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President George W. Bush Speaks in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania

Aired November 11, 2005 - 11:31   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is Veteran's Day, 2005, a live picture of Washington D.C. Americans are pausing to honor the millions of men and women who have served the country in the Armed Forces. Veterans Day has its origin in World War I, a conflict that effectively ended with an armistice on 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Forty-three million Americans have served the nation in combat, 652,000 gave their lives fighting, eighteen millions veterans are living today, and that number includes eight million Vietnam veterans, two million from the 1999 Gulf War and nearly half a million from the war on terrorism.

The USO brings morale-boosting programs and services to the men and women in uniform. Entertainers such as Jessica Simpson performed for the troops both stateside and in war zones. Their tradition dates back to the early days of World War II. It was spearheaded by the legendary entertainer Bob Hope.

Edward Powell, his friends call him "Ned," I'm told, president and CEO of the organization. And he's joining me from Washington on this Veterans Day.

Good morning to you, sir. Thank you for being here with us.

EDWARD POWELL, PRES. & CEO, USO: Oh, it's my pleasure. Good morning to you.

KAGAN: The legacy of Bob Hope lives on even though he's no longer with us.

POWELL: Oh, of course. We hope the tradition of entertaining the troops is something that we hope will never diminish.

KAGAN: And yet that's just kind of the beginning of what the USO tries to do worldwide.

POWELL: Oh, absolutely. It actually is only about 20 percent of what we do. We have 123 centers across the globe that provide a touch of home to our men and women who are a long ways from home to remind them how America cares about them.

KAGAN: What would be an example of that. Let's say someone who is serving in Iraq right. What's the USO doing for somebody there?

POWELL: I think one of my favorite stories there is watch the soldiers come into Kuwait as they transition home from Iraq. We have a center there that they'll line up literally by the hundreds. And as they walk in, many a time I've have seen them come in, and or heard of them coming in and standing in the door absolutely frozen as they wiggle their toes in the carpet, because they haven't felt carpet in almost a year. It's lots of little things. It's that intangible sort of welcome and quiet that comes from knowing that you're in a safe place and that you're not in that awful environment of what's outside and hostile.

KAGAN: I think when a lot of people think of USO, they think -- I think of stories my parents would tell of going to USO dances, or going through the organization to invite soldiers home.

POWELL: Well, that's certainly a tradition. We have found, though, that the services have changed quite a bit since then, since a very high percentage of them are married before they come in together. So if we were having dances to bring people together, I think we might would find ourselves in a bit of mischief.

KAGAN: That might now go over so well, wanting to help.

POWELL: Yes, no, no.

But people help in lots of ways. We have 33,000 volunteers that help us say that special greeting, and by the way, as a volunteer organization predominantly, and private we depend on those volunteers. And if people want to help this Veteran's Day, there really are a couple things that you can do, is you can seek out a local USO, or if you see a service member, just tell them how much you appreciate their willingness and commitment to this country and to them, as a matter of fact, because they're the ones that -- the service members are the ones that are out there protecting all of us.

KAGAN: Yes, I know it's pretty hard like here in Atlanta to even go through the airport on any given day and not run into soldiers, some men and women that are either shipping out or coming back home. You're saying just go up to those people, shake their hand and say thank you.

POWELL: You've be amazed at how powerful that is And you mentioned Atlanta, and I've got to talk about Mary Lou Austin there, who's our center director, who's a real champ. And we have 700 or 800 soldiers a day going through that center, coming home from Iraq or deploying back, and that's a very important location, and they greet the soldiers with a great welcome as they come up from the baggage claim and security, and it's wonderful to watch their faces. They're a little stunned, then they break into a smile, and then you can see they really realize they're home, and it's a wonderful feeling to participate in that.

Let me ask you this, coming up next hour, we're going to hear from President Bush, and he's going to be speaking on a number of things, but on this Veteran's Day also about veterans and the benefits that they receive. My notes tell me that you were deputy secretary for the VA under President Clinton. What do you think about the kind of benefits that veterans are receiving these days? POWELL: The only comment I'll make about that is that any benefit that we provide to veterans is well earned and well deserved. I think that it's hard for those of us in the civilian world to really appreciate the sacrifice that these men and women have made for this country, and whether it's the ones that are wounded, that's the more obvious, but the separation that is actually required of a military family is stunning. And when you listen to the stories of career folks and you listen to how they've moved 12 or 15 times. Or in the Navy, for example, if you're actually a career person in the Navy, you're going to spend about half your time at sea. That's a lot of separation that many families aren't prepared to sacrifice in the private world. And we owe these individuals a great depth -- I mean, a great deal of gratitude for their services.

