Bush braces nation for battle

Sun National Staff

WASHINGTON - Declaring that "freedom itself is under attack," President Bush told Congress and the nation last night that the United States was prepared to lead an all-out battle to disrupt and defeat a global web of terrorism.

Bush, trying to rally the country at a time of crisis, said, "The hour is coming" for military action. But he gave no clues as to when, where and how U.S. forces, being deployed around the world, might strike.

In some of his toughest language, Bush bluntly warned nations that support or harbor terrorists that the time had come to choose sides.

"Either you are with us," he declared, "or you are with the terrorists."

Speaking in a firm, even menacing voice, Bush condemned the terrorists as "traitors to their own [Islamic] faith" who are "trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself." He also issued a special warning to the Taliban government of Afghanistan, describing it as a murderous regime.

Bush demanded that the Taliban hand over every terrorist in Afghanistan immediately, including members of the Al Qaeda organization led by Osama bin Laden, "or they will share in [the terrorists'] fate."

He said the United States wanted full access to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, to make sure they are no longer operating, and called for the release of Americans being held by the Taliban for conducting Christian missionary work there.

"Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done," he said, as those in the packed House chamber rose to their feet, applauding.

Bush, who is not given to grand oratory, was often eloquent as he spoke of "civilization's fight" against terrorism.

"Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered a great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment," he said. "Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom - the great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time - now depends on us.

"Our nation, this generation, will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will not tire. We will not falter. And we will not fail."

Bush announced a new civil defense initiative, to be headed by Republican Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, a longtime political ally. Ridge, whose title will be director of homeland security, would become a member of Bush's Cabinet.

The president also indicated support for expanding the number of air marshals on domestic flights and for a government bailout of the crippled airline industry.

His remarks were interrupted 28 times by applause from lawmakers wearing red-white-and-blue ribbons. The 34-minute speech, in part a repackaging and refinement of his earlier statements, was aimed at audiences overseas as well as at home.

Bush said the evidence "all points" to the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, which he said "is to terror what the Mafia is to crime." But he also stressed the importance of dismantling an entire global terror network involving thousands of terrorists in 60 countries and singled out the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

He also reiterated that his aim is to end international terrorism, widely considered an unrealistic goal. The United States, he said, will battle terrorism with "every necessary weapon of war until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." A senior administration official said those would not include nuclear weapons.

He did acknowledge, however, the special and difficult nature of the counter-terror struggle. Bush said it would be important to go beyond traditional military action in confronting a foe he likened to the Nazis and "all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century."

The United States and its international partners, he said, will marshal other, nonmilitary resources, including diplomacy, spycraft, law enforcement and financial tools.

Bush, in his first year in office and inexperienced in foreign affairs, finds himself face-to-face with a leadership challenge stiffer than any recent president has confronted. In waging what he and others have called the first war of the 21st century, he must maintain the high levels of support he enjoys here and abroad during a shadowy fight that could take years.

"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign," he cautioned, "unlike any other we have ever seen."

Bush alluded to the international military force his father led against Iraq in the gulf war 10 years ago. But, he said, while there may be "dramatic strikes, visible on TV" in the coming fight, there will also be other, covert operations that will remain "secret, even in success."

Bush is enlisting the support of foreign leaders as he develops his battle plan. Before leaving for the Capitol, he had dinner at the White House with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who joined first lady Laura Bush and others in the House gallery for the speech.

Besides singling out Blair ("Thank you for coming, friend"), Bush also saluted Lisa Beamer of Cranbrook, N.J., and the courage of her late husband, Todd, a passenger aboard the doomed United Airlines jetliner that crashed in Pennsylvania, who may have helped wrestle control of the plane away from the hijackers.

And he closed on a poignant note, brandishing the shiny police shield of New York police Officer George Howard, who died trying to save others at the World Trade Center. Last week, Howard's mother, Arlene, gave Bush the shield, which the president called "my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end."

Bush aides, in the leadup to the speech, had tried to play down comparisons to Franklin Roosevelt's "date-which-will-live-in-infamy" address, delivered from the same podium 60 years ago. But Bush compared last week's attack to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the last time the United States was invaded.

In many ways, the atmosphere of fear that formed the backdrop for Bush's speech is more pervasive than any in this country since World War II.

Tens of millions of Americans, badly shaken by the bloodiest assault ever on the country, remain nervous about new acts of terrorism inside the United States. Bush addressed their anxieties last night.

He urged Americans to "live your lives and hug your children" and be "calm and resolute" in this time of fear.

Bush said the nation had been "awakened to danger," in shock and anger, by the human toll in the attacks. More than 6,800 are feared dead, including, Bush said last night, hundreds from 80 other countries.

America is only now coming to grips with the aftershocks of the attacks, which have rocked an economy that may be in recession.

Bush called for confidence in the economy, insisting that while terrorists had "attacked a symbol of American prosperity" in New York, "they did not touch its source." More than 100,000 workers in the airline industry face layoffs, and the plunge in the financial markets, which continued yesterday, represents a paper loss of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Bush also tried to rally other countries behind action the United States and its military partners will take.

Bush described the terrorists as "a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam." But many foreign governments, especially those in the Middle East and elsewhere, face growing internal threats from Islamic fundamentalists and cannot afford to join a U.S.-led military coalition.

Since the attack, some of Bush's language has raised alarm overseas, such as his use of the word crusade, which aides say was a mistake. Perhaps the biggest pitfall he faces is that any huge attack on terrorism will be seen as a war on Islam in general or on Arabs in particular.

Bush, who visited a mosque this week and has warned against anti-Arab discrimination in the United States, warned against such bias again. He said the U.S. fight is not with the "good and peaceful" people of the Muslim faith. "The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends," he said. "It is not our Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them."

He said the terrorists had attacked America because it represents freedom and called them "traitors to their own faith" who "blaspheme the name of Allah."

Security in the nation's capital remains extraordinarily high and nerves are on edge, 10 days after the attack. Through the pre-dawn rain yesterday, military jets flying protective cover roared loudly through the skies over the city. Meantime, Washington's commercial airport, Reagan National, remains closed indefinitely.

Across the Potomac River, recovery operations are continuing at the Pentagon, where 189 died. That toll exceeds the number killed in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, until last week the worst act of terror on American soil.

But the destruction in Northern Virginia has been far eclipsed by the devastation in New York City. Bush saluted Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who rose from his seat last night to prolonged applause.

As a security precaution, Vice President Dick Cheney did not join other Cabinet members at the Capitol and instead remained at an undisclosed location. The seat normally occupied by the vice president was filled by Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, president pro tem of the Senate.

According to the Senate historian's office, it was the first time since the tradition began almost 90 years ago that a vice president was absent for security reasons from a presidential address to Congress.

Bush's second appearance before a joint meeting of Congress showed how radically his presidency had been reordered by the terrorist assault. His first, in late February, dealt almost entirely with domestic issues, including cutting taxes and restraining the growth of government. At the time, Bush spoke of bipartisanship, which had begun to fray. But it took the terror crisis to bring a divided Washington together.

Instead of restricting government, Bush is calling for expanded efforts to make Americans safe from terrorism, on the ground and in the air. And in a very personal sign of his abrupt turn away from his domestic agenda, he vowed that he would never forget "this wound to our country and those who inflicted it."

"I will not yield. I will not rest. I will not relent," Bush said, "in waging this struggle for freedom and security of the American people."

Sun staff writers David L. Greene and Karen Hosler contributed to this article.

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