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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Cheney Speaks to the Chamber of Commerce

Aired January 10, 2003 - 11:35   ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Vice President Dick Cheney is at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this morning, speaking on behalf of the Bush economic plan.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: Those of us who've worked in Washington over the years have developed an enormous respect for the organization and for its members. And the president and I deeply appreciate all that you've done to support key policy initiatives over the years.

You know, this is always a very special time in Washington, the time of renewed hope and progress and achievement. I just swore in the new members of the United States Senate this week. We usher in a new year, welcome a new Congress and renew our resolve to make America safer, stronger and more prosperous than ever before.

In the coming year, our top priority remains winning the war on terror and protecting our homeland against new and unprecedented threats. We know that the terrorists who struck us on September 11 are still at work, still attempting to do everything they can to strike us whenever possible.

Where Al Qaida and its allies are concerned, we are dealing with a network that operates in more than 50 countries, that has murdered Americans in Bali and Kuwait and Yemen and Jordan, and that is determined to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction against us and against our allies.

The gravity of the threat we face was underscored in recent days when British police arrested seven suspected terrorists in London and discovered a small quantity of ricin, one of the world's deadliest poisons, for which no cure exists.

Make no mistake, America is at war. And the front lines are our centers of work, of transportation, of commerce and entertainment.

Against such enemies, America and the civilized world have only one option. Wherever terrorists operate, we must find them. Wherever they dwell, we will hunt them down. We will stop them in their plotting and training, and we will remain vigilant at all times.

We will also continue our efforts to stop the grave danger presented by Al Qaida or other terrorists joining with outlaw regimes that have developed weapons of mass destruction, to attack their common enemies, the United States and our allies. That is why confronting the threat posed by Iraq is not a distraction from the war on terror. It is absolutely crucial for winning the war on terror. As the president has said, Iraq could decide on any given day to provide biological or chemical weapons to a terrorist group or individual terrorist, which is why the war on terror will not be won until Iraq is completely and verifiably deprived of weapons of mass destruction.

The United States and our allies are also confronting the threat posed by North Korea's repudiation of its international commitments not to develop nuclear weapons. While not unexpected, given North Korea's recent behavior, today's announcement is of serious concern to North Korea's neighbors and to the entire international community.

Their actions threaten to undermine decades of nonproliferation efforts and only further isolate the regime. North Korea's relations with the entire international community depend on their taking prompt and verifiable action to completely dismantle their nuclear weapons program.

While confronting the challenges that face us abroad, in the coming year we will need to act aggressively to meet our needs here at home, especially on economic security.

Every advance in the war on terror will reduce the danger to our country and remove some of the uncertainties that can discourage investments and undermine economic growth in the long-term.

As we look to a safer world and to a more secure economic future, the president and I know we'll be able to count on the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, the chamber has played an important role in the struggle for greater economic security, and never more so than during the past two years. You gave crucial support to the president's call for early tax relief, you worked with us to gain trade promotion authority, and you helped the president win the fight for terrorism insurance.

These are all tremendous achievements, and the president and I thank you for your support.

HARRIS: Vice President Dick Cheney making remarks before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, rolling out the Bush economic plan. But we wanted to dip in to hear the comments that he had to make about the topics we had been covering in depth this past 40 minutes or so.

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