KAGAN: Well, your organization is doing good work, and on this Veterans Day, we say thank you.

POWELL: Thank you for letting us get our message out.

KAGAN: Absolutely., that's where people can find out more about how they can support military people?

POWELL: Yes, ma'am.


POWELL: And, please, as a private organization, we need your help. Thank you.

KAGAN: Get the plug in there.

POWELL: Absolutely.

KAGAN: No problem, we're OK with that.


KAGAN: Ned Powell, with the USO, thank you.

POWELL: Thanks, Daryn.

KAGAN: We are standing by. Vice President Dick Cheney will be speaking at Arlington National cemetery. President Bush also speaking in the next hour. He'll be doing that Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania. You'll hear both comments live here on CNN.

Right now, a quick break.


KAGAN: Live pictures of Arlington National Cemetery. Vice President Dick Cheney doing the honors on this Veterans Day 2005. Let's listen in.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Members of the Cabinet, members of Congress, members of the armed forces, veterans, fellow Americans, thank you for the warm welcome. It's a high honor to join you in this ceremony and to be in the company of so many veterans of the United States military.

It is fitting that we gather at Arlington National Cemetery, for it is the final resting place of thousands of our veterans. Near us are President John F. Kennedy, General John J. Pershing and General Marshall, Major Audie Murphy, Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

All around us today are reminders of the men and women who stepped forward in every generation to serve the United States and the cause of freedom and who, as veterans, continue to make a contribution to the welfare of our nation.

Each year, on the 11th of November, the American people pause to recognize the veterans who served across the years, and we offer special thanks to those who still walk among us.

Approximately 25 million of our fellow citizens once carried the title of Marine, soldier, airman, sailor, Coast Guardsman, National Guardsman, merchant mariner, and now carry the title of veteran.

We know them as our neighbors, friends, colleagues and family members. They make us proud to be Americans.

Many of our veterans served in a great war in the middle of the last century.

You were the ones who fought in Europe and the Pacific to throw back tyrants, to answer aggression and to liberate millions.

Others of you defended our interests in the mountains of Korea or in the jungles of Vietnam or during the long vigil of the Cold War or in the caves of Afghanistan and the sands of the Middle East.

Whenever and wherever your service took place, you earned this nation's respect on the day you first put on the uniform, and you still have our respect today.

America is still home to a few who served in uniform during the First World War, which came to an end 87 years ago today. Their ranks have grown very thin, yet this nation will never forget all they did for us.

One of these gentleman, Emiliano Mercado del Toro, recently celebrated his 114th birthday.


He is believed to be the oldest man in the world and he is a proud veteran of the United States Army.


America's military veterans served our country in many different circumstances, from intense battlegrounds, to the high seas, to faraway landing fields, to bases closer here to home.

Yet all of them, throughout their service, shared the same fundamental commitments: They took an oath to serve a cause greater than self-interest, they lived by a code and dedicated themselves to the highest disciplines of loyalty, diligence and faithfulness to duty. And they stood ready, if duty required it, to fight and to die for our country.

Because such men and women have always been willing to serve, our nation has been able to win freedom for others, to hold off the ambitions of the violent and to keep the peace in troubled places.

And above all, thanks to our veterans, the people of this great nation have lived in freedom for 229 years. We owe them our liberty.

Veterans understand profoundly the meaning of service and sacrifice, so they are not the kind of people who take life for granted. And they, along with all Americans, hold a special place in memory for those who fell in the line of duty, many of whom rest here in Arlington.

A few moments ago, I presented a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns as a symbol of this nation's respect...

KAGAN: We're going to go live now from Arlington National Cemetery to Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania. President Bush beginning his remarks and his speech. Let's listen in.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES Thank you all for coming. Thank you for the warm welcome.

I'm glad to be back in Pennsylvania, and I'm proud to be the first sitting president to visit Monroe County.


I'm especially pleased to see so many military veterans with us today. Those who have risked their lives for our freedom have the respect and gratitude of our nation on Veterans Day and on every day.


Tobyhanna is a fitting place to commemorate Veterans Day. For the better part of a century this facility has provided critical services for our armed forces.

Around the clock and around the world personnel from here maintain technology that our troops use to take the fight to the enemy. From Afghanistan to Kuwait to Baghdad International Airport, technicians from Tobyhanna are carrying out dangerous missions with bravery and skill.

I know you're proud of them and so is the commander in chief.

(APPLAUSE) Tobyhanna is also home to a thriving community of military families. Your support for those who wear the uniform and your support of each other through difficult times brings great pride to our country.

The American people stand with our military families.


I want to thank Colonel Ellis for allowing me to come and give you this speech today.

