has actually used chemical weapons against Iran and against the Kurds in northern Iraq.

The president's remarks caused a certain amount of hand-wringing in some quarters, but most Americans find it reassuring to have a commander in chief who tells the truth and who means exactly what he says.

(APPLAUSE)

As the president said, the United States will not permit terror states and their terrorist allies to threaten us with weapons of mass destruction. The campaign in Afghanistan showed the great power and precision of the modern military. We destroyed terrorist camps, military training facilities, airfields, air defenses, ammunition storage areas and command and control facilities. With unmanned combat vehicles with expensive precision weapons, it's been possible to strike the enemy and to spare innocent lives. We will invest in these and other capabilities in the years ahead. To carry out any mission that may come, you deserve the best weapons, the best equipment and the best training, and you will have them all.

I say this with confidence because I know your command in chief and I'm privileged to work with him every day. President Bush understands not just your responsibilities but his own. He gives orders with careful deliberation. He sets clear objectives and pursues a consistent strategy to met them. He's placed people of experience and integrity under him in the chain of command, from Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld all the way down the line. And I know you're all proud, for the first time in history, we have a Marine as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace.

(APPLAUSE)

To support our military, the president has asked Congress for an increase of more than $48 billion for national defense, the largest in a generation. And for the well-being of our military families, the president's proposed a raise in pay for all who wear the uniform of the U.S. military.

(APPLAUSE)

HEMMER: Vice President Cheney there, first stop of a four-day swing through the state of California, starting in the south there near San Diego, the Miramar Marine Air Station there. We're going to leave that, a bit of a technical difficultly out there in San Diego.

(INTERRUPTED FOR LIVE EVENT)

HEMMER: Our signal has been fixed. It is much clearer now. Back to the vice president again at Miramar talking with Marines there.

CHENEY: Our nation has the strength and the patience required for long struggle. We have faithful friends and allies and we have you, the people of our military. I can assure you on behalf of the president and all Americans, this nation is proud of you, we're grateful for your service and confident of the victories to come. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

HEMMER: I guess if timing is everything, we don't have very good timing today. The vice president wrapping things up there again with the Marines there at Miramar. Earlier, you heard the vice president talk about, and quoting his words now, "We did not seek this war, but it found us prepared." The first of a four-day trip throughout the Golden State for the vice president and his wife, Lynne.

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