Skip to main content /US /US

Bush vows justice will be done

Urges resolve, patience as anti-terror campaign begins

President Bush
Bush: "Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."  

By Ian Christopher McCaleb
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush warned Afghanistan's ruling Taliban on Thursday night that unless they acted to break down Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror operations within their borders, and hand over bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders, they can expect swift, decisive punishment at the hands of the U.S. and her allies.

He warned other nations that house, aid and abet international terrorism that the Taliban could be only the first to feel the resolve of a nation angered by the scars inflicted when 19 hijackers commandeered four commercial aircraft last week, ramming two into New York City's landmark World Trade Center towers.

"Great harm has been done to us. But in our grief and anger, we have found our mission, and our moment," Bush said. "Freedom and fear are at war. Our nation, this generation, will lift the dark threat of violence from our people."

"Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done," Bush vowed to thunderous applause.

 Bush speech highlights
Demanded Taliban hand over all leaders of terrorist groups and free American citizens.

Said terrorists were following path of Nazis.

Warned that freedom and fear are at war.

Told U.S. military to be ready, because "hour is coming."

Declared fight for civilization.

Said America's enemy was radical network of terrorists, not "our many Muslim friends" or "our many Arab friends."

Warned Americans to respect those of different ethnic groups or religious faiths.

Condemned Taliban regime for repression of Afghanistan.

U.S. President George W. Bush speaks to Congress and the people on the government's response to recent terrorist attacks (part 1) (September 20)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

(part 2) (September 20)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

(part 3) (September 20)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

(part 4) (September 20)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

Bush's aides insisted in the hours leading up to his Congressional address that he would not declare war on anyone when he sought to explain to the American people what lies ahead in the newly declared war against international terrorism.

And he stopped just short of such a declaration when he spoke of Afghanistan's Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic regime that rose up in the early part of the last decade to fill a leadership void left in the wake of a brutal civil war that destroyed the country's infrastructure, leaving vast sectors of its population in abject poverty.

Speaking of the Taliban's hold on Afghanistan, and the influence al Qaeda is said to have over the Taliban, Bush said, "Afghanistan's people have been brutalized. Many are staving, and many have fled."

"It is not only repressing its own people," he said further of the Taliban, "It is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring, sheltering and supplying terrorists."

Now, Bush said, the Taliban face a choice that could define its future. Bin Laden and his associates must be turned over or all al Qaeda camps -- and the Taliban themselves -- will be targeted.

"Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land," Bush said. "Close immediately and permanently every terrorist camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities."

Bush also demanded that several aid workers, U.S. nationals and others, arrested by the Taliban for allegedly preaching Christianity, be released immediately.

"These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion," Bush said. "The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share their fate."

Unwinding the terror web

Bush is the first president in 60 years to address an emergency joint meeting of Congress following an attack on U.S. territory -- a distinction he highlighted early on.

The last was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who stood in the same chamber on December 8, 1941, to declare war against the Japanese empire.

"On September 11, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known war, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941."

Ridge, Blair, Laura Bush
Gov. Tom Ridge and Prime MinisterTony Blair join first lady Laura Bush in the House gallery.  

But this war, Bush said, was of a sort never seen or experienced by a modern, civilized society. This war, Bush said, was to be waged on multiple fronts -- military, financial and diplomatic. It will be waged by law enforcement, by bankers, by intelligence services, through overt and covert military operations, and with the patience and assistance of the American people.

"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any we have ever seen," Bush said. "It may include dramatic strikes, visible on television, and covert operations, secret even in success."

And, he sought to paint a broad picture for the American public -- for the first time since the simultaneous tragedies of September 11 -- that showed bin Laden as only a figurehead, a representative of a vast terror network that includes other fundamentalist organizations, and other shadowy, dangerous terrorist leaders.

He mentioned Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan specifically, but U.S. intelligence organizations have targeted many more such groups. Egyptian Islamic Jihad in particular is a group that is likely to be mentioned more by the administration in coming weeks.

Its leader, Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, is one of the world's most wanted terrorists, and the group has been linked to several catastrophic events in Egypt -- including the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat - and many more attacks around the world, including the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Al Qaeda has also been linked to those bombings.

"There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries," Bush said.

Some of those are in cells in several western nations, awaiting orders. Others reside in nations friendly to their cause. Those nations, Bush said, are now on notice.

"Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them," he said. "From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."

Normalcy at home

Bush wave
Bush waves on his way out of the House chamber.  

While Bush acknowledged that life will be everything but routine for the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have been and will be dispatched, he urged Americans to return to their daily lives, and sought to prop up the sagging economy and airline industry.

"Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity," Bush said. "They did not touch its source."

The airlines, Bush said, can expect to benefit from a government cash boost that will soon start to wind its way through the House and Senate.

He also urged Americans not to take out their frustrations on American Muslims or residents of Arab descent, and he reached out to the world's 1 billion Muslims to explain that the United States is not opening hostilities on their faith.

"We respect your faith .... Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah."

Bush also named a new Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security, to be headed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a longtime friend of the president.

He said the new agency will coordinate the efforts of scores of federal agencies and local law enforcement organizations.

Ridge was at the top of many oddsmakers' lists when Bush was casting about for a vice presidential candidate in summer 2000. He stayed on those lists in the days leading up to Bush's announcement that he had asked Dick Cheney to join him on the 2000 GOP ticket.

Cheney, for security reasons, did not assume his regular position behind the president as he spoke. In his role as President of the Senate, Cheney would normally sit behind and to the left of the president, next to the speaker of the House. His place behind Bush was taken by Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, also sat out the speech in a secure location.

Also in attendance in the House chamber was British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who met with Bush over dinner after a late-afternoon arrival in the United States. Blair sat next to first lady Laura Bush, with New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani seated nearby.

"Thank you for coming, friend," Bush said to a clearly moved Blair.

Bush also acknowledged the presence of Lisa Beamer, widow of Todd Beamer, a passenger aboard United Airlines flight 93, the plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

Beamer is thought to have been one of the leaders of a group of passengers aboard that flight who voted to try to take the craft back form the hijackers.

See related sites about US
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.



Back to the top