Thank you for your service to our country, Colonel Ellis.


I want to thank Senator Specter and Congressman Kanjorski and Congressman Sherwood for joining us today. It's good to have them on Air Force One.


BUSH: I appreciate their service to our country.

I want to thank all the state and local officials, and I want to thank all the veterans.


Today our nation pays tribute to those veterans, 25 million veterans, who have worn the uniform of the United States of America. Each of these men and women took an oath to defend America and they upheld that oath with honor and decency.

Through the generations, they have humbled dictators and liberated continents and set a standard of courage and idealism for the entire world.

This year, three and a half million veterans celebrate the 60th anniversary of freedom's great victory in World War II.

A handful of veterans who live among us in 2005 stood in uniform when World War I ended 87 years ago today. These men are more than 100 years old. Many of their lives have touched three different centuries. And they can all know that America will be proud of their service.


On Veterans Day we also remember America's shores but did not live to be thanked as veterans.

On this Veterans Day, we honor the courage of those who were lost in our current struggle. We think of the families who lost a loved one. We pray for their comfort. And we remember the men and women in uniform whose fate is still undetermined: our prisoners of war and those missing in action. America must never forget their courage, and we will not stop searching until we've accounted for every soldier and sailor and airman and Marine missing in the line of duty.


All of America's veterans have placed America's security before their own lives.

BUSH: Their sacrifice creates a debt that America can never fully repay.

Yet there are certain things the government can do.

My administration remains firmly committed to serving America's veterans.


Since I took office, my administration has increased spending for veterans by $24 billion, an increase of 53 percent.

In the first four years as president, we increased spending for veterans more than twice as much as the previous administration did in eight years. And I want to thank the members of the Congress and the Senate for joining me in the effort to support our veterans.


We've increased the V.A.'s medical care budget by 51 percent, increased total out-patient visits, increased the number of prescriptions filled and reduced the backlog of disability claims.

We've committed more than $1.5 billion to modernizing and expanding V.A. facilities so that veterans can get better care closer to home.

We've expanded grants to help homeless veterans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, because we strongly believe no veteran who served in the blazing heat or bitter cold of foreign lands should have to live without shelter in our own country.


I've joined with the veterans' groups to call on Congress to protect the flag of the United States and the Constitution of the United States.


In June, the House of Representatives voted for a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. I urge the United States Senate to pass this important amendment. (APPLAUSE) At this hour, a new generation of Americans is defending our flag and our freedom in the first war of the 21st century. The war came to our shores on September the 11th, 2001.

BUSH: That morning we saw the destruction that terrorist intend for our nation. We know that they want to strike again.

And our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won.


In the four years since September 11th, the evil that reached our shores has reappeared on other days in other places: in Mombasa and Casablanca and Riyadh and Jakarta and Istanbul and Madrid and Beslan and Taba and Natanya and Baghdad and elsewhere.

In the past few months, we have seen a new terror offensive with attacks on London and Sharm el-Sheikh; another deadly strike in Bali; and this week a series of bombings in Amman, Jordan, that killed dozens of innocent Jordanians and their guests.

BUSH: All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random, isolated acts of madness: innocent men and women and children who have died simply because they boarded the wrong train or worked in the wrong building or checked into the wrong hotel.

Yet while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism, others militant jihadism and still others Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam.

This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent political vision: the establishment by terrorism, subversion and insurgency of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom.

These extremists extort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews and against Muslims themselves who do not share their radical vision.

Many militants are part of a global, borderless terrorist organization like Al Qaida, which spreads propaganda and provides financing and technical assistance to local extremists and conducts dramatic and brutal operations like the attacks of September the 11th.

Other militants are found in regional groups, often associated with Al Qaida. Paramilitary insurgencies and separatist movements in places like Somalia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Chechnya, Kashmir and Algeria.

Still others spring up in local cells, inspired by Islamic radicalism, but not centrally directed.

Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives fighting on scattered battlefields share a similar ideology and vision for our world.

We know the vision of the radicals because they have openly stated it in videos and audio tapes and letters and declarations and on Web sites.

First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace and stand in the way of their ambitions.

Al Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicated, quote, "their resources, their sons and money to driving the infidels out of our lands."

The tactics of Al Qaida and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter of a century.

BUSH: They hit us and they expect us to run.

Last month, the world learned of a letter written by Al Qaida's number two man, a guy named Zawahiri. And he wrote this letter to his chief deputy in Iraq, the terrorist Zarqawi.

In it, Zawahiri points to the Vietnam War as a model for Al Qaida. This is what he said: "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents is noteworthy."

The terrorists witnessed a similar response after the attacks on American troops in Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993.

They believe that America can be made to run again, only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.

Secondly, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Islam governments.

Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal for a time in Afghanistan, and now they've set their sights on Iraq.

BUSH: In his recent letter, Zawahiri writes that Al Qaida views Iraq as, quote, "the place of the greatest battle."

The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. We must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war against the terrorists.

(APPLAUSE) Third, these militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.

Zawahiri writes that the terrorists, quote, "must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq." He goes on to say, "The jihad requires several incremental goals: expel the Americans from Iraq, establish an Islamic authority over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq," end quote.

With the greater economic and military and political power they seek, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people and to blackmail our government into isolation.

Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme.

BUSH: They are fanatical and extreme but they should not be dismissed.

Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life."


And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history.

Evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience must be taken very seriously and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.


Defeating the militant network's difficult because it thrives like a parasite on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution.

They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as pawns of terror.

And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power. Instead of attending faraway training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb or fire a rocket-propelled grenade.

And this further spreads the threat of violence even within peaceful democratic societies. The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They've been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience, like Iran and Syria, that share the goal of hurting America and modern Muslim governments and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West, on America and on the Jews.

BUSH: This week, the government of Syria took two disturbing steps. First, it arrested Dr. Kamal Labwani for serving as an advocate of democratic reform. Then President Assad delivered a strident speech that attacked both the Lebanese government and the integrity of the Mehlis investigation into the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister.

The government of Syria must do what the international community has demanded: cooperate fully with the Mehlis investigation, and stop trying to intimidate and destabilize the Lebanese government.

The government of Syria must stop exporting violence and start importing democracy.


The radicals depend on front operations, such as corrupted charities which direct money to terrorist activity. They are strengthened by those who aggressively fund the spread of radical intolerant versions of Islam into unstable parts of the world.

The militants are aided, as well, by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American war on Islam, with seldom a worry about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan and Bosnia and Somalia and Kosovo and Kuwait and Iraq, or seldom a word about our generous assistance to Muslims recovering from national disasters in places like Indonesia and Pakistan.


BUSH: Some have also argued that extremists have been strengthened by our actions in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals.

I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001.


The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue. And it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse.

The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more than 150 Russian school children in Beslan.

Over the years, these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank, the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, the defeat of the Taliban, or the crusades of a thousand years ago.

In fact, we are not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world.

No act of ours invited the rage of killers and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.

On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence.

Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, we will never accept anything less than complete victory.


The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century.

Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not."

BUSH: What this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this is the road to paradise, though he never offers to go along for the ride.


Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life.

We have seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg and Margaret Hassan and so many others.

In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said, "I don't feel your pain, because I believe you're an infidel."

And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.

Recently in the town of Huadar (ph), Iraq, terrorists detonated a pickup truck parked along a busy street lined with restaurants and shops just as residents were gathering to break the day-long fast observed during Ramadan. The explosion killed at least 25 people and wounded 34.

When unsuspecting Muslims breaking their Ramadan fast are targeted for death or 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, this is murder, pure and simple: the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion.


These militants are not just the enemies of America or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and they are the enemies of humanity.

BUSH: And we have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, the Cultural Revolution and the killing fields.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims.

Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves.

Under their rule, they have banned books and desecrated historical monuments and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, to control every aspect of life, to rule the soul itself.

While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing a future of oppression and misery.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent.

Zarqawi has said that Americans are, quote, "the most cowardly of God's creatures."

But let us be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children, and the elderly with car bombs and cuts the throat of a bound captive and targets worshipers leaving a mosque.

It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people from tyranny. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of rising democracies. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that will once again destroy the enemies of freedom.


And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure.

By fearing freedom, by distrusting human creativity and punishing change and limiting the contributions of half a population, this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible and human society successful. The only thing modern about the militant's vision is the weapons they want to use against us. BUSH: The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past, a declaration of war on the idea of progress itself.

And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt. Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation and decline and collapse.

Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future.


We didn't ask for this global struggle. But we are answering history's call with confidence and with a comprehensive strategy.

Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe and in the Middle East and North Africa and Asia and beyond.

Working with these partners, we're disrupting militant conspiracies, we're destroying their ability to make war, and we're working to give millions in a troubled region a hopeful alternative to resentment and violence.

First, we're determined to prevent attacks of the terrorist networks before they occur.

We are reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We are reforming our intelligence agencies for the incredibly difficult task of tracking enemy activity based on information that often comes in small fragments from widely scattered sources both here and abroad.

And we're acting, along with governments from other countries, to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leadership.

Together with our partners, we have disrupted a number of serious Al Qaida terrorist plots since September the 11th, including several plots to attack inside the United States.

Our coalition against terrorists killed or captured nearly all those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks. We've captured or killed several of bin Laden's most serious deputies; Al Qaida managers and operatives in more than 24 countries; the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of the Al Qaida's operations in the Persian Gulf; the mastermind of the bombings in Jakarta and Bali; a senior Zarqawi terrorist planner who's been planning attacks in Turkey; and many of their senior leaders in Saudi Arabia.

BUSH: Because of the steady progress, the enemy is wounded. But the enemy is still capable of global operations.

Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders are held to account for their murder. (APPLAUSE)

Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation.


The United States, working with great Britain and Pakistan and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its long-range ballistic missiles.

And in the past year, America and her partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspect weapons technology, including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program.

This progress has reduced the danger to free nations but it has not removed it. Evil men who want to use horrendous weapons against us are working in deadly earnest to gain them, and we're working urgently to keep the weapons of mass murder out of the hands of the fanatics.

Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes.

BUSH: State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists. And they deserve no patience from the victims of terror.

The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally guilty of murder.


Fourth, we're determined to deny the militant's control of any nation which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror.

This mission has brought new and urgent responsibilities to our armed forces. American troops are fighting beside Afghan partners and against remnants of the Taliban and their Al Qaida allies.

We're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. We're fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq.

The terrorists' goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East and strike America and other free nations with increasing violence.

Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power, so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq. (APPLAUSE)

Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive plan. Our strategy is to clear, hold and build.

BUSH: We're working to clear areas from terrorist control, to hold those areas securely, and to build lasting democratic Iraqi institutions through an increasingly inclusive political process.

In recent weeks, American and Iraqi troops have conducted several major assaults to clear-out enemy fighters in Baghdad and parts of Iraq.

Two weeks ago in, Operation Clean Sweep, Iraq and coalition forces raided 350 houses south of Baghdad, capturing more than 40 of the terrorist killers.

Acting on tips from local citizens, our forces have recently launched airstrikes against terrorist safehouses in and around the towns of Ubaydi (ph) and Husaba (ph).

We brought to justice two key senior Al Qaida terrorist leaders.

And in Mosul, the coalition forces have killed an Al Qaida cell leader named Muslet, who was personally involved in at least three videotaped beheadings.

We're on the hunt. We're keeping pressure on the enemy.


And thousands of Iraqi forces have been participated in these operations and even more Iraqis are joining the fight. Last month, nearly 3,000 Iraqi police officers graduated from 10 weeks of basic training. They'll now take their places along other brave Iraqis who are taking the fight to the terrorists across their own country.

Iraqi police and security forces are helping to clear terrorists from their strongholds, helping to hold onto areas that we've cleared. They're working to prevent the enemy from returning.

Iraqi forces are using their local expertise to maintain security and to build political and economic institutions that will help improve the lives of their fellow citizens.

At the same time, Iraqis are making aspiring progress toward building a democracy. Last month, millions of Iraqis turned out to vote and they approved a new constitution that guarantees fundamental freedoms and lays the foundation for lasting democracy.

Many more Sunnis participated in this vote than in January's historic elections and the level of violence was lower.

Now Iraqis are gearing up for December 15th elections when they will go to the polls to choose a government under the new constitution. The new government will serve a four-year term and it will represent all Iraqis.

Even those who voted against the constitution are now organizing and preparing for the December elections. Multiple Sunni Arab parties have submitted a list of candidates and several prominent Sunni politicians are running on other slates.

BUSH: With two successful elections completed and a third coming up next month, the Iraqi people are proving their determination to build a democracy united against extremism and violence.


The work ahead involves great risks for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in this war on terror.

Each of these men and women left grieving families and left loved ones at home. Each of these patriots left a legacy that will allow generations of fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty.

Each loss of life is heartbreaking. And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.


The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.

Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified.

With every random bombing, with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters; they're murderers at war with the Iraqi people themselves.

In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress, from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the ratification of a constitution in the space of two and a half years.


BUSH: I have said as Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And with our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with each passing month.

At the time of our Fallujah operations a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today, there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces.

(APPLAUSE) General David Petraeus says Iraqis are in the fight. They are fighting and dying for their country and they're fighting increasingly well.

This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.


And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly even in times of war.

When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support.

I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it.

As president and commander in chief, I accept the responsibilities and the criticisms and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.


BUSH: Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war.

These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.

They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions, citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat and a grave threat to our security."

That's why more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.


The stakes in the global war on terror are too high and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges.


These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will.

As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them.


Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough.


BUSH: And our troops deserve to know that, whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united and we will settle for nothing less than victory.


The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East.

This is difficult and it's a long-term project. Yet there's no alternative to it.

Our future and the future of the region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery while radicals stir the resentment of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger in our generation and for the next.

If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny and advance by their own energy and participation of free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end.

By standing for hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.

America is making this stand in practical ways. We're encouraging our friends in the Middle East -- including Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow.

We're making our case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination and the rule of law and religious freedom and equal rights for women; beliefs that are right and true in every land, and in every culture.

(APPLAUSE) As we do our part to confront radicalism and to protect the United States, we know that a lot of vital work will be done within the Islamic world itself. And the work's beginning.

Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that, "Killing an innocent human being is like killing all of humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all humanity."


BUSH: After the attacks on July 7th in London, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, "Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim nor a religious person."

The time has come for responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends and defiles a noble faith.


Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we've engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in this vital cause. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat Al Qaida in their country.

These brave citizens know the stakes: the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition. And the United States of America is proud to stand beside them.


With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers.

And yet this fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle between those who put their faith in dictators and those who put their faith in the people.

Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision. And they end up alienating decent people across the globe. BUSH: Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure, until those societies collapse in corruption and decay.

Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent, until the day that free men and women defeat them.

We don't know the course our own struggle will take or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice. We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history. And we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.


Thank you for coming. May God bless our veterans, may God bless our troops in harm's way and may God continue to bless the United States of America.



KAGAN: We've been listening in to President Bush. I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta. The president is in Pennsylvania today. You just heard him talk about the war on terror. He also addressed his critics regarding a key issue in the war in Iraq.

We have gathered our top reporters and analysts to give you perspective about what we just heard from the president. Elaine Quijano is at the White House, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. And in our D.C. bureau, John King, Bill Schneider and Richard Falkenrath.

Right now, we're going to start with Elaine Quijano.

Elaine, the president really waiting until the end to come out swinging against his critics. Up until that point, we heard a lot of what we've heard from past speeches from this president, talking about Iraq being the central front and the war on terrorism. But this time the president taking on those who are questioning especially the intelligence and the way it was used to get the U.S. into the war in Iraq.

ELAINE QUIJANO, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right, Daryn. The president really taking part in what senior administration officials had talked about earlier this week, a campaign-style strategy, really, to hit back against some Democrats' criticisms that the Bush administration somehow manipulated intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

We heard President Bush essentially echo some of the same sentiments senior officials have talked about. Namely, they feel that while it may be fair for Democrats to lash out about some of the decisions that were made, they don't feel that it was fair for them -- in the president's words, paraphrasing -- they feel it was irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.

Now President Bush and other officials we can expect to hear -- we heard yesterday the national security adviser Stephen Hadley sort of preview some of the administration's renewed arguments because it's -- what they're saying, essentially, is not new. But because they feel that perhaps some of these Democratic criticisms have gotten more of a boost lately, they feel it is necessary to come out and speak out against that.

And perhaps a look at the president's poll numbers will indicate why. Not only his overall approval ratings. But a recent Associated Press/Ipsos poll, in fact a new poll, showing that when it comes to the issue of honesty, many Americans, or most Americans, according to this poll, 57 percent feel the president is not being honest, is not honest.

And certainly this is something the White House wants to push back against very forcefully. They feel that the criticisms being leveled are, in the words of one senior official, unprincipled. And that is why we heard the president speak out forcefully today -- Daryn?

KAGAN: Elaine Quijano at the White House. Let's go right to the Pentagon, since this does center on what the military is doing and how long there will be a U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan -- Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn you heard also in the president's speech a spirited defense of the U.S. military's strategy which, as the president encapsulated again, is as the Iraqis stand up, the U.S. military will stand down.

He cited some of the achievements of the military campaign, particularly the increased participation of Iraqi troops. He cited the fact that while there were only a handful of battalions a year ago that could fight alongside U.S. forces now, it's in excess of 90 Iraqi battalions who are capable of doing that. And that remains the key to the U.S. strategy of eventually reducing the number of U.S. troops there.

He also mentioned, interestingly, the very famous letter from Ayman al Zawahiri, the number two to bin Laden, and his communication with Zarqawi, Abu Musab Zarqawi in Iraq. How he invoked the specter of Vietnam and how the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam might be a model that the terrorists or insurgents could take heart from.

And he said, of course, that the key to honoring the service of all the veterans, those still alive and those who have given their lives, was to stay in Iraq until they had achieved victory. And in fact, to continue to take the fight to what he called radical Islamists around the world. So, again, a spirited defense of the strategy. And he said that while progress was not easy, he insisted it was steady -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

Still ahead, we're going to look at some of the facts that President Bush bringing up in his speech, especially talking about the Silverman/Robb commission report that looked at any possible political influence in pre-war intelligent gathering. We also will look at the politics behind the president's speech, and we'll do that with John King, Bill Schneider and Richard Falkenrath when we come back in just a moment.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite history of how that war began.


KAGAN: Comments from President Bush as he spoke just moments ago in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania on this Veteran's Day.

I want to welcome in our chief national correspondent John King. He is joining me in Washington, along with Richard Falkenrath, and also Bill Schneider.

John, to you, this is a very different message we're hearing from this president really taking his critic face on about what they've been saying about prewar intelligence.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATL. CORRESPONDENT: Taking his critics on, Daryn, but taking them on from a position of weakness. Just the fact that he has to take them on is a stunning reminder of how the war right now, the war in Iraq, is the driving factor, according to Democrats and Republicans, in the president's slumping approval ratings. There are other factors, but it is the single-biggest factor by all accounts.

I cannot tell you how struck I am by this moment. You see the president of the United States. We are now one year removed from his re-election victory, and he is quoting his opponent in the last election, John Kerry. Yes, John Kerry did vote to give him the authority to go to war.

I was exchanging e-mails during the speech with a Republican strategist who was close to this White House. And I can't use his language on television, but he said when you are quoting your opponent from the last election a year later, you are not, essentially, paraphrasing now, because of his language, in a position of strength.

And look up behind the president. The banner behind the president, this is part of the White House strategy to communicate at these events. They put up these banners to make the key point. "Strategy for victory" was the banner behind the president at this speech in Pennsylvania. That is a far cry from "mission accomplished." And it tells you that this White House understands that it is at the bottom of the hill politically. It is trying to convince the American people, trying to convince even its Republican allies in Congress that this president has a clear and coherent strategy for victory in Iraq.

Now Mr. Bush, rightly quoting those Democrats who accepted his view of intelligence before the war, but the fact that he has to do that, Daryn, shows you the political problem this president faces.

KAGAN: Well, and let's look at the way the president is trying to resteer the conversation here and bring in Richard Falkenrath. He is trying resteer the conversation into the intelligence and how it was gathered, and go back to this Silverman-Robb Commission report, which is something that the president was citing there, saying that in that commission report, the findings were that there was not political influence in how the war information, pre-war information was gathered.

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Daryn, I actually agree with John that the president would rather not talk about that at all, and simply talk about his forward-looking strategy for the war on terror, what in fact he spent the vast majority of the speech to talk about. He has decided, however, to directly respond to his critics, his political opponents here in Washington who are focusing on that issue. And he notes this one commission, you mentioned it, the Silverman-Robb Commission, which did find that there wasn't any direct political interference with the intelligence findings that were coming up to the White House. That's only a little bit of the issue, however.

There's another issue which he did not directly address, which is, did the president and his top aids misdescribe the intelligence when they were making their case for war? That issue was not within the ambit of the Silverman-Robb Commission, and it is what his critics are talking about.

KAGAN: And let's bring in Bill Schneider to a point that you've been making for a while here, Bill. The very fact, as John was pointing out, that the president needs to make a speech like this shows the Democrats having some success in hammering home and continuing to bring up the situation about pre-war intelligence and the war in Iraq?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POL. ANALYST: And of course, that issue was brought front and center by the recent indictment of the White House aid, the former chief of staff to the vice president, where the central issue was, of course, the effort to discredit a critic of the administration, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who accused the administration of manipulating the intelligence.

At a time, what's happened is two issues came together at the same time: growing exasperation with the conflict in Iraq, the 2,000th American loss. OF course now it's more than that. Plus, the issue of whether the administration was trying to discredit critics who were bringing up the accusation that they manipulated that intelligence. Put those two together, you have a politically explosive situation.

KAGAN: And one more question to John King. As we look at the calendar, just a couple days past Election Day of this year, how much of what we're seeing the president do and perhaps his critics stepping up within and outside his party has to do with both midterm elections and people getting ready to fire up for 2008.

KING: It's much more about 2006 and 2008 than it is about the elections held just a few days ago. But there is a sense in the Democratic Party right now that they have this president down, and they want to get him into a fight over this.

As Richard just noted, when you're the commander in chief, especially at a very difficult time in Iraq, you want to be talking about what you're going to be doing from today forward. The fact that this president has to look backwards, and continue the fight. We are still fighting over why we went to war in Iraq, not over what to do in Iraq now. This president he has been knocked off track. I don't know a better way to put it. The critics are getting to him.

But it's not even the Democrats he's worried about. What he has to worry about is discipline within the Republican Party most of all, and many Republicans are nervous. They see a president at 38, 39 percent public-approval rating. They are beginning to break off. They are beginning to ask these tough questions. For a president who needs to get his second-term agenda back on track, his biggest problem right now is not the volume from the Democrats, its getting the Republicans back in line.

KAGAN: John King, Richard Falkenrath and Bill Schneider. Gentlemen, thank you, always pleasure to have you along.

It is Veteran's Day, the day that the president chose to make the speech in Pennsylvania. Standing by, Peter Pace will be at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We'll be hearing more about him in just a moment.

Right now on this Veteran's Day, we take a quick break.


KAGAN: This just in to CNN. We're hearing from Al-Arabiya and AFP, a French wire service, that one of Saddam Hussein's chief deputies, Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, has died. He was the most senior member of the former regimes and he was still at large. He is number six, by the way, on the U.S. military's list of the 55 most wanted Iraqis. Remember this? Remember when they put out the deck of cards of wanted Iraqis. Well, as you can see, he, Ibrahim, was king of clubs.

He had a $10 million reward offered for his capture. Once again, this news that he has died coming from French Wire reports, also from Reuters. At this point, CNN has been unable to verify that information.


KAGAN: The Joint Chiefs of Staff represent a unified military, one voice to advise the commander in chief. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, for the first time, is a marine.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is about to tell us more about General Peter Pace. But there's a live picture of him there at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. We'll hear from General Pace in a moment.

Here now, Barbara Starr.


GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: And this a picture of one young Second Lieutenant Peter Pace.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vietnam, 1968. Peter Pace thought he knew himself back then, but one day, everything changed. He lost his first man. He still keeps Guido Ferranero's (ph) picture on his desk.

PACE: When Guido Gerranero was killed by a sniper, I was so enraged that I called in an artillery strike on the village from which the sniper had fired. I knew I was doing the wrong thing. I called off the artillery strike, and I what we should have done, which was sweep through the village on foot. And when we went to the village, we found nothing but women and children.

STARR: Last month, Pace was sworn in as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He becomes President Bush's senior military adviser. He knows firsthand how tough combat can be.

PACE: I was scared in combat. Very scared. I think I used a phrase that if I could have crawled up inside my helmet and waited my mom to call me home, I would have.

STARR: Corporal Mike Ervin was with Pace's unit.

MARK ERVIN, VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: He may feel guilty under the circumstances that he knows how he survived. Someone stands up in front of him and gets hit with a round that could have just easily hit him.

STARR: Tell me about the Staff Sergeant Williams.

PACE: Staff Sergeant Williams, oh...

STARR: It was August 18th, 1968.

PACE: As I stood up, Staff Sergeant Williams stepped across in front of me. And as he did, he took a round right in the side that would have -- that was right in the middle of my -- right in the middle of my chest.

STARR: When he talks of his men, you hear roll call across the decades.

PACE: I remember Lance Corporal Charlie Hale (ph), Lance Corporal Whitey Travers (ph), Corporal Mike Whit (ph), Staff Sergeant Freddie Williams (ph), Lance Corporal Little Joe Arnold (ph), Lance Corporal John Miller. I can I tell you where they died. I knew where they were from. If I was sitting here, not remembering the individuals who lost their lives under my command, not remembering Vietnam, I should not be chairman.

STARR: Pace knows Americans are doubting this war, but this time, they support the troops.

PACE: That is vastly different than it was 40 years ago. The polls that show that some Americans are concerned, as I understand they should and could be about what's going on in Iraq.

STARR: A photograph in his office sums up Pace's past and his present.

PACE: This is a picture of marines actually going into Baghdad, early on in May of 2003. It looked just I remembered going across the bridge into Jauy (ph) City.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


KAGAN: And today on this Veterans Day, General Pace finding himself at the Vietnam War Memorial. We expect to hear from him in just a little bit. Also, some other scenes from around Washington, D.C. and the country on this Veterans Day, 2005. We'll get to that after this break.


KAGAN: As we've been mentioning throughout the past few hours, this is Veterans Day here in the U.S. In New York City, that means the annual parade that winds through Manhattan.

But that's not New York City. I believe that's Washington, D.C. We need to change that graphic there. Washington, D.C. and the Vietnam War Memorial. There you go. There's New York City. Newly re-elected Mayor Michael Bloomberg is among those taking part in that parade today.

Just a little more than an hour ago, Vice President Dick Cheney paid his respects to American veterans. Cheney was placing a ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Cheney says their sacrifice, like that of all veterans, should never be forgotten.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is still home to a few who served in uniform during the first world war, which came to an end 87 years ago today. Their ranks have grown very thin. Yet this nation will never forget all they did for us.


KAGAN: That was Vice President Dick Cheney at Arlington Memorial National Cemetery.